Religion 324
The Doctrine & Covenants 

Dr. Marcus Martins
Marcus H. Martins, Ph.D.
Professor of Religion & Leadership
Former Dean, Religious Education

Office: Stake Center # 182-B
(808) 778-3077 

Office Hours:
Any day, by appointment

Click Here to See the Course Schedule & Supplemental Readings

Faculty of Religious Education
Learning Outcomes
PLO - Program Learning Outcomes:
  • Basic understanding of the scripture, doctrine, and history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Analyze and interpret Church scripture, doctrine, and history
  • Use Church scripture, doctrine, and history in problem-solving and life application tasks
  • Deepened discipleship and conversion
SLO - Student Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge about and understanding of:

a. Eternal Family
b. Foundations of the Restoration
c. Jesus Christ & the Everlasting Gospel
d. Teachings and Doctrine of the Book of Mormon
e. Other scripture & historical information

2. Ability to:

a. Ask meaningful questions to use appropriate tools and resources for answers, including revelation (information literacy)
b. Find answers to own questions (resolve own concerns: study, faith, prayer)
c. Ask meaningful questions to read texts closely and in light of historical context and current prophetic teachings
d. Reflect for personal application (likening of scriptures to self)
e. Use good evidence and reasoning to teach and help others
f. Become a more faithful disciple of  Christ (coming unto Christ, yielding to the Holy Spirit, putting off the natural man, becoming a saint through the Atonement of Christ)

Course Objective

Considering the learning outcomes listed above, 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.

Teaching Philosophy

When I look at my students I see not only who they are today but also who they may--and in most cases very likely will--become in the future. I envision parents, grandparents, missionaries, leaders in communities, governments, and in the Church.

Whatever the central subject-matter of my classes, I always focus on the ways to apply the doctrines and principles contained in the scriptures to achieve two goals:

  • Provide immediate answers to issues relevant to my students' present experience--e.g. relationship with roommates, full-time missions, temple ordinances, dating, and marriage.
  • Give my students 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, different forms of addiction, domestic problems, divorce, and different manifestations of spiritual apathy.

Class Format

I do not lecture--in the traditional sense of the word--very often. Instead, most of my classes are typically dialogue-driven; more like a group conversation, or like a Q&A (question-and-answer) session.

Therefore, it is essential that you read and think about the assigned materials before coming to class, so you will have good questions to ask me, or insights and experiences related to the readings to share with the class.  Our discussions 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.

Speaking of questions, we often hear the old cliché "That question is not important to our salvation", with which I agree when applied to regular Church meetings. But in a university class, questions are important to our education. Therefore, if you want to learn something gospel-related that will be important--either to your salvation or to your education--I'll teach you, always based on official doctrine or church policy, and also on my own research.

In my opinion, at the end of the day the relevant factors are:

  • 1) Was the discussion academically stimulating at a college level?
  • 2) Were my explanations accurate, intelligent, and defensible from a doctrinal standpoint?
  • 3) Did those explanations bring you to a higher level of understanding of the doctrines of the restored gospel, and inspire you to study and learn more?
  • And above all: (4) Did you eventually feel by the power of the Holy Ghost that what you learned is true? (This last factor is outside of a teacher's control, and in some cases it may take some time to happen).

This way we may accomplish the Apostle Peter's counsel that we "... be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15)

Required Materials

  • The Doctrine & Covenants - We will also use other scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon
  • Supplemental Readings for Doctrine & Covenants 324 Available online (click on the hyperlinks on the Course Schedule page)
  • Electronic device (laptop computer, tablet, or mobile phone) with Internet access


  • You and your brain, equipped with "a sound understanding" (Alma 17:2)

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:

Midterm Exercise
Response Paper
Final Exercise
Class Participation

Total Points

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

600 points

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

                     Final grades will not be calculated nor displayed on the Canvas system.


There will be one midterm and one comprehensive final exam, both administered in the classroom through the Canvas system.  You will need an electronic device (laptop computer, tablet, or mobile phone) with Internet access.  A study guide for each exam is incorporated in the reading assignments' webpages (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 may be imposed.  Extenuating circumstances that could waive this penalty should be reported immediately.

For more information about the official university schedule for final exams, go to

Response Paper

Choose one of the reading assignments out of the Doctrine and Covenants (not the Bible; nor the Book of Mormon).  Develop a few impressions about some of the topics of the specific revelation.  It may be something relative to your life, or to an article or book you have read, or to a movie, a play, etc.   How does the revelation relate to your experience?  Does it help you understand the world better?  Did you gain any new insights?

