Archive for March, 2014

Here I am in that old place again
Down on my face again
Crying out I want you to hear my plea
Come down and rescue me

How long will it take
How long will I have to wait?

And all I want is all you have
Come to me, rescue me,
Fall on me with your love
And all you want is all I have
Come to me, rescue me,
fall on me with your love

Sanctify I want to be set apart
Right to the very heart
Prophesy to the four winds
And breathe life to this very place

How long will it take?
How long will I have to wait?

And all I want is all you have
Come to me rescue me,
Fall on me with your love
And all you want is all I have
Come to me rescue me,
Fall on me with your love

Lifted up I’ve climbed with the strength I have
Right to this mountain top
Looking out the cloud’s getting bigger now
It’s time to get ready now

Written by Stuart Garrard/Martin Smith ©1997 Curious? Music UK

The legendary performance of this song by Delirious? at Wembley Stadium

The final performance of this song in London

by Cory Anderson
Lead Pastor,  Shadow Mountain Church;  West Jordan, Utah

Introduction:  One of the criticisms that’s often thrown at Shawn McCraney’s critics is that they fail to present their grievances to him privately per the first step in “The Matthew 18 Formula” (see Matthew 18:15-20)  before they go public with them (the second and third steps).  In reality, over the years many have met with Shawn only to be met with resistance, stubbornness, and in some cases hostility.  

A case in point was Shadow Mountain Church Lead Pastor Cory Anderson’s March 4th, 2014 lunch meeting with Shawn which ended in Mr. McCraney creating an embarrassing public scene at the restaurant.  After much consideration and conversation with other Christians Pastor Anderson has made the following appeal public – both as a chronicle of the event and as an attempt to turn Mr. McCraney around from the bad path that he’s currently on.  (Editor) 

The following letter is in response to a letter I received from Shawn after our lunch together on March 4th. Here is the order of events.

1) I attended Inquisition 2014 (like everyone else I was blindsided).
2) I followed up with an invitation to Shawn to join me for lunch so I could address my concerns.
3) Lunch went poorly when Shawn treated me disrespectfully and created a scene.
4) I followed up with an email to Shawn.
5) He replied to let me know his perspective of the lunch (which he has requested remain private).
6) What follows was my reply to him.

Good afternoon Shawn,

I want to offer a reply to your recent email/letter communication with me. See below:

First, I want to thank you for acknowledging your error in not reading my email invitation to lunch. I understand how you felt at lunch because you had a different set of expectations because you did not read the email in its entirety where I had made it plain what my intentions were.

Cory Anderson

Cory Anderson

Second, just for the record, I have never served in the military and the t-shirt I was wearing was not a tight fitting martial arts shirt. It was a baggy one that had Unified Brazilian Jiujitsu on it. I am a practitioner of BJJ. That much is true. I cannot help it if I look the way I do. I often get thought of as a wrestler, football player, hockey player, military man etc…

Third, I did have documents in front of me because I had planned on talking with you about your actual statements instead of trying to do some summation of what you said. I believe it’s good to look at actual quotes and that this is the best way of being fair to you.

Fourth, not everything I addressed with you was spoken by you ‘in the heat of public confrontation’ as you commented in your letter to me. I have watched other shows where you are not in the heat of confrontation and you display the same poor behavior.

Fifth, are we not supposed to approach someone who claims to be brother and speak with them about our concerns? I sought to do this with you and expressed myself with gentleness and you then accused me of coming at you pastorally. Is this not how I am supposed to approach a brother? I approached you that way because I am a pastor and I try to handle things with gentleness and respect.

Sixth, I did address several very important issues with you.

• The Trinity
I spoke at length with you on this subject because of your failure to represent accurately the doctrine of the Trinity. You did make heretical statements and also contradicted yourself. I have the manuscript evidence to prove it. As a teacher it is vital to be able to handle the truth accurately, but you did not do that (James 3:1; Titus 1:5-9). I also addressed the issue because you went on the attack against the doctrine of God and also the men in history who drafted the creeds.

You revealed that you had not done your homework and yet you sought to attack something you know very little about. Please tell me your sources for your comments on the history of the Trinity? I would like to know exact names of authors and titles of papers. I already did a preliminary search online and found very little of anything in support of your jaded view of the history. So, I ask you to please point me to the sources. You cannot go on the attack, make statements that are fallacious, and then fail to offer sources. Whether you like it or not, you will be held accountable for your teaching and as a Pastor the only way I can do that with you is to warn you and then warn my church family. Please, please, please, show me the sources so I might check out the evidence.

• Character
I expressed my concerns over your use of Job 39 because you used this text which does not even speak of human beings and applied it to yourself in a way that appeared to justify your ungodly behavior. I asked you about other texts which speak to Pastors/Elders and broadly to all Christians (not animals) regarding godly character and you seemed to dismiss these. Not once have you expressed godly sorrow (2 Cor 7) over your behavior.

Shawn McCraney and Utah Pastor Jason Wallace at Inquisition 2014.

Shawn McCraney and Utah Pastor Jason Wallace at Inquisition 2014.

