Archive for the ‘Jason Wallace’ Category

“If we’re in it for the money, we’re doing a very bad job of it”

A Village Missions Pastor preaches at a small, rural church in Pacific City, Oregon. Village Missions Pastors serve in small, rural communities, that are too small to otherwise have a full-time pastor and/or a church. These churches are supported by donations to Village Missions from other Christians who are outside of their local congregation. Click here to read about Village Missions. 

by Jason Wallace
Mormonism is fueled by faith-promoting stories. No one said this better than Mormon Apostle, Bruce R. McConkie, “We have in the Church an untapped, almost unknown, treasury of inspiring and faith-promoting stories. They are the best of their kind and there are thousands of them.” (“The How and Why of Faith-promoting Stories”, New Era magazine, July 1978). Unfortunately, some of them, as another Mormon Apostle said well, only provide “…a kind of theological Twinkie—spiritually empty calories?” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “A Teacher Come from God”, Spring General Conference 1998). This series exposes the following ten “Twinkies”…

10 Myths That Mormonism Tells About Biblical Christianity

  1. Biblical Christianity apostatized.
  2. The Bible has been corrupted.
  3. Biblical Christians believe in cheap grace.
  4. Biblical Christians believe Christ prayed to Himself.
  5. The Biblical Christian God is a monster who sends good people to hell just because they never had a chance to hear the gospel.
  6. Biblical Christians worship the cross and the Bible.
  7. Biblical Christians have no priesthood.
  8. Biblical Christian Pastors and Apologists practice Priestcraft – they’re only in it for the money.
  9. Biblical Christians hate Mormons.
  10. Biblical Christianity is divided into 10,000+ sects, all believing in different paths to salvation.

… and replaces them with nourishing truth. Let’s talk about the one that’s bolded, shall we?

The Myth
“Biblical Christian Pastors and Apologists practice Priestcraft – they’re only in it for the money.”

I am a full-time Presbyterian Pastor serving in Utah whose calling, among many other things, includes producing religious studies videos. Last month, I received the following comment on one of our church’s YouTube videos, “When you see a pastor driving a Mercedes or BMW, living in a big house, and making 100’s of thousands of dollars a year, you know something is wrong with that church.” I responded that my car for the previous 14 years was a Hyundai Accent Hatchback with manual transmission and no air conditioning; my 63-year-old home is one of the least expensive in the Salt Lake Valley, and I’m not making nearly as much now as I was 25 years ago at a job that required a lot less work. None of this mattered to the man. No matter how little I was actually paid, he said I was guilty of “priestcraft.” Protestant pastors may no longer be portrayed as one of the “hirelings of Satan” in your temples,1 but I’ve lost count of how many times LDS have told me that I’m in ministry for the money.

Why It’s a Myth
There’s a “Catch-22” in answering such claims. If you live comfortably, you supposedly prove the case, but if you’re struggling financially, then that’s supposed to mean God isn’t blessing you since you compare poorly to the LDS bishops who are successful in business and are “clearly blessed by God.” For most, the evidence doesn’t really matter because the verdict has already been reached – – the LDS church is true, and anyone who says differently is ignorant, or evil, or both, especially Christian pastors. Despite having heard these claims so many times, I’ll present some facts in hopes that God will use them to open the eyes of some.

First, let’s consider how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints defines “priestcraft”, which is, “Men preaching and setting themselves up for a light to the world that they may get gain and praise of the world; they do not seek the welfare of Zion (2 Ne. 26:29).” (LDS Church website, Guide to the Scriptures, “Priestcraft”)

And while warnings against “priestcraft” are regularly cited from the Book of Mormon as we have just seen, the other unique Mormon scripture also has much to say about matters of ecclesiastical compensation. In fact, and to that point, the failure to pay local LDS Church clergy is even more ironic given the fact that both the Bible and unique LDS Scripture mandate that they must be paid:

“And the elders or high priests who are appointed to assist the bishop as counselors in all things, are to have their families supported out of the property which is consecrated to the bishop, for the good of the poor, and for other purposes, as before mentioned;

Or they are to receive a just remuneration for all their services, either a stewardship or otherwise, as may be thought best or decided by the counselors and bishop.

And the bishop, also, shall receive his support, or a just remuneration for all his services in the church.”
(Doctrine & Covenants 48:71-73)

And elsewhere in Doctrine and Covenants, we find this mandate, “He who is appointed to administer spiritual things, the same is worthy of his hire, even as those who are appointed to a stewardship to administer in temporal things…” (D&C 70:12) which The Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual expounds on:

“In addition to his many responsibilities in the Church, Joseph Smith had a family, and he could not neglect them, although his responsibility was chiefly a spiritual one. Although not completely relieved from responsibility for his temporal needs at that time, the Prophet was told by the Lord to look to the Church for temporal support.”
(Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, ‘Section 24, “Declare My Gospel As With The Voice Of a Trump”’)

Furthermore, the Bible is in complete agreement with LDS scripture on this point – clergy should be paid for their service:

“Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?

Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?

Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.”
(1 Corinthians 9:7-14 ESV)

“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.”
(1 Timothy 5:17-18 KJV)

The Rev. Danny Fleming preaches at Big Isaac United Methodist Church in Big Isaac, West Virginia. Sunday, May 20, 2007. Fleming is a part-time pastor who holds a full-time job with the U.S. Army in Clarksburg, West Virginia.  He ministers to two churches on some Sundays and three churches on other Sundays. Click here to read his story. (photo credit: Bob Shaw/AP)

Oh, and by the way, it has been suggested by some that the term “double honour” in that passage strongly implies, maximally, “double wages” and, minimally, “generous wages”. So, not only should a church’s paid clergy be paid, according to the Bible, they should be paid well. Yes, it also implies “special respect” but, as the Got Questions website, explains, more than fair compensation is also included in that “honor”:

“Double honor” refers not only to an abundance of respect and obedience from members of the church but also reasonable pay. The Greek word translated “double” in 1 Timothy 5:17 means “two-fold.” And the term for “honor” in the original language includes the notion of a price or compensation. In English, we also connect the word honor with the idea of recompence through the noun honorarium, “a payment for unbilled professional services.” Paul felt that dutiful and diligent shepherds of God’s flock, the church, ought to be honored in two ways: in proper esteem and fair compensation.”
(“What is the meaning of double honor in 1 Timothy 5:17?”, Got Questions website)

 And yet, given all this clear and repeated scriptural support for a fairly (perhaps even generously) paid clergy instead we get scathing denunciations of it like this on official LdS Church sources:

“The Book of Mormon warns us about a thing called Priestcraft. Priestcraft is preaching for the sake of getting money and power. The Book of Mormon also extensively describes how the priests, teachers, and even their king, labored with their own hands for their support. Accepting a paycheck for preaching is a disturbing and foreign concept to most Latter Day Saints. There are a number of problems with a paid ministry. A paid priest must answer to both his supervisors and to the local church board, and can’t risk being too unpopular. Otherwise may lose his job. He must do all this while preparing a sermon each Sunday and trying to personally tend a flock of hundreds, maybe thousands, all by himself. Things shouldn’t be done this way.”
(Answer to FAQ by “Dan” on an official Lds Church website that has now been archived, retrieved 2016-01-19, the typos that are in the original have been rectified in this citation)

So help us out here Latter-day Saints: Why is it “priestcraft” when non-Mormon clergy has their temporal needs cared for by their church just as the full-time leaders of the LDS Church do and just as the Bible and unique Mormon scripture commands?2 And if Joseph Smith and those “appointed to administer spiritual things are worthy of their hire in the LDS Church – up to and including the now infamous (not to mention generous) “living allowance” of Mormon General Authorities – then, again, why aren’t they engaging in “priestcraft” if and when they obey the clear dictates of Mormon scripture and receive compensation from their church?

Again, and at the risk of redundancy but for the sake of clarity and emphasis, if Mormon cultural dogma on having a paid clergy is true, then exactly how isn’t the LDS Church empowering, emboldening, and enabling the “priestcraft” of its own clergy by compensating them if generous compensation of clergy is the catalyst onto the slippery slope into corruption? Is it not, in fact, just enabling Mormon clergy’s ability to engage in the “preaching and setting themselves up for a light to the world that they may get gain and praise of the world” that Mormons so easily and flippantly accuse other churches of? I mean, after all, aren’t Latter-day Saint Apostles and Prophets, in fact, treated like Rock Stars or conquering Kings whenever they make a personal appearance with congregants being cued to stand for their entrance – and usually to the clergy-exalting sound of “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet” being sung or played to boot? How is all this not a fulfillment of the very warning that the Book of Mormon gives us about “priestcraft”?

The opening of Spring 2022 General Conference with the entire 21,000-person auditorium standing in unison and singing, “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet”

 How It’s a Myth
Thus as, we see, as with so many criticisms LDS offers of pastors, there’s a double standard in play here. Joseph Smith and other full-time Mormon leaders can receive financial support from the church to provide for their family as commanded in scripture but a pastor who receives financial support to provide for his is supposedly in sin. Yes, we’re constantly reminded that your bishops don’t draw a salary, but their work is part-time. Most are employed elsewhere and draw their salary there. We likewise have people who volunteer part-time for our churches without pay, but we also have pastors who work for the church full-time. Instead of comparing full-time pastors to part-time bishops, how about comparing them to your full-time seminary teachers or to the thousands of others who work for your church full-time and draw salaries? Somehow they’re not in it for the money, but pastors are?

Further, the objection is often offered that pastors make too much money, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2019,3 the average pastor’s salary was only $50,400. Meanwhile, your seminary teachers in the United States are reportedly paid $40,699 to $61,746 per year,4 your Mission Presidents receive total compensation estimated at $110,000 a year,5 and according to the last available information your General Authorities earn at least $120,000.6

Furthermore, while most pastors must rent their residence or struggle to make mortgage payments,16th LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, died owning not one, not two, but three Utah homes (including more than one upscale property) despite only having one employer his entire life, the LDS Church.7 Finally, and as a matter of fact, at the time of his death, Joseph Smith was one of the wealthiest men in Nauvoo, Illinois.8 So, if we’re in it for the money, we’re doing a very bad job of it compared to Latter-day Saint full-time clergy, aren’t we?

Yes, there are some local church pastors who prostitute their office in the same way that some LDS bishops do. If you believe it unfair to dismiss all your bishops based on the bad actions of a few, then you need to use the same standard in regard to Christian pastors. Stories of Benny Hinn’s mansions and Kenneth Copeland’s jets are often thrown around, but you need to recognize, they’re not mainstream Protestant ministers – they’re unaccountable, self-proclaimed modern para-church prophets who indeed are “Men preaching and setting themselves up for a light to the world that they may get gain and praise of the world”. In fact, it could be said they have far more in common with Joseph Smith than a local church Christian Pastor who lives, strives, and struggles shoulder to shoulder with the congregants that they shepherd and lead – and that very distinction goes to the heart of why we have pastors who are laboring in the midst of and accountable to a local congregation rather than just a bunch of lone ranger, para-church itinerate teachers and preachers flying around in private jets and staying in 5-star hotels who are accountable to no one.9

Why It Matters
Christianity is a religion based on a book – – black and white revelations from prophets and apostles who were not only attested by miracles but who presented a consistent gospel over the course of 1-1/2 millennia. We do not believe we can trump that testimony of God with our own experiences. He warns us, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1) That testing isn’t to be based on feelings, because He says our hearts are, “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” (Jeremiah 17:9)

We’re instead instructed to follow the example of the Bereans who, “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11) We don’t judge the Bible by supposed prophets, but supposed prophets by the Bible, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20)

The Apostle Paul said, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Earlier in the same epistle, he told Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Thus the Bible explicitly charges Pastors with studying the Scriptures and ministering them to His people with skill and precision. In order to become a pastor, I needed a college degree and three additional years of seminary education. Our Seminaries are not for high school students. They involve graduate-level studies. We learn Hebrew and Greek to better understand the Scriptures in their original languages and tell a correct translation from an incorrect one. We study textual criticism to answer claims that the Bible has been corrupted. We study theology to see how everything fits together. We study church history to see how the Bible has been interpreted and applied and how it has been challenged. We study pastoral counseling to better be able to minister God’s Word to His people. Christianity is a faith rooted in time and space with objective truth claims. Pastors are expected to be able to refute those who contradict that faith, and provide more than platitudes to, “doubt your doubts.”

The then First President and future LDS Church Prophet Thomas S. Monson’s 2005 advertisement for church-owned Beneficial Insurance. A “stealth” method of compensating Mormon leaders is to put them on the boards of church-owned companies. (click the image to watch the video)

LDS bishops don’t engage in many of these to any depth, because as the Articles of Faith state, the Bible is only believed, “as far as it is translated correctly.” On top of this, as Ezra Taft Benson said,

“The living prophet is more vital to us than the Standard Works. . . Beware of those who would set up the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence. . .”
(Ezra Taft Benson, “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet”, February 26, 1980)

Since the living prophet trumps even the standard works, Bible study simply doesn’t get the same careful attention as it does from a pastor, does it?

