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I was just inspired by the great sentiment at the "Christianity.SE vs. Survivor" post. The writer said it was not useful to kick people off the island for not meeting your standards for deserving to call oneself a Christian. There is kindness, inclusiveness, and great pragmatism for running a secular site.

Can we have all three of those for people with no identifiable perspective? I've done a great deal of studying of the writing of Luther and John Paul II. I served on the Council of a Lutheran congregation for six years. I teach Sunday School at a nondenominational church now. The pastor was ordained in the Conservative Baptist Fellowship of New England. I write my own Sunday School material and occasionally send it to the pastor, and he's never complained.

When I hear that requirement, it sounds like this site is for people who will give answers that make the tradition they are in look good, not for well-read people who can give factual answers.

  • If in doubt, find a Chesterton quote to back you up. If you can't find one, then it's probably not true. – Peter Turner Jul 8 '13 at 13:56
  • @DavidStratton I think it's a bit different. I think the necessary distinctive that needs to be made here is to make the denomination/doctrine differentiation more clear. Just because you don't have an identifiable denomination doesn't mean you don't hold to specific doctrines with identifiable perspectives. And that's what the answers here are pointing at. – wax eagle Jul 8 '13 at 17:31
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So, if you look at my bio, you'll see I have an equally convoluted history as yours. In my case, I went from "non-dom" to Baptist to Episcopalian, and I maybe lurching towards another change very, very quickly.

And, I'll admit, I'm probably the worst when it comes to identifying my perspective - but in most cases it is because I tend to stick to stuff that is identifiably held, if not across the entire Nicene spectrum, at least majorly across it. (Alternatively, if I quote Scripture, I consider that to be trans-Nicene, but I digress).

That said, you'll alo see that I can name my heresies pretty well. Gnosticism, Monarchism, Modalism, Nestorianism, Semi-Pelagianism, etc... This is the bread and butter of theology - finding the heresy that has already been named. Once you know their names, you literally have thousands of years of thinking on them. And trust me, none of us is as smart as all of us. Knowing the perspective (Augustinian? Aquinas? Franciscan? Calvinsitic? Arminian? Lutheran? Lewis? Barth?) puts you ahead of the game, because you are no longer alone.

There is such a thing as a Nicene perspective - but it isn't necessarily a Protestant one. Not everybody believes the Eucharist to be just memorial. Not everybody believes veneration to be iconodulic. And, when I step outside of the Creeds, I also know a little bit about those who reject pretty core things - like the Trinity, the Divinity of Jesus, etc...

But again - that sort of proves the point - there is always a perspective, and it doesn't necessarily mean "what I know to be right vs. everyone else."

And, candidly, you do have to read a lot of theology to get to that point. Part of what this site is about is naming all of those details "you know" and classifying them. It takes time, and you will get help, I promise. That's what experts enjoy.

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Yes, all answers need to represent an identifiable perspective.

However, having an "identifiable perspective" is not at all the same thing as just giving the party line for a denomination. It's much more nuanced than that. Literally all aspects of theology and Christian practice have been hashed over in various ways through history. As culture and language change the groupings of issues often shifts making it particularly hard to put any particular branch in a box, but even so the individual issues are relatively well defined. A surprising number of them even have names.

You may not even know the name for a position, but if you are actually an expert (and after all expert level knowledge is what we're after here) you will at least be able to define the position with some reasonable scope: defining what it is and what it is not. This will also include some knowledge of who does and does not hold that view. The name if there is one might also be expected of an expert, but at the very least a clear understanding of the position is expected.

This isn't about defining "all Baptists believe X", it's about saying "on issue Y the position Z {expounded} is held by A, B".

In summary, well read people who can give factual answers are specifically the people who will be able to identify the perspectives from which they answer. Especially on the side of things, many issues may require an doctrinal issue specific perspective not one of a broader tradition, but there will still be an identifiable perspective and a known constituency.

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