It is true that we all make mistakes and we all sin, the problem is that you have not owned your sin and the ungodly way you have behaved. My mistake in standing up at the “inquisition” is acknowledged, but you have gone on to make that a larger issue that it was. Don’t forget that you are the one who went on the attack at the inquisition by calling out Pastor Bryan and then falsely accusing him. You provoked, and I responded by getting up. My only mistake was not staying seated.

The big difference I am seeing is just as I stated it to you when we met. I own what I do that I consider wrong, but I have not heard that from you. As a man of God, this is not about being ‘orderly and exact and demanding excellence, proper conduct and linear thought’, this is about being godly. When I read the text about character I want to do what the text says. I want to be a godly example, even though I know I will never be perfect. I am trying always to mortify the flesh as Paul says in Col. 3:5. I had hoped that you would have met with me, or at least followed up with an email expressing your godly sorrow for your sinful behavior (using the F-word, telling me to shut up, telling me to repent, calling me a hypocrite, talking to me from across the restaurant, calling yourself a wild ass, etc…I could go on) and a desire to change that behavior so your ministry would not be hindered, but thus far you have not done this.

I admit, this deeply saddens me and I don’t think it is too late to publicly repent for your poor character and the way you treat others. By the way, in your email you expressed that I was trying to make you more like me, but that is the last thing I desire for you. I want you to become more like Jesus. I want to become more like him and that also includes godly character. Shawn, can you please show me how your life and what you do on your HOTM [Heart of the Matter] show reflect 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9?

• Divisiveness
I expressed my concern over your divisive behavior in how you have publicly dealt with the churches. While you say you have not mentioned any of them by name, you have still made it clear that they are the top 10 largest churches. It’s not difficult to figure out who you are referring to in a valley like ours.

My concern was not that we express our concern over some of the negative things within evangelicalism today, it was the manner in which you have publicly and privately attacked pastors and churches without talking privately with those pastors. Can I ask you if you have sat down with Paul Robie from SMCC in Draper? Did you respond to Paul’s several attempts to get with you? Did you sit down with any of them to understand what they are doing or express your concerns?

When I asked what your concerns were, you mentioned pastors being money grabbers and interested in their buildings. How can you do this without knowing them, talking with them and first seeking clarification? Can you judge the heart as you have done? A good example of this divisive behavior is how you treated me during our lunch and then what you wrote to me in your last email. You stated:

Shawn McCraney

Shawn McCraney

“I purposely chose to rock little Cory’s world. Admittedly, I smile every time I think about it. But please know it was all purposeful and I truly hold no animus toward you. From my estimation you needed to have a bit of a wake-up call, my friend. You needed someone to call you out on your own shit, someone to let you know that your insights are seem by some as infantile, and that you ought to get the beam out of your own eye before attempting to sit down and remove mine.

The quiver in your face and water in your eyes let me know I struck a nerve on you putting your congregates under a burden with the term tithe – and when this fear, this inner guilt manifested itself on your countenance, I admittedly went in for the jugular. My bad. But it still makes me smile.”

A few notes of clarification. First, just for the record, you definitely did NOT rock my little world. When I read this comment I wondered if we were at the same meeting. Do you really think that being asked about tithing would rock my little world? Do you really think that I have not thought long and hard about tithing? Do you really think I have not had discussions with others about tithing?

Second, I did not receive a wake up call. I have no idea what you mean by this comment. Nothing you said ‘woke me up.’ I am totally awake already. What was I supposed to wake up from?

Third, your character is again showing through in your reference to my dung (sh__).

Fourth, I am again baffled as to the quivering in my face and the watering in my eyes that you refer to. Maybe you are thinking of a different meeting with a different man. No Shawn, I did not quiver or get teary. How bizarre that you would even think this. How odd that you would think that you ‘stuck a nerve’ and that some fear and inner guilt manifested itself in me.

No Shawn, you completely misread everything to such a degree that I honestly think you must be thinking of some other meeting. I have not since changed my view on tithing and have not been given one single reason from you to abandon it. If you wanted we could have had a gracious conversation about tithing, but you escalated it into an attack and pointed your finger in my face and called me to repent. You even judged my motives and accused me of being a money grabber and one who counts the money myself.

Please repent of all this behavior.

A comment or two on Tithing. I wonder if you have so much LDS background still in you that this causes you to immediately assume that a Pastor who preaches tithing is preaching it the same as the LDS church. I don’t preach tithing the same as the LDS church and the pastors I know that do preach tithing do not preach it the same either. We are not putting people under the burden of the law and have a very strong understanding of grace.

I think the real issue here is your LDS background that continues to cause you to overreact without understanding how various Christians understand a subject. I have really good friends who are godly men who preach the tithe and I have other godly men I know who do not preach the tithe. I have amazing fellowship with them as brothers and have never been poorly treated by them for my view and I have never poorly treated them. It is for this very reason that you should have spoken with these pastors you attacked on your show before you attacked them so that you might understand them better.

