Religion 121-Honors
The Book of Mormon

Dr. Marcus Martins
Marcus H. Martins, Ph.D.
Professor of Religion & Leadership

Office: Stake Center # 182-A
Phone: (808)
277-2619   (8am-9pm)

Office Hours:
Any day, by appointment

Click Here to See the Course Schedule & Lecture Notes

Teaching Philosophy
When I look at my students I see not only who they are today but also who they will become in the future. I envision parents, grandparents, missionaries, and leaders in communities, governments, and churches.

That is why in my classes I am rarely concerned with the geography, anthropology, or historiology of the scriptures-although I recognize their importance and have a great deal of personal interest in those subjects as research topics. And I am even less interested--to say the least--in LDS folk stories, folk beliefs, marketing schemes, and assorted LDS cultural traditions.

In my classes I focus on the ways to apply the doctrines and principles contained in the scriptures to achieve two goals: (1) to provide immediate answers to issues relevant to the present experience of my students--e.g. relationship with roommates, full-time missions, temple ordinances, dating, and marriage; and (2) to give them a sample of gospel-based answers to the main problems they are likely to be asked in the present and in the near future by investigators, fellow Church members, and neighbors-problems such as: financial difficulties, domestic violence, divorce, and different manifestations of spiritual apathy.

Course Objective

We will use the scriptures and the teachings of latter-day prophets to: (1) increase our knowledge of God, the Father, his son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost; (2) increase our knowledge of the basic principles and doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ, giving special emphasis to the centrality of the Atonement of Jesus Christ; (3) increase our ability to find answers to life's questions and trials in the word of the Lord; (4) increase our knowledge of the principles necessary to magnify present or future callings in carrying out the threefold mission of the Church.

Required Materials

  • The Standard Works  (so far: Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, & Pearl of Great Price)
  • Student Manual for the Book of Mormon The manual is available online in PDF format at the Church Educational System website
    (click on the picture)

You may download the entire manual to a flash drive, a laptop, or another electronic device.  There is no need to print the chapters from the Student Manual.  Just be sure to read the corresponding sections after you read the assigned chapters of the Book of Mormon before each class period.

Class Format

This is not a typical section of this course.  Here we will blend the sacred and the secular-or better said, we will refine the secular with the sacred.  In our discussions we will go a few steps further than a regular Sunday School class, and everybody will be expected to "pitch in" by leading discussions, making remarks, bringing extra reading materials, articles, and helping the class apply the doctrines of the gospel to shed light on current events, circumstances, and predicaments.

Therefore, in all honesty I have to warn you that this may not be a class for everybody. Those who desire a format where you get the facts, memorize them, regurgitate them in a "multiple-guess" exam, and forget all else, may be frustrated with the ambiguity and the amount of reading, discussion, and writing required in this class.  Always remember that this is your class, and the greatest learning experience happens when you receive direct instruction from the Lord through the power of the Holy Ghost. I am a simply a humble facilitator in that sacred process.

I expect you not only to read the assigned readings, but also to come to class prepared to intelligently discuss them. This discussion should focus on ways to apply the information in the lessons to analyze real-life situations or issues and propose solutions (currently feasible or not) to them. You are, of course, more than welcome to bring questions regarding those parts of those reading assignments you would like to understand better.


Assignments & Grading Policy

Contrary to popular (and false) belief, I consider that an excellent final grade should be the result of excellent performance both at the Testing Center and in the classroom. An "A" should not be given simply because someone is "nice" (whatever that means) or has a testimony of the gospel. That high grade should be reserved for those who read all the assignments, attend class regularly, participate in classroom discussion frequently, and study for the exams diligently.  This is the breakdown of the total points possible in this class:

Project Proposal
Legacy Project
Midterm Exercise
Final Exercise
Class Participation

Total Points

  50 points
150 points
150 points
200 points
  50 points 
(Attendance, Comments)

600 points

And the final grades will be assigned according to the following scale:

A    585-600 B-   525-539 D+  460-474
A-   570-584 C+  505-524 D   445-459
B+   555-569 C    490-504 D-  430-444
B     540-554 C-  475-489 F   001-429


Exams & Assignments

There will be one midterm and one comprehensive final exam, both administered in the "relaxing" Testing Center.  A study guide for each exam is incorporated in the reading assignments' web pages (click on "Course Schedule" hyperlink above).  Study guides will not be handed out in class.  In the event of exams taken late due to non-extenuating circumstances (see "House Rules" below), a penalty of 15 points will be imposed.  Extenuating circumstances that could waive this penalty should be reported immediately. 

