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There was a discussion about how we didn't have enough expert level questions, so I decided to pose some ones that would make people think, and attract some experts in theology and possibly church history. This was the question "Did the Church fathers advocate celibacy?" I figured it was difficult enough to challenge a real expert, and would be ignored by the people who weren't interested.

However it turns out it was closed, as "not a real question". I'm not sure how they got that. One of the people voting to close actually had to ask who the Church Fathers were. Please tell me this question wasn't closed because the closers didn't understand it?

Anyone got an explanation?

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    +1 I would agree with you. Looks like this site needs to be more broader. I would view that question as a great example question. We all stand in shoulders of those church fathers and try to understand Bible, Christianity and Church – Jamess Sep 8 '11 at 8:38
  • Can I draw people's attention to this discussion, in which a number of people seem to be trying to make all questions about church history off-topic: meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/458/… – DJClayworth Sep 8 '11 at 16:16
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Short answer, "It should not have been." Luckily the question was reopened, as it should be. Questions here don't need to be super tightly scoped. The Church Fathers are a well known group of folks. If ten of them were pro celibacy and two were against, that's a valid answer to the question.

I've started a separate meta question on the difficulty we seem to be having in agreeing on acceptable scoping for problems.

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The Church Fathers, while clearly defined, aren't a monolithic group of people: they all had their own positions and ideas. The question reads like a question asking "What do the Popes say about sin?"

Is there a particular Church Father you had in mind? Even narrowing it down to a specific subset of Church Fathers that would have a high likelihood of sharing the same thoughts about the subject could bring it back down to a more manageable scope.

Another way to restrict the scope is to go into more about why you want to know this. What's the problem you're trying to solve by knowing what all the Church Fathers thought about celibacy?

The reason I'm talking about scope is that, normally, a question that's overly broad would be a candidate for a not a real question closure.

However, there's something funky going on here. The close reason for not a real question on every other Stack Exchange site reads (emphasis mine):

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form.

But here on Christianity, the "overly broad" clause has been removed. I'm not sure exactly why that is: whether it's a bug or something else that's going on.

  • I'm really looking to know what about the thinking on sex and marriage, and how that impacted later thinking. I picked "the Church Fathers" to mean the influential theologians of the first millenium. I'd be happy with a broad overview and maybe some hints on further reading. – DJClayworth Sep 8 '11 at 13:15

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