In a postmodern era where worldview beliefs are acquired as items on a buffet, Christianity treated as an option out of many, becoming merged with societal customs or even other religions. Currently, there are new age practices integrated into mainstream churches, like Bethel and Hillsong, which then export their music to other churches to replicate into their worship. There are countless others which integrate worldly ideologies antithetical to God, descend into antinomianism, or function as saltless social clubs. The rapid degradation of Western Civilization has led to a reaction of those clinging to Tradition amidst decay. The term “Trad,” has been used to encompass those who have fetishized longstanding institutional church traditions like Eastern Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism, though the term could aptly describe the conversion of Andrew Tate to Islam.
Postmodernism is Gnosticism experienced. Disconnected from Christianity which built Western Civilization, the world, in its rejection of what came before, seeks out its own truth, a new truth. Experience even becomes a substitute for objective truth and morality. Rejecting objectivity, Man becomes the god over his life.
As secular humanism breeds further societal decay, there is an increasing reaction to these degenerative movements, which warrants the question of whether people adopt Christianity as an antidote to chaos. Rather than view Christianity as a religion of Lordship Salvation in Jesus, the perfect incarnation of God, Christianity being used as a philosophical basis to one’s personal worldview, whereby they might know the resurrection, but lack faith in the Messiah who rose from the grave.
Mikhaila Peterson: Background
Mikhaila Peterson represents an interesting case study between philosophy and religion, serving as the launch point for this necessary discussion. Born as the daughter to Jordan Peterson, she has been raised to believe in Christianity through a psychological and philosophical lens. Her childhood was wrought with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, eventually requiring surgery. During this time, she was also clinically depressed and has been on a number of SSRI medications. Her extensive use of medications includes abuse of OxyContin and psychotropic drugs. Believing that her heavy protein diet cured her various ailments, she upstarted the LionDiet and has been a proponent of a beef-based diet.
In addition to being a millennial businesswoman, she is also a mother. She married Andrey Korikov in 2017 and had a daughter with him. In November of 2021, she announced her divorce to Korikov and was remarried to Jordan Fuller in June of 2022. It is during this time where she contends she converted to Christianity, announcing in October of 2021.
Jordan Peterson Family Business
From her father’s popularity, Mikhaila rose in prominence, achieving a YouTube platform of just under 1 million subscribers while being CEO of her father’s Luminate Enterprises, which was his media company. Basically, Jordan Peterson is a family business, and her prominence is a direct offshoot. The relationship between family is important when analyzing one’s faith; how one treats their nonbelieving or outright apostate kin is important to their walk. It matters for Charles Stanley, John Piper, and Andrew Klavan. For Mikhaila, her father sells worldly, gilded wisdom and biblical teaching to a predominantly right leaning audience, which includes many Christians. Should a believer really be involved in a nonbeliever monetizing errant biblical teachings?
Being in the family business, Mikhaila sells her father, as would be expected. During the podcast, she promoted her father’s upcoming book entitled We Who Wrestle with God on his alleged faith journey, which she contends will disprove atheism, or so he seeks. To her credit, she does not contend that her father is Christian, though noted that he wavers on the issue.
Christianity in the Modern World
In a podcast garnering over 180K views, Mikhaila Peterson interviews Jon McCray of the channel Whaddo You Meme? in which she consults McCray as a “Christian expert” helping her navigate as an admittedly infant Christian. McCray relates well to Mikhaila being that as she suffered pain in her childhood, he dealt with loss of hearing. Both come from a philosophical background, where McCray’s testimony involves exploring Christianity through a college course on philosophy and world religions.
Rather than provide helpful insight, McCray is the blind man leading the blind, and this is a recurrent theme throughout their discussion. Whether for ineptitude as a podcaster or through confusion, Mikhaila will resort to one-word answers or abrupt transitions. Her aloof behavior could reasonably be construed as disinterest in faith matters. The overall conversation engenders more questions than answers while exposing Mikhaila Peterson to a liberal, squishy Christianity.
McCray’s explanation for his arrival to believing Christianity derives from the historicity of the resurrection and the sense of the worldview. McCray’s explanation on his faith is less about his own brokenness than the logic of the Christian worldview.
