Gospel Doctrine is the closest we come to in-depth scripture study some weeks.
However, our leaders counsel us over and over again to spend time studying the scriptures.
If we’re relying on Gospel Doctrine class for all of our gospel study, there’s almost certainly something missing. Here are five reasons why:
1. One Hour is Not Enough
Latter-day Saints are supposed to “feast upon the words of Christ.” But Sunday is only one day of the week, and Gospel Doctrine is only one hour of the day.
“Just as there is food for the body, there is food for the spirit,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks said in a 1996 devotional at Ricks College. “The consequences of spiritual malnutrition are just as hurtful to our spiritual lives as physical malnutrition is to our physical bodies.”
And spiritually malnourished is exactly what we’ll be if we rely on one hour to keep us fed for the rest of the 167 hours of the week.
President Thomas S. Monson advised Latter-day Saints to study the scriptures daily.
“Crash courses are not nearly so effective as the day-to-day reading and application of the scriptures in our lives,” President Monson said in a 2009 General Conference address.
2. Gospel Doctrine is Redundant
Every four years, we cycle through the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, Old Testament, and New Testament.
We learn about faith, baptism, repentance, the Holy Ghost, and missionary work over and over again. In all the years I’ve attended Sunday School, I can’t remember learning many things I didn’t learn in Primary.
I often hear complaints that the Gospel Doctrine curriculum is repetitive; we hear the same things over and over.
But Gospel Doctrine was never meant to be the end of our scripture study. Rather, Gospel Doctrine was designed to reinforce ideas we already know.
Gospel Doctrine is like dairy products: it’s just one small (although important) part of a balanced spiritual diet.
3. We Need Personalized Study
Doctrine & Covenants 50:22 reads, “Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.”
One of the purposes of Sunday School, according to Handbook 2, is to “help Church members ‘teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.'”
But while group study is an important part of our experience in the Church, so is individual study.
Gospel Doctrine has a pretty rigid curriculum — we know exactly what we’re going to study every week for the rest of the year. But when we have individual questions, concerns, and curiosities, then we can address those in our personal scripture study.
4. We Need a Personal Relationship with Heavenly Father
Even more than personalized study, each of us needs a personal, direct relationship with Heavenly Father.
We can learn a lot from each other as members of the Church, but nothing can replace our own personal relationships with Heavenly Father and the Savior.
Just like we can’t depend on others for a testimony of the gospel, we also can’t depend on others for all our gospel learning.