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."