History-making courses offered through BYU’s Department of Ancient Scripture

Professor Andrew Skinner answers a student's question on the nature of God in newly added course, Christ and the Everlasting Covenant. (Maddi Dayton)
Professor Andrew Skinner answers a student’s question on the nature of God in newly added course, Christ and the Everlasting Covenant. (Maddi Dayton)

BYU’s College of Religious Education changed its core curriculum for the first time in 40 years, by offering two new courses this semester.

The two courses are Book of Mormon: Sermons and Discourses, taught by Nicholas Frederick, and Christ and the Everlasting Covenant, taught by Andrew Skinner, former dean of Religious Education. They are offered through the Department of Ancient Scripture and can be found under the Rel 392R section. Both are available during the Fall 2014 and Winter 2015 semesters.

The department said these courses will explore a new way of studying the scriptures as described by Elder David A. Bednar at a 2007 CES fireside.

“In my judgement, diligently searching to discover connections, patterns and themes is in part what it means to ‘feast upon the words of Christ,'” Elder Bednar said.

Christ and the Everlasting Covenant will focus on evidence and context of the Savior’s mission and covenants over all dispensations. Students taking Sermons and Discourses will study the Book of Mormon as a source for foundational doctrines regarding the Atonement and the plan of salvation, specifically looking at sermons and discussions.

No manual exists for these courses. Skinner and Frederick developed materials and resources for themselves and their students.

“It’s been a wonderful experience to go back through all the general conference talks and see the brethren address these topics and come to a new understanding,” Skinner said. “I’ve had ‘aha’ moments in the preparation of this class, where I’ve honestly seen things in a different way and comprehended things I haven’t thought of in a long while.”

He hopes this course will lead students to have their own “aha” moments as they study Christ’s role in the plan and what it means to them personally.

“This is a chance to pull out the common thread in all of scripture,” Skinner said. “That thread is Christ’s place in the everlasting plan. It’s the golden thread woven throughout.”

Lilly Bautista, a sophomore taking Christ and the Everlasting Covenant, learned about the course from her New Testament professor during spring term. Bautista decided to take the class because she “wanted to go in depth with who Christ is.”

The Ancient Scripture Department chair, Camille Olson, said these courses are experimental.

“We don’t yet know how effective they will be,” Olson said. “That is why we want to attract enough students who are willing to help us evaluate them for possible recommendation in the future.”

Each course counts for two credits. The Sermons and Discourses class meets the requirements for both Rel A 121 and 122 or can count toward the 14-credit religion elective requirement.

Christ and the Everlasting Covenant fulfills the requirement for Rel A 121, 122 or 211. It can also serve as an elective.

The add/drop deadline has passed for Fall semester, but both sections of Rel A 392R will be available Winter Term 2015.

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