Archive for the ‘McCraneyism’ Category

Mark Prizant, the moderator (who is supposed to maintain neutral during debate proceedings) gives a supportive hug to Shawn McCraney’s wife immediately after she had ripped into Jason Wallace during the February 3, 2015 debate

The debate moderator (who is supposed to maintain neutral during the proceedings), gives a supportive hug to Shawn McCraney’s wife immediately after she has ripped into Jason Wallace during the February 3, 2015 debate.

by Fred W. Anson

“Listening to Shawn McCraney it’s hard to even recognize any more any meaningful element of Christian truth left in his theology. It’s just sad to watch. It really is.”
James White, February 5th, 2015 [1]

“Warn a quarrelsome person once or twice, but then be done with him. It’s obvious that such a person is out of line, rebellious against God. By persisting in divisiveness he cuts himself off.
Titus 3:10-11 (The Message)

Parts one and  four of this series provide a timeline of Shawn McCraney’s descent from biblical orthodoxy into heresy. Parts  two  and three provide brief summaries of the issues in a Q&A format. Such summaries are necessary because the issues are complex and the vast amount of information contained in the timelines can be overwhelming. So with that brief introduction, let’s consider some of the more common questions that have arisen recently regarding Shawn McCraney, his teachings, and McCraneyism in general.

Q: Is Shawn McCraney teaching that Jesus returned in 70AD? 
A: Yes.
Starting on August 5th, 2014 in “Episode 406: Has Jesus Returned? – Part 1” Mr. McCraney taught a thirteen part series in which he took position that Christ’s second coming occurred in 70AD via a “spiritual” return. This is known as “Full Preterism”.

A brief overview of Full Preterism  is as follows;

Preterism denies the future prophetic quality of the book of Revelation. The preterist movement essentially teaches that all the end-times prophecies of the New Testament were fulfilled in AD 70 when the Romans attacked and destroyed Jerusalem. Preterism teaches that every event normally associated with the end times—Christ’s second coming, the tribulation, the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment—has already happened. (In the case of the final judgment, it still in the process of being fulfilled.) Jesus’ return to earth was a “spiritual” return, not a physical one.[2]

Now, please consider these excerpts from what Mr. McCraney taught during this series:

At this we have to ask if all the prophesy of the Old Testament have been fulfilled? In Luke 21:22 Jesus, in describing the end of Jerusalem says: “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.”

If all was fulfilled, then we can say that prophesies of the restitution of all things were fulfilled too. And since Jesus would return when the restitution of all things would occur we can say that His return was at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
(Episode 417: Has Jesus Returned? – Part 12, from the official HOTM transcription)

(click to zoom)

(click to zoom)

I would suggest in 70 AD, when Jesus returned in the clouds with judgment that at this time all who were in the prison part of hell stood before the Great White Throne of God to determine if their names were written in the Lamb’s book of Life, and those whose names were not included were cast into the lake of fire.

That was the state of all who died before Christ and went to the prison part of sheol.

As an aside, I would suggest that with everything being wrapped up with the house of Israel in 70 AD – including God dealing with those in prison, that now all people individually process through a similar system after life.

Believers go straight to paradise by His grace through faith. And those who die without faith go to hell (for a period of time) they are released and judged by the Lamb’s book of life and some escape experiencing the Lake of Fire but others do not, and again, this all occurs on a case by case basis.
(Episode 416: Has Jesus Returned? – Part 11, from the official HOTM transcription)

And there is no doubt that Shawn McCraney is teaching Full Preterism, he acknowledged it publicly at the end of the series:

So there it is – my estimation of when the Bible says Jesus would return.

Thirteen segments. I want to thank all the brave preterist’s who have endured countless attacks and dismissals for their work in this area.

These people include my brothers Don Preston, Glenn Hill, all who contribute to the preterist archives online, my dear brother Mark Payzant, the support of my wife and family who too have had to challenge many of their long held notions to clearly see the forest for the trees.
(Episode 418: Has Jesus Returned? – Part 13, from the official HOTM transcription)

Q: Is Shawn McCraney teaching that hell isn’t eternal and that those who are unbelievers in this life can be reconciled to God after death? 
A: Yes.
Immediately following the series on Full Preterism, starting on November 11, 2014 with “Episode 419: Eternal Punishment – Part 1” Mr. McCraney taught a six part series in which he taught what he is calling “Total Reconciliation”.

Here are some key excerpts from these shows:

The idea that once a person dies the hope, and chance, the ability to change is lost and that people are forever relegated to an eternity of punishment has never made sense to me relative to how the Bible describes God and the love that He is.

As a human Dad, a weak evil father of three daughters, I comprehend punishment and discipline, I understand allowing troubled children to run their course and to leave them to their own devices. I get letting my children make a mess of things in order to let them learn and turn and grow and change.

But the idea of ever turning from a child completely is totally foreign to my thinking. And if I am able and/or willing (by God’s grace) to forgive and receive all people no matter what they have said or done or believes wouldn’t God almighty be infinitely more willing and capable?
(Episode 423: Eternal Punishment – Part 4, from the official HOTM transcription)

Rogier_van_der_Weyden_-_The_Last_Judgment_Polyptych_-_WGA25625

Rogier van der Weyden (1399/1400–1464), “The Last Judgment”, Polyptych (click to zoom)

Could it be that reprobate believers, at death, enter the smelly bottomless pit as a means to purge or teach or help them reflect upon their lives? To wonder of their fate? To cause them to cry out to Jesus as I’m sure Jonah cried out to God to be delivered out of the belly of the great fish?

And can we imagine the joy such failed believers would experience after coming out of the pit and then standing before the great white throne to hear that their name HAS, in fact, always been included in the Lamb’s book of life?

I cannot figure out any other reason for who has been in hell to have their name written in the Lamb’s book of life other than they had at one time truly believed on the Lamb . . . unless unbelievers names who call out to Jesus while in hell are added to the Lambs book of life – which in the end support my argument for Total Reconciliation even more.

In either case I would suggest that we are witnessing God reconciling people after this life by having some who have experienced hell being saved from the Lake of Fire.
(Episode 424: Eternal Punishment – Part 5, from the official HOTM transcription)

Q: OK, so what’s the big deal? Neither of these seem so bad to me.  
A: Both Universalism and Full Preterism contradict the bible and can lead to other error.
Universalism is heretical if it teaches that that there’s another way to be saved other than by faith and trust in Jesus Christ and His atoning work on the cross. To be clear this isn’t what Shawn McCraney isn’t teaching but it has been asserted by some that the form of universalism that he’s teaching is leaning precariously close to such a stance.

Universalism is deterministic. If salvation is universal and automatic, then ultimately there is no free will. Your eternity is “determined” whether you like it or not. (It’s no accident that Eastern religions that teach there is no hell, also teach that there is no free will.) Thus, universalism violates individual free will. C.S. Lewis said, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ And those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done’ All that are in Hell, choose it.” If hell is for those who choose it, then by saving everyone God violates our free will. And, there are many other problems with universalism as former pastor and Christian author Mike Duran notes:

  • Universalism is not Just.  If evil is not judged, then how is Justice served? If someone does not want to go to heaven, is it just to make them? Do Satan, Adolf Hitler and Mother Theresa deserve the same future? Or do Universalists deny Justice?
  • Universalism violates individual free will. C.S. Lewis said, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ And those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done’ All that are in Hell, choose it.” If hell is for those who choose it, then by saving everyone God violates our free will.
  • Universalism soft pedals, reinterprets, and/or denies the basic teachings of Jesus about hell. Jesus spoke about hell more than any other figure in the Bible. Example: “…so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 12:40-42 NIV). Or, “Then he (the Son of Man) will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Matt. 25:41 NIV). And many other verses.
  • Universalism soft pedals, reinterprets, and/or denies the basic teachings of Scripture about hell. Debate usually targets words and concepts employed in Hebrew and in Greek. Nevertheless, the New Testament is adamant about a Final Judgment where “the dead were judged according to what they had done” (Rev. 20:12) and some are thrown into a “lake of fire” where “they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (vs. 10).  (See The Importance of Hell by Tim Keller for a good summary of these last two points.)
  • Universalism eliminates the need to accept Christ. Even though Jesus cited the need for people to believe in Him, if everyone gets saved, why bother? Universalists ultimately believe there is no need for a person to follow Christ. Even blasphemy cannot damn someone, so why bow to the Nazarene?
  • Universalism is deterministic. If salvation is universal and automatic, then ultimately there is no free will. Your eternity is “determined” whether you like it or not. (It’s no accident that Eastern religions that teach there is no hell, also teach that there is no free will.)
  • Universalism distorts the love of God. Love without justice is not true love, it is permissiveness. Peter Kreeft writes, “Hell is due more to love than justice. Love created free persons who could choose hell… The fires of hell are made of the love of God.”
  • Universalism strips the Gospel of its power. If everyone goes to heaven, exactly what is the Good News of the Gospel and why do people need it? Better News (at least from the Universalist’s perspective) is that you don’t need the Good News to be saved.
  • Universalism can give someone a false sense of security. If you’re going to be saved no matter what, there is no need for accountability, repentance, faith, or moral effort of any sort. You are eternally untouchable and have nothing to fear. Love wins, so why worry?
  • Universalism can have eternal, irreversible ramifications for its adherents if it is not true. Similar to Pascal’s Wager, I am better off living as if Universalism WAS NOT true and being proved wrong, than living as if Universalism WAS true, and being proved wrong. In the first count I will still be saved, in the second count I will not.
  • Universalism leads to religious and moral indifference. If everyone gets saved no matter how they act, then why act morally, why perform good deeds, why strive to be just or compassionate? The Universalist’s motto could be, “Do what thou wilt.”
  • Universalism undermines the uniqueness of Christianity. If everyone goes to heaven, then the road is NOT narrow, like Christ taught (Matt. 7:13-14). Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Scientologists, Satanists, even Atheists, will all be saved. So what compelling reason is there for Christianity?
  • Universalism eliminates the need for evangelism. If everyone goes to heaven, then Christians should apologize to the world and bring all our missionaries home. What is the purpose of turning someone from paganism, mysticism, satanism, or cannibalism, if love wins?[3]
Universalism

“Universalism” by David Duarte (click to zoom)

And, no, the irony of an ExMormon teaching that the dead can get a second chance after they’ve died hasn’t been lost on many of Shawn’s critics. Some have even joked on social media that he’ll be teaching proxy baptism for the dead next. As discussed in last year’s “Dear Michelle” article, Mr. McCraney’s theology is looking more and more like nothing more than a recycled form of Mormonism.

And Full Preterism has been weighed in the balance of Christian History and found wanting as well:

The problems with [full] preterism are many. For one thing, God’s covenant with Israel is everlasting (Jeremiah 31:33–36), and there will be a future restoration of Israel (Isaiah 11:12). The apostle Paul warned against those who, like Hymenaeus and Philetus, teach falsely “that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some” (2 Timothy 2:17–18). And Jesus’ mention of  “this generation” should be taken to mean the generation that is alive to see the beginning of the events described in Matthew 24.

Eschatology is a complex subject, and the Bible’s use of apocalyptic imagery to relate many prophecies has led to a variety of interpretations of end-time events. There is room for some disagreement within Christianity regarding these things. However, full preterism has some serious flaws in that it denies the physical reality of Christ’s second coming and downplays the dreadful nature of the tribulation by restricting that event to the fall of Jerusalem.[4]

Q: You said that those teachings “can lead to other error”. What do you mean?  
A: The Full Preterist tendency to hyper-spiritualize things, I believe, has lead Shawn McCraney into the heresy of gnosticism.
To anyone who has watched Mr. McCraney on Heart of the Matter lately this will sound familiar:

Gnosticism is based on a mystical, intuitive, subjective, inward, emotional approach to truth which is not new at all. It is very old, going back in some form to the Garden of Eden, where Satan questioned God and the words He spoke and convinced Adam and Eve to reject them and accept a lie. He does the same thing today as he “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He still calls God and the Bible into question and catches in his web those who are either naïve and scripturally uninformed or who are seeking some personal revelation to make them feel special, unique, and superior to others. (bolding added for emphasis) [5]

Now, consider that in light of this excerpt from Mr. McCraney’s recent teachings:

God primarily related to the Nation of Israel, and then through the promised Messiah, and then His chosen apostles physically and that once Jesus came [in 70AD] and heaped judgment on Jerusalem  (while saving the Church in that day) that God now relates to the world spiritually.

In other words, today Christ’s kingdom is spiritual and it is known and perceived by the Spirit – and not the things of the flesh.

When viewed in this manner we begin to see how the baptisms that John the baptist performed were so utterly inferior to the baptism of the Spirit (and of fire that Jesus would bring) that it caused the baptist to admit that he wasn’t worthy to even tie the man’s shoes.

The Bible, pure and simple, is a history of this physical economy but sprinkled through the New Testament narrative are passages that directly speak to this ultimate end of the Kingdom of God living and abiding in the heart of the individual and not in brick and mortar edifices under flesh and blood authority.
(Episode 430: The Bible – Part 3, from the official HOTM transcription. Bolding in original, brackets added for context clarification)

And if the reader has any lingering doubt that Mr. McCraney is teaching pure, unadulterated gnosticism, I would refer them to the series on the Bible starting with the January 13th, 2015 “Episode 428: The Bible – Part 1” broadcast. Just compare what he’s teaching in that series with the description above and see if they match.

Q: Aren’t Christians supposed to love everyone? So why are critics criticizing Jed (who is a member of Shawn’s church) for asking Pastor Jason Wallace if he loved him?  
A: Because it was clearly an agenda driven, pot stirring setup.
This event occurred @1:28:41 in the February 3rd, 2015 debate between Pastor Jason Wallace and Shawn McCraney. Before proceeding please watch it for yourself by clicking here.

First, there’s nothing new here
As both the moderator Mark Payzant and Shawn McCraney stated well before he took the mic, Jed is trouble. He is a known pot stirrer, instigator, and provocateur. Further, both the question and the behavior was inappropriate given the setting and context. This was a formal debate not a soapbox for Jed the Shawnite to advance his personal agenda before a worldwide audience on. You will notice, for example, how Jed first rallied public opinion via show of hands demagoguery and then turned on Jason whipping those sympathetic to his agenda into a frenzy. In other words, Jed got exactly what he wanted.

If any further evidence of a personal agenda is needed, please consider the fact that he didn’t also ask the moderator Mark Payzant why he didn’t raise his hand or if he also loved him. After all, like Jason Wallace, Mr. Payzant didn’t raise his hand to any of Jed’s questions. This type of biased, agenda driven manipulative grandstanding is typical for Jed – he has a long history of engaging in it. For example, in the February 20, 2014 “Inquisition 2014” (@1:41:56) you find him stirring the pot in a similar fashion:

And going back even further, on January 29, 2014 he called into Jason Wallace’s Ancient Paths TV Show[6] and presented a idyllic picture of the group of “Christian Anarchists” that he belongs to.  That group is, of course, Shawn McCraney’s pseudo Church, cum Bible Study cum Christian Club, cum “whatever”, known as “CAMPUS” (Christian Anarchists Meeting to Prayerfully Understand Scripture). This call was in response to Jason Wallace’s previous public challenges regarding Shawn McCraney’s lack of accountability as a pastor and bible teacher. That exchange can be seen here:

Simply put, there’s a pattern with Jed’s public behavior and that pattern goes something like this:

“Fools have no interest in understanding;
they only want to air their own opinions.”
— Proverbs 18:2 (NLT)

Second, Jed’s question was overly simplistic
Let’s define what the bible means by “love”: When boiled down and condensed, the biblical definition is essentially, “Putting the interests of another person before your own”. This is most clearly stated in this passage:

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
— John 15:13 (NKJV)

But it can also be seen throughout the New Testament – like in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NKJV) for example:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Further, in the original Greek that the New Testament is written in there are four kinds of love:

  • Storge – familial love (the love of a parent towards offspring or between siblings)
  • Phileo – love between friends (platonic love)
  • Eros – erotic, romantic love (sexual passion)
  • Agape – divine, unconditional love (the love of God for man and of man for God)

fourLoves

And, yes, from the human perspective, the first three require a knowledge of the person in order to love them. The fourth, “agape” does not. The Greek word for love of in 1 Corinthians 13 is “agape”. To illustrate the contrast between the various kinds of love further, there’s an interesting use of two of the Greek words for love in John 21:15-17 (NKJV) that goes like this:

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love (agape) Me more than these?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love (phileo) You.”

He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love (agape) Me?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love (phileo) You.”

He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love (phileo) Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love (phileo) Me?”

And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love (phileo) You.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.
(Greek words added in parentheses)

Christ was willing to accept what Peter was willing to give because it was sincere and not hypocritical. Yet Jed and the rest of the Shawnites in the room were demanding something of Jason Wallace that even Christ didn’t demand of His own chief Apostle.

Further, please consider this bible verse: “I loved Jacob and hated Esau.” (Malachi 1:2-3, The Message) The person speaking is God. What kind of “Christian” are we to make of Him? After all, aren’t Christians supposed to love everyone? If Esau had been asking the question to God instead of Jed to Jason and gotten the response that God gives in Malachi would the Shawnites have jumped on God the way that they jumped on Jason?

So Mr. Wallace spoke biblically when he said (@1:32:00), “Do I have a general love for Christians? Yes. But when the question is asked, ‘Do you love me?’ And I don’t even know the person (I’ve talked to Jed for a total of maybe 3-4 minutes in my life) I’m supposed to feel guilty if I don’t have the same love for someone I don’t know as someone I do know?” And Cassidy McCraney, spoke naively when she demanded (@1:32:52), “What do you need to know in order to say that you love him?”

Does Jason Wallace have Jed’s best interests at heart? Yes, I believe he does or he wouldn’t have taken the time and effort to show up at Shawn’s studio and debate him. And what he did was warn Jed and the other Shawnites in attendance and watching worldwide via the internet that they’re following a false teacher and that they’re in a cult. So, yes, in that sense he showed that he loves Jed by his actions. However, does he have “phileo” love for Jed? No, I doubt it because, as he said, he hardly knows him.

Shawnite Jed soapboxing and stirring the pot at Inquisition 2014.

