Monday, July 30, 2018

I Am Going to be Sorry in the Morning…


…for writing this post.

I received the following email, shortened for length:

A little less than a year ago, I sent Gary North an email about Jordan Peterson. I stated that I had become concerned about the Jordan Peterson "bandwagon."

The writer lists Tom Woods, Bob Murphy, Lew Rockwell, and yours truly as examples of those on the “bandwagon.”

After expressing my concern re Peterson’s comments on the Bible, Jesus, Christianity, etc., I said to Dr. North, “Without sounding too dramatic, before this gets out of hand, someone needs to write an exposé on him. I'm not the guy, but I'm thinking you might be or know someone that is….

He didn’t take up the challenge, but he did reply (and gave me permission to pass on his comments) with this:

"Just another liberal.  They are like cockroaches. Step on one, and four more appear.

A psychology professor who has taught at Harvard and now Toronto…a liberal?  To paraphrase Captain Renault: I'm shocked! Shocked to find that psychology professors at major western universities are liberal!

"What I do not understand is why any Bible-believer pays any attention to such people.   But they do."

Of course, I believe there are many Bible-believers who do not understand why any Bible-believer would pay any attention to Gary North when it comes to the Bible….

Well, the good news is there is now an exposé, if you will, on Peterson from a major Christian organization.

Today’s daily article from Creation Ministries International (CMI) is: “Is Genesis psychology or history?

It’s not quite as in-depth or extensive as I’d like it to be, but it does a great job of finally providing an analysis of Peterson for the Christian community from a Christian perspective. Please take a few minutes to read it. …I give Peterson credit for being excellent on several subjects/issues. It's just that he's awful when it comes to Christianity.

Why any Christian would look to Peterson to be good on Christianity is beyond me…but anyway…. Following is my reply, in total (with some editorial comments inserted), after which I will add some further comments:

I do not understand why it is important to turn Peterson into an "either / or" box: either he is 100% right on everything or he is not worth listening to at all.

"Is Genesis psychology or history?"  Why can't it be both?  Why does it take an atheist to elucidate the idea that God may have put more in Genesis than mere history, that God might have offered a meaning and depth to the narrative far greater than the mere recitation of facts and timelines? 

Peterson isn't a theologian, he isn't a historian, he isn't an archeologist, he isn't an evolutionary biologist.  He is a psychologist, and he has brought to life meaningful depth in these Biblical narratives.  When it comes to the psychological aspects of his lectures, I find nothing blasphemous in this (I am sure there might be something, but little). 

Unless there are some Christians who believe that God isn’t the author of human psychology?

Perhaps Christian critics can spend more time evaluating the value in Peterson's psychological interpretation and less time worrying about adding the years since Adam.

Because adding the years since Adam may be the least important religious aspect of the book of Genesis.

Is there value in knowing something more about Cain and Abel beyond who killed who?  It seems to me, yes.  Why did it take an atheist to popularize this?  Why are Christian leaders angry (to the extent that some are)?  I don't know; I wonder if it isn't, instead, jealousy.

Someone has the courage to say the things Peterson says about our social situation, the trend in university, etc.  Things that need saying, things that Christian leaders should have been saying all along.  Why not just accept that this is a pretty good day's work. 

As you know, I do not get into theological discussion at the blog, so I have not commented one way or another on Peterson's theological views.  I wouldn't bother listening to him or discussing him if this was my purpose.

Because I do not look to Peterson as a theologian.  (Hint: in case you missed it…he also never once has claimed to be.)

Now, to my further comments…


Why am I so spun up about this?  Christian leaders should probably stop pointing out the speck in Peterson’s eye while missing the log in their own.  Christian leaders are as responsible as anyone (I won’t disagree if you say “more” responsible) regarding the loss of freedom in the west.

No, I am not saying because of the Reformation.  I am saying leaders today, right here and right now.  They are the biggest cheerleaders for the war state, the spy state, the militarized police; they are certainly beholden to the terrorist state of Israel.  They pray for the troops, pray for those fighting to protect our…freedom?

They have the US flag and often the Israeli flag – in the hall, in the lobby, in the sanctuary.  They stand and cheer when one of their congregants enlists to go fight.  They have added a fifth gospel to the four that, apparently, were insufficient: the gospel according to Scofield.

Laurence Vance is an outcast for pointing out the depravity of the military; Chuck Baldwin a fool for leaving his cushy tax-exempt position.

Christian leaders are more political, backstabbing, unethical, and power-mad than many in big business and even politics.  Yes, I can speak with some authority on this.

Conclusion

Peterson at least could say this much about Trump (paraphrased):

He has not embroiled the US in an additional stupid war….How do you gauge the success of any American president?  Not engaging in a stupid war is a nice start.

How many Christian leaders have the courage to call the wars started by their blessed Bush II “stupid”?  I will even settle for them calling Obama’s wars stupid.  Instead, they praise Trump for the worst in him – support for Israel, dumping the Iran treaty; they criticize Obama for the best in him – his less-than-enthusiastic support for Israel and his entering into the Iran treaty.

OK, now that I have that off my chest…go ahead and comment about how I am a Peterson apologist.  Focus on my speck instead of your so-called Christian leader’s log.

71 comments:

  1. BM, I think that many a 'theologist' could learn a thing or two from JP's bible stories interpretations.

    If I compare today's uttering from the theologists to those from my time in church, its no comparison really. Today's theologists are more extreme in their progressivism/liberalism than JP.

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  2. Great article BM

    Hope I won't regret this, but let me try to specify "Christianity" here:

    A) Mr North's "Christianity" (typically reduced to Bible-believing) = fanatical Puritan Gnosticism

    B) Mr Peterson's "Christianity" = exploratory Girardian Gnosticism

    Take your pick ;)

    -Sag.

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    1. Sag, what part of "I do not look to Peterson as a theologian" do you not understand?

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    2. BM

      Can't say that I always care that much which parts you choose to not look to with regard to theology. I just offer my own view, is all. Perhaps other commenters will find my contribution worthwhile.

      -Sag.

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    3. Sag,

      I'd probably take the latter over the former. Rene Girard has an interesting theory at least. ;) I can't say much positive for Yankees (godless puritans), except maybe work ethic. But I don't look to either for tenets of my faith.