A word about my public sharing of information: You stated:

“I love you as a brother and hold no animus over the fact that you ran home and immediately (in what could only have been a preemptive strike to protect yourself) posted things about me and our private meeting on Disgracebook. And I have forgiven you for the cowardice of getting on the phone and talking this meeting up with other people in the body who have subsequently contacted me to show their allegiance to you. It’s all okay.”

Shawn, while I appreciate your extension of forgiveness to me, I do not think I need forgiveness for publicly sharing information about our meeting. At some point, people need to be warned about someone with beliefs and behavior like yours.

I am not the first to contact you and attempt to do so privately. You have had many opportunities to humble yourself and repent and yet you still remain unrepentant and freely accuse others as if you are the victim. At some point, when does the church warn the church about such behavior (Matthew 18:15-20)? Titus 1:10 is a good text to consider. If you were dealt with publicly it was because you needed to be dealt with publicly (Galatians 2:11-14).

I did share the information on Facebook[1] and someone called in unknown to me.[2] However, remember that when we met you made it very clear that you were going to talk about me on the show. I am glad you did not, but you still stated you would.

You also said many others things to me during that lunch that were uncalled for and ungodly. I have given you an opportunity to repent and so have others. It is still not too late for you to make amends with everyone on HOTM and all the local pastors. I think you will find a lot of grace. Your behavior is not only affecting the local ministry, but others outside of Utah are taking notice (James White & Rob Bowman).

Shawn, in your letter you mentioned not wanting to discuss this again and that if we ever meet again, then hopefully it will be better than the last time. The only way that we will meet again is if you humble yourself, repent of all your sin and seek to make peace with those of us in this valley who love Jesus deeply and have ministries that champion grace and the gospel. I would honestly welcome that.

I am not concerned if you use this private email publicly and I am also not bound by your desire to keep your letter to me a private one. I will wait for your repentant response to determine if I need to make public your last letter to me so that others can read how you have treated me.

If you do not acknowledge your errors, then I don’t know what you expect us to do as Shepherds in this valley. We have a responsibility to watch out for the flock that God has entrusted to us. Please have a change of heart for the sake of Utah, the LDS community that needs to be reached, and the Pastors who labor so faithfully in the valley.

I will be sharing this information with my elders since I am accountable to them and they need to understand what has transpired with you.


Cory Anderson

About the Author: 
Cory is the lead pastor of Shadow Mountain Church in West Jordan, Utah. He holds a B.A in Theology from Briercrest Bible College and a M.A in New Testament from Briercrest Biblical Seminary. Prior to launching Shadow Mountain Church, Cory served as an Associate/Youth Pastor for 7 years in Canada. He enjoys teaching the Word of God and providing answers to tough questions regarding theology and doctrine. He has published an article in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought entitled “Jude’s Use of the Pseudepigraphal Book of 1 Enoch” (Vol. 36, No.2, Summer 2003). He is married to Trina and has four children.

[1] On the afternoon of March 4th Pastor Anderson posted the following on Facebook:

“Hello everyone, I want to give you an update regarding my meeting with Shawn McCraney.

Things went well initially and then he started attacking me over teaching tithing and got in my face pointed at me called me to repent and became unbelievably obnoxious. He had people looking at us wondering what was going on. He went after this because his assessment of 10 of the biggest churches in the valley are all about money. He wanted to know where I was at. I told him that Christian people have a difference of opinion about this subject but I personally believe in tithing.

I don’t know what to say other than Shawn is an ungodly man. He made it clear that he will be talking about me on his show tonight.

I came to him and attempted to be full of grace and truth and love and treat him as a brother, and give him the benefit of the doubt regarding his misstatements about the doctrine of the Trinity.

When I spoke to him regarding what I perceived as ungodly character displayed on his show, he justified his behavior and sees nothing wrong with what he does. He acknowledged he is fleshly, and yet went on to act as if he did not need to repent of his behavior. He simply said that’s the way I Yamin God chooses to use me that way.

I am shocked!!!

My advice as a pastor: don’t have anything to do with Shawn McCraney. Stay away from him as he is very divisive and doesn’t care. Call him to repentance and that’s it.

He made it clear he is going to talk about me I his show as being a money grabber and a hypocrite.

In my departure I told him that I will be watching the show to see that he does the right thing and repents of his teaching and his behavior and he told me to shut up!

I wish I had the whole thing on video so you could see how hard I worked at being a gracious man with him and how he came out and attacked. However, if you’ve watched his show you know that he does that all the time.

Very sad.”
(source = )

[2] During the March 4th ” God Part 3″ Heart of the Matter broadcast at 59:50 a caller referred to the meeting that resulted in the Facebook post in note 1 above and the email exchange that ultimately lead to the above appeal from Pastor Anderson.

by Fred W. Anson

“He [Shawn McCraney] does not realize that the people who are showing him the greatest love are the people who are warning him, ‘You’re goin’ down the wrong road!”
James White, March 6th, 2014[1]

“Let angry people endure the backlash of their own anger;
if you try to make it better, you’ll only make it worse.”
Proverbs 19:19 (The Message)

In part one and part two of this series we focused on Shawn McCraney’s increasingly troubling behavior – up to and including teaching the ancient heresy of modalism. Unfortunately, his behavior has had a negative ripple effect on others – and that will be the focus of the concluding article  in this series.

