"the West has viewed Christianity more as a set of beliefs that are analogous in some sense to a cognitive theory of the world. So you have to state that you believe a set of propositions about Christ...
The Orthodox would say, as near as I can tell, that you should pick up your damn cross and stumble up the hill—that’s your job"
Jordan Peterson, a psychologist, professor, author, and guru, is adored by conservatives for how unapologetically and intelligently he exposes the demagoguery of social liberalism and prevailing Western 'values.'
His ability to look into the core of things and identify the fallacies that orient modern Western society towards degradation is always shocking, witty, and refreshing. Here, Mr. Peterson, who freely speaks about the importance of spirituality for the human being, regularly cites Biblical narratives and interviews Christians, suggests that Western Christians have lost sight of a crucial angle of their faith--one that Orthodox Christianity posits as central (transcript provided below).
The Orthodox look at Christianity from a slightly different angle than the Protestants and Catholics. And I’m not putting down the Protestants and Catholics, they have a perspective, a reason for their viewpoint.
But what’s happened in the West, I think, (and this is a dreadful over-simplification, so please forgive me) is that the West has viewed Christianity more as a set of beliefs that are analogous in some sense to a cognitive theory of the world.
So to be a Christian in the West, you have to accept that Christ died for your sins and that you’re redeemed. So you have to accept Christ as your Redeemer, and that really means to state that you believe a set of propositions about Christ. That He was the Son of God, that His death and resurrection, His Sacrifice, redeemed mankind and then you partake in that redemption by laying out that accordance with a set of facts, let’s say.
I understand why that’s how its worked out but I think there's a big risk in that and I don’t think the Orthodox fell into that to the same degree.
Their idea—and this is there in Protestantism and Catholicism too, it’s there, but its more secondary, more implicit emphasis and I think that’s a problem, especially in the modern world—the Orthodox would say, as near as I can tell, that you should pick up your damn cross and stumble up the hill—that’s your job.
And the Cross is the x, where everyone is located. You’re right at the center of reality; you’re suffering and dying and being reborn all the time at the center of reality as you transform. And you have to accept that and embrace it.
And that’s a very very hard thing to do because it means to embrace all your flaws and the flaws of reality and the tragedy of existence and your death and the sum total of human evil; all of that. Unbelievably demanding requirement, but you do what you can to do that.
And not only do you pick up your cross, so to speak, but you stumble uphill towards the city of God, you stumble up towards what’s good. And that’s your destiny, and that’s where meaning is to be had.
And the Orthodox lay that out quite well: that’s your goal, is the imitation of Christ and Christ is the Logos is the Christian story. Christ is the Logos that God uses at the beginning of time to transform pre-cosmogonic chaos into habitable order. Truthful speech.
So that’s the thing: that fact that you are capable of uttering truthful speech is an indication that you’ve shouldered your cross and are stumbling uphill.
A very coherent theory and the Orthodox, I think, have done a very good job of keeping that idea at the forefront of their belief. And so that’s what I think about Orthodox Christianity.