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Marcus Martins requests students seek intelligent ways of practicing faith in upcoming McKay Lecture

Marcus Martins sits in a chair in his office with a picture of his family on the computer desktop in the background

The Winter Semester 2020 David O. McKay Lecture will be given by Marcus Martins, a professor of religion and leadership, on Feb. 11 in the Cannon Activities Center. He said he will invite students and faculty to enhance their comprehension of who God is and what He has available for His children if they seek Him intelligently.

Martins’ lecture is entitled “The Third Century of an Intelligent Religion” and will focus specifically on the role of language in the process of refining individual religious practice, said Martins.

“This is a topic that has been on my mind for quite some time. The idea that the religion we practice, or our religious practice, is one that respects our intelligence.” Martins said Heavenly Father gave all of his children the gift of a brain. In doing so, He expects all of them to use it.

Martins said regardless of what students take from the lecture, he hopes students can learn “that God wants to speak to us, but He wants to speak to us in ways that are going to enhance our comprehension of who He is and what He has available to us.”

Martins explained it is our religious practices that encourage us to not only read, ponder, analyze and pray, but find intelligent ways of doing so, intelligent meaning methods that will improve people’s understanding of God and his blessings.

Martins added this desire to seek intelligent ways of practicing religion is founded on agency and wisdom, and students should practice their religion in a way which has been revealed by the Lord to His prophets. “There are a lot of things that are left to our personal decision of how we are going to practice those principles, how we are going to live and honor those covenants we make. This is kind of the background of my topic.

“This is a time in which we can take advantage of the resources we have and,” he added, borrowing slightly from the wording from a popular science fiction movie, “Boldly go where no students of the gospel have gone before.”

Last year when he was informed he would give the McKay Lecture for 2020, Martins said he began immediately preparing a list of possible topics, but “felt [his] heart leaning towards this one.”

The David O. McKay Lecture, according to Associate Professor Joe Plicka, is “the highest academic honor granted to a BYUH faculty member.” The lecture has been an annual tradition at BYU–Hawaii for more than 50 years, explained Martins, with speakers who are given the entire year to prepare.

“It’s a great honor” to be given the opportunity to speak, said Martins. “First of all, you are being chosen by your colleagues, by fellow faculty members, and that’s no small thing.”

Martins said he has previously spoken for both convocation and devotional, and he sees this as his last opportunity to address the whole BYUH community.

Martins made his own posters advertising the event, which he explains is his visualization of the topic. It depicts both things from above, or from God, such as scriptures and seer stones, as well as things from below, or from earth, such as music and mathematics.

“The earthly and the heavenly kind of meet together,” said Martins. “My idea is this is the time for us now to [ask], ‘What is it that I have not learned about these things, but that Heavenly Father wishes that I would learn?’”

Past David O. McKay Lectures can be found online at