There was a time when most police were trained to view everyone as citizens deserving a measure of respect. Confrontations were something to be avoided, if possible, and if a confrontation occurred the police were trained to try and de-escalate the situation by remaining calm and helping others to calm down. Today most police are trained in a more military manner in which everyone is viewed as probably guilty, probably a threat, probably an enemy. They are trained to be aggressive, both verbally and physically, as a means of dealing with those they come in contact with. This naturally leads to more confrontations and more and quicker escalations of confrontations than before. While police training once included instruction on using their firearm only for defense of life matters (themselves or others), today police training is more along the lines of shoot first and then think about the situation. This is why we see so many videos of officers doing things while they know they are on video that we can't understand why they would do that knowing others will see it. They do so because of their training which instills in them that they are the authority, they are right, "suspects" are the enemy and a danger to them so any means necessary to gain full control is right. They are trained to believe they are fully in the right to use even lethal force when such isn't necessary. Not all cops take this militant training to extremes, but as this type of training is provided over and over again it's coming to reflect a growing percentage of police who do. Do we want peace officers or law enforcers? That's been a major debate for decades now. Along with this is the debate as to what is a crime, how will we deal with those guilty of various crimes and what is just punishment. Do we ramp up use of the death penalty, streamline a court system for only such cases so executions are swift? Do we hand out much tougher and longer prison sentences to those who commit horrible crimes but don't rate or receive the death penalty? With the idea these two actions will remove and mostly keep off the streets the most terrible of criminals. Do we legalize some or all drugs and change the laws in this area? Do we return to a system of trying to get certain prisoners to see the error of their ways and repent and work towards beneficial restoration into society? Do we continue the warehouse system with the revolving doors where vile gang members and other evil-minded criminals may pass through many times over years or decades before they finally receive a sentence which keeps them off the streets for any real amount of time? Do we change the laws so the known most dangerous criminals can be targeted and their evil empires brought to destruction? There are many factors at play. One thing is certain, the current way isn't working and things seem to be getting worse. Something needs to be changed with a serious aim at improvement, both short term and long term.
I believe this aspect is one of the major problems in many churches. The older and more mature members aren't training up the younger ones and they aren't always setting good examples either. Unfortunately, at this point in time many of the older women in churches were raised during "women's rights" era and some of the radical feminism of that time is a part of them. Even some of the more mature women in Christ are still tainted by the radical feminism that was instilled in them, and some were a part of before salvation. Some of these women see nothing wrong with chopping their hair short, wearing men's clothes, or even dressing however they feel comfortable. Sadly, on some churches the women who do hold to high standards in this area are looked down upon or considered at least a bit odd. As often as I overhear women talking about what they are wearing, and what other women at church are wearing, I know it's true the women pay a lot of attention to that. I've also noticed in most churches a core group of women are followed in their dress style by most (not all) of the other women, to an extent at least. The more modest that group of women, the more modest most of the other women. Likewise, the more immodest they dress, the more immodest others dress. It's also a sad fact many men (pastors, husbands, fathers) either won't touch the subject or do so in a weak manner. Instead, they drop their role to lead in this area and say they are deferring to their wives or the leading women in the church. I don't understand that attitude. Myself, I wouldn't want my wife or daughter dressing in a way to show off her body and allow others to see what should be reserved for a husband. A man can set standards of dress without being a tyrant or forcing his wife or daughter to dress in some ugly fashion to achieve modesty. It does come down to conviction, and if one woman believes she can wear loose feminine pants and is modest and another believes she should wear floor length, flowing dresses, that's between them and God. Hopefully they can share their view with one another in friendly fashion and love one another as sisters in Christ.
In some cases, perhaps in many where the gossip is intended to be malicious, there is a measure of hate involved. Gossip is spread in order to attack or attempt to bring down a person or family the gossiper dislikes, even to the point of hatred (tho they would likely deny hate being involved and would probably also even deny their gossip was actually gossip). Gossip that comes reaches the point of infecting a church, causing discord and division, often brings about hate even if it didn't start as such. As is so often the case, one sin leads to another, then another, then another. Adding sin to sin makes things worse and the more involved, the worse yet.
As a new Christian I was introduced to Armstrong by another babe in Christ who had found one of his free magazines (I think it was called "Plain Truth"). Being so new and immature in the faith we simply accepted the magazine, and their ministry, as being Christian. I even remember we discussed the idea they must be real good Christians since they send their magazine out for free and offer all their books and booklets for free. Even so, over the course of the following months as I read more of their material even as I was also spending much time in the Bible, listening to Charles Stanley sermons (this would have been 1981 and 1982), I began to think something wasn't right about Armstrong. It took some more time, but finally came to see where some of his error was. This lead me to the conclusion that if he's so wrong about these matters, what else might be be wrong about and what profit is there in reading his materials any more. Mormons teach their people to be ready for catastrophe, telling them to stockpile supplies, a year or more of supplies if they can, if not then at least a months supply. Mormons are taught to expect to survive a coming terrible time, since they are special to God and are prepared for His plan. Meanwhile, they expect much of the population will be decimated, including those Christians who aren't right with God as they are. Many Christian "survivalists" take an "it's mine and I'm not sharing with anyone" attitude, often coupled with an "I'll show no mercy to my brothers and sisters in Christ in need, let alone anyone else", sometimes to the extreme of, "I'll kill anyone, even my family in Christ, if they are so hungry they dare to try and take a packet of Ramen noodles after I've told them to go away." Meanwhile, Mormons teach they are to draw together and care for one another, help one another and carry one another through the terrible time so they are all together and ready to rebuild and lead afterwards.
After the problems I encountered trying to upgrade from 7 to 8 on this computer I'm hesitant to think of upgrading. However, I am considering purchasing a new computer which I would like to have Windows 10 if I do.
