Isn't it the case that a Christian site should try to embrace all those who seek? It appears to me that too often, from the most respectable and intelligent of members, sarcasm is deployed to mock. Now, I realise that is merely an opinion so not grounds for a question here...but that's another thing; must questions deter from asking for 'opinions'? Surely some (good) theistic questions derive solely from emotions...questions that may indeed have academic answers. "What is that ineffable longing I feel?"...Well, I might point you to CS Lewis's idea of Joy and sehnsucht...

One of my most recent post's main issue for people seemed to be that I did not know the answer (I am confused?!).

Maybe I'm missing the point. Maybe it's a site purely for academics. In which case, I wish I was asked for my qualifications before joining — I find sarcasm and mockery hurtful. I don't wish to give personal angry replies to those who act this way, as I don't wish to set up a conflict with people who may well be very nice individuals in the usual way! As it is (though I know you are not meant to get emotional on this site) it is all very upsetting. I want to reach out to Christians, not reach out and get my hand smacked for not being smart enough...there's everywhere else on the web to get that!

Also, it is all very confusing.

  1. You can't ask a question that is 'opinion' — it has to be based on existing written texts.
  2. (Judging by the response to my last question) You cannot ask a question you should know the answer to. In other words, if written material exists that answers your question, you should have read it.

Now, obviously, if all this is really the case, there's a bit of a paradox! The website has just cancelled out its own need for existence!

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    Welcome to Christianity SE! Sorry you feel like that; that shouldn't be happening. I've recommended that this question get moved to our [meta] site (where we discuss this site). In the meantime, please add specific examples. If it is one or two individuals, try engaging them in Christianity Chat. If it is really offensive, you can flag the comments. Sep 30, 2013 at 9:32
  • Thank you! And thanks for such a swift reply. Is it possible to have a private talk with someone in Christianity Chat? What do I click?
    – Sehnsucht
    Sep 30, 2013 at 9:58
  • I don't know, sorry. You could ask that also on meta - maybe a moderator can help you set that up. Sep 30, 2013 at 10:06
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    SE exists to provide canonical answers to questions. Very often, that's just a matter of knowing exactly where to look for the answer, especially when dealing with facts. So it's perfectly acceptable to ask questions when you don't know where to find the answer. It would certainly help to add specific examples to your question, because in an admittedly cursory examination of your Main-site questions so far, I can't find any sarcasm. Sep 30, 2013 at 11:00
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    Could you be a bit more specific here? You're talking about general sense things without examples. It's hard to understand what you're talking about without specific instances to investigate and understand.
    – wax eagle
    Sep 30, 2013 at 11:43
  • @AndrewLeach - thanks for the reformatting / corrections - looks much better. Sep 30, 2013 at 11:59
  • @Andrew Leach I deleted the most recent question that attracted sarcasm. It was, after all, making a good point (it was a badly detailed question) but the comment was worded in a manner that was offensively mocking (and needlessly so). I'd rather NOT give exact examples as I don't wish to 'show up' or embarrass anybody (I am sure they're actually great blokes) but I found it odd that I have, all too often, come against a certain coolness of attitude towards my questioning. Reading the below comments, I think I now fathom why. Thanks.
    – Sehnsucht
    Sep 30, 2013 at 13:02
  • @ThomasJennings looking at your questions so far, it looks like you've had a bit of a tough go here so far, I'm in our chat room all day every day if you're interested in having a chat about how the site works, how to use it effectively or are just looking for some help framing up a question so it meets our site guidelines. chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/1167/the-upper-room
    – wax eagle
    Sep 30, 2013 at 13:18
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    This exact issue resurfaces with new users about once a month. I wrote a post to encourage new users like you to persevere and you will eventually understand how the site works and why certain policies are in place. The Post: Newcomers: Be patient. You will get there if you follow our direction. Keep trying
    – user3961
    Sep 30, 2013 at 18:39

3 Answers 3


Maybe I'm missing the point. Maybe it's a site purely for academics.