Shawnite Jed soapboxing and stirring the pot at Inquisition 2014. (click to view video)

Therefore, Jason Wallace’s behavior and answer was fully congruent with how Christ said Christians are to practice “agape” love with those that they may not have “storge” or “phileo” love for:[7]

But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.
Luke 6:32-35 (NKJV)

The most unloving thing that Jason Wallace (or any of the critics of Shawn McCraney and McCraneyism) could do would be to let Shawn and his followers continue in heresy and error and say nothing. It’s no different than the love that Christians show Mormons by speaking up against the errors of Joseph Smith and Mormonism.

In my opinion
That’s Jason Wallace, now I’ll speak for myself. Yes, I love Jed with “agape” love in that I have his best interests at heart. This is true of everyone – Christian and non-Christian alike. However, no I don’t have “phileo” love for Jed. First, I don’t know him personally. Second, from what I’ve seen of Jed he’s a hard to (“phileo”) love loose cannon on the deck that fits the description of Titus 3:10 to a “T”:

“Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.”
Titus 3:10 (NIV)

If the folks at CAMPUS really loved Jed, in my opinion, they would confront him about his public behavior rather than praising him for it. They would challenge him to stop his childish and immature pot stirring – like calling Jason Wallace’s show and picking fights and grandstanding in front of the cameras. In my opinion, if they truly loved Jed they would have talked to him immediately his public antics at first Inquisition 2014 and then again after the recent debate show. And if he didn’t listen then the second half of Titus 3:10 would apply. But no, instead, they continue to give him a soapbox and then praise him when he engages in socially inappropriate – even downright embarrassing – public behavior.

So in the end, and in my opinion, Exhibit A for how little love Shawn and the folks at CAMPUS really have for fellow Christians is Jed. If they truly loved him they would care enough to confront him and challenge him to grow and mature.

CAMPUS member Jed on his soapbox and stirring the pot at the February 3, 2015 debate. (click to view video)

CAMPUS member Jed on his soapbox and stirring the pot at the February 3, 2015 debate. (click to view video)

In the Bible’s opinion
Biblical support for this “care enough to confront” model can be found in 1 Corinthians where Paul reprimands the Corinthian church for failing to judge, confront, and disciple a sexually immoral person. 1 Corinthians 5 (after Paul reprimands them in some pretty harsh terms) ends like this:

“Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked person from among you.’”
— 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 (NKJV)

Was that harsh? Yes, I think that by today’s standards and the spirit of the age today many would say, “Yes!” However was in the person’s best long term interests wasn’t it? For we see in 2 Corinthians 2:4-8 (NKJV) that the person had repented and was in the process of being restored:

For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.

But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe. This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

So tell me, was Paul unloving here? Was he a “hater” for reprimanding the leadership in the Corinthian church and pressing them to confront the man who was ensnared in sin – or for demanding that they intervene in a public embarrassment for the Corinthian church? What about Christ who said this in Matthew 18:15-17 (NKJV):

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Again for emphasis: “If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” Essentially Christ is saying that the person should be treated like an unregenerate sinner who’s not a Christian. Is that harsh? However, such treatment is in the person’s best long term interests isn’t it? So tell me, was Christ teaching something that’s unloving? Was He telling His disciples to be “haters”? And I can keep going, this is just a sampling of what the bible says about church discipline and order. Simply put what Shawn McCraney is teaching and what CAMPUS is practicing simply isn’t biblical.

Further, I can speak from experience about how this is supposed to work since I am a recovered alcoholic, drug addict, and the beneficiary of godly church government who cared enough to confront. I am clean and sober today because fellow Christians (including several church leaders) loved me enough to confront me about my addictions. Would it have been more “loving” for them to leave me in self deceit and sin? Would they have been loving me if they’d let me continue to abuse the bible to justify my sinful behavior? Would it have been “agape” to let me drink and smoke myself into an early grave? Would it have been “agape” to let me continue to spew insane rationalizations (some of which were public) as to why I was doing nothing wrong and they were the problem?

The answer is no. That wouldn’t have been “agape” at all!  Thankfully I had Christian brothers and sisters who loved me enough to confront me with the truth so I could get “unstuck” and move higher up and higher into God and His Kingdom.

I just wish Jed did.

“St. Paul Preaching to the Jews in the Synagogue at Damascus,” from Scenes from the Life of St. Paul (mosaic), Byzantine School, 12th century. Duomo, Monreale, Sicily, Italy)

“St. Paul Preaching to the Jews in the Synagogue at Damascus,” from Scenes from the Life of St. Paul (mosaic), Byzantine School, 12th century. Duomo, Monreale, Sicily, Italy (click to zoom)

NOTES
[1] James White, “Radio Free Geneva” broadcast, February 5, 2015 (@04:50-15:27)

[2] “What is the preterist view of the end times?” GotQuestions.com website. Bracketed note added for context clarification.

[3] Mike Duran, “13 Problems with Universalism”, deCompose.com website

[4] Op cit, “What is the preterist view of the end times?”

[5] “What is Christian Gnosticism”, GotQuestions.com website

[6]  Jason Wallace, “The Ancient Paths – The Importance of the Visible Church”; currently not internet posted

[7] The Greek word used throughout Luke 6:32-35 for “love” is “agapate” a derivative of “agape” that means “to love”. (see Strong’s Greek 25)

NOTE: if you have a question about Shawn McCraney’s slide into heresy that wasn’t answered here, please look through parts two  and three of this series, it’s very possible that it may be answered there.

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An 1890 oil painting of Joseph Smith preaching to the Indians. The painting was commissioned for the Salt Lake Temple and it hung there for over fifty years.

An 1890 oil painting of Joseph Smith preaching to the Indians. The painting was commissioned for the Salt Lake Temple and it hung there for over fifty years.

An ongoing series of articles on some common and recurring weak arguments that Christians make against Mormonism.

by Fred W. Anson
The Argument:
“Mormon doctrine was heretical from the very beginning.”

Why It’s Weak:
Exaggeration erodes credibility. Overstatement turns strong arguments into weak ones. This argument is weak because it’s both an exaggeration and an overstatement. It turns early Mormonism into an inaccurate, and untrue, caricature of itself. In actual fact, the historical record shows that what Mormon Church originally believed and taught until around the 1834 pre-Book of Abraham, Kirtland era was largely orthodox and was consistent with what other 19th Century Protestant churches, in general, and Restorationist churches of that time, in particular, were teaching at the time. The heresy came later.

1) The church originally founded by Joseph Smith was largely orthodox.
Like most cults, the church originally founded by Joseph Smith believed and taught the essentials of the Christian faith – albeit with error on non-essential doctrines mixed in. As Mormon Historian Thomas G. Alexander notes:

Early critics primarily attacked Mormons for receiving new revelations and scripture, and for claiming authority, but not for Mormon doctrines, which were quite Protestant…  before about 1835, the LDS doctrines on God and man were quite close to those of contemporary Protestant denominations.

The doctrines of God and man revealed in these sources [the “Book of Commandments” and the “Lectures on Faith”] were not greatly different from those of some of the religious denominations of the time. Marvin Hill has argued that the Mormon doctrine of man in New York contained elements of both Calvinism and Arminianism, though tending toward the latter…

As Marvin Hill and Timothy Smith have argued, much of the doctrine that early investigators found in Mormonism was similar to that of contemporary Protestant churches. The section on the nature of God in the “Articles and Covenants,” now Doctrine and Covenants 20: 17-28, was similar to the creeds of other churches. In fact, what is now verses 23 and 24 is similar to passages in the Apostles’ Creed.[1]

As aforementioned Religious Historian Timothy L. Smith, a Nazarene scholar, summarized:

The persuasive power of both the new scriptures and of the missionaries who proclaimed and expounded them lay in their confident testimony to beliefs that were central to the biblical culture of the evangelical Protestant sects in both Jacksonian America and early Victorian England. These beliefs seem in the early years, at least, to have also dominated the thought and devotion of the Saints themselves, even when debates with outsiders revolved around their special doctrines of continuing revelation, the gathering of Jews and Saints in the two Jerusalems, and the material nature of all reality, whether human or divine.[2]

In fact, one of the best period evidences of how closely aligned early Mormon doctrine was with the Protestant Christianity is Alexander Campbell’s pointed review of the Book of Mormon in which he notes:

This prophet Smith, through his stone spectacles, wrote on the plates of Nephi, in his book of Mormon, every error and almost every truth discussed in N. York for the last ten years. He decides all the great controversies – infant baptism, ordination, the trinity, regeneration, repentance, justification, the fall of man, the atonement, transubstantiation, fasting, penance, church government, religious experience, the call to the ministry, the general resurrection, eternal punishment, who may baptize, and even the question of freemasonry, republican government, and the rights of man. All these topics are repeatedly alluded to. How much more benevolent and intelligent this American Apostle, than were the holy twelve, and Paul to assist them!!![3]

The reader will note how Campbell attacks the Book of Mormon not on it’s content but, rather, on the author’s pretension to be the ultimate authority deciding for all Christians what’s right and what’s wrong on all these issues through his allegedly divinely inspired book.  In fact, Campbell would have been a fool to attack the content itself since so much of his own Campbellite doctrine could be found in the Book of Mormon.[4] As Thomas G. Alexander summarizes well:

Campbell and others before 1835 objected principally to Mormonism’s claims of authority, modern revelation,  miracles, and communitarianism but not to its doctrines of God and man.[5]

2) Error and heresy slowly overwhelmed Early Mormon’s adherence to historic Christian orthodoxy.
This point was best articulated by Timothy L. Smith who observed:

Several scholars have noted that many doctrines peculiar to the Latter-day Saints, particularly in the years since their settlement in Utah, rest not upon the Book of Mormon but upon the revelations to Joseph Smith which took place after the publication of that volume. Accounts by believers, apostates, and outsiders during the first decade or so of the church’s witness in America and England convince me that the movement would never have gotten off the ground if these unique teachings had constituted its major appeal. [6]

In 1887 this drift was confirmed by Book of Mormon witness David Whitmer who, in denouncing the doctrine LdS Church of his day, squarely placed the blame on Joseph Smith for taking it into error:

We do not indorse the teachings of any of the so-called Mormons or Latter Day Saints, which are in conflict with the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as taught in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. They have departed in a great measure from the faith of the CHURCH OF CHRIST [the name of the Mormon Church until 1834]  from  as it was first established, by heeding revelations given through Joseph Smith, who, after being called of God to translate his sacred word — the Book of Mormon — drifted into many errors and gave many revelations to introduce doctrines, ordinances and offices in the church, which are in conflict with Christ’s teachings.[7]

3) The LdS Church’s dirty little secret: The Book of Mormon discredits modern Mormon Doctrine.
Now that you have an understanding what really happened in Early Mormonism you’re ready for the LdS Church’s dirty little secret:  The Book of Mormon not only doesn’t teach Mormon doctrine, it discredits much of it – as Mormon Researcher Aaron Shafovaloff explains in the following video.

In fact, and as previously noted, the Book of Mormon primarily teaches 19th Century American Restorationism in a way that’s for the most part aligned with historic mainstream Protestant Christian orthodoxy.[8] For example:

  • The Book of Mormon teaches that Jesus is Eternal God. And as such, Christ was neither created or procreated.
  • The Book of Mormon says that God is eternal and unchanging.
  • The Book of Mormon states that God is a Spirit.
  • The Book of Mormon states plainly that there is only one God.
  • The Book of Mormon states plainly that the One God consists of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – that is, the Book of Mormon teaches the doctrine of the Trinity (albeit with a strong modalistic skew).
  • The Book of Mormon states that God created via nothing but His word – that is, “ex-nihilo” (out of nothing).
  • The Book of Mormon condemns Polygamy.
  • The Book of Mormon states that there is only heaven and hell.
  • The Book of Mormon denounces universalism as a “false doctrine”.
  • The Book of Mormon repeatedly condemns the type of secret oaths and combinations that are found in the Latter-day Saint Temple Endowment ceremony in the strongest terms.
  • The Book of Mormon denies that there is a second chance to repent and receive the gospel in the next life.
  • The Book of Mormon states that baptism isn’t an absolute requirement for salvation.
  • The Book of Mormon states that man was created by the power of God’s word not procreated by spirit parents.
  • The Book of Mormon makes a clear distinction between men and angels.
  • The Book of Mormon states clearly that Jesus Christ atoned for the sins of the world on the cross.
  • The Book of Mormon discredits key points of the First Vision.

So if you strip away the baggage of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon origin story you’re left with a piece of Christian literature that’s more akin to “Pilgrim’s Progress” or “The Screwtape Letters” than “Dianetics”.  In the end it’s very much as  Shawn McCraney described it when he said, “[We] recognize the Book of Mormon as a piece of 19th century literary fiction aimed at teaching Jesus Christ. We reject the story of its origins.”[9]

Why the First Vision isn’t relevant here
Finally, please note that the First Vision isn’t in the Book of Mormon and didn’t make it’s first public appearance until 1838. Further it wasn’t a major factor in Mormon doctrine until it was canonized in 1880. This is well past the 1834-35 date when Mormon doctrine transitioned from being largely orthodox to being heretical. I mention this because many modern Christians erroneously point to the First Vision as proof that early Mormonism was heretical from the beginning when in fact it had no significant role in Mormon thought or theology until much, much, much later – about fifty years later to be precise.[10]

The Stronger Arguments:
By now you may, be wondering, “Well, that all that Mormon History is certainly all very interesting but does it have any practical application?”  Yes, indeed it does – this inside knowledge helps us make make powerful, credibility enhancing arguments that’s supported by a large body of verifiable evidence from Mormon friendly sources.

First Suggested Strong Argument: Don’t despise the Book of Mormon use it 
You knew this was coming didn’t you?  Simply put one of the quickest ways to erode your credibility as a Christian critic of Mormonism is to say that the Book of Mormon is filled with nothing but heresies. Strategically it’s the equivalent of taking out your sidearm, emptying of all it’s bullets and then throwing it away before you hit the front lines. Now please don’t get me wrong, the Book of Mormon still contains a lot of error so one has to proceed with caution and handle it with care – therefore, it should be holstered with the safety on most of the time. But that said, and given the right situation and set of circumstances, it can be a most powerful weapon against modern Mormon error.

For those special situations my article “The Book of Mormon v. Mormon Doctrine” goes into fuller detail on what modern Latter-day Saint doctrines are discredited by the Book of Mormon and cites passages – with live links to official LdS Church sources to boot.  I would also encourage you to consider using my article entitled, “Mormon Doctrine Not Found in the Book of Mormon” for a list of modern LdS Church doctrines that are conspicuous in their absence from the Book of Mormon – the bulk of which comprise the many errors and many revelations that David Whitmer said Joseph Smith, “used to introduce doctrines, ordinances and offices in the church, which are in conflict with Christ’s teachings”

Another thing to consider in this regard would be to consider participating in “We Agree with Moroni 8:18” day which occurs on August 18th of each year. Participation is easy: On August 18th just post the event video (see below or click here) on social media, blogs, etc. along with something along the lines of, “I agree with Moroni 8:18 – why doesn’t the Mormon Church?” Click here to view the “We agree with Moroni 8:18” webpage for more details.

Second Suggested Strong Argument: “You’re following a false prophet with bogus credentials!”
This should come as no surprise the modern reader since Smith’s prophetic qualifications and credentials have always been the key issues in Early Mormonism.  And let’s make no mistake about it, since The Book of Mormon was Smith’s original prophetic credential it too is still a legitimate target for criticism. The key issue here is how the Book of Mormon is used rather than what it actually says. What if, for example, C.S. Lewis had claimed that the Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy were historically based, divinely inspired scripture and proof of his prophetic credentials and authority to restore the Christian church to it’s original primitive glory? If he had I suspect that the Christian response to Lewis and his work in the 20th century would have been, I suspect, quite similar  to the response Smith received in the 19th Century.  This is despite the fact that Lewis’ works, like the Book of Mormon, are largely doctrinally sound.

Simply put, if Smith’s original prophetic credential (and the one that Mormon Missionaries still use today) falls, so does Smith. And if Smith falls, so does Mormonism.  Even Mormon leaders agree on this point, for example, the tenth president of the LdS Church, Joseph Fielding Smith said:

Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground.(bolding added)[11]

The twin issues of Smith’s character and the Book of Mormon were the primary arguments that were made against Mormonism back in the early 1830’s when Mormon doctrine was still largely orthodox. For example, consider how Alexander Campbell opens his scathing 1831 critique of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon…

“Delusions: An Analysis of The Book of Mormon…”
by Alexander Campbell
circa 1832

EVERY age of the world has produced imposters and delusions. Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, and were followed by Pharaoh, his court, and clergy. They for some time supported their pretensions, much to the annoyance of the cause of the Israelites and their leader Moses.

To say nothing of the false prophets of the Jewish age, the diviners, soothsayers, magicians, and all the ministry of idols among the Gentiles, by which the nations were so often deceived, the imposters which have appeared since the Christian era would fill volumes of the most lamentable details ever read.[12]

… and how he closes it:

If there was any thing plausible about Smith, I would say to those who believe him to be a prophet, hear the question which Moses put into the mouth of the Jews, and his answer to it – ‘And if thou say in thine heart, HOW SHALL WE KNOW THE WORD WHICH THE LORD HATH NOT SPOKEN?’ – Does he answer, ‘ASK THE LORD AND HE WILL TELL YOU?’ – Does he say ‘Wait till the day of judgment and you will know?’ Nay, indeed; but – ‘When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken; the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: THOU SHALT NOT BE AFRAID OF HIM.’ Deut.xviii.8. Smith has failed in every instance to verify one of his own sayings.[13]

As Thomas G. Alexander summarizes Campbell’s critique:

Campbell, in his Delusions, An Analysis of the Book of Mormon, lumped Joseph Smith with the false Christs because of his claims to authority and revelation from God, and he objected to some doctrines. He also attacked the sweeping and  authoritative nature of the Book of Mormon with the comment that Joseph Smith conveniently “decides all the great controversies-infant baptism, ordination, the trinity, regeneration, repentance, justification, eternal punishment, [and] who may baptize.” Nevertheless, he recognized, if somewhat backhandedly, that the Book of Mormon spoke to contemporary Christians: “the Nephites, like their fathers for many generations, were good Christians, believers in the doctrines of the Calvinists and Methodists.” Campbell and others before 1835 objected principally to Mormonism’s claims of authority, modern revelation, miracles, and communitarianism but not to its doctrines of God and man.[14]

Even the criticisms of a period ExMormon followed the same pattern:

Ezra Booth, a Methodist both before and after what he called his months of “delusion” as a Mormon convert, criticized at length Joseph Smith’s materialism, his autocratic rule and his claims to miraculous gifts, and noted what he thought was the failure of some of the prophet’s revelations to fit the subsequent facts. But Booth had no complaint at all of Smith’s doctrine of radical obedience to biblical commandments.[15]

“Mormonism Unvailed” by E.D. Howe

And in 1834 E.D. Howe in what’s widely regarded as the first Anti-Mormon book, “Mormonism Unvailed”, consumed 290 pages with essentially the same themes.  Howe even went so far as to obtain and publish affidavits from those who knew Smith and his family prior to the his rise as a prophet so as to expose his lack of qualifications as true prophet and  reveal the character flaws (the “bad fruit”, if you will, in accordance with Matthew 7:15-23) that qualified him as a false one.  Howe had a vested interest in the matter of Joseph Smith and Mormonism: He had lost his wife, sister and niece to them.

