Sunday, November 15, 2009

Is The Heart Really That Desparately Wicked?

9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jer 17:9
This is the poster child verse used by critics and anti-Mormons of the promise to receive a spiritual witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon or other truths.

The two main verses uniquely used by Latter-day Saints to push us to seek the Spirit and revelation in our lives are probably as follows:

Moro 10:3-5
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
D&C 9:7-9
7 Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.
8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
9 But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.
Now, lest the anti's think the Mormons are the only ones who think the witness of the Spirit is something physical, here is an excerpt from Netbible's commentary for Rom 8:16:
"In sum, Rom 8:16 seems to be secure as a text in which the believer’s assurance of salvation is based on the inner witness of the Spirit. The implications of this for one’s soteriology are profound: The objective data, as helpful as they are, cannot by themselves provide assurance of salvation; the believer also needs (and receives) an existential, ongoing encounter with God’s Spirit in order to gain that familial comfort.”" Here is the entire citation.

What is so controversial they spend a paragraph carefully explaining the grammar?
The Spirit himself bears witness to [fn 1] our spirit that we are God’s children.(Rom 8:16)
I have previously written elsewhere fairly extensively on this subject. It is simply an absurdity to claim the Bible does not teach that the normal manner of God to communicate with his children is something other than tangible feelings communicated to men, typically described as the heart.

We have the citation of Romans 8:16 above with comments by the non-LDS translator explaining that the witness described there is an existential. That means something they actually experience, something which exists.

But let's turn to the Bible, and specifically to Jeremiah. Jeremiah uses the word "heart" 52 times. So here comes something not shocking to anyone who has actually read Jeremiah: He almost always uses it in a positive context (such as turning from an evil heart to a good heart, or having a good heart, or talking about God's heart), but there are 16 instances where the heart is described as evil. That this is about people who are of evil intentions and not the state of all humans is pretty obvious:
Jer 29:13
13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
Jer 24:7
7 And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.
Jer 15:16
16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.
What about that whole "burning heart" thing in Luke? Check Jeremiah first:
Jer 20:9
9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.
What about elsewhere in the Bible, how is an open mind received, or how does God communicate to people?
2 Chr 34:27
27 Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have even heard thee also, saith the LORD.
Ps 119:11
11 ¶ Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Ps 119:58
58 ¶ I intreated thy favour with [my] whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word.
Prov 23:12
12 ¶ Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.

Of course, it is worth asking who gave Solomon his wisdom, and where was it communicated to him?
2 Chr 9:23
23 And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom, that God had put in his heart.
So let's start to wrap this up, as it is obvious that God does speak to our heart, and it is not always a false or deceptive spirit talking to us, though we can deceive ourselves.
Mal 2:2
2 If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.
Luke 24:32
32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
The footnote in the Netbible says of Luke 24:32
87 tn This is a collective singular use of the term καρδία (kardia), so each of their hearts were burning, a reference itself to the intense emotion of their response.
1 Cor 2:14
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
How are the things of God discerned? Spiritually. So what does discerned mean? Judge by investigation. How does one spiritually "judge by investigation"? Here are multiple translations:
NET Bible 1Cor 2:14 The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
NIV 1Co 2:14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
NASB 1Co 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
NLT 1Co 2:14 But people who aren’t Christians can’t understand these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means.
MSG 1Co 2:14 The unspiritual self, just as it is by nature, can't receive the gifts of God's Spirit. There's no capacity for them. They seem like so much silliness. Spirit can be known only by spirit--God's Spirit and our spirits in open communion.
BBE 1Co 2:14 For the natural man is not able to take in the things of the Spirit of God: for they seem foolish to him, and he is not able to have knowledge of them, because such knowledge comes only through the Spirit.
NRSV 1Co 2:14 Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
NKJV 1Co 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them , because they are spiritually discerned. there anyone unclear on how the things of God are understood? If it was just a matter, as Shawn McCraney represents, of looking at physical evidence and determining it is true, anyone could do that. Paul says that is not the case. Spirit to spirit revelation is how one comes to know of spiritual things.
1 Cor 12:3 man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
If not by spirit to spirit communication, then what is the way which is not understood by those without the Spirit?

