As new members join a site called "Christianity," it is understandably common that many will ask the sorts of questions that would be asked of a pastor, in a church Bible study, or over a cup of coffee at a Christian book store. Questions like:

  1. Of whom is God jealous?
  2. Is it possible to get into heaven, but then be cast out at a later date?
  3. Why did God create man?
  4. What could persuade a presumably otherwise-rational Satan to turn on God?
  5. Genesis 19. 8 Why should he protect strangers above protect his daughters?
  6. Original sin and its consequences

But despite the impression given by our name, that's not really what we're about. Why?

We can't handle the truth.

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These types of questions are what we refer to as Truth Questions. It may seem odd to say that a site about Christianity says it can't handle the Truth... Isn't Christianity all about The Truth, and determining The Truth?

Well, yes, Christianity is about the Truth. But we aren't. We are about Christianity.

Put another way: we don't study the Truth, we study the Christian study of the Truth.

And as there are a multitude of Christian opinions, as made apparent by the number of Christian churches and denominations, there can almost never be a single, universally accepted answer to any truth question. This is why we shy away from Truth Questions.

But don't despair! There's still hope for your question. Here are some guidelines on how you can clean up your question to make it possible to answer within the guidelines of this site. And below are some links for further reading if you desire a deeper understanding.

Turning a "Truth Question" into a "Christianity Question"

First understand that a "Truth Question" asks what is true. A "Christianity Question," as deemed appropriate for our site, can ask what Christians believe or do. And more specifically, it asks what a specific group or subset of Christians do.

  • Bad: Is Michael the Archangel also Jesus?

    There are at least two answers to this question. Which one is right? We don't know. We can't handle the Truth.

  • Good: Do Jehovah's Witnesses believe Michael the Archangel is Jesus?

    There is only one answer, because the question is no longer asking for truth, but only what a specific group of Christians believe. Jehovah's Witnesses have a well-defined answer to this question.

An acceptable question can also ask for the origin of a particular belief, doctrine, or practice.

  • Bad: Is drinking alcohol a sin?

    There are countless answers to this question. Some believe all alcohol is a sin, others think it's permissible only for medicinal purposes, or during communion, and others yet have no restrictions on the consumption of alcohol. Which is the correct answer? We don't know. We can't handle the Truth.

  • Good: What is the Biblical basis for claiming that drinking alcohol is a sin?

    There is a well defined answer to this question. And you don't have to even agree with the conclusion that alcohol consumption is a sin to understand the Biblical basis for the claim.

For further reading

If you are still confused about why your question was closed, or need help revising it to fit within our site guidelines, please do not hesitate to ask a question here on meta about your specific situation. We really do want to make it possible for you to participate here!

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I suppose that after we get the truth question close reason in place we should close those questions you listed above. –  fredsbend Mar 5 at 21:52
    
I can't edit this, but isn't "What is the Biblical basis for claiming that drinking alcohol is a sin?" still a poor question because there will be multiple competing answers? Perhaps instead it should be "What Biblical basis do X see for saying drinking alcohol is sinful?" –  curiousdannii Mar 7 at 10:36
    
@curiousdannii: I'm not quite sure what you mean by competing answers. –  Flimzy Mar 7 at 18:21
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"we don't study the Truth, we study the Christian study of the Truth." That's brilliant! –  David Stratton Mar 8 at 3:02
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I like this. It's well-done, covers everything, and I think that everything in it is spot on, but I worry that the tongue-in-cheek title conveys the wrong message. We old-timers get it, but newcomers may not, and that's what we're trying to avoid. Also, I'd like to suggest another link for the "Further reading" section. I hope this doesn't sound too self-serving and self-promoting, but I really like Tips for editing a question to make it suitable for re-opening –  David Stratton Mar 8 at 12:40
    
It seems that if we have a new user someone with less than a (to be determined number of reps), could someone with a (to be determined number of reps) rewrite the question, and in the comments explain what was changed and why. Hopefully that would help the new user to learn how to ask questions. We could also use that process to reword answers. I had a particularly tough time when I first began and still make a lot of mistakes, but then these others may be more adept (smarter) than me. –  Bye Mar 12 at 17:41
    
@CecilBeckum: That's the status quo for SE... –  Flimzy Mar 12 at 18:44
    
@Flimzy Which one my suggestion, or everyone being smarter than me? laugh! –  Bye Mar 12 at 19:47
    
WOOT! I finally made #1!!!! –  The Freemason Mar 19 at 17:18
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@curiousdannii NO! "What is the Biblical basis for claiming that drinking alcohol is a sin?" is most certainly not a poor question. While different denominations might have differing opinions on any given topic, we should never force questions to be specific to only a denomination as opposed to what is stated in a specific bible. "What does the bible say about X?" is just as good, in my opinion better, than "What do the methodists say about X?" It is a very specific question, and good answers will not be any more opinion based than the methodist version. –  Loduwijk Aug 7 at 16:49
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Also, a more specific example: "What do catholics say about infant baptism?" or "What do baptists say about infant baptism?" are good questions, but so is "What does the bible say about infant baptism?" For many people, including myself, what the bible says itself is the most important. This specific example in no way encourages catholics and baptists to be at odds with each other, because a good answer will just look for any possible infant baptisms, and for any possible words encouraging/discouraging it, or the answer could say "There is nothing in the bible about it." –  Loduwijk Aug 7 at 16:54
    