And as LdS Historian Marvin S. Hill notes, even in the late 1830’s these were still the dominant criticisms of Mormonism even though by then it had drifted from general orthodoxy and was preaching full blown heresy:

The earliest pamphlets by those opposed to Mormonism s spread in England [which started in 1837] criticized their claims to authority, the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith s reputation, and the [1838] Mormon war in Missouri but not doctrinal mysteries.[16]

Throughout history, these issues have anyways been the most common and strongest arguments against Mormonism. Nothing has changed.

Third Suggested Strong Argument: Consider adopting a “reformation not destruction” stance in regard to the LdS Church
Let me ask you something:  How inclined would you be to listen to someone whose goal is the destruction of your church?  If you’re like most people the honest answer is, “Not very, if that!” In fact, a Christian needn’t go further than an atheist discussion board to find out how “receptive” this attitude makes one to listening to anything that someone with such an agenda has to say.

On the other hand, what if the person’s goal is to reform your church so that it’s a better church? While you may still be skeptical of their intentions and motives you would at least be willing to listen.  In this case it would only be the closed minded die-hard defenders of the status quo – be it right or be it wrong – who would tend to take umbrage at such a stance right?[17] But even in those cases even the die-hards would be more inclined to listen to someone who’s trying to be constructive rather than someone who’s destructive right?

So here’s the irony: Relative to the largely orthodox Mormonism taught in early Mormonism the modern LdS Church is in a state of apostasy.  In fact, and even more ironically, just a few years after the formation of the church Joseph Smith had managed to lead his followers into blatant heresy and error. This is clearly what a former member of the First Presidency and his associates stated in the Nauvoo Expositor:

Nauvoo Expositor

The June 7, 1844 of the Nauvoo Expositor. This was the one and only edition of the paper before Mayor Joseph Smith had the printing press and all remaining copies destroyed.

As for our acquaintance with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we know, no man or set of men can be more thoroughly acquainted with its rise, its organization, and its  history, than we have every reason to believe we are. We all verily believe, and many of us know of a surety, that the religion of the Latter Day Saints, as originally taught by Joseph Smith, which is contained in the Old and New Testaments, Book of Covenants [that is the original 1835 Doctrine & Covenants], and Book of Mormon, is verily true; and that the pure principles set forth in those books, are the immutable and eternal principles of Heaven, and speaks a language which, when spoken in truth and virtue, sinks deep into the heart of every honest man…We are earnestly seeking to explode the vicious principles of Joseph Smith, and those who practice the same abominations and whoredoms; which we verily know are not accordant and consonant with the principles of Jesus Christ and the Apostles; and for that purpose, and with that end in view, with an eye single to the glory of God, we have dared to gird on the armor, and with god at our head, we most solemnly and sincerely declare that the sword of truth shall not depart from the thigh, nor the buckler from the arm, until we can enjoy those glorious privileges which nature’s God and our country’s laws have guarantied to us–freedom of speech, the liberty of the press, and the right to worship God as seemeth us good.[18]

As tempting as it might be to chuckle at the amusing irony of a church that claims that all other other churches (other than theirs of course) need to be restored to their pure, primitive state, actually needs to be restored to it’s pure, primitive state itself, it’s still a fact. Mormons like D. Michael Quinn, Rock WatermanDenver Snuffer, and many others see this clearly and have been lobbying for it for years – though I don’t think that many mainstream Christians would completely agree with their vision of what a truly reformed Mormon Church would or should look like.[19]

And while I know that the idea of a “Reformation not destruction” stance isn’t popular among Christian critics of Mormonism – a fact I found out quickly when I asked for feedback on the concept on social media and promptly got thrown back about a mile by the explosive “Destruction not reformation!” outcries – I would ask the reader to still give the idea some thought and consideration despite how incredible it may sound to you now.  And as you consider the question, I would point you to the precedence of the Quakers, The Shepherding Movement, and the World Wide Church of God churches as examples of full reformations and the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka “RLDS”) as an example of partial reformation.[20]

And to those who are still reluctant to consider a “Reformation not destruction” stance I would ask you to consider a few things:

  1. Some at BYU have already taken baby steps toward reform distancing themselves from some Mormonism’s most blasphemous doctrines. They’re also putting a greater emphasis on grace. No, it’s not perfect, and yes, there are still a lot of problems – there is both reason for hope and cause for concern at this point. However, if this trend continues (and if they don’t get excommunicated) this could possibly lead to even greater reform over time;
  2. There are reformers aplenty in the LdS Church right now.  I’ve only mentioned three, there are more. And the engine of internal reformation just seems to be gathering steam. It’s been said that Mormonism is not only emptying out, it’s hollowing out and that, combined with the Neo-Orthodoxy movement within Mormonism, is any indication it looks like we’re in for quite a ride!
  3. If the LdS Church were to fully reform it would be a completely different organization than it is today. Spoken plainly it would cease to exist just as the World Wide Church of God ceased to exist after it became Grace Communion International.  So in a sense one could say that “Reformation of the LdS Church = Destruction of the LdS Church”.  So if you’re really, really, really committed to the destruction of the LdS Church as we know it today perhaps one of the best things you could do to advance your agenda would be to push for reform!

The more things change . . .
For Christians new to Mormon Studies the idea that Mormon doctrine began largely orthodox and then drifted into greater and greater error tends to come as a shock. I understand completely, it was for me too.  Like those first 19th Century Anti-Mormons I was so focused on the character flaws and foibles of the charismatic false prophet Joseph Smith (who in my opinion, Mormon Historian Dan Vogel – who is an ExMormon – has correctly labeled a “pious fraud”) to even consider such a possibility.  After all, how could such a flamboyant, self-serving scoundrel have possibly ever taught anything remotely orthodox, right?

The answer is both simple and complex:  Most Christians cults start out with at the very least a veneer of orthodoxy and slowly drift into greater and greater error. As cult expert Ron Enroth explains:

Most sects [throughout American history have] offered variety rather than aberration, but a few could be categorized as extreme. As with their modern counterparts, they often began with noble aspirations and biblical foundations, but were led astray through human frailty.[21]

Mormonism is no exception to this pattern.  The people who were the first converts to Charles Taze Russell’s Bible Student movement (which later became the Jehovah’s Witnesses), Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple, or David Koresh’s Branch Davidian group testified later – as David Whitmer and the dissenting 1844 Mormons did  in the Nauvoo Expositor passages quoted earlier in this paper – that the movement was originally fresh, exciting, pure, and thoroughly Christian – the problems came later. Again, Ron Enroth:

People who have been in close contact over a period of years with some of the pastoral leaders we have discussed have told me that their ministry was far more benign and subdued at the beginning. Gradually, as the pastors became aware of the influence they could exert and the power they could wield, they and their ministries began to change. Consciously or unconsciously, they took advantage of vulnerable people, and convinced them that God had given them, the shepherds, the right to exercise authority over the flock.[22]

And of course, that “authority” typically also includes mandatory new revelations for the flock that depart radically from mainstream, historic, Christian orthodoxy.

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)

… the more they stay the same
Ironically, none of this should come as a surprise to today’s 21th Century Christians in Mormon Studies since we have been watching this very scenario unfold before our very eyes with Shawn McCraney. I won’t belabor this since I’ve written an entire series documenting the descent of Mr. McCraney and his CAMPUS sect into heresy.[23] However, the short version goes like this:

  • From March 2006 through  December 2013 Shawn McCraney, with the exception of a few cringe worthy wrinkle your brow and wonder moments, was aligned with mainstream Christian orthodoxy.
  • From January 2013 to January 2014  he attacked the modern Christian Church on non-essential doctrines (often using uncharitable, inflammatory language) but remained largely aligned with mainstream Christian orthodoxy.  The cringes and wrinkled brows turn into crossed arms, thoughts of deep concern, and some angry frowns.
  • In February 4th 2014  Shawn McCraney renounces all forms of ecclesiastical accountability except in regard to finances. He then proceeds to renounce the essential doctrine of the Trinity calling it, among other things, “garbage”. The first cries of “Heretic!” begin while Christian leaders in the spirit of Matthew 18:15-17 privately and publicly attempt to confront and reason Shawn out of his error.
  • Since then, and despite everyone’s efforts, yet more heresy has followed in the wake of McCraney’s rejection of the Trinity. This is not limited to but includes the heresies of modalism, and full preterism. At times it has seemed as if Mr. McCraney has yet to meet a heresy that he doesn’t love![24]

As the saying goes, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”. Or, if you prefer, “Here we go again!” Or, if you really prefer, “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.”

Summary and Conclusion
Consider this, what if 117-years from now you were still alive and heard critics of Shawn McCraney and McCraneyism giving, “Shawnite doctrine was heretical from the very beginning!” as an argument against it? It wouldn’t be true would it?  It would be an exaggeration wouldn’t it? It would be overstating things wouldn’t it? You would have serious doubts about the credibility of the person making that argument wouldn’t you? A knowledgeable Shawnite could shoot the argument down by simply presenting evidence from the historical record couldn’t they? In fact, you, yourself as a living witness could discredit those critics by simply saying, “I was there and that’s not true – it just wasn’t that simple, it was far more complex and nuanced than that!” couldn’t you?  Maybe, you would even say something like this:

“Exaggeration erodes credibility.  Overstatement turns strong arguments into weak ones. This argument is weak because it’s both an exaggeration and an overstatement. It turns early McCraneyism into an inaccurate, and untrue, caricature of itself. In actual fact, the historical record shows that what Shawn McCraney and those who attended CAMPUS originally believed and taught until around January 2014 was largely orthodox and was consistent with what other 21st Century Protestant churches were teaching at the time. The heresy came later.”

As it is with McCraneyism so it is with Mormonism: Keep your strong arguments strong – don’t exaggerate and don’t overstate. Rather, just speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).

KeithWalkerQuote_Edited

NOTES
[1] Thomas G. Alexander, “The Reconstruction of Mormon Doctrine: From Joseph Smith to Progressive Theology” Sunstone 5:4 (July-August 1980) pp.15-17

[2] Timothy L. Smith, “The Book of Mormon in a Biblical Culture” Journal of Mormon History, Volume 7 (1980), p.8

[3] Alexander Campbell,  “Delusions: An analysis of the book of Mormon with an examination of its internal and external evidences, and a refutation of its pretenses to divine authority”, The Millennial Harbinger, February 7, 1831

[4] See Fred W. Anson, “Campbellite Doctrine in The Book of Mormon”, Beggar’s Bread, February 11, 2013; also see Rock Waterman, “The Book Of Mormon Bait & Switch”, and Daymon Smith, “A Cultural History of the Book of Mormon, Volume One: Setting, a Foundation, of Stones to Stumble Over”

[5] Op cit, Thomas G. Alexander, p.18

[6] Op cit, Timothy L. Smith, p.8

[7] David Whitmer, “An Address to All Believers in Christ: By A Witness to the Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon”; Richmond, Missouri (1887), p.4

[8] The list that follows was extrapolated from my article, “The Book of Mormon v. Mormon Doctine”.  A fuller explanation of each of these points can be found there or by using the embedded links I’ve included in the list on key points.

[9] Shawn McCraney, Born Again Mormon: Our Faith, The Book of Mormon (website)

[10] Fred W. Anson, et al,  “A Documented History of the First Vision”

[11] Bruce R. McConkie, compiler, “Doctrines of Salvation: Sermons and Writings of Joseph Fielding Smith”, (Bookcraft, 1954), vol. 1, p. 188.

[12] Op cit, Alexander Campbell, p.5

[13] Op cit, Alexander Campbell, p.15

[14] Op cit, Thomas G. Alexander, p.18

[15] Op cit, Timothy L. Smith, p.10

[16] Marvin S. Hill, “The Shaping of the Mormon Mind in New England and New York”,  BYU Studies, Spring 1969, p.371

[17] One need only consider Pope Leo X‘s reaction to Martin Luther in this regard.  Luther’s letter to Pope Leo should, in my opinion, be an example to all reformers of how to respond to the harsh reaction of status quo die-hards.

[18] William Law, et al, “Nauvoo Expositor”, June 7, 1844, p.1

[19] At this point you may be wondering, “Sounds interesting but exactly what kind of  ’reform’ are we talking about? I gave my answer  here: “If I Were Mope [2013 Edition]”.  And I wasn’t the first or the last to offer up a suggested reform model for the LdS Church.  Here are some others to consider:

Mormon Reformation Day 2011 95 LDS Theses

Mormon Reformation Day 2012 95 LDS Theses
Mormon Reformation 95 LDS Theses
Mormon Reformation Day 2013 LDS Theses
95 Theses Against the Claims of the Mormon Church

Finally, I think it’s good to remember that Christians aren’t the only ones pushing for reform in the LdS Church – we have competition.  I’ve already mentioned a few Latter-day Saints who are pushing for reform and, as stated, I seriously doubt that many mainstream Christians would agree with what their view of a reformed LdS Church should look like.  This is even more true of Mormon polygamist leader Ogden Kraut who originally published his 95 Theses back 1975 (click here) and has updated it several times now. Therefore, this author is of the opinion that rather than abdicating or abandoning the Mormon Reformation space we should occupy it (see Luke 19:13, KJV) or at the very least have a distinct presence.

[20] Also see, Fred W. Anson, “Can A Mind Control Cult Reform Itself?”

And to clarify, while I’m pleased that the RLDS has made substantial strides toward mainstream orthodoxy I am hoping and praying that somehow, someday they go further and become fully orthodox. A good step in that direction, in this author’s opinion, would be a denunciation of Joseph Smith as a false prophet and a full decanonization of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.

[21] Ron Enroth, “Churches That Abuse”, p.28

[22] Ibid, p.112

[23] See the Beggar’s Bread series on Shawn McCraney, CAMPUS, McCraneyism, and the Shawnite movement for full documentation and supporting evidence:

by Fred W. Anson
The Trial(s) of Shawn McCraney (Part One)
The Trial(s) of Shawn McCraney (Part Two)
The Trial(s) of Shawn McCraney (Part Three)
The Trial(s) of Shawn McCraney (Part Four)
Dear Michelle

by Cory Anderson
A Pastor’s Appeal to Shawn McCraney

Also related (written during Shawn’s still orthodox but “cringe worthy wrinkle your brow and wonder” period)
Fred W. Anson, Book Review: “I Was A Born Again Mormon”

[24] Shawn McCraney started teaching Full Preterism in August 2014 starting with Heart of the Matter Episode 406: Has Jesus Returned – Part 1.

BACK TO TOP

by Fred W. Anson
April 2014-October 2015
This article continues the running timeline of events surrounding Shawn McCraney’s departure from mainstream Christian orthodoxy into error and heresy which was comprised Part 1 of this series. While the reader is encouraged to read through the previous timeline from the beginning (which can be found by clicking here) to gain a fuller historical context, the events, issues and actions outlined here, I believe, speak for themselves.   

April 22, 2014
After a long hiatus Shawn McCraney resumed teaching on the nature of God.  While prior lectures were primarily on God the Father and Christ, this lecture focused on the Holy Spirit – who Mr. McCraney asserts isn’t a person due to certain gender neutral Greek words that are used in the original languages that our English Bible is translated from.

 

April 23, 2014
This author leaves the following comments on the YouTube page for this show.  They are promptly hidden from public view by the Heart of the Matter personnel who administrate the page for Mr. McCraney:

First Comment by Fred W. Anson
As the saying goes, “If you point one finger at others you’re just pointing four fingers back at yourself.” 

The posturing quotes that preceded Shawn’s appearance on this show certainly demonstrated that principle given what Shawn taught about the Holy Spirit in this episode.* Those quotes, once again, were:

Chuck Colson
“The greatest friend of truth is time, her greatest enemy is prejudice, and her constant companion humility.”

Goethe
“There is more frightening than active ignorance.”

J.L. Borges
“Truth never penetrates an unwilling mind.”

Now I know for a fact that Charles Colson would most certainly not agree with what Shawn taught about the Holy Spirit tonight or how he’s behaving in his ministry. In fact, having read quite a bit of Colson’s work over the years it’s easy to imagine him telling Shawn that he’s ignorant, confused, and in need of some quality training and discipling before he does any more damage by errantly and heretically teaching Christian doctrine.

And I doubt that even the pantheistic humanist Goethe** or the agnostic humanist Jorge Luis Borges*** would agree with much, if anything, that Shawn taught in this show either. Rather, they would reject it if nothing more than for the fact that his reasoning and logic is so blatantly flawed and fallacious.

Further, Shawn abused every source that he cited in support of his position. I can safely say that every Christian source that Shawn cited in his lecture would tell him that he’s in error, teaching heresy regarding the nature of God, and drawing wrong conclusions based on their work based on his own confirmation bias – or, if you prefer, prejudice.

No, Mr. Craney those of us who are publicly criticizing your work aren’t perfect but neither are we close minded. We’re challenging and denouncing what you’re teaching not out of prejudice or because we’re proud but because what you’re saying simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

So feel free to rally your followers behind manipulative pull quotes if you wish, however, if I were you, I would pay more attention to those four fingers that are pointing back at you – they’re trying to tell you something.

* Shawn taught that the Holy Spirit isn’t a person separate and distinct from God the Father and God the Son.

** See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Wolfgang_von_Goethe

*** See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jorge_Luis_Borges

Second Comment by Fred W. Anson
Shawn’s argument that the Holy Spirit isn’t a person is hardly new. In fact, among other places, it has been addressed and rebutted rather nicely in this article from December 12, 2013:
How Do We Know the Holy Spirit Is a Person?
by Justin Taylor, The Gospel Coalition
One potential argument that the Holy Spirit is a person is to look at the Greek words in John 14:26, 15:26, and 16:13-14. There we see that the antecedent of the masculine ἐκεῖνος (a masculine word for “that person”) is πνεῦμα (a neuter word for “Spirit”). Hence, so the argument goes, the Spirit is a person. Unfortunately, that argument likely doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

A more fruitful approach is first to ask a question almost no one asks: how do we know that the Father is a person? How about the Son?