      Libertarians, already hamstrung as right-wingers trying to 'do leftism' by creating a collective movement, need to be coalition builders. I consider North and Peterson in my coalition. Having said that, it is fair to point out where we disagree, but I think it should be kept in proper perspective - the perspective that most other intellectuals and sadly many Christians are much worse.

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    4. Sag, I appreciate many of your comments. My intent is to cut off the dialogue of theology. I have let it run on the Christians and Government post because it is somewhat inherent in the topic - I knew this is where it would head.

      But not this post.

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    5. Hi ATL

      Yes, Girard's theory is very interesting for a number of reasons not to be discussed right here/now. ;) And I must confess that on the whole, I couldn't find anything to really disagree with in your comment.

      Okay, that's not entirely true, for the devil is often in the details. So while I'd also tolerate both for "the greater good" over and above worse intellectuals/Christians, there still might be problems ahead for the coalition, problems beyond mere disagreement.

      If you take Mr North's Christianity for instance, you have the problematic Calvinist doctrines of "total depravity" and "sola scriptura". The former is incompatible i.m.o. with libertarianism (free will problem) and the latter is a proven recipe for schismatic disruption. I'll elaborate a bit on the second point.

      What is often discussed here at BM's is a historical period when something approaching the freedom we associate with libertarianism was practised. Suppose the ultra-short/simplified Medieval "success formula" was the combination of:

      I - Radical Decentralization of political power.
      II - Radical "Universalization" of a transcendent, overarching and socially binding natural moral framework.

      The second part often seems to shift out of focus, even among libertarians who view the historical role of the medieval Latin Church in a positive light (a force which kept absolutist power aspirations in check). Radical decentralization might not necessarily be a boon in every sphere of human existence, take the need for a common culture, a binding factor of sorts. The view of the human person within the shared moral framework transcended the fragmented medieval body politic and it was exactly because of this Christian universalism that the Natural Moral Law provided a binding factor that contributed to the European miracle (a.k.a. "Western Civilization"). This is the background of the con-scientia, the shared moral knowledge necessary for a high trust society where freedom has a chance to flourish, especially when combined with decentralization of the body politic. With "sola scriptura" you have an inbuilt tendency which is the opposite of what I just tried to picture, so that's one serious problem already for a libertarian coalition aiming to emulate the medieval success formula.

      -Sag.

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  3. Count me as one who's in complete agreement with everything you've said here.

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  4. Fair treatment and fair points all around. Good post!

    It is so sad that it seems the majority of Christians are apologists for war. I've only recently learned about the Scofield bible, probably from commenters here at your site. It makes sense that Scofield's bible would reinvigorate interest in eschatology and millenarianism. I think the leftist elements of Christianity have always been more obsessed with its eschatological side, because in their envious hearts, leftists always desire to overturn the existing world. It should be instructive that these leftist were never willing to wait for Jesus to do it. The millenarian movements around the year 1000 are prime examples of early eschatological leftism. Most were communistic and many were 'free love.' The Anabaptist takeover of Munster was especially indicative of the leftist totalitarian movements to come centuries later.

    And it should be no surprise that American Christianity was turned into an apologist for empire and indefensible wars abroad by the progressive, materialistic, social justice (or leftist) elements within it in the late 19th century.

    As far as Peterson goes, I know Sagunto will disagree with me (and I don't want to upset him, because he very heroically offered to translate Karl von Haller's work!!!), I still think he is a force for good. Maybe he is a Gnostic and a disciple of Carl Jung, but the guy is talking about the importance of the biblical tradition and he is anti-war and anti-socialist. He may not believe what we believe, but he is advocating nearabouts the same culture and tradition we are. I'll take him over Christians who take more direction from the mainstream media, the CIA, the Pentagon, John McCain, and the President than they do the bible or the medieval thinkers like Augustine and Aquinas who built the noble Christian tradition.

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  5. I have no issues with what you've stated in this post.

    The reason that people look for "all correct" or "all wrong" people or situations is because people value certainty more than they value truth.

    Certainty is the intellectually lazy man's path. The search for truth requires effort. A great deal of sifting may need to be done before a grain of truth is uncovered. Most people have neither the time nor the inclination to exert themselves in this fashion. They prefer someone to feed them predigested pablum. I, too, am guilty of this - I believe everyone is to some extent.

    The fact is, one of the major reasons I frequent this blog is because I need to do less sifting here. It is the reason I read many of the authors that I read. It sets my teeth on edge when some self-aggrandizing talking head proclaims how all the world's problems can be solved if this or that politician gains power or if government takes care of this or that issue.

    I've heard some of what Peterson says and, to the extent that he knocks those totalitarian Snowflakes on their ear, I applaud him - but no man has all the answers, not Peterson, not Rothbard, not even Mises.

    With apologies to my atheist friends, we must not forget to include God in our search for truth. If we ask Him sincerely, He will help us distinguish truth from falsehood and speak to us in our minds and in our hearts, giving us knowledge and understanding.

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    1. Woody, very insightful comment and analysis. Thank you.

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    2. Woody, I agree that no man has all the answers, but we all have a piece of the puzzle, and Peterson's piece is in contributing a homeomorphic equivalent for God to atheist's.

      Jesus, Paul, etc. were able to relate to the crowd they were talking to in terms they could not only understand, but accept. Peterson isn't even stretching beyond terms Paul used, e.g. "the unknown God". He just simply leaves it at what is unknown to the mind. This is more than enough to get an atheist to look at the deeper meaning and truth contained in scripture. We must not forget that Christ said there would come a day when the truth would be spoken plainly rather than through parables.

      They aren't imagining who or what God is like. They don't even begin to entertain the idea. In this respect, Peterson, as well as all atheists are closer to the truth than Christianity. They're in no danger of becoming idolaters.

      Paul also points out that asking sincerely isn't necessary to those who God chooses to reveal himself to. In other words, those who seek the truth will find God.

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    3. Thanks, Bionic. I appreciate the encouragement.

      I apologize for waxing religious but I think it's important. We blindly stumble through life and, if we're lucky, we come across something that helps us see.

