“The bottom line of the whole thing is that Shawn wants to be able to teach whatever he feels like at any given moment, call it “real” Christianity . . . and never have to answer for it.”
Brother Thomas, February 13, 2015
The Short Version
McCraneyism (the system of doctrine and theology taught by Shawn McCraney, and the community that surrounds it) for the purposes of this website will be treated like a Mormon splinter group. That is, no proselytizing for it will be allowed, and it’s heretical teachings will be publicly exposed and denounced as deemed appropriate here. What follows explains the reasoning behind this position. Please read it in full before commenting and/or contacting us with any questions or concerns.
The Long Version
Since the issue of the false teachings of Shawn McCraney and his McCraneyism movement continue to be an issue it was felt that better clarification and group boundaries from this website on the issue needed to be given.
This is a difficult issue since we all saw the good fruit that Shawn McCraney bore through his Heart of the Matter program prior to January 2013 – that was the time period when Shawn McCraney focused exclusively on the errors of Mormonism. We recognize and appreciate the fact that many of this website’s Ex-Mormon readers wouldn’t have left Mormonism and began their transition into Biblical Christianity had it not been for Mr. McCraney’s good work during this period. However, that was then, this is now.
The Current Problem
Starting in 2013 Mr. McCraney began teaching error and in some cases heresy. Ironically, while the content of those teachings are different, in concept they are the same as what Joseph Smith taught. Specifically:
- That Christian churches who adhere to historic Christian orthodoxy are wrong.
- Their creeds are an abomination in God’s sight.
- Their professors are all corrupt and motivated by things other than the truth.
- They’re treating Shawn’s communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, even saying it may be of the devil.
- As a result, there’s prejudice against Shawn among these corrupt, self-interested professors of religion.
- And that all the above is the cause of a great persecution of Shawn.
- Further, his circumstances in life are such as to make Shawn of no real consequence in the world.
- Yet despite all this men of high standing are taking notice sufficient to excite the public mind against him.
- But Shawn has an inner witness that he can’t deny, lest he offend God and come under condemnation.
- And so he continues to bring forth new revelations week after week after week.
Sound familiar? Yes, the above list uses Joseph Smith’s 1838 First Vision account as the template in describing Shawn’s basic, recurring message but it does so because the shoe fits. Therefore, this assessment is particularly astute and to the point:
… a former Mormon, he is mainly targeting other former Mormons and disaffected Mormons. Without a ‘nod to Joseph,’ he is playing on their ingrained prejudices and leading them into another counterfeit of Biblical Christianity. Mormonism is often categorized as a Christian cult, because it primarily targets those from a Christian background. You don’t see many Mormons trying to evangelize Muslims. Similarly, Shawn is targeting those from a Mormon background. This is why I would loosely call it a Mormon splinter group.
(Jason Wallace in the “Evangelicals Discussing Mormonism” Facebook Group)
Even his familiar recurring exhortation to, “Don’t trust me – read the Bible for yourself and see if this is true!” mirrors Mormonism:
I have heard many followers of Shawn say they don’t agree with Shawn on some things, but they aren’t worried because he tells them not to trust him, but check out the Bible for themselves. This sounds good, until you recognize that Shawn mocks and ridicules every pastor who says he’s teaching error. Though he may allow latitude in individual beliefs, he cannot tolerate any public disagreement with him. Critics are accused of “character assassination.” The subtle pressure in such a community is to conform. Would a false teacher invite someone to test them from the Bible? Most have; Brigham Young said in 1873, “I say to the whole world, receive the truth, no matter who presents it to you. Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test” (Journal of Discourses 16:46).
In addition, in February 2014 with his rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity Shawn McCraney crossed the line from “concerning” to “heretical”. Since then he has gone on to teach several other heresies including Universalism and Full Preterism. The best short summation of the errors and heresies of McCraneyism to date is Jason Wallace’s article, “McCraney-ism”.
And for those who would like to get fully up to speed (or review) how and when Shawn McCraney went from Christian orthodoxy to Christian heretic please consider these resources:
Timeline Articles and Podcasts
(the long version)
Fred W. Anson, “The Trial(s) of Shawn McCraney (Part One), January 2013-March 2014
Fred W. Anson, “The Trial(s) of Shawn McCraney (Part Four), April 2014-May 2016
Jason Wallace interviewed by Nic Laughter, “Zany McCraney”, Christian Utah podcast, March 25, 2016
(covers the entire period from Shawn McCraney’s arrival in Utah in 2005 to March 2016)
Summation and Editorial Articles
(the short “bite sized” version)
Lowell Johnson, Is Shawn McCraney Auditioning To Be The Next Dr. Gene Scott? November 2015
Jason Wallace, “McCraney-ism”, March 2015
Rob Bowman, “Shawn McCraney Against the Personhood of the Holy Spirit” April 2014
Cory Anderson, “A Pastor’s Appeal to Shawn McCraney”, March 2014
Rob Sivulka, “Shawn McCraney is a Heretic and Needs Adult Supervision”, February 2014
Rob Sivulka, “The “Inquisition” of Shawn McCraney—What the Heck Was That?”, February 2014
Fred W. Anson, “The Trial(s) of Shawn McCraney (Part Two), March 2014
Fred W. Anson, “The Trial(s) of Shawn McCraney (Part Three), March 2014
Fred W. Anson, “The Trial(s) of Shawn McCraney (Part Five), February 2015
Fred W. Anson, “Dear Michelle”, May 2014
Finally, I want to give a special recommendation to the body of work from Brother Thomas. He is a recovered Shawnite who began to sense problems in Shawn’s teaching, theology and behavior around late 2012. An eyewitness to Shawn McCraney’s transition from orthodoxy to heresy, he wrote about it as things went from good to bad to even worse.
