I’m set to do an interview next week with Shawn McCraney.
Shawn is a former LDS Church member who is now an evangelical minister in SLC. He is the author of the book “Born Again Mormon” and is the host of the TV show “Heart of the Manner.”
Shawn and I talked before agreeing to do the interview. His purpose (nor mine) will not be to bash the LDS church, but instead to share his journey out of Mormonism and into Evangelical Christianity in a respectful way. If you have questions for Shawn, please post them here.
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I can’t think of any questions, but my roommates and I at BYU were always torn between watching his show or BYU Devotionals, which are on at the same time in Provo on Tuesdays.
After watching his show, and hearing his roadside conversion story, I found myself wondering how he came to the conclusion that the Bible was the inerrant word of God? Even if his spiritual experience was the result of a loving God saving his soul through Jesus, that does not mean that the Bible is infallible. So how did he come to that conclusion?
The second question I have is if a belief in an inerrant Bible in conflict with science? The Bible accounts of the creation, garden of Eden, Noah’s floods, the Exodus, etc, are in conflict with what science has to say about the earth and human history. So is it possible to accept both? If so, how does he reconsile the two? If it is not possible, why does the Bible get precidence over science?
How was his mission experience? Did he experience a conversion to the LDS Chruch? If so, what was it? I had an experience that I cannot deny and while on my mission I had several experiences that have led me to believe that the Lord’s spirit works through this Church. I know that my mission was a milestone in my life which I draw from frequently to get me through the tough times.
How long were you a member of the Church? Describe your family life and your study habits of scripture while you were growing up. How old were you when you left the Church? Did you serve a full-time mission? Were you married in the temple?
What is there to be found outside of the Church that you didn’t already have there?
Since your leaving the Church is evidence that you never had a “born again” experience that would ratify your faith in Jesus Christ as taught in e.g. the Book of Mormon, what is your foundation/experience that guided you away from the Church?
Does your ministry include courses/speeches denouncing the “falsehoods” of Mormonism?
What is the key to your success as an evangelical minister?
After listening to a couple of his shows, it seems he focuses a lot on doctrinal issues (polygamy, so forth). I was primarily curious if those doctrinal issues were what first started leading him to question the church, or if those doctrinal doubts came after a social or emotional experience that already left him doubting, and only confirmed his desire to leave the church. In short, I wonder what it was that first got him questioning the LDS church, and specifically if doctrinal issues were the problem.
How has your LDS family members reacted over time to your change in religious views and public face?
Many former/inactive Mormons have come to the conclusion that the church, and religion in general, is nothing more than a man-made belief system used to explain the unknown about life and the world. Most Mormons that leave the church generally have no interest in rejoining another religion and in most cases are very turned off by organized religion in general. After leaving the Mormon church or coming to the conclusion that it is not what it claims to be, what attracted you to evangelical Christianity as many people would consider to be even more extreme than Mormonism regarding truth claims and intolerant beliefs.
Ask him to compare the quantity and quality of joy in his life (then v. now). Also, how do the weekly “talks” by LDS church members compare to sermons by trained evangelical preachers/ministers?
As a former member myself — basically born and raised in the church for nearly 30 years — I am interested in others journey through mormonhood and beyond. My two main questions were already posed above, namely why join another religion after leaving one and what prompted the initial questioning. I am curious though how difficult was the decision to leave and what do you miss , if anything, of your former life as a mormon? Oh and I guess do you identify with a mormon heritage or is it more of a been there done that type of thing.
I love Bob H questions (as I had to deal with them myself) and highly encourage you use those questions. Being from Atlanta and hearing that it was a Charles Stanley radio program (he is the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta) I was wondering if he ever had any contact from Charles Stanley? Also, does Shawn have any concerns about his aggressive nature on his show effecting who he is as a growing spiritual person? My final question would have to be (based on what Bob H has said), would Shawn feel comfortable reading literature critical of Evangelical or Conservative Christianity (such as Bart Ehrman, a famous New Testament scholar)?
