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."


Anonymous said...

Bob, thanks for the info and your zeal to defend the truth. Shawn is doing nothing more than tapping into a specific market, a demographic that could only be found here in Utah. Disgruntled ex-Mormons looking for revenge. Shawn would be a failure anywhere else in this country, not that he is too successful at what he does...even in Utah. He does an incredible injustice to himself, his viewers and this state when he constantly preaches about revealing the "truth about Mormonism" yet dodges real truth faster than sixth grade dodgeball.

Steve Smoot said...

Great work Bob.

McCraney is a coward to not let people like you or Dan Peterson or Kerry Shirts on the program. I think after the Van Hale fiasco he knows why he won't let Mormon apologists on the show.

Anonymous said...

Well if you guys are gonna complain about a layperson like Shawn McCraney not debating someone of LDS significance, I'd like to know where I could find one of those LDS apologists in a debate with a Christian apologist who has some sort of pedigree. And I'm not talking about James White. I'm not saying this as some sort of trash talk, I seriously want to see it, so if you know could you please show me?

Bob the Anti-Anti said...

Good point. And you can see the best non-LDS Christian scholars in the world given as much space and time as they like in the pages of the FARMS Review. Let's just for grins and giggles see who they have published or engaged.

Start with FARMS Review of Books, Vol. 11, #2. The entire issue is an exchange between various LDS scholars and non-LDS scholars Carl Mosser and Paul Owen, all reviewing "How Wide the Divide" by Craig Bloomberg and Steven Robinson. FARMS gave Mosser and Owen nearly 43,000 words in an article they published in that edition.

Owen and Mosser are famous in scholarly circles for their 1998 publication of a paper entitled "Mormon Scholarship, Apologetics, and Evangelical Neglect:
Losing the Battle and Not Knowing It?", Trinity Journal (Fall '98, p179-205). You can search that title to read the article, which is scathing in its criticism of the "hack job" done by Evangelicals in their uninformed attacks on the LDS. As a result of their paper, the single most scholarly response ever published by Evangelicals against LDS beliefs came about. That would be "The New Mormon Challenge", and it includes scholarly articles by the likes of Francis Beckwith, Mosser and Owen, Craig L. Blomberg, William Lane Craig, J. P. Moreland and others.

"On 17 November 2001 at a debate organized under the auspices of the Society of Evangelical Philosophers, who were gathered in Denver, Colorado, in conjunction with the joint annual national meeting of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature (the AAR/SBL). On the evangelical side were Francis J. Beckwith (Trinity International University), Paul Copan (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Trinity International University), William Lane Craig (Talbot School of Theology, Biola University), Carl Mosser (University of St. Andrews), and Paul Owen (Montreat College). The Latter-day Saint participants were David L. Paulsen, Daniel C. Peterson, and Stephen D. Ricks (Brigham Young University), Blake T. Ostler (Salt Lake City), and Hollis T. Johnson (Indiana University). The moderator of the debate was Richard J. Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, of Pasadena, California. The debate had been timed to coincide with the release of a new volume entitled The New Mormon Challenge: Responding to the Latest Defenses of a Fast-Growing Movement.1 However, the book had not actually appeared by the time of the meeting." (Quote is from FARMS Review vol. 14, #1 Editor's Intro. It was easier to cut and paste than type.)

In 2007 FARMS Review Vol. 19 #1 gave non-LDS scholar Michael Heiser the first and last word in an exchange over the LDS use of Ps 82 and its language concerning the existence of other real gods in the Bible, particularly as used in Ps 82. I urge everyone to read the article and the exchange with LDS scholar David Bokovoy. I say this because Heiser makes several observations devastating to traditional Trinitarian beliefs, such as the gods of Ps 82 actually are considered gods in the text, not just judges, and that the Trinitarian concept of "monotheism" does not reflect the actual beliefs of Old Testament. Understand, he works for a prominent Evangelical software company as academic editor, and his PhD issertation was entitled "The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Canonical Second Temple Jewish Literature."

(Continued below)

Bob the Anti-Anti said...

Mormons are constantly looking for venues to engage in real and thoughtful exchanges with real scholars. Often we must settle for those non-LDS individuals who are at least not screaming, though I tend to find a lot of those in my journeys. But Greg Johnson and Robert Millet have regular discussions and do questions and answers with groups.

Just this past week, an LDS stake in Arizona put on a presentation on "Are Mormons Christians?", and after a prepared presentation then took written questions from the audience, which had a huge contingent of anti-Mormons and non-LDS. They took 62 questions, answering similar questions in groups, taking about 45 minutes for the questions and responses, then continued discussions with folks quite awhile after that. No angry voices, no shouting. Not really a debate, but an open, uncontrolled dialogue to help illustrate the differences.

Contrast that with Shawn McCraney, and his fear of being put in a position where he cannot control the conversation, such as happened on Van Hale's radio program. McCraney recently announced that everyone is welcome to his fall revival activity except those who might be disruptive.