He has produced such a rich, prolific, and insightful analysis of Shawn’s descent from orthodoxy into heresy that I recommend that the reader consider his blog articles from oldest to newest as they act as a kind of “insider’s view” into the development of McCraneyism in much the same way early Mormon documents do Joseph Smith and Mormonism. Click here for a link to his articles on Shawn McCraney and McCraneyism from newest to oldest.
But Brother Thomas is one of the fortunate ones. Unfortunately, our observation of the behavior of Shawn’s remaining followers over several months and situations is that they act and think exactly like Mormons except that they’re now in a new group and religion. The behavior is so similar in fact, that in many of their arguments one need only substitute “Joseph Smith” for “Shawn McCraney”, “Mormon Church” for “CAMPUS”, and “the church teaches” for “Shawn teaches” and you have exactly the same arguments that Latter-day Saints use in defending Mormonism. This includes a heavy use of labeling, name calling, villainizing, marginalizing, and ad-homineming of critics. Thus we have seen the warning in “Dear Michelle” fulfilled in real life:
The reason why we former cultists are so prone to this type of error Michelle is because the past – whether we realize it or not – feels comfortable to us. As a result we’re drawn to the old and familiar like a moth to a flame – so we tend to be same moth, new flame.
Summary and Conclusion
As a result of the above, McCraneyism (the system of doctrine and theology taught by Shawn McCraney, and the Shawnite community that surrounds it) for the purposes of this website will be treated like a Mormon splinter group. That is, no proselytizing for it will be allowed, and its heretical teachings will be publicly exposed and denounced as deemed appropriate by this website.
Please note that we’re not singling McCraneyism out here: ANY and ALL Mormon splinter groups will receive the same treatment be they the Community of Christ, the various RLDS splinter groups, Christopher Nemelka’s group, Matthew Gill’s group, the Strangites, Bickertonites, or any of the other close to 200 such Latter Day Saint groups currently in existence.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this policy please contact us. The contact information is on this website’s “About” page.
 See Wikipedia, “Sects in the Latter Day Saint movement”, also see Steven L. Shields, “Divergent Paths of the Restoration (A History of the Latter Day Saint Movement)”
Appendix A: Shawn McCraney Responds
When an earlier version of this Position and Policy Statement was adopted by two Facebook groups in March 2015 Shawn McCraney addressed it on the March 11, 2015 Heart of the Matter broadcast (that is, Episode 436: Sola Scriptura – Part 2). The following response was posted on the both the HOTM.tv website page for the episode (where it was initially deleted – a repost was done on March 18th, 2015) and YouTube page (where the initial post is currently still up):
In this Heart of the Matter broadcast (@00:02:45) Shawn McCraney issued a statement regarding the recent Position and Policy Statement on McCraneyism which was posted on at least two Facebook groups.
I would ask the reader to first read the FULL VERSION of this statement (see https://www.facebook.com/groups/MormonInfo.org/10153152763992938/) and then watch Mr. McCraney’s public statement (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6v_59QXwHAg#t=2m45s) before proceeding further.
Now please consider the following regarding Mr. McCraney’s public response to this statement:
1) He misrepresented the arguments that are being leveled at he and the McCraneyism movement.
2) He failed to address the substance of those arguments.
3) His statement, “Jesus is God in flesh – the Word uncreated” is too broad and general to be accepted as fully “orthodox”. As worded, this confession could refer to the heretical modalism that McCraney teaches, a number of other heretical stances on the nature of God, and/or biblically orthodox Christology. In summary, it fails because of its imprecision.
4) His statement “The Holy Spirit as God in spirit” is skewed to the heretical – especially given the fact that he has taught on the Holy Spirit as an “it” or a “force” rather than a person.
5) He has never apologized for or renounced the content of his heretical teachings, merely the delivery.
6) The errors of his teachings have been addressed from the Bible on the Beggar’s Bread website, on Brother Thomas’ blogsite and elsewhere many, many, many times. However, Mr. McCraney continues to hold to and teach them. The problem isn’t that his error hasn’t been exposed and addressed from the Bible, the problem is that Mr. Craney refuses to listen.
In fact, in 2014 a world renowned and widely respected theologian even flew out to Utah at his own expense to correct Shawn on the heresy he was teaching. These face-to-face sessions were done over the course of several days and this too, ultimately, was to no avail.
In conclusion, Mr. McCraney’s statement was exactly the same kind of spin doctored, obfuscation that we see from the LdS Church and other Mormon splinter groups.
Further, Mr. McCraney engaged in the classic Mormon tactic of using Christian terminology but changing the underlying meaning in this statement.
There is, therefore, no need to withdraw the charge. In fact, Mr. McCraney’s statement actually confirmed it’s validity and veracity.