There is value in open-ended questions.

I recently asked this question, and was a little surprised to learn it had acquired as many as four votes to close (see the comments). I had intentionally left the question a bit open-ended, in the spirit of the christianity.stackexchange (see Brothers, we are not Christians‼).

Here is a related meta question: Should I close questions that are open ended? As pointed out in its answer, there are open-ended questions which can be answered. For my OP, I think user @Nathaniel accomplished this well with his answer which came with some key qualifications. Other SE sites (esp. meta) have wrestled with a flavor of this while using terms such as "pedant" (pedantic) or how to handle "beginner" questions. There are a lot of SE sites. The flavor of question asking on one site can be different/nuanced on another.

I'm all for asking better questions, which includes revising the question itself. However, what of intentional open-endedness? How to balance it? This is also a common theme some SE sites have to deal with, usually making the assumption that the question has been asked in an honest, perhaps curious, way and it's the responsibility, then, of the knowledge base in the community to help shape and provide an accurate answer. So where does the line get drawn on christianity.stackexchange?

Possibly related meta: Are close-vote scope standards significantly different now than they used to be?

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    This site has a lot of history dealing with the issue you are raising here, though perhaps not in identical terms: when you put a bunch of people who consider themselves Christians (Catholics, Mormons, JWs, Evangelicals, and more) in one place and expect them to get along, "open ended" has caused problems. This answer is particularly relevant: Do you feel your question standards are ok as is? Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 19:03
  • It's a list question - I see no value in leaving it open ended.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 22:01
  • @curiousdannii the title was previously "Requesting help identifying contemporary Bible Scholars supporting inerrancy", hence the talk of the scope being too broad. The open-endedness in this case would have allowed for multiple lists to be presented in a comprehensive answer. For example, in the accepted answer a list of evangelical inerrantists who met in Chicago in the 70's is provided. That doesn't mean there haven't been other groups, in other decades, possibly with other specifications, which would also be appropriate to include in such an answer. Does this make sense?
    – tniles
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 22:42
  • It makes sense, but it's still a list question. List questions are discouraged across the whole SE network. Sometimes they have more or less value than others. I see no value at all in collecting a list of people who have supported inerrancy. If you think such a list would have value, then can you explain why?
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 22:52
  • If you could explain why you'd want such a list then we might be able to come up with a constructive question.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 22:54
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    @curiousdannii Isn't there a difference between "is there a list of scholars meeting these criteria" and "please provide me with a list of scholars"? Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 22:55
  • @Nathaniel Not really, that's just pushing the list to a link. And such a list would be impossible to construct, and the boundary cases would make it very subjective. (So and so said this, but they also said that...) What counts as a "Bible scholar" is also very subjective.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 22:57
  • Also, there are competing definitions of inerrancy!
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 23:04
  • @curiousdannii Primarily to have a consolidated reference, or a starting point of one. See the comments in this question. Even if this had not come up in a SE post, it doesn't take much going around to realize there is a highly negative (secularly-held) view these days concerning Biblical Inerrancy, Literalism, and Historicity.
    – tniles
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 23:05
  • @Nathaniel answered the question effectively, adding some qualifications, which is an acceptable method of answering in SE posts, and is why I accepted his answer.
    – tniles
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 23:07
  • @curiousdannii the "so and so said this, but not that" is one reason why Nathaniel's answer was good--this group had a document explicitly explaining what they were putting their names behind/on.
    – tniles
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 23:09
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    @curiousdannii I guess I agree with you if the criteria aren't sufficiently restrictive, but I can see some questions asking for a list being specific enough to not be a "list question," like "Has one of these specific think tanks ever published a list of inerrantist scholars?" The current question could use some refinement along those lines, but I'm not comfortable rejecting all "does a list exist" questions. Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 2:08
  • I agree with Nathaniel: "not all list questions are bad". Nathaniel's answer demonstrates that sometimes a list is 1) available and 2) exactly the sort of thing the OP was looking for. That being said, I did remove the solicitation for a "list answer" to soothe the anti-list sentiment (I recognize it can be a problem). I did edit the Q to focus it more. After re-reading it, I assert the intent/context was clear from the get-go given A) the resources I show at the top of the post, B) the examples of scholars in the middle of the post, and C) the related content towards the end of the post.
    – tniles
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 15:40

1 Answer 1


The question you asked is essentially a list question with all the typical problems: (yes I know you asked if anyone else had a list, but that's just pushing the problems somewhere else)

  • Hard to compile
  • Constantly out of date
  • Massive scope (ETS for example has over 4000 members, and that's only one academic society)

The criteria for being on the list are also not sufficiently defined:

  • You didn't define what kind of inerrancy you are asking about
  • You haven't defined what constitutes a "Bible scholar"
  • You would have to either limit it to self identified inerrantists, in which case the multiple definitions are a problem, or else someone would have to judge whether others are "true" inerrantists or not

Some list questions are okay. How many countries drive on the left side of the road is fine. Questions which ask for thousands of scholars to be labelled are not.

This doesn't mean though that we can't approach the topic from another direction. You wrote in a comment above that "it doesn't take much going around to realize there is a highly negative (secularly-held) view these days concerning Biblical Inerrancy, Literalism, and Historicity". We encourage questions that are intended to support beliefs! Questions about the history of the modern inerrancy movement, questions about modern groups trying to come to a consensus statement (like the older Chicago statement), questions about the arguments supporting inerrancy are all constructive and would be well received here.

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