1. Shawn has been pretty quick to dismiss LDS testimonies based on “feelings.” In his book, however, he describes his roadside experience that ultimately changed his life significantly. I would like to hear Shawn explain the difference between his roadside conversion experience and any typical conversion story a stalwart LDS member would tell about their own testimony. It seems like his experience relies just as heavily on “feelings.”
2. Shawn has said on his TV show that you can “KNOW” when you are saved – that it’s an absolute knowledge a person can have. How is what he’s describing different than a member of the LDS church saying that they “KNOW” that (the church, JS, the BOM) is true?
Good to hear another interview with Shawn. Van hale did one with him and he answered many of the posed questions above. My questions would be
1. What aspects of Mormon doctrine does he still believe? If any
2. How does he rationalize the scores of accounts of healings and other gifts of the spirit made manafest through joseph smith.
3. Scriptures show us that Peter denied knowing Christ, or even better, Jonah’s story of flat out disobeying God’s command to preach to Nineveth. God stuck with them and sustained them in blatant sin, why can’t we afford the same to Joseph Smith if he believes that Joseph was wrong on certain things. If sin disqualifies us from discipleship why didn’t God just let Jonah alone and go call someone else that would do his work.
Shawn, how would you respond to the following LDS criticism: Those who leave the Church but can never leave it alone?
Many of the stories I’ve heard from Shawn and his guests involve the idea of coming to reject the works-based and guilt-themed theology of Mormonism and embrace the faith-based and grace-themed ideals of the New Testament and evangelical Christianity.
I can relate to many of these stories, because my spiritual journey was very similar, but, ironically, my “born again experience” and liberation out of the shackles of “Miracle-of-Forgiveness”-induced self-hatred came primarily through reading and full-heartedly embracing the message of the Book of Mormon.
I found comparable ideology in the writing of Mormon scholars like Steve Robinson and Bob Millet, and even in many words of General Authorities.
So I find myself agreeing, point-after-point, with so many of Shawn’s arguments and ideas, and find myself gravitating towards the “born-again” model in my approach to spirituality, but I continue to ask myself: Is this not all available within the scope of Mormonism?
I guess I feel cog-dis when I hear others feel compelled to leave the church after coming to the same conclusions that I came to by “searching, pondering, and praying” the Book of Mormon.
I spent some time going through the “Born Again Mormon” website but have not listened to Shawn’s show. Most doubting or disaffected Mormons I communicate with have questioned the Mormon Church or left it based on historical information and/or the authenticity of the church’s additional scriptures and restored practices.
This can make it extremely difficult to participate in other Christian churches and communities because the history of Christianity can be just as troubling (if not more so) and there are serious questions about the Bible’s authorship and each book’s origin.
I would love to hear Shawn’s perspective on this, as well as his advice for those that have lost their faith in Jesus Christ because of the corruption in Christianity’s history and disputes over the authenticity of the Bible. How can they hold onto or regain their faith in Christ when it doesn’t appear to hold up to the same scrutiny that caused them to doubt or leave the Mormon Church? How can they know Jesus Christ is their Savior when the spiritual process they have relied on has been challenged?
This will seem very mundane compared to the thoughtful questions above, but I’m curious about Shawn’s schedule. He lives in So Cal, right? And flies to Utah every week for the program? Is he a full-time minister in California or does he have another profession? How many people help him with the production of his program? Thanks.
Great idea to interview him!
john- thanx for starting this podcast again; after we had lunch in logan last spring at the sushi place i thought you might use your work as part of the your phd program. true?
anyway having had a born again experience, i would like to know if shawn experienced some of the common characteristics of such an experience such as: intense love for Jesus and his death on our behalf; desire to read the bible with intensity; deliverance from some nagging habit like profanity or a major sin like adultery/fornication; sense of God’s presence almost 24/7; desire to serve others; loss of self absorption/pride;servants heart particularly with family; greater love of spouse etc.
without some of these, a so-called born again experience may just be an emotional “let go”.
tell shawn i also had a born again experience listening to charles swindoll in my car on my radio when he gave the invitation to accept Jesus as savior and lord.
fairfax station, va
btw: we sold or home in logan after our youngest got his mba- will only go there occasionally to see family.
continued success on your phd program.