Q: Why are some Christians saying that Mr. McCraney isn’t fit to teach Christian doctrine and/or lead a church?
A: He not only doesn’t meet all the qualifications set forth in the Bible for church leaders but has consistently violated many of them while in ministry.
Please consider the following from the Apostle Paul:

“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”
— 1 Timothy 3:1-7 (ESV)

Let’s break this down shall we? Paul said, “He must not be a recent convert.” Shawn McCraney entered public ministry far too early. As I observed in my 2008 review of “I Was a Born Again Mormon”:

“I found the theological foundation that he presented in this book theologically immature, theoretical, idealistic, and with the exception of his life story, not really fleshed in the real world over time and over a broad sampling of Mormons. In the end this section is problematic and, and it could have been predicted that it would become chum for criticism of Shawn and the movement.

In hindsight I wish that Shawn had slowed down and taken more time to fully develop the Born Again Mormon model and Theology before shooting it like a scud missile into the Morridor.

This was a situation where time was on his side! After all Shawn was voluntarily excommunicated from the LDS Church in 2003 yet after only two years he published a book and launched a Utah based television program. 5-years later he launched a Para-Church Bible Study and Fellowship. All this while juggling a secular “day job”, marriage, and family in Southern California!

Further, when we consider that Paul was prepared for 14-years from the Damascus road experience (Acts 9:1-31) until his first missionary journey (starting in Acts 13), and Jesus was “prepared” for 30-years before he began His public ministry, the lack of wisdom of this “quick to market” ministry decision comes into focus.”[2]
(Anson, Fred W., “Book Review: I Was a Born Again Mormon”)

Sound familiar? Six years later we’re simply seeing the same pattern repeat only with Shawn McCraney displaying the same theological immaturity, unrealistic idealism, and loose cannon theorizing in his post-January 2013 broadcasts on American Evangelicalism.

And in regard to “sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, … not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome” one need only ask one simple question: Have you ever seen Shawn’s show? As Rob Sivulka noted well in a recent article:

“Shawn later said in the evening [that is, Inquisition 2014] that he describes himself as a “wild ass” from the book of Job. He said, “That’s how he has made me. Don’t like it? Freaking turn the channel or go to another church. I don’t care! I don’t care about your thoughts on your YouTubes. I don’t care. I care about people and coming to know the truth” (55). (I was thinking of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” song while Shawn was making this “wild ass” claim about himself.) Shawn should have given me the same benefit of the doubt about caring for LDS in that moment when he found out about me once stomping on the LDS scripture. Furthermore, if Shawn is a wild ass, then how is he a model of winsome behavior toward LDS? Shawn acted like he never offends his LDS audience. However, the fact of the matter is that he hangs up on LDS, yells at and talks over them, pretends like he is falling asleep on boring callers, uses offensive language, etc., etc.”
(Sivulka, Rob, “The “Inquisition” of Shawn McCraney—What the Heck Was That?”)

And on the infamous January 1, 2013 “Price of Truth” Shawn not only acknowledged his rudeness but bragged about it as if it were an asset rather than a liability:

“… we have not held back at all [on Mormons and Mormonism], admittedly I have been rude. I have been acerbic. I have cut you off, I’ve hung up on you. I have called you out. I have mocked your leaders to no end. I have no respect for them. I have done all sorts of things that have abraded you to cause you to try to see the religious idiocy behind the machine called ‘Mormonism’… (25:02-25:30)

But as of tonight at least for 2013, we are done with Mormonism, all of it together… when it comes to my presentation beginning next week I am going to go after another group. I’m going to go after that group with the same amount of tenacity, the same amount of rudeness, the same amount of indifference to people’s feelings…(25:49-26:21)

That group is primarily going to be American Evangelical Christianity. We’re going to go after it’s politicking. We are going to go after it’s demands. We are going to after it’s culture. We are going to go after it’s doctrine relative to what the Bible says. I am going to hold back nothing in my terms of investigating what traditional and contemporary, American, Evangelical Christianity has heaped upon people.” (27:07-27:39) 
(McCraney, Shawn; “The Price of Truth”; air date: January 1, 2013)

Candidly, I was never happy with some of the behavior that Mr. McCraney displayed on his TV Show – although at the time I excused it in the hope that he would eventually calm down as he matured as a Christian. However, this presumption on my part was based on the belief that Shawn was accountable to more mature and established Christians in a local church that he was knit into, and that he was being discipled by a good Pastor. I now say to my shame that I was wrong on all counts.

Those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it Yet those who do study history are doomed to stand by helplessly while everyone else repeats it

(click to zoom)

Q: Aren’t you aware that Shawn always tells his supporters to “go to the word” (the Bible) and check everything he says out?
A: I am. I’m also aware that all Christian cults say the same thing.
However, in a cult, if one’s interpretation of the Bible varies from the leader’s then your status in the group is in jeopardy. For example the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, and the Local Church will all tell you to “go the word” but if your interpretation doesn’t match the “right” interpretation – meaning the one from The Watchtower Society, Ellen G. White, or Witness Lee, depending on which of these three groups that you’re in – then you’re in trouble.