The church that accuses me of “priestcraft” is the largest landowner in Florida, owning 2% of the state. It owns shopping malls, office towers, and residential skyscrapers.10 It has been revealed to have a single investment fund of $100 billion.11 Each year, it produces enough to fully fund church operations without anyone tithing again.12 Meanwhile, pastors can’t presume to tell people God has called them to specific tasks in the church, so they often end up doing them themselves. Many of the things you have done by professionals are done by the pastor, from plumbing repairs to mowing the church lawn.13

Summary and Conclusion
The reason I do this is not for the money, but because of my love for Jesus Christ and His people. I long to see LDS turned from their false prophets and embrace the Jesus of the Bible. If you believe you already are, then engage my arguments, don’t try to assign bad motives to me. It’s a lot easier to demonize someone than answer their arguments, but it’s also dishonest.

Part-time Iowa, Lutheran Pastor Steve Struecker sees to the needs of his congregants when he’s not seeing to the needs of his own crops. Click here to read his story here.  (Progressive Farmer image by Jim Patrico)

According to transcripts of the Pre-1990 Temple Endowment ceremony, it included the following scene during the Telestial World portion of the ceremony, in which non-Mormon clergy were mocked and portrayed as being money motivated:

“Telestial Kingdom
(Adam and Eve are shown full view for the first time. They are clad in animal skins which cover their bodies to their knees. The lone and dreary world is represented by desert scenery. Adam kneels at his stone altar, spreads his hands to heaven, and piously invokes the Lord.)

NARRATOR: We now go with Adam and Eve into the lone and dreary world. Brethren and sisters, this represents the Telestial kingdom, or the world in which we now live. Adam, on finding himself in the lone and dreary world, built an altar and offered prayer, and these are the words he uttered:

Lucifer in the World
ADAM: Oh God, hear the words of my mouth. Oh God, hear the words of my mouth. Oh God, hear the words of my mouth.
(As Adam prays, Lucifer approaches from behind out of the shadows.)

LUCIFER: I hear you; what is it you want?
(Although Adam has already encountered Lucifer in the Garden of Eden, he fails to recognize him at this appearance.)

ADAM: Who are you?

LUCIFER: I am the God of this world.

ADAM: You, the God of this world?

LUCIFER: Yes, what do you want?

ADAM: I am looking for messengers.

LUCIFER: Oh, you want someone to preach to you. You want religion, do you? I will have preachers here presently.
(Lucifer turns his head as a sectarian minister approaches.)

The Preacher
LUCIFER: Good Morning sir!

(The preacher turns and looks into the camera.)

SECTARIAN MINISTER: A fine congregation!

LUCIFER: Yes, they are a very good people. They are concerned about religion. Are you a preacher?


LUCIFER: Have you been to college and received training for the ministry?

SECTARIAN MINISTER: Certainly! A man cannot preach unless has been trained for the ministry.

LUCIFER: Do you preach the orthodox religion?

SECTARIAN MINISTER: Yes, that is what I preach.

LUCIFER: If you will preach your orthodox religion to these people, and convert them, I will pay you well.

SECTARIAN MINISTER: I will do my best.
(Lucifer guides the preacher to Adam and Eve, who stand nearby.)

LUCIFER: Here is a man who desires religion. He is very much exercised, and seems to be sincere.
(As Lucifer presents the preacher to Adam and Eve he steps back and observes the ensuing conversation. The preacher is made to sound sincere, although misguided and credulous. Adam appears humble, faithful and immovable in his determination to serve God. He is not swayed by the preacher, and is astounded by the doctrines espoused by the preacher.)

SECTARIAN MINISTER: I understand that you are inquiring after religion.

ADAM: I was calling upon Father.

SECTARIAN MINISTER: I am glad to know that you were calling upon Father. Do you believe in a God who is without body, parts, or passions; who sits on the top of a topless throne; whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere; who fills the universe, and yet is so small that he can dwell in your heart; who is surrounded by myriads of beings who have been saved by grace, not for any act of theirs, but by His good pleasure. Do you believe in such a great Being?

ADAM: I do not. I cannot comprehend such a being.

SECTARIAN MINISTER: That is the beauty of it. Perhaps you do not believe in a devil, and in that great hell, the bottomless pit, where there is a lake of fire and brimstone into which the wicked are cast, and where they are continually burning, but none never consumed?

ADAM: I do not believe in any such place.

SECTARIAN MINISTER: My dear friend, I am sorry for you.

LUCIFER: I am sorry, very very sorry! What is it you want?

ADAM: I am looking for messengers from my Father.
(The scene changes to a view of the Celestial Kingdom, where Elohim reigns from a white throne afront tall white pillars. He is radiant as before, and his voice resonates as he speaks with Jehovah, who stands before him.)”

(Jonathan “Thinker of Thoughts” Streeter (transcriber), “Pre-1990 Temple Endowment”, Thoughts on Things and Stuff website, Aug 24, 2016)

2 And, even more interesting, the same scriptural command to have a paid clergy in unique Mormon scripture is also true of modern Mormon Missionaries who must “pay to play” to the tune of thousands of dollars during their mission:

“And again, thus saith the Lord unto you, O ye elders of my church, who have given your names that you might know his will concerning you—

Behold, I say unto you, that it is the duty of the church to assist in supporting the families of those, and also to support the families of those who are called and must needs be sent unto the world to proclaim the gospel unto the world.

Wherefore, I, the Lord, give unto you this commandment, that ye obtain places for your families, inasmuch as your brethren are willing to open their hearts.”
(Doctrine & Covenants 75:23-25)

3 See “Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2019, 21-2011 Clergy”

4 See “Salary Details for a Seminary Teacher at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”, Glassdoor website.

5 Eric Johnson, “What does “unpaid ministry” look like? A look at the compensation of Mission Presidents”, Mormon Research Ministry website.

6 Peggy Fletcher Stack, “How much do top Mormon leaders make? Leaked pay stubs may surprise you”, The Salt Lake Tribune, January 26, 2017.

7 “Thomas Monson’s Homes (Updated)” Mormon Insider website, April 18, 2013. And what’s even more interesting is that Thomas S. Monson, the same man who owned and maintained these three houses, made in this bold claim in Spring General Conference 2006:

“I answered that the Church is not wealthy but that we follow the ancient biblical principle of tithing, which principle is reemphasized in our modern scripture. I explained also that our Church has no paid ministry…”
(Thomas S. Monson, “Our Sacred Priesthood Trust”, Spring General Conference 2006)

8 Fred W. Anson, “If Joseph Smith Wasn’t Money Motivated Then Why Did He Die Wealthy?” Beggar’s Bread website, February 13, 2022.

The January 2, 2014 letter from the LDS Church to its General Authorities informing them that they are increasing their annual “living allowance” from $116,400 to $120,000. (image source: the Truth & Transparency Foundation) 

9 And if a non-Mormon reading this thinks that any of this is exaggerated, we would refer them to Benny Hinn’s nephew, Costi’s book, “God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel: How Truth Overwhelms a Life Built on Lies” in which he not only exposes these things but provides the biblical path that has lead him to a life of humble, accountable service as the type of a local church pastor that this article reveals and describes and that the bible commands.