      I reject the couplet that Man talking to God = Prayer / God talking to Man = Insanity. What good is a god that takes no action nor imparts knowledge to those who diligently seek?

      As you and ATL point out, there are many who claim to speak for God, yet support these senseless wars. Mankind has the capacity to render this planet effectively lifeless - the new Russian weapons appear especially destructive.

      At this point in history, it is imperitive that God speak to us and, more importantly, that we listen while we move forward with our analysis in codifying and establishing a lasting libertarian culture.

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    4. @Snarkle: "Woody, I agree that no man has all the answers, but we all have a piece of the puzzle, and Peterson's piece is in contributing a homeomorphic equivalent for God to atheists ..."

      Snarkle, let me just state that I have no issues with what people believe (or don't believe), except where that belief extends to force - my best friend is an atheist and we have some marvelous discussions (he is still amazed that I don't immediately condemn him for his non-belief).

      It is unfortunate that many, if not most atheists seem to find religous texts distasteful and tend to treat believers as having some sort of psychological disorder. However, given the treatment of atheists by believers, I can sympathize with their feelings.

      There is a lot of information that we can glean from both religious and non-religious texts in assisting us with the codification of a libertarian culture. If a true definition of humility is the ability to learn from anything, we should not reject something out-of-hand because of its source. The issue is, as I stated before, the amount of time and effort needed to sift through the "chaff" to get to the "wheat".

      There is so much information out there that just choosing where to start is a daunting task. That is why I recommend that those of us who wish to build a lasting libertarian culture turn to God, since He knows where to start and what aspects are important.

      We could save a great deal of time if we just listen.

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    5. "In this respect, Peterson, as well as all atheists are closer to the truth than Christianity." - SVB

      Though I appreciate your defense of Peterson, whom I have a great deal of respect for, this statement above is a big red flag. Atheists are closer to the truth than Christianity, because they "don't even begin to entertain the idea" of "who or what God is like?" So not thinking gets you closer to the truth?

      I accept that thinking can and often does lead to error, but from this it does not follow that no thinking will lead you to the truth. No thinking leads you to nothingness, ignorance, and meaninglessness, which may be the "truth" if you're a Buddhist, but for Christians with positive obligations in the world, the truth is either revealed by God through the prophets and scripture, or it is obtained through the disciplined use of the God given faculty of reason.

      "They're in no danger of becoming idolaters." - SVB

      In what world are atheists in no danger of becoming idolaters? Atheists are often the worst and most dangerous idolaters, since they put all their faith in the institutions of man, or rather the State (most often the democratic state). Since they (most often) believe in no transcendent law above mankind, anything the State decrees is law, and therefore 'good.' The State becomes God, or rather the most dangerous idol imaginable.

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    6. I came up in the Methodist church and spent two years at Church of Christ middle school. These experiences convinced me very early in life that I wasn't a believer like those around me. Then I discovered Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett and Harris, and alas found my ilk (or so I thought).

      Then came libertarianism, the universalist kind. I became a radical individualist to the point of being anti-social in the literal sense. It took years to realize that I was beginning to treat libertarianism religiously, which was alarming considering my children were in the womb at that point and

      Then came Lew, then Peterson and Taleb, and now our gracious host BM.

      Suffice it to say, I've been mistaken for a long time. Mr. Shnarkle captures my present position perfectly: I'm no longer hung up on material question of determining who or what God is. For now, I'm content with looking for Him in peace, love, community and dogged truth-seeking. I've a long road ahead.

      I'm forever grateful for Dr. Peterson's lectures, and to BM and the many insightful commenters here at his blog.

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    7. Woody, when you say the best place to start is by turning to God, you aren't really saying anything because once you define God, you've automatically placed yourself into the idolater's camp. Again, Paul points out that you can't know God, but rather can only be known by God(Gal.4:9)
      Atheists can parrot a lot of which they have no clue what they're talking about, but one of the things they say which is quite true is the fact that Christians believe in a god of their own imagination. The texts are quite clear that God is incomparable and yet Christians will turn right around and start talking about what God is like. If they're talking about God, their not talking about God at all. They're talking about their ideas of God, and God is not an idea.

      So to start by turning to God is to turn to one's own ideas which doesn't place you in a superior position to the atheist at all. If you're turning to a god that you believe exists "out there" somewhere, you're still effectively only objectifying God. This makes God part of the created world which again only spotlights our innate inclination to idolatry.

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    8. @Snarkle: "... once you define God, you've automatically placed yourself into the idolater's camp. Again, Paul points out that you can't know God, but rather can only be known by God(Gal.4:9) ... The texts are quite clear that God is incomparable ..."

      Wow. You really have to stretch Galatians in particular and the scriptures in general to reach this conclusion. On the other hand, Jesus clearly states in his great intercessory prayer:

      "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" John 17:4

      Please feel free to draw your own conclusion from this statement.

      I'm sorry that you believe that "turning to God is to turn to one's own ideas". I do not see it that way at all. God has guided me in a manner above my ability many times - and, isn't that what is needed here? Certainly coming to the knowledge of the truth is what James was getting at when he stated:

      "If any of ye lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not and it shall be given him." James 1:5

      Now, we can argue scripture back and forth all day, and make poor Bionic very VERY sorry - or we can bury our scriptural differences and move forward to define a lasting libertarian culture.

      Let those who wish to rely on their own wisdom do so and let those who wish to access an intelligence greater than their own make the attempt.

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    9. "...or we can bury our scriptural differences and move forward to define a lasting libertarian culture."

      This gets my vote!

      I have let such dialogues run a little, both in the Christians & Government post and this one; given the subject matter, I knew that I was the one who opened the door.

      But it seems to me that what has been said is sufficient.

      Thanks.

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  6. bionic,

    Forgive me if I seem nonchalant but it seems to me from just a cursory reading of the subject that the root cause of this reaction in your anonymous emailer is an old one: fear.

    People oftentimes reject something/someone new/unfamiliar because they are afraid. Afraid to re-think what it is they believe they know.

    Being Christians does not make them immune to this, especially if it calls their understanding of the bible and/or their understanding of a biblical worldview or how they are to (re)orient themselves to the world in light of any new knowledge. Imagine what poor Copernicus went through!