The answer is that the Bible presents a person as a substance that can do personal and relational things (such as speaking, thinking, feeling, acting). Something that does these personal things in relationship—like God, angels, and human beings—is a person.

How does the Holy Spirit fare up under this criteria?

1. The Spirit teaches and reminds.
John 14:26, “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

1 Corinthians 2:13, “We impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

2. The Spirit speaks.
Acts 8:29, “the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over and join this chariot.’

Acts 13:2, “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’”

3. The Spirit makes decisions.
Acts 15:28, “it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements.”

4. The Spirit can be grieved.
Ephesians 4:30, “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

5. The Spirit can be outraged.
Hebrews 10:29, “How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has . . . outraged the Spirit of grace?”

6. The Spirit can be lied to.
Acts 5:3, 4, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit? . . . You have not lied to men but to God‘”

7. The Spirit can forbid or prevent human speech and plans.
Acts 16:6-7, “they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.”

Justin Taylor of The Gospel Coalition

Justin Taylor of The Gospel Coalition

8. The Spirit searches everything and comprehends God’s thoughts.
1 Corinthians 2:10-11, “the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. . . . no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”

9. The Spirit apportions spiritual gifts.
1 Corinthians 12:11, “the same Spirit . . . apportions [spiritual gifts] to each one individually as he wills.”

10. The Spirit helps us, intercedes for us, and has a mind.
Romans 8:26-27, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

11. The Spirit bears witness to believers about their adoption.
Romans 8:16, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

12. The Spirit bears witness to Christ.
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

13. The Spirit glorifies Christ, takes what is Christ, and declares it to believers.
John 16:14, “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
(source = http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2013/12/12/how-do-we-know-the-holy-spirit-is-a-person/)

I’m sure that are equally good – possibly superior – articles on this subject, but this one is short, sweet and to the point. It’s also fully supported by scripture.

I challenge Shawn to address the issues raised in this article on his next show. 

April 25, 2014
Theologian Rob Bowman issues the following 3-part statement on Facebook regarding this episode: 

I watched Shawn McCraney’s broadcast from Tuesday, April 22, in which he laid out several objections to the Trinitarian view of the Holy Spirit as a person. I sent Shawn an email in response the next day. Having not heard from Shawn, and having not received any response from him to my previous efforts to offer constructive criticism, I am sharing here what I said to him in that email. I will present my response in three posts here.

I have been waiting for Shawn’s lecture on the Holy Spirit for weeks, because I fully expected that he would have greater difficulty with the doctrine of the Holy Spirit due to the fact that there is no Incarnation involved. That is, I expected that he would have greater difficulty maintaining some sort of distinction involving the Holy Spirit while rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity. I was correct. Since during the broadcast he explicitly mentioned me as a scholar who might offer him some insight or correction on at least one point he made, I gave him plenty to consider.

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

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

Let me begin by quoting my summary of his lecture on March 18 (which I posted here on Facebook). Sorry I don’t have a transcript of his remarks, but I think this is a fair summary of what he said then.

“The audio was off for a few minutes, but apparently Shawn compared God’s eternal nature of being God, his Logos (Word), and his Pneuma (Spirit) to man’s being body, soul, and spirit. Such an analogy is clearly monarchian: it characterizes God as a single person with three aspects of his being. According to Shawn, before the Fall, those three aspects were really difficult to distinguish from one another (even for God?), and likewise man’s three aspects were so fully integrated as one that they could hardly be distinguished. Before the Fall, there was no Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When man fell, God, in order to save us, divided or splintered himself into three, becoming Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (apparently not right away, since on Shawn’s view there was no Son until the Incarnation). In this new, sharp threeness God acted to redeem us in order to restore us to full integration as body-soul-spirit beings in the new birth. All of this sounds very much like monarchianism, but then Shawn threw in the comment that God, his Logos, and his Pneuma had relationships with each other before creation, though what those were Shawn said he doesn’t know. As he has done every time I have heard him, Shawn contradicted himself. God, the Logos, and the Pneuma cannot have relationships with one another if they are simply different aspects of the one God, like my body, soul, and spirit (or like they should be!).”

Now, the above doctrine was problematic enough, but at least in some of what Shawn said one could optimistically hope that he viewed the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as genuinely distinct, as each someone in relationship with the other two, and therefore as largely orthodox in substance even if he rejects orthodox theological terms. At one point in that broadcast he even referred to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as “three persons,” though only after creation, not before it. However, in his most recent lecture he moved even further away from orthodox doctrine (and, I emphasize, biblical doctrine, as I shall explain). The Holy Spirit, he claimed, is simply God’s power or presence, an “it,” just a way of describing God expressing his presence or power. He claimed this to be true in both the Old and New Testaments. Sadly, there is no way this can be salvaged as anything but heretical.

Shawn asserted, “The Holy Spirit is the power, the DUNAMIS, of God. Scripture talks about it being the power of God.” Yes, Scripture does talk about the Holy Spirit as the power of God. It also calls God “the power of God” (Luke 22:69) and refers to Christ as “the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:24). Does that make God or Christ impersonal? Of course not. Here is a blog article I wrote on this point:

http://www.religiousresearcher.org/2013/03/19/definition-by-parallelism-bad-arguments-against-the-personhood-of-the-holy-spirit-5/

In my next two posts, I will address the other arguments he presented.
(source = https://www.facebook.com/ApolojediMaster/posts/10202992044018003?stream_ref=10 )

The second of three posts by Rob Bowman
Shawn argued—and this was his main point—that PNEUMA is neuter and that the Greek New Testament uses neuter pronouns in reference to the Holy Spirit. On this basis, Shawn concluded that the Holy Spirit is not a person, because “it’s an it.” Well, if PNEUMA is neuter and if neuter means “it’s an it,” as he claimed, then Shawn has just proved that God is an it! After all, Jesus said, “God is PNEUMA” (John 4:24)! Notice that this is the second argument he used against the personhood of the Holy Spirit that, if applied consistently, would disprove the personhood of God as well. But Shawn went on immediately to answer his own argument, though he didn’t seem to realize he had done so. He pointed out that languages like Greek commonly assign masculine or feminine gender to nouns that do not denote persons, such as _la bicicleta_ (“the bicycle”) in Spanish. This was apparently his rebuttal to the observation that “Comforter” is masculine in Greek (PARAKLETOS). There’s a problem with that rebuttal, as I will explain in my third and last post. But his point about nouns having gender is a good observation, but one he did not take far enough. It is also the case that languages can assign “neuter” gender to nouns denoting persons. In German, _das Mädchen_ means “the maiden, the girl,” and obviously denotes a person, yet it is neuter in grammatical form. Similarly, the Greek PAIDION is grammatically neuter, but it denotes “child,” again referring to a person. Jesus is called a PAIDION eleven times in the New Testament (Matt. 2:8, 9, 11, 13 [2x], 14, 20 [2x]; Luke 2:17, 27, 40), all in reference to the period of several years after his birth. Matthew uses the neuter pronoun auto in reference to “the child” Jesus: “Rise, take the child [PAIDION] and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him” (Matt. 2:13 ESV). Here the ESV uses “him” to translate the Greek pronoun AUTO (as does the KJV also). Luke uses the same pronoun AUTO in reference to Jesus as PAIDION twice (Luke 2:28, 40). Translators use masculine pronouns in English to represents neuter pronouns in Greek if the antecedent of the pronoun refers to a person. It’s as simple as that. Here’s an article I wrote that goes into this subject further:

http://www.religiousresearcher.org/2013/03/14/neuter-pronouns-mean-not-a-person-bad-arguments-against-the-personhood-of-the-holy-spirit-1/
(source = https://www.facebook.com/ApolojediMaster/posts/10202992048538116?stream_ref=10 )

The third of three posts by Rob Bowman
A third argument Shawn presented was an objection to the use of the definite article “the” in English translations with the title “Holy Spirit.” He asserted that the article is “often added by translators, leading the reader to think that ‘the Holy Spirit’ is referring to a separate person.” Well, there are many places where the Greek has the article in front of the words for “Holy Spirit,” such as Matthew 28:19 (TOU hAGIOU PNEUMATOS), Mark 3:29 (TO PNEUMA TO hAGION), John 14:26 (TO PNEUMA TO hAGION), and quite a few others. (TOU and TO are both forms of the Greek article.) I assume Shawn would agree with me that the Greek writers of these books were not misleading readers by using the article. The fact is that Greek uses the article in a different way than English does. We normally use the article in front of what we call titles (the Father, the Messiah, the Lord, the king, etc.) but not in front of what we call proper names (Jesus, Peter, Shawn, Rob). Greek doesn’t work that way. Proper names and titles in Greek can occur with or without the article; usage is quite complicated and sometimes little more than a matter of style. The expression “in Christ” in Paul usually does not have the article (EN CHRISTW), but of course this doesn’t mean that Christ is something other than a person. And sometimes Paul writes “in the Christ” (EN TW CHRISTW), but English versions nearly always omit the article (1 Cor. 15:22; 2 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 1:10, 12, 20).

Shawn also argued that if translators had simply used impersonal pronouns to translate the neuter pronouns referring to the Spirit (it, its, itself, etc.), “the case for the personality of the Holy Spirit, the person, would largely disappear from Christian belief.” That is true only of the most superficial popular way that contemporary English-speaking Christians try to defend the personhood of the Holy Spirit. The KJV often used neuter pronouns when the Greek pronoun was neuter, and the KJV translators and their readers were all Trinitarians. They had no trouble seeing the person of the Holy Spirit in the Bible.

Finally, Shawn suggested that it is only “a few comparative difficult verses in the Gospel of John” that seem to refer to the Holy Spirit as a person, and he stated somewhat disparagingly that “those verses are used over and over again to prove that the Spirit is a person.” Later he suggested these could be explained away as personifications, like wisdom in Proverbs 8. But Jesus was not speaking in poetry in John 14-16, and the same things that Jesus says about the Spirit in John 14-16 are said about Jesus himself in the same book. For example, the noun PARAKLETOS clearly refers to a person, and Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as “another PARAKLETOS” (John 14:16), meaning another besides himself. In his epistle, John – the same author as the Gospel of John, of course – refers explicitly to Jesus Christ as our PARAKLETOS (1 John 2:1). PARAKLETOS is not a noun that just happens to be masculine but that normally refers to something impersonal, like _la bicicleta_ (“the bicycle”) happens to be feminine. PARAKLETOS is a personal noun, denoting someone who provides support, assistance, counsel, agency, mediation, or the like. If Shawn wished to claim that the noun doesn’t refer to the Spirit as a person, this would be something he would need to show exegetically from the context, which he has not done.

Moreover, the case for the personhood of the Holy Spirit does not depend on John 14-16 alone. His personhood can be shown from many other parts of the New Testament, especially the Book of Acts. But John 14-16 is in the Bible and must be taken seriously, not shoehorned into a doctrinal system derived from the superficial observation that the Old Testament doesn’t advance a specific doctrine of the personhood of the Holy Spirit. Such an approach denies God the right to unfold his self-revelation in history and in Scripture progressively, as though God should have front-loaded Genesis 1 with a systematic theological exposition.
(source = https://www.facebook.com/ApolojediMaster/posts/10202992049818148?stream_ref=10 )

Closing Thoughts
Perhaps it should be noted in closing that the doctrine that the Holy Spirit isn’t a person is only held to by Christian Cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Unitarians, Oneness followers, Hebrew Roots, Christadelphians, The Way and other Anti-Trinitarian groups.  This is hardly an encouraging sign for those of us who are hoping and praying that Shawn McCraney will find his way back to Biblical orthodoxy and bring those that he has led astray through such false teaching along with him.

Further, engaging in censorship of critics and those who are trying to help him find that way back is certainly an unwelcome trend – and one that’s odd for someone who has been so free in his condemnation and criticism of the LdS Church for engaging in such tactics with their critics.

We will continue to monitor the situation with Shawn McCraney and will add updates to this article as noteworthy events unfold.

UPDATES
April 29, 2014
Shawn McCraney states emphatically the Holy Spirit isn’t a person separate and distinct from God the Father and God the Son and reiterates his rejection of the Trinity.  Shawn also explains the reasoning behind shutting down the “Heart of the Matter with Shawn McCraney” page on Facebook.   This episode is also unique in that it is the first Heart of the Matter YouTube posting with comments disabled on the page.

Following the broadcast Rob Bowman issues the following response on this Facebook page:

Shawn McCraney (“Heart of the Matter”) concluded his series of lectures against the doctrine of the Trinity a couple of hours ago (though I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes up again). He gave a list of arguments against the personhood of the Holy Spirit. I won’t go through them all right now. However, I will point out that many of Shawn’s arguments against the personhood of the Holy Spirit, if applied consistently, would also “disprove” that God the Father is a person, or that Christ is a person.

(a) Shawn makes a big deal of the fact that “Holy Spirit” is never capitalized in the Greek. Neither is “God,” “Christ,” “Jesus,” or “Father.” For that matter, neither is “Peter,” “Paul,” or “Mary” (sorry, couldn’t resist). Ancient Greek manuscripts were written with all block letters, and later a cursive form developed that used what we call lower-case letters. But in biblical times, there was no upper-case and lower-case lettering system.

(b) Shawn points out that Christ and the Spirit are both called Parakletos; both are said to intercede for us (Rom. 8:26, 34); both are said to have been given to us by God. How these things prove that the Holy Spirit is not a person, I don’t know. If anything they might seem to prove that the Holy Spirit is Jesus. (They don’t. For example, John 14:16 calls the Holy Spirit “ANOTHER Parakletos,” making it clear that the Holy Spirit is not Jesus but is someone like him.) But Shawn doesn’t (usually) make that claim. At one point, though, Shawn cites 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 and concludes that it means that Jesus is the Spirit. If so, then, by Shawn’s own reasoning, either Jesus is not a person or the Holy Spirit is a person.

(c) Shawn repeated his argument from the previous week that the Holy Spirit is called the power of God in Luke 1:35. This is not correct, but if it were, it should be noted that the Bible calls God “the power of God” (Luke 22:69) and refers to Christ as “the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:24). So by Shawn’s reasoning, God and Christ are not persons.

(d) Also last week, Shawn had argued that the Holy Spirit is not a person because the Bible uses a neuter noun, PNEUMA, and neuter pronouns in reference to the Holy Spirit. However, the Bible also uses the neuter noun PAIDION (“child”) and neuter pronouns in reference to Jesus. Jesus is called a PAIDION eleven times in the New Testament (Matt. 2:8, 9, 11, 13 [2x], 14, 20 [2x]; Luke 2:17, 27, 40), all in reference to the period of several years after his birth. Matthew uses the neuter pronoun auto in reference to “the child” Jesus: “Rise, take the child [PAIDION] and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him” (Matt. 2:13 ESV). Here the ESV uses “him” to translate the Greek pronoun AUTO (as does the KJV also). Luke uses the same pronoun AUTO in reference to Jesus as PAIDION twice (Luke 2:28, 40). So once again, by Shawn’s reasoning, Jesus, at least when he was a child, was not a person.

The tragedy is that all of these errors could easily have been avoided, if Shawn would have listened to sound teachers and studied these things carefully before publicly teaching on matters he doesn’t understand.
(source = https://www.facebook.com/ApolojediMaster/posts/10203026200951905?stream_ref=5 )

April 30, 2014
Rob Bowman offers this clarification and response to one of the call-in questions regarding the doctrine of the Trinity that was asked on  the April 29th Heart of the Matter broadcast:

In response to a caller’s question last night about Matthew 28:19, Shawn McCraney resorted to the claim that the fourth-century writer Eusebius supposedly testified to an original form of the text in which Jesus said to baptize disciples “in my name” instead of what we find in all of the Greek manuscripts. Many anti-Trinitarians continue to repeat this claim today, though it is difficult to find contemporary exegetical commentators or textual critics who will support it. Eusebius quotes the triadic phrase in full five times when quoting Matthew 28:19; the one place he doesn’t is simply a paraphrase, not a full quotation. The triadic phrase is found in all Greek manuscripts of Matthew that contain the passage and is attested in several second-century Christian writings. For a critical scholarly refutation of the abuse of Eusebius, see Benjamin Jerome Hubbard, _The Matthean Redaction of a Primitive Apostolic Commissioning: An Exegesis of Matthew 28:16-20_, SBL Dissertation Series 19 (Missoula, MT: Society of Biblical Literature, 1974), 151-75.
(source = https://www.facebook.com/ApolojediMaster/posts/10203029256908302?stream_ref=10 )

May 6, 2014
Prior to his weekly Heart of the Matter lecture Shawn McCraney offers an Anti-Trinitarian critique of Matthew 28:19 claiming that it is a deliberate post-Nicene Trinitarian manuscript corruption that didn’t appear in the original. That verse reads, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (ESV), and is theologically noteworthy as a direct apostolic affirmation of the Trinity by Matthew.  

The lecture that followed is difficult to summarize because it was such a jumble of mixed metaphors and ideas – it was essentially on how no one has the right to judge or criticize the theology of anyone who professes Christ or claim that they’re going to hell as a result of their doctrine or beliefs. He did this by starting with a full whiteboard of different groups (Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostals, Arminians, Calvinists, Seventh-day Adventists, Calvary Chapel, Latter-day Saints, etc.) all boarding the “Jesus Plane” that later crashes killing everyone on board.  

He then asked the following series of open ended questions:

“Who would you say is gonna go to hell?”

“What would determine their entrance into heaven?” 

“Wouldn’t everyone of these active, faithful religionists lay claim to Jesus?”

“What would be the trait that proves that they had faith in Jesus?”

Shawn stated the answer to getting into heaven is through grace by having faith in Christ’s atonement which  manifests itself in one’s life by exhibiting the kind of  Christian love that Christ taught and practiced.

Further, he insists that true Christianity manifests itself in the kind of love that wouldn’t throw or keep others off the Jesus Plane and wouldn’t criticize those that are on it.  He went on to strongly imply that those who who insist on orthodoxy in theology and doctrine are false loving, hard hearted, pride filled, hypocritical, controlling, power hungry Pharisees who have no right to criticize the doctrine of the others on the plane – and are in fact, getting in the way of leading themselves and others to true, saving love.  That is, their hearts aren’t right.