From Shawn’s website.
“We believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, that the Bible, Old and New Testaments are the inspired, infallible Word of God.”
Question, if he applies reason and logic to disassemble LDS beliefs in the book of mormon as the most correct book on earth, how can he make the aforementioned statement and expect LDS members to take him seriously?
I would love to hear Shawn talk to a few points
1- what you were doing as a career before becoming a minister?
2- are your financial records all transparent to your followers?
–from your web site you pray “That Mormonism will accept the Biblical Jesus and embrace the Bible as inerrant and infallible.” — to that point..
3- which version of the Bible do you currently read/worship ? Why did you choose that one?
4- have you studied Greek? — can you read the New Testament in it’s original language? why not–or- what have you learned from it?
5- have you studied Hebrew? — can you read the Old Testament in it’s original language? why not–or- what have you learned from it?
6- are you a young-earther? or do you believe the earth has been in an evolutionary progress for hundreds of millions of years?
7- do you see any benefit in being mormon?
8- in your current worldview, what is the role of satan?
9- do you believe in angels? — have you seen one?
10- do you believe in ghosts? — have you seen one?
11- do you believe there is intelligent life on other planets?
that’s a good starter — but I’ve got a thousand followups —
Here’s my question for Shawn: Do you believe it is possible to be a member of the LDS church and still truly accept Jesus Christ as your savior and be saved? Is it necessary to believe in the Trinity and Biblical inerrancy in order to accept Jesus and be saved? I’m very interested to hear Shawn’s story and see what I can learn from him that will help me in my own faith journey.
One of my favorite episodes of “This American Life” tells the story of an extremely popoular and influential evangelical minister who could not square his mainstream evangelical beliefs in Hell with a loving and caring God. (Episode #304, broadcast 12/05/08). The doctrine he preached eventually morphed into something very close to the LDS concept of God. (So close that I discussed the episode in Elders Quorum meeting…) He was officially branded a Heretic and lost most of his 5,000 member congregation.
My question for Shawn: What is the mainstream evangelical view of Hell? Will those who do not accept Jesus as their personal savior be condemned to suffer for eternity? What about those who sincerely believe that their false church will lead them to salvation? Will they be condemned?
I have another question. What do his parents think of his “change” of heart? Or BETTER yet, what do his in-laws feel about his change. Based on his biography he and his wife both went to BYU and were married in the LA Temple so her parents must have some LDS background. What a disappointment it must be; I know if someone came to me and asked for my daughters hand in marriage, married in the temple and than based on his change in belief drew her away from the church I would be extremely angry and saddened for her choice of a a husband. All the time and effort they took in raising her in the church to have someone come along and change her belief system based on his “roadside conversion”. BOOOOO!!!!! Does his wife really share his view on Mormonism, or is she just complying to his desires to keep peace in the family?
@Garth After hearing other interviews with Shawn I think his beef with Mormonism is that we have so blended the requirements for salvation with the requirements for exaltation that we’ve stripped hope, mercy and grace out of the saviors message to come unto him and replaced it with blind obedience or else.
I think that Shawn is doing the church more of a service than a diservice by reminding us that we have changed salvations message from “come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden for my burden is light” to ” it won’t be easy but it will be possible” I’m quoting lesson 9 from the new gospel principles manual on the atonement. Well which is it light and easy? Or hard and worth it?
We teach that the creditor (Christ) demands you work off your debt on his terms but the only reference to a creditor in any of the standard works is taught in luke 7 who frankly forgives because they cannot pay. So I can understand Shawns frustation.
I think he’s taken an extreme course of action and has to water down the ordinances of baptism to fit his new born again model.
It would be interesting to know what his parents and in-laws feel about him switching his beliefs.
I guess it would be the same as if two people were raised Southern Baptist, both went to an evangelical college, and married by a pastor in the same Church where the wife has attended her whole life. What a disappointment it would be to both sets of parents if the husband was touched by watching a video the LDS missionaries dropped off and converted to Mormonism and drew away the wife from Evangelical theology.