And if one needs proof that Shawn McCraney is trying to establish himself and his interpretation as the only right one for the only true church, one need only watch his TV show.

So this is nothing new – just the uninformed repeating history yet again!

Q: Why weren’t Evangelicals this critical of Shawn when his focus was on Mormonism rather than Evangelicalism?
A: Mr. McCraney is a subject matter expert on Mormonism, but he’s ignorant when it comes to orthodox, mainstream Christianity in general and Evangelicalism in particular.
Mr. McCraney had the benefit of a lifetime of experience in Mormonism and was deeply immersed in the history, theology, issues, controversies, and continuing conversations within modern Mormon culture. Thus, despite his all deficiencies, when he focused on Mormonism he was informed, insightful, and effective.

On the other hand, it’s apparent from his books and shows that when it comes to modern Evangelicalism he’s an ignorant fool – so ignorant and so foolish, in fact, that he’s embarrassing himself and doesn’t even seem to know it. Thus, respected Theologian Rob Bowman was absolutely spot on when he offered Shawn the following advice:

“A little knowledge about the biblical languages and doctrinal subjects, garnered haphazardly from questionable sources, used inconsistently to support what you have already think you know, is not a good thing. It is not ‘loving the Lord your God with all your mind.’ As a teacher, you, like I, will be held to a stricter judgment (James 3:1). Let some of us help you. Set aside your planned series of lectures on the nature of God for now. Pursue a sound, well-informed understanding of what Scripture teaches through the God-given ministry of other teachers. Refocus your ministry on what you do so well: reaching out to lost, confused Mormons with the wonderful gift of the new birth through faith in Jesus Christ alone.”
(Bowman, Rob; public Facebook review of the 3/4/2014 Heart of the Matter “God Part 3” broadcast)

Q: Those who attend CAMPUS and support Shawn McCraney seem to be getting some criticism too – what’s up with that?
A: Many of them are acting more like members of a cult than anything else.
For better or for worse the teaching of heresy by Mr. McCraney has exposed just how spiritually immature, theologically ungrounded, and discernment challenged many of those who follow and support Shawn McCraney’s ministry are.

For example, not only did many, if not most, of his supporters not bat an eye when Mr. McCraney overtly taught heresy on February 11th, 2014 (see part 2 for an analysis of what was said and why it’s heresy) they have fiercely continued to defend Mr. McCraney’s modern repackaging of modalism. In fact, most couldn’t even see what or why there was a fuss over such a “small” matter like errantly teaching the nature of a god other than the One that’s revealed Himself in the Bible. This is, to me, an obvious indicator of the glaring lack of theological depth  in this group – not to mention its inability to discern error.

Further, when evidence has been presented to them in support of the Trinity  and against modalism by more mature, discerning, theologically grounded Christians,  it has typically been ignored or spun into a defense for why their leader had done nothing wrong and how that they – aka “the accusers” to use Shawn’s label for his critics – are the real problem here.

But perhaps the greatest indicator of the general lack of spiritual immaturity and theological understanding among the “Shawnites”  (a term I will now use going forward as shorthand for “ardent, impassioned supporters of Shawn McCraney”)  is their inability to distinguish between the essentials (the Deity of Christ, Salvation by Grace, Resurrection of Christ, the Gospel, and Monotheism – see “The Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith” by Matt Slick) and everything else.

unity_liberty_charityFor example, many Shawnites will dismiss you out of hand as in error if they find out that you’re either a Calvinist or believe in tithing. Yet these aren’t essential doctrines of the faith and Christians can and will disagree on them – it’s really no big deal. However, I think that we would all agree that getting the nature of God right is essential isn’t it? As the late Walter Martin said well:

“The ultimate test of whether something is Christian. If you are corrupt in your doctrine of God and the person, nature, and work of Jesus Christ… it doesn’t make any difference where else you’re right. You are not Christian. If you have the wrong God, the wrong Redeemer, you’re lost. That has been the message of the Christian Church historically.”
(Martin, Walter; Opening Debate Argument, 1987)

Further, choosing to dismiss other Christians over non-essentials is not only silly but unBiblical.[3] As the Apostle Paul said:

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”
— Romans 14:1-8 (ESV)

Q: Is this why some Christians calling Mr. McCraney a cult leader?
A: Yes, he and many Shawnites are acting like cultists.

Q: Can’t we all just get along – isn’t this a divisive and embarrassing public spectacle?
A: Well, it was Shawn McCraney who divided himself and his followers off from orthodox, mainstream Christianity wasn’t it?
And yes, we could just ignore Shawn’s false teachings and unrighteous behavior but one must ask: What’s more important looking good or standing for truth? If standing for truth in the long run means that we have to endure some embarrassment in the short run, then I’m willing to be embarrassed. How about you?