This is not to deny that “priestcraft” is a real thing in mainstream Christianity, it is. That said, while we readily and openly acknowledge these abuses, it’s quite another thing to paint non-Mormon clergy with such a broad brush in such a way as to claim that all of them are engaging in it when, in fact, only a few are.

10 Tony Semerad, “New database gives widest look ever at LDS Church landholdings. See what it owns and where”, Salt Lake Tribune, April 5, 2022.

11 Ian Lovett and Rachael Levy, “The Mormon Church Amassed $100 Billion. It Was the Best-Kept Secret in the Investment World”, Wall Street Journal, February 8, 2020.

12 Jana Riess, “Why I stopped tithing to the LDS Church”, Religion News Service, December 23, 2020.

13 And while the focus of this article is on Christian Pastors everything that I have said is even truer of Christian Apologists who don’t have a congregation to pay them a salary and must depend on the kindness of strangers to keep them afloat via donations.

To cite just one case in point, in his book “Lighthouse: Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Despised and Beloved Critics of Mormonism” Ronald V. Huggins details how the Tanners were on the verge of bankruptcy innumerable times and were only able to stay afloat thanks to the kind generosity of friends, family, and people who they didn’t even know via timely donations and gifts. Consider this incident that took place in the early “Modern Microfilm” (it was later renamed “Utah Lighthouse Ministry” when it became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in the United States) days of the ministry:

“Jerald had given up being a machinist to work full time to build Modern Microfilm. But within two years, it was floundering. The books sold, but there was not enough revenue to keep everything afloat and support a family. The November 1965 issue of the Tanners’ newsletter, the Salt Lake City Messenger, announced a 10 percent discount on their books. The Tanners were candid with their readers: “We hope that by selling these books we will be able to pay off our loans, and, if it is possible, to keep our equipment. … The Lord may call us to some other work, or we may even continue Modern Microfilm Co. on a part time basis.”

They planned to continue the sale through the end of June 1966, but “things have taken a turn for the worse,” Jerald and Sandra announced in July, as they offered a 20 percent discount on everything. They made an appeal for loans to the company at 8 percent interest, suggesting thousand-dollar advances paid off over two years with monthly payments of $48.34. They insisted there was no fear of bankruptcy, but Jerald was working on a new book and was eager to finish it without seeking outside employment. A few readers responded with money, mostly family and friends, and it became a method that the Tanners used into the early 1980s until they became a non-profit organization in 1983.”
(Ronald V. Huggins, “Lighthouse: Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Despised and Beloved Critics of Mormonism”, p. 141. Signature Books. Kindle Edition)

This is a recurring theme in the book and one which Sandra Tanner herself validated in the nearly innumerable promotional interviews that she did in the wake of the book’s release. Consider in particular “Unveiling Grace” interview #186 in which she speaks in detail about how the multiple civil lawsuits that the LDS Church initiated against her and her husband risked them keeping their family home should they lose the case or the legal fees become too exorbitant, on more than one occasion.

To cite another case, the very website that you are reading this article on, “Beggar’s Bread”, operates at a net loss each year with the Publishing Editor not asking for donations, never receiving them, and paying for all operating expenses out of his own pocket for over a decade now. So if it’s true that not only Christian Pastors are in it in for the money but Christian Apologists are as well, then we all are clearly inept at this “get rich at the expense of Mormonism” scheme that Latter-day Saints claim that we are engaged in.

About the Author Jason Wallace is the pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Magna, Utah which is a Congregation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He is also the former host of “The Ancient Paths” television program, which featured topical guests and lectures on various aspects of Mormon Studies as they relate to Jesus Christ and the Bible. Pastor Wallace is also well known for his religious studies videos and hosted debates which can be found here on The Ancient Paths YouTube channel.


by Jason Wallace and “Team PFAAS”
1. Play the victim. While it may be true that the Pearl of Great Price says all other churches are “wrong” and that their creeds are an “abomination” in God’s sight, it’s completely unfair for anyone to respond. After all, God said it, not Joseph Smith. Tell them they should be more “Christ-like;” building up, rather than tearing down; preaching Christ, rather than pointing out the errors of the LDS. Ignore the tens of thousands of missionaries repeating Joseph Smith’s First Vision every day. Insist that the LDS church never speaks negatively of other churches.

2. Treat your critics with condescension. Don’t answer the questions they ask, but the questions they should have asked. Assume they are ignorant of Mormonism and tell them to read the Book of Mormon. Tell them the church has been growing all this time and there’s nothing they can do to stop it.

3. Dismiss their criticism. Insist these are claims that have been answered numerous times and that they need to read more. Don’t waste your time engaging their arguments.

4. Insist that nothing ever said by any General Authority can be used to criticize. They are fallible men. They should be obeyed without question, but they’re not always speaking for God, even when they say they are.

5. Demonize your critics. Insist that they are being hateful. Ask them why they hate Mormons so. Raise questions about monetary incentives to spew their venom. Lump them in with every crazy thing done in the name of non-LDS religion.

6. Tell them that when they spend less time criticizing and more time feeding the poor you’ll listen to them more.

7. Pursue radical skepticism. Deny that there is any objective truth in any religion, but then insist the LDS church is true. Try to make all other positions untenable, even if Mormonism would not withstand the same standard.

8. Point out all the differing opinions about the Bible and encourage them to pray that God would reveal the truth of Mormonism.

9. Bear your testimony and express your pain that they don’t know the happiness you do.

10. Pick one or all of the following: dismiss, attack, ignore, or bear testimony. Repeat until they finally give up out of frustration.

11. If the critic is an Ex-Mormon, inform them and anyone else listening that all apostates lie.

12. In a similar vein publicly state that former LDS have lost the Holy Ghost and forgotten any truth they had learned while members. They are now angry and bitter apostates. Therefore, anything that they say about their religious training and experiences in the LDS Church can be ignored.

13. Further, if the Ex-Mormon is a relative, conveniently forget their years of active participation, temple work, callings, etc. Then use #12 behind their back – use it publicly too if they become too much of an embarrassment to the family or a problem for the LdS Church.

14. If the critic has prayed about the truthfulness of the LDS religion and gotten the “wrong” answer (“these things are not true”), then publicly state there was something wrong with the way they prayed. Their prayer obviously lacked sincerity and/or genuine intent or they would have gotten the right answer!

15. Dismiss any and all non-partisan, secular sources as having an agenda against Mormonism because “Everyone knows that all non-Mormons hate Christ’s Church and want to destroy it – they’re tools of the Devil!” This includes sources where Mormonism is nowhere on their radar – including those that have never even heard of Mormonism. Examples include (but are not limited to): Archaeologists in general and/or Scientists working in biogenetics in particular.