The parents of the wife would be extremely mad and saddened that the outstanding husband they thought their daughter was marrying ended up changing her beliefs that they spent so much time and effort on.
What a disappointment it would be to see their grandchildren marry in the Temple so they could not witness the marriage of their grand children.
Does the wife really share the husbands new viewpoint that “all their (other churches) creeds were an abomination” including their past belief system or is she just complying to his desires to keep peace in the family?
There were a few families that I saw ripped apart on my mission because they converted to Mormonism and the parents did not approve.
It works both ways my friend.
I can relate to many positions that Shawn argues for. But a lot of times I am offended by the way he compares Mormonism’s worst with evangelical Christianity’s best. He emphasizes the differences between both belief systems much more than necessary. In addition, he doesn’t hesitate to belittle or ridicule his Mormon callers in his show as soon as they reveal a lack of knowledge or seem to become entangled in contradictions. Maybe it’s a cultural difference. But I as a European (who has never lived in the US) find it offensive to hear someone talk down on a faith and its followers like Shawn does. His message would be far more appealing to me if he wasn’t so anxious to make Mormonism look stupid or bad most of the time. My question for him would be: Why don’t you treat Mormonism and its members with more respect and more good will? You can have different positions, but still acknowledge that all of us – whether Mormons or evangelical Christians – are just trying to live a decent life and follow Christ to the best of our understanding.
When I have an opportunity to talk to my LDS family and ask them what they need to do go to heaven,,, I am amazed at all the rules, regulations, and “things” that they have to do. Since salvation is a free gift (not a gift WITH purchase) I am surprised they don’t take it with open arms and just say “Thank you Jesus”. When I suggest just that,, to accept I am told that is too simplistic. Is it our nature that we think we have to “earn” our way to heaven? What suggestions do you have or what can I say to my LDS family?
“Marco’s” comment very closely summarizes my feelings about Shawn’s show. However, I must admit that the show is very captivating and his personality and charisma is extremely effective at pulling you into his message. I don’t fault him for disagreeing with Mormon theology or having a firm conviction that his version of Christianity is the right one. My sense is that he is a generally sincere person who gives more of his time and energy to his cause than I do for mine. Yet, that being said, I find that many of is rants and critiques actually have little to do with LDS theology or religion, but much more to do with culture. Furthermore, his critiques are often inconsistent and intellectually dishonest, and variants of the same arguments could just as easily be applied to the Evangelicals who subscribe to his message and revel to see someone take it to the Mormons. To me the very subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) hostility he shows is not righteous indignation, but sign of immaturity. I have seen Shawn make token gestures, speaking of the goodness of certain LDS people who sincerely try to follow Jesus, then to see him turn on a dime and continue to bash and ridicule an LDS caller, followed by call from someone giddy with delight at the way he has vanquished his Mormon foe.
So, here are my blatantly rhetorical questions: “Why do you feel the need to pad your message of Jesus Christ with petty rants about Mormon culture. Do you fear that the gospel of Jesus Christ alone is not enough to draw souls to your message?”
Shawn, I am sure that they will remove this question, but here it is any way. Don’t you find it amazing that the more you clearly point out the truth the further the mormons hide from it, and just the name of this site explains the entire mornon teachings ” Mormon STORIES”? It is such a shame that so many intellegent, normal people won’t seek out the truth?
Renie..”Don’t you find it amazing that the more you clearly point out the truth the further the mormons hide from it…”
Who’s truth is Shawn pointing out? God’s? Christ’s? Calvin’s, Luther’s or Shawn McCraney’s???? The scriptures often become proof-texting ventriloquists dummies that can be forced to say anything you want them to, be that Evangelical or LDS. We’re all, LDS and Evangelicals, holding up the Bible, and the other LDS scriptures depending on our culture, and hiding behind them…
Why do you suppose, the faithful LDS attack Shawn’s character. And yet when their own Prophet’s ERR! They respond with well their only human. Why is Shawn not treated with the same respect. And how can they(mormons) claim to have another Testament of Jesus Christ, when all they have is plagerized, Gospel. And then call Jesus’s teaching inferior,to Joseph Smiths ? I believe if it were as they claimed they would welcome questions, From what I get out of Christ’s teaching the truth(WORD)will set us free! God Bless those seeking with a pure intentions toward Jesus Christ. Thanks Harvey
I salute you and Shawn for finally standing up to the “Arrogant 12”. They say “beware of pride”, but there is perhaps no others so arrogant as themselves or their minions of followers.