But he then went to say that in coming weeks he will criticize and speak out against those that claim to be Christians but deviate from “what’s right according to the Bible” – like the LdS Church for example.  This assertion was also reiterating during the call-in section of the show.

At the end of his lecture he stated that the majority of those on the “Jesus Plane” are going to hell. But that’s OK because those who go to hell will be OK in the end because hell is much different than what others have taught about it in the past.  He promised to explain this more fully in the weeks to come.

This author is persuaded that much of this lecture was yet another attempt by Shawn to silence his critics – this was more apparent in the tone, timbre, snide comments, and attitudes in the lecture than the content alone.  The reader is encouraged to watch the lecture yourself and determine if the author’s assessment is accurate or not.

Episode 393 White Board_edited

May 9, 2014
Theologian Rob Bowman issues the following statement on Facebook regarding Mr. McCraney’s critique of Matthew 28:19:

On May 6, Shawn McCraney reiterated more emphatically his acceptance of the anti-Trinitarian claim that Matthew 28:19 did not originally say “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” According to this argument, Matthew 28:19 originally said “baptizing them in my name,” and the text was changed by the Trinitarians in the fourth century following the Council of Nicaea in 325. In support, Shawn offered two arguments that are commonly made. The first is that no NT Greek manuscript from prior to Nicaea contains the triadic wording in Matthew 28:19. The second point is that Eusebius of Caesarea often quoted Matthew 28:19 using the words “in my name,” and only began quoting it with the three names after Nicaea. As with most of his other arguments against the Trinity, Shawn is simply repeating arguments commonly made by anti-Trinitarians, especially in this case Unitarians and Oneness Pentecostals.

It is true that no Greek manuscripts prior to Nicaea contain the traditional text of Matthew 28:19. However, that is not as shocking as it sounds, and this fact in no way undermines the reliability of the traditional text. The fact is that we have no extant pre-Nicene Greek manuscripts of Matthew containing Matthew 28:19 at all. We have pre-Nicene Greek papyri fragments covering about a fifth of the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew 28:19 just happens to be one of the passages not among the extant papyri. There is an easy to understand reason why: Matthew 28:19 comes at the very end of the Gospel. Papyrus manuscripts were highly fragile, and it was common for them to be damaged especially at the beginning and end. This is why, for example, there are Greek manuscripts of Matthew that end earlier in Matthew 28, just a few verses from the end: the last page was lost or highly damaged.

ALL of the extant Greek NT manuscripts that have Matthew 28:19 have the traditional wording. There is no exception. The earliest extant Greek manuscripts containing Matthew 28:19 date from the fourth and early fifth centuries. One notable fact about these manuscripts is that they represent three different textual “families” or scribal traditions, conventionally known as the Alexandrian, Byzantine, and Western text types. This includes Sinaiticus (א) and Vaticanus (Alexandrian text type), dated 325-360, Alexandrinus (which, despite its name, is Byzantine in type in the Gospels), dated ca. 375-450, Washingtonianus, another Byzantine text dated about 400, and Bezae, a Western-type text also dated about 400.

We also have manuscripts of the NT in Coptic and Latin containing Matthew 28:19 that date from the fourth century. These manuscripts, especially one of the Coptic texts, attest to an independent scribal tradition of translation from before Nicaea. They confirm that the traditional text of Matthew 28:19 is correct.

If the anti-Trinitarians were right, it would mean that the correct wording of Matthew 28:19 was not preserved in a single ancient manuscript in Greek or in any of the languages into which the NT was translated. That claim requires a conspiracy theory to work, but such a conspiracy theory simply doesn’t fit the facts.

When Eusebius quotes Matthew 28:19 without the three names Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, he also omits the words “baptizing them,” and only sometimes includes the words “in my name.” It is evident from a careful study of his quotations generally that weight should not be put on his exact wording. That there was no conspiracy involved is proved by the fact that Eusebius sometimes uses the full quotation with the three names and sometimes his shorter version even in the same writing!

Finally, Shawn claimed that no one before Nicaea quoted Matthew 28:19 in its traditional form. That was simply false. The traditional form is attested in the Didache (ca. 80-120), Justin Martyr’s First Apology (155-57), and Tertullian’s On Baptism (ca. 200), to name just three texts dating not only before Nicaea but within about a century of the NT writings.

It is very sad to see Shawn repeating such distortions of the facts of Scripture to support his rejection of the Trinity.
(source = https://www.facebook.com/ApolojediMaster/posts/10203090956370750 )

NOTE: As excellent as Mr. Bowman’s statement is on it’s own, the reader is strongly encouraged to use the link to the original post and consider the equally superb comments that others – many whom are Theological Heavyweights – added beneath his statement. I think the reader will find them to be a wealth of wisdom as well as instructive and enlightening.

January 7, 2015
Presbyterian Pastor Jason Wallace gives a superb overview of Shawn McCraney’s slide into heresy, rebellion, and error on his “The Ancient Paths” television show. He very rightly identifies Shawn’s methods and teachings as nothing more than a modern, repackaged form of of Mormon-style Restorationism combined with Christian Gnosticism.

January 21, 2015
Continuing from his last broacast, Jason Wallace examines Shawn McCraney’s new teaching that “Christianity is not a physical reality”. Pastor Wallace identifies this as more evience of the gnosticism that McCraney is now teaching regularly. He shows how Mr. McCraney is now saying that the fundamental problem of the Evangelical church is that it tries to apply an ancient and outdated Bible to the modern world in terms of church and Christian practice. Thus Mr. McCraney is saying the Bible is really the problem and that instead we just need to follow the “Spirit.”

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s very much akin to Joseph Smith’s stance toward the bible which Lutheran minister Robert N. Hullinger summarized like this:

“In defense of God, Joseph Smith assailed the natural revelation of deism, which excluded the supernatural, and the static revelation of traditional Christianity contained in a closed canon. But to enable revealed religion to overcome natural religion, Smith supported the deistic attack on the Bible’s being complete and errorless. Rejection of the traditional view left him free to pursue special revelation specific to his own cause.”
(Robert N. Hullinger, “Mormon Answer to Skepticism: Why Joseph Smith Wrote the Book of Mormon”, Clayton Publishing House, 1980, p. 150)

Calvin demonstrates how Gnostic dualism works - or doesn't work.

Calvin demonstrates how Gnostic dualism works – or, in this case, doesn’t work.

February 3, 2015
Jason Wallace appears on a special two hour edition of Heart of the Matter that features a moderated debate between he and Shawn McCraney. The event descends into chaos (some later referred to it as “a circus” others “a Soap Opera”) when the moderator allows members of Shawn’s family (his wife and daughter), known instigators (like CAMPUS member Jed), and rank and file Shawnites to confront and denounce Mr. Wallace rather than the type of questions appropriate to a formal debate setting.

Further, the moderator (who is supposed to maintain neutral during debate proceedings) gave a supportive hug to Shawn McCraney’s wife immediately after she had ripped into Jason Wallace and allowed her to whisper something in his ear – all this while the debate was continuing right in front of them. This can hardly be described as neutral behavior. To make matters worse, this “neutral” moderator also made comments (some of them snide) in support of Shawn’s position during the closing moments of the debate. Thus the general consensus of those outside of Shawn’s camp is that Mr. McCraney and his followers acted very inappropriately – even cult-like – during this event.

February 5, 2015
Theologian James White weights in on the debate on his “Radio Free Geneva” broadcast (@04:50-15:27) concluding, “Listening to Shawn McCraney it’s hard to even recognize any more any meaningful element of Christian truth left in his theology. It’s just sad to watch. It really is.”

February 10, 2015
Shawn McCraney takes the entire broadcast to debrief on the February 3rd debate and address what he sees as the key issues that came up. Most surprising is his assertion that the apex of the event were the very things that in the days following most people pointed to as the low points, specifically: Loose cannon, pot stirring, Shawnite Jed asking Jason Wallace if he loved him, and Shawn’s wife and daughter dressing down Jason Wallace before a worldwide audience [@09:10-12:00]. Also surprising is Shawn’s claim that he’s mentally ill [@38:47], that’s he’s proud of it, and that the world would be a better place if it would appreciate mentally ill people (like him) and their unique way of seeing things rather than trying to get them to conform to normalcy [@33:30-41:10].

February 18, 2015
Pastor Jason Wallace is joined by Pastor Curtis Eggelston (of Berean Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Ogden, Utah) on his Ancient Paths television show to debrief on the February 3rd debate and analyze Shawn McCraney’s teachings and practices.

February 19, 2015
Jason Wallace issues the following statement on Facebook in tandem with posting the prior evening’s Ancient Paths broadcast on YouTube:

Last night’s episode of The Ancient Paths is now available on YouTube. Curtis Eggleston and I started our review of what was said in my exchange with Shawn McCraney. The main focus was on Shawn insisting on labeling me a Calvinist. He pushed me to accept the label at “The Inquisition” a year ago, then again in “The Confrontation” two weeks ago. His wife shoved a microphone in my face demanding I answer “yes or no” whether I am a Calvinist. All through “The Confrontation” Calvin and Calvinism were mentioned by Shawn. In Shawn’s show the following week, he described me as having “an absolute allegiance to Calvinism.” Why does Shawn, who hates being labeled, insist on labeling me a Calvinist? Why was I hesitant to embrace his label? I believe if you look at what Shawn has publicly taught about Calvinism, it all makes sense.

First, let me say, I don’t like the label, because it gives the impression I am following John Calvin instead of Jesus. At the same time, though Shawn twists things, the essence of what he insists on calling Calvinism is just biblical Christianity. It was taught by Calvin, but also by Martin Luther and all the Protestant reformers. It was taught by Augustine and a host of others throughout the early church. It is the faith of Jonathan Edwards & George Whitefield (leaders of the Great Awakening), Charles Spurgeon, William Carey (founder of the modern missions movement), David Livingston, and a host of more modern saints.

Shawn dedicated seven shows to Calvinism in 2013. In his show from October 1, 2013, he told a caller. . .

Now let me offset what you’re saying to me with what you believe, which is that God sovereignly creates men and women to burn in Hell. That that is His sovereignty – – that He has them and let’s them live here, but it’s His joy to have them burn in Hell while His other chosen ones get to live in bliss. And He knew that before creating one single person. If you want to follow that God, have at it, but not me.

Shawn cannot reconcile God being love with God knowing people will go to an eternal Hell, so Shawn portrays such a God as a sadistic monster. Dale Finley, an Arminian Baptist pastor, called in to say this is not a Calvinist/Arminian issue, but that Shawn has rejected the God of the Bible in his teaching. Shawn explicitly says he will not follow a sovereign God who sends people to an eternal Hell.

Please be clear, our purpose is not to judge Shawn’s heart, but to respond to his public teaching and speak the truth against his errors. Shawn said at “The Confrontation” that we were arguing over “the color of God’s eyes,” but it is clear the issues are the most fundamental in the faith.

February 24, 2015
Shawn McCraney makes the following statement (@1-minute, 59-seconds) on his Heart of the Matter broadcast:

I called Pastor Jason Wallace last week and asked him a simple question – Are we done? (meaning,“Are we done with all this between us?”).

To my surprise he said that he was going to do a follow-up on the shows where he aired our time together (which I admitted was reasonable) and then added, “then I don’t see any reason to continue.”

I couldn’t help but say, “Praise God” and felt our time together was not in vain . . . that just maybe I could accept Jason as a brother and he might see me as the same – even though we do not agree with one another.

I was really pleased.

I was then informed that last week my brother announced on his program that he in fact going to continue to pursue me on future shows – this time with another Orthodox pastor.

I hope this was incorrect but in the face of it I can say this – and I mean it:

I accept Jason as a brother and think he sincerely believes he is going God’s will.

And I will refrain from ever criticizing Jason or any other brother directly (or in public) but will ardently strive to see them as meaning well. . . and let God be their judge for the good and evil they may do.

I believe in order for subjective Christianity to be seen as viable it has to be lived. And it has to start somewhere.

So there it is.
(Episode 434: The Bible – Part 6, from the official HOTM transcription)

February 25, 2015
Pastor Jason Wallace is again joined by Pastor Curtis Eggelston on his Ancient Paths television program to finish up their debriefing on the February 3rd debate. Among other things, they tackle Jed’s agenda driven, pot stirring, “do you love me?” tactic (and it’s resulting fall out) from the debate head on. The reader will find this at 13-minutes and 10-seconds into the broadcast. Those interested will also find a fuller analysis of Shawnite Jed’s continuing pattern of public manipulation and grandstanding in part 5 of this series.

February 28, 2015
Jason Wallace publishes the following summary assessment of the issues surrounding Shawn McCraney’s movement and teachings:

“McCraney-ism”
by 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 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.”

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.

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.

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).

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
(source: GospelUtah.org website)

March 10, 2015
On his Heart of the Broadcast (@00:02:45) Shawn McCraney issues the following statement regarding the ongoing charge that he is employing Joseph Smith’s tactics and techniques in his ministry and methods:

There is a small movement afoot that is seeking to categorize me and my beliefs as an offshoot of Mormonism.

These Christian brothers have gone so far as to take Joseph Smith’s claims and assign them to me.

The longer I live the more readily I believe that we will always see and hear and believe what we want to see, and hear and believe, and it takes a real effort to remain in truth.

In any case it seems that this is intended to remove me and what I teach from Christianity by attempting to categorize me as an offshoot of Mormonism rather than an accepted brother in Christ.

I want my assailants to know I love them and will not retaliate – but I do want to quickly make things clear:

The similarities I have with the views of Joseph Smith are not limited to Smith. Anyone who is frustrated with church history, creedal Christianity, or man’s interference into the subjective relationship people have with God through Christ share Smith’s frustration.

Do such frustrations make me a Mormon? Common.

But in the name of clarity I personally renounce Mormonism as a counterfeit gospel.

This includes everything that makes it distinct including its priesthoods, its temples, its extra biblical books, its views on God (or God head) and the ontology of God, its soteriology, its baptisms . . . I mean, I really share nothing with Mormon doctrine and little with their practices.

Turning the tables, I have almost everything in common with Bible believing Christians.

The Good news

Monotheism – One God.

Jesus is God in flesh – the Word uncreated.

The Holy Spirit as God in spirit.

The Bible is His trusted Word.

Jesus is the only way, truth and life.

He is the author AND finisher of the faith.

His death, resurrection, ascension,.

Salvation is by grace through faith.

The importance of love in believers.

But because I disagree with two non-essentials (eternal punishment and the dating of Christ’s return) and one element some claim is an essential (the term and definition of the Trinity) some have tried to literally push me out of Christianity (the faith I embrace and love) and back into a schism of Mormonism (the faith I renounce).

Like I said to the LDS, if you don’t accept my views on eternal punishment PROVE THEM WRONG.

If you don’t agree with my Preterest Stance PROVE THEM WRONG.

Same with the Trinity. But stop the infighting. Accept my apologies, my differences, and try to see what we are doing and why.

I read a poem the other day I think is fitting. It was written by Edwin Markham in 1913 and is titled, “Outwitted.”

“He drew a circle that shut me out –

Heretic! Rebel! A thing to flout.

But Love and I had the wit to win, and

We drew a circle that took him in.”
(Episode 436: Sola Scriptura – Part 2, from the official HOTM transcription)

The exact charges that Mr. McCraney is responding to can be found in this author’s “Dear Michelle” article which states:

I would ask you to stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and think about what Shawn McCraney’s has been saying in both in concept and in words lately:

  • 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, I’ve used Joseph Smith’s 1838 First Vision account as my template in describing Shawn’s basic, recurring message but I’ve done so because the shoe fits. Tell me, is there anything is that list that doesn’t match the themes and principles Shawn has been teaching lately?

Thus I found this assessment 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.”
[Daniel Jason Wallace in the “Evangelicals Discussing Mormonism” Facebook Group.]

Further, have you noticed how Shawn launches pre-emptive strikes against his critics? Joseph Smith did that too didn’t he Michelle?

In fact, essentially wasn’t that the gist of how he responded to your email on the air?  Of course it was couched in terms of how you will be subjected to the same “persecution” that he has if you continue to “seek truth” in the same deaf, stubborn, rebellious, rogue, and obstinate “wild ass” (his description of himself at “Inquisition 2014″) fashion that he has.  Make no mistake about it Michelle, he was only talking to you tangentially – his real audience was his critics. And in the end, didn’t it all seem and sound something like this:

“Our religious principles are before the world ready for the investigation of all men, yet we are aware that all the persecution against our friends has arisen in consequence of calumnies and misconstructions without foundation in truth and righteousness. This we have endured in common with all other religious societies at their first commencement.”
— Joseph Smith, 1836
[History of the Church, vol. 2, p.460; from a letter from Joseph Smith and others to John Thornton and others, July 25, 1836, Kirtland, Ohio, published in Messenger and Advocate, Aug. 1836, p.358.]

Yes, it’s all very “Joseph Smith” isn’t it Michelle? I would ask you to think about that.
(Fred W. Anson, “Dear Michelle”

Given the full body of evidence, please consider the following regarding Mr. McCraney’s response:

  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 this website and elsewhere many, many, many times yet he 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.

Other all, this statement was the same kind of spin doctored, obfuscation that we see from the LdS Church and other Mormon splinter groups. Further, as noted, Mr. McCraney engaged in the classic Mormon tactic of using Christian terminology but changing the underlying meaning. There is, therefore, no need to withdraw the charge. In fact, Mr. McCraney’s statement actually confirmed it’s validity and veracity.

April 23, 2015
Respected Mormon researcher and critic Bill McKeever offers his assessment of Shawn McCraney and the McCraneyism movement on the The Eternal Planner w/ Rob Rennie radio show. In his assessment he also gives some of the local history that pre-dates Mr. McCraney’s pre-heresy days. This historical perspective may be enlightening to those who were outside of the Evangelical Christian community in Utah (or those who were in it but not “in the know”) while it was occurring.

(Sadly this YouTube video was removed by Mr. Rennie when he shut down his The Eternal Planner program and YouTube channel. Hopefully Mr. Rennie will republish it some time in the future.) 

Shawn McCraney’s October 6th, 2015 response to this critique can be found below.