Further, unless this situation turns around, it appears that we just might  just be watching history repeat itself in another way as well – it will be Joseph Smith all over again just as James White has observed:

“When Joseph Smith started teaching wild, strange, weird stuff in the 1830’s most people looked at him and ignored him. Thought he was . . .  I mean there were so many people like that.  And to be honest with you, 99% of the people who go flying off the rails end up in a pile of twisted steel someplace and the sands of time covers them over and that’s it.

But sometimes you have a Joseph Smith. And sometimes you have a [Charles Taze] Russell and a [Joseph Franklin] Rutherford. You know if a Smith can end up with a [Brigham] Young and a Russell can end up with a Rutherford how many of millions of people can be influenced thereby and by that blinded from the truth?

Do we have the start of a cult in the Salt Lake Valley?  I don’t know.  I hope not!”
(White, James, “Ukraine, Hyper-Calvinism, David Allen, Shawn McCraney, and More!”; 1:03:46)

So where do we go from here?  I don’t know.  What happens next is largely up to Shawn McCraney and his band of Shawnites isn’t it?  And while agreeing wholeheartedly with Rob Bowman’s earlier advice to Shawn (see above), my personal advice remains the same as it was in 2008:

“Were I on the Born Again Mormon advisory board my biggest piece of advice would be this: SLOW DOWN! This is a ministry that got traction quickly, gained speed, and never slowed down. Well, in my opinion, it needs to.

That’s because I see symptoms that the movement has overwhelmed the slow moving, conservative, and resistant to change Morridor creating unnecessary friction, tension, and anger worldwide (when it comes to Mormonism if you threaten Salt Lake City you threaten the entire Mormon Principality – it’s like attacking the Queen Bee in a hive). In my opinion much of the criticism that this movement has suffered has been because in it’s haste it unintentionally runs over people and once they get up they act out their anger, hurt and frustration via very public, often unreasonably harsh and “over the top” criticism.

I think that if the movement would start moving in a slower, more deliberate, more organic, less forced manner these shrill voices will begin diminish over time AND the fruit will slowly mature as they start to RESPOND rather than REACT to the paradigm shift that Shawn and his movement have introduced. Yes, opportunity does indeed knock BUT if you’ve got something that it wants it will wait around or come back later!

In summary, my advice (for what it’s worth) is slow down, be patient, be strategic and think multi-generationally rather than errantly unBiblically, tactically and impulsively. Resist the temptation (though it can be hard) to think, “If it’s to be or not to be, it’s up to me!” No, friends it’s up to God, it’s God’s work not ours. We’re stewards not owners.

The last problem and most important thing to address is ,of course, the theological sticking points that the Born Again Mormon movement has introduced. I’m sure that some would disagree with this but the biggest problem that I see with the Born Again Mormon movement is that the underlying theology wasn’t full formed before the book, TV show and movement was launched.”
(Anson, Fred W., “Book Review: I Was a Born Again Mormon”)

And until Shawn repents and changes course, I offer the same advice to Shawn’s supporters that Utah Pastor Cory Anderson did after his private attempt to correct and reconcile with Shawn McCraney in early March:

“My advice as a pastor: don’t have anything to do with Shawn McCraney. Stay away from him as he is very divisive and doesn’t care. Call him to repentance and that’s it.”
(Anderson, Cory, Facebook Update on Meeting with Shawn McCraney 3/4/2014)

And if that sounds harsh my dear Shawnite friend, I would ask you to open your Bible, turn to the book of Jude, and consider these words in relation to Mr. McCraney’s behavior:

“These men [false teachers] are constant gripers, never satisfied, doing whatever evil they feel like; they are loudmouthed ‘show-offs,’ and when they show respect for others, it is only to get something from them in return.

Dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ told you, that in the last times there would come these scoffers whose whole purpose in life is to enjoy themselves in every evil way imaginable. They stir up arguments; they love the evil things of the world; they do not have the Holy Spirit living in them.”
— Jude 1:16-19 (TLB) 

I will also state emphatically to our Shawnite friends that despite Mr. Craney’s ugly caricaturizing and public debasing of modern Evangelicalism, there are many, many, many great churches out there well worth investing your life into.  If you’re having trouble finding one just ask (a comment below will do) and we will do everything in our power to help.

And if you are neither Shawn McCraney or a Shawnite, my advice is this: Pray, pray, and then pray again that God moves and turns this tedious, volatile, and unsettlingly situation and shows His glory yet again.  Amen.

[1] White, James, “Ukraine, Hyper-Calvinism, David Allen, Shawn McCraney, and More!”; 1:09:09

[2] And as I noted in the footnote for that passage:
“This long disciplining period is even more impacting when you consider that Paul was a disciple of one of the greatest Jewish Teachers of the day – Gamaliel (see Acts 5:33-39) before his conversion. However, he was STILL discipled for 14-years before being called to public ministry. Then think about Jesus’s 30-years of preparation and the wisdom of long term disciplining becomes even more apparent.”
(Anson, Fred W., “Book Review: I Was a Born Again Mormon”)

[3] Equally silly and unBiblical is choosing to not denounce and/or distance oneself from heretics over essentials – it is simply unBiblical:

2 Corinthians 6 (ESV)
14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”

1 Timothy 1 (ESV) 
3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

2 Peter 2 (ESV)
2 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

Jude 1 (ESV)
3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. 12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

by Fred W. Anson
In the previous article in this series I gave a brief overview of these trials making every effort to simply report as dispassionately as possible without providing any analysis. However, this story is so complex and nuanced that, frankly, it’s hard to make sense of it without deconstructing the issues and history beneath it and trying to sort it all out. Here’s my take on the controversy.