Alternatively, you may start with a topic of your choice--something very relevant to you at this time--and then discuss how revelations recorded in the Doctrine & Covenants help you better understand that topic of your choice.

Feel free to consult with me on how to develop this response paper.  I am your "number 1" resource.  Come to my office, "chat" with me via e-mail, call me on the phone, etc.  But please, avoid "half-baked," simplistic, childish, "fluffy" nonsense.  Make sure you read my handout "A Few Ideas for Outstanding Academic Papers"

The paper should be no longer than 3 pages (double-spaced, using a 12-point font, and 1 inch margins).

The paper is due on Friday, November 20.

New: Papers submitted late without a reasonable explanation may be penalized with a 10-point loss per work day.

Do not print the paper; just upload it using the Canvas system.  Use formats ".doc" or ".docx" (Microsoft Word), or ".pdf" (Adobe Acrobat).

Once again, I encourage you to read my handout "A Few Ideas for Outstanding Academic Papers"


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 2 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 you to refrain from wearing hats, 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 and Cell Phones in Class

For those among you who are "techno buffs": you are welcome to download the readings to your laptop or access them online in class.

Feel free to
share online your ideas, opinions, questions, or short accounts of non-confidential experiences in response to any of the assigned readings or to an idea shared during classroom discussion.  In fact, you are welcome to include your Facebook friends in our discussions--but your interactions must be about the topics being discussed in class, not unrelated matters.  I count on you to honor this requirement!

You are welcome to share with the class the comments and questions your online friends may send you.  All such communications must be intelligent, respectful of others, and real contributions to our education.

Other than the interaction described above, be sure that during class you will use your computer or cell phone to explore that day's reading assignment, not for mindless social networking, e-mail, games, 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. 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, well ... "Houston, we'll have a problem ..."

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.

For more information, go to

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 50 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.  
    Absences due to illness (with a doctor's note), job interview, field trip in another class, or due to university 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 50 points

  • Our objective with this exercise is to learn from insights shared in class as we study the doctrines of gospel of Jesus Christ and apply them to our lives.

    These "comments" may take the form of ideas, opinions, questions, or short accounts of experiences, and they can be made in class or electronically via e-mail to me.

    Our class periods should be seen as opportunities for mutual enlightenment. I encourage and expect many exchanges of ideas and gospel-based life experiences.

    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.

What If English Is Not Your Native Language?

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)

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.

Official Communications

Class announcements will be made via e-mail.  You are responsible to check your BYU-Hawaii 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 Policies

1. Student Academic Grievance Policy
Students who feel that their work has been unfairly or inadequately evaluated by an instructor are encouraged to pursue the matter as an Academic Grievance by following the steps found in the Academic Grievance policy at

2. Final Exam Schedules
Final exams are to be offered on the specific day and time as determined by the official final exam schedule. Students must plan travel, family visits, etc., in a way that will not interfere with their final exams. Less expensive air fares, more convenient travel arrangements, family events or activities, and any other non-emergency reasons are not considered justification for early or late final exams.

Exceptions to this policy should be submitted in writing to the Dean of the faculty as soon as possible. See

3.  The Honor Code
The Honor Code exists to provide an education in an atmosphere consistent with the ideals and principles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Students, faculty and staff are expected to maintain the highest standards of honor, integrity, morality, and consideration of others in personal behavior.  Academic honesty and dress and grooming standards are to be maintained at all times on and off campus.  For specific information see

4. Discrimination
The University is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, pregnancy condition, age (40 and over), disability, genetic information, or veteran status (collectively the "Legally Protected Categories"). For specific information see the non-discrimination policy at

5. Title IX and Sexual Misconduct
The University will not tolerate any actions proscribed under Title IX legislation, specifically sexual harassment, sexual violence, domestic or dating violence or stalking perpetrated by or against any university students, university employees or participants in university programs.  For specific information see

All faculty and staff are deemed responsible reporting parties and as such mandated to report incidents of sexual misconduct including sexual assault to the Title IX Office:

Title IX Office
Lorenzo Snow Administrative Building
55-220 Kulanui Street
Laie, HI  96762
Office Phone: (808) 675-4585
6. Accommodating Students with Disabilities
Disability Services is dedicated to assisting students with disabilities by providing opportunities for success and equal access at Brigham Young University-Hawaii.  We are committed to coordinating reasonable accommodations as outlined by Federal and State law. To learn more about available supports:
If you have reason to believe a student or dependent of a student is a danger to self or others please do one of the following depending on the urgency of the situation:
7. Report a Concern
If you have a concern to report go to

Copyright © 2000-2021 - Marcus H. Martins