9

Certain persons have taken to posting their own unique and fringe beliefs and interpretations, and have come up with a label for them in order to present them as if they weren't personal theories. This site is about the beliefs of Christian groups around the world, not personal ideas. I think this person is misappropriating a valid label for their own ideas, ideas which do not reflect the beliefs of the people the name originally applied to. Furthermore I'm quite certain that no one else in the world follows this persons' way of interpreting the Bible. Their beliefs cannot be compared to other denominations and it is very unclear whether they actually even believe in a god at all. I've had enough of reading their nonsense filled posts and think that we should firmly declare that this is not the place to proclaim your new method of interpretation and new theology.

  • Are you talking about the Gnostic Light or something else. There's another new user continuously using "New Testament Church" in a very odd way, but I believe his usage is not unique to him. I have different opinions on what we might do with those. – fredsbend Feb 4 '15 at 18:42
  • @fredsbend I'm thinking mostly of our friend sharing the Gnostic Light. – curiousdannii Feb 4 '15 at 22:37
  • Is there any reason why you think downvotes is not enough to squash this over time? Agreed, this has carried on a good while, for he is quite persistent, even having suffered a few suspensions. But, of his last ten answers, there's two 0 scores and 8 negative scores adding up to -23 (+3/-26). The SE engine is going to kick in pretty soon and ban him automatically (at least I think that's how it works). – fredsbend Feb 4 '15 at 23:26
  • @fredsbend I do sometimes worry that we could get stuck on serial downvoting. I wasn't aware that established users could get automatically suspended for consistently downvoted answers. If that's the case then probably that will be enough. – curiousdannii Feb 5 '15 at 1:15
  • I'm certain that the algorithm that determines if there's been a case of serial downvoting has time between votes as one of its metrics. I doubt that if a user posts an answer every day and you likewise downvote them daily that they will trip the algorithm. Now on auto bans, I'm not sure. I'll see if the mods in chat know. – fredsbend Feb 5 '15 at 2:08
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    @fredsbend No unfortunately I don't think that system will catch this pattern. I'm not sure what the parameters are but that only seems to be in effect for new users. If the user doesn't catch a clue based on voting patterns the system isn't going to stop them. If their posts don't belong the community needs to flag them and eventually mods can intervene if necessary. – Caleb Feb 5 '15 at 6:34
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    @Caleb Expect some flags tomorrow. – fredsbend Feb 5 '15 at 7:50
11

No, it is not.

But the reason it is not is not that they are fringe beliefs, it is that they are personal and don't answer any questions of the form this site is built around. This site asks for the beliefs of various Christian groups. It is not a place for airing out new ideas, developing theology, evangelizing, or otherwise soap-boxing anything.

The world is full of personal opinions and unanswerable questions. Stack Exchange sites are not here to give either of those things a voice. Stack Exchange sites exist primarily to cut through the noise and make the best answers to answerable questions more readily available.

This goal is basically orthogonal to the goals of Christianity itself. It's not particularly lined up with Christian agendas or methodology --- nor is it opposed to them. However it is common to find people arriving on this site expecting it to line up with their own agendas or to be able to adapt it for such. This creates a tension that is only resolved when they either throw up their hands or adapt to using it only for what it happens to be good at.

Christians have a tendency to want to say things even if nobody is listening. We believe on a fundamental level that we have a message people need to hear and would be better off for having heard. I'm not judgmental of this (as a church planting pastor myself I am very aware of the urges!). The problem is when people become one-trick-ponies, and won't adjust their methods for the venue the find themselves in.

On Stack Exchange sites questions come first. Questions define the scope of possible answers for each question and collectively define the scope of the site. First come the questions then answers follow cue.

If you approach this site with the attitude that you have insights that the world needs to hear, you are doing it wrong. Answer the questions that people are asking, don't just fill the space with what you think they need to hear. Seriously. This isn't the place to get the word out. If you have fringe beliefs then by definition there are going to be few questions for you to answer on this site because your views are only going to be in scope when your fringe group is specifically asked about. If you have special unique revelation (whether from the devil or from God himself) that is not already part of an established group's documented belief system there will no place at all for those views. Go find another venue for evangelism.

Here, you must stick to answering the questions that were asked. If a question is so ill defined that it could be answered just as validly from one fringe viewpoint as another (or as validly as a mainstream answer) then the question needs to be closed pending a more defined scope.

6

This site is about what groups of Christians believe, not individual opinions.

We have established consensus around What is the minimum bar for a "group" (sect / denomination / etc..)?

We specifically do not do new theology here - we only seek to understand extant theology. We are more akin to a seminary than a church - this is an academic context in which academic questions are scrutinized and answered. It is not a forum, It is not a bar.

If God has called you to preach, he has already given you a context in which to do it. This is not that place.