Class Project

How would you like to be remembered 150 years from now?
If you could communicate with your great-great-great-grandchildren, what would you say?

Your assignment for this course will be to create some kind of original creative work in any media of your choice (fine arts, design, crafts, electronic media, oratory, music, dance, theater, etc.) based on the doctrines and principles of the Book of Mormon.

This project has two important limitations: it must not be costly and it must be done entirely within the semester.

A written proposal (one page only, and worth 50 points) describing the intended project must be turned in on October 3 and class presentations of the projects will begin on November 21


House Rules

I like to use BYU-H's Honor Code to our advantage. This Honor Code is based on mutual trust. That implies a commitment to be "... honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous ..." (The 13th Article of Faith). In practice, that requires us to give credit to others' ideas, to speak the truth and accept full responsibility for our actions--or for the lack of them. That commitment also requires us to respect and to develop love for each other as children of the Most High and heirs of eternal kingdoms, independent of our differences in ideas, beliefs, gender, race, or national origin.

As a consequence of the commitment to accept full responsibility for our actions, there will be no make-up exams, and no assignments for extra credit. The exercises (or exams, if you prefer) will not be given on dates different than the ones mentioned here, except in cases of extenuating circumstances.

Extenuating circumstances do not include the following: forgetfulness, early travel arrangements, homesickness, your best friend's wedding, a mid-semester family vacation, the death of your family's dog, a great surfing day, the discovery of your eternal companion, assignments for other classes, pizza parties, and other similarly unholy and impure excuses.

Cases of conflicting final exam schedules, serious infirmities, or other truly extenuating circumstances, should be reported immediately and not postponed until the day before an exam. If you are planning to get married within the next 4 months, please, schedule your ceremony for a non-conflicting date. (This request does not apply to births, of course ...)

Classroom Etiquette

I believe that the university's dress and grooming standards reflect the standard that any educated and civil person should adopt anywhere in the world.  As a professor as well as a Church high priest I adhere to that standard and expect all my students to do the same.

Since our classes are held in a sacred building, we must display the proper reverence and demeanor suitable to a house of worship.  I ask that you refrain from wearing hats, shorts, "grubby attire," beachwear,  and from enjoying foods and drinks in the classroom. Falling asleep occasionally is forgivable, but chatting during lectures is not.

To avoid distractions to you and others, while in class, please turn off cell phone ringers--and do not take calls or messages while in class.  If you are expecting an emergency call, it might be better for you to miss class and take care of the emergency.  Just be sure to send me an e-mail explaining the nature of that emergency.  By the way, talking to an old friend, or to your sweetheart in Bangkok, Beijing, or Boston does not constitute an "emergency"--unless he/she is about to undergo brain surgery.

Laptops, PDAs, and Cell Phones in Class

For those among you who are "techno buffs": you are welcome to download the readings to your laptop or PDA and bring it to class. However, be sure that during class you will have the reading assignment on screen, not social networking, e-mail, a game, or work for other classes.

Those who use their cellular phones to browse the web are welcome to access the readings in class that way, but the ringer must be silent during class, and the same above-mentioned rule (see previous paragraph) applies. No phone calls or text messaging are allowed!  Any exceptions to this must be due to a (real) emergency and cleared with me before each class.

I will not constantly monitor what you do with your electronic devices in class, but if I catch you indulging in stuff unrelated to class ... "Houston, we'll have a problem."

What If You Belong to Another Faith?

No problem at all.  I am a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I respect whatever religious background you come from.

