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I posted an answer to a question but some folks raised objection. Apparently as defined by this meta post I'm supposed to confine my answer to an official doctrinal position.

This is a bit difficult for me to do because I do not subscribe to any denomination or creed. Nor do I attend any Church. I've had some bad experiences with organized Christianity so I stay clear of it. For me Christianity means reading a good Biblical book on Sunday afternoon and killing time in the office by roaming Christian sites on the internet.

My beliefs are ideas cherry picked from a lot of different sources. For example, I side with orthodox Christianity on deity of Christ but I side with Jehovah's witnesses on mortality of soul.

In essence you could classify me as a Christian anarchist.

So you can see the problem it creates for me. I can't cite an official position because I don't have one. Sometimes I don't even know the official name for my beliefs until it's pointed out to me by someone.

This has me confused about my role on the site. I am wondering if I should confine myself to only asking questions.

Not to mention that I sense some duplicity here. I have seen several atheists contribute to this site who's opinions are well received. I'm wondering as to what denomination or official doctrine could they represent in their posts.

So my question - Should adherence to official doctrines be the only indicator of quality? Or do we need to rethink that criteria a bit?

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    I did try to found a heresy of my own; and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy. Hmm, sounds like someone... – Peter Turner Aug 24 '12 at 14:31
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    I think my answer to this question fits here, as well. It's not about censorship, or that one's personal views are invalid. They're just, "too localized" to be a useful answer on this site. They'd make for great conversation. They don't make for great SE answers. – Flimzy Aug 24 '12 at 19:21
  • @Flimzy I don't see how. Would you please explain how your point 3 applies to atheist users on this site? – Monika Michael Aug 24 '12 at 19:27
  • @MonikaMichael: Atheists providing answers ought to cite sources, too. I guess I'm not sure really what you're asking. – Flimzy Aug 24 '12 at 19:48
  • @Flimzy Well I'm just curious as to how they'll cite official doctrines in support of their answers. – Monika Michael Aug 24 '12 at 20:13
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    @MonikaMichael: Well, most atheist answers won't be on topic here. The ones that are, can cite philosophers or authors, etc. Quoting C.S. Lewis is on-topic here. So for an atheist answer, quoting Friedrich Nietzsche would be, too. – Flimzy Aug 24 '12 at 20:54
  • @Flimzy I hope you didn't take this personally. I've edited my question to make it more neutral. And I'm just argumentative by nature (in the true spirit of an anarchist :) ) – Monika Michael Aug 25 '12 at 5:12
  • I never realized it but I think I might be an anarchist too, but I really have an aversion to being in any Group with predefined assumptions about my beliefs. Oh, conflict. – 3961 Mar 7 '13 at 19:42
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The trouble here is that this is a Q&A site about Christianity. It's not a site for asking questions about the personal beliefs of DJ Clayworth, or Monika Michael. A 'good quality' answer should be one that reflects 'Christianity'.

I do note that nobody tried to delete your answer - it was simply downvoted. Downvoting says that the answer was not found helpful. It isn't an attempt to stop you saying it.

I sympathize with your viewpoint quite a lot. We all want to be able to express our beliefs and have them validated, and we all believe in 'free expression' and frown on 'censorship'. However what happens if we allow that "everybody's answer is as good any any other". Do we promote the answer that says "Islam is really better than Christianity"? Or "your problem is that you still believe in this outdated concept of a God"? At that point the site stops being about Christianity at all.

I would be interested to know what answers expressing an atheist point of view were upvoted. That would clearly be an issue.

  • "I would be interested to know what answers expressing an atheist point of view were upvoted." Here you go. – Monika Michael Aug 24 '12 at 16:17
  • And never mind the up or down votes. Why say they are welcome on the site since they can't identify with a tradition? – Monika Michael Aug 24 '12 at 16:17
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    Even I was a bit perplexed and confused to see that atheists are having their ball of a time in demeaning whatever we Christians hold in such a high regard. When their position is well known, the least they can be allowed is to ask a question but posting an answer to a question on a faith which they trample under their foot is like hypocritical. – JoaoRodrigues Aug 25 '12 at 16:20
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    The problem there was the question. It was really a question about philosophy, or maybe rules of debate. Given that the question was allowed it was hard to exclude an atheist response. – DJClayworth Oct 22 '12 at 2:59
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When a question is based on a specific doctrinal position (as they should be), answers from outside that position are by definition off topic. It really is that simple.

That means that your answer shouldn't be about your own beliefs. I've certainly expressed my own beliefs in chat and the occasional comment, and here on Meta, but most of my answers are not about my personal beliefs. Why should they be? The question wasn't about what TRiG believed on the topic.

I've explained what Jehovah's Witnesses believe:
What is the view of Jehovah's Witnesses on John 18:36 “My kingdom is not from this world”?
If JW believe they should use Jehovah to be accurate why don't they use Jesus' real Hebrew name? (a very quick and easy answer written straight off the top of my head, which somehow became my highest voted answer on the site)

I've quoted other opinions where relevant, not giving my own:
What is “The Parable of the Shrewd Manager” about? (not that I have any opinions of my own on this subject)

I have given my own opinion where it's actually relevant:
If I call myself a Christian, does this mean I'm a Christian?
Should someone continue to go to church if his thoughts are no longer aligned with what is taught there?
“AD & BC” vs “CE & BCE”
(And you'll notice that two of the questions where my personal opinion was a relevant answer are now closed. That might give you a hint.)

I've written more general answers from a broader perspective:
Is paganism compatible with Christianity?
What is the source of hatred often perceived by Christians in western society?
Is it possible to be Christian but not interpret the religion as fact? (easily my best answer on this site, though the votes certainly don't reflect that)

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Like you said, you're going to find that nearly every way you go about your path you're going to stumble in to some predefined medieval heresy, failing that you will stumble in to orthodoxy, like G.K. Chesterton did.

Contrasting your answers with a guy who formerly haunted the site who actually did write his own Bible and quoted it, I'd say that whatever heresy you're trying to craft sounds more like orthodoxy than it doesn't.

However, the popularity contest on the site for seemingly well crafted and acceptable, mainstream answers is, well, kind of lame. The best sorts of answers on this site, or any other, are the ones that soundly prove their case. I like lots of references, bullets et al. But if you've spent enough time on StackOverflow you know you don't want a link to MSDN you don't want something that just happens to compile, you want something that works!

  • "whatever heresy you're trying to craft sounds more like orthodoxy" That's good to hear. :) My only lament is not being accepted though I'm close to orthodoxy, in contrast to complete heretics who are. But then it's not a "change the rules or I'll leave for good" threat. It's a good venue for learning so I'll have to continue to participate nonetheless. – Monika Michael Aug 25 '12 at 5:03
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    And good point on the popularity contest thing. Perhaps I should avoid the same and just focus on answers without caring for points. – Monika Michael Aug 25 '12 at 5:13

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