Lastly, I think you are missing the point of McCraney's ministry. He asserts in his official statement of the mission of his ministry that his desire is to reform the LDS Church from within, as the physical organization has value. He also says he wants to change every unBiblical doctrine held by the LDS Church.

How do you do either of those things if you won't talk to the active LDS who understand and teach the doctrines of the LDS Church?

Most Mormons don't listen to anti-Mormons because they believe, (correctly, I must add), that anti-Mormons don't know the truth and furthermore don't care to hear the truth. Listen to the presentations by anti-Mormons on "the impossible gospel of mormonism" if you want a perfect example where folks flat out lie or distort LDS teaching to scare folks away, and don't want to interact with LDS teachings.

Finding intelligent folks to debate or carry on a conversation about Christian doctrine is much harder than you probably think. The fact that most Christians are totally ignorant of Biblical archaeology, and yet attack LDS archaeology, is typical. So when we talk about changes to the text of the New Testament or the whole Bible (250,000+ and 400,000+, respectively, at a minimum), and you compare that to the perhaps 100,000 changes in the BoM, which includes punctuation, something not considered in the Bible manuscripts, you can see the unequal scales Mormons typically deal with.

Bob the Anti-Anti said...

BTW, Anonymous, Shawn is not a "lay person". He has gone to seminary/Bible college, and has been trained, however thinly, in subjects such as Greek, Biblical history, comparative religion. He claims to be an expert, based on 40 years of experience as a faithless Mormon, and his desire while a Mormon to develop an "encyclopedic knowledge" of Mormonism.

So if anything, some guy like myself or Mike Ash or even Dan Peterson or Kerry Shirts should be the ones at a huge disadvantage with someone as "expert" in Christian doctrine and theology as McCraney. None of us had the benefit of going to school for the sole purpose of defending our faith. We are all truly "lay" people by the dictionary definition. Shawn, by definition, is not a "lay" minister.

Words have meaning, especially when you seek to cast a person in a role as an underdog when he is just simply not that good of a pupil of the subject matter, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

What a joke, talk about the pot calling the kettle black... This post itself is full of lies and misinformation.

Women are second class citizens in the church, and I cannot take you seriously if you say otherwise. Until they hold the same priesthood, perform blessings, and participate in every ordinance and hold every calling men have you cannot seriously say they are equal. Now that’s not to say they aren’t treated decently nowadays, but that simply is not the case in early church history. Which is probably what Shawn was referring to.

What was so incorrect about the Mountain Meadows Massacre? Everything I’ve read independently on the event wasn’t contradicted by Shawn. Wait, you probably hold to the Indians doing it and anything beside that is wrong. Or they were just crazy fanatics.

For the millionth time, get someone who is an OFFICIAL and authoritative member of the church to get on Shawn’s show and he will let them on. He’s said that plenty of times. It would be a huge waste of air time allowing Spin Masters of Mormon Apologetics on because ultimately they are only speaking for themselves and their views and are in no way shape or form official church stances.

I’ve also heard Shawn say countless times that he asked to be excommunicated. He often uses a quote that goes along the lines that he knows no more wicked person than himself and that he deserved to be excommunicated, so he asked for it. He’s also said, countless times, that he is guilty of all sins. Ed didn’t get Shawn to say anything he hasn’t said countless times before. Shawn holds to the view that looking upon a women with lust constitutes adultery. So of course he’s going to say he’s committed adultery… Just like Bob has… Just like I have… When we sin once, we’re guilty of all sins. So it’s not avoiding anything. Besides, it really starts to get into ad hominem areas when someone just wants to discuss someone else’s sins.

So for a post calling Shawn out on his ‘lies’ there are plenty of lies in Bob’s post. Hypocrisy at its finest.

Bob the Anti-Anti said...

It is hard to respond to anonymous. Especially when he won't do any research, or respond to facts.

I pointed out that Shawn up until just recently never admitted to drug abuse and adultery as the reason he was excommunicated, aside from apostasy. I provided references to him supposedly discussing the specific circumstances of his exit from the Church, and that information is not there. Yet, you go back to the "wicked man" quote from Sarte he is so fond of, yet he personally said the week after the adultery admission came out to make sure people didn't think he was that wicked now. Talk about hypocrisy! On the one hand he wants to avoid discussion of his sins by essentially falsely claiming we can think whatever we like of him because he is a hugely wicked, evil person, then he wants to be sure you don't actually think of him in that context, as he is a somewhat reformed evil wicked man. So is he now the second or third wickedest man he knows?

Look, a hypocrite is someone who engages in activities he condemns as evil and then denies his shortcomings. I am certainly an ongoing sinner. But I want to follow Christ. But since someone claimed, under that broad trade name "anonymous" to want to know about Shawn's lies because he said, like you again here, that Shawn doesn't lie, is a lie. So I wrote at the request of anonymous. Could have been you. I notice you only respond to the things Shawn has admitted to as being hypocritical for me to assemble and point out.

