Disclaimer: I still stand behind the concepts that inspired this post, am glad I wrote it, and that this site made it as far as it did. Unfortunately some of the circumstances have changed since I wrote this and I have resigned from being a moderator. You may see Brothers, I must go for my personal take on where things are now.

I am a Christian. You say you are. But we are not.1

It seems that a lot of folks are having a hard time wrapping their heads around the scope of this site. While I respect the SE staff2 and have been impressed with the effort they have taken (and judgement they have shown) in nurturing this site into existence, I think there is a sense in which -as outsiders- they lack the inside perspective and lingo necessary to communicate with and market to a Christian audience. I do not pretend to have a magic silver bullet that will convince everyone of the value of this site as they proposed it, but I hope my perspective will help at least a few others to grok where this is going and then make informed decisions about their participation.

Here is the my main point. Don't let the URL or title fool you. This is a secular site. This is not a church sanctioned or sponsored ministry site. It is a secular QnA site sponsored as a for-profit venture by a secular company.

This isn't a bad thing, in fact it might be a good thing, but we have to understand this point. SE has not been deceitful in any way nor have they tried to pull wool over our eyes; in fact I feel that they have shown considerable integrity in their dealings. However, we need to understand that this venture is a fundamentally different thing than what we would dream up and build for ourselves as a ministry or resource site.

I think SE sites are in a league of their own so this is not a comparison, but consider the question "What if this was Yahoo Answers?" for a second. As Christians we need to take a step back and realize that this is somebody else's commercial venture that they are inviting us to participate in. They are cooperative in tailoring it to our specific community needs but we still have to play by their rules.

In fact I think this realization makes it easier to participate. We are wading into a niche category on a secular QnA network where any viewpoint is fair game. Personally I am up for that. I hope some of you are too.

I'll spare you repeating the full rant, but for myself, as long as SE doesn't try to dictate or censor our respective beliefs, we religiously identify our respective viewpoints, and nobody tries to ascribe their personal views to a larger corpus of people than are willing to sign off on them, then there is a place in my life for participating here.

Here be dragons. Out spears, up shields, and onward! But we aren't pointing those things at each other.

If you are more inclined to resent rather than celebrate the differences between us, then this may not be the site for you.

Our differences are more than divisions between us, they are boundaries that define us. I think there are more boundaries than is necessary, but the only hope we have of crossing them is to identify and respect them.

1 Of course a fourth possibility exists: that you are here and don't claim to be Christian at all. In that case know that this meta post was not written with your issues in mind. This was specifically written to clear up a common misconception among professing Christians about the nature of this site. This was particularly an issue in the early days of beta as a high percentage of users saw this site as a potential mission field and some kind of fought the system when it didn't cater to that. This post was one attempt to bring those disenfranchised folks on board with what was actually happening here. As such I make no apology for using language to argue as one religiously minded man to other religiously minded men.