    There is a similar controversy that has arisen with theologian and New Testament scholar Scot McKnight's work on our understanding of what we believe to be the historical and biblical Adam and the human genome. It is making many re-think what they believe they know.

    I have long suspected that much of the alleged controversies within Christianity are due to two other relevant issues.

    1) They do not know the dead languages Scriptures find their origins in, and,

    2) The vast majority are woefully unfamiliar with even basic hermeneutics, let alone a more advanced one, to interpret Scripture with.

    I believe these three issues put them at unnecessary disadvantages within the marketplace of ideas and more often than not, mere reactionaries.

    Take heart! You are doing a fine job, imho.

    Larry

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  7. Addendum:

    To expand on what Woody said above re: certainty, I believe they are looking for comfort.

    Larry

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  8. Correction: I inadvertently referenced Copernicus when I should have referenced Galileo.

    Larry

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  9. I’ve learned something from this post and the attendant comments (nearly always the case) and I'm grateful to all participants. Here is a question I ask myself: Is it possible to be a Christian and yet not a believer? Perhaps not, and this may not be the correct place to put such a question, but that’s how I think of myself. Peg

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    1. Anonymous/Peg, It isn't just possible, it's the rule. I don't know any Christians that are believers; not a single one. It's nothing more than a label. How many people are ready to accept Christ's own prerequisites for becoming a Christian("sell your possessions, give alms, and follow me")? There are some, but they aren't going to be found in any church I've ever attended.

      Jesus was pretty clear in pointing out that to truly follow him requires relying on the providence of God rather than people or money. Christians claim to believe that God can raise them from the dead, but they don't think for a second that they can get through the day without money. Here again, this goes to what Jordan Peterson is talking about with all the fear generated by our own minds concerning the unknown. Not just the unknown "out there", but the unknown within our own minds.

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    2. Dear Mr. VonBarkle, Thank you for saying so. Are you familiar with the Tao Te Ching? I think you might enjoy reading some of the translations. I myself have read and enjoyed the LeGuin, the Mitchell, and the Gia-Fu Feng/Jane English among others. Peg

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  10. Good post. Speaking as an Anglican priest, Jordan is not a theologian, but some of what he says can certainly be useful. For Christians I would say eat the fish, spit out the bones. In regards to the failings of the Church, the early church father who said something along the lines of "the streets of hell are paved in the skulls of priests and the skulls of bishops are its lamp posts" sadly wasn't all that wrong.

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  11. Very much like this post. I discovered Peterson through this blog. Since then, I've read his books and listened to his lecture series on the "Biblical Stories" and also "Maps of Meaning." Because of Peterson, I've explored The Bible, Dostoevsky and Solzhenitsyn. Consequently, I've since developed a whole new approach to thinking about culture, government, religion and life in general. Thanks, Bionic, for introducing me to Peterson.

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  12. Great post. Peterson is a phenomenon that comes along once in a generation. He has the uncanny ability to synthesize ideas from different disciplines to support his positions and present them in a clear and convincing manner. He also is virtually unflappable in the face of irrational and ludicrous attacks, which I find refreshing. I assumed he was a Christian because he uses Biblical references to support much of his thesis. In all of the YouTube videos, and in his book, I don't recall him saying that he wasn't a Christian, but that may be just my perception. His personal belief system is not my concern. I appreciate sound reasoning and solid evidence regardless of the source.

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    1. Kojak's Dad, Peterson is a Christian. However, he doesn't attend church anymore. He's mentioned the denomination he belongs to in one of his videos. I think he said he belonged to one of the Presbyterian denominations, but I can't remember for sure. He's also pointed out that he doesn't like to answer in the affirmative because it locks him into whatever box the person who is asking the question has in their own mind. You can ask a hundred different people what it means to be a Christian and get a hundred different answers so I think he's correct in not answering in the affirmative. He's also gone into some detail on what it means to be resurrected, the trinity, the divinity of Christ, etc. So he more than qualifies as a Christian doctrinally, but more importantly, he's a Christian in his actions. He's producing fruit.

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  13. You seem to have taken this a bit too personally, and have exaggerated what I said when it comes to you.

    BM: The writer lists Tom Woods, Bob Murphy, Lew Rockwell, and yours truly as examples of those on the “bandwagon.”… OK, now that I have that off my chest…go ahead and comment about how I am a Peterson apologist. Focus on my speck instead of your so-called Christian leader’s log.

    What I said was, “The Bionic Mosquito seems somewhat taken by him, too.” And what so-called Christian leader are you referring to?

    BM: Of course, I believe there are many Bible-believers who do not understand why any Bible-believer would pay any attention to Gary North when it comes to the Bible….

    I think this is a personal tiff between you two. (That doesn’t mean I agree with all of North’s theology – I don’t.)

    BM: Why any Christian would look to Peterson to be *good* on Christianity is beyond me…

    This seems to be contradictory to your saying, "Is Genesis psychology or history?" Why can't it be both? Why does it take an atheist to elucidate the idea that God may have put more in Genesis than mere history, that God might have offered a meaning and depth to the narrative far greater than the mere recitation of facts and timelines?

    You can’t have it both ways. You can’t imply Peterson is not the go-to guy when it comes to Christianity and then say he has this great insight on Genesis beyond “mere history” (more on that in a moment), “meaning and depth,” etc.

    BM: I do not understand why it is important to turn Peterson into an "either / or" box: either he is 100% right on everything or he is not worth listening to at all.

    Who said that? Not me. As a matter of fact, you quote me saying, “I give Peterson credit for being excellent on several subjects/issues. It's just that he's awful when it comes to Christianity.” If you looked at the comments on the article you linked to (thanks for that), you’ll notice I said, “He's excellent when it comes to the phony gender stuff, the myth of a pay gap between men and women, and a lot of postmodern garbage… While I'm no expert on Peterson (more power to him on the gender issue)…” Your either/or thing is a strawman.

    BM: Peterson…has brought to life meaningful depth in these Biblical narratives.

    An opinion. Certainly not held by me. But another example of where he apparently *is* good on Christianity?

    BM: Unless there are some Christians who believe that God *isn’t* the author of human psychology?

    I would say there is very little overlap when it comes to Christianity and psychology.

