5

I find the tag problematic.

The tag wiki points to this question and its answer by David Stratton. The discussion was some time ago, and the culture of our site has changed significantly in the last 18 months; there is now a strong culture against "truth" questions, aiming more at the objective "what-does-church-X-say-about-issue-Y" questions. This change has been an enormously positive one and has improved the quality of questions and answers on this site.

I feel "biblical basis" questions are at variance with this culture. They ask for an answer that is not based on any theological tradition or doctrinal position. They encourage speculative/creative biblical exegesis. C.SE is not about these things. We have, if you like, a No Original Theology policy.

There is also the problem that these questions are inherently limiting. The "biblical basis" concept is most compatible with Reformed/Protestant/Evangelical churches. It is a method foreign to Catholic and Orthodox theology (and, to some extent, to Anglican and Methodist theology). It's sort of like saying, "based on trigonometry, determine how happy this person is." The concept of "biblical basis" does not acknowledge that it inherently takes a theological position. This is problematic.

I think we should require that people specify a school of biblical interpretation when asking questions about biblical exegesis. We should strongly discourage people from doing original biblical interpretation and encourage them to work explain how various theologians/exegetes/schools of exegesis have addressed the question.

Responses/thoughts/comments?

  • 4
    Hear hear! Worse even than the questions are the answers they acrue! The tag is a dumping ground for historically, theologically and --ironically enough-- biblically ill-informed blather. – Caleb Mar 21 '14 at 18:49
  • @Caleb I did write a paragraph about how the tag encourages proof-texting, which is rarely good theology, but took it out. I think that does fall into what you describe as biblically ill-informed blather... – lonesomeday Mar 21 '14 at 19:45
  • A lot of these questions could be moved to Hermeuntics, where original interpretation is not discouraged. But that would only apply to understandings of specific passages, and not doctrines as a whole. – curiousdannii Mar 22 '14 at 2:17
  • i dont even understand the tag. i think all questions can fall under biblical basis. or maybe the tag means - base your answer on the bible please !!! – WelcomeNewUsers Mar 24 '14 at 0:23
  • 2
    @AaronKorn the big issue with the tag is that it breaks forms with the rest of the site which is looking at established doctrine and is opening up to ideas that don't fit the mold of any existing theology which is counter to our purpose here. – wax eagle Mar 24 '14 at 12:59
  • I absolutely agree. The tag is exclusively Protestant, and the different Protestant groups understand the Bible differently. The tag ought to be banished and the OP should use his denominational tag instead; and use "Protestant" if it belongs to all or most Protestant understanding of the Scripture. – Matthew Moisen Mar 29 '14 at 7:24
  • Oh shoot. Take a look at this (question)[christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/26926/…. The OP is asking for biblical verses that would convey that keeping one's word is important. Wouldn't that be a good use of "biblical-basis" – Matthew Moisen Mar 29 '14 at 7:34
  • Nevermind I take back my upvote and replace it with a downvote (well, I can't because it has been too long, but subtract two from the final tally) – Matthew Moisen Mar 29 '14 at 7:57
6

I rise to speak in defense of the biblical-basis tag. I love those questions, and I find them to be the most valuable for me.

Historically, "Scripture" has been the first of the "sources of theology," and from my evangelical background, the most important. Likewise, when I do theology, while I may find it interesting what certain denominations hold, it is not the pre-eminent consideration. Additionally, I agree with those who say that "biblical-basis" is good enough as a denominational tag - because it really does proxy well to evangelicalism, which is cross-denominational in its outlook.

As to "truth" questions, I have a more balanced view, but one that I think is pretty good :) I certainly hope that people are trying to figure out what is "right" - I just don't want to argue what is "true." Put another way, truth questions are problemmatic because they rarely are seeking truth. Rather, they are seeking debate and/or converts, neither of which is useful.

Indeed, if I could define the close reason for "Truth" questions, I would put the text like this:

This question appears to be seeking debate more than an answer. Stack Exchange is a great medium for soliciting facts, but a poor one for answering polemics. Please rephrase the question to more clearly elicit the sourceable datum that is sought, and minimize the debate fodder.

I can't imagine anyone doing theology without the purpose of finding "the Truth," but I certainly can imagine doing it without seeking to find polemics. When I close something as a "truth" question, it is really because I feel the question is seeking to definitively tell someone else to shut up. That I cannot abide. But as to finding and weighing what Scripture says - that's the best thing this place does for me.

  • I think it's interesting that you say we "do theology" here. I don't think we do or should. Creative/novel theology seems incompatible with the ethos of C.SE that has developed. On a different note, if biblical-basis is a proxy for evangelicalism, that should be explicit. – lonesomeday Mar 28 '14 at 16:40
  • 1
    You need to read more closely - When I do theology... this is a resource. – Affable Geek Mar 28 '14 at 17:42
5

I'm going to reassert the position that there's nothing wrong with "Is there a Biblical basis for believing X?" it's a completely different thing from asking "Does the Bible teach that X is true?"

Take the following:

Q: Is there a Biblical basis for believing that the earth is only roughly 6000 years old or so?

A: Why yes, there is, if you take Genesis literally at face value rather than assuming that swaths of it are figurative, assume "day" means "day", assume no gaps in the genealogies, add up the years, and there is a Biblical basis for believing that.