Mikhaila asks a rudimentary, yet skeptical question surrounding Christianity: Why Would God’s Sacrifice Save Us? The question is posed as a subject she has had difficulty understanding, not a question she is asked by nonbelievers and struggles with providing a sufficient answer. For an unbeliever, the question is reasonable, as there might be an underlying denial of sinful nature or a rejection to the divinity of Christ. For a believer, even a new one, there should be no confusion to this question. This is the gospel. If one does not understand this question, they do not have the gospel. One should understand the answer to this question before being baptized. The answer she should be given is “does she believe she is a wretched sinner before a Holy God deserving of eternal damnation?” Another way to retort might be, “Does she think she is worthy on her own merit?”
McCray’s response ties in the Old Testament sacrificial system to Jesus being the perfect sacrifice, but his wording on sin conveys that Man sinned to get happiness apart from God, muddling the important distinction that sin stemmed from “ye be like God” separating Man from God. Adam and Eve were not want for anything in the garden, even happiness. He should be explaining that Adam wanted to become God, and through him all of Man and creation fell, but the lack of emphasis on Original Sin and a Historic Adam is unsurprising and is persistent throughout the discussion.
I had the same kind of experience that you said you saw everywhere which was a whole bunch of really strange things happened they like they lined up and then when I started believing my life changed so it was like too many weird things that I couldn’t explain happened until God was the most logical explanation and then once I started believing my life changed for the better so that sounds like what people experience regardless of whatever religion they’re looking at.
God will use strange coincidences to save people, but these experiences call His children to repentance. Whether their lives improve is not guaranteed. In this life, conversion could be costly, and God might establish trials to strengthen one’s faith. For Mikhaila Peterson, who has endured medical hardship and failed relationships, she is able to recognize a higher authority through the circumstance; however, her words leave ambiguity that this could equally apply to other religions. Though this quote cannot alone articulate whether she subscribes to a form of universalism, there is a notion that she perceives that any and all religions can improve peoples’ lives. Perhaps in a strictly materialistic sense, this can be apparent, but if she means spiritually, then this would suggests religion being a personal truth rather than a universal truth. In this circumstance, Christianity would be reduced to a tool of postmodern, social and personal utility.
The conversation then shifts to their experience in church, which Mikhaila began attending regularly with her husband Jordan Fuller. She claims that the church in Tennessee they went to was cult-like and set off warning flags, like the pastor “[posturing] under fluorescent lights.” It is unclear the size of the church or the seeker sensitivity that she disliked, as she does not articulate whether they were biblically sound or not. The two proceeded to discuss their desire for authenticity and growth within a local church, rather than fakeness or “Ned Flanders” cultish vibes. The use of the Simpsons character impresses an image upon the audience, but it is unclear whether this reflected the reality, and McCray does nothing to flesh out her perspective on this church that might be useful for the audience. Because if someone in her audience were wondering what qualities to look for in a church, they would only get the answer, “one that normal people” attend.
Jon McCray’s Liberalism
Jon McCray is one of many prominent figures in “Christian YouTube” who are squishes on politics and embrace liberalism. His content is largely celebrity and pop-culture commentary, not so much political or church issues.
Half of the interview with Mikhaila is spent on topics which expose his theological holes and outright heretical misunderstandings of the bible.
McCray believes in evolution and its compatibility with Scripture. Though he talks about the supposed dormant DNA in whales, there is no discussion on the origin of man, only that McCray believes God created creatures and then evolved them into others. To McCray, Young Earth Creation conflicts with both science and the credibility of God that he would make creation appear aged. While YEC might not be essential to the Gospel, deviation on this issue strongly correlates with other post-modern heresies and denials of Scripture, especially when the compromise is a means to support belief in biological macroevolution.
McCray is a student of William Lane Craig, who he sites as an influence towards the end of the video, along with Tim Keller. William Lane Craig denies a historic Adam and believes that Genesis 1-11 is myth, which is objectively denying the authority and accuracy of Scripture. If Genesis 3 is myth, then there is no Original Sin of which every man is born. Denial of Original Sin is Pelagianism. McCray wrongly contends that these chapters are of a different genre than the rest of the book and employs the “Day-Age” argument to creation. EDW did a livestream with Dr. Russell Fuller, an Ancient Hebrew expert and Old Testament scholar, who thoroughly debunks these misconceptions, specifically citing Craig’s beliefs.