    BM: Perhaps Christian critics can spend more time evaluating the value in Peterson's psychological interpretation and less time worrying about adding the years since Adam.

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    1. Mister Spock

      I could swear I've seen the JP associated "either/or" charge before somewhere on this blog. Yes, here it is. Read up the thread from there. Some similarities, I reckon.

      -Sag.

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  14. That was the point of the article. There are those who find little value, if any, in Peterson’s “psychological interpretation.” Just like when you buy a new hammer everything looks like a nail, or Rahm Emanuel saying you shouldn’t let a serious crisis go to waste, Peterson distorts the scripture as an excuse to convince people how smart he is and pontificate on things he doesn’t believe. He rejects the historicity of Genesis. We’ll see the importance of that in a moment.

    BM: Because adding the years since Adam may be the least important religious aspect of the book of Genesis.

    Au contraire (that’s French for you must be kidding.) All Christian doctrine is based in the first few chapters of Genesis. Genesis is written as historical narrative, not allegory, metaphor, psychological gobbledygook, or anything else. Does that mean we can't find principles and applications from historical accounts in the Bible - whether the Creation account in Genesis or the Fall of Jericho, Jonah and the great fish, etc.? Of course not - pastors do that every Sunday.

    But in Genesis, we find the origin the universe. We find the origin of man. We find the origin of sin, salvation, marriage, how many genders there are (settled science, btw), why we have a seven day week, why Jesus died on a cross, why He’s called the last Adam, why there is only one race, etc. We even find the origin of clothes. If man is just another evolved animal like Peterson and other evolution true believers tell us, why are we the only animal that wears clothes?

    In Genesis 3, Satan cast doubt on God’s word. (Has God said?) Peterson’s psychological baloney is his way of doing the same thing. If the Bible in general, and Genesis in particular, is not God’s word and historical truth, if evolution is true, if there have been billions of years since the beginning of creation, etc., then we have no need for Jesus. The Jesus who Peterson says may not have even existed. His teaching leads you away from the truth of scripture, not towards it no matter how he dresses up his mumbo jumbo.

    BM: Why are Christian leaders angry (to the extent that some are)?

    Name one. That’s the whole reason I wrote to North – because I couldn’t find any Christian leaders talking about Peterson at all. Pro or con.

    BM: I don't know; I wonder if it isn't, instead, jealousy.

    Another strawman unless/until you can find one of those angry Christian leaders.

    BM: Someone has the courage to say the things Peterson says about our social situation, the trend in university, etc. Things that need saying, things that Christian leaders should have been saying all along.

    I agree with you, and said that in the comments.

    BM: I have not commented one way or another on Peterson's theological views.

    But you have. You are promoting his teaching regarding scripture – which includes his beliefs that none of this is historic, that Jesus may not have existed, that He isn’t God, etc. That’s a theological statement whether you like it or not.

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    1. I think Peterson has said he doesn't know if Jesus was God. I don't think he ever said that Jesus never existed.

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    2. Royden: I think Peterson has said he doesn't know if Jesus was God. I don't think he ever said that Jesus never existed.

      To question His deity excludes him from being considered a Christian. There are two doctrines that cults always attack - the Deity of Christ and salvation by grace alone.

      However, I did not say Peterson denied Christ's existence, only that he questioned it. I thought I had kept a list of links with his anti-Christian statements, but I can't find it. I'll dig around a bit and see if I can't find the video where he said that.

      Delete
  15. BM: Because I do not look to Peterson as a theologian. (Hint: in case you missed it…he also never once has claimed to be.)

    Another hint: Whoever said he did? Just like your angry Christian leaders comment – it hasn’t happened that I can find.

    BM: Christian leaders are as responsible as anyone (I won’t disagree if you say “more” responsible) regarding the loss of freedom in the west.

    I agree with you – 100%.

    BM: They are the biggest cheerleaders for the war state, the spy state, the militarized police; they are certainly beholden to the terrorist state of Israel. They pray for the troops, pray for those fighting to protect our…freedom?

    100% again.

    BM: Laurence Vance is an outcast for pointing out the depravity of the military; Chuck Baldwin a fool for leaving his cushy tax-exempt position.

    Two great guys. Just like you, Tom Woods, Bob Murphy, Lew Rockwell, et al.

    I had a discussion the other day with my boss at work. She’s what I call a Fox News Christian – a Republican first and then tries to make Republicanism and all the creeps like Bush, McCain, Bolton, et al, part of being a Christian. To her, George Bush was the fourth member of the Trinity. When we were discussing a possible war with Iran, she was all for it. When I said Jesus was the Prince of Peace, she said no, read the book of Revelation and see how Jesus comes back on a horse with blazing eyes, ready to do battle – He’s War Jesus. That’s exactly what she said – War Jesus. I was stunned.

    This is the crap that you and the others mentioned above are battling. And more power to you. It’s just that promoting Peterson for the good stuff (gender issues, etc.) without some kind of a disclaimer when it comes to his garbage about the Bible, is not a good thing. And many of the people promoting him for his video commentaries/interviews on progressivism, etc., not only don’t warn people about his theology (using that as an all-encompassing term), but think a lot of what he says along those lines is enlightening, more substantive than what God told us, etc. You *are* an example of that, and I find it unfortunate and sad. No offense intended. All the guys that I mentioned (and some I didn’t, but I emailed them, too) that are on or near the Peterson bandwagon are my heroes. But this is one area where I think they are really off base.

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  16. Anonymous: Forgive me if I seem nonchalant but it seems to me from just a cursory reading of the subject that the root cause of this reaction in your anonymous emailer is an old one: fear.

    Oh, pshaw.

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    1. Mister Spock,

      The key phrase in the above quote reveals a qualifier: a cursory reading.

      This means that with the addition of new information (which your retort to bm *is*) a new analysis may be required.

      However, in light of your defensiveness at my innocuous reference, I can't help but wonder if I'm really not that far off?

      *Note*

      To be clear, I am not necessarily defending Petersons (or anyone other persons) views.

      Larry

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    2. Anon: However, in light of your defensiveness at my innocuous reference, I can't help but wonder if I'm really not that far off?

