Message from the Deans' Office

The Fundamental Principles of Our Religion

In answer to the question, “What are the fundamental principles of your religion?” the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote in 1838, “The fundamental principles of our religion is the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, ‘that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended up into heaven;’ and all other things are only appendages to these, which pertain to our religion.”[1]

Churchwide, we focus our Come, Follow Me study in 2023 on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and his Apostles, as recorded in the New Testament. Naturally, that study will center on the testimony of those who knew Christ. On campus at BYU, Religious Education is charged with teaching these testimonies and “the restored gospel of Jesus Christ[,] . . . center[ed] on the scriptures and modern prophets in a way that helps each student develop faith and testimony.”[2]

As highlighted in this issue of the BYU Religious Education Review, building faith in the Savior can occur in courses that study his word; through publications that examine his life; at events, like the Easter Conference, that celebrate his atoning sacrifice; and on study abroad experiences, like the Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies, that traverse the paths he trod. President Russell M. Nelson testified that in-depth study and emulation of the Savior’s life will invite his power into our lives: “The more we know about the Savior’s ministry and mission—the more we understand His doctrine and what He did for us—the more we know that He can provide the power that we need for our lives.”[3] Indeed, this year, and always, we gladly proclaim, “Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives: ‘I know that my Redeemer lives!’”[4]

Scott C. Esplin

Dean, BYU Religious Education


[1] Dean C. Jessee, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Richard L. Jensen, eds., Journals, Volume 1: 1832–1839, vol. 1 of the Journals series of The Joseph Smith Papers, ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2008), 179. Joseph Smith, Elders’ Journal, Far West, Caldwell Co., MO, July 1838, 44.

[2] “Strengthening Religious Education in Institutions of Higher Education,” Church Educational System, June 12, 2019, 3.

[3] Russell M. Nelson, “Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2017, 39.

[4] “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” Hymns, no. 136.