Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide: Religion 324-325, (1981), iv–vi

Teaching any of the standard works of the Church is a challenge as well as a sacred and noble work. The Doctrine and Covenants is a book of scripture that is uniquely Latter-day Saint. It was revealed to the Latter-day Saints in these latter days to instruct them in doctrine and in the Lord’s holy covenants. President Wilford Woodruff said, “I consider that the Doctrine and Covenants, our testament, contains a code of the most solemn, the most godlike proclamations ever made to the human family” (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 47).

The Bible is a great source of knowledge that members and nonmembers may use as a standard against which to measure their actions. The Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel and teaches members and nonmembers alike the principles by which they may come to know the Savior Jesus Christ. But the Doctrine and Covenants contains the lofty principles and ordinances, revealed through the covenant-making process, by which men may become exalted and reign in power and glory in eternity as priests and kings unto the Most High. It is little wonder, then, that Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said, “In my judgment there is no book on earth yet come to man as important as the book known as the Doctrine and Covenants, with all due respect to the Book of Mormon, and the Bible, and the Pearl of Great Price” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:198).

Elder Joseph Fielding Smith went on to explain how this scripture relates to the world: “This Doctrine and Covenants is my book and your book; but more than that, it belongs to all the world, to the Catholics, to the Presbyterians, to the Methodists, to the infidel, to the nonbeliever. It is his book if he will accept it, if he will receive it.

“The Lord has given it unto the world for their salvation.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:201.)

As teacher and student meet together to study the Doctrine and Covenants, they should realize that no one can fully understand the mighty truths within this volume without viewing them through its history. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith further emphasized this concept in a statement concerning how to most effectively study the Doctrine and Covenants. The statement is quoted in the student manual preface under the heading “How This Manual Is Organized.”

What an honor it is for an instructor to figuratively stand alongside the Prophet Joseph Smith and declare revealed truths to those who truly hunger and thirst after them. Fortunate is the teacher who understands the revealed will of the Lord, but blessed are the students whose teacher lives the will of the Lord.

Bearing personal testimony of the gospel truths being taught is a valuable teaching tool. Because of the frequent recurrence of gospel principles in the Doctrine and Covenants, the instructor should take the opportunity to bear his testimony frequently. It is not often that a text lends itself to such unique, personal use, but the Doctrine and Covenants is particularly personal to the Latter-day Saints.

Suggestions for Using This Manual

The curriculum staff recognizes that teachers have their own way of teaching a Doctrine and Covenants course. The student manual has been organized on a section by section basis so that an instructor may choose to group the sections in any way he feels without being restricted. Fifteen doctrinal themes that recur in the Doctrine and Covenants are treated in a conceptual approach. These were put at the end of the student manual as “Enrichment” sections so that they would not have to be read in connection with a particular section. A suggested grouping of sections and recommendations for use of Enrichment sections has been made; however, these are only recommendations, and instructors may wish to organize the study in a different way. We strongly suggest that each teacher carefully examine the course outline and note how and when the lessons deal with the various major doctrinal themes. If a teacher chooses to teach a major doctrine at a place other than where outlined, he should make sure he will not be detracting from future lessons.

Teaching Philosophy of This Manual

Unlike many teaching manuals, this supplement will not give the instructor a detailed outline and a step-by-step set of instructions to guide him through each lesson. The needs, experiences, maturity, and responses of the students will vary tremendously from situation to situation and from location to location. No two classrooms are ever the same. Curriculum materials designed and produced centrally can and should determine the subject matter to be taught and specific content areas that need emphasis. But it is the teacher who has been given the stewardship to determine how the materials are actually taught in his classroom. He must prepare, adapt, and present the materials so that they meet the needs of his particular students. Thus, the teacher’s supplement and the course materials have been designed to prepare teachers for lessons rather than preparing lessons for teachers.

This course is designed to allow the teacher the freedom to teach chronologically or topically. The student manual is chronological and the instructor’s guide is topical. When teaching from the instructor’s guide, refer to the student manual for historical background and context for each section. If you choose to teach section by section, the student manual will be of greater value to you than the instructor’s guide.

The Lord has not left the teacher without special aid in the fulfilling of his stewardship. Two important guidelines for those who teach the gospel are given in the scriptures:

Teach by the Spirit. In Doctrine and Covenants 42:14 the Lord said: “And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.” A few months later the Lord made it clear how important this qualification is: “Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? And if it be by some other way it is not of God.” (D&C 50:17-18.)

Who can, of himself, discern the spiritual problems, the emotional needs, and the mental readiness of every student who sits before him each day? Such a task is beyond human ability. The Spirit has that capability and can direct the responsive teacher to say things or to make a special emphasis that will touch the heart of a student in particular need. One of the thrills of gospel teaching is to have a student come, sometimes after much time has elapsed, and say, “I have been fasting and praying, and what you said was the answer to my prayers.” The imparting of special inspiration in answer to an individual’s unspoken need is not the only function of the Spirit. In the daily experiences of the classroom, only when the Holy Ghost bears witness of what the teacher is saying will it have true spiritual impact. Without the Spirit we fail.

Treasure up the words of life. This second injunction adds an important dimension to teaching by the Spirit. The teacher who says, “I don’t have anything prepared for today, so I’ll have to teach by the Spirit,” does not understand the charge given by the Lord to “treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man” (D&C 84:85). Treasuring up the words of life constitutes a most important part of a teacher’s preparation and involves a consistent and substantive study of the words of the Lord as given through his prophets. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith summed it up thus: “Treasuring up his word is far more than merely reading it. To treasure it one must not only read and study, but seek in humility and obedience to do the commandments given, and gain the inspiration which the Holy Spirit will impart.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:305.)