Mikhaila Peterson shares this belief, even if she has no ability to reconcile it with Scripture. It is more the biproduct of her predisposed belief in evolution and reconciling that with God. The two discuss the “Psychological Significance” of the Bible which her father is consumed by, but this is the view that Genesis is merely allegorical mythos with psychological archetypes, something typical of Peterson’s teachings. Believing the Bible to have significance is not the same as inerrancy, authority, or inspiration.
On a question about Woke Churches, McCray channels his inner Tim Keller. He debates the semantics on wokeness to which Mikhaila references trans supporting churches. McCray then cites that “woke churches” do not have large followings and the issue is the “right wing” pouncing on an isolated situation. McCray’s approach is to out-dumb her and obfuscate on the liberal creep within the Church because a cultural commentator as himself either knows what “woke” means, or is himself woke. Citing Keller, McCray says, inarticulately, that there are four issues which Christians should concern themselves with: against racial injustice; the poor and the marginalized; pro-life (undefined); and for the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. In his words, “two of them sound conservative two of them sound liberal.”
McCray dodges on the woke question and proceeds to “third way” equivocate on politics, believing that politics does not fit neatly in a box. He states that a church in Los Angeles cares more about two of these issues while a church in Louisiana cares about the other two. If one does not care about life inside the womb, they do not care about life outside the womb. The reason the Democrats are wrong about racial injustice, which is largely perception over reality, is the same reason they are wrong about what is best for the poor, while they expand the definition of marginalized to include illegal immigrants and gays. Worldview matters, and it is comprehensive to one’s entire political belief system.
Tragedy of the False Convert
Mikhaila Peterson demonstrates the symptoms of a false convert, beginning with her confusion surrounding Substitutionary Atonement and lack of emphasis on her sin being an affront to God. Her perceived disinterest when asking question or seeking answers to her inquiries is also an indicator, albeit more subjective to viewer interpretation. Given her prominence, and that of her father who is idolized, her audience will fawn over any movement towards faith, perceived or legitimate.
When famous or rich, a false convert is likely to receive positive reinforcement, and many will gravitate around them to take advantage of their fame. Kanye West suffered having several false teachers platforming him for their own benefit. James 2:1-5 rebukes such favoritism:
My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
Mikhaila Peterson is the wealthy woman wearing fine clothes, and it is to her detriment that she is shown this favoritism when she really needs an unrecorded sit-down with a biblical pastor at her local church. Moreover, Paul warns against elevating new converts to leadership in 1 Timothy 3:6. Although it refers to overseers, the passage could be extrapolated to deacons, teachers, and leaders of any sort. We certainly saw this with Kanye West elevating himself and pursuing leadership in worship services and even running for President. Given the size of her platform, her faith should not be made a spectacle by smaller, squishy platforms like “Whaddo You Meme?” who are seeker friendly and unlikely to offer rebuke or proper explanation to her misconceptions. McCray placated a wealthy, famous woman who does not appear to have a proper understanding of the Gospel. For that he should be ashamed.
Philosophy or Religion?
Both Mikhaila Peterson and Jon McCray approached Christianity from a philosophical standpoint where one can prove the existence of God; therefore, choose Christianity. It is the age-old dilemma of faith versus knowledge. Even Satan knows that Jesus physically rose from the grave. Even the demons recognized the Son of God. Knowledge alone does not save.
Christianity is not a philosophy; it is a religion. One cannot arrive at the knowledge of God’s existence and the historicity of the Resurrection and automatically be saved. Plenty of heretics believed these things. Other religions, like Mormonism, affirm the resurrection. Perhaps Pope Francis believes in a bodily resurrection.
Christianity is one’s personal declaration of Jesus as Lord over their life. The Christian recognizes not just that man sins or is imperfect, but that their very desires are wicked and desperately in need of a Savior. Ephesians 2:8 states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Within their discussion, Mikhaila and McCray treated salvation as knowledge that can be discovered, not as a gift of grace through faith which they have received.