How to Study Church History on This Site

December 26, 2020

Among Latter-day Saint historians, it is common to hear the line, “Mormons don’t have a theology—they have a history.”[1] To understand Church history well, students must realize that Church history and doctrine are intertwined. In other words, if you want to comprehend Church history, you should simultaneously study Church doctrine, and if you want to understand Church doctrine, you should study Church history too.

Study by Faith is designed to help users systematically study the history and doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Those who study Church history while studying the doctrine will understand how the doctrine developed over time. Those who study the doctrine while studying the history will understand what has motivated Latter-day Saints to do what they have over the course of the Church’s history.

The Church history portion of Study by Faith provides a curriculum for four levels of study: beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert. Each level is divided into four categories or entry points for understanding the history: periods, places, people, and subjects.

Choose the level you think best represents your understanding of Church history. If you are not sure, start with the beginner level and see how many of the recommended works (books and articles) in each category you have already read. Then work your way toward the expert level, studying the works you haven’t already read.

Go back from time to time to see what works have been added to each level. Many of the new works will be featured in our weekly newsletter. By starting at the beginner level and working your way toward the expert level, you should establish a firm foundation of understanding that will help you better comprehend the history and the doctrine of the Church.

(Photo credit for image at top of post: C. C. A. Christensen, “Pioneers Crossing the Plains of Nebraska,” Brigham Young University Museum of Art, public domain, copied from [accessed Oct. 19, 2020])

[1] See, e.g., Matt Bowman, “Thoughts on Mormon art and the impending production of The Book of Mormon Movie Volume II: Zarahemla,” June 21, 2006, (accessed Oct. 19, 2020).

Author: Richard E. Turley Jr.

Richard E. Turley Jr. served for twenty-two years as managing director of the Historical Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and eight years as Assistant Church Historian and Recorder. He also served as managing director of the Family History, Public Affairs, and Church Communication Departments.

Related Posts