May 5 – June 2, 2015
Shawn McCraney broadcasts a series of discussions/exchanges/debates on Calvinism with Theologian Matt Slick:

05/05/2015 Episode 444: Matt Slick – Total Inability (aka “Total Depavity”)
05/12/2015 Episode 445: Matt Slick – Unconditional Election
05/19/2015 Episode 446: Matt Slick – Limited Atonement
05/26/2015 Episode 447: Matt Slick – Irresistible Grace
06/02/2015 Episode 448: Matt Slick – Perseverance of the Saints

To deconstruct, analyze, and respond to the fallacious logic and bad arguments by Mr. McCraney would require a whole new series of articles – so we’ll let an excerpt of Brother Thomas’ insightful analysis suffice instead:

Shawn, as usual answered [Slick’s solid presentation] with his mocking exasperation argument where he cites a few random verses out of context and then mostly ends up citing himself as the authority, saying things like, “it doesn’t make sense”, “I don’t see how” while straw-manning various supposed Reformed propositions. I’ve heard his complaints (against the God of the Bible/”the God of Calvinism”) many, many times before–it’s the same old rant. . . . From atheists . . . humanists . . . wiccans . . . feminists . . . militant homosexuals . . . agnostics . . .. pagans . . . universalists . . . Satanists . . . and any number of God-hating, man-exalting unbelievers. “What kind of God sends people He created to Hell?!” is basically it. . . . Which is why I’m not so sure Shawn IS a “brother” in Christ . . . as so many who’ve tried to reach him . . . seem so reticent to clarify. He is a likable, humorous, charismatic guy . . . and I know it is not a small thing to call someone a heretic or, worse, a “wolf” among the flock . . . but I’m beginning to wonder what is the difference between Shawn’s Jesus and the Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness or New Age Jesus? Okay, the details are different . . . but in the end IT’S A DIFFERENT JESUS just the same.

Why do “we” say that Mormons or JW’s or Catholics “aren’t Christian” even though they claim to believe in “Jesus”?

Because they teach a different Jesus than the one shown in the Bible. They have added or detracted from The Word and created a God to suit themselves and thus cannot be considered “of the faith.”

Well, how is what Shawn is doing any different? Not because of his rejection of Reformed theology . . . but because of the leaning aggregate of all his errant assertions: “The doctrine of the Trinity is garbage”, . . . “the 2nd Coming has already happened” . . . “Christianity is totally subjective” . . . “Everyone will ultimately be saved/there is no eternal damnation” . . . “The Bible isn’t really relevant for us today–it was written by and for those prior to 70 A.D.” . . . “you can lose your salvation” and so on. . . .

If God is the author of the Bible, and Jesus is God . . . and Shawn teaches a growing body of doctrines that contradict orthodox Christian belief–at what point is he no longer believing and teaching “Christianity” . . . but something else instead, just as we say the cults and heretics do?

I’ll tell you what “makes sense to me”. . . . It is that he [Shawn McCraney and others who rely on the natural man] who has made an idol of himself and his own reasoning and hates the sovereignty of God, rails and mocks and jeers and wars against God ever still, as such always have and will continue to . . . until He finally puts them down . . . and every knee finally bows and every mouth confesses that HE is Lord . . . not “me”.”
(Brother Thomas, “Matt Slick vs. Shawn McCraney”)

October 6, 2015
On his Heart of the Broadcast (@00:28:46) Shawn McCraney announces that he’s a “committed modalist” verifying and confirming the charges of heresy that resulted in him being publicly challenged and denounced as a heretical teacher in early 2014:

Here is that announcement from the official HOTM transcript of this show:

At this point I will publicly admit that I am a committed modalist but refuse the Trinitarians pejorative that claims I err by “confounding the persons.”

I would reply they err by creating “three persons deserving worship” rather than the one true and living God deserving it alone.

In Smith’s life modalism was a popular alternative to trinitarianism but the differences are not easily observed by most Christians then or even today.

I can’t tell you how many people who are devout followers of Christ who cannot articulate the fundamentals of creedal trinitarianism and who typically, when asked to define their beliefs on the subject describe modalist thinking instead.

Anyway, the main difference between modalists and Trinitarians is Trinitarians label Father, Son and Holy Spirit “persons” and modalists label them all expressions or manifestations of the One God.

In reality, modalists do not deny three in one – they simply do not see the three as individual entities entirely separate from each other.

Also, there are differences between sabellian modalism – which says that the Father became the son and the son became the Holy Spirit and plain modalism which asserts that God manifested Himself in and through the Son and in and through the Holy Spirit.

I am certainly of the later form.

But Love and I had the wit to win, and

We drew a circle that took him in.
(Episode 466: Ontology of God – Part 1, from the official HOTM transcription; bolding and redding added for emphasis)

For those unfamiliar with the heresy of modalism here’s a brief primer:

Modalism, also called Sabellianism, is the unorthodox belief that God is one person who has revealed himself in three forms or modes in contrast to the Trinitarian doctrine where God is one being eternally existing in three persons. According to Modalism, during the incarnation, Jesus was simply God acting in one mode or role, and the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was God acting in a different mode. Thus, God does not exist as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at the same time. Rather, He is one person and has merely manifested himself in these three modes at various times. Modalism thus denies the basic distinctiveness and coexistence of the three persons of the Trinity.

Modalism was condemned by Tertullian (c. 213, Tertullian Against Praxeas 1, in Ante Nicene Fathers, vol. 3). Also known as Sabellianism, it was condemned as heresy by Dionysius, bishop of Rome (c. 262).” [Note it was formally denounce
(source, Modalism article on Theopedia)

So let’s be clear here: Despite, the spin doctoring, well poisoning, and posturing that he engaged in before and after this announcement, this is the equivalent of Mr. McCraney appearing before a worldwide audience and publicly announcing, “I am a committed Christian heretic”.

But if that wasn’t enough, at the end of the show (@00:47:30) Mr. McCraney proceeded to throw Mormon Research Ministry’s (MRM) Bill McKeever (in particular) and just about every other Utah based ministry and church (generally) under the bus:

Aaron Shafovaloff, Bill McKeever’s colleague at MRM responded to Mr. McCraney via the following YouTube comment – which was immediately deleted:

“He [Shawn McCraney] sets up a straw man for what it means for him to live the virtue of submission, as though that means abandoning all the idiosyncratic ideas of his own for ministry. It’s about being in a community of discipleship and accountability. Shawn should humble himself and participate in a local church with qualified elders. “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” (Proverbs 18:1) Submission to others is a Christian virtue for all believers.

He misrepresents the controversy over “Born Again Mormon” as if whether there are born again Christians within Mormonism. At this point, he arrogantly and mockingly misrepresents Bill McKeever’s concerns. The real controversy was whether such born again Christians should be counseled to leave the LDS Church. Honest and forthright discipleship should encourage any believer to get into a healthy Bible-believing church.

At least in his video, he failed to distinguish his universalism from Rob Bell’s universalism. It’s hard to see why he was refuting McKeever’s description. “I never said that.” But you didn’t have to. The issue wasn’t whether you explicitly aligned yourself, by name, with Rob Bell’s position on hell / universalism. But the issue was whether Bell’s universalism was a fitting analogy for your own.

So much arrogance. Please exit this cult-following and join a healthy local church that unashamedly lives according to the commands of the pastoral epistles for the life of the local church.”

Further, Mr. McCraney’s representation of the historical facts regarding him being challenged, confronted, and corrected regarding the descent into heresy that he started down in 2013 are flat out wrong. This can easily be proven because the “The Trial(s) of Shawn McCraney” series of articles on Beggar’s Bread (of which you’re currently reading Part 4) has been documenting this descent as it has been occurring – that is, in the historical moment and with supporting evidence. One need only start at the beginning of this series and start reading, watching, and listening to see how badly Shawn McCraney’s HOTM episode 466 recitation abused and misrepresented historical reality. Simply put, the body of evidence just doesn’t match Mr. McCraney’s spin doctored, revisionist “facts”.

October 14, 2015
The Ancient Paths publishes a short video composite of Heart of the Matter broadcasts that document Mr. McCraney’s February 2014 radical flip into modalism while simultaneously and aggressively denying it. This lasted until October 2015. For those counting that’s a year and half of self and public denial/deceit:

March 25, 2016
Unaware of the problems with Mr. McCraney’s ministry that started in 2013, the “Christian Utah” podcast schedules Shawn McCraney to appear on the show to discuss Heart of the Matter and CAMPUS. After being brought up to speed by several concerned colleagues and listeners the show’s producer reports his concerns to Shawn and suggests that they discuss them on the show. As he explains to Shawn in an email, “If there was some understanding, this [upcoming interview] would be a great opportunity to clear your name and help people see your ministry through a new light.”

Instead, Mr. McCraney simply cancels the interview.

As as a result of these events “Christian Utah” schedules Jason Wallace as a replacement and they spend about half the show discussing the history of Shawn McCraney’s slide into heresy and error and the other half discussing the unique culture of Mormonism (in general) and Utah (in particular) that lends itself to the type of Christian antinomianism taught and practiced by Shawn McCraney as well as so many others in the state.

This show is also a superb primer for those who want to get up to speed quickly on the history of Shawn McCraney in Utah, the Shawnites, and McCraneyism as it stood as of that date. Click here to listen to this show.

May 17, 2016 “So much heresy, so little time!” 
Theologian Matt Slick the founder and director of CARM (The Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry) participates in a free form, ad-hoc debate/dialogue/discussion which is described as follows on the Heart of the Matter website:

Shawn and Matt come together for a dialogue about orthodoxy and Shawn’s refusal to fully embrace it. They see things very differently relative to a number of teachings and doctrines in the Christian faith. Shawn is convinced that modern Christianity has misappropriated the Bible and assigned to it power and authority that was never intended to have from the start of the faith.

He maintains that:
1) The Spirit is primary and preferential in the Christian’s life,
2) The Bible is secondary and referential,
3) Church history is at best tertiary and inferential, and
4) Modern material religion is actually unnecessary and quite inconsequential. Shawn and Matt will compare several Christian topics to see how vital they really are to a person being viewed as a true Christian, to salvation, and to being received in the Body.

It’s hard to summarize something this loose, sloppy, disjointed, and chaotic into a few sentences. That said, the general consensus after it aired was that this event clearly demonstrated how unfit Shawn McCraney is to teach anyone anything.

Plainly stated, every time Shawn spoke during this event it simply demonstrated his incompetence, irrationality, ignorance, pugnaciousness, lack of self control, and, most importantly, inability to engage in sound biblical hermenuetics. As Matt Slick said so well at the 1:34:20 mark, “So much heresy, so little time.”  However, that said, it wasn’t Mike Slick who exposed Shawn McCraney as a heretic in this broadcast, Mr. McCraney did a wonderful job of doing that himself.

In the end this broadcast made it abundantly clear that to watch to Shawn McCraney teach is to see a fool in his folly. If you doubt this simply watch the show.

October 26, 2016, Matt Slick and the return of “Tag Team McCraney”
By “Tag Team McCraney” I’m referred to the practice of Shawn McCraney and the members of his family “tag teaming” his guests with emotion-laden personal attacks and appeals in front of the cameras.

By way of reminder, here is Shawn’s daughter Cassidy, his wife Mary McCraney, and Shawn himself going “Tag Team McCraney” on Jason Wallace during his February 2015 appearance on the show:

And here is Tag Team McCraney’s dogpiling of Matt Slick on his October 2016 appearance – a dog pile that results in Matt Slick storming off stage. As of this writing, Matt Slick has yet to appear on Shawn McCraney’s program again.

Oddly, this behavior – which common decency and decorum would stop most people from even considering, let alone engaging in – seems to be no problem for Tag Team McCraney. And it needs to stop.

February 13, 2018 “Showdown 2018”
Christian Scholar, Apologist, and Theologian appears on the newly dubbed “HOTM 2.0” program to address Shawn McCraney’s avowed modalism. The HOTM production team, in their typical over the top, hyperbolic manner, dubs this event “Showdown 2018”. During the show Mr. McCraney demonstrates such inconsistency and vacillation that James White ultimately dubs him a “walking contradiction” to his face and in front of the cameras.

Further, as they have done in past debates, Mr. McCraney and his production team do everything that they can to skew the playing field to his advantage – including frequent breaks whenever James White drove his point to a crescendo and asked Mr. McCraney to respond. During these breaks, the glories of McCraneyism were advertised via commercials for the movement’s products and programs.

In the end, it’s clear from Mr. McCraney’s pre-recorded closing statement that he didn’t approach his discussion with Dr. White with an open mind and went into it with no intention of reconsidering anything based on it. Many people consider this program one of the best evidences of how and why Mr. Craney is clearly unfit for Christian leadership.

February 15, 2018 James White Debriefing One
James White does a very brief analysis of “Showdown 2018” focusing on Mr. McCraney’s inconsistent and confused theology.

February 15, 2018 Jason Wallace Shakes the Dust Off His Sandals and Walks Away
The following was posted in the “HOTM Discussion Group” on Facebook by Utah Pastor, Jason Wallace on February 15th, 2018. It represents his final word and exortation to the followers of Shawn McCraney and McCraneyism:

This is my goodbye to the group. I have sought to warn those who follow Shawn McCraney that he is a false teacher who is leading you away from real Jesus in much the same way the Mormons do. He plays off the pain and prejudices of former Mormons to lead them into what he calls freedom, but what the God says in the Bible is just another form of slavery.

Back in the Fall, Shawn called me out twice by name on The Heart of the Matter. He called me a coward and said I wouldn’t dare defend my beliefs. I quickly said I would defend the Trinity, the Second Coming, or anything else he was attacking. Having put me off and then trying to shift the issues, Shawn now says he doesn’t want me on at all.

I am honestly relieved, not because I would have a problem showing the gross errors of preterism, but because I have better things to do. I am tired of Shawn’s games. I am tired of someone who talks so much about love lying about me, claiming I want to kill him and burn him at the stake, twisting my words and mocking me. I’m tired of Shawn calling the God I see in the Bible “a monster,” but then being told I’m unloving if I respond in any way. I honestly have more hope for Mormons to hear what the Bible says than those who still follow Shawn.

My plea is not to take my word, James White’s word, or Shawn’s word, but read the Bible and pray that God will show you the truth. I won’t rehash all the warnings I’ve given in the past. If anyone has questions, they can PM me or call me. I believe to anyone honestly listening, Tuesday night made clear that Shawn is making up his own religion that frees him from any accountability. If you continue to trust him over the clear teaching of the Bible, you will have no excuse in the day of judgment. My hands are clean (Acts 20:26-27). I will leave you with the warning of Jesus. . .

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

February 20, 2018 Comments From A Walking Contradiction
The week following “Showdown 2018”, Mr. McCraney debriefs his followers on the weekly HOTM 2.0 broadcast. The message, in a nutshell, is a familiar one: Shawn McCraney and his followers should be able to believe and teach whatever they want and call it Christianity. Period. No if’s. No and’s. No but’s. And no one has the right to say – or even suggest – otherwise.

February 2018, 2018 James White Debriefing Two
James White gives a second debriefing on “Showdown 2018” focusing on how Shawn McCraney’s modalism not only destroys any possibility of developing a fully formed theology but actually destroys the gospel as it’s revealed in the Bible, resulting in another gospel.

February 27, 2018 The Infamous F-Bomb Episode
A week after the “Shutdown 2018” debriefings Shawn McCraney unleashes a series of F-Bombs on the HOTM broadcast clearly demonstrating that he is not qualified as a Christian Leader per the requirements of Titus 1:7-9 (NKJV):

A bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

 BACK TO TOP

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.

Sincerely,

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.

NOTES:
[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 = https://www.facebook.com/groups/MormonInfo.org/permalink/10152296096122938/?stream_ref=2 )

[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)

IN CONCLUSION:
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.

NOTES:
[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 http://hotm.tv/episode-381-god-part-2/)

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.

wear-your-modalism[1]

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 MormonInfo.org/JosephLied.com 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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabellianism 
for a primer on the orthodox view of the Trinity see http://carm.org/what-trinity

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

by Fred W. Anson
January 2013-March 2014
It’s been an interesting few weeks if you’re a Evangelical Christian in Mormon Studies! For those of you who don’t know well known Utah TV personality, and a former Latter-day Saint who is now a Born Again critic of Mormonism, Shawn McCraney has recently been denounced by many in the Evangelical Christian Mormon Studies community as a heretic and even a cult leader.

Here’s the short, cryptic version of what’s happened so far:

January 9, 2013
Shawn McCraney announces that his new emphasis will be the doctrine and culture of the American Evangelical church rather than Mormonism.
(HOTM #EVC 1: The Price of Truth; http://hotm.tv/episodes/evc/1-the-price-of-truth/ )

Throughout the year of 2013 Mr. McCraney critiques a number of non-essential doctrines such as worship styles, preaching styles, fund raising, etc. He also denounces the doctrines of eternal hell, and the Calvinistic theological system raising the hackles of mainstream orthodox Christians.

