I am a user of Islam.SE, I need guidance for that site.

Are questions that provide critical analysis of Christianity or the Bible allowed here? For example, if I were to point to a verse and my question is about the weakness of the verse? Lets say it was a real question otherwise, not just critical.

Are such questions allowed on Christianity.SE? If yes, to what extent. If not, why not?


In general, no.

There isn't an outright prohibition on critical questions, but so far we have yet to see any that really work. Basically one of two things ends up happening:

  1. The OP just wants to be critical. If after some effort from the community all they really want is the critical tone of their post, then it gets closed as "Not Constructive" and we move on.

  2. The OP really wants to learn something. If they actually want to hear and maybe learn from the perspective of whatever it is they are critical of, then we can help them edit the question into a form that asks a question rather than criticizing. It's not rocket science, but it's not many people's first instinct. To give an extreme example, you could ask "Why do Bereans typically not use any name other than 'Christian' to identify themselves?" Expect an answer from a Berean or somebody that knows them well. However, "How is it that Bereans can be so block headed as to believe they are the only ones that put the Bible first?" would get shut down. To give a more subtle example, we would not let you ask "Should infants be baptised or not?" but you may ask "Why do most Presbyterians baptise their infants?"

Basically, it comes down to this: Direct your questions at getting answers from the experts in the exact niche that the question topic hits. When it comes to faith, this means framing your question in way that the best answers will be from the party being questioned, not from everybody else. If you are doing it right, you should be able to ask about any doctrine from any sect even if you think they are totally heretical in a way that allows them to explain themselves and doesn't have to be read as an attack.

Allow me to bring this point home with an example. It's not really a secret around here that I don't believe some Sects such as Mormonism are in any way compatible with true Christianity. And yet they are definitely included in the scope of this site. Any attempt on my part to use this as a venue to criticize them would not be tolerated. On the contrary, this is a place were we can both approach the table and learn about each-other through RESPECTFUL GENUINE QUESTIONS. For example, I asked On what do Mormons base their practice of proxy-baptisms on behalf of the dead? and got a good solid answer from a professing Mormon. As a result, I learned something. As a Reformed Protestant I have very different beliefs on the matter, but my agreement or disagreement does not even factor into the question, my upvote/accept of the answer I got, or the chance to learn something about a belief different from mine.

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    As another example, contrast Flimzy's What is a Christian's justification for a legal prohibition of homosexual marriage? with my deleted question on the same topic. – TRiG Jul 16 '12 at 11:35
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    "Direct your questions at getting answers from the experts in the exact niche that the question topic hits" You said it rightly here. They are not be posers for proving someone's wrong. Sometime back I have seen a question "Why God created evil" was closed on Stack exchange Islam saying it as not constuctive. I have not come across closure of such question on this site. – JoaoRodrigues Aug 4 '12 at 8:28

I've only been around here for about two weeks at this point, but I would think that the answer to your question would vary according to what definition of the word "critical" was being used.

Here's Meriam-Webster's definition. In normal, everyday usage, "criticize" or "critical" can carry one of two basic meanings:

  • To be insulting. Related, more emphatic words include: caustic, vitriolic, or vituperative. When a speaker is simply trying to offend. (Definition 2A at Merriam-Webster). It sounds to me like this is the circumstance that Caleb is referencing, and his answer makes sense.

  • An alternate, slightly less common meaning refers to careful consideration that seeks thorough explanation, does not accept superficial answers, and rejects indefensible responses based on emotion or personal opinion. (Definition 2B at Merriam-Webster). In that case, I would hope that such questions would be encouraged on C.SE.

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