In the following is a transcript of the last few minutes of the video of the appearance of Jordan B. Peterson at Liberty University on Friday, March 29, 2019. The event proceeded in an interview format, mostly involving interaction between Peterson and Liberty Director of Spiritual Formation David Nasser.
At about 21 minutes into the video, a young man later identified as “David” came onto the stage, took a microphone and stated that he was sick and needed help. Both David Nasser and Jordan Peterson immediately went over to David to console him, as he wailed his agony. The video went to audio-only for a minute or so, as David Nasser prayed for David. Then he was led off the stage by security people.
Note that a video was posted the next day, focusing on this poignant interruption. This except included a spliced-in cell-phone video taken from the audience. Peterson can be seen kneeling next to David, attempting to console.
At the end of the event, David Nasser closed in prayer, first asking Peterson how he could pray for him. Given below is a transcript of the prayer request from Peterson (JP) and the prayer by Nasser (DN).
Explanatory comments are in square brackets.
DN: How can I next week pray for you brother? How can I right now, pray?
JP: My fervent hope – and perhaps this is something that could be transformed into a prayer – is that the mistakes that I am inevitably going to make while I’m pursuing … that I don’t pay an undue price for the mistakes that I’m inevitably going to make as I pursue what I’m pursuing. That’s my fervent hope, you know, and it has been since all of this has broken around me that I would be careful enough in my speech – and that’s the Logos you know – that I would be careful enough in my speech so that I would stay on the right track, on the straight and narrow path, and fulfill whatever obligations are my privilege to fulfill. And what I hope from the people that are supporting me, is that if they wish to pray for me is that I’m careful enough, I remain careful enough and fortunate enough so that my inevitable faults don’t interfere too catastrophically with whatever good I might be able to do. So…
DN: [Speaking to the audience now standing] Amen, let’s pray for our brother. C’mon, put your hands towards him. [Praying] Lord, I thank you for Dr. Peterson. I thank You Lord for the people that he’s been able to help. I thank You God for the principles in the book [12 Rules for Life] that have helped people just look up, and I pray that what they would see as they look up is more than answers that fix the problems, but more than ways to medicate the issues, but that, God, they would just look inside their soul and need, and wake up to the fact that they need You. I thank You Lord that it’s [12 Rules] an initial bridge that hopefully points to the Gospel. And I pray that for the people who are reading it, that that book will call people unto Your Word, a lamp unto our feet. I thank You for the seeking heart, the humility, and the teachability of our friend [Peterson]. I pray that as he seeks You out that he would begin to see You Jesus as more than just a hero, but a personal Savior. Just do that in his soul, Lord.
We love You God, we’re thankful that You’re here. Lord we pray for David right now. We pray that he would know that we’re for him, we’re with him, I pray next semester he’s a student here at Liberty [Peterson nods in agreement], that I get to pour into him, that I get to learn from him. I pray in the years to come David will look back on this moment and see it as a crossroad moment where You just changed the trajectory of his life. We love you God. We learn from each other, and so thank You that we’ve learned so much from Dr. Peterson. We pray this in Your Name. Amen. Amen.
The Nasser prayer is in part a petition for both Peterson and his listeners to open their hearts to God, and to receive Jesus as personal Savior. As good and Biblically sound as Peterson’s “12 Rules” are, they are not the whole Gospel, and in fact miss the most important aspect of Christianity, the belief in the One who empowers the Believer to overcome the sinfulness of their own nature. As the scripture says:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17)
An illustrative discussion between Nasser and Peterson took place immediately following the Convocation at Liberty, and dealt with this issue. It provides some excellent insight on how a therapist or counselor should deal with people coming to them for help. Careful listening, and no superficial responses are two factors addressed.
Towards the latter part of the discussion, attention is moved back to question of how “12 Rules” and similar approaches line up with the complete Gospel of Jesus Christ. It seems that elements of Peterson’s approach are within the Biblical mandate for salvation. However, when he moves into the use of metaphysical and/or Jungian constructs, it is less clear as to the alignment with the orthodox Gospel.
More positive interaction between Peterson and believing Christians such as David Nasser would be of great benefit.