I will never be my intention to offend you or hurt your feelings.  I will teach you according to my beliefs in the hope that if you do not accept the restored gospel, at least you will understand the core beliefs of the Latter-day Saints, and help dispel many of the myths and misconceptions about those beliefs.  We still would like you to be a good friend of the Church.


Class participation will be judged on both the amount and the quality of your questions, comments and contributions to the progress of your peers. The breakdown for those 100 precious points is the following: 

  • Attendance     up to 25 points

  • A lot of money and resources are spent in your maintenance in college. So, the least one can do is to attend classes and try to gain the most from them. Occasionally, circumstances may lead you to miss one class period. 
    One absence due to illness or one job interview, or one field trip in another class, and absences due to athletic & performance groups, will be waived, but you need to inform me immediately.  In all other cases there will be a penalty of minus 15 points for each absence.

If you need to leave class early, please let me know at the beginning of class.  But if you leave class less than 25 minutes after the roll call, or if you sneak out, you will be considered absent on that day, and will lose 15 points.  Arriving in class more than 15 minutes late--without a reasonable explanation--will also be considered an absence.

  • Comments in Class      up to 25 points

  • Our objective with this exercise is to learn from the inspired insights we will gain while studying the readings. Please, avoid "half-baked" remarks (i.e. overly simplistic or unrelated to the assigned chapters) or mere quotations from general authorities. As a college student you must develop analytical skills and find the practical implications of your readings.

    Our class periods should be seen as opportunities for mutual enlightenment. I encourage and expect many exchanges of ideas and experiences from your service in the Church.

    If you consider yourself shy, I recommend that you put your shyness in a box and mail it to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean (the Pacific isn't far enough). While in college, take advantage of the resources available to you and "re-engineer" yourself, thus becoming an active participant in a society. Semester-long silence will be rewarded with 0 (zero) points.

Frequent "parallel conversations" (i.e. chatting with classmates often about matters unrelated to the class) may be penalized with a 5-point discount.

Since full participation in class discussion necessarily requires frequent reading of the texts, failure to bring your personal copy of (or electronic access to) the readings to class may be penalized with a 5-point discount ... each time.

What If English Is Not Your Native Language?

Once again, no problem.  You are welcome to pray in class in your own language ... provided that there is someone available to translate your words into English--for the benefit of all those present.  Take a look at the Apostle Paul's words on the subject:

"For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.  ... [When] thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room ... say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?"  (1 Corinthians 14:14, 16)

Disabilities & Special Circumstances

If you have a diagnosed disability or believe that you have a disability that may require reasonable accommodation, let me know right at the beginning of the semester.

My role and function as a teacher are to assist you in achieving spiritually enriching, rewarding, and intellectually stimulating experiences in and out of the classroom. Your concerns and suggestions--whenever you have them--will always be appreciated.

Official Communications

Class announcements will be made via e-mail.  You are responsible to check your e-mail "inbox" regularly.  E-mail messages sent to BYU Hawaii e-mail addresses are considered official notification of course policies and procedures.

Official University Statements

Department of Religious Education - Learning Outcomes
1. Students will learn the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and apply them to life’s situations
2. Students will develop a testimony of Jesus Christ, His Church, and His leaders on earth
3. Students will commit to live a righteous and chaste life

Preventing Sexual Harassment
Title IX of the education amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination against any participant in an educational program or activity that receives federal funds, including Federal loans and grants. Title IX also covers student-to-student sexual harassment. If you encounter unlawful sexual harassment or gender-based discrimination, please contact the Human Resources Service at 780-8875 (24 hours).

Students With Disabilities
Brigham Young University-Hawaii is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere, which reasonably accommodates qualified person with disabilities. If you have any disability that may impair your ability to complete this course successfully, please contact the students with Special Need Counselor, Sister Leilani Auna at 675-3999 or 675-3518. Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. If you need assistance or if you feel you have been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of disability, you may seek resolution through established grievance policy and procedures. You should contact the Human Resources Services at 780-8875.

Copyright © 2000-2011 - Marcus H. Martins