Skip main navigation

Doctrinal Mastery FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we teach Doctrinal Mastery in addition to teaching the scriptures sequentially?

Why has Doctrinal Mastery replaced Scripture Mastery?

Can I still do scripture mastery activities in class?

What are the differences between the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document and the Doctrinal Mastery Book of Mormon Teacher Material? Do I need both?

What is the relationship between key statements of doctrine and the 100 doctrinal mastery passages?

Can I adapt the practice exercises?

How often should my class review the key statements of doctrine and the doctrinal mastery passages?

Why do we teach Doctrinal Mastery in addition to teaching the scriptures sequentially?

The sequential study of the scriptures and Doctrinal Mastery are distinct yet complementary activities, and both are important elements of a student’s experience in seminary. The Objective of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion states: “We teach students the doctrine and principles of the gospel as found in the scriptures and the words of the prophets” (Gospel Teaching and Learning: A Handbook for Teachers and Leaders in Seminaries and Institutes of Religion [2012], x). In seminary, this is primarily accomplished through a sequential study of the scriptures, which follows the natural flow of the books and verses of a volume of scripture from beginning to end. Doctrinal Mastery supplements the sequential study of the scriptures by providing opportunities for students to study the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ by topic.

President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught why the doctrinal method of study is so beneficial: “Individual doctrines of the gospel are not fully explained in one place in the scriptures, nor presented in order or sequence. They must be assembled from pieces here and there. They are sometimes found in large segments, but mostly they are in small bits scattered throughout the chapters and verses” (“The Great Plan of Happiness,” in Teaching Seminary: Preservice Readings [2004], 68–69). back to top

Why has Doctrinal Mastery replaced Scripture Mastery?

Scripture Mastery focused on helping students locate, understand, apply, and memorize the 100 scripture mastery passages. These are worthy outcomes that have benefitted thousands of students over the years. Perceiving the ongoing needs of our students, those called to lead Seminaries and Institutes of Religion determined that more was needed to better prepare students to address the challenges they currently face.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “It was only a generation ago that our young people’s access to information about our history, doctrine, and practices was basically limited to materials printed by the Church. Few students came in contact with alternative interpretations. Mostly, our young people lived a sheltered life.

“Our curriculum at that time, though well-meaning, did not prepare students for today—a day when students have instant access to virtually everything about the Church from every possible point of view. Today, what they see on their mobile devices is likely to be faith-challenging as much as faith-promoting. Many of our young people are more familiar with Google than they are with the gospel, more attuned to the Internet than to inspiration, and more involved with Facebook than with faith.

“In light of these challenges, the Board of Education recently approved an initiative in seminary called Doctrinal Mastery. Building on what already has been done in Scripture Mastery, this new initiative will focus on building and strengthening our students’ faith in Jesus Christ and fortifying them with increased ability to live and apply the gospel in their lives. Drawing on the scriptures and the words of the prophets, they will learn how to act with faith in Christ to acquire spiritual knowledge and understanding of His gospel. And they will have opportunities to learn how to apply the doctrine of Christ and gospel principles to the questions and challenges they hear and see every day among their peers and on social media.

“This initiative is inspired and timely. It will have a wonderful influence on our young people. However, the success of Doctrinal Mastery, and of all the other programs of study in CES, will depend to an important extent upon you” (“The Opportunities and Responsibilities of CES Teachers in the 21st Century” [evening with a General Authority, Feb. 26, 2016]). back to top

Can I still do scripture mastery activities in class?

“Doctrinal Mastery will not allow time for all the things we used to do with scripture mastery. We will need our precious but limited classroom time to focus on a study of the doctrine, the scripture references, and the practice and review activities. We may not have time for memorization activities in class. And it’s also true that some scripture mastery activities that were used in the past are not consistent with the spirit and intent of Doctrinal Mastery. However, because the memorization of scripture passages can bless our students, teachers may encourage memorization of scripture passages outside of class” (Chad H Webb, “Doctrinal Mastery” [Seminaries and Institutes of Religion satellite broadcast, June 14, 2016]).