January 29, 2014
“Jed” a regular attendee (the group eschews “members” or “membership”) of Shawn McCraney CAMPUS ministry (see http://c-a-m-p-u-s.com/ ) calls into Jason Wallace’s Ancient Paths TV Show and presents a idyllic picture of their group of “Christian Anarchists”. In response Jason Wallace challenges Jed from the Bible and then critiques Shawn McCraney’s lack of accountability.
(The Ancient Paths – The Importance of the Visible Church; currently not internet posted)

February 4, 2014
Mr. McCraney responds to Jason Wallace’s public critique by renouncing all forms of ecclesiological accountability except in regard to finances. Shawn then proceeds to renounce the creedal basis of the doctrine of the Trinity calling it, among other things, “garbage” and derived by committee rather than God.
(HOTM Episode #380: God – Part 1; http://hotm.tv/episode-380-god-part-1/ )

A summation video of these two exchanges can be found here:
(“Wallace/McCraney TV Exchange on Accountability”; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qYfBlQBUNw)

February 11, 2014
Mr. McCraney claims that the doctrine of the Trinity was developed from pagan sources. He then goes on to teach a form of non-sequential modalism and then denies that what he’s just taught is modalism.
(HOTM Episode #381: God – Part 2; http://hotm.tv/episode-381-god-part-2/ )

February 12, 2014
Presbyterian Pastor Jason Wallace gives an overview of Shawn McCraney’s unBiblical behavior and shift from historic Christianity orthodoxy since January 2013. Pastor Wallace explains that, per Shawn’s request, he won’t be addressing Shawn’s new view of God until Mr. McCraney gives the additional details and expands on his beliefs on the next HOTM show – as Shawn as has promised both on the air and in private communication.
(The Ancient Paths – Response to Shawn McCraney’s Teachings; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkFNlhYI8PM )

February 17, 2014
Christian Apologist Rob Sivulka of Courageous Christians United publishes a blog article entitled, “Shawn McCraney is a Heretic and Needs Adult Supervision” becoming the first to formally and publicly label Shawn McCraney a heretic.
(see http://www.courageouschristiansunited.org/blog/Shawn-McCraney-is-a-Heretic-and-Needs-Adult-Supervision-48993 )

The “Heart of the Matter with Shawn McCraney” Facebook page purges all critics of Mr. McCraney from the page.  The page owner Derrick Webster (a key figure in Mr. McCraney’s Alathea Ministries) also blocks those critics  from his personal Facebook profile making communication with him via Facebook impossible (Note: Mr. McCraney doesn’t have a Facebook account).
[In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that this author was one of those who was purged from the page and blocked by Mr. Webster]

February 18, 2014
Instead of delivering “God – Part 3”, as previously stated and promised, Mr. McCraney remains silent for the entire show. The only voices are those of John updating the viewers on the Monson United Kingdom lawsuit, a few critics, and far more supporters praising Shawn for his “bold stand” in the face of adversity.
(HOTM Episode #382: Silence; http://hotm.tv/episode-382-silence/ )

February 19, 2014
Jason Wallace addresses Shawn McCraney’s behavior and lack of accountability to the visible Church. He also addresses the division that Mr. McCraney is creating in the church through his teachings and behavior. At 25-minutes into this show CAMPUS attendee “Jed” calls in again and is unable to respond cogently and Biblically to Pastor Wallace’s questions regarding how CAMPUS is structured, organized, and run relative to Biblical injunctions and models on church structure and practices.
(The Ancient Paths – Response to Shawn McCraney Part 2; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38DNcJLUjbI#t=00h24m59s)

February 20, 2014
Mr. McCraney hosts a meeting that he and his producers dub “Inquisition 2014” which is video streamed over the internet. Mr. McCraney’s critics are dubbed “Accusers”. Local Utah Pastors attending the event include Jason Wallace, Dale Finley, Bryan Hurlbutt, Cory Anderson, Chip Thompson, and others. Also in attendance was Christian Apologist Rob Sivulka and several others with Utah-based ministries.
(INQUISITION 2014 – The term “trinity”; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XS4YzzBjMzk)

The invitation for the February 21, 2014

The invitation for the February 21, 2014 “Open Forum” event at CAMPUS

This event was posted on the internet as an “Open Forum”, but the actual format was a largely passive audience merely observing a highly controlled, staged setting. For example, those that wanted to confront Shawn were told to sign up and sit at the front of the room. These “accusers” were given a combined total of 30 minutes to state their “case”. Further, they were told specifically to only address issues about the the trinity, and were forbidden to bring up any other concerns over any of Shawn’s other controversial teachings and statements (such as accountability, Calvinism, hell, etc). This came as a shock to many in attendance as the “invitation” did not specify such a format, nor limit the topics allowed.

February 21, 2014
Derrick Webster posts the following on the Heart of the Matter With Shawn McCraney Facebook page:

“Message from Shawn McCraney

Dear friends,

As a Christian Ministry dedicated to reflecting the ideals of the King, we want to reiterate that our Facebook page is here to share information relative to the LDS/ Christian debate. We would appreciate it if all the ad hominem attacks were entirely eliminated. When or if any of the comments become venomous or personal our administrator will remove you from participating in this forum. Please remember that we are not “warring against flesh and blood,” but against dark principalities in high places. Speak the truth, but please try to do it in love.”

This story is still unfolding and is far from over. As new developments occur I will add updates to this article as comments.

TonightShawnIsConfronted

Pastor Jason Wallace opens the February 20th “Inquisition 2014” event with a summation of the critic’s case against Shawn McCraney. Please note the “interesting” choice of words in the on-screen captioning.

Coming next: In Part 2 of this series I will present an analysis of the body of evidence as well as the criticism being leveled at Mr. McCraney and explain why I am of the opinion that the criticism and heretic label is justified. I will also present my prayerful hope that Shawn will turn from the heresy of modalism, his unBiblical “Christian Anarchy”, and be restored to a place in the body of Christ where his and his gifts can find their ultimate fulfillment and unique place in God’s purposes and will for this generation.

UPDATES:
February 25, 2014

After having long private discussions with Shawn McCraney, well known and respected Theologian Rob Bowman of the Institute of Religious Research (see http://irr.org/who-we-are ; also see https://irr.org/author/robert-m-bowman-jr ) appears on Heart of the Matter, gives a brief overview of the doctrine of the Trinity and answers questions from Mr. McCraney and his viewers.  The tone and timbre of the show is markedly different than the previous week’s shows.
(Episode 383: Robert M. Bowman Jr. – Director of Research, IRR; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyvo1riNhZI )

February 26, 2014
Rob Bowman issues the following statement on his Facebook page regarding the week’s events:

As announced yesterday, last night I was a guest on Shawn McCraney’s TV program “Heart of the Matter” to discuss the doctrine of the Trinity. In this post I’m going to review what has happened and give my take on where things stand at the moment.

Shawn is a former Mormon who became “born again” while he was still in the LDS Church. He eventually came out, went to pastoral training school, and began a teaching and evangelistic ministry focused on reaching Mormons. That ministry evolved into an informal church that is rather out of the mainstream of evangelical church practice. He published a book entitled “Born Again Mormon” that was later retitled “I Was a Born Again Mormon.” By all accounts Shawn’s ministry has been unusually successful not merely in drawing people out of Mormonism but in leading them to trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation and to experience the new birth in Christ.

During the past year or so, Shawn has offered up his own views on various doctrinal issues and spoken very critically of various evangelical doctrines and movements. This development came to a head a few weeks ago when he did a couple of programs disparaging the doctrine of the Trinity. Shawn referred to the doctrine as “garbage,” as a man-made doctrine defined as a way of controlling people, and argued that the doctrine is more likely to have originated in paganism from the triads of gods in ancient religions than from the Bible. His alternative explanation at least sounded like a form of modalism, although he insisted it was not.

After discussing the matter with my co-workers at the Institute for Religious Research, I emailed Shawn privately and expressed the desire to meet with him in order to get to know him personally and to discuss doctrine with him. Shawn responded very positively, welcomed the interaction, and we made arrangements. In the meantime, there were some swift and in some cases rather sharp responses to Shawn’s statements online, and this was followed up by a program last Thursday night in which Shawn and some of the local Christian ministry leaders who had criticized Shawn had an unfortunately vitriolic confrontation.

I flew from Grand Rapids to Salt Lake City on Monday and met with Shawn for four hours. We made a very good personal connection, frankly recognizing that we are in temperament and experience radically different kinds of men, and had a good, constructive first discussion of the doctrinal issues. Shawn invited me to be a guest on his program Tuesday night, which I did. We met again today for a few hours and talked some more. I was blessed to have an opportunity to present a solid if brief explanation of the biblical basis of the Trinity and to answer a number of Shawn’s objections in front of his audience. Afterwards I spoke with people in attendance for over an hour, and it appears that the event was helpful.

What was said on last night’s program is of course public knowledge. One thing I said at the end, in response to a caller’s question, is that I consider Shawn a brother in Christ. I stand by that statement, but I also don’t want to be misunderstood. Whether Shawn is a believer, and whether he is a sound teacher, are two different questions. 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. My assessment is that Shawn’s theology is confused and otherwise lacking largely because he has never studied Christian theology at a serious level and because, probably in overreaction to the programmed instruction and extrabiblical texts imposed in Mormonism, he has tried to develop his understanding by reading only the Bible. Reading the Bible without studying works on Christian theology has certainly brought Shawn a lot closer to orthodox Christianity than he was as a Mormon, and it’s certainly a far better extreme. It is, however, an extreme that has kept him from benefiting from the wealth of Christian reflection and teaching on God’s word by those who have studied the Bible for centuries before Shawn or I came along. The result is that some of Shawn’s views are at least heterodox (other than the classical, orthodox Christian doctrines). That having been said, I consider him a brother in Christ because I see evidence that God dramatically changed his life, brought him out of Mormonism, and gave him a genuine appreciation of the grace freely bestowed through the gospel. While I don’t know definitively the state of anyone else’s soul, I am inclined to give someone the benefit of the doubt and to accept him as a brother unless forced to conclude otherwise. And I really do think Shawn is a Christian, saved by God’s grace, even though some of his doctrine is seriously flawed.

Theologically, Shawn’s thinking on the Trinity appears muddled. It is probably in flux, perhaps even more so after our discussions, which may be a step in the right direction. He has agreed that he needs to retract publicly and specifically some egregious critical remarks he made in recent weeks on the subject. His explanations at times seemed modalistic, but as we talked he backed away from those explanations, in particular his description of the Logos (Word) as one of many manifestations of God. Shawn rejects the eternal Sonship of Christ, preferring the formulation of the eternal Word. In this regard he is similar to Walter Martin, but unlike Martin, Shawn is uncomfortable designating the Word as a person. For that matter, he is uncomfortable using the term “persons” at all in reference to God, because of its association in Mormonism with physical human beings. Again, his own background and his focus on reaching Mormons have in his case led to some difficulty in coming to terms with orthodox Christian doctrine. This is a problem that I hope can be overcome as our dialogue continues. Meanwhile, at some point I do plan to make available in written form some responses to specific issues raised by Shawn regarding the Trinity, not to attack him personally but to provide substantive responses for the benefit of Shawn and others. I should mention that I have already told Shawn that I expected to do this, and he was supportive of me doing so.

I would appreciate the prayers of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ for what follows. Please pray that Shawn will have constructive meetings with local Christian leaders, including some that have been legitimately concerned about his teachings, and that they will develop respect and trust. Please pray that future discussions between Shawn and me will be fruitful. Please also pray that Shawn will be successful going forward in acknowledging past errors and in developing a sound understanding of the theology of Scripture. All of this will be a process; it will not happen overnight. Please pray with me that everyone involved will listen to one another, be gracious and patient with one another, and be willing to learn and to change and even to repent where needed. And if you have some concerns or grievances with regards to anything I have said, please feel free to come to me with them.
(source: https://www.facebook.com/ApolojediMaster/posts/10202633850543390 )

March 4, 2014
Theologian James White weighs in on recent events surrounding the Shawn McCraney situation in general and Inquisition 2014 in particular. He also addresses the email from him that Shawn presented as an example of how other pastors are trying to threaten and control him on the February 11th Heart of the Matter “God Part 2” broadcast (see http://hotm.tv/episode-381-god-part-2/) presenting a very different version of the back story and context surrounding what was said and why it was said the way it was. This analysis starts at 38:00 into the show. (“Ukraine, Hyper-Calvinism, David Allen, Shawn McCraney, and More!”)

Shawn McCraney continues his discourse on the nature of God focusing on Christ as “Light”. He also addresses his recent meetings with Rob Bowman as well as some of the criticism that he had been receiving from local Pastors and others.

In response to the broadcast Rob Bowman issues the following statement immediately afterwards:

“This post and thread is for my fellow evangelical Christians. If you are not an evangelical, while I value your friendship, this thread is not for you.

Tonight on his TV program “Heart of the Matter” Shawn McCraney quoted a Facebook post of mine as follows:

“My assessment is that Shawn’s theology is confused and otherwise lacking largely because he has never studied Christian theology at a serious level and because, probably in overreaction to the programmed instruction and extrabiblical texts imposed in Mormonism, he has tried to develop his understanding by reading only the Bible.”

Shawn’s quotation stopped at that point, and his subsequent comments gave the impression that I was criticizing Shawn for not being open to what he characterizes as “man-made” doctrines or theology. But here is what I said next:

“Reading the Bible without studying works on Christian theology has certainly brought Shawn a lot closer to orthodox Christianity than he was as a Mormon, and it’s certainly a far better extreme. It is, however, an extreme that has kept him from benefiting from the wealth of Christian reflection and teaching on God’s word by those who have studied the Bible for centuries before Shawn or I came along.”

You see, the issue is not “man-made” doctrines versus the Bible as the sole authority; the issue is whether it is wise to ignore what can be learned about the Bible from teachers who have devoted their lives to pursuing its truth and sharing what they have found with the rest of the body of Christ. Christians in the twenty-first century are not meant to study the Bible in isolation from other believers, as if they were living on an island and the Bible was the only book available. The Bible itself says that God has given teachers to the church as a needed, important part of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11). To ignore those teachers, and even to dismiss them as irrelevant in one’s study of the Bible, is to go against the Bible itself.

Of course, all of us who are teachers are fallible and our doctrinal understandings can be mistaken. But this is just as true of Shawn as it is of anyone else. In this regard the choice is not between man-made doctrine and the pure doctrine of the word of God. Rather, it is a choice between the doctrine of one man who thinks he can do it on his own and the doctrine of many men who listen to and learn from each other and from those who have gone before them in the pursuit of understanding the word of God.

In a way, Shawn’s position is even less tenable, because he inconsistently appeals to theologians and intellectuals when it suits his purpose. He justifies his refusal to read serious works of Christian theology while seeing nothing wrong with citing the opinions and interpretations of Walter Martin or John MacArthur or even the Emphatic Diaglott if they happen to agree with his own views. In his attack on the Trinity a few weeks ago, Shawn read a string of quotations that I was able to determine he got from an online article published by a Watchtower splinter group that denies that Jesus is God. I privately challenged him for using that article. Tonight he claimed that he thinks it is fine to read books that critique Mormonism but not to read books that teach Christian theology. But is it all right to read articles that attack Christian theology? I was hoping he would understand the inconsistency of his stance on this question, but he seems to be further entrenched in that position.

I will post something separately on Shawn’s lecture on John 8:12 (I don’t know if that will be tonight or tomorrow). Here I simply need to make it clear that I do not see tonight’s program as representing a step in the right direction.

Shawn, I assume this post will be brought to your attention. I still appreciate your graciousness toward me last week, but I must also remind you that I gave you fair and friendly warning that I would be responding publicly to your teaching when I found it to be unsound—and you said you understood and respected that. Well, here we go. 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.”
(source = https://www.facebook.com/ApolojediMaster/posts/10202669824562718 )

Rob Bowman, Director of Research, Institute for Religious Research

Rob Bowman, Director of Research, Institute for Religious Research

March 5, 2014
As promised, Rob Bowman directly addresses the points in Mr. McCraney’s previous night’s lecture on God via the following Facebook post:

“On March 4, 2014, Shawn McCraney gave a lecture (I’m not sure what else to call it) on his TV show Heart of the Matter on the “ontology” of God, apparently a continuation of a series of lectures he is doing giving his own alternative to the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. I’d like to share a few observations in response to some things he said. There is more that could be said, but this is all I have time to address for now.

First, let’s be clear that when the Bible speaks of God as “light” or “fire,” this is symbolic language. I think Shawn would agree; at one point he acknowledged that God is not fire in the sense of the combustion of oxygen. It’s important to be clear on this point because sometimes Shawn uses this language as if it is somehow directly denotative of the “ontology” (his term) of God, a description of God’s being or nature. It isn’t. It is figurative language, used to express specific truths about God in his relation to us and our world. So when John says, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5), this is not a statement of ontology or metaphysical description of God, but an affirmation that God is morally perfect—pure holiness, goodness, truthfulness, and love—totally devoid of sin or evil. Read the next few verses and this becomes obvious: to “walk in darkness” means to live in lies and sin (1 John 1:6-7). The statement that “our God is a consuming fire” (Deut. 4:24, quoted in Heb. 12:29) was a warning that God, who had revealed himself in the wilderness and at Sinai in terrifying fire, would judge his people in righteous wrath if they chose to rebel against their covenant with him (see Deut. 5:24-26; Heb. 12:25-28).

Perhaps the closest the Bible comes to making a statement of the form “God is…” that describes his being per se is Jesus’ statement, “God is spirit” (John 4:24; “a spirit,” KJV). Although the derivation of _pneuma_ has to do with moving air (breath, wind, etc.), in the Bible it generally loses this physical sense and refers to nonphysical, incorporeal beings like angels (Heb. 1:7) and God. In context Jesus was saying that the time of God being known and worshiped through special, sacred places at specific locations was coming to an end: God would be worshiped “in spirit and truth.” (In this regard Mormonism, with its temples that are supposedly indispensable to fully experience God’s presence and blessing, are a step backwards spiritually and covenantally.)

Another “God is” statement that Shawn mentioned in passing, but set aside, was John’s affirmation that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). It’s too bad he didn’t spend some time on this statement. Unlike the descriptions of God as light and fire, to say that God is love is not figurative or metaphorical. It tells us that love is absolutely essential to God’s being. As Christians have reflected on this idea, they have realized that this idea makes perfect sense in the context of the doctrine of the Trinity. The three persons love one another eternally, so that indeed love is very much of the essence of God. The Bible supports this understanding. For example, Jesus said in his long prayer in John 17 that the Father loved him “before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). This cannot be fairly or plausibly interpreted as proleptic, i.e., as meaning that God anticipated loving Jesus before Jesus came to exist. We know this is not what Jesus means, because at the beginning of the prayer that he had lived in glory alongside the Father before the world was, and he asked the Father to restore him to that glory (17:5). Thus, the Father and the Son (or the Word; it doesn’t matter) have existed distinct from one another since before creation, and the Father has loved the Son all along.

Shawn spent most of the lecture developing verbal connections between Jesus’ statement in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world,” and various other texts, notably Genesis 1:1-5, John 1:1-5, and 2 Peter 1:19. To be frank, I’m not sure how his treatment of these passages clarified his view of the preincarnate Logos. Some of what he said was fine, some of it was not; in some instances I was unclear as to the significance he was deriving from these various texts.

Shawn made an interesting comment regarding John 8:12. He pointed out that the Jewish leaders did not react to Jesus’ statement as if it were blasphemous. Their criticism was that Jesus was testifying to himself and therefore they considered his claim invalid (v. 13). That’s a good observation, but what Shawn thought was the significance of this observation was unclear to me. Looking at the passage historically, Jesus’ statement probably could have been interpreted by the Jews as something less than a claim to deity; they might have thought that Jesus was simply claiming to be the Messiah as the instrument of God’s “light” to the world. For example, they might have understood Jesus to be claiming that he exercised the function of the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah; that Servant is described more than once as a “light to the nations” (Isa. 42:6; 49:6; cf. 51:4; 60:3). This is in fact correct; however, only upon reflection concerning all that Jesus said and did would it be understood that he was “the light” to the nations or the world because he was God incarnate.