The course materials for the Doctrine and Covenants, including the student manual and instructor’s guide, have been designed to help you treasure up the words of life so that you can more effectively teach by the power of the Spirit. The diagram in the following section illustrates the materials available for both teacher and student.

Course Texts for This Course

As in almost every course, the most important text will be the four standard works. Special emphasis in this case will be given to the Doctrine and Covenants. Resource materials, listed under Basic Library, are available to all teachers.

In addition to the basic sources, there is a student manual used by both teacher and student and an instructor’s guide exclusively for the teacher. A description of the materials found in the student manual is given in the introduction of the manual itself. The teacher should study both the manual and this guide carefully before beginning instruction in the course.

The following abbreviations are used in the Basic Library for brevity.


Conference Report 1970 to present. (Note: In languages other than English, only talks by the First Presidency, the Council of the Twelve, and the Patriarch to the Church are included in Conference Reports. Therefore, in the lessons, if talks by General Authorities other than these are cited, they will be listed under Additional Sources.)

A of F

The Articles of Faith, James E. Talmage


Discourses of Brigham Young, John A. Widtsoe, comp.


Doctrines of Salvation, Joseph Fielding Smith (3 vols.)

Gos. Doc.

Gospel Doctrine, Joseph F. Smith

Jesus the Christ

Jesus the Christ, James E. Talmage

M of F

The Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball


Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith, comp.

Other sources use shortened references. For full publication facts, refer to the Bibliography.

Students should be encouraged to have the four standard works. The following diagram illustrates the materials available for both teacher and student.

study materials

The Instructor’s Guide

Each lesson in the instructor’s guide consists of one two-sided page. The first part provides a study guide for the teacher; the second part is suggestions and methods used by other teachers in presenting this lesson.


The objective of the lesson is summarized in a brief sentence stating the content theme that is to be taught.

Theme Analysis

The theme is outlined briefly, providing additional concepts to support the basic lesson objective.

Study Sources

Study guidelines are divided into five categories:

(1) Student Manual indicates where the reading assignment relating to this lesson is found in the manual. Related Enrichment sections in the Appendix are also cited here. (2) Standard Works indicates important scriptural references which apply to the theme of this lesson and asks pertinent questions about each one. In certain cases additional scriptural help may be found in the topical guide of the LDS edition of the King James Version of the Bible. (3) Basic Library refers to references that provide in-depth information on the particular subject and which should be in every instructor’s library. Except for the Conference Reports, they are available as a set of nine books (see the CES catalog). (4) Additional Sources lists references which may be studied if they are available but which are not absolutely essential to the presentation. (5) Audiovisual aids applicable to the lesson are listed in some cases.

Some Suggestions for Presentation

(Ideas Other Teachers Have Used)

This section contains ideas suggested by other teachers for presenting the lesson material. These suggestions are not necessarily keyed to specific parts of the lesson, but they will provide ideas that may be useful in preparing your own lesson. The teacher should feel free either to adapt these suggestions to his own situation or to develop and create methods of his own. In this way the lessons will be individualized. Methods included here are only suggestions, and the teacher should use only those he finds valuable. Teachers should remember that this is not a sequential outline of how the lesson is to be presented.

Overhead Transparencies

There is an accompanying set of overhead transparencies to be used with various lessons. Their use is indicated in the respective lessons under Some Suggestions for Presentation. This set is not published with the instructor’s guide and must be ordered from the Salt Lake City Distribution Center (stock number PMSI1056).

Instructor’s Guide and Student Manual

The student manual for the Doctrine and Covenants is designed so that each of the sections of the Doctrine and Covenants is treated separately with a Historical Background and Notes and Commentary for each section. The instructor’s guide is divided into fifty-six lessons which cover the classroom experience for the complete academic year. Each lesson focuses upon one theme. Use the student manual with the instructor’s guide for the material necessary to teach each section in its proper historical context. Historical information is not provided in the instructor’s guide. A student assignment for a particular lesson could be Doctrine and Covenants sections 2, 128; student manual sections 2, 128; Enrichment N, “Priesthood and Church Government, Part 2.” The student readings are to be assigned by the instructor.

Adapting the Student Manual for Quarter, Semester, or Individual-Study

The majority of students in the Church Educational System are on a semester schedule, although many are on a quarter system, and still others participate in full-year individual-study programs. The following information should be helpful as teachers adapt the materials to their situation.

  1. 1.

    The average semester provides approximately twenty-eight sessions in which formal classroom instruction is given; the average quarter provides eighteen sessions. Individual-study classes usually meet weekly for about eight months, giving individual-study students twenty-eight to thirty class meetings.

  2. 2.

    Teachers will notice as they examine the lessons that some doctrine areas are emphasized more than others. Some concepts are so important that two or three lessons may be devoted to them.

  3. 3.

    The instructor should feel free to adapt the lessons to his own time requirements, perhaps expanding some lessons into two or more sessions or combining two or more lessons into one presentation.

  4. 4.

    This Doctrine and Covenants study can be used in either a quarter system, a semester system, or for a full year in areas where regular institutes are not available.

  5. 5.

    The following adaptation schedule could be used to teach the full course on either a semester or quarter basis.

Semester system. First semester, lessons 1-28; second semester, lessons 29-56.

Quarter system. First quarter, lessons 1-19; second quarter, lessons 20-37; third quarter, lessons 38-56.