And compare it with...

Q: Does the Bible say the earth is only 6000 years old?

A: Queue the various interpretations of the relevant passages, the perfectly reasonable (even though I don't hold it) view that parts of Genesis may, indeed, have been meant figuratively, etc. to come up with several Biblically supportable, reasonable views that contradict.

"Is there a Biblical basis" avoids the "Truth" question issue and is definitively answerable. That fits with the StackExchange model.

  • That's not a typical biblical basis question, though. The problem is that the tag prompts [this kind of question] ( christianity.stackexchange.com/q/26645/137)... – lonesomeday Mar 31 '14 at 9:22
  • Or, even worse, this one, which makes it clear that it wants to work out which denomination's position is the right one. I understand your point, and I think it makes sense in principle, but the questions that result are not desirable ones. – lonesomeday Mar 31 '14 at 23:24
3

If non-protestant churches don't generally think in terms of Biblical bases, then so be it! There's no shame in that. Answer the questions negatively and say that the basis is in the church fathers, or traditions, or magisteriums or wherever the basis is.

There are lots of questions looking at the traditional basis of various positions, a concept that's kind of foreign to a lot of protestants. Think of this tag as the balance for the doctrine traditions questions.

  • Is there a tag like "traditional-basis" or the equivalent? – Matthew Moisen Mar 29 '14 at 7:39
  • If not there probably should be! – curiousdannii Mar 29 '14 at 7:51
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    eh I came to this question totally opposed to the "biblical-basis" tag but I think I agree with you. – Matthew Moisen Mar 29 '14 at 7:56
3

I don't think that the main problem with truth-seeking questions is that they encourage "speculative/creative biblical exegesis". The main problem with truth-seeking questions, as I see it, is that they are not answerable. Or, rather, there is no way to authoritatively determine which answer is more right than another answer. Biblical-basis questions, however, do not necessarily fall into that category.

If someone was to ask whether or not homosexuality was wrong according to the Bible, that's not answerable because it's all up to ones interpretation. But, if someone was to ask what the Biblical basis was for believing that homosexuality was wrong, that is definitely answerable. It's really no different, in that sense, than asking for a list of church creeds, councils, or dogmas that are used to support the position.

The only down-side to them is they are essentially list-request types of questions, but since the number of verses in the Bible is finite, as long as the list of applicable verses is small enough, that's not really a problem.

So, while Biblical-basis questions can be poor, that doesn't mean they have to be. I don't think it's right to block all Biblical-basis seeking questions just because some are bad. I think poorly asked Biblical-basis questions are probably the easiest ones to resolve through editing.

0

I've really struggled over this question. The tag is borderline to fitting with https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/ as it sits today. While Hermeneutics should be non-religious and non-denominational, it generally isn't - and really, how could it be? That is, only Christians utilize the New Testament and has been addressed here

  • Care to share why you disagree? – The Freemason Mar 28 '14 at 17:23
  • One issue with these types of questions at Hermeneutics is that there is a strict no systematic theology rule there, which is generally what these questions are about: bringing a bunch of passages together to form and argue for a position. – curiousdannii Jul 31 '14 at 4:22
0

I want to fully agree with the OP, but I just came across this question titled "What does the Bible say about giving one's word?"

I want to show a Christian friend of mine that it is important to keep one's word once it's given. Is there anything in the Bible to help me ?

He is asking for specific verses from Scripture that could be interpreted to support his proposition. He isn't asking for writings from the Church Fathers or the traditions of specific denominations. All he wants are biblical verses.

True, he did tag it with "bible"; regardless, he is seeking verses that support his proposition and thus the question can be tagged as "biblical-basis".


On the other hand, why not merge the two, "bible" and "biblical-basis", together?

  • My point is that this is the exact kind of speculative, creative theology that we shouldn't be doing here. Good for a web forum, bad for SE. – lonesomeday Mar 29 '14 at 8:15
-3

I'd actually like to do a complete 180° from my previous answer on this one and come out against Biblical basis questions.

The bottom line is that there's a "Biblical basis" for just about anything, depending on:

  • How far you're willing to extrapolate
  • How far you're willing to extend credulity
  • How much you're willing to ignore context

"Is there a biblical basis for" - the answer is always yes, because someone somewhere will be able to twist some passage to support even the most bizarre belief.

"What is the Biblical basis for" might be answerable, and better, but is it realistic to expect everyone to phrase questions that specifically?

  • 1
    When questions aren't phrased with this site's conventionalised jargon then we just edit them. – curiousdannii Jul 30 '14 at 9:03
  • 2
    the bizarre and scripture twisting answers can and should be downvoted - that they would still remain as 'valid' answers (in the sense of not being worthy of the flag 'not an answer') is not as great a problem imo as the massive hole it would blow in this site to rule biblical basis questions off-topic – bruised reed Jul 31 '14 at 14:48
  • Is it really that specific. The difference between the two: "Is there ..." and "What is ..." is a nuance. The former would be asked by someone unaware that some sects value tradition as well, hence, there actually is no Biblical Basis for the belief; and that is an acceptable answer too. The later expects there to be a Biblical Basis, usually because they are already slightly familiar with it. – fredsbend Jul 31 '14 at 22:42

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