I recently answered a question, regarding the death of Ananias and Sapphira in the Book of Acts (Chapter 5), where I suggested that it was likely murder committed by the leaders of the early christian community. This answer was deleted.

My basic interest when checking the Christianity site was to talk about what might have really happened, excluding any divine actions or miracles. Many parts of the bible tell real history and actions, but for a reasonable person, all "miracles" and "divine acts" were either fictitious, or based on tricks and real actions and natural events. For example, it would not be a great task for any circus wizard to change water into wine, feed all spectators from two fishes and five breads or raise a dead person. Quacks usually have techniques and drugs to make sick people actually feel better for a while. So, the interesting part about the bible is how the early christians actually did all this.

If the above story of Ananias and Sapphira had been told about any contemporary cult or sect, everybody would assume it was murder. So why should a debate about this story in the bible be limited to whether their death was divine action, or they died from shock and shame for lying? Is the Christianity site only for believers who take all the supernatural things for real?

I mean: is there a place where to discuss the bible not as another kind of Harry Potter book and about what happens if Professor Snape attempts to break his unbreakable vow (a kind of magic oath that kills you if you break it). In reality, early christians likely used a lot of trickery, manipulation and also violent acts (although not openly belligerent and violent, such as Islam or earlier Israelites). So the interesting questions for me are of the kind: what did really happen? Not: was it a trick?, but: how did the trick work?

Is there a good site for this? Christianity seems to be blocked for this kind of debate, probably to avoid offending believers.

  • 3
    So... You're looking for a site for Skeptics?
    – Shog9
    Oct 12, 2015 at 14:12
  • Well, my intention was originally more a kind of history talk, specific for (Christian) religion, rather than skeptic or atheist, but maybe the Skeptics site is also good - so thanks for the link!
    – Erik Hart
    Oct 12, 2015 at 15:27
  • 3
    but for a reasonable person, all "miracles" and "divine acts" were either fictitious, or based on tricks and real actions and natural events You have a faulty understanding of how rational thought works. Maybe hanging out on Skeptics would help.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Oct 12, 2015 at 21:15
  • 2
    So why should a debate about this story in the bible to limited to... In fact debate of any kind is not what Stack Exchange is about and doesn't work well it a Q-and-A format. If you want to debate the merits of Christianity, you what a web forum, not a Q-and-A site. The actual mission of this site is to document the beliefs of groups of Christians, not argue who is right or wrong.
    – ThaddeusB
    Oct 13, 2015 at 0:29

3 Answers 3


Christianity.SE is primarily a place to explain and learn the history of Christianity and the beliefs and practices of Christians. If no group of people calling themselves Christians hold or have held a particular belief, then the belief itself is not related to Christianity for our purposes.

In general, an answer like the one you describe (I didn't read it), since it is far outside mainstream Christianity, is not going to survive here unless it provides references demonstrating that the view is held by some Christian group (where "Christian" is broadly defined to be anyone claiming to be Christian). The existence of such a group is certainly possible, as people from Thomas Jefferson to 20th century modernist theologians have rejected supernatural interpretations of biblical passages.

Of course, you are free to ask questions related to this "reality behind religious stories" to find out if any Christian groups (again, using the broad definition) have understood the passage non-supernaturally. Such questions may get downvoted as uninteresting, but would be on topic. If any such groups exist, perhaps one saying that story was pure fabrication, another that Ananias died naturally and the apostles claimed divine judgment as the cause, and another holding your view, you could ask for the arguments they make in defense of each.

  • 1
    Do I understand right: the site is for Christians and their beliefs only, not for research/discussion on historical facts from a neutral (possibly non-religious, skeptic or atheist) point of view? When it comes to science and history, research should look at how things actually were or could have been, within the limits of the rational world. In fact, claiming that miracles actually happened would be a kind of disturbance, opposing history science just the same way as creationism opposes scientific biology, geology and astronomy.
    – Erik Hart
    Oct 12, 2015 at 15:49
  • 4
    @ErikHart You are on the right track, but to expand a bit, here we tend to avoid original research from any perspective, not just from non-Christians. The best answers demonstrate that the idea doesn't belong to just the person answering, but also to some group of Christians. Oct 12, 2015 at 15:55
  • The issue here is that we have an overlap between rational science and religion. The bible is also a great history book and, as such, can be subject to scientific research, including the development of religious groups in society. Creation of the world in 7 days is not a scientific topic, but the history of Israelites and early Christians is. So these history topics are also topics of a Christianity Q&A site - however, the conclusions of rational thinking or science are likely different from any religious and believing point of view.
    – Erik Hart
    Oct 12, 2015 at 15:59
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    In fact, I did, in this answer, my own rational thinking, rather than referring to renowned scientists, as I would do when writing a Wikipedia article. Anyway, a debate of belief vs. rational seems pointless, since the believer will, in best case, talk about a myth separated from actual history, in the worst case, attempt to push his beliefs against reason and make people take it as real.
    – Erik Hart
    Oct 12, 2015 at 16:08
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    @ErikHart Questions asking for general, non-supernatural historical analysis seem to fit well on History.SE, like this one. Oct 12, 2015 at 16:08