      A bit of a jerk, aren't you? What defensiveness are you referring to? I simply dismissed your implication with all that it deserved - a one word response with an implication of my own.

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    3. Mister Spock,

      I apologize if I came across as a jerk, that certainly wasn't my intent.

      I believe we are all adults here and can handle such questions with a modicum of respect and honest reflection, don't you?

      Larry

      Delete
  17. Kojak's Dad: I assumed he was a Christian because he uses Biblical references to support much of his thesis. In all of the YouTube videos, and in his book, I don't recall him saying that he wasn't a Christian

    There is nothing Christian about the man, although I did find one video where he reluctantly called himself a Christian. But when someone questions whether Jesus existed, uses the Lord's name in vain, rejects the plain reading of scripture in favor of a bunch of double talk, holds to no orthodox Christian doctrine, supports evolution, etc., there is no way you can call him a Christian.

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    1. I think we are witnessing his intellectual development, "live" so to speak(glad it's not me on display!). I think this is the video you are referring to:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIB05YeMiW8

      In this video, he does reluctantly claim he's a "Christian", which is news to me as I saw him say he didn't want to be "put in a box" when asked about the existence of God in another video.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0O8Jw6grro

      I think he's an honest person, and I agree with another commenter that he's getting people that are agnostic/atheist or not otherwise inclined to think about Christianity in general.(speaking as an agnostic myself)

      I also believe, based on what I've heard from him up to this point, that he has reverence for Christianity in general.

      I can't judge what a "Christian" is or isn't as I don't feel qualified myself, but my understanding from Christians is most seem to believe that God uses people for his designs regardless of whether they are Christian or not...

      I guess the question is, in the big picture, is he helping Christianity or hurting it in general? I personally conclude the former, but obviously it's subjective and I'm not a believer in the divinity of Jesus at this time, which may make me unqualified to make such a judgement.

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    2. Nick Badalamenti,

      When JP says he doesn't want to be put into a box, I have to wholeheartedly agree because there are way too many people out there who claim the title of Christian, but have ideas that too many other people also tend to associate with Christianity. When someone tells me that they're a Christian as if to say this documents their honesty, integrity, character, etc. I immediately run the other way. I think JP's appreciation for Christianity resides in the teachings of Christ more than the religion itself, and his appreciation for the biblical texts seems to be the focal point of his lectures.

      I think the big questions for JP are the value of myth and meaning in the biblical texts rather than religion, especially religious practices that are carried out without any knowledge or understanding as to why they're being carried out in the first place.

      The divinity of Christ isn't really the crucial question to be asking in my opinion. The texts themselves aren't clear, and the reason he was crucified wasn't because he claimed divinity, but because he claimed he was king which, under Roman rule; was an act of treason.

      The teachings as well as how and why they're carried out are what determines who are followers of Christ, not whether or not they believe he was God. Despite all those who might protest this fact, nowhere in any of the texts will you find Jesus claiming that salvation rests upon whether or not one believes he's God.





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    3. Jesus clearly claims divinity in John 8:56-59 and claims in John 14:1-11 exclusivity for salvation along with another claim of divinity.

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  18. I don't quite see why this person thinks Jordan Peterson is an atheist. Could it be due to the fact that he's done more to lead atheists, skeptics, agnostics etc. to appreciate the bible than all of Christendom combined in the last 500 years? Peterson is doing what all who approach any literature worth reading should do, he's looking at the themes, symbolism, plot, etc. instead of looking at it as if it were some journalist's report of dry historical facts. People, believers and atheists alike; miss the big picture when they get stuck asking, "but did this really happen? Did Moses, Elijah, Jesus, etc. really exist?" The old joke is that if they didn't exist, then it was someone just like them (perhaps even with the same name) who wrote this stuff down because it was important.

    Too many people are inculcated into their faith. Jordan Peterson shows people that there is common ground, and how to think critically. For this he's branded as an atheist, heretic, blasphemer, etc.

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  19. As a service to the reader I highly recommend the work of J.P. Moreland in the areas of neuroscience, consciousness, sub-consciousness, the soul, etc.

    Larry

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  20. Excellent post!

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  21. A Texas Libertarian, "Atheists are closer to the truth than Christianity, because they "don't even begin to entertain the idea" of "who or what God is like?" So not thinking gets you closer to the truth? "

    No, using one's imagination to come up with ideas of who or what God is the problem.

    I accept that thinking can and often does lead to error,

    " the truth is either revealed by God through the prophets and scripture, or it is obtained through the disciplined use of the God given faculty of reason."

    One's God given faculties are worthless if one doesn't know how to use them, but even if one is adept at the faculty of reason, it will be of no use if they haven't disciplined their own mind. Revelation doesn't need the faculty of reason. There can be no mediator between God and humanity other than Christ. Reason can never mediate reality better than reality itself.

    "In what world are atheists in no danger of becoming idolaters?"

    In a world dominated by these ideas of who or what God is or isn't.

    "Atheists are often the worst and most dangerous idolaters, since they put all their faith in the institutions of man, or rather the State (most often the democratic state)."

    I couldn't agree more, but theists are no less prominent defenders of the State.

    " Since they (most often) believe in no transcendent law above mankind,"

    A transcendent law transcends law itself. If it doesn't, it isn't transcendent.

    " anything the State decrees is law, and therefore 'good.' The State becomes God, or rather the most dangerous idol imaginable."

    Perhaps, yet theists are just as likely to get swept up in the political frenzy, and relinquish their rights to the State. The fact is that the religious have given up their God given rights in favor of bestowing them to the State. They have practically no concern for God's laws whatsoever, and instead concern themselves only with the precious laws of the State.

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  22. Given Gary North's public praise of Peterson https://www.garynorth.com/public/17660.cfm, perhaps the GN "liberal/cockroach" comment was directed at the letter writer vs Peterson.

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    1. You know, if my reading comprehension was that poor, I don't think I'd tell the world.

      And this is a perfect example of it not being either/or. Both he and I have praised him where he's good and condemned him where he's bad.

      Delete
    2. Mr. Spock, you really need to calm down, both in this specific comment and generally in this thread.