@Loduwijk "What does the Bible say about X?" is very different from "What is the Biblical basis for X?" The same Biblical passages will be interpreter differently from different groups. Baptism is a great example: the exact same passages in Acts will be used to argue for and against infant baptism. "What does the Bible say about X?" questions are effectively list questions: what passages do I need to read to adequately learn about this topic? It's not ask how it should be interpreted. –  curiousdannii Aug 7 at 22:36
    
@Loduwijk What I was suggesting is that Biblical basis passages can sometimes encourage contradictory answers if you don't also ask for a denominational perspective. If you asked for the Biblical basis for infant baptism you would get very different answers from Catholics and Presbyterians. I don't know enough about the Orthodox churches but they might provide different answers again. In general on Stack Exchange sites questions which encourage contradictory answers are to be discouraged. Make sense? –  curiousdannii Aug 7 at 22:39
    
@Loduwijk Lastly it sounds like you're coming from a protestant background and would like to just let the Bible speak for itself. I'm protestant too and can sympathise for that, but the reality is none of us can be sure that we read the Bible the way God intended it to be read. That is why it is important to learn the arguments why people interpret passages how they do, and to be upfront with how our systematic doctrinal understandings impact how interpretations. –  curiousdannii Aug 7 at 22:42

3 Answers 3

Maybe the site's name is deceiving, would something like "Christianity Study", Christian Denominations", etc be more prudent? Even if the site's name doesn't change, we could just change the logo.

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This is a funny post, and I hear what you are saying. But if this is true then I humbly suggest that Christianity isn't a good fit for the StackExchange network.

The one thing that all of us have in common (unless this site is mis-named) is Christ. And I think most of us can agree that everyone needs to know Him. This site is in a unique positon, in that it is connected to a lot of non-Christian sites, which potentially brings in a lot of people seeking God. It would be very unfortunate not to be able to take advantage of this as a witnessing opportunity. I totally understand the "which denomination" thing, but the key point is Christ.

I get the idea, but if you have a heart for Jesus it just doesn't make sense. Does Jesus care more about whether we answer a properly-posed question, or whether His lost sheep are found?

James 1:22 NIV

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

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This site is not about evangelism, spreading the love of Christ, or any of those things--which are arguably very good things (at least from a Christian perspective, which many of us here share). This site is about the academic study of Christianity. It could just as well be a site about Greek Mythology--as far as I know, there are no (or very few) modern worshipers of Zeus, but there are academics who study such things, and a site like this could just as well work for them, as this site can work for Christians, or anyone interested in Christianity. –  Flimzy May 14 at 18:11
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I get it, but if you're a Christian (who are hopefully the experts here), then what is the point of knowing about Christ and not doing anything with that? When someone goes to StackOverflow with a programming question, it is with the intent of doing something with the answer. Likewise, one does not usually attend a seminary with the goal of just knowing stuff. Unlike StackOverflow, there is the potential to answer questions and do something with them. If SE prohibits this, Christianity is arguably a bad fit for SE. –  transistor1 May 14 at 18:33
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I, and many others, clearly think it's a good fit here, even given the limitations. –  Flimzy May 14 at 18:36
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Well I pray that all of you do something for God with what you learn. No hard feelings, brother. Not trying to piss people off, but unfortunately this site is wasting an amazing opportunity, given the great SEO it has. I prob won't spend much more time on this site, but I'll pray for you. –  transistor1 May 14 at 18:51
    
Well, I don't think it's wasting anything. I think it's serving a valuable service. Good luck to you. –  Flimzy May 14 at 18:52
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"I don't think it's wasting anything" Then let me recommend a good book that will challenge your faith a bit. –  transistor1 May 14 at 19:02
    
You're still missing the point of this site. But that's okay. It's not for everyone. –  Flimzy May 14 at 19:03
    
If you want to discuss this further, I suggest you come to chat. –  Flimzy May 14 at 19:05
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Two things this site can do is promote the scriptures and clarify truth (though there will be competing versions of the second.) So while full-blown evangelism may not be appropriate here, those two things are still evangelistic enough for me to be happy to contribute here. –  curiousdannii May 14 at 21:45
    
@Flimzy I will send you a free audio copy of not a fan. if you contact me. –  transistor1 May 20 at 16:40
    
@transistor1: Thanks for the offer, but I'm not sure where you would send it. I don't have a permanent address. :) –  Flimzy May 20 at 17:22
    
@Flimzy, OK. If you can think of a place, I can mail you the CDs, or I will gladly transfer it to MP3 and destroy my physical copy. Just let me know. –  transistor1 May 20 at 17:57
    
transistor1 - You are correct and I agree with you. In that spirit, I share a similar concern and I raised a question here: meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/1354/… –  Jim G. Jul 17 at 1:28

meh. The meme is over the top. That was the bad guy in that movie... This is not new information for anyone who has been associated with this particular SE for long. Those who haven't been here long might be turned off by the whole "our interpretation of reality is so great join us or perish" self congratulatory crusader type mentality. You may not be able to handle Christ as the Origin of Truth (Via, Veritas, Vita John 16:6) but I certainly can and don't agree with this post.

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Well, I do agree the meme is a little distracting. –  Matt Mar 19 at 0:14
    
@Matt thank you it takes courage to agree even if only in part with someone as lowly as me. :) –  caseyr547 Mar 19 at 0:17
    
What if the crusader is a mod? –  The Freemason Mar 19 at 17:21
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@thefreemason often they are. Such personalities are drawn to power –  caseyr547 Mar 19 at 17:42

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