2 I think there is at least one staff moderator who is a professing Christian, but most are not.

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    Crazy note: SE software apparently won't let you use an exclamation point at the end of a question title, it changes it to a question mark!
    – Caleb
    Commented Aug 27, 2011 at 11:06
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    It's correct in not letting you tack a ! at the end of a question... because then it's not a question. Or can you phrase and actual question that ends in an exclamation mark? No, your title doesn't count, because it is not a question (so what does it do here? ;-)) Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 4:54
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    I think this site is an awesome opportunity to "Show'em what Christians are" (...and they'll know we are Christians by our love). Our good questions are going to be tweeted, and show up on StackExchange.com right along with cherry pie filling recipes and ingenious perl scripts.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 15:55
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    for myself, as long as SE doesn't try to dictate or censor our respective beliefs, we religiously identify our respective viewpoints, and nobody tries to ascribe their personal views to a larger corpus of people than are willing to sign off on them, then there is a place in my life for participating here. Is sufficient. Why all the other blather at the top? Couldn't you shorten that? Please edit to make more concise since this is a top rated question on meta. Thanks.
    – dongle26
    Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 23:13
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    @dongle26: I wrote this specifically because I thought setting the stage was important. You can get whatever you like out of it but don't you think maybe this became a top rated question because of the background it gives? Why would I butcher it up after it has already proved valuable in this form?
    – Caleb
    Commented Oct 18, 2012 at 7:58
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    perhaps "Sisters and Brothers" would be more appropriate?
    – Alypius
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 19:32
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    @Alypius. Sometimes there is more to be gained in literary value from not catering to politically correctness. Sisters are by no means excluded from the meaning here, and using PC speak would get in the way of what I was trying to say. See also, ἀδελφός.
    – Caleb
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 19:58
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    I know you don't mean to exclude women. But it either does that, or it refers to women as brothers. I'm familiar with the background. The literary value is lost on women and men who don't know the literature or who disagree that it would be appropriate to this case. In this age, excluding one sex means something that it did not in ages past. The title seems at odds with a post that argues for a "secular" and inclusive approach. Yes, it might make the title sound less dramatic, and yes, people will brush it off as PC. But some others won't.
    – Alypius
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 20:33
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    @Alypius: It seems you missed the entire point of this post. I may be arguing for a secular approach, but I am arguing as one religiously minded man to other religiously minded men (in the general sense that includes woman). As such, I make no apologies for speaking using their own language, not that of secular outsiders. Even if I did, I think I can make a case that secular culture understands this sort of language perfectly.
    – Caleb
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 20:43
  • Note that while the site is run by a for-profit company, the content is free (Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 license) to read, use and distribute, and as such could be used in the future e.g. by a non-profit, religious organization.
    – tricasse
    Commented Oct 20, 2013 at 2:03
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    I think open-mindedness is a big value in folks who are more inclined to celebrate the differences rather than resent them.
    – Double U
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 1:08
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    This may not be the appropriate place to put this, but I'm really happy about the level of integrity this site tries to maintain. In my personal life I have always hoped for and dreamed of a place where people of every temperament and opinion could meet and discuss and learn from each other freely and joyously without the hatred, willful ignorance, and shouting into which most group discussions seem to denigrate. I'm sure you guys get a troll here and there, but so many other sites and forums have only trolls, insults, and prejudice. Thank you for this affirmation of the love of learning! Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 20:26
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    I think this post should have the faq tag.
    – user3961
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 20:55
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    Having read this again, after a comment you made to @Gina, I once again must thank you for this very well presented post regarding what we do at this site. Thank you. Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 17:25
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    Even Jesus paid taxes!
    – JonH
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 17:06

3 Answers 3


Right... The site is named, "Christianity", not "Christians". It is, like most of the Stack Exchange sites, intended as a vessel for Q&A on a specific topic; who contributes to filling it, what they believe or how they identify themselves... We have no control over these, nor should we.

For the record, most of the SE staff were really hoping the Biblical Hermeneutics site would launch before (or instead of...) this one. Why? Because this is a Q&A system - it does not, and to a large extent cannot work as a tool for evangelism or ministry. The purpose is to make finding specific answers to specific questions quick and easy... If the "wrong" questions are asked, then this just speeds up finding "wrong" answers. (And by "wrong" here I mean questions that make no sense outside of a specific, non-universal doctrine)

The only thing that gives me hope for this is the continued existence of the Parenting site. Granted, parenting is probably less controversial in some ways, but there are similar issues with fundamentally incompatible beliefs as to what is correct; it's no mistake that the parent-child metaphor is so often used to describe our relationship with God.

Still, there's a sticking point: while I might be convinced to simply ignore questions from parents whose approach to parenting I see as fundamentally flawed, it is much more difficult to in good conscience ignore questions based upon what I believe is heresy, recognizing that unchallenged assertions may serve as a stumbling block to others.

Our differences are more than divisions between us, they are boundaries that define us. I think there are more boundaries than is necessary, but the only hope we have of crossing them is to identify and respect them.

This is... Roughly-speaking... The only thing that gives me any reason to be optimistic about the site. The chance that, out of love and respect for one another we might find it possible to tolerate problematic topics, not by making ourselves blind to them, but as opportunities to remove from our own eyes that which already blinds us.

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    @Shog9 I disagree with it does not, and to a large extent cannot work as a tool for evangelism or ministry, while it is not a substitution for a church it does show that Christians can have open minds about ideas and have intelligent thoughts, questions, discussion about topics. I believe one big misconception of Christians is their lack of intelligence/reasoning skills. And those that want to find more info on Christianity can come here for straight answers, even though those answers can change depending on the answer's denomination.
    – Patrick
    Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 21:25
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    You know, you've got two only things that give you hope for this site in your answer. Commented Apr 13, 2012 at 10:44
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    @Wikis: heh, yeah, that's unfortunate... I probably meant that Parenting offers an example of such a topic working on SE, and Caleb's attitude offers a way to avoid the pitfalls of not being Parenting.
    – Shog9
    Commented Apr 13, 2012 at 13:28
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    Jews have different beliefs too and that site made it out of beta. I think its enough that we state in our profiles what we believe. I know so much about the various Christian teachings that I can figure out what teaching they come from without them stating. People have a right to see all opinions and pick the one they want to accept.
    – dongle26
    Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 23:26
  • @Caleb - Would you consider accepting Shog's answer, so as to make the correct (and top-level?) answer? Thanks! Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 12:28

This is what the site currently says its about: 'Q&A for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more'. Above Caleb writes 'Brothers, we are not Christians!!' It seems at best misleading, at worst dishonest, and either way very weird to claim to be a site where committed Christians can ask questions but only receive answers that have been judged as acceptable by people who are not committed Chrsitians. Anyone reading the description of the site above would surely conclude that answers are provided by committed Chrsitians. Why would a committed Christian seek guidance on the Bible from someone who isn't a committed Christian? It's utterly preposterous. You do realise the Bible teaches that the whole world (that's everyone who isn't a committed Christian) is under the sway of the devil, don't you?