      According to you, Dr. North did label Peterson a liberal; per North's own words, he labeled him a conservative. According to you, Dr. North questioned why any Bible believer pays attention to him; per North’s own words, Peterson deserves his large YouTube following.

      In North's article, nothing about “liberal”; nothing about false Biblical teaching. You are right: it isn't either / or...but goodness, man: it can’t be both.

      At least not both with such vitriol - either from you or (apparently, as we only have your word on the "liberal" and “Bible believers paying attention” part) Dr. North.

      I really value your comments generally, but this is becoming too much.

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    3. BM: Mr. Spock, you really need to calm down, both in this specific comment and generally in this thread.

      Again, you are reading into this something that isn’t there. I’m not sure why.

      I am not upset at all about this. A few people here made baseless and inaccurate comments about me, and I replied with some humor and mild sarcasm. For some reason, this has been interpreted as vitriol (your word) where none was intended. I’m completely calm, but I recognize that when it comes to commenting in this format or in emails it’s sometimes possible to see a tone of voice or emotion that isn’t there. But I assure you, this is like talking about the weather.

      BM: According to you, Dr. North did label Peterson a liberal; per North's own words, he labeled him a conservative.

      I’m guessing that he used the word conservative re Peterson’s comments on gender, pay issues, etc., and he was using the word liberal in the email to me re his theology.

      BM: we only have your word on the "liberal" and “Bible believers paying attention” part

      I forwarded two of North’s emails to you – if you check the properties of those mails, you will see they were sent to Dr. North and it was he that replied to them. And I suggested you forward them to him to confirm they are authentic.

      I will continue to read your blog, I will continue to recommend it, but per your request, I will stop commenting in this thread although I’m sure I will continue to post occasional comments in the future. (I really wish this topic were continuing, though, since Shnarkle VonBarkle (a great name) is way off base in his comments about Christianity and I’d like to reply to those.)

      And if I may make a final comment re Peterson, EMP said, now that he’s “found” Peterson, “I'm no longer hung up on material question of determining *who or what God is.* For now, I'm content with looking for Him in peace, love, community and dogged truth-seeking.”

      That’s exactly what Peterson’s ‘theology’ does – leads people away from a personal God, specifically Jesus Christ, not towards Him. Happy Trails.

      Delete
    4. Hi Mister Spock

      Thank you for your effort and please don't feel discouraged and don't stop commenting if you think you've something valuable to add.

      Here's something that might interest you with regard to a certain "youknowwhat"-ology and the way it is used by cults/sects (e.g. the sect of the Neocatechumenal Way, operating within the Church).

      In short: the secular or anthropological theo"thing" (Girard/Jung/JP) functions as a trojan.

      The Xiphias Gladius Project

      -Sag.

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  23. The problem isn't Peterson's Christian credentials, which would seem to be non-existant but his sophistry.

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  24. Matt, any examples of Peterson's sophistry that you might be able to share? The only example I can think of is a video of him debating Matt Dillahunty (sp?) up in Canada where he seems to be attempting to put words into Matt's mouth. Matt calls him on it, and JP seems to get the message. Other than that I haven't really noticed him engaging in sophistry.

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  25. Woody, it isn't much of a stretch when one considers the definition of omniscient; an all knowing being cannot be known. The difference is between knowing and known. What can be known can never be all knowing. Likewise, when one objectifies God, they are simply creating idols.

    As I pointed out before, this is where Peterson is able to find common ground between the atheist and theist. The fact that he uses the biblical texts themselves to show that God cannot be objectified, or known is what I find so amazing. It makes sense unless one believes or worships a god that isn't transcendent. Your own bible points out that "there is no other beside me", and that God is "incomparable" or transcendent. Transcendence is effectively no different than non-existence which levels the playing field considerably. As disturbing as this may be for "believers" it's what the texts state. Paul is even careful to distinguish between Christ who creates the world and God who is the origin of all creation. John's introduction is also in agreement, and essentially points out that God is the origin of existence, but if that's the case then apart from existence, God doesn't exist.

    I'm not the one who is bringing up transcendence here either so I don't know why anyone else would have a problem with this. I'm just pointing out the meaning of words, and the fact that JP has done a masterful job of pointing out the fact that our brains are hardwired to seek out the unknown. Some people feel compelled to attach labels or give the unknown a name, but it doesn't really matter except for purposes of identification, and as anyone who has read their bible knows, even demons can identify God, and it ain't gonna help them one iota. Feel free to interpret that however you please.

    The fact is that identification isn't identity, and we've all been duped by our culture into believing that this abstract construction of our own minds is real. It's nothing more than an idea that is as lasting as a wisp of smoke.

    Any half decent text on early childhood development will verify this empirical fact. Anyone who has had children should have noticed their own child's ability to develop an identity; a sense of self. This is the great deception. This is the Satan of the bible who tempts us to seek power, fame, money, riches, etc. Satan is nothing more than the personification of our own egos.

    So not only is it impossible to objectify or identify God, your own identity is nothing more than an idea that is associated with identifying marks e.g. fingerprints, iris scans, dental records, etc. and used by governments to render you a slave regardless of your libertarian ideas.

    You've already agreed to their terms and have become a compliant slave. They can't control an idea that has been denied so Jesus says, "Deny yourself", and "give to Caesar what is Caesar's".

    Disassociating from all these governmentally regulated and taxed identifiers is what makes Jesus a true libertarian. Too bad so-called Christians can't make that leap, and actually become liberated from their own self imposed bondage.

    They just love this idea of themselves too much to part with it. Death will sting those who are unable to follow Jesus' recommendations.

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    1. I will suggest that perhaps this exchange has run its course. I am willing to bet no minds will be changed. Let's just move on.

      Delete
  26. Tip re: semantics.

    Substitute Protestantism/Calvinist for Christianity/Christian and it becomes a bit more clear what this discussion amounts to.

    Here's a good interview to perhaps expand the view a bit:
    Jordan B. Peterson finally asked about the Catholic Faith

    -Sag.

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  27. I've been looking at the links you've provided in your article, and noticed that while neither one of us is what I would categorize as an apologist for JP, we both agree that there's a disconnect between Christians and the tenets of their founder which JP seems to have a better grasp of. I could be wrong here, but if there are problems in JP's arguments, I believe most of them stem from our inability to grasp what he's talking about. Here's an example:

    "Man’s reason cannot explain everything nor understand everything. Peterson both accepts this and rejects this. This seems irrational."

