Wednesday, August 19, 2009

All of Shawn McCraney's "Lies"

A person has requested I post a response to all of Shawn McCraney's "lies", because the person finds that when he checks out Shawn's allegations, Shawn is right.


Well, I don't want to necessarily characterize what comes out of Shawn's mouth as lies. I think some things are. When a person is told the truth and insists on clinging to his erroneous position, and restates it as if it is unchallenged, that I think is a lie. Such as telling people his position on "worship" is grammatically correct or that he welcomes correction if he is wrong about his understanding, and then writes to me directly and says he has no interest in my documentation, and goes on TV to say he was pretty much correct.

That is a lie.

Saying that Mormons never call in to challenge his "facts". That is a lie. He refuses to let people such as myself on the air any more.

Saying he has always been open about the circumstances of his excommunication is a lie. Read his book, pages 108-109. Read his official website. He never mentions that he was excommunicated for abuse of pharmaceuticals and adultery, only for apostasy. He only came clean when Ed got on the phone three weeks ago and put him on the spot about it. He often says in an joking manner that he has committed nearly every sin imaginable, which is one way of diffusing questions about specific questions and avoiding therefore needing to specfically respond.

It is a lie that an adulterer can be a pastor, according to the Bible. As the NEB renders 1 Tim 3:2, a bishop must be blameless:
Faithful to his one wife.

It is a lie that one can attack other faiths, argue with their membership, and be considered a pastor, according to the Bible. (1Tim 3:1-7) This is not a point of interpretation, it is what the Bible explicitly teaches. So claiming to be a pastor, and being a recent convert to the born-again philosophy both explicitly violate the teachings of the Bible. So he may not be a liar on some aspect here, but he certainly cannot claim to be a real pastor.

It is an absolute lie that Joseph Smith got the idea for polygamy out of lust. In fact, he apparently became aware of the doctrine of polygamy no later than 1831. To say he used it to satisfy his lust, when the absolute earliest plural marriage (and we have no evidence of sex outside of a "marriage" or, for that matter, inside of most all of his plural marriages)is the 1834 alleged marriage to Fanny Alger. There is no direct evidence of sex in this relationship, only a sort of "where there is smoke, there must be fire" acceptance that the basis of rumors must have some truth. Non-LDS historian Lawrence Foster does not believe there was a marriage, though he thinks there is evidence for sex. Why? Basically because a second hand (at best) account by Oliver Cowdery implies such, though does not explicitly say so. The next time it comes up is in 1838, and Lucinda was married and continued to live with her husband (thus a polyandrous marriage, not all that good for a lecherous dude going for babes, I would say).

Oh, and did we mention that in a world of no birth control, and where Emma had 9 children in 17 years, we have NOT ONE child born who has been shown to be Joseph Smith's. In fact, the child Fawn Brodie insisted MUST be Joseph Smith's love child because of rumor and photographs, has now been genetically demonstrated to NOT be his child! So rumors and photos not withstanding, sometimes rumors are just rumors. In Joseph Smith's case, they have never been proven otherwise.

It is a lie that in Mormon culture "Women have always been treated as chattel" HOTM July 14, 2009. That is in fact completely false. The list of firsts for LDS women, and the emphasis on educational development, not to mention the pioneering granting of the right to vote 2nd of all USA states, demonstrates the absurdity, and lie, of such a statement. McCraney's rejection of the doctrine of polygamy leads him to apparently see everything as sinister which the LDS faithful do.

While he may not be lying about the first vision's contents, his presentation is so confused and errant, it is hard to know where to start. Here are his notes.

For example, it is a lie, or is it just stupidity, you judge, that the handwritten 1832 account of the first vision was written 18 years after the event. Doesn't that put the First Vision back to 1814? But that is what Shawn said and wrote in his notes. Why? Because it sounds worse. Well, really, I think, because Shawn presents a false theory on why Joseph Smith "suddenly" produced the First Vision. Never mind that Joseph's mother includes Joseph's 1838 account verbatim in her history of her son because she feels it is so accurate. Remember, she was there in 1820 (or 1814, too, but that is obviously an error from the man with a desire for an "encyclopedic knowledge" of Mormonism (BAM, page 109). Which makes his errors so much the harder to excuse as mere mistakes.

From Shawn's notes on the first vision:
The most aggressive addition to what has come to be known as his authorized first vision was when he added that he saw “God the Father in a body of flesh and bones” standing in the air with the Son.”...To believe Joseph’s rewritten account of the First Vision that “God has a body of flesh and bone”
The part in quotes is a lie. Joseph never made or caused to be made such a statement in the context of the first vision.

It may not be a lie, but it is deceptive to only cite the part of the Bible which supports your narrow point of view. For example, Shawn cites several verses to substantiate his belief that no man has ever seen god. Since John records this statement in his Gospel (John 1:18)it would seem a straightforward proposition. There is just one problem. It isn't true.

Jacob makes the statement "I have seen God, face to face, and my life is preserved." (Genesis 32:30) He names the place "Peniel", which means "the face of God". Not much confusion here.

Shawn fails to interact with Acts 7:55-56, where Stephen expressly states that he "I see...the son of man standing at the right hand of God!"

Wait, Stephen sees God.

He also quotes a known mistranslation of the Bible, John 4:24. The text of the Bible neither says nor implies that "god is a spirit". It says "god is spirit". It also says men truly worship god only in spirit. The point was about the concept god is everywhere present, and is spiritually worshiped, not just at the Jerusalem temple. He compounds this by then ripping Numbers 23:19 completely out of context. The verse is not saying "God is not a man", but rather he doesn't behave like mortals driven by emotions and anger or revenge. Yet, if one reads the verse, it says that he is not a human being that he should change his mind. Why doesn't Shawn read that part of the verse? Could it be because we have examples of God changing his mind?