So, not to mock, but, yes, StackExchange bills itself as a place for "Experts," which we often read as "academics. To wit, the third sentence on StackExchange's home page is:

From our core of Q&A, to community blogs and real-time chat, we provide experts with the tools they need to make The Internet a better place.

From its very inception. C.SE has been clear it is not a Christian Site. One of the foundational meta questions here is

Brothers, we are not Christians‼

This is not to say that many of us who participate here aren't Christian. I claim to be one, and even have a few credentials to back it up. And, to the extent that I don't always act like one, I offer my apologies.

One word, however - in text it is really easy to hear "mocking" when there is actually a genuine misunderstanding. We have a wide variety of viewpoints here - everything from evangelicals to Mormons to Catholics to Muslims and Atheists. What you may hear as mocking may be genuine misunderstanding.

Don't be surprised when people don't know enough to answer or even vote intelligently. Don't be surprised when people disagree. Personally, I think one of my lowest voted answers (Is a "skeptical viewpoint" more objective than "Christian viewpoint" in matters of theology?) is actually one of the best things I've written.

But, it's a truth question. And we don't do that. Additionally, your questions

often seem to want some sort of truth answer. You are looking for the way things should be. You want someone to tell you "the Answer(TM)." Candidly, there is only one "Answer(TM)" and that is Jesus. But the sad truth is that answer often gets interpreted by men.

In Luke 12:14, some men were trying to pull Jesus into an earthly dispute over how an inheritance should be divided. To this,

Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?"

The point is there are some things that Jesus doesn't really care about. I suspect when Jesus finds out that we spent our time pondering such second order questions as:

He's just going to laugh. But you know what? He made us curious about things. And so, this site exists as a place to work these things out.

We don't claim to know "the Answer." Indeed, many believe there is no such thing as "the Answer" (Although, I'm not one of those.) As such, the best we can do is definitively state what we do know, and make logical rationalizations to answer what we do. But you know what? That's your job! Ultimately, what we do here is try to stick to the things we do know.

  • What do X believe about Y?

  • Why do churches practice Z, especially in light of A?

  • When did B say C?

Those are answerable. Your C.S. Lewis questions often have a great kernel of a question, but they also tend to delve into speculation. Your drawing out of sehnsucht gives me joy! I like what you ask. And, I know that this community isn't as receptive to your questions as I'd like. But we live in a fallen world.

In The Mission, the Portugese says to the Cardinal, "Thus is the world." If you've seen the movie, you know how he says it: "No, thus have we made it."

  • I think this is a great answer, but suggest you change "silliness" to something else, like "second-order questions" or such. Sep 30, 2013 at 11:59
  • @Affable Geek, I am very disappointed that you should class my question" (see above) Why was Jesus called the King of the Jews" as "second order"and then go on and say that Jesus would laugh at this question.I would like to remind you that you answered my question and received my acceptance for your answer as well as an amicable comment from me.
    – 77 Clash
    Oct 1, 2013 at 9:27
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    @user2572 I purposely picked that because I answered it. It was meant as no reflection on you, but rather to show that I get caught up in it to. I apologize that I didn't use a question that I had both asked and answered and will change this when not on a phone. Oct 1, 2013 at 10:28
  • @AffableGeek,Thanks for your comment in reply to my previous comment.
    – 77 Clash
    Oct 7, 2013 at 10:57

I'm not quite sure what specifically your talking about in the first few paragraphs, and without examples I can only tell you what I see.

  • I see numerous users going out of their way to be above and beyond nice to people who regularly ask questions and post answers that don't come close to meeting the rules of this site, trying to guide them to understand our purpose and quality standards.

  • I see people abuse this nicety and continue to post this kind of stuff without reading any of this site's documentation and without making any effort to understand what makes a quality Q&A on this site.

  • I see our community step and and demolish trolls before they have a chance to gain a foothold here.

