Why even mention Jordan Peterson?

After I posted last night on Jordan Peterson, and the positive attitude many serious Catholics have towards his spiritual journey, I thought for a moment, okay, how does this connect at all to the Ordinariates and Anglican patrimony?

Well, it connects to something that must be the preoccupation of all of us and that is how we evangelize and how we encourage people we meet to go deeper in their faith, especially if the truths we profess–done with a lack of sensitivity and proper timing– might be too much like throwing someone  into the deep end of the pool when they don’t know how to swim.

A friend of mine, a faithful evangelical Christian, was interested in exploring the Catholic faith.  There was a lecture about Mary at a nearby Catholic parish and we met there.  I became a little concerned about how my friend would react when it turned out the lecture was focused heavily on Marian consecration, and the priest tended to use that shorthand rather than saying consecration to Jesus through Mary.

The lecture, I feared, would drive my friend away from the Catholic Church as it might inflame the concerns Protestants have about our overdoing our devotion to the Blessed Mother.

Thankfully, she took it all in good stride and even asked some good questions during the Q&A afterwards.

“You really jumped into the deep end of Catholicism at this lecture,” I said to her afterwards.  “Would you like to another other deep end?”

Then I led her to the Adoration chapel.

Much of my sympathy and patience for seekers stems from the fact I was one for such a long time, and my faith had to grow little by little as God shed more of His Light on my path when I was ready for it.

I could not be pushed, and people insisting I had to believe one way and not another, or that I would not be saved if I did not become part of the Catholic Church, served to push me in the opposite direction.

How can we both preserve and promote our beautiful Anglican and English Catholic patrimony and at the same time draw people into deeper conversion, invite them to encounter Christ, first of all in us, and in our fellowship and welcoming communities.  How do we encourage that ever deeper conversion, that experience of Jesus Christ, in  sharing the truths of Scripture, and introducing people to the beauty of our worship?

Your thoughts?

1 thought on “Why even mention Jordan Peterson?

  1. The use of shortened references to spiritual realities is always a danger because the true meaning of spiritual commitment is lost. Some years ago, I was a volunteer in a telephone center of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association that received calls from viewers to the number for spiritual help that was displayed on the screen during that organization’s televised crusades. In one call that I remember quite vividly, I asked the caller whether she had ever accepted Jesus as her lord and savior.

    “Oh, honey, I accepted Jesus as my savior years ago!”

    “I see. And when you accepted Jesus as your savior, did you also embrace him as your Lord and surrender your life to his rule?”

    “Ah, what do you mean?”

    So I proceeded to explain to her that “accept Jesus” was common shorthand of evangelical Christians, but that it was really about submission of our lives to the Lordship of Jesus so that he is in charge of our lives and went on to lead her to that commitment of faith. Of course, this is precisely the commitment of faith that the sacrament of baptism is supposed to signify.

    In the Catholic Church, we have more than a few people whose spirituality centers around the saints, including our Lord’s mother — tragically, often to the point that they have lost sight of our Lord and of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. The Protestant “reformers” reacted to this dynamic by going to the opposite extreme — that of stripping the saints completely out of their spiritual lives. Of course, both extremes are wrong. Nevertheless, we still have a situation in which many Protestant Christians will turn away from discussion of the saints, especially if it is in a context of prayer or commitment of faith.

    In dealing with people who belong to other Christian denominations, it is absolutely essential to put the emphasis on the right syllable. If I were speaking, I would pronounce that “put the em-PHAH-sis on the right s’l-AH-ble” to emphasize the point. Here, I think St. Paul provides some excellent guidance for Catholic preaching today.

    I Corinthians 1:10-15I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

    Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name.

    I Corinthians 2:2For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

    A focus on Christ, and on other foundational truths of Christian faith, will be a corrective to those among us whose emphasis is misplaced, and it also will help to build a bridge toward unity with our Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ. And on the liturgical celebrations of the saints, where some mention of a saint’s life is appropriate, the emphasis should be on that saint’s example in following Christ and on that saint’s fidelity to the gospel.

    As to seekers, we have to meet them where they are in their journeys of faith.



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