I understand that the site should not be a substitute for counseling, and I am gaining respect for the policy about Truth questions.

But when a new person asks a very basic question, is it helpful to assert as waxeagle did here,

Generally we suggest that questions be scoped to a particular denomination or set of beliefs. The reason for this is that Christianity rarely has a single reasonable answer.

Does this raise the risk of affirming the arguments of opponents of Christianity, as in David Stratton's hypothetical quote:

"See, you idiots have no idea what you're talking about, and can't even make up your minds about the so-called basics!"

3 Answers 3


It really depends on what your goal is with the site. If it's evangelical, then you're right: this probably isn't helpful. But the stated purpose of the site is not evangelical; we aren't (as a whole) trying to convince people that Christianity is right or good or desirable or to make any value judgements at all.

Rather, the purpose of the site is to help people learn about the range and depth of the phenomena called "Christianity". It would be dishonest to say we agree when we don't. (And whether we like it or not, we can't vote people off the island so that we all agree.)


I think it's better to assume we disagree, then find that we do, than to assume we agree and end up arguing. If I say "Protestantism teaches A" but only some Protestants teach it, this could easily (though not necessarily) result in an argument/debate; if I say (and source) "Southern Baptists teach A" then a Methodist could provide another answer, and there's no arguing. Everything said is right; I covered the beliefs of one group, while someone else covered the beliefs of the other group, and we both learned something.


In my opinion, it is harmful to both SE & Christianity.

First of all, there are some very basic doctrines to Christianity. Forgiving the very immoral person should be a very basic one: I'm sure you could find sermons on this from across the spectrum, from Pope John Paul II to Luther to Augustine to C.S. Lewis to Rick Warren. I don't know that there's any fringe where there wouldn't be such a doctrine of forgiveness being available to all. Maybe the Nazis had such an extreme view on forgiveness--- it depended on your race?

Secondly, while we don't do counseling, the new believer/ seeker (perhaps somewhat presumptuously assumed by low rating and desperate question) could be given a basic scholarly answer. If they are a seeker, I don't think it's helpful to force them to pick a faction first up.

Thirdly, I've seen wide varieties of opinion across i) members of congregation, ii) members of an advocacy group pushing one kind of "reform" in a denomination, iii) congregations of a denomination, and of course iv) denominations. Saying, "I want the reliable answer of Denomination X" isn't often very reliably obtainable, if they want some sort of reassurance that they can go find specific people with a viewpoint. While I still hold that there are basic truths of Christianity, I don't think you can reliably find people who agree (who have been taught) the ones taught by the bible & church fathers.

Fourthly, it does imply that we are all idiots.

In contrast, it would be more helpful to simply answer questions as if Scripture, the writings of church fathers, the popes, the reformers, the evangelists (Spurgeon to Finney) and "famous authors" were all fair game, maybe even all in basic agreement. Let the different nuances come out in the different perspectives of the Answerers.

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    The problem I have with this (and this is why we've taken this tack from the start) is that we must accomodate, and essentially put on equal footing of truthfulness everyone who claims to be a Christian. Be mindful of the fact that the Stack Exchange goal is to create expert sites on their subject matter. An expert question in Christianity should know enough to know whether they want the catholic or protestant explanation on a subject.
    – wax eagle
    Jun 14, 2013 at 16:51
  • To your 3rd point if the disagreements are this divisive than the question should be scoped to reflect the desired defense of the point in question (do you want the reasons for or agains't it). The request for denominational scoping is an attempt to contain the subject, if that doesn't do it than a different container is to be found.
    – wax eagle
    Jun 14, 2013 at 16:52

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