16. If you see a fellow Latter-day Saint publicly engaging in uncivil, disrespectful, even hateful ways, don’t publicly challenge them or address their bad behavior. Instead, join right in! And then call on others to do the same: Swarm them. After all those “Anti’s” deserve everything that they get, right?

17. Cycle quickly and repeatedly between #1 and #5 as a means of rabbit trailing the discussion off topic and into the weeds. Do everything you can to reduce the discussion to a personality conflict between yourself and the critic rather than a civil, serious, discussion of evidence, issues, concepts, and principles. Make it personal!

18. If a critic quotes something you don’t like from an official, correlated LDS Church source, then inform them that the source was never (or is no longer) official and should be ignored.

19. Under no circumstances, engage their criticism.

The first nine items in this tongue in cheek list (along with the last one) were generated by Utah Pastor Jason Wallace after being inundated by those tactics thanks to 50,000+ hits on his YouTube video, “An Earnest Plea to Latter-day Saints”. If you parse through the comments for the video on it’s YouTube page, you’ll see each and every one of these tactics represented at least once – often multiple times. 

Mr. Wallace posted his original “Top Ten” list on the “Preaching From an Asbestos Suit: Reasoning With Mormons on the Internet” Facebook group (aka “PFAAS”), which is a coaching and support group for Christians who wish to become more effective in outreach to Mormons. His list resonated with “Team PFAAS” and was an immediate hit. Soon the other members of the group made the additional contributions that have grown the list to its current size. Since PFAAS is a closed Facebook group, I thought that it was just too good to not share with the general public. So here it is. 

Oh, and a note to our Mormon friends, you might want to rethink each and every one of the tactics in the list – they only weaken the case for Mormonism, they don’t enhance it. And this is a real tip, LDS friends, not a tongue in cheek one.
— Fred W. Anson

by Jason Wallace
I’ve been asked why I bother to respond to Shawn McCraney. In Shawn’s mind, I’m attacking him from jealousy, since he describes me as a “Salieri” to his “Mozart.” Despite Shawn’s high opinion of himself, I don’t see him as a genius, but a boastful, ignorant man who calls the God of the Bible a “monster.” I feel compelled to defend the God I love. I have also been encouraged to see people credit my witness in helping them abandon Shawn’s cult for Biblical churches. But there is another reason that I believe it’s important to respond to Shawn – he is the poster boy for the “Church of Anti-Mormonism.”

Because Mormonism is the majority faith in Utah, it shapes how even non-Mormons think about religion. Mormons have church membership, leadership, calls to holiness, Sabbaths, tithing, and a traditional form of worship. Non-Mormons often reject all of these. Many embrace a “personal relationship with Jesus,” divorced from a visible church. Since Mormons have authoritarian leadership, non-Mormons often stress a radical individualism without personal accountability. Since LDS equate holiness with avoiding coffee and alcohol, non-Mormons tend to downplay any holiness in favor of “freedom in Christ.” Since the Mormons have a Sabbath, any Sabbath must be legalism. Since Mormons use tithes to control access to the temple, all tithing must be rejected. Since Mormons sing traditional hymns, worship must be a rock concert with laser lights and smoke machines for it to be “real.”

Mormons worship another god and follow another gospel, but this does not mean everything they do must be wrong. They are a counterfeit church that bears at least some resemblance to Christ’s true Church. People in the New Testament were baptized not just into Christ, but into a visible church, which Jesus commanded them to hear (Matthew 18:17). Just because Mormon leaders lord themselves over their people, that doesn’t mean there is no leadership in the church. Jesus had his apostles ordain elders in every city (Titus 1:5). The elders were not to lord themselves over the people (1 Peter 5:3), but the people were to submit to them (Hebrews 13:17). Holiness is not found in “touch not, taste not (Colossians 2:21),” but it does involve keeping ourselves from sexual immorality (Acts 15:20) and keeping ourselves unspotted by the world (James 1:27). Freedom in Christ involves not only justification (freedom from the guilt of sin), but sanctification (freedom from the power of sin). Just because the Pharisees and Mormons abused the Sabbath and tithing doesn’t invalidate them. The Sabbath was supposed to be a delight (Isaiah 58:13). Jesus condemned the Pharisees for tithing of the smallest spices and neglecting the weightier matters of the law, but he said, “these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone (Matthew 23:23).” Worship is not only in spirit and truth (John 4:24) but with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28).

Shawn is simply an extreme, “grunge” version of what defines a lot of non-Mormon religion in Utah. He seems to recognize that his Christianity isn’t really Biblical. I think that helps explain his full preterism. By claiming that the Second Coming was in 70 A.D., he can ignore anything that conflicts with his totally “spiritual” religion. All these things passed away with the Second Coming. By attacking “Sola Scriptura,” he can also add new revelations that allow him to redefine things according to his desires. The irony is that in the end, McCraney’s “Church of Anti-Mormonism” ends up looking a lot like Mormonism.

Not all of the “Church of Anti-Mormonism” is as radical as Shawn, but it is so clearly unbiblical that it helps Mormons justify staying in Mormonism. Instead of overreacting against Mormonism, we need to proclaim the whole counsel of God – a Jesus who saves us in our sins, but also from them – the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

Please click on the above image to watch the HOTM 2.0 broadcast that this article was written in response to. 

McCraneyism 2.0

Introduction: On this past Tuesday, November 7th, Shawn McCraney engaged in a long personal attack on a much beloved and iconic Mormon Studies figure: Sandra Tanner. Before reading Pastor Jason Wallace’s response to Shawn below it’s recommended that you click on the video below this intro and watch this attack first hand so you can put Pastor Wallace analysis and critique into its historical context. This will also help you fully appreciate how vitriolic, biased, imbalanced, over the top, and unfair Mr. McCraney’s attack on Ms. Tanner really was. — Editor

by Jason Wallace
Out of my great respect for Sandra Tanner, I hesitate to relate this, but many people do not realize how far Shawn McCraney has gone in attacking Biblical Christianity.

Last night, Shawn dedicated a show to “going after a sacred cow that has been impervious to Christian scrutiny for 40 years. . . 50 years”: Sandra Tanner. What are her great sins that deserve such public rebuke? She “attacked his person” when she privately described him as “an irresponsible leader.” She also “hangs out with Calvinists,” refusing to join him in publicly denouncing the God who sends people to an eternal Hell as “a monster.”

In order to make sense of Shawn, you need to recognize his double standard. He can describe pastors generally and by name as wolves and money-hungry charlatans, but he immediately qualifies that by saying he loves us all as brothers. This supposedly makes everything he says okay. If someone responds to what he says, they’re “attacking his person.” When he denounces people by name on his Internet podcast, that’s different from someone responding to it on the Internet. He’s brave, but we’re supposedly cowards. It’s striking that you can say almost anything about God, and Shawn seems fine with that, but if you dare say that Shawn is wrong, that is the highest blasphemy. Shawn can say Shawn is wrong, but no one else can.

