Religion 325
The Doctrine & Covenants

REL 325 - The Doctrine and 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 Purpose

This course is centered on the doctrine of the family and the central role families play in Heavenly Father's plan of salvation. Course content is based on "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," other teachings of latter-day prophets, and the scriptures.

Course Objective

Considering the learning outcomes listed above, our objective in this course is to help students  increase their understanding of the true doctrine of the eternal family and the role of families in leading to happiness on earth and eternal life with Heavenly Father.

We hope students will be able to explain, promote, and defend the doctrine of the family, the place of the family in Heavenly Father's plan, how the family is the "fundamental unit of society", and be better prepared to evaluate questions and current issues in the light of scriptural and prophetic teachings.

Online Class Format

Thousands of students who have taken classes from me before know that my lectures are dialogue-driven--more like conversations or Q&A (Question & Answer) sessions. Therefore, it is essential that you read and think about the assigned materials every week, so you will have good questions to ask me, or insights and experiences related to the readings to share with classmates and friends on social media.

Since we will not be physically in a classroom, feel free to contact me whenever you have questions, or if you want additional information. I'll be glad to chat with you via e-mail ( or by appointment via Zoom.

I will not hold regular meetings via Zoom, but we may have occasional conversations via Zoom (by appointment) during semester, and most of them--perhaps all of them--will be requested by individual students. Attending these live video chats will not be mandatory precisely because we are located in many different time zones. If those video chats happen, I'll record them so all of you can watch them at a convenient local time, keeping in mind the following:
  • It'll not be mandatory for other students to watch.
  • I'll try to schedule in advance so other students can participate live … if they choose to do so due to the nature of the topic.
  • If it's not possible to schedule in advance, and/or the time zone is not accessible to all students, I'll record the conversation (if the person who asked to chat with me allows) so other students can watch my explanations at a convenient local time.
Availability for Contacts

In order to give you a quicker idea of the times in which you would be able to contact me, I uploaded a time zones table into Canvas. You will find it under "Announcements". I should be available to assist you every day from 8am until 10pm (Hawaii Time – HST)

Topics for 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. In my opinion no question is out of bounds, inappropriate, or stupid--if there's something you want to know, I will do my best to explain it to you based on official doctrine or church policy. Your questions (even your doubts) are always welcome in my classes.

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


  • 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
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

As usual I will not calculate final scores and grades using percentages nor record them on the Canvas system. I calculate final scores and grades using my old and faithful Excel spreadsheet.  But you will be able to estimate your final grade by observing this grading scale.

Weekly Attendance Online
and Online Quizzes

The weekly quizzes are meant to:
  • Record your attendance online
  • Help you prepare for both the midterm and final exams
I will monitor your "online attendance" during the semester by having you complete weekly quizzes on the Canvas system. These quizzes will contain the Questions for Review from each reading assignment. Don't worry about your score in each quiz. You will obtain participation points just for taking the quiz, regardless of how many points you score in it.

Your actual score in each quiz will tell you how well you are preparing for the exams. That should give you a very good chance to obtain excellent scores in both exams--unless you don't want to.
  • The quizzes will be available for several days during the week corresponding to each reading assignment. That will give flexibility to all of you, including those who will be off-island. Check the available dates for each quiz on the Canvas system.
  • Since the quizzes will be available for several days, I will not accept "late" quizzes after the last available date—except in cases of extenuating circumstances, such as: sickness, funeral (not yours), arrest, or a natural disaster. Contact me immediately (via Canvas or e-mail ( whenever you have a reasonable justification to miss a quiz or any other assignment. In such cases, I may request a doctor's note or some other official documentation.
  • Your participation in these quizzes will enable you to obtain those 100 points listed in the syllabus as Class Attendance & Participation. The penalty for each "online absence"--i.e. missing a quiz without a reasonable justification--is a loss of 15 points in Class Participation.
Unlike the two exams, the quizzes will be open-book, open-notes, but "closed neighbor".  You are bound by your honor to answer those questions without the assistance of others--except in cases of officially recognized physical disabilities, in which a reasonable accommodation will have to be approved by the teacher in advance.

Online Exams

There will be one midterm and one comprehensive final exam, both administered through the Canvas system.  A study guide for each exam is incorporated in the reading assignments' web pages (click on "Course Schedule" hyperlink above).  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

Optional Review Sessions
for the Online Exams (via Zoom)

These will be optional meetings to give you a chance to double-check with me your answers to the Questions for Review--i.e. those answers you may be unsure of--before you take the exams, if you want or need.

Attendance to these meetings on Zoom will not be mandatory, and I will hold by student request on a flexible schedule to accommodate your time zones on a date yet to be confirmed. Check the time zones table under "Announcements" on Canvas for corresponding times around the world:

Students who wish to have this optional review but are unable to chat with me via Zoom should contact me. I'll be glad to hold a review session with them on audio-only via mobile phone (no text messages) or simply via an exchange of e-mails. 

Response Paper

Option #1
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.

Option #2
Compare the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple (Doctrine & Covenants section 109) with the dedicatory prayer of the temple closest to your home.  Discuss the commonalities and differences between the two prayers.

(For a complete list of temples and their respective dedicatory prayers, go to:

Feel free to consult with me on how to develop the 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).

For more information about the response paper,
watch my YouTube video:

Instructions for the Response Paper

The paper is due on Friday, June 11

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"


Additional Information

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.

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

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.

Additional Information for In-Person Classes

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, try to 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 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 ..."


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 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.

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)

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