Shawn asserts that no one knew about the first vision until Joseph Smith wrote about it in 1832. This is obviously false, since his mother affirms it happens. But he quotes from several books of people who have similar sounding experiences. He writes off the fact that some are after 1820 by saying Joseph essential makes up the first vision in 1832, and keeps changing it thereafter.

Well, again, this is false. Richard Anderson wrote an article years ago entitled
"Circumstantial Confirmation of the First Vision through Reminiscences",(BYU Studies, 1969). In there are several contemporaries of Joseph Smith, including critics and newspaper articles, which note Joseph Smith claimed to have seen God. Again, that human encyclopedia of Mormonism, Shawn, should be aware of this, you think?

Furthermore, the changes between the various degrees of the first vision accounts are actually quite minor. Backman addressed this years ago by putting them side by side. And Matthew Brown pointed out that even the 1832 account actually seems to imply that God also appeared to Joseph Smith.

His series on Mountain Meadows simply could not have been more factually confused I suspect if he had put his notes into a blender and pulled them out of a cake he had baked. We can get into that if you want. The thing is, this is not an "anti-Shawn" column, it simply tries to respond to the current errors being thrown around out there. Most of the responses to Shawn have long since been published because so much of his "work" is unoriginal, and relies upon UTLM, a well known well-spring of unbiased material on Mormonism. Not.

Some of his statements are lies. Some just stupid errors. Some are...whatever. But I think Shawn lives in fear of letting knowledgeable Mormons on his show. It is not as if he has to have an apologist. Why not have real historians on the show? Why not have retired BYU professors on the show? But really, why not have a Dan Peterson or Kerry Shirts on the show, and really hash through an issue? It is not like they would not show up.

"A coward boasting of his courage may deceive strangers, but he is a laughing-stock to those who know him."

Saturday, August 01, 2009

McCraney vs. Ed: Artistic score 8, technical score 1

I was just asked about a caller to Shawn McCraney's "Heart of the Matter" show this past week. The caller's name was Ed, and he took about 10 minutes to drill McCraney about the hypocrisy of his positions against the LDS Church.

McCraney really got upset when Ed pointed out he had been excommunicated for sexual transgression. Normally, because he was married at the time, we would call that adultery. McCraney responded "Yes", and then said he had also been excommunicated for apostasy and excessive pharmaceutical use. In his book, McCraney "asked" to be excommunicated, saying he had always considered himself "an egregious sinner". He also noted he wanted excommunication and deserved it, and would accept no other response, even though he had people around him saying he should ask for leniency.

Well, first of all, as a high priest, former bishopric member and former high council member, there was NO CHANCE he was NOT go to be excommunicated. None. So his positioning of himself as taking responsibility and demanding excommunication is pure sophistry in my opinion.

Next, his response to Ed shows how little he seems to have learned. Funny thing about Shawn and sin: He never met a sin he seems to regret. He seems totally oblivious to Paul's teaching on how grace works:

"Shall we continue in sin that grace shall abound? God Forbid." (Romans 6:1-2).

Paul specifically notes that sorrow brings about salvation ONLY through repentance, which is the complete change of mind, including hating the action you previously did:
For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. (2 Cor 7:10)

We see how Shawn wants to show that of course everyone continues to sin after this fashion, because he then asks Ed if he ever lusts after women, which is to commit adultery in his heart as the scripture says. Ed says no, a position McCraney finds unbelievable.

I don't.

I thought a lot about McCraney's assertions. I don't personally lust after anyone except my wife, and I cannot recall a time when I did. I feel sorry for people who commit such sins, and their families for the impact it has on them. Ed is a good man. I often think of these statements:
nevertheless Asa's heart was perfect with the LORD all his days. 1 Kgs 15:14
9 Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. Gen 6:9
¶ THERE was a man in the land of Uz, whose name [was] Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. Job 1:1
6 And [Zacharias and Elizabeth] were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. Luke 1:6

The problem, of course, is Evangelicals put so much incorrect emphasis on a single passage quoted by Paul in Romans, they can't understand the role people are capable of in this life when assisted by the Spirit:
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Rom 3:10-12

I want to point out that Paul then spends 6 more chapters walking us through why any sin makes us unable to save ourselves, but that now all mankind has been saved (Romans 5:18), but they retain that salvation ONLY upon obedience to the commandments of God (Romans 6:16-23)(BTW, sorry for all you Evangelicals who don't like to actually read all of Romans to cite such a long quotation showing Paul is all about personal obedience. It makes reading this blog much more difficult for some.).

Paul essentially harmonizes the idea that there is none righteous because a single sin disqualifies us from saving ourselves, BUT, if we exercise faith, as all of those examples demonstrate, then we too can be "perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matt 5:48)

So now, we come to conclusion time: Who should be believe? The guy who entertains us each week with his self-deprecating false doctrine, or the scriptures and Latter-day prophets who sustain the most basic teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Believe, repent and baptized to be saved (Mark 16:16)

Either Shawn does not feel he needs to repent, or he does not feel he can repent. Either way, his attack on Ed was badly placed. Ed was merely restating New Testament scripture of the qualifications of a pastor:
2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1Tim 3:2-7)
Isn't it funny how just quoting scripture to someone can get them so upset.

Let me know what you think.

BTW, I have heard some rumor about the age of the woman with whom Shawn committed adultery. I think there may have been a pretty substantial age difference, which then makes his comments about polygamy all the more telling, since for him, it apparently was all about the sex and not the pricipal. More to the point, if Shawn does not believe committing adultery is something which is to be repented of, i.e., hated and never done again, even in one's heart, how can he even remotely blame Joseph Smith for at least having the pretense of marriage?