In the end, we find out that the heart of the unrepentant, wicked and proud people are in fact incapable of understanding the Spirit, but it is not because EVERYONE is beyond experiencing the things of the Spirit.
Eph 4:17-23
17 ¶ This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
Saying that all are in possession of desperately wicked hearts and that God does not communicate through the medium of feelings is thoroughly refuted by even a cursory examination of the Bible, and is embarrassingly so for those who actually study the context of passages such as the constantly perverted passage out of Jeremiah.

Of course, bringing this up is almost a vanity blog, since the most vocal critics are the least likely to receive by the Spirit the witness contained in the passages mentioned here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lust, Motives and Salvation for Shawn McCraney (and others)

But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matt 5:28)
This doesn't really sound to me like justification that all men are obviously adulterers because they are all gawking at women to have sex with them. Indeed, it is the opposite intention. It is not enough to simply not have sex with women with whom you are not married, but your heart must be true to your spouse, and have no desires to anyone else.

Shawn's justification, and he says it every time the issue of his past sins are brought up, is that everyone lusts after women. It's as natural as breathing. Some have stepped up to Shawn's defense, saying he is just not expressing himself well.

I think that is pure bunk.

Shawn went out of his way last week to indicate that he still is very much an unrepentant sinner. Lest I be accused of inaccurately paraphrasing him, here is a transcript of a portion of his monologue:
Shawn McCraney, the man sitting right in front of you, right now, here, on the stage now, is, not was, is, a selfish alcoholic, he is a prescription drug addict, he is a rabid adulterer, a sexual deviant, and a violent man. If you need to see me in my flesh as anything else, you've got your wires crossed. And if you want me to reassure you of anything otherwise, it's not going to happen. Right now in my body, in my flesh and bone, live all things vile.
I have never written anything this harsh about Shawn.

Notice he said that he "is, not was, is" still the same man inside he has always been. This could not be any clearer of a statement of what separates Shawn from both the God of the Bible and the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. The God of the Bible explicitly heals the heart of these motives, and commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30) that is they must turn their mind, learn to hate the thing they loved, change their motives and stop committing the act.
The good person out of the good treasury of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasury produces evil, for his mouth speaks from what fills his heart. Luke 6:45

3 ¶ Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. Prov 16:3

Throw away all your sins you have committed and fashion yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I take no delight in the death of anyone, declares the sovereign Lord. Repent and live! Eze 18:31-32
This is the Hebrew word "repent", and the idea is to turn away from evil, return again to God.
14 Their eyes, full of adultery, never stop sinning; they entice unstable people. They have trained their hearts for greed, these cursed children!
18 For by speaking high-sounding but empty words they are able to entice, with fleshly desires and with debauchery, people who have just escaped from those who reside in error.
19 Although these false teachers promise such people freedom, they themselves are enslaved to immorality. For whatever a person succumbs to, to that he is enslaved. 2 Pet 2:14, 18-19
"But", you say, "Shawn is not succumbing to these sins."

Yes, he is. For a man cannot be committing adultery in his heart, and not be guilty of the sin.

Jesus' way is much different. And I think these interactions over the past while between Shawn and others does illustrate the real reasons Shawn is not LDS: Ravening guilt. The very first step to repenting is recognition of a wrong, followed by a desire to cease from doing it. In drug treatment we called it hitting bottom. You can't make a person change who doesn't want to change. Temptation is that friend who hates us, but whom we love. Until we see sin as our enemy, we are destined to the reward of the sinner:
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Rom 6:16)

Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes (Prov 6:25)

So which is it? Does God give us commandments which are impossible to keep, but looks the other way at the sins such commandments create, or, does God provide a means to keep such commandments, and escape to righteousness?
No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.(1Cor 10:13)

Shawn may just be a klutz with words, but I don't think so. Read and watch what he said. There has been no cleansing of his heart, no change of attitude toward sin. None. He said if he were to get going, he is capable of almost any sin even this day.

Such is not the way of Jesus, the teachings of the Bible, the lamp of the Spirit.
But as for the seed that landed on good soil, these are the ones who, after hearing the word, cling to it with an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with steadfast endurance. (Luke 8:15)
Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart.(1Pet 1:22)
Let's close with this truth, so obvious it is found in Proverbs, or those sayings so true they are considered obvious:
The one who has a perverse heart does not find good, and the one who is deceitful in speech falls into trouble.
It is not possible to be unrepentant, unconverted in heart, and be saved.
Therefore, remember from what high state you have fallen and repent! Do the deeds you did at the first; if not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place – that is, if you do not repent.(Rev 2:5)
Notice this verse teaches a fully LDS and Biblical concept: Do what is right, change your heart so to hate sin, or suffer condemnation and loss of salvation.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Shawn McCraney Strikes A Blow For Adultery

Well, Jesus must love lust. According to Shawn, there is no such thing as repentance. He pointed out that he is still just as lusting after women other than his wife in his heart as he ever did 10 years ago when he was acting on that lust for other women by having an affair.

