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Jordan Peterson ponders the Bible and consciousness after death

Jordan Peterson
Clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson speaks at Hillsdale College's commencement ceremony in Michigan on May 7, 2022. |

The renowned clinical psychologist, Jordan Peterson, has developed a growing interest in the Bible. In a discussion earlier this year on Joe Rogan’s podcast (see the YouTube video with nearly 6 million views), Peterson shared what he learned about Scripture when visiting the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. Peterson now believes “the Bible is more than true.”

Only Jordan Peterson can say whether or not he has been able to connect the dots between the message of the Bible and the salvation of his own immortal soul.

While speaking at the University of Cambridge in the UK last November, Jordan Peterson was asked: “Does consciousness die with the body?” Peterson responded, “Well I don’t know, I would say. I mean, we don’t understand consciousness. We don’t really understand its place in the cosmos, let’s say. But I’m not qualified to answer such questions.”

As a psychologist with decades of experience, Jordan Peterson speaks intelligently on a wide range of topics. But the challenging question he was asked about consciousness after death brings the discussion into a realm far above human reason. We simply do not know the answer to this all-important question unless God tells it to us. 

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God” (Deuteronomy 29:29). “Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). Christ’s apostles were “entrusted with the secret things of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1).

Secrets are revealed when the Messiah enters your life. Jesus is the Word made flesh; (John 1:14) the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End; (Revelation 22:13) the sinless Son of God; the second Person of the Trinity; and the "Creator of all things in Heaven and on Earth, visible and invisible” (Colossians 1:16). No one understands consciousness after death better than Jesus Christ. 

The Lord who created our immortal soul and our mental faculties has revealed in Scripture the truth about life after death. Jordan Peterson is on a spiritual journey, and the Bible holds the key to unlocking his personal perplexities and uncertainties concerning consciousness after death.

Noah Webster Jr. has been called the “Father of American Scholarship and Education,” and Webster’s name “has become synonymous with ‘dictionary’ in the United States." Noah Webster said, “Education is useless without the Bible. The Bible was America’s basic text book in all fields.” Interestingly, Noah Webster also “founded the Connecticut Society for the Abolition of Slavery in 1791."

In order to understand consciousness after death, one must accept what God has said on the subject. God created man’s body, soul, intellect, emotions, consciousness, etc. And there is a level of knowledge that can only be reached when the Holy Spirit gives you the answers as you read the Bible with an open mind and a believing heart.

Some people will immediately object and say, “You cannot possibly know for a fact that Heaven and Hell exist, and that everlasting life in Heaven is a free gift given to those who receive Christ as Savior. You can only believe it and take it on faith.” 

Actually, you can know it, too. First, you believe it, and then God gives you an assurance that what you are believing is definitely true, real, and eternal. I refer to this knowledge as “sanctified reason.” It is spiritual knowledge from God that flows from the Word of God as a Christian stands in faith on the promises of God.

The Apostle John penned these beautiful words of assurance and affirmation to believers: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). 

Notice that faith comes first for the believer: “You who believe.” And this faith is based on the Gospel message, which is rooted in the historical events of the cross and the empty tomb. Relying upon God’s promise in the Gospel (John 3:16) results in sanctified reason: “So that you may know that you have eternal life.” 

The 19th-century American evangelist D.L. Moody said, “Faith is the root. Assurance is the flower.” 

You first place your faith in Christ as your Savior from sin, and then God begins to give you the assurance that your sins are forgiven and Heaven is your eternal home. None of us would have a clue about Heaven or Hell apart from God revealing the truth to us in His Word. 

“All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). And when you take God at His Word, the Holy Spirit breathes on your soul. God breathes faith, knowledge, and assurance into the hearts and minds of those who receive Jesus as Savior. (John 1:12)

Sanctified reason is what led Job to proclaim, “I know that my Redeemer lives” (Job 19:25). How else could he possibly know such a thing? God revealed it to him, and the Holy Spirit will reveal it to you as well when you take God at His Word.

Jordan Peterson, like each of us, is free to accept the following declaration from Jesus as literal truth: 

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25,26)

Some people believe Christ’s promise in the Gospel, while others reject it. Some people rely only upon human reason, while others believe the biblical doctrines contained in Scripture. Believers are given sanctified reason from the Holy Spirit to know that what they believe is true. The choice is yours. 

Pondering Scripture is one thing, but actually believing the Gospel is central to knowing Christ (John 10:14) and becoming “wise for salvation.” (2 Timothy 3:15) Trusting Jesus as your Savior is what makes all things new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Taking God at his Word is the only way to have genuine certainty about life after death. Everything else is just a shot in the dark.

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska. 

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