To understand Jesus’ function as the light of the world to be an indication of his deity in no way resolves the question of whether God is triune. Jesus was not the divine light/fire corked in a bottle of flesh. He was the Son sent from the Father into the world to be the light of life and truth (John 5:23; 6:38-40; 8:12-18; 9:5; 12:46; 16:27-28; Rom. 8:3; Gal. 4:4; 1 John 4:14). Again, the language of light is figurative, indicating that Jesus’ mission was to bring the light of truth and life to the world. He could do this because he was himself God, perfect in truth, the source of all light and knowledge. The New Testament presents this truth in a consistent context of distinguishing Jesus Christ the Son of God from the one called God the Father.”
(source = https://www.facebook.com/ApolojediMaster/posts/10202675490424361?stream_ref=10 )

March 6, 2014
James White offers a lengthy deconstruction of Shawn McCraney’s teachings on the Trinity in general and the Athanasian Creed in particular.   Mr. White looking directly into the camera and addressing Shawn McCraney directly Mr. White states that Mr. McCraney is uninformed and ignorant on both.  This contents begins 5:24 into the broadcast. (“A Little About Brewton-Parker; the Athanasian Creed; the Flaming Toilet of Death”

March 11, 2014
On his Dividing Line broadcast (starting at 1:05:00) James White deconstructs, analyzes and exposes Shawn McCraney’s “God Part 3” lecture for what it is:  Modalism.  He also states that the reports that he’s getting from the pastors he’s contacted in Utah regarding the situation, “aren’t encouraging.”

On the Heart of the Matter broadcast Shawn McCraney suggests that the reason friction has arisen between he and his critics comes down to a difference of worldviews and personality. He suggests that the latter is manifested in his “Artistic” versus the critic’s “Linear” thinking and approach to the Bible. (Episode 385: Christian Artists)

March 12, 2014
Rob Bowman releases the following article in response to Shawn’s broadcast from the previous evening:

“Shawn McCraney is a former Mormon who became a “born-again” Christian and eventually left Mormonism, received some ministry training through Calvary Chapel, and launched his own ministry in Salt Lake City to evangelize Mormons. In the past few weeks Shawn has gone public on his television show denouncing the term Trinity as “garbage” and explaining his own doctrine of God in ways that have been confused at best. I flew out to Utah to meet with Shawn, had very friendly and enjoyable conversations with him, and appeared on Shawn’s show Heart of the Matter. I also posted a few messages on Facebook regarding the controversy.

On March 11, 2014, Shawn McCraney’s lecture on his TV show was a critical response to his critics, whom he characterized as scholars, theologians, and apologists who impose their exclusively “linear thinking” on the church to rule, control, and dominate. There is a “teachable moment” here because the issues that Shawn’s argument raises have relevance beyond the specific controversy over his teaching.

Shawn professes to value knowledge and the contributions of scholars, but he describes himself as a “Christian artist” who views Christianity in an artistic way that the linear-thinking scholars simply cannot appreciate. But if an “artistic” thinking person can appreciate the “linear” thinking of scholars, why cannot scholars likewise appreciate the “artistic” thinking of people like Shawn? I think they can. But just as people who profess to be scholars can and sometimes do make egregious mistakes, self-described artists who profess to see the world in a fresh and unpredictable way might be fooling themselves. The “Christian artist” label does not excuse Shawn or anyone else from the responsibility of speaking faithfully to the truth. The charge that someone is teaching erroneous doctrine cannot be answered by merely asserting artistic license.

Early in his lecture Shawn asked, “Just how different can a believer be in personality and worldview and still be considered a Christian?” By “worldview” Shawn apparently means the way in which a person views the world, either logically or artistically, although I didn’t catch a definition of the term. The answer to his question, if I understood it correctly, is that believers can be quite different in many ways and still be considered Christians. However, that isn’t the real question here, is it? No one is suggesting that people who are artistic or storytelling or relational or physical in their personal makeup and orientation rather than logical or scholarly cannot be Christians. Most Christians are not intellectually oriented. Believe it or not, we intellectuals noticed that a long time ago. One of the first Christian intellectuals himself commented on that fact, in a passage that Shawn quoted (1 Cor. 1:18-23). Really, we do understand this. That’s not the problem. No, the problem is the content of Shawn’s doctrinal teaching, which at best is unsound and at worst, in the estimation of at least some observers, is heretical. This concern about his teaching is either justified or it is not. How do we tell? Like it or not, we must try to think clearly about the question.

Shawn himself engages in “linear thinking” when he feels comfortable doing so. His lectures are just that, lectures. He has a point he wishes to make, and he presents reasons to support the conclusion he hopes his listeners will accept. Shawn cites the Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible, appeals to biblical scholars and theologians when he thinks they support his views, and formulates objections to statements made by his critics. He is actually much more capable of engaging in such logical, rational thinking than perhaps people realize and engages in such reasoning far more often than his self-description as a Christian artist would suggest. The appeal to his supposed artistic personality is itself presented as an argument: the logicians are wrong because they overgeneralize from their own experience and preference and don’t recognize that there are different yet equally valid ways of thinking. Which reminds me of the famous observation that there are two kinds of people in the world—those who think there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t. (Sorry.) When Shawn argues, for example, that the Bible presents truth in a grand narrative rather than in a systematic theology, he is presenting an argument based on the very kind of logical, linear thinking he complains is being used against him. That argument is either a sound argument or it is not. The value of the argument can be judged only on the basis of its factual support and logical validity; its value is not aesthetic, creative, artistic, emotive, or relational.

It’s really a matter of the right tool for the job. If we want to stir people’s emotions, touch people’s feelings, or appeal to their intuitive sense, we use art – music, story, drama, soaring speech, visual displays, and so forth. If we want to inform people’s minds, then we present facts in a reasoned manner. If we want to explain a text of the Bible, then we use skills relevant to reading and interpreting texts. This doesn’t mean ignoring non-linear elements of biblical texts. It doesn’t mean running roughshod over symbolic language, emotive appeals by the biblical speakers and writers, or forcing the Bible into overly simplistic and rigid philosophical systems. Sound reading of the Bible appreciates the power of its narratives and the color of its poetry. But the Bible also presents didactic material that calls for careful, reasoned thinking about the subject matter. The epistle to the Romans is a theological treatise, not an Easter drama.

According to Shawn, logic and linear thinking came from the Greeks. I’ve heard this one before. Friends, logic came from God, not from the Greeks. Logic, order, rationality, reason, and coherence are all reflections of the nature of God, just as much as beauty, joy, creativity, and artistry. The Greeks did not invent logic; they came up with a formal system for recognizing and teaching logic.

Shawn emphasizes, fairly enough, that knowledge has value only in the context of love. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor. 8:1b). Amen. Knowledge without love makes people prideful. A person who claims to know God but is devoid of love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:7-8). Shawn feels that some of his critics have been long on knowledge, or at least in claims to knowledge, but short on love. Perhaps he is right. Yet Shawn also seeks to refute his critics with arguments. Again, perhaps he is right. But there are two issues here: (1) Is Shawn’s doctrine biblically sound? (2) If it isn’t biblically sound, can this point be made in love? It would help if these two questions were kept distinct.

I wish Shawn would discuss whether the category of “heresy” is ever a valid category. If a teacher claims that Jesus did not rise from the dead, is it inappropriate to label this teaching as heresy? Are there any heretics? Shawn says, quite correctly, that Christians should tolerate different views on nonessentials. But what are the essentials and how does one know if something is an essential or not? This is a reasonable question and it requires a reasonable answer, grounded on the teaching of Scripture. Shawn insists that he believes the whole Bible, accepts everything it teaches, and that therefore he should be accepted as a Christian. I view Shawn as a Christian, albeit one whose doctrine is in serious question, but his reasoning here is quite flawed. Jehovah’s Witnesses also insist they believe the whole Bible, accept everything it teaches, and that they are Christians. Is that good enough? Shawn would say, I’m guessing, that they are not really Christians because they deny that Jesus Christ is God. If so, then Shawn is acknowledging the legitimacy of using doctrine to test the claims of those who present themselves as teachers of God’s word. And I assume that Shawn does not think he is being unloving for excluding Mormon teaching from his new television network. Why not? Obviously, he is “imposing” a doctrinal test here, and rightly so. Then is it necessarily unloving or wrong for Christians to express the opinion that Shawn’s denial of the doctrine of the Trinity might be heretical? The question is a valid one, however we answer it.”
(Bowman, Rob, “Shawn McCraney On The Linear Thinking of His Theological Critics”)

March 18, 2014
Drawing from the figure of the cross which somehow transforms into an “X”, which somehow transforms into 3 triangles, (the audio was off for a few minutes while he was developing this concept on the whiteboard) which then somehow comes to represents not just God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) but man (body, soul, spirit). He then uses these figures to develop a new model of two sets of intersecting triangles (one  set for, and one set for man) that he claims represents how God has engaged Himself in the creation, salvation, and sanctification of human kind.  He claims that this Spirit and Bible revealed “artistic” model is just as valid and should be taken just as seriously as any systematic theology from scholars. (Episode 386: It All Starts With “X”)

As Rob Bowman points out in his post-broadcast response to Shawn, what Mr. McCraney has just taught is clearly heresy.  Here is that response:

“Once again I watched Shawn McCraney on his show “Heart of the Matter” tonight. His doctrinal explanation of the nature of God was very disappointing. The audio was off for a few minutes, but apparently Shawn compared God’s eternal nature of being God, his Logos (Word), and his Pneuma (Spirit) to man’s being body, soul, and spirit. Such an analogy is clearly monarchian: it characterizes God as a single person with three aspects of his being. According to Shawn, before the Fall, those three aspects were really difficult to distinguish from one another (even for God?), and likewise man’s three aspects were so fully integrated as one that they could hardly be distinguished. Before the Fall, there was no Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When man fell, God, in order to save us, divided or splintered himself into three, becoming Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (apparently not right away, since on Shawn’s view there was no Son until the Incarnation). In this new, sharp threeness God acted to redeem us in order to restore us to full integration as body-soul-spirit beings in the new birth.

All of this sounds very much like monarchianism, but then Shawn threw in the comment that God, his Logos, and his Pneuma had relationships with each other before creation, though what those were Shawn said he doesn’t know. As he has done every time I have heard him, Shawn contradicted himself. God, the Logos, and the Pneuma cannot have relationships with one another if they are simply different aspects of the one God, like my body, soul, and spirit (or like they should be!).

In response to a caller, Shawn asserted that Jesus was not himself the “I am”; the “I am” was God fully indwelling him. Jesus is the flesh; God is the divine being dwelling in or housed in the flesh. Yet Shawn also wants to say that Jesus is God. This same incoherence is common in one wing of Oneness Pentecostal theology. Biblically and in orthodox Christian doctrine, Jesus is not simply the flesh; rather, Jesus is the *person* who is both God and man, the eternal Logos-Son who assumed full human nature. True, he was not called “Jesus” before the Incarnation, but that really misses the point: the person we call Jesus was in existence from eternity past, not as a separate entity or being (let alone one in a “spirit body” as Shawn described, perhaps conflating his criticisms of the Trinity and Mormon doctrine), but as a distinct person who was one God with the Father (and the Holy Spirit) (John 1:1-3; 13:1, 3; 16:28; 17:5, 24).

Shawn asserted that he doesn’t like the term Trinity and doesn’t like saying there were three persons before creation. Apparently saying there are three persons now is fine (at one point Shawn said this himself). If so, then the term “person” is not itself the problem; the problem is substantive, not merely semantic. But if God was once not three persons and now he is three persons, then the fundamental nature of God has changed. That implication creates all sorts of theological mischief. This is not comparable to God becoming a man, in which God’s nature remains the same but he assumes human nature (the union of two natures in the one person); Shawn’s idea amounts to God changing the divine nature.

I was hoping that Shawn would move closer to the position he continues to cite in his defense, the “eternal Word” form of Trinitarianism espoused by Walter Martin. That at least would still be orthodox. Instead, in my estimation he has if anything moved further away from it, though he continues to make statements that do not fit neatly into the monarchian or modalist system. Without making any judgment about Shawn as a believer or Christian, and with the hope that he may still change or correct what he has been teaching, I regretfully think that at present what he is articulating about the doctrine of God is heresy.

This isn’t the only problem. At the end, in response to another caller, Shawn affirmed universal reconciliation, a doctrine that is really a form of universalism under a different name. Although Shawn claimed this wasn’t universal salvation, he referred the caller to the website tentmaker.org, which clearly teaches universal salvation. “The Bible, correctly translated teaches Jesus Christ, the Chosen One of our heavenly Father will save the whole world.” The website also appears to endorse the idea that the devil and his fallen angels will also eventually be saved, but apparently not in this age. Shawn seemingly didn’t agree with that view, but he wasn’t completely clear on the issue. In any case, universal salvation is also heresy.”
(see https://www.facebook.com/ApolojediMaster/posts/10202754135350435?stream_ref=10)

March 25, 2014
Shawn begins what he promises will be a multi-part series on the Holy Spirit.  Without going into too much detail he claims that both the LdS Church and Trinitarian Churches are in error and not teaching what the Bible does regarding the Holy Spirit.  He promises to offer a truly Biblical perspective on the Holy Spirit in the coming weeks that the viewers may find completely new and different.

March  27, 2014
Theologian Rob Bowman issues two statements regarding the March 25th Heart of the Matter lecture. The first states:

“I was busy Tuesday night when Shawn McCraney did his weekly TV show “Heart of the Matter,” and this is my first opportunity to comment.

Shawn spent some time discussing Hebrews 13:8, arguing that it could not have been true about Christ until his resurrection. Before that, he was changing — becoming flesh, dying, and rising from the dead.  Makes sense, right?

Well. Hebrews 13:8 reads, “Jesus Christ is the same [hO AUTOS] yesterday and today and forever.” There is only *one* other verse in the New Testament in which someone is said to be hO AUTOS, “the same.” That’s Hebrews 1:12, part of a quotation in 1:10-12 from Psalm 102:25-27 (101:26-28 in the Greek Septuagint):

“And,
‘You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
they will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment,
like a robe you will roll them up,
like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same [hO AUTOS],
and your years will have no end.'”
(Heb. 1:10-12 ESV)

In the context of Hebrews 1, this is one of a series of OT [Old Testament] quotations that the author says show the Son (Jesus Christ) to be superior to the angels (vv. 4-13). Thus, Hebrews 1:12 is referring to the “Son” (v. 2) as being the one who is “the same” (hO AUTOS). And it does not mean that he is the same only now that he has died and risen from the dead, but that he is the one who made the world and who remains unchanged even as the universe itself wears out (vv. 10-11).

These two affirmations about the Son, Jesus Christ, come near the beginning and the end of the book of Hebrews. They function like a set of bookends. Once this is understood, Hebrews 13:8 clearly must be taken as an affirmation that Jesus Christ is the unchanging Creator, the one absolutely dependable and reliable Reality in a world of constant change and uncertainty. Notice that this is affirmed of the Son (1:1-2, 10-12) and of Jesus Christ (13:8). The Son is eternal, the Maker of all things. That’s who Jesus Christ is.”
(source = https://www.facebook.com/ApolojediMaster/posts/10202807297279450 )

And the second statement explains:

“On Tuesday night’s “Heart of the Matter,” Shawn McCraney claimed that “one of our modern-day theologians” told him that in Trinitarian theology the Father and the Son have the same kind of relationship as an earthly father and son.

I’m pretty sure he was referring to me. (Shawn hasn’t talked to a lot of theologians.)

For the record, what I told Shawn was that Trinitarian theology regards the designations “Father” and “Son” for the first two persons of the Trinity, given to us in the New Testament, as meaning that the relationship between the First and Second Persons is *analogous* to the relationship between an earthly father and son. I was quite clear that it was *not* the “same” relationship. Of course, I was also clear that God the Father did not sire or procreate God the Son, as in Mormonism. Trinitarianism denies that the Son owes his existence to a procreative or generative act of the Father. The Son is eternal, absolute deity. He never came into existence at all. He did not “become” the Father’s “Son” in the same way, or even a similar way, as an earthly son becomes his father’s son, because God the Son never “became” the Son. He has always been God the Son.

I confess to being rather unhappy to hear Shawn make this statement. This isn’t the first time he has appealed to something I said out of context for his own purposes (though in this instance he did not mention me by name). It makes it seem that he was listening for things he could find objectionable or for things he could use to defend his view, rather than listening in order to learn something.”
(source = https://www.facebook.com/ApolojediMaster/posts/10202807394081870 )

March 28, 2014
Rob Bowman issues the following general statement regarding Shawn McCraney’s continuing anti-Trinitarianism:

“Shawn McCraney constantly argues against the Trinitarian view of Jesus by pointing out that Jesus wasn’t called Jesus until he became a human being. Before that, Shawn argues, he wasn’t Jesus, or the Christ, or the Son; he was just God, the Word. But the NT refers to the preincarnate person in question by all three of those designations. It is true that the Word received the name Jesus in history at his birth, but the person called “Jesus” existed and was active in creation and history prior to his incarnation.

1. Jesus: The preincarnate Word is called Jesus in the best reading of Jude 5: “Now I desire to remind you, though you are fully informed, that Jesus [most versions say, “the Lord”], who once for all saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” Many of the earliest manuscripts actually say “Jesus” instead of “the Lord” in verse 5, and this is most likely the original reading. Ed Komoszewski and I give three reasons for this conclusion in our book  “Putting Jesus in His Place”, 98-99.

2. Christ: Paul referred to the preincarnate Word as “Christ” twice in 1 Corinthians 10: ““For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ…. We must not put Christ [many versions have “the Lord” here] to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents” (1 Cor. 10:4, 9). In the first reference to Christ, there is no textual difficulty. In the second, there is significant debate, but the reading “Christ” is probably correct. See endnote 6 on page 312 of  “Putting Jesus in His Place”. For comments on the whole passage in context, see page 95.

3. Son: The preincarnate Word is called the “Son” in several passages of the NT, including Colossians 1:12-20 and Hebrews 1:1-3, both of which speak of the Son as active in the creation of the world. On this point, see especially chapter 15 of  “Putting Jesus in His Place”.’
(source = https://www.facebook.com/ApolojediMaster/posts/10202812378726483 )

This timeline of events is continued here
(please click on the word “here” above)