With the start of a new year comes a renewed focus on a new book of scripture for Latter-day Saints, but finding ways to get the most out of scripture study can be difficult.
Experts in church history and doctrine from BYU and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have suggestions for resources students can use to enhance their study of the Doctrine and Covenants this year.
“The Church History Department has published several incredibly useful resources for studying the Doctrine and Covenants over the last several years. Most of these are collected in a new section in the Gospel Library App called ‘Doctrine and Covenants Study,'” said global history specialist and church historian Ryan Saltzgiver.
“We have never been in a better position to study the Doctrine and Covenants. Much of this is due to the Joseph Smith Papers Project and the scholarship that has resulted from that project,” said Jordan Watkins, BYU church history and doctrine professor.
Saltzgiver worked as a research assistant on the Joseph Smith Papers and described what a profound experience that job was for him.
“On the first day of training for that job, my supervisor looked me in the eye and said, ‘You will learn that Joseph Smith was a human being. He made mistakes and sometimes he got angry. You have to be okay with that.’ That lesson has stayed with me,” he said.
During his undergraduate degree, Saltzgiver said through studying Church history he was able to learn how to forgive himself and others from seeing a prophet of God’s humanity.
“I have learned firsthand that God’s love is truly universal. That has changed how I interact with others. He really does love us all. He really ‘denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female’ (2 Nephi 26:33).”
Watkins also shared some themes that stood out to him through his study of the Doctrine and Covenants that students can look for when they need a new perspective to engage their study.
“In my mind, God’s mercy is among the most important and consistent messages of the Doctrine and Covenants,” Watkins said. “After essentially telling Joseph that He doesn’t need him, the Lord then tells Joseph that God is merciful and that if he repents he will again be called to the work.”
The other two themes that stood out to Watkins are consecration and that human initiative is a key component to spiritual revelation.
“Patience, faith and study. These will help us understand the revelations and, in the process, we will come to learn the ways in which the Lord speaks to us ‘in our weakness after the manner of our language,'” Watkins said.
To enhance the study of the Doctrine and Covenants this year, be sure to check out the Joseph Smith Papers Project, the First Vision Podcast, the Priesthood Restoration Podcast, the first volume of Saints, Church History Topics and Church History/Women’s History.