The Lord frequently uses a specific way of teaching. He doesn’t always teach this way, but it is a recurrent theme and it is markedly different than the way we teach now. I think teaching this way would work far better than the way we teach.
It is a simple way of preaching. It is this: The Lord tells people plainly and clearly what will happen if they obey, and he tells them plainly and clearly what will happen if they disobey.
We have taken on the worldly ideas of psychologists and educators and listened to the philosophies and men and we firmly believe that we should simply state what the blessing will be if we obey to so we are always being “positive” and “encouraging”.
But let’s look at the scriptures:
Alma 36:30 But behold, my son, this is not all; for ye ought to know as I do know, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land; and ye ought to know also, that inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence. Now this is according to his word.
Or consider Christ’s words, spoken from heaven, to the Nephites after destroying their cities:
3 Nephi 10:4 O ye people of these great cities which have fallen, who are descendants of Jacob, yea, who are of the house of Israel, how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you.
5 And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen; yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.
6 O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.
7 But if not, O house of Israel, the places of your dwellings shall become desolate until the time of the fulfilling of the covenant to your fathers.
There you have a clear statement of both what Christ will do if they repent and return unto him with full purpose of heart, as well as a clear statement of what will actually happen if they do not.
Consider Christ’s words:
Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
We learn both sides clearly. He doesn’t just say the “positive” side.
There are whole chapters of the Old Testament that are laid out this way such as Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. Each chapter lists first what the Lord will do if Israel obeys, then lists all that will happen if they disobey. The Lord does not just say “if you disobey, it will be bad”. He lays out plainly what will happen if they obey, and lays out plainly what will happen if they disobey.
No, the Lord doesn’t always teach this way. But it is quite common for the Lord to spell out both sides quite clearly to us, and I think we would have much greater power to convince our members by casting off our belief in “positivity” and plainly layed out the alternatives more often when we teach.