  • I see members of our community enforcing the standards they developed and that they agreed to by participating in this site and it's meta site.

What I don't see (and maybe I'm missing it) is

  • Our users being churlish or arrogant when they go to enforce these standards.

This is a community with rules. We're not a Christian community, though we are largely composed of Christians. As Affable points out we have regular participants that are Atheist, Agnostic, Muslim and certainly many other faiths.

In addition we are position agnostic. Questions and answers are permitted to come from the position of any sect that claims to be Christian.

All that said, we're also a part of a wider network of question and answer sites. The Stack Exchange Network. With that privilege comes a responsibility to maintain the high quality and low signal to noise ratio that is expected of all SE sites.

In order to do this with a disparate and relatively disagreeable set of groups in a hopefully highly civilized manner, we've set forth a number of rules in addition to the standard Stack Exchange ruleset. These are outlined here on this meta site, and are summarized (with links for more detail) in the help-center.

As such we decided early on that we wanted to focus more on the academic/theological side of Christianity, because, frankly, these questions have verifiable right answers. In contrast, most questions about Christian life that are not soundly based on theology don't have answers that stand up to testability when the audience is so widely diversified as our audience is here. Because real questions have answers

That said, a question can be subjective and have good answers. In fact many questions here, many of the best questions even, have at least a subjective component. However, for these questions there are some general guidelines given at a network level in the blog post: Good Subjective, Bad Subjective. And further guidance given here.

  • If you want to ask a subjective question, scope it tightly, either to a specific set/subset of religious groups (a demoniation or small set of demoninations is good here) Or to a theological tradition (Calvinism, Arminianism etc), or to a specific doctrinal position (Perseverance of the saints, believers baptism)

We understand that this raises the bar to ask questions. We believe this is a good thing. The concept of this site (and all SE sites), is to be an expert site where experts as questions and get answers from experts. In part this is an aspiration more than an actuality. However, we believe the way to attract experts is to give them hard problems to solve, not overwhelm them with easy stuff.

So to answer your question about whether or not this is a paradox, I'd like to rephrase your two points to give you some guidelines on how to ask

  • Try to ask objective questions. If you need to ask a subjective question, figure out what exactly you want to know and whose opinion you want on the question. If you want everyone's opinion on all the details of this question then you're asking for too much for it to be a good question here.

  • When you go to ask a question, show that you've at least tried to answer the question on your own first. Did you at least google it? That's really what people are asking when they ask about prior research.

To expand on that last point a bit. The main site on this network is Stack Overflow, it's a site or programmers, people who have problem as they go through their day can post questions and ask for help. However, if someone just says "hey I can't figure out how to get these columns into my select statement" they are going to be asked to show that they've at least tried to do it themselves, show some code, show exactly where they are stuck.

I share this example because if we actually want to be an expert resource we need specific detailed high level questions that show effort.

This means slowing down and thinking about questions before you ask, figure out where exactly you're stuck and then ask about that not the general concept, the nitty-gritty down to the brass tacks specifics


I do see numerous users going out of their way to presume in a question a hostility to the faith or sect, positing honest seekers as trolls. We state that it's not possible to know if a userid on the internet were Christian, but act on the presumption it's possible to discern the difference between honest seeker and atheist with agenda. In so turning away both, we detract not only from a "Christianity" site ("looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him, and said to him"), but also from an academic S.E. site (I found a way to take offense at the insinuation: delete that ID!) .

(That does raise a new question I would want to ask: among famous conversions from atheism to Christianity, how have the converted described their initial tone when they first started dialogue with believers?)

This means slowing down and thinking about Answers before you answer or VTC, figure out where exactly the person could have an honest problem, and then answer about that problem, not the presumed bias against the faith.

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    Note: this is not and never has claimed to be a site for seekers.
    – wax eagle
    Sep 30, 2013 at 16:23
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    ... "and those interested in learning more."
    – pterandon
    Sep 30, 2013 at 17:07

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