Now, since you bring up, for the MILLIONTH time, getting an official on Shawn's show, let me remind you that Shawn begs for Mormons to call in every week. He looks for those, like Ed, that when he hangs up he can then mock, especially if they come close to defending the LDS faith. When the LDS public affairs guy spoke with Shawn, we get a very one-sided report of the call, and then name calling. Why would anyone waste time on Shawn when he refuses to actually give anyone, by his actions, a response to his assertions?

Oh yeah, and for the Millionth time, Shawn doesn't speak officially for Christianity. He doesn't even speak officially for TV20 or Calvary Chapel. Where does his right to get an official of the LDS Church on TV to later mock or develop "righteous anger" come from?

Shawn is not a scholar, an official or even a representative of Christianity. He asks for something which he himself cannot deliver. That is true hypocrisy.

Call me names if that helps firm up your form of Christian charity, and ignore the context of my statements. Then you can avoid a sense of fair play.

Anonymous said...

Well I know Shawn and his family personally pre excomm. And he has always been a slick tongued self absorbed bully with a chip on his shoulder. Although one similarity we have is our unwillingness to buy in to LDS Corporation. I choose to move on and continue my successful life.
No need for anyone to really comment, Shawn discredits himself all on his own with his crazy banter.
Thank you Shawn for keeping me entertained with your circus act. Great reality show...

Anonymous said...

How recent is recent?

He was excommunicated in 2001. The article references an act in 2009.

He spent years after his excommunication studying to be a pastor, and yet you accuse him of a violation of 1 Tim?

Sounds like your criticism is unfair.

Anonymous said...


I don't know you, but I like your style. I grew up with Shawn and his family. Much of what he says are pure lies. Few people truly know the reasons why he was exed out of the church. If his listeners only knew the type of man is really is. Its sickening. Keep doing what you're doing. Whats your email address by the way?

jack said...

Shawn is starting to sound like Lucas, Wilson, Clark and others who got people so riled up with lies that they killed mormons. The Church does a pretty good job of getting the truth out there if someone is smart enough to Google, but as in the days of the Mormon "extermination order" people are often more prone to act on rumor than search out the facts for themselve. Rarely have I seen someone interpret the scriptures more erronously than Shawn. Seriously, he reminds of some of the earlier apostates mentioned in Alma 1 and 30. I have written him several times, but he will not engage anyone who is well read. Good work!

Andy said...

You say he lies. Can you be specific?
Did he lie about Joseph Smith being convicted of a fraud type of crime, did he lie about Joseph Smith killing two people just before his death?

Bob said...

Yes, he lied about Joseph Smith being convicted of a "fraud type" crime, if you are in reference to the supposed 1827 trial. In fact, he was acquitted, so that is pretty much the OPPOSITE of being convicted. We know this because the charges submitted to the court are not those for a conviction. Furthermore, and this is not that difficult, you could go online and read the legal analysis of the trial by actual lawyers familiar with the New York law in that era. Not the least of the problems is that the justice of the peace did not have the authority to convict a criminal of the supposed charge. All he could do was remand it to a court of appropriate authority. You could have researched that for yourself, but apparently you lap up whatever you hear on TV. Careful, most entertainment programming is not based in facts.

As for Joseph Smith killing two men, no, he didn't. Shawn knows this. John Taylor believed that when Joseph fired into the murderous crowd shooting through and around the door of Carthage jail, that he killed two of the mob. But there is no evidence whatsoever that this is the case. It has been thoroughly researched, and it was simply a rumor. But Shawn's line of attack is that if Joseph is fighting to preserve his life and those of his friends, he is not dying in a "Christ-like" manner. Forget that Samson died killing hundreds in answer to his prayer from God, or that the Apostles had two of their own members struck dead by the Holy Ghost for lying about the use of proceeds from the sale of land. Really, it is better to put fear in the congregation by condoning the killing of members for disobedience than to defend those whose lives are being threatened, or taken, by people who think you are unarmed and are actually defenseless? You call that one for me, especially in light of the teachings of the Bible on righteous use of force for self defense.

But the bigger issue is that IF Shawn were really an honest broker of truth, he is not going to seize upon historically false events and illustrate them to be true purely for the purpose of belittling Mormonism. And yet he does.

Try again. Next time you might want to do your own research before you write me. Then you could write blog questions which are based on truth and not just to defend the unsupported claims of your hero. Come unto Christ, and leave Shawn.

Anonymous said...

Bob, you are so disingenuous. YES Sampson killed many when he went down. However the bible nor nor any christian, nor christian dinomination presents him as a martyr. The L.D.S. church presents and teaches Joseph smith was a martyr. The man died with a six shooter in his hand going down in a gun battle.Wether he killed two men or merely wounded them is really not the issue is it. Oh and please do show where it states in the bible or anywhere else that the apostles GOT the holy spirit to stike down two of the early christians. I suggest you read that carefully, that was Gods doing my friend , not an instruction to the holy spirit from the apostles.

Anonymous said...

You quote 1 Timothy to prove Shawn cannot be a pastor because he puts down other faiths. 1 Timothy also says an overseer should be the husband of one wife. So many mormon prophets are polygamous. Wouldn't this disqualify them from being an overseer?