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Comer: Defending faith has simply been part of life

By Ryan Comer - | Feb 10, 2024

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Ryan Comer

When I was in high school, I had a school project that involved a presentation in front of my class, which I used as an opportunity to highlight my faith. Growing up outside of Utah, I was the only member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in many of my classes. Prior to the time of my presentation, I had a conversation with a classmate who was always slightly antagonistic toward me. He told me that if I was going to talk about my faith in front of the class, he wanted to ask me some difficult questions about it in front of the class after the presentation. I proceeded to give my presentation, and he proceeded to ask the questions. I don’t remember what they were specifically, nor do I remember how I responded. But the reason I remember that experience is because I knew that no matter what he asked me, my faith was not going to be shaken. In fact, when he told me what he was going to do, I didn’t take it as he probably hoped I would. I think he thought maybe he was going to make me nervous, but instead, it made me excited. I wanted the challenge of explaining and defending my faith to people who knew little or nothing about it.

I’ve recently been reflecting on this situation. How is it that I felt so calm and confident in that situation? It’s because I had a testimony that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was truly the church of Jesus Christ. I may have only been in high school, but I had enough experiences that confirmed this to me and my faith couldn’t be shaken.

Challenges to my faith have obviously not stopped as I’ve gotten older. Every time I think I’ve heard just about every one, another one comes up that I have never heard before. A lot of these challenges are based on incomplete understanding of Latter-day Saint doctrines. I’ve noticed that many are simply a matter of semantics. In other words, people actually agree with Latter-day Saint doctrine, but they get caught quibbling over how certain things are phrased. This leads to another problem: Some people just like to argue. They seek it out; it’s as if they live for it. Most of the time, when I’m challenged on my faith, I never actually feel like the person challenging me has any desire to learn. They only want to show me how I am in error. This will never be a successful strategy because for every challenge that I have come across, I have found an answer that satisfies me. More importantly, I have been the beneficiary of too many experiences throughout my life where I have felt the Holy Ghost confirming to me that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is truly the church of Jesus Christ. What person could possibly present an argument based solely on their own reason and logic that could trump that personal witness?

I’ve heard many times that we must only trust what the Bible tells us, that we can’t trust the Book of Mormon or any other scripture, we can’t trust religious leaders like apostles and prophets, and we can’t trust personal revelation. The Bible is the sole authority. The problem is, people of all different sects within Christianity disagree on what certain Biblical passages mean. Certain beliefs are justified by certain Biblical passages, yet other Biblical passages seem to contradict those beliefs. Here is a recent example from one who attempted to dissuade me from my beliefs.

I was told, by a Christian, that not everyone is a child of God. We can become children of God, they said, but we are not all inherently children of God. A number of Biblical passages were used to back up this belief. Galatians 3:26 reads: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” John 1:12 reads: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” John 8:44 reads: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.”

First of all, I don’t know why a Christian would not want to believe that we are all children of God. Maybe because if some people are evil, that somehow reflects poorly on God in their mind? Like, how could a perfect God have an imperfect child? To avoid this problem, it’s easier to just say that not everyone is a child of God, but we can become children of God through following him. But this is a faulty premise, in my opinion. All Christians believe that Jesus was perfect, yet one of his disciples betrayed him. It doesn’t reflect poorly on Jesus that he had one disciple betray him. It just means people have agency to choose, and one of his disciples chose to betray him. Similarly, it doesn’t reflect poorly on God that he has imperfect, sinful children.

Perhaps some people feel like their own standing before God is diminished if everyone is a child of God. They feel like they belong to a certain club and are the children of God because they follow him, and if those who don’t follow God are also children of God, what exactly makes them special? I don’t quite know. I’m just trying to talk this out to myself.

But back to the actual scriptures. Just because a passage of scripture says we become children of God by faith in Jesus doesn’t mean that we aren’t already children of God.

Here is some personal logic that has come to mind as I’ve considered this. Consider the way a parent might react when their son or daughter behaves in a way that makes them proud. The parent emphasizes that the child is theirs. “My son,” a father might say with a beaming expression to his son who he learns worked hard on a school project and received a good grade. Obviously, the child is always his son, regardless of how he does on his schoolwork, but the fact that he tried hard and received a good grade evokes a feeling of pride from the father where he emphasizes to the child that he is his son. He was always the father’s son, but he became a son the father was extremely proud of. Similarly, we are always children of God, but when we follow him and choose him over the world, we become children he can be proud of. He, in effect, looks on us proudly and says, “My son” or “My daughter.”

Conversely, I’m sure many have seen examples in television programs where a child has done something disappointing and one parent says, mostly in jest, to the other, “That’s your child.” Obviously, the child is both of theirs, but one parent shifts ownership of the child to the other.

As I said, this is just my perspective, but it is in fact logical to me, and it fits with a Biblical passage that was conveniently ignored in the challenge to me. Hebrews 12:9 reads: “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” God is the father of all our spirits, and because of that, we are all his children. Certainly, someone who would argue we are not all children of God would have to explain who it is that created our spirits and how that doesn’t make that creator our father.

I love the words of Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, about that doctrine.

“Here is the answer to one of life’s great questions, ‘Who am I?’ I am a child of God with a spirit lineage to heavenly parents. That parentage defines our eternal potential. That powerful idea is a potent antidepressant. It can strengthen each of us to make righteous choices and to seek the best that is within us. Establish in the mind of a young person the powerful idea that he or she is a child of God and you have given self-respect and motivation to move against the problems of life.” (“Powerful Ideas,” “Ensign,” November 1995)

Who can read that and not want everyone to be a child of God? How much better would this world be if every single person knew they were a child of God and had potential beyond this life that they could not even imagine? It’s an amazing doctrine.

The truth is, I’ve read the same Bible verses as others, and the conclusion I’ve come to is what makes the most sense to me. But can you see that this is what happens when all one has to rely on is the Bible? If we’re just left to ourselves, we interpret scriptures however we want to interpret them. In that situation, what makes one person’s interpretation more correct than another person’s interpretation? Joseph Smith’s words come to mind: “… the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.”

We need additional scriptures and ongoing revelation from prophets and apostles to clarify truth. I’m so grateful for all the knowledge that exists. I’m grateful for the promise that all can know, from God himself, what is true and what is not.

Has any of this been convincing? Perhaps to some, it has been, while others have scoffed. Like the day in that high school classroom, however, my only goal is to share and defend. I’m simply grateful that I’ve been blessed with opportunities to do so.

Contact Ryan Comer at rcomer@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @rbcomer8388 and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rbcomer8388.


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