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I'm asking based on my answer to a question about people being saved after the rapture.

(see question).

After I posted my answer (I think), the question was put on hold as being a "truth" question and therefore off topic. I hadn't recognized it as such, and had given an answer. I got a comment welcoming me to the forum, and inviting me to review the guidelines, particularly the section on "we can't handle the truth".

I had read it before, but I guess I needed a refresher. I still do. My own handle on the truth about the truth (quod est veritas?) is best summarized by my response to a different question here in meta. (see response)

Basically, I don't think programming forums can handle the truth either. Instead, they settle for something that meets a lower standard: is the response seen as useful by the questioner? for programming questions, this boils down to a suggestions that the asking programmer can turn into a test program to find out what the machine actually does. And this provides the questioner with a solution to the problem, unless the answer gets falsified by the test. If the test program tends to verify the answer, and if the answer is responsive to the question, the questioner is out of the woods.

I'm trying to refine that understanding so as to guide myself as to how to answer questions in Christianity.SE or when to refrain from answering. It's possible that in the rapture case, the only good answer is no answer at all. It's possible that there is a good answer, but I didn't find it.

How do the regulars here deal with this kind of situation? Do you just vote to close the question? do you make comments the might help with rephrasing the question? do you do something else?

And last but not least, what do questions that are not "truth questions" look like?

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The best answer (here) to this particular question is indeed no answer at all.

You've sort of nailed the ultimate problem of Q&A and truth questions that we struggle with here. Answers to questions about Christianity in general are not objectively verifiable. That is, you can't run a test program of the rapture to see what happens.

So what resources do we have?

  • The Bible
  • Confessions
  • Catechisms
  • Other writings

Generally, we probably all agree that the Bible is the truth (give or take a few sects, and this is another issue entirely though). However, we come down on all sides with respect to the other literature, with what's true, what's blasphemous etc. We could probably quickly, collectively settle on a few sources that are complete bunk, but even then, one or a few community members might consider them to be truth (or at least edifying).

This means that, ultimately, questions that don't ask for a biblical basis of an idea, must put forth some kind of narrowing convention to winnow the sources considered legitimate from the chaff.

So for the example question, it's generally asking about something that happens during the rapture. That's actually (believe it or not) a bit of a narrowing convention already, we're dealing with a subset of Christians who believe there will be a rapture, great. However, there is nothing further and the rapture is a rather broad theological topic with very much written just in the past several years. The POV for this question needs to be narrowed much further for it to be answered.

A while back, I had a habit when I closed these questions of asking the question "according to whom?" meaning that these questions were largely meaningless unless we knew who the OP considered to be a reliable source. The Bible doesn't say a whole ton about the rapture (or whether there even will be one...scholars disagree here), so that means we're reliant on external references and theories, the OP has to winnow this down to who they consider to be authoritative. Without that information, you are exactly right, the best answer is no answer.

One more point I want to bring up. Since the Bible is literature, it's subject to interpretation (also since it's written in languages most of us don't speak, it's also subject to translation). This means that our standards for biblical basis questions are probably too loose already as well.

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