Q: Has Shawn McCraney taught heresy?
A: Yes.
On the February 11, 2014 Heart of the Matter (Episode 381: God – Part 2) Mr. McCraney made the following statement (starting at 25:48 in the broadcast):

“One God. Always only and forever only one God. A monotheist God. He has manifested Himself in all sorts of means and ways to man.

He has appeared as fire.
Spoken as a still small voice.
As clouds, and mist, and wind, and an assortment of other ways.

Were they all God? Yes. Manifestations of One God Were they manifestations of more than one God? No.

One monotheistic God.

Did this God manifest Himself in spirit?

Yes. The second verse in the first chapter of Genesis says:

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

Hey, listen up – this single monotheistic God also manifested Himself in . . . flesh.

That’s all. Not a new second or third “person” of the singular God co equal with the other persons. Just another manifestation of the single God.

Jesus said it plainly to Philip:

“If you have seen me, you’ve seen the father.”

The Greek word for see in this passage is Horao and is better understood as Jesus saying:

“If you have discerned me, Philip, and not literally seen (which is the Greek word blepo).

That’s all I’m saying. The Spirit – God. One with God. From God, of God, and just God. Jesus – God. One with God. From God, of God – God. Holy Spirit God.

The only deal about God being “a or the Father” is in relation to Him having a Son in flesh.

He was not a Father until He manifested Himself as the Son.

It’s all really no more complicated than this:

“God is one who manifests Himself in a bunch of different ways. If the manifestation is from God, then the manifestation is God, and is sent by the One God to teach us of Him.”

So where did all this stuff about three persons, co-equal, co-eternal, comprising the one true God come from?

Stupid men who want formulae, who love control.”
(the above transcription is from the official Heart of the Matter website

That, dear reader, is pure unadulterated modalism, and it’s heretical.* He denied that it was modalism before he said it and he’s denied it repeatedly since.  However, pick your cliche:

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck . . .
If the shoe fits . . .
If you’ve made your bed . . .

Modalism by any other name, and no matter how much rhetoric, back spin, and wordsmithing you pile on top of it, is still modalism. Period.


The classic modalist’s example: Water. To be accurately depict the Trinity, the water would have to co-exist as ice, liquid and cloud eternally, distinctly, and simultaneously. Thus this analogy is a fatally flawed illustration that in the end (pun intended) muddies the water and leads to heresy.

Now I understand that since that episode Shawn has claimed that what he taught there was fully compatible with the orthodox Trinitarian view but, simply put, it isn’t. Further, not only has he has yet to recant this teaching, but both in private and public meetings (such as the February 20, 2014 Heart of the Matter episode; INQUISITION 2014 – The Term “Trinity”) he has reiterated and affirmed this stance. For example as Rob Sivulka notes in his report and analysis of Inquisition 2014:

“Shawn clearly does say at one point in the debate that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit “are three persons from eternity” (1:43:26, emphasis added).

However, just nine minutes later, Shawn goes on to clearly contradict this. At 1:52:28, a questioner from the audience, James Thompson, asks Shawn, “Would you also say that there are three distinct persons?” Shawn replies, “No.” James asks, “How would you prefer to describe the distinction that you see in Scripture?” Shawn says, “Word and Spirit,” and then in response to my question, “So the Word wasn’t a person then?,” he said, “Not a person, it was the Word.” I asked, “And the Word didn’t have a consciousness?,” and Shawn replied, “It didn’t have a body and a beard either.” I asked, “Okay, but you don’t believe they are different in their identities, so the Father is not different in his identity from the Son.” Shawn said, “When the Son became flesh, when his Word became flesh, yes.” I asked, “Okay, but not before any creation?,” and Shawn simply said, “It was God. …It’s the word ‘person’ were hanging up on here. That’s the word the Nicene Creed used. John himself called him the Logos, not a person. That’s my distinction” (1:55:45ff).

Whatever Shawn’s god turns out to be (I’m not even sure Shawn knows), it’s clear that he is still a heretic for rejecting that God eternally existed in three distinct centers of consciousness, egos, identities, or persons (whatever term you want to use). This is the crux of the whole debate, not that Shawn was being vilified for rejecting the term “Trinity.”’
( Rob Sivulka, “The ‘Inquisition’ of Shawn McCraney – What the Heck was That?”)

As theologian Rob Bowman explained in his February 26, 2014 statement on his Facebook page regarding his private meetings with Mr. McCraney:

“Some of the things Shawn has been teaching are in error, and it is important that he come to see that and make the necessary corrections. As a teacher, he is answerable to God and is held to a stricter standard with regard to what he says than other believers (James 3:1). Some of the things he said can even be fairly labeled as heretical, though he has also said things that contradicted those seemingly heretical statements.”

