Very briefly, Saturday night I attended the annual "Burning Heart 2009" event sponsored by Shawn McCraney. It was held at a pavilion in Salt Lake City's Sugar House Park, and they had a big tent and 6 or 7 small pop-up gazebo style tents around it. I got there at about 7pm, just after their bands had finished playing (I guess, since I wasn't there, but they had two bands and they did not play after I got there). I counted cars and people, and there were approximately 125-150 cars and between 300-400 people. I was speaking with one guy I know, and he said "What do you think? 3,000 people, pretty amazing." I said, "What?". I told him I had done a rough count, and there was about 300 folks at the time, and I figured with people walking around, maybe another 100. No way there was 500 people there, let alone 1,000 or 3,000.
One person remarked to me they found Shawn's preaching to be very weak, since it was focused on negative, anti-other-religious attacks. In his 30 minute or so talk at the end of the event, he mentioned Mormonism and Joseph Smith and Thomas Monson at least 20 times, as well as other leaders like Mary Eddy Baker, Gandhi and others several times. Being against something will only carry you so far.
As if he read my notes on how to preach incompletely, he quoted all of the scriptures I list in a response to a question in my "Shawn McCraney: Still Ducking " blog post. And just as I said they do. For example, he quoted 'Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done', ignoring the rest of the verse. By baptism and the holy ghost he saved us, to maintain good works.
I spoke with his assistant Kevin, with whom I have a good relationship. He asked what I thought of Romans 3:4 Let god be true, and every man a liar. He said it meant the philosophies of men are all lies, and we should only believe the Bible. I said if that were truly the interpretation, we would have to throw out Paul's other letters and the rest of the New Testament, since he would be speaking about the Old Testament. Beyond that, the trinity is completely a man-made construct, and would need to be thrown out. Kevin is a good guy, but he is not willing to engage in an in-depth discussion of the implications of things like archaeology and the Bible, including the now widely, even majority, accepted view by Christian scholars that the Old Testament Hebrew faith was in fact polytheistic in the sense of believing in the existence of multiple real divine beings or gods. Thus LDS beliefs concerning god are conceptually closer to the Biblical teachings than the unknowable "mystery" called the trinity.
I spent quite a bit of time speaking with Russ East, who runs a local Christian radio station. He is a nice guy, ex-LDS, and we discussed at some length the imperative nature of knowing who God is. He believes that we Mormons are basically brainwashed by our belief in Joseph Smith as a prophet into a false belief of who God and Christ are. I told him he could not reject Paul and be a Christian, just as he could not reject Moses or for that matter Joseph Smith or Thomas S. Monson, since Jesus himself said he would reject those who rejected his servants (John 13:20, Mark 6:11). We discussed the possibility of having he and I sit down and talk about some LDS topics, and record it and put it on the air. Since he is very much not into debating style 'gotcha' tactics, I think it could be worthwhile. We will see how that develops. He said he would call me in a few weeks to discuss it.
As I was talking with a guy I know from the dinners the Heart of the Matter audience goes to, Shawn walked by and good naturedly shouted my last name, and smiled. About 20 minutes later I saw him as I was starting to drive off in my car, as he was in his car returning from someplace. So I didn't get to speak with him. But Burning Heart 2009 reaffirmed to me why Heart of the Matter is really nothing more than just a typical, unsustainable attack on Mormonism, because being against something will never get you to Christ. And they are not particularly effective, considering they get an hour of free TV time broadcast in the heart of Mormon country where half of the Mormons are not practicing their faith. If they really were making a difference, they would have thousands of people now. Even if this gathering represented just 5% of all the people Shawn has influenced, which I am certain it does not based on the calls into his show and the number of people who come to this blog, which is the #1 Google search response for Shawn McCraney's name, we are talking at most there are a few thousand people. At most. And they don't last, in terms of their commitment to support such a ministry. That is evident in Shawn's recent appeals for money, and his statements they have raised just a fraction of what he needs.
These people are largely unwilling to submit themselves to God's will, feeling that obeying someone who is in a leadership role in a church organization is equivalent to recognizing them as God. They don't have any kind of grasp of the meaning of scripture.
For their part, Adam's Road seems to recognize this. They played at this event. They have changed their music away from the "attack Mormonism" front to write songs based only on scripture. So while they add their "testimonies" about coming out of Mormonism, I think they have realized that just doesn't sell a lot of records over the long haul. They showed up in a luxurious 40+ foot customized motorhome with their name on it, but nothing about being ex-Mormon. That means some organization with money, probably their music label, has decided to steer them where the money is. And, I would like to add, I enjoyed the couple of songs I heard them play last week on HOTM. Nice lyrics and sweet music. But their theology...well, these guys' comprehension of New Testament doctrine couldn't probably get them undefensively past a conversation of Mark 16:16, let alone Hebrews 5:8-9, 2 Peter 1:4 or John 1:1-18. So I like their music. It is sort of like listening to Michael Jackson's old hits, and not caring about how strange he became. They are separate.