This just proves, again, how completely false the Gospel of McCraney is. As I have previously reported here, the very word translated as "repentance" is the idea of completely changing ones mind away from sin.

Shawn seems almost proud of being an unrepentant "sexual deviant" (his words), "right now in my body are all things vile." This is not the teachings of the Bible in the context of conversion.

Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Ps 125:4 ¶ Do good, O LORD, unto those that be good, and to them that are upright in their hearts.

Rev 2:22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
What do you say about someone who is completely, proudly unrepentant? The Ps 125:4 verse is particularly telling, since it specifically conditions blessings upon righteous desires of the heart. So what does a guy who is still committing adultery in his heart, what blessing does that guy get?
1 Cor 6:9 ¶ Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Did the "were" hit you like a train? That is past tense, and it is because, as Paul notes, the Spirit sanctifies. The Greek word means "to purify", and is the basis of both the words "holy", as a description of God and Jesus, and "saints", as in members of God's true Church. So you were evil, but you are becoming pure and holy. Hard to see the raging desire for sin in Paul's remarks here.
2 Pet 2:12 But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;
13 And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;
14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:

Worthiness is unimportant to Shawn. This is not what the scriptures say:
2 Thes 1:5 ¶ [Which is] a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:

2 Thes 1:11 ¶ Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of [this] calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of [his] goodness, and the work of faith with power:

His theology is contradicted everywhere in the Bible, and I tried to just note some of the brief examples.

Also, a hat tip to Walker for calling into the show and skewering Shawn in such a nice fashion. Trust me, the chance that Shawn will acknowledge the fact that the OT was actually LDS in its belief is less than zero.
[Update:  Shawn did go on the air and attack Walker, saying he spoke with some professors who said Shawn was safe to ignore Walker, that Walker had it all wrong and twisted.  Hmm, as usual, Shawn takes a call and spends less than 2 minutes letting the guy talk, refuses to let him actually present his evidence, then presents a straw man argument about why people should not investigate.  You don't need to trust me or Walker on this.  Go to and read for yourself what a believing, educated Christian scholar, who has interacted directly with Mormons on the issue, has to say.  It just shows once again how Shawn's main attacks are based in ignorance of what the Bible actually, plainly, teaches.]

Very briefly, in passing, I am not aware of any theologian or systematic theology which claims that passages such as Genesis 1:26, which say "Let us...", refer to the Trinity. Certainly no Jewish commentator believes that. I know books such as the Catholic Encyclopedia deny there are ANY examples of the Trinity in the OT.

Shawn made an outrageously funny claim about "knowing" the Bible is true. Essentially he knows it is true because he has studied it. That's it. He specifically said the testimony of the Spirit "is not feelings, but the evidence it presents". He further argued that nowhere in the Bible does it say to pray or research the truthfulness of the Bible, as it does in the Book of Mormon.

He is wrong:
1 Thes 5:19 Quench not the Spirit.
20 Despise not prophesyings.
21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

John 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
Does Shawn really think he can study his way into a manifestation of the Spirit and Jesus, and that he can study his way into having the Spirit dwell in us?

And it ignores the most classic explanation in scripture to tell us how we come to know scripture is true:

Luke 24:32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

Well, I can only speak for myself. I don't think every man is constantly committing adultery in their hearts, because I know I don't. It is not that it makes me better than Shawn, but I think this does prove that the power of the Spirit he claims to have is far less powerful than the LDS version.

The non-Mormon McCraney Jesus may think continuing in LUST is OK, but the Jesus of the Bible doesn't find simply ceasing the act to be actual repentance:

2 Cor 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

For Shawn, stopping the sin physically is good enough. But it works death. Godly repentance and sorrow is to change your mind, and develop a zeal for the good, which leads to salvation.

It's late, but I thought Shawn was worthy of being commented about.