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It seems like the recent questions being asked on Christianity are of the form, "Justify your Christian existence", rather than "Can you expound on this facet of Christianity". Basically, the kinds of questions atheists ask.

It might be just me, but lately I feel depressed every time I visit Christianity to read the questions and answers. I don't think we should have to constantly justify our beliefs in a place that's supposed to be expounding our beliefs.

wax eagle asked for some examples. Here are some questions that in my opinion are justification questions.

Has the Church historically considered biblical texts concerning slavery to be transcultural or finite?

What religious significance is there in marriage for Catholics and Protestants?

Did Jesus really die?

God commanded people to kill in the Old testament, does he still command people to kill today?

  • Could you cite a couple of examples? – wax eagle Feb 21 '13 at 19:56
  • Slow down there, downvoter. Gilbert is asking for your thoughts about such questions, and for help with personally dealing with such questions. There's no real position being advanced here, and it's actually a very good question, and an important issue. – Alypius Feb 21 '13 at 20:45
  • I personally do not see the "justify this" attitude in any of those. I do think the Did Jesus really die needs some work. It is not asking for a specific kind of answer. But I still think it is an acceptable answer for this site. – 3961 Feb 21 '13 at 21:28
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    @Alypius: Voting is different on meta sites. There is no cause to tell people how to vote, esp on meta where often votes represent an opinion about a topic, not a judgement on whether a question is well formed or useful. – Caleb Feb 21 '13 at 22:00
  • @Caleb that just means that on Meta, you can vote based on opinionated agreement. I'm pointing out that this question isn't saying "hey let's ban these questions", it's saying "I'm feeling discouraged, like I constantly have to justify my beliefs, help me out", and I think some people are missing that. – Alypius Feb 21 '13 at 22:35
  • What do you think about a different framing of those questions. – 3961 Feb 21 '13 at 22:39
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So, maybe we're having a bit of a disagreement over the use of the word "justify." Explaining the underlying basis for a doctrine is actually a pretty good thing - even for people already convinced of a doctrine. By explaining the rationale and "showing the work," one gets the ability to promote the doctrine, and meditate on it.

I for one, find these questions to be good.

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I think the concern here is a reasonable one, though I see it as an issue of tone rather than content.

I'm reminded of the story that Martin Luther was scandalized, upon opening a copy of Aquinas's Summa Theologica, to find that great saint declaring "It would seem that God does not exist" (!). This may not be a true story - I don't know. At least, Erasmus of Rotterdam was moved to explain to him "the difference between refuting and propounding, between argumentation and pronouncing judgement ... From a scriptural quotation [Aquinas] draws a false conclusion, sometimes even a blasphemous one, and we recognize that it is legitimate to do so in the arena of debate." (Hyperasperites 2, 1527). Of your four example questions, at least three are being asked by believers. But even if that were not the case, I don't find anything improper in the questions themselves.

That said, the fact that you feel somewhat besieged is worth noticing, and it may be indicative of what new users or visitors see. Perhaps we have a glut of questions at the moment where the tone seems to put us on the defensive. If that's so, then I think the remedy is to ask a few more "positive" questions (rather than try to get rid of these others).

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