Shawn has a new theme with which he opens his show; he presents himself as a new Martin Luther.* The reality is that Shawn is the antithesis of Luther. Martin Luther was a brilliant scholar who had no fear to debate his opponents. Shawn won’t debate James White at all and only allows critics who challenge him to do so on his terms. Martin Luther was a reformer, recognizing that the church of his day had wandered not just from the Scriptures, but from the historic faith of the church. Shawn isn’t a Reformer, but a Restorationist. He essentially argues for a great apostasy and claims he’s restoring the Holy Spirit to the church. Martin Luther argued for Scripture as the only infallible rule of faith and practice. Shawn puts his private revelations above Scripture. Luther disagreed with Shawn on Hell, the Second Coming, and the nature of the church. The reality is that Shawn has far more in common with the enemies of Luther, the Zwickau Prophets, than with Luther.

Shawn may take my attempts to love even my enemies as cowardice, but I want to make clear that I go much further than Sandra. Shawn is not just an irresponsible leader; he is a heretic. He is not my brother in Christ. Jesus said if anyone won’t hear the church, they are to be treated as a heathen and a tax collector (Matthew 18). Shawn refuses to hear any church anywhere. Simply saying he is a Christian doesn’t make Thomas Monson one, nor does it make Shawn one.

People need to recognize that Shawn has essentially repackaged Mormonism. He claims all the churches are wrong. All their creeds are “heinous.” The God of historic Christianity is “a monster” (a claim also made by Joseph Smith). Pastors are all in it for the money (cf.”hirelings of Satan”). There was a great apostasy, but now he’s restoring the Spirit. He claims to have the “best approach to Christianity on the face of the earth” (cf. “only true and living church upon the face of the earth”). Shawn is labeling his show “Heart of the Matter 2.0.” The reality is that he is presenting Mormonism 2.0. He is not the new Luther, but the new Joseph Smith. He uses a few bad churches to condemn all churches. He may not have temples and tithing, but he makes people feel pious in their hatred. He helps them rationalize all this as love while breathing out contempt.

Shawn has called me a coward for denouncing his teachings on the Internet, while “boldly” denouncing me on the Internet. I will gladly confront him in person whenever he likes. I could not care less what he says about “my person,” but I will defend the glory of the Jesus of the Bible with everything in me. Instead of picking on Sandra Tanner in absentia, how about we argue this out face to face?

* Editor’s note click on the image below to see this new, referred show intro. 

A meme based on Shawn McCraney’s new show intro for HOTM 2.0. Click on image to view the full video.


A caution to transitioning Ex-Mormon Christians

“If your true motivation is not simply hatred of Mormonism… then our plea is simple.”

by Jason Wallace, Pastor, Christ Presbyterian Church, Magna, Utah
Former Mormons recognize that religion doesn’t make someone a Christian. Mormonism may say nice things about Jesus, produce a great deal of sincerity, emotion, and activity, but it is a fraud. Mormons may quote the Bible, but they are selective in their use of it, touting what fits their personal preferences, while ignoring the parts that contradict them.

What many former Mormons don’t seem to recognize is that, in leaving Mormonism, many have embraced a faith that is simply another counterfeit of Biblical Christianity. Their religion may also produce great sincerity, emotion, and activity, but it is often just as selective in its use of the Bible. The gospel gets reduced to Ephesians 2:8-9 and a “personal relationship” with Jesus, that is divorced from the rest of the Bible. Like the Mormons, they bitterly resent anyone pointing them to the parts of the Bible that don’t fit their system and demonize those who challenge them to test their religion from God’s Word.

If your true motivation is not simply hatred of Mormonism, but a real love of Jesus Christ and the truth, then our plea is simple – – hear Jesus and His apostles. Jesus said,

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
— Matthew 7:21-23, KJV

Many Mormons claim that James 2 contradicts Paul in Ephesians 2. They see Paul teaching a “cheap grace” of faith without works. Rather than correcting the Mormon’s view of Ephesians 2, many former Mormons have embraced it and simply ignore what James said.

True conversion involves more than forgiveness of sins; it also involves being given a new heart and the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:36). We are not saved by our works (Ephesians 2:8-9), but the new birth manifests itself in new life (Romans 6) and in good works (Ephesians 2:10). We are not saved by our works, but they are the fruit of the Spirit within converted Christians.

Jesus is saying in the Sermon on the Mount that many will go to the day of judgment, trusting in their religion and thinking they are right with Jesus, only to discover their religion was a fraud with which they not only fooled others, but also themselves. The Apostle Paul warns,

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
— 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, KJV

"True conversion involves more than forgiveness of sins; it also involves being given a new heart ..."

“True conversion involves more than forgiveness of sins; it also involves being given a new heart …”

Many former Mormons love to quote Paul saying we are no longer under law, but under grace. They use this passage as a club to bludgeon anyone who points out the totality of what Paul said. Jesus said that He never knew those who call Him Lord, but practice iniquity. Just as someone can say they love God and hate their brother (1 John 2:9), people can say they love God and practice iniquity, but both are lies. The Apostle John writes,

“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.”
— 1 John 2:3-5, KJV

Over and over, Jesus makes clear that the new birth involves more than mouthing the words to a prayer.

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
— Matthew 6:14-15, KJV

“But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
— Matthew 10:33-39, KJV

“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”
— Matthew 18:15-17, KJV

Mormons can weep as they relate the burning in their bosom and other spiritual experiences, but the Bible shows that they are deceived and worshiping a false god and proclaiming a false gospel. Anti-Mormons can gush as they relate their spiritual experiences, but unless they line up with God’s Word, they are just another fraud.

Having been burned with the legalism and organizational oppression of Mormonism, many former Mormons have embraced a cheap grace that requires them to hear no church anywhere. They do not have to seek reconciliation with other believers (Matthew 18:15-17), and they submit to no elders (Hebrews 13:17).

“Many former Mormons have embraced a cheap grace that requires them to hear no church anywhere.”
Exhibit A: Ex-Mormon Shawn McCraney’s “Christian Anarchist” teachings.