And later, in a post on the Facebook page Mr. Bowman corrected a poster who stated that he had exonerated Mr. McCraney of heresy:

“To clarify, as I said in my post on my own page, in my estimation Shawn has made conflicting statements, some of which could be described as heretical but others of which are orthodox. Thus it is difficult to neatly pigeon-hole Shawn’s position. Moreover, he seems to have already moved at least somewhat away from his most objectionable formulations. I’m therefore of the opinion that we should simply watch to see how things develop, with the hope that his teaching will become more consistently orthodox.”

So in the end, yes, Shawn McCraney did teach heresy. The question of whether he will continue to do so or not remains unanswered at this point – as does the question of whether he will recant and renounce those heresies.

Q: Why didn’t Mr. McCraney’s critics follow the “Matthew 18 Formula” and present their grievances privately rather than just exposing and denouncing his errant teachings publicly before speaking to him?
A: Several did speak with Mr. McCraney in private and he refused to listen.
Many more attempted to meet privately with Mr. McCraney but he refused, telling them to present their grievances at Inquisition 2014 instead.

Further, as renowned theologian D.A. Carson notes:
“The sin described in the context of Matt 18:15–17 takes place on the small scale of what transpires in a local church (which is certainly what is envisaged in the words “tell it to the church”). It is not talking about a widely circulated publication designed to turn large numbers of people in many parts of the world away from historic confessionalism. This latter sort of sin is very public and is already doing damage; it needs to be confronted and its damage undone in an equally public way. This is quite different from, say, the situation where a believer discovers that a brother has been breaking his marriage vows by sleeping with someone other than his wife, and goes to him privately, then with one other, in the hope of bringing about genuine repentance and contrition, and only then brings the matter to the church.

To put the matter differently, the impression one derives from reading Matt 18 is that the sin in question is not, at first, publicly noticed (unlike the publication of a foolish but influential book). It is relatively private, noticed by one or two believers, yet serious enough to be brought to the attention of the church if the offender refuses to turn away from it. By contrast, when NT writers have to deal with false teaching, another note is struck: the godly elder “must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9 NIV).”
(D.A. Carson, “Editorial On Abusing Matthew 18”)

Finally, I think it’s important to note that in more than one private meeting Mr. McCraney reiterated his modalistic stance and was told to his face that what he had just articulated was in fact that ancient heresy.  Yet he remained resolute and determined in his error.

So whatever else Mr. McCraney may say going forward, he can’t say that he wasn’t told the truth – and on a number of occasions to boot!

Q: If Shawn McCraney recants his heretical teaching and apologizes for them will that satisfy and silence his critics?
A: I would like to say, “Yes, absolutely!”, but the more realistic answer is, “Probably not.”
Sadly, Shawn McCraney has a pattern of publicly apologizing only to revert to the same behavior shortly thereafter.

For example, on January 23rd, 2013, Shawn issued a public apology for his behavior on the now infamous January 1st, 2013 “The Price of Truth” Heart of the Matter episode which, in part, said:

“I apologize for my tone. In speaking to the Body (no matter how off-putting I find some activities going on within it today) I am (from the Word commanded to use kindness (1st Peter 3:15). I was not kind. Being in sinful flesh (Romans 7) I failed. Please forgive me. I completely accept responsibility for my sinful demeanor and also the end-result resulting from it.”
(Shawn McCraney, UPDATE-Wednesday January 23rd 2013)

He then went on to engage in exactly the same behavior in the Heart of the Matter broadcasts that followed.

And then on the July 7, 2013 “Time To Change” Heart of the Matter broadcast Mr. McCraney once again apologized for his behavior.  He then proceeded to engage in exactly the same behavior that he’d apologized for – twice. Further, his behavior ultimately got even worse – which takes us to where we are now.

As the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” At this point, Shawn will need to not only rebuild the trust bridges that he’s burned but will need to show some consistency in terms of changed behavior – that is, “the fruit of repentance”. And Christians aren’t being unreasonable by expecting this, since it’s not only common sense but Biblical. For proof of the latter, one need only consider the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians regarding the issues that he addressed in his first letter to the Church at Corinth: He clearly wasn’t content with merely words, he was clear that he expected ongoing and steadfastly changed behavior.

And while we anxiously pray for and await Shawn McCraney’s public denunciation of his prior heresies, we even more anxiously await a substantive and lasting change of behavior.

There’s been a lot of ink (or if you prefer “pixels”) spilled over former Mormon Shawn McCraney’s recent conflicts and challenges with fellow Christians and I’m sure that there will be a whole lot more spilled before it’s over. In Part Three of this series, we will consider the impact of Shawn McCraney’s false teachings and bad behavior on others.

*  for a primer on the heresy of modalism, see 
for a primer on the orthodox view of the Trinity see

An accurate depiction of Trinitarianism

An accurate depiction of the Trinity: One Being, God, co-existing eternally and simultaneously as three distinct persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit