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00 - Intro or Preface to LDC Book

00 - Intro or Preface to LDC Book

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Published by Robert Starling
This document is the Introduction of Preface to my upcoming book "Really Inside Mormonism: Confessions of a Mere Latter-day Christian". It sets forth my reasons for writing the book and for my belief that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are indeed Biblical Christians even though some of our doctrines differ from those of the "Traditional" or "Historic" flavors of Christianity.
This document is the Introduction of Preface to my upcoming book "Really Inside Mormonism: Confessions of a Mere Latter-day Christian". It sets forth my reasons for writing the book and for my belief that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are indeed Biblical Christians even though some of our doctrines differ from those of the "Traditional" or "Historic" flavors of Christianity.

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Published by: Robert Starling on Aug 03, 2012
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INTRODUCTION“REALLY Inside Mormonism – Confessions of a Mere Latter-day Christian” -by Robert StarlingWhen the candidate announced his intention to run for the office of President of the United States, therewere many who felt he was well qualified for the job. He was handsome, charismatic, a proven leader,and he had already been elected to a substantial political office.However, despite his qualifications and the support of a large number of sympathetic voters in at leastone western state, many political pundits felt his candidacy was doomed from the start because of theman's affiliation with a religion that was considered strange and mysterious to many, and even dangerousto some people.In an attempt to alleviate some of the misunderstandings about his faith, the candidate wrote a letter to amajor publisher that was considered a well-formed position paper, explaining the salient points of his beliefs and those of other members of his church.Unfortunately the major media did not help to publicize the explanation of the candidate's beliefs andtragic miscarriages of justice arose. Even government entities violated numerous Constitutional rights of the candidate and his followers. At one point an official order was given to exterminate them if they didnot leave the state where their majority population resided.Eventually corrupt local officials arrested the candidate on trumped-up charges and placed him in a jailwhere a terroristic mob of thugs broke in and assassinated him and his brother.Denied government protection from roving mobs of armed men, tens of thousands of members of thisPresidential candidate's faith were routed from heir homes at gunpoint, their beautiful homes and landsand businesses were confiscated, and they were forced to leave the boundaries of the United States to finda place where they eventually could live their religion in peace.Does this sound like a fantastic fictional story? In point of fact it is actually, horribly true. It happened in“the land of the free and the home of the brave”. The year was 1844. the candidate was Joseph Smith,the first president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the“Mormons”.The purpose of this book is to try to illuminate and eliminate (and hopefully overcome) some of the kindsof misunderstandings that led to those tragic events of a century and a half ago. Sadly, many of thosemisconceptions about members of the “LDS” church are still in evidence today. As an example: Avolunteer campaign worker for Senator John McCain said during the run-up to the 2008 Presidentialcampaign that “Mormons gave money to Hamas terrorists and treat women like the Taliban”.This book's purpose is not to preach or to proselytize, or to convert people away from their own beliefs to join my church. Nor it is to be an official pronouncement of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-daySaints. It is my personal confession of faith, and an attempt to “bring forth my strong reasons” (Isaiah41:21) for my beliefs, and “to give an answer to every man... a reason for the hope that is in me” (1 Peter 3:15).
 
“Having a good conscience”, I feel a need to follow the Apostle Peter's admonition to speak out and sharemy beliefs with any and all interested parties.Before I go too far down this road, let me admit up front that I don’t have a string of letters like Ph.D. or Th.D. or L.L.D., or Doctor of Divinity after my name. (Although I have an uncle who does -- he'sretired now after a long and happy career as a United Methodist pastor.) I’m just a good ol’ boy fromGeorgia, but I can read Scripture just like anyone else, and there are some things that seem to me to be pretty self-evident before those divinity school guys start working their scholarly hocus-pocus on the text.(A quick aside: this reminds me of a little poem I heard…)
 
A young theologian named Fiddlerefused to accept his degree“It's bad enough being named Fiddle” said he,”Without being Fiddle, D.D.”
That having been said, perhaps you as my reader should beware. C.S. Lewis did not want to become a believer in God or in Christ, but as he wrote in
"In reading Chesterton, as in readingMacDonald, I did not know what I was letting myself in for. A young man who wishes to remain asound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere.... God is, if I may say it,very unscrupulous." In reading Starling, you can’t be too careful either. You may not want to become aMormon but if you carefully and prayerfully read what I’ve written here, well … I’m not gonna beresponsible for the results. That’s totally between you and the Holy Spirit.WHY DO I CALL MY BOOK REALLY INSIDE MORMONISM?Well originally I wasn’t going to use the “really” in my title. The rest of it I’ve been using as a workingtitle for almost 20 years (yeah, it’s taken me a while to finish it) and I’m kinda fond of that title (catchy,isn’t it?). But then I found that a Catholic priest named Isaiah Bennett had renounced Catholicism andwas baptized into the LDS church, then left to go back to the Roman church after a year or two. Both heand his wife (yes, he got married) participated in that alleged conversion/de-conversion experience. Hethen wrote a book called “Inside Mormonism: What Mormons Really Believe”. I happened to get achance to hear “Brother” Bennett speak to an LDS audience during the time that he was a “Mormon”,and I thought he gave a pretty convincing talk about how he became a member of my faith. I’m notgoing to accuse him of a “conversion of convenience” so that he could write an expose’ book, but I cansee where some folks might think the situation might look kinda fishy.He was only a Mormon for a few years, whereas I’ve been a member of the LDS Church all my life (58years in 2012 since my baptism). My father served on the first High Council in the first stake organizedin Georgia. I’ve held almost every LDS Church office at the local level except Bishop, and I’ve hadseveral Stake and Area callings including Stake Mission President. I worked professionally as a writer/ producer/ director at Church Headquarters in Salt Lake City for nine years in the media productiondepartment. I received my BA from Brigham Young University, where I attended college for three years.So I’ve “really” been “inside Mormonism” for many decades. That’s where the “really” in the titlecomes from. Really.WHAT IS A “CONFESSION”If you watch many detective TV shows you may think a “confession” is when a bad guy admits to doingsomething wrong. That’s usually the modern day usage of the word
 
and was part of the tone of 
TheConfessions of St. Augustine
. But in other times the meaning was closer to “profession”, like a“profession” of one’s faith. Such was the
Westminster Confession
(1644) or the
1689 Baptist Confession
 
of Faith
. I admit to using it here because it makes for a jazzy title. But hey, that’s one way to sell more books, right? I hope it works.WHAT IS A “MERE” CHRISTIAN?Since I began writing this book I’ve also revised my original working title to include the word “mere”. Idid this after reading C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity” and I did it in homage to the great wisdom andeloquence of that wonderful Christian writer and apologist. C. S. Lewis has become one of my heroes.He defined “mere” disciples or Christians as “those who accepted the teachings of the apostles” (Acts11:26). He said that “if we once allow people to start spiritualizing and refining or as they might say‘deepening’ the word
Christian
, it … will speedily become a useless word.” He described “mere” Chris-tianity as being more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms (or denominations). His goalwas simply to bring people into the hall, not to convince them which door to open. He said, “even in thehall you must begin trying to obey the rules which are common to the whole house”.And above all you must be asking which door is the true one; not which one pleases you best by its paintand paneling.” He says the “mere” Christian must ask of a “door” he might plan to enter; “Are thesedoctrines true? Is holiness here? Does my conscience move me towards this?” Then finally he adds,“When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to thosewho are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the wholehouse.”After reading Lewis’s book I believe that in the eyes of my Christian brothers and sisters I shouldat least be considered a “mere” Christian, for I do indeed accept the teachings and essential beliefs of the apostles as found in the New Testament. The founder of my own chosen “room”Joseph Smith once said,
The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again thethird day, and ascended into heaven: and all other things which pertain to our religion are onlyappendages to it." 
Even the most ardent critics of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seem to focusmostly on the “appendages” of our faith to find differences with their own beliefs, since our “fundamental principles” of Christ, his death and resurrection are nearly identical with those of other “mere” Christians.But I’m not a Baptist Christian or Methodist Christian or Presbyterian Christian or a Lutheran Christian,nor do I claim to be. I’m not a Protestant Christian, an Evangelical Christian or a Catholic Christian.Therefore I am not a “traditional” or “historic” or “orthodox” or “reformed” Christian. But I AM a “Bib-lical” and a “New Testament” Christian. I sometimes refer to myself as a “pre-Catholic” Christian. I be-lieve in a Christianity that was established by Jesus himself hundreds of years before “historic” or “tradi-tional” Christianity existed. This original Christianity was lost after the deaths of the original apostles, but then it was restored to the earth in these “latter days” in its fullness as part of the “restitution of allthings” the Bible says must take place before the Second Coming of Christ (Acts 3:21).This “restitution” or restoration was necessary because of the “falling away” from the original teachingsof Christ and His apostles that Paul lamented in his second letter to the Thessalonians (chapter 2 verse 3).The “falling away” or “apostasy” became even more pronounced during the centuries of the “dark ages”of human history that have been well-documented and that were foreseen by the prophet Amos as a time

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