I've known various groups over the years who were of the "homo spiritual" mindset. The earliest I recall were some old time Methodists who seemed to be in competition with some old time Baptists in another town for which group could appear the most stern, speak the most pious, look down their noses best at all the "lesser" people. Later I encountered a group of young Charismatics who came to believe their little group were the only real Christians around. They eventually reached the conclusion that anyone calling themselves Christians who didn't "speak in tongues" couldn't possibly be a real Christian. Besides, any real Christians would be in agreement with them. I've also encountered many social club Christians. They tend to base their belief they are better than others upon the status of most of their members in the community. The article should have been more clearly written to point out the difference between Jesus going amongst sinners to share the way of salvation, as well as His willingness to allow the lost sinners to come to Him seeking salvation, and the often wrong notion of Jesus being a "friend of sinners" who hung out with sinners and just accepted everyone as they were. Those who Jesus was friends with were mostly His disciples and they are the ones he "hung out" with. Jesus' openness to approaching, or being approached by sinners was always in the context of what we might call soul winning. No matter what church, what group, branch, denomination or whatever we belong with or are associated with, we aren't the only true Christians, we aren't the only ones God is working in and through.
Yes, that can be a very serious problem. One of the things I really like about our pastor is his long standing stance against gossip along with actual efforts to stop gossip, and making it clear gossip is a sin, and not some "lesser sin" as many seem to think.
I've lived in small towns like that years ago and live in such a place now. It's a much different way needed to share Christ in these small town, rural areas than in the big cities. Even in the cities, depending upon what area of the city a person goes to will depend upon what approach is best. As Calvinist IFBs was mentioned above, I am seeing more of them too. Perhaps to many non-Calvinist IFBs shame, the Calvinists are far more active in both church organized as well as personal soul winning. This is why their churches are growing in areas where other IFB churches are shrinking. Along with the Calvinists, both the Pentecostals and Charismatics seem to be more active in sharing their faith than some IFB churches. I read an article recently which pointed out that while the major trend is shrinking churches, the Assemblies of God is growing. The article also mentioned one of the growth factors in some areas being Mexican immigrants being won to Christ and leaving the RCC for the AG. Most of the folks in our church live out their faith, speak of their faith openly and share Christ. This serves as a great witness but doesn't often translate into many coming to Christ or filling the church pews. In this little town the vast majority of folks have already made up their minds about Jesus, Christianity, church, God, heaven. Other than with a few children or youth who sometimes come to Christ, any others typically takes years of prayer, much living Christ before them and speaking of Christ before a heart may finally soften to really consider the Gospel.
Putting forth cogent arguments for a persons position is much more effective than name calling or denouncements. It doesn't win an argument for each side to point to a long line of Baptists who have held to the same position they do so they call each other heretics. It doesn't win an argument for any side to simply make statements that Scripture is on their side and their viewpoint is all that matters. If a person believes their position to be correct they will be satisfied to present their biblical evidence for that position and won't fear the other side doing the same. Then allowing whoever reads both sides to decide where the evidence presented actually leads. Reasoned questions and answers, reasoned responses and rebuttals, then a review of what's been presented and determination by whoever the audience happens to be as to whether one or the other (or neither) having proved their case.
One State is now requiring Christians who counsel in State facilities sign a form agreeing not to call homosexuality a sin. Bit by bit they are working to paint real Christians as extremists. By tagging us as fundamentalist extremists, homophobes and such they can build hate for us among the general population. This builds their ability to silence us in the public arena as a growing percentage of the population comes to think we need to be silenced. How long before these efforts reach the point of declaring sharing the Gospel to be an act of hateful intolerance by fundamentalist extremists out to divide and destroy the country?
Many are constantly looking for signs and that's turned into big business for those willing to constantly offer up new signs for people to be fixated with. Then when the excitement wears off, or the predictions don't come to pass, new signs are put forth and the cycle repeats itself. Israel became a nation again in 1948. Predictions that Christ would return by 1988 abounded...until 1988 came and went and Christ hadn't returned. Then the new sign focused upon the Jews capturing Jerusalem in 1968 which they declared meant Jesus must return by 2008...until that year too passed with no return of Christ. New signs to take it's place came in different forms from different prophecy "experts". Along with scores of other signs to take note of, other dates to consider, more signs to look for. Beware of the Soviet Union they are ushering in the End Times. Beware Saddam Hussein he's the new Babylon and he's going to bring about the End Times. On and on the pointing to this or that as a sign and the constant and changing predictions have poured forth in abundance over the past several decades. Countless books and movies all taking their own slant on these things. Now, after several decades of this, with millions of Christians living through much or all of this, there is growing disillusionment with the pre-trib rapture view and the constant barrage of signs and predictions associated with that view. While the pre-trib rapture view wasn't a main view elsewhere, it came to hold sway in America but now the pendulum is swinging away from that view to others. In the process, some are becoming "doomsday survivor" minded, some are so disillusioned they have all but turned away from anything to do with prophecy or the End Times, some are returning to views their churches held prior to taking on the pre-trib rapture view, others are looking elsewhere. The Left Behind series (perhaps well intentioned?, I don't know) and the attending signs to look for and predictions, eventually did great harm to the pre-trib rapture position among many Americans. Scripture is clear we are to occupy until Christ does return. We are to continually be about the Master's business so when He does return, and we won't know when, He will find us being faithful. No call to stockpile a years worth of dried food, or weapons for a personal little army, or build bunkers to hide in, or to scour the news sites and peer into a telescope looking for signs. Rather we are called to go into the world and spread the Gospel, live so men see Christ in us, spend time in prayer, learn the Scriptures, be ready at all times for Christ to return by living for Him full time.