It was deleted because it's speculation.

"Oh, well the disciples probably murdered them." What!? And where does that come from? The idea that they died naturally and their death was labeled supernatural makes sense. Or even the idea that the whole story is false, like those old chain letters. But your murder theory takes it to a strange level.

There's little evidence that early Christians did much murdering of their own, seemingly preferring to be murdered themselves.

It was deleted because its a wild idea that is not supported well and really isn't even a reasonable possibility compared to the other two. This is like those conspiracy theories that the Pope murdered somebody and has a secret family in Russia, or whatever. Those are unfounded accusations, not healthy skepticism. Likewise, if some opponent of a contemporary cult dies of seemingly natural causes and your first thought is murder, that is also silly.

  • Please take the original story in Acts 5, replace the Christian community by Scientology and the apostles by Ron Hubbard and other Scientology officials! Would you still call it a "strange level" to talk of murder, or would you find the claim of a divine death strange instead? It's not a strange interpretation, but the natural conclusion from the original text! In fact, the story is exceptional, because early Christians are rarely reported to have openly used violence or even murder (Scientology didn't kill either, as far as we know), but texts like Acts 5 contradict an all-peaceful group!
    – Erik Hart
    Oct 13, 2015 at 19:13
  • @ErikHart I'm sorry, but no, it is not the natural conclusion. The natural conclusion is that it's completely false. There's no evidence that early Christians were violent, in fact they strongly advocated against it. There's no conspiracy to murder in the Church until decades later, maybe more. If this story were any other religion (Islam, Hindu, Mormon) I would think the same. It is probably a legend, not a fact. Mentioning in passing that murder is possible would be fine (because you are right, it is, though very unlikely), but my understanding is that your answer was almost entirely that.
    – user3961
    Oct 14, 2015 at 3:51

Your answer was deleted because it was off-topic on this site. Here are the topics that can be asked about here:

  • the history of denominations (such as Roman Catholic, Anglican, Church of Christ or Later Day Saints) and movements (such as Pentecostalism, Creationism, Calvinism)
  • understanding the Bible from the perspective of a specific viewpoint (like those listed above)
  • explanations of the beliefs and practices of a denomination or movement
  • the Biblical basis for a belief or practice

(From: What topics can I ask about here?)

Answers here must not only be on-topic, but must also mass muster with these guidelines:

  • Answers may use Biblical support in the form of exegesis of a related text or direct quotations of verses. Biblical support alone is sufficient only when the question is asking for the biblical basis of a given doctrine, however, even in this circumstance outside references are suggested, as interpretation of some scriptures varies widely. Otherwise, the answer must also be supported by a given doctrine. In general, each point made must be properly supported.
  • Answers may use doctrinal support by citing the denomination or doctrinal tradition that they represent. Links or other references to doctrinal statements are encouraged, but not required (as long as the statements can be easily verified with research).
  • Answers may claim factual support by making references to respectable outside sources. To put this another way, no original research is allowed. Factual support inside of an answer is only valid for questions that are seeking facts. Examples of these types of questions include questions about the history of Christianity, culture during Biblical times, or Bible translations.
  • Answers that are not verifiable by using biblical, doctrinal or other factual references are no more useful than simple statements of opinion. These answers should not be allowed.

(From: What makes a good supported answer?)

If you're not interested in these topics, and in these guidelines for answers, then Christianity.SE simply isn't the right site for you. Perhaps Skeptics.SE or History.SE would provide some of what you want. But if what you're really interested in is discussing various topics, then you'll either have to go to the chatrooms, where unlike on the main Q&A site, discussion is allowed, or go outside of the SE sites altogether, to sites whose purpose is discussion and debate.

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