Following the teaching suggestions in the Doctrinal Mastery Book of Mormon Teacher Material can help you and your students accomplish the desired outcomes of Doctrinal Mastery. You can measure the efficacy of other teaching ideas and activities by determining how well they help students achieve those intended outcomes. back to top

What are the differences between the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document and the Doctrinal Mastery Book of Mormon Teacher Material? Do I need both?

Yes, you will need the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document as well as the Doctrinal Mastery Book of Mormon Teacher Material. The Doctrinal Mastery Core Document is addressed to students. It consists of (1) an introduction that explains what Doctrinal Mastery is and how it will be helpful to them, (2) instruction that teaches them principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge, (3) a section on the nine doctrinal topics, and (4) a list of the 100 doctrinal mastery passages. The Doctrinal Mastery Book of Mormon Teacher Material contains instructions and lesson materials to help you know how to teach from the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document during the Book of Mormon seminary course. back to top

What is the relationship between the “Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge” section of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document and the nine topics discussed in the “Doctrinal Topics” section?

The principles discussed in the section “Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge” are taught at the beginning of the seminary course. These principles provide a foundation that the nine doctrinal topics will be built on as they are taught throughout the school year. So it is vital that you continue to review and emphasize these principles throughout the year—particularly the principles of acting in faith, examining concepts and questions with an eternal perspective, and seeking further understanding through divine sources. At a minimum, you should review these principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge with students before they work on each practice exercise found in the Doctrinal Mastery Book of Mormon Teacher Materialback to top

How do I find time to teach Doctrinal Mastery in addition to teaching the Book of Mormon sequentially?

Doctrinal Mastery does not replace sequential scripture teaching in seminary. You should spend approximately 30 minutes of class time per week throughout the school year on Doctrinal Mastery. Implementing Doctrinal Mastery while teaching the Book of Mormon sequentially will require you to start class on time and use your classroom time efficiently.

If you teach Doctrinal Mastery on the same day that you will also be teaching a sequential lesson on a scripture block, don’t let the time spent teaching Doctrinal Mastery infringe on the time needed to teach the scripture block. For example, five-minute “Understanding the Doctrine” segments should not regularly last 20 minutes, leaving little time to teach the Book of Mormon sequentially. In addition, it may be helpful to explain to students that they will work on Doctrinal Mastery for a certain amount of time (such as 5 or 10 minutes at the beginning of class) and will then study a particular scripture block (such as 2 Nephi 4) for the remainder of the class session. back to top

Rather than teaching Doctrinal Mastery separately from my sequential lessons, can I teach a doctrinal topic when it is mentioned in a scripture block? For example, can I just cover the material taught in doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” while I’m teaching about the Savior’s Atonement in Mosiah 3?

Please do not just teach doctrinal topics when they are mentioned in a scripture block. The nine doctrinal topics found in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document should be taught separately from your sequential scripture teaching. Although there may be times when you or your students recognize connections between the doctrinal mastery material you study and a particular scripture block, remember that Doctrinal Mastery is a topical, not a sequential, approach to studying the gospel. For example, trying to teach the doctrinal topic material for the Atonement of Jesus Christ while teaching Mosiah 3 may cause students to miss King Benjamin’s broader intent and may prevent them from identifying additional principles and doctrines taught throughout that chapter. Similarly, remember that Doctrinal Mastery does not replace sequential scripture teaching in seminary. back to top

What is the role of memorization in Doctrinal Mastery?

Because you will need the limited classroom time allotted for Doctrinal Mastery to focus on a study of the doctrine and the doctrinal mastery passages and to complete the practice exercises and review activities, you likely will not have time for memorization activities in class. However, because the memorization of scripture passages can bless students, you may invite students to memorize doctrinal mastery passages outside of class. The doctrinal mastery review activity found in the “Prophets and Revelation” section of the Doctrinal Mastery Book of Mormon Teacher Material provides an example of how this can be done. back to top

What should I do when I see references to scripture mastery in the Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual?