These are not optional matters. Believers in the first century were baptized into a visible church, with real elders (Titus 1). It can be hard to overcome past abuse, but we are not given the option. Jesus asks,

“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”
— Luke 6:46, KJV

If you refuse to hear the church, Christians are commanded to treat you as an unbeliever; we are to pray for you and be kind to you, but we are to call you to repentance and true faith. Those who pick and choose what they like from the Bible are not Christians. The Apostle John said,

“If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:”
— 1 John 1:6, KJV

You may have left Mormonism, with its tithing, temples, and rules, but unless you embrace the Biblical gospel, you’ve simply repackaged the same false gospel in a more palatable form. There is a gospel that involves more than mouthing the words to a prayer and living like the world. It is not a gospel of grace plus works, but a grace that transforms – – the Biblical gospel of a real new birth, with a new heart and the giving of the Holy Spirit. We call you to the gospel in which Jesus nails not only our sinful record, but our stony heart and poisonous life to the cross – – a gospel in which we have his perfect record, loving heart, and Holy Spirit given to sinners like us.

When King Josiah heard the Word of God that had been neglected, he rent his clothes and repented (2 Kings 22). The answer to Phariseeism is not becoming a Saducee, but a Christian. Is the real problem with Mormonism its idolatry or just how it treated you? Will you substitute the Jesus of Joseph Smith with the real Jesus of the Bible, or just a counterfeit of your own imagination? Will you come to Jesus on His terms, or will you hear on the day of judgment, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity”?


“Will you substitute the Jesus of Joseph Smith with the real Jesus of the Bible, or just a counterfeit of your own imagination?”


McCraney-ismby Jason Wallace
Many former Mormons have escaped the institution, but not the mindset of Mormonism. All their lives, they have been fed stories of how bad other churches are. Protestant pastors have been caricatured at the Mormon Miracle Pageant and in endless stories they have heard from their youth. After years of being told all other churches are wrong, many LDS simply add Mormonism to the list of false churches and embrace atheism. They abandon the claims of the LDS church to truth, but they blindly accept all its criticisms of the Bible and other churches as true. They breathe out contempt for Christianity with the old fervor of Brigham Young and Parley Pratt.

Though the vast majority of those who abandon Mormonism try to convince themselves there is no God, some recognize that they cannot escape His reality. They see the foolishness of an atheism that pretends to find meaning and value in a world devoid of purpose. They instead read the Bible and see an explanation for the world before them. Man is capable of greatness and perversity – – Bach and Hitler, DaVinci and Stalin. They discover that the world was created good, but it has been corrupted through sin.

In that same Bible, they find the one who has come to undo the Fall of man and reconcile sinful men to a holy God – – Jesus Christ. They hear His words and recognize their truth. The problem is that all too often, they do not recognize that they still carry with them the prejudices that were inculcated in them from youth. They view the Bible, Jesus, and His church through “Mormon glasses.” It is into this confusion that Shawn McCraney has stepped. He has been the instrument of helping many people see the errors of Mormonism, but in its place he is teaching a Jesus who plays to these prejudices, but is not the Jesus of the Bible.

Shawn McCraney

Shawn McCraney

Shawn McCraney is a passionate and charismatic man. These traits led to him being thrust into public ministry with very little experience. He has publicly stated that he had only attended five Evangelical worship services in his life before being offered an Evangelical television ministry. He had never even been baptized outside the Mormon church. Evangelicalism’s fascination with “star converts” pushed Shawn into the spotlight without proper preparation. His denunciations of Mormonism and promotion of a vague “personal relationship” with Jesus was considered orthodox enough for his promoters.

Over time, Shawn’s theology has become more clear and more developed. He claims all churches are wrong and all their creeds are “heinous.” He claims that the church has been blinded by “the physical” for 1800 years, but now he is helping usher in a new “spiritual” understanding of Christianity. He denounces churches as trying to insert themselves between the believer and God, and denounces pastors as motivated by pride and greed, while being blinded to the Spirit by their “scholarship.”

Despite Shawn’s rejection of many of the trappings of Mormonism, he has kept much of what made it popular in its founding. The early LDS made people feel pious in their contempt of educated pastors. Instead of “theology,” the LDS claimed to offer direct, personal experiences of God. Christianity was presented as a dark chaos of conflicting opinions. Something new was needed that would unite everyone. The Bible was appealed to, but was subject to what they considered the direct witness of the Spirit. This allowed them to ignore what they wanted from the Bible, while using it to attack their critics. In place of “doctrines of men,” the Mormons offered a vague, personal spirituality and a community that did not make the traditional demands upon them. Over time, Mormonism’s demands became much higher, but they were not so high in the beginning.

Many former LDS have a great personal loyalty to Shawn, because he is the one who opened their eyes to the errors of Mormonism. He offers them acceptance and community when they have lost both from the LDS. This loyalty leads them to ignore the hypocrisy of Shawn denouncing others in the harshest terms, but then playing the victim when someone responds. No one was trying to force Shawn to use the term “Trinity.” He took it upon himself to go on television and denounce the doctrine as “heinous” and “garbage.” He claimed it was rooted in “polytheistic paganism.” When I responded by saying that Shawn was teaching “grave error,” Shawn claimed I would kill him if I could and I would burn him at the stake. None of this was true. Rather than admitting that he had attacked the concept of the Trinity, Shawn tried to claim the whole issue was over “the use of an unbiblical term.” Just as the LDS claim never to attack anyone, many of Shawn’s followers see any response to his charges as “attacking Shawn.”

Shawn McCraney on the set of his Heart of the Matter television show.

Shawn McCraney on the set of his Heart of the Matter television show.

I named this review “McCraney-ism” because Shawn seeks to dismiss everyone who has gone before him as holding to an “-ism” or being an “-ist.” He, on the other hand, rejects all labels. This allows him to savage others’ beliefs, but then claim he is only attacking the “-ism.” When someone challenges his public teachings, he claims they are attacking “his person.” The reality is that Shawn is promoting a system of doctrine, an “-ism,” as much as anyone else.

Shawn has repeatedly tried to hang the label of Calvinist on me. I hold to the doctrines of grace held by Calvin, Luther, and all the Protestant reformers, but I have been hesitant to embrace what Shawn has described as “Calvinism.” He said of the doctrine that he has “not seen a bigger pile of garbage since the King Follett Discourse.” He says “Mormons and Biblical Christians” are united in their rejection of Calvinism’s “insane doctrine.”

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).

Shawn dismisses everyone else’s interpretation of the Bible as the “doctrines of men,” while he is just “sharing” what he sees. This plays to the prejudices of former Mormons and others who feel burned by “traditional” churches, but it is misleading. In a recent episode, Shawn asked, “. . . who do I think I am that I could actually spit in the wind of 1800 years plus of religious tradition and biblical scholars and learned men and women and suggest that they have been misled in the way they have applied the Bible to doing Christian life? I don’t know who I am when it comes to this. I might be crazy. I might be a fool. I might be inspired. I’m not sure. But I can say this is how it comes together for me. This is how when I sit down and read it, this is what speaks to me, and I’m going to be true to that. If I’m crazy, discover that and don’t listen to me, If I’m wrong in spots, you can call me out on it and go on and love me, or you can choose to fight it. But just understand I pray to God that it’s from Him and not Satan, who gives me the perspectives, and sometimes I don’t know . . .” This is disarming on the surface, but if heaven and hell are at stake, would he still be teaching others if he wasn’t convinced what he was saying was true? Shawn claims he’s “wrong 90% of the time,” but that doesn’t stop him from denouncing what the Bible teaches and demonizing churches and pastors. It also doesn’t stop him from demonizing the attempts of his critics to specify those errors.

