Knife to a Gun Fight: Introduction – by Shawn McCraney

Knife to a Gun Fight: Introduction – by Shawn McCraney


Knife to a Gun Fight
Misinterpreting the Purpose and Place of
The New Testament Author – Shawn McCraney
Narrated – by Shawn McCraney An Admission
When it comes to teaching and sharing insights about the Word of God every presenter has
to ask themselves, “Will I focus on and promote false hope or will I choose to promote
unadulterated truth?” Promoting hope builds religious empires; presenting
truth comes at a very high price. We know that Jesus came to earth to bring
a message of hope. But had He made hope His primary message He
would have fulfilled the desires of those around Him by being a Messiah who would deliver
the Jews from Roman bondage and rule. Focusing on truth, Jesus explained that the
emancipation He provided would liberate them from sin and death – a message of truth
that did not meet their hopeful expectations. Of course, He was rejected. In this we clearly see that Jesus placed teaching
truth over perpetuating false hope – a demand that remains upon all pastors and teachers
today. As a self-described and self-appointed pastor/teacher
I have to constantly seek to rightfully balance preaching and teaching Jesus (and Him alone)
as our hope while never backing away from the painful realities present in a contextual
view of the Bible. For example, where many believers today want
to continue to believe in miracles (like those that were performed in Jesus’ day), I tend
to suggest that those miracles were pictures of the spiritual healing Jesus would continue
to perform after that age; that the greatest miracle of our age is when a dead, sinful
heart comes to life through faith in Him. Likewise, Christians today tend to hope that
Jesus is coming back to rapture and save them from this evil world. And while I accept all believers’ views on
end times and refuse to separate or castigate anyone for these respective stances, I also
refuse to teach this “message of hope” when the Bible clearly (in a contextual sense)
proves otherwise. This truth, however, tends to strip the hope
believers have in His eminent return – a hope, in my estimation, that was false from
the get go and is actually based on hope in an “event” that Jesus will bring, rather than
in Jesus Himself. And the list goes on and on. I am convinced that those who love and/or
embrace false messages of hope (over the painful truth) “have their reward.” Even if the falsehoods in and of themselves
appear harmless. In other words, if a lie serves to uplift
and support a believer in their walk with Christ through this world I tend to believe
that the lie will have served its purpose – but since it is of this world, in the world
to come it will carry no weight. God seeks those who seek Him in Spirit and
in truth. If the truth takes a backseat to false messages
of hope I can’t help but believe that there will be cost – not in terms of punishment
but of eternal reward. Why my insistence in presenting hard, contextual,
biblical truths over promoting (false) hope? I am convinced that God created me in such
a way (through nurture and nature), and that I cannot help but seek to know, teach, and
promote truth over everything else – no matter how painful or how high the cost is
for the instruction. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that I am an honest man. I have – and continue to – lie, mostly
as a means to escape discovery or scrutiny for things I want to remain obscured. I don’t like this about myself
(nor excuse it), and though I try hard to be an honest man in all things I am not above
telling a lie to escape pain or discovery. That being said, I am ardent in seeking and
teaching all truths about God, religions that claim to speak for Him, churches that bear
His name, community, politics, corporations, systems, philosophies – whatever – as openly
and as transparently as possible – no matter what the fallout or cost might be. I was born charming and affable. More as a means to survive and get my way
then out of love for others. As the middle child of six I was a natural
peacemaker who sought to please and make friends wherever they could be found. Over the course of time and through experiences
I found traumatic to my person, I discovered that the world, and its systems, institutions
(and the people who support them), could not be taken at face value, and therefore could
not to be trusted. Would I manipulate and charm them? Certainly. This was part of my nature. But I never trusted any of them. These seeds of mistrust may have come from
my parents who, trying to raise their family upright and strong, could only show conditional
approval of me rather than an unconditional acceptance. I learned that in order to be praised and
accepted by Mom and Dad, I had to comply and conform to their expectations and opinions
of things – to do otherwise produced alienation and reproach. In my mind, this system could not be trusted
or confided in in any meaningful way, and so my relationship to them was in many ways
perfunctory. I don’t blame them or hold any sort of grudge
for this approach. They did their best and provided many wonderful
things for me out of unconditional love and acceptance. But an environment of complete openness was
not encouraged nor rewarded, and so I saw it as faulty. The same was true of organized religion. In every situation, from my LDS upbringing
to my conversion to Christianity and attendance at Calvary Chapels, there was never an environment
of unconditional acceptance (of lifestyle, thought, expression or truth), but there were
always demands for compliance, conformity, and allegiance to culture, tradition, established
doctrines and practices. Something is still wrong, I would think, and
I could not allow myself to play a real part of any system that refused open dialogue,
freedom of thought, and opinions that challenged the status quo. And so I never really belonged. The same was true of Evangelical Christianity
writ large – or of any religious institution. To me they were all out to serve themselves,
and their teachings, doctrines, and view of scripture proved it. It goes without saying that commercial corporations
were no different in my eyes and that they too (as do organizations of every ilk) have
their ways, tried and true – and to differ or challenge them was anathema to the established
order. And so I was never going to fit the corporate
model of things – and never could. In the end, there was nothing under the sun
that would or could fulfill my desire for unconditional love, the
freedom to search and challenge, the ability to see and think as I was lead – except
one. The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Him I discovered total and unconditional
acceptance – received through faith – of my person, personality, ideas, failures and
perspectives. In Him there is complete and total safety. Not in ideas about Him. Not in theories concerning Him. Not in doctrines or disputable matters orbiting
around Him. Just in Him. In the case of “Jesus alone” I was willing,
because of who He is and His unfailing love and unconditional heart for me, to place my
utter and complete faith, hope and allegiance in and upon Him. He is true. He never disappoints. He does not force. He is not self-serving. He is not hypocritical. He does not ostracize over failures or rambling
thoughts. He understands rebellion, challenge, seeking. He is the Rock. Immovable. Sure. Complete. Unchanging. Him and Him alone. By and through this direct relationship with
Him I have been able to stand against errant traditions, false religions, insipid interpretations,
and long established orthodoxy that have forever gone unchallenged, but are routinely promoted
by keepers of tradition and the status quo. Please know I do not challenge for challenge’s
sake. I actually abhor upsetting the apple cart
and seek for peace and unity among all the faithful. But I cannot help but “see” failures where
they reside, and am driven to expose any untruth, no matter how much false hope is destroyed,
in the process. May God forgive me where I am wrong. . . . and an Introduction
The alarm on my phone rings – its five forty in the AM and I rise, brush teeth, shave,
dress, grab a banana and I’m off to my morning destination. McDonalds. Del Taco. Carl’s Jr.
Einstein’s bagels. Monday through Saturday I’m there – from
6 am to 11 am straight. Why these places? 1) The Diet Coke refills – to keep me awake. 2) The Ambiance – overhead music, the people
coming and going, and other white noise. 3) I can’t work at home –too many distractions,
and 4) since I don’t eat the food, it’s cheap. Eleven o’clock comes and I’m off to exercise,
and by 1 pm I’m back at some other food establishment or another – but never the
same as morning. Crown Burger
Rumbi’s Rubio’s
Super Mex World Burrito
Chipotle From 1 pm to 5 pm. Why these places? 1) Change of scenery. 2) Diet Coke refills. 3) The Ambiance. 4) They’re cheap (because sometimes I will
eat the food). What am I doing for these nine hours in these
public food locations? Some sort of activity that revolves around
the study, reading, preparing or explaining of . . . the Bible. It’s my life, what I do. What I love. And it is what I have done (to some extent
or another) for the past thirty three years. I mention this not to set myself up as an
expert in biblical studies – I’m not. I struggle with understanding biblical languages
and cannot memorize passages verbatim if my life depended on it. But I do adore the Book – all of its contents
– and having read a large number of fiction and non-fiction writings over the course of
my life I maintain that the Bible is superior to all of them. How? I ardently maintain that the Bible is the
Word of God. I believe it is His “living” Word and
that it has an ability to transform and wash the souls of those who read it by the Spirit. I am certain that reading its contents lends
more to the spiritual maturity of souls than any other Christian activity. I believe studying its contents is the means
by which faith grows (which is a precursor to an increase in agape love). And I suggest that no other book on the face
of the earth has the capacity to transform the human soul like the “Word of God.” But I am also convinced (supported by the
content I present in this little book) that the Bible ought to be seen more as a map (for
believers today) rather than as a collection of rules or covenants that must be embraced
in order for people to be accepted and/or made acceptable to God. I do not believe this wonderful map should
be used to govern gatherings of people or to legislate religious activities, because
the Book was not written to us today – it’s a compilation of writings written to other
believers of that day and of that age. Again, because humans are saved by grace through
faith it is difficult for me to see the Book as a volume of musts (like a book of Laws),
but as a map full of routes and paths and roads that lend direction to all types of
people seeking to know the only true God and His Son who He has sent. In this manner the Bible becomes highly subjective
as does the individual faith of the person reading it. In my estimation every objective material
demand taken from the Bible and assigned to others has been a fail, excepting the command
to believe on the Lord and to love. Everything else has led to nothing but division,
infighting and ugliness among denominations and followers of Christ. Truly the Word of God is “sharper than any
two-edged sword,” but this could not mean, in light of New Testament instruction, that
believers ought to use the book to kill each other. The title “Knife to a Gunfight” is a play
on words relative to this topic. In this writer’s opinion, believers have been
using the Bible as a knife on other believers (and on all those who disagree with them outside
the fold) when in reality we ought to use the Spirit (gun) and its fruit (love) to fight
our battles. When it comes to helping others understand
the simplicity of the Good News many Christians are guilty of bringing “A Knife to a Gun
Fight.” In other words, in the Christian world most
believers and churches have tried to take a book written to others from another place
and time and demand a literal and material application and conformity – an approach
that has proven historically to be an absolute fail and an impossibility in the realms of
continuity and uniformity. Because I ardently endorse Subjective Christianity
(over what some believe is an Objective faith), I do not expect the ideas and insights contained
in this book to be embraced by any, all (or even some believers) as gospel truth. I present them as a means to open up thought
and give people who are troubled by denominational division and the inability Christians have
to truly agree on anything an alternative view for reading, using, and loving the Bible. Along the way I also hope this information
will give believers enough reason to let denominational differences die a quick death and allow all
who claim Jesus as Lord the benefit of the doubt – regardless of their various interpretations
of the Word. “Knife to a Gunfight” is not the end-all solution
to the problems found in Christianity today. People being people will forever cling to
traditional thought and believe themselves to be better in the sight of God for the choice. But it is my hope to lend some views that
will give rise to a more rational understanding and approach to this beautiful faith in Christ,
which is wonderfully described in His Word the Bible. Shawn McCraney

7 Comments

  1. Conditional love is spot on on how I too was raised. They are involved in an organization that is out of fear. I never could understand as a child that way of being told how to think, who to like , who to talk to, who could be my friends etc, I chose to not be a recruiter of that ideology!

    Thank you for your help Shawn!

  2. I purchased this book a few years ago. This was an amazing read. Shawn, your research was impeccable, and I have no doubt that the spirit guided your hand as you wrote this masterpiece. I wish more Christians would read it. Thank you and God bless you for all of your efforts.

  3. Shawn's teaching on unconditional love came at time in my life of heartache and tragic events one right after another. Conditional love was a failure and caused division with those whom I loved dearly. The Spirit of unconditional love is slowly bringing this family back together as the change is within myself, and my family is mystified by all the love, compassion, support, I now give freely to all. Our family is slowly healing and I am grateful to share this message with my loved ones. Thank You Lord for bringing Shawn into my life.

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