  • What happens if the members of a Christian group are all dead? Jim Jones and the People's Temple. – Double U Feb 4 '15 at 19:36
  • Another example would be the Shakers. There are only a few individuals left in the world, and if all but one die, then will his own theology be considered a "fringe belief"? – Double U Feb 4 '15 at 19:38
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    @DoubleU It's not about what we personally believe. The Marcionites are extinct but we can definitely still ask questions about them. – curiousdannii Feb 4 '15 at 22:41
  • BTW Jim Jones was not a Christian. He was an avowed atheist who ridiculed the idea of a "sky God" and said that Christianity was a tool to oppress women and minorities. But yes, I don't see why it would be inherently impossible to say, "This group no longer exists, but when they did they believed X." There are any number of things that could make that difficult. Like their writings might be lost, or people today might be misinterpreting them. – Jay Feb 16 '15 at 18:33
1

"personal fringe beliefs" - absolutely not. However we should be careful to not isolate the spirit of the SE to the point that we're just preaching to the choir. That is, if we only accept questions and answers from orthodoxy, then it should be stated that way in the definition of the site.

Asking for more information or clarification of a specific point in an answer is one thing - being antagonistic towards others is another.


"... very unclear whether they actually even believe in a god at all" this is not constructive to your question and potentially offensive. I do not remember reading that atheists could not participate in the site - I would welcome educated responses from non-Christians with references.

  • I think it is clear that we define Christianity pretty broadly. There is much on here that isn't about Nicea. What we want, though, is something academic- not a philosophical venue. – Affable Geek Feb 4 '15 at 18:55
  • Agreed. Maybe it would be better if I understood what we're talking about, questions, answers, comments, chat discussions, etc. IMHO any question should be asked, it is up to the community as to how to handle it. Answers should be academic in nature and isolated personal views should be refrained from. – The Freemason Feb 4 '15 at 19:03
  • It doesn't matter if you believe in God or not if you're not presenting your personal beliefs. But if you're presenting what only you believe... I know this site avoid defining what "Christian" means, but I wonder if we should change from "anyone who calls themselves a Christian" to "any group that calls itself Christian". – curiousdannii Feb 4 '15 at 22:36
  • You may find my old meta question interesting meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/1314/… – The Freemason Feb 5 '15 at 6:00
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    I think this meta post is primarily concerned with answers so this is not an issue of site scope. – Caleb Feb 5 '15 at 6:39
-2

I have not looked up the posts that you are referring to deliberately, so that I won't be biased by their content before I write this reply.

In general, I'd say, "Who decides what is a fringe group whose opinions are not worth hearing?"

If someone is misrepresenting the beliefs of some other group, like if he says, "United Methodists believe that ..." and then proceeds to describe his own beliefs that have nothing to do with United Methodists, that is clearly wrong and he should be called out.

If someone uses every question asked as a platform to evangelize for his own denomination, that's wrong and he should be called out. I mean like someone asks, "Where was the city of Samaria located?" and he replies, "That is a very interesting question. Jesus taught that Samaria, like all other places on Earth, should refuse to accept vaccinations because vaccines are from the Devil ..." Etc.

But if someone says, "My understanding of this verse in the Bible is that it says that ..." and proceeds to give an honest answer, I wouldn't want to shut him down just because I disagree. I disagree with a lot of the things posted on here.

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    The question is whether individualistic views are ever on-topic here. Personal agreement or disagreement isn't the issue. If you have a unique perspective on an issue, is it appropriate to share it here, or should we limit it to only the views of established Christian groups? – curiousdannii Feb 17 '15 at 7:41
  • @curiousdannii In practice, answers on this site tend to generally fall into three groups: (a) Historical or other general information not exclusively related to Christianity. Like, "The Roman Empire typically did such-and-such. (b) Replies that cite a specific groups beliefs. "The Westminster Catechism says that ..." (c) References, explanations, or interpretations of Biblical text. "The book of Acts says that Paul visited Corinth ..." An opinion given without reference to the teaching of any major group would be inappropriate for (b), but possibly quite relevant for (a) and (c). – Jay Feb 17 '15 at 14:26
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The whole point of discussing different ideas becomes a joke if this restriction is imposed. If you want to restrict it to only dogmatized orthodox thinking of various mainstream organizations on both sides of the questions and answers then I see no benefit to being here other than to keep my head in the same sand pit. Religion needs answers and it yet needs to be questioned. This site is useless if it shuts that off.

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    That is basically how this site has always operated. The purpose of this site isn't to answer all of religion's questions, but to answer a strict subset of them which can be answered factually through referencing published documents. – curiousdannii Feb 17 '15 at 21:24
  • That being the case, how do I remove all of my participation here and terminate notifications? – Jason L Wharton Feb 17 '15 at 21:28
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    I'm not sure you understand what is exactly being discussed in this meta post. Nevertheless, if you'd like to delete your account the instructions can be found here. – fredsbend Feb 17 '15 at 21:59

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