CAMPUS member Jed on his soapbox.

“Do you love me?” Shawnite Jed stirring the post at the February 3rd, 2015 debate between Jason Wallace and Shawn McCraney.

Shawn claims all his critics care about is doctrine, but he cares about love and people. When I appeared on Heart of the Matter, one of his group asked “how many of you here love me,” I didn’t raise my hand. Since the immediate context was Shawn asking if I counted him as a Christian brother, I understood the question in that context and did not raise my hand since I did not really know the man. This was immediately interpreted in the worst possible light and Shawn later claimed that I choose not to love people. He says he thinks it’s unbiblical, but he “respects” my right to do so. I have tried to make clear that I love my neighbors and even my enemies, but I do not love them in the same way I love those of the household of faith. Love is more than a warm, fuzzy feeling for all people everywhere. I show love even to those who mock everything I stand for, including Shawn. I tried to correct him privately over 7 years ago. I have prayed for him for years. I have repeatedly tried to respond fairly and in love to Shawn’s denunciations. I have tried to speak the truth in love, but all that some of his group can see is hate when any criticisms are offered. Their own hatred of their critics seems to escape them.

What makes others’ interpretation of the Bible better than Shawn’s? The Bible is not unclear, and Shawn stands against the united witness of nearly 2,000 years of Christians on basic issues. Many of these Christians, unlike Shawn, could read the Bible in its original languages. These Christians also allow the Bible to interpret the Bible; they don’t impose a meaning on the texts that allows them to ignore passages that contradict them. They don’t let their conception of the love of God trump clear teachings about the wrath of God. Shawn seems to realize the Bible does not really support some of his new teachings, so he is attacking the inerrancy of the Bible as “crazy.” He is pitting the subjective testimony of the Spirit in you against the objective witness in the Bible. For those who recognized that a burning in their bosom was no assurance of truth, this should be troubling. The Holy Spirit is the author of the Scriptures and cannot contradict them.

Rob Bowman lecturing on the February 25, 2014 Heart of the Matter broadcast

Theologian  Rob Bowman flew to Utah at his own expense in an attempt to help Shawn McCraney turn from the heresy he was starting to teach in early 2014.

Why does all this matter? First, Shawn is presenting a different Jesus. He has stated that the Lake of Fire is in the presence of Jesus, so unless Jesus has some sadistic pleasure in torturing people, sinners must be ultimately reconciled to Him. He ignores that in Revelation 14, those who receive the Mark of the Beast are tormented “in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb, and the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever.” Shawn says he will not follow a God who creates people He knows are going to an eternal Hell. Since this is the only God seen in Scripture by Calvinists, Arminians, Catholics, Orthodox, and practically everyone in church history, this should be seen as a problem. Shawn has taken the truth that God is love and used it to undermine anything that does not fit his idea of love.

The Jesus that Shawn presents is also a failure. His Holy Spirit apparently failed to lead the church into truth until now. His Second Coming in 70 A.D. (according to Shawn) failed to end the curse or to crush the head of the serpent. Shawn leaves open a “third coming,” but says there’s nothing about it in the Bible. Shawn’s Jesus also fails to resurrect our physical bodies, which makes Acts 17 and 1 Corinthians 15 nonsensical.

Second, Shawn is giving false assurance to unbelievers. He tells them if they have a “personal relationship” with Jesus they’re right with Him, and if they’re wrong, Hell is only temporary. Jesus does offer us a personal relationship, but He also warns us of those who draw near to Him with their lips while their hearts are far from Him. Shawn does not answer the warnings in 1 Corinthians 6 and Galatians 5 of those who profess faith but exhibit sins that show their hearts are unchanged. Jesus indwells His people. They are not free from sin in this life, but there are sins from which they are freed. Shawn uses James 2:10 to dismiss the clear teaching of 1 Corinthians 6 and Galatians 5. All sins are worthy of Hell, but there are sins, such as the continued practice of homosexuality, that demonstrate someone has been given over by God to a reprobate mind (Romans 1:24).

Shawn McCraney and Utah Pastor, Jason Wallace at Inquisition 2014.

Shawn McCraney and Utah Pastor, Jason Wallace at Inquisition 2014.

Finally, Shawn is robbing Christians of the means God has appointed for their edification. There are churches out there that are no better than the Mormon church, but that does not mean there are none who tremble at God’s Word. As Joseph Smith before him, Shawn tends to paint all churches with the same brush to confuse and frustrate people, so that he can offer an alternative. He plays on the divisions to make people give up on the idea of finding a true church. The irony is that most of these divisions are the work of others like him.

We need more than the community Shawn offers. Shawn says no one can tell someone else they are in sin, because if we’re going to talk righteousness, “you damn well better be righteous.” This is not what Jesus commanded. He established a visible church and said if a professing Christian would not hear it, they were to treated as “a heathen and a tax collector.” This does not mean they are hated, but that they are prayed for and called to repentance. Our Lord, through the Apostle Paul, commands his church to judge a man who married his father’s wife and not to eat with him as a brother in Christ. This was an expression of love that Shawn rejects, and it led to his repentance and restoration.

Many former Mormons tend to view any accountability in the context of how they have been abused. Biblical elders are commanded not to lord themselves over the congregation; they are to be the servants of all. They are warned they will have to give account to God (Hebrews 13:17) for having kept watch over His people.

The Apostle Paul called out Hymenaeus, Alexander the Coppersmith, and a host of others by name for their errors. Shawn is presenting a different Jesus and a different gospel. My plea to you is to be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11) and search the Scriptures for yourself. Brigham Young made the invitation, because he knew most people wouldn’t really test what he was telling them. I plead with you to read the Bible for yourself.

It is not enough to be against Mormonism. It is not enough to substitute new lies for old. It is not enough to claim a personal relationship with Jesus while refusing to do the most basic things he tells us. In the pages of God’s Word, you will find the truths rejected by Joseph Smith and Shawn McCraney, but embraced by countless saints who sealed their faith with their blood. You will find a Jesus far more glorious, and a gospel far more awesome. You will find the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

Thus says the LORD, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16


About the Author
Jason Wallace is the pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Magna, Utah. He is also the host of “The Ancient Paths” television program.

(This article was originally published on the website. It has been republished here with their permission)