didn’t mean to sent it quite yet. The question I ask is…if they are knowingly deceptive, as in they know that they are NOT the only true and living church on the face of the earth but are broadcasting that to gaing converts, doesn’t that make them open to lawsuits? couldn’t they be sued for fraud? if they can show that J.Smith used peep stones to transcibe hole records.. (not) cant they build a case and sue similar to what big tabacco went through? I bought into the lie for many years but when analyzed, its totally a false (or synthesized) religion. I would like to know to what level the church has opened themselves up for fradulent lawsuits.. Thank you
My question is simple and direct. Does Shawn believe gay people can go to his heaven? Or, based solely on their sexual orientation, are they denied entrance?
If you believe the Bible to be inerrant, you have to admit it is decidedly anti-homosexuality.
What is the Gospel? Why did you reject the LDS Gospel and turn to the Christian Gospel?
Shawn McCraney created a maelstrom among Evangelical Christians by suggesting that it was OK for a “Born Again Mormon” (aka “BAM”) to stay in the LdS Church rather than leave. Here’s a sample:
“Even though the so-called BAM may not believe in the Mormon Jesus, his participation implies approval of a false christ and false doctrines to those around him. The devout members who see this regular participation are not aware of the distinction in the mind and heart of the BAM and are having their testimonies of Mormonism further strengthened.
These new believers in the biblical Christ, if truly born-again, need to adhere to Paul’s instruction, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? […] Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you”(2 Corinthians 6:14-15, 17).
Naturally it is much easier to stay in the Mormon Church than to become estranged from devout LDS family, friends, and loved ones. There is heartache and an overwhelming sense of loss when a person leaves the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It must be realized, however, that belief in the authentic Jesus Christ causes division, even in families, yet we are commanded to “take up our cross and follow Him” (Matt. 16:24)!”
I’ve never heard his address this controversy on his show and I think that it would be appropriate for him to address it here since, I would assume, the majority of the listening audience will be LDS – some of whom might be “Born Again Mormons”.
Of course, FIRST Shawn would need to define what, exactly IS a Born Again Mormon?
Oh, one more . . .
The tone of the show went from soft and persuasive to aggressive and polemic rather quickly.
Why was that?
After 40 years as an active Mormon, my faith crumbled when I learned that the bishop and seminary teachers had been teaching my sons about the evils of touching their bodies. As a scientist, I know that it is normal human behavior to touch our bodies from the time we are born. When I contacted a general authority, he said that the bishop and seminary teachers were teaching correct principles when telling young teenagers the evils of masturbation. I had no idea I was sending my sons to the Mormon church to have their self esteem destroyed through regular, undisclosed and systematic interrogation. My son was only 15 when he lost his will to live and said he believed he was a bad person for touching his body. He was afraid to die without being married due to the teaching that you must be married to attain the highest degree of Glory and become a God. He died leaving a great hole in my heart and a complete loss of trust in the secret LDS priesthood meetings where young men are taught to fear their natural development.
Q: When you were in the bishopric what did you think about this line of questioning and the bishop courts to punish members? Utah has a high incidence of suicide and child and sexual abuse.
Q: What are the differences in the way the Mormons and Christian churches address the subject of sexual development?
Thank you for opening my eyes. I was afraid to research the history and secret doctrines of Mormonism such as blood atonement, Adam God doctrine, polygamy, Mt Meadow Masacre etc, until I took your challenge to search for the truth. It would have been easier to keep the social connections available to active mormons and the feeling of belonging to such a popular religion in Utah, but I hold to these words: ” Truth does not cause conflict.”
Thanks for all your teaching to point me back to Christ.
Isn’t a rebirth experience different for everyone?
Mine was in a ward parking lot.
The song “Amazing Grace” means so much more to me now that any song the TB Choir ever heralded.