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    Did you read the whole post or just the title? Need I remind you that this is the internet, not a church and we have no way to police who participates?
    – Caleb
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 21:04
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    I don't claim to have read the whole post, but it seems you do police the participants by prohibiting certain questions and answers. Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 21:09
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    Every website worth reading has guidelines concerning what is and is not acceptable content. We do not (and pragmatically, cannot) ensure only Christians answer, but it doesn't really matter. A correct answer is a correct answer, whether the person is a Christian or not.
    – Ryan Frame
    Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 1:30
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    I agree with your last statement. My main problem isn't that someone who isn't a Christian can answer a question, but that the most important questions can't be answered by anyone. Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 8:21
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    @Caleb: ...We have no way to police who participates. Um. Dude, you're a moderator.
    – Jim G.
    Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 21:26
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    @JimG. Moderators have absolutely zero control or even information about who participates, we only have some control over how users participate, and that only based on SE norms and local community guidelines.
    – Caleb
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 17:16
  • @Caleb How implies who because you can close and delete many questions.
    – Jim G.
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 21:13
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    @JimG. No, it does not. Anyone of any creed or background may participate if they play by the rules and likewise matching beliefs is not a free pass to run rough shod over the guidelines. Questions are community moderated based on their quality and content, not based on who posts them.
    – Caleb
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 3:32
  • @Caleb Who enforces "the rules" and "the guidelines"? Oh. OK.
    – Jim G.
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 6:57

To me it looks like a really really terrible policy because it makes all of us here a bit hypocrites on this site. If I don't consider "Jehovah's witnesses" to be my brothers in Christ (because they don't pray to Christ and teach that praying to Him is wrong, while the Bible clearly shows us that the early followers WERE praying to Him (Acts 7:59) and were being killed for this practice (Acts 9:5,6,10,13,14,17,20,21), which means that it was a matter of life and death to them) why should I pretend as if I considered them to be Christians? And what's the main basis for this policy? Just the fear of having someone here voted down?! That looks to me like quite a pathetic reason, really! If you are really afraid of the voting war here - just completely shut down this possibility to vote on this site and that's it!

By the way, JW wouldn't consider me to be their brother in Christ either. What's the point to force them to be hypocritical here too? That just doesn't make any sense.

I don't see any problem in having this format:

Answerer 1: Hi, it's a great question. I am a Mormon, and according to our teaching we consider this matter in <this way> because <premise 1> and <premise 2> and so on.

Answerer 2: Hi, I liked your question. I am a Lutheran, and according to our teaching we consider this matter in <this way> because <premise 1> and <premise 2> and so on.

Answerer 3: Hi, I liked your question. I am a Christian atheist, and according to the teaching of the folks of my ilk this matter is viewed in <this way> because <premise 1> and <premise 2> and so on.

now if you are afraid that the answerer 1 will confront (in the comments) the answer 3 over his premise 2, and if you are afraid that the answerer 2 will start challenging answerer 1 on the point of his premise 1, then just forbid answerers to communicate with each other! Just block it on the site. Allow answerers only to communicate with OP and there will be no need for answerers to show respect toward each other, when in fact they don't have any mutual respect. Allow only answerer ⇌ OP communication and ban answerer ⇌ answerer communication

Lastly: We've even had witnessed here a lot of cases of having disagreements between two answerers belonging to the same Christian tradition or group, haven't we?

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    What is a Christian atheist? Commented Aug 3, 2012 at 20:38
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    @quantumSoup - Read my polemics with one of them here: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/5321/… To me, the concept of being a "Christian atheist" is almost as nonsensical as being a "non-Islamic Muslim".
    – brilliant
    Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 1:49
  • That's one of the reasons we're doing the blog. Have you been reading it? Do you want to contribute :)?
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 3:43
  • @PeterTurner - No, I haven't read it. Where is it exactly? What is its purpose?
    – brilliant
    Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 3:45
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    it's here we call it the "Eschewmenical Blog". The purpose is for several authors from different denominations to tackle monthly subjects. This month is the "nature of biblical authority" I take the Catholic view point, Jon Ericson takes the Evangelical etc... It's pretty good, well I think so at least.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 3:50

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