You will find instructions regarding scripture mastery throughout the Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual (unless you are teaching from the revised 2017 manual—currently available only online and in English). Please ignore those instructions. The Doctrinal Mastery Book of Mormon Teacher Material replaces those instructions. back to top

What is the relationship between key statements of doctrine and the 100 doctrinal mastery passages?

Some of the doctrines and principles in the “Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge” and “Doctrinal Topics” sections of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document are supported by doctrinal mastery scripture passages. These are called key statements of doctrine (see outcome 2a in the “Introduction to Doctrinal Mastery” within the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document). Students are encouraged to locate, mark, and study doctrinal mastery passages so that they can use them to teach and explain the key statements of doctrine the passages support. Helping students to remember and locate these passages and to understand how the passages teach the Savior’s doctrine is an important part of your work as a teacher.

There are 25 doctrinal mastery passages for each course of study (Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants and Church History), for a total of 100 passages. You can find a list of these passages at the back of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Each of the 100 doctrinal mastery passages is used to directly support only one key statement of doctrine in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. For example, Joseph Smith—History 1:15–20 is cited in doctrinal topic 4, “The Restoration,” to support the truth that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph Smith in response to Joseph’s prayer, and They called him to be the Prophet of the Restoration. However, this doctrinal mastery passage could also be used to support the key statement of doctrine in doctrinal topic 1, “The Godhead,” that there are three separate personages in the Godhead: God, the Eternal Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost. So this doctrinal mastery passage is also listed as a related reference in that topic. back to top

Can I adapt the practice exercises?

Most doctrinal mastery learning experiences provide at least one practice exercise for students. These exercises typically consist of case studies, role plays, hypothetical scenarios, or questions that students can participate in or discuss together in small groups or as a class. These exercises are important in helping students understand how the key statements of doctrine they have been learning relate to modern circumstances. The exercises also emphasize how the doctrine students have learned can bless them and assist them in living the gospel and in teaching the gospel and explaining their beliefs to others in a nonthreatening, inoffensive way. You may adapt these practice exercises (or include additional practice exercises) according to the needs and interests of your students. back to top

How often should my class review the key statements of doctrine and the doctrinal mastery passages?

Frequently reviewing the key statements of doctrine and the doctrinal mastery passages used to support them will help students learn and apply the doctrines and scripture passages. Each learning experience includes a section with ideas to help you lead students in a review of the key statements of doctrine and related doctrinal mastery passages that they have learned throughout the school year. The purpose of the “Doctrinal Mastery Review” activities is to help students accomplish the following outcomes of Doctrinal Mastery:

  • Know how the key statements of doctrine are taught in doctrinal mastery scripture passages and be able to remember and locate those passages.
  • Explain each key statement of doctrine clearly using the associated doctrinal mastery passages.
  • Apply what they learn as they make daily choices and as they respond to doctrinal, social, and historical issues and questions (see “Introduction to Doctrinal Mastery” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document).

Although time estimates are not included with “Doctrinal Mastery Review” activities, time is allotted for review activities in the pacing guide found in the “Instructions for Teachers” section of the Doctrinal Mastery Book of Mormon Teacher Material. For example, 150 minutes are allotted for the topic of acquiring spiritual knowledge. Because the learning experiences for that topic require approximately 80 minutes, you have an additional 70 minutes to review the principles, key statements of doctrine, and doctrinal mastery passages associated with acquiring spiritual knowledge. In this example, the time allotted for review could be spread out over four or five weeks.

You may want to have students participate in additional learning activities to help them master the key statements of doctrine and the doctrinal mastery passages that support the statements. However, be careful not to allow review activities to overshadow sequential scripture teaching or the intended outcomes of Doctrinal Mastery. back to top