    The problem is in not noticing that there's a difference between the irrational and the non-rational. So everything that can be explained or understood can be accepted whereas it would be rejected when one considers that not everything can be explained or understood.

    On a deeper level, he is also pointing out that while one may be able to explain and understand what is right and what is wrong, this alone isn't enough to enable one to do what is right and shun what is wrong.

    This spotlights the flaw or the inability of reason to do what reason knows is the right thing to do. It is irrational to do evil when one knows that it is irrational. So while one can accept the benefits of reason and rationality in their explanatory power, one will eventually reject them as insufficient to enable one to actually do what is right and correct.

    This is not just rational, it's incredibly perceptive. It's probably one of the greatest insights of Christianity. An intellectual understanding isn't the best motivation. In addition, one can understand that they're doing the right thing, and even do the right thing without ever receiving any lasting benefit because what they've done is purely an intellectual endeavor, or some game to stroke one's ego.

    There's something to be said for "learning by doing", but if what is done doesn't expand beyond one's understanding then it becomes a burden. The examples are numerous.

    We can understand that adultery is wrong, destructive, gambling is foolish, drug and alcohol abuse will eventually kill, etc., but our understanding is woefully inept at enabling us to do the right thing. The motions of the heart are not always rational, but are quite frequently non rational, and far superior as a source of motivation; what we might call a "no-brainer". So when the motions of the heart are in alignment with correct reason, one operates on a much more effective level than merely understanding the difference between the best path to take and the idiotic.

    I think this may be where belief becomes a deciding factor. If you believe that the butcher is incompetent, and is selling meat that could kill you, you're not going to buy it, but Christians today claim a belief that doesn't result in the same results. They don't really believe the tenets of their founder, and have no intention of following in his footsteps. So they fall short. Are we any better? If anyone is living a perfect life, perhaps they can claim they're rational. Most will admit they knowingly do what is stupid.

    One can accept the faculty of reason, but when it is elevated to the status of a god, then it must be rejected. I would submit that the fact that it has been elevated above the five senses illustrates the problem, and more than enough to send it back to where it rightly belongs. I accept it at that level, but reject its reign over the other senses.


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  28. You will receive one Alex Lifeson guitar pick for this one


    Owhyee Cowboy

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  29. The thing that really nails the lazy, sloppy theology of today's so-called "Christians" is their position of the "GAY" issue. One can understand the confusion when you consider the easily verifiable corruption in the translations in the handful of related texts. And, there are rabid-personalities on the extremes of left & right of this subject matter. But, if you approach the issue like a judge would on the precise meaning of the statute in the Torah, -you rapidly reach a conclusion very different than your basic Southern Baptist (& much more like Rabbi's such as Dr.Eliot Dorff). The group that really nailed this is a predominantly secular movement (that also has an apologetics section for Christian & Jews). This group is called "G0YS" - spelled w. a zer0. They nail it and their reasoning resonates in common sense with the Centers for Disease Control as well as the American Red Cross & World Health Organization. And g0ys absolutely DESTROY the likes of the Southern Baptist Convention - because of what the g0ys analysis of the Scripture implies about the OVERALL theological health of such organizations: The Blind leading the blind; -& all the caveats Jesus Himself warned of regarding the hypocrites in the Sanhedrin. If you want to gut modern Christendom with their own Bibles - www.g0ys.org is the place to go!

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    1. Perverts. Plain and simple.

      Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10

      I know I said I wouldn't post anymore, but this is NAP (Not About Peterson.)

      Delete
  30. @Bionic: "Libertarians can’t hold a candle to Biblical scholars (and especially wanna-be Biblical scholars) when it comes to endless debate."

    Amen! ;-)

    I was going to quote some scriptures of my acquaintance but I decided to spare everyone the inevitable conflict that this would cause.

    The Scriptures by themselves are obviously insufficient. Study is insufficient. Discussion and debate are insufficient. The only real way to resolve scriptural conflicts once and for all is for God to continually make Himself available to answer questions in such a manner that everyone would understand to their own satisfaction.

    I believe that this is, in fact, what He does although He does it in a non-forceful manner. To access this help, we must put aside our per-conceived notions and beliefs and purposely seek for it.

    This is the only thing that I've been trying to say through these last two blogs. It truly amazes me that this one small, helpful suggestion could have led to so much controversy.

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  31. The article is not about politics, so it's puzzling that you are attempting to connect it to wars, etc. You have said you don't take Peterson as a theologian, but the whole basis of the article is the fact that Peterson has set himself up as one by giving an extensive lecture series on the Bible and presuming to tell us all what it "really means". The article rebuts his faulty theology and science (as he is a Darwin-pusher as well). It seems you're just upset that CMI doesn't comment on politics- which is outside the focus of our ministry in the first place.

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    1. Mr. Price, I was sent the article by a regular reader of this blog. Subsequent to my writing this post, I understood that I misunderstood the reason he sent me the article.

      I did not write a post to critique the article – you will not find a single quote from the article in this piece, and therefore not a single critique of anything written in the article. I used the article in order to make a general statement about my views of the failings of almost all church leaders - and these views I stand by, and many of these failings are brought to light via the work of Peterson.

      I did not make a single statement about CMI specifically.

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  32. I realize this is off topic but I'd like to point out that anytime a topic which can be related to scripture is brought up it entices those who think the holy scripture is literal truth and that the world is only 10000 years old (or whatever the number is) to comment. They probably claim pi is equal to 3 as well. These people are an embarrassment to Christianity.


    SD

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    1. Yes, it is off topic. Keep it to yourself, or comment at another site where this might be relevant.

      Delete
  33. Liberty was formally lost in America when the 18th-century founding fathers made liberty a goal (almost a god) rather than a corollary of implementing the Bible's perfect law of liberty (Psalm 9:7-11, 119:44-45, James 2:12) as the supreme law of the land.

    For more on how Yahweh's triune moral law applies and should be implemented today, see free online book "Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant" at http://www.bibleversusconstitution.org/law-kingdomFrame.html.

    Then "A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government."

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