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Biblical basis questions are quite popular here, and many of them are good questions. But a large number of them are also really bad questions, because they are based on the false premise that there is a Biblical basis.

A few recent examples:

How should we, as a community, address these issues?

Outright banning Biblical basis questions would be far to heavy-handed an approach to address this subset of bad questions.

But suggestions to the OP that there is not or may not be a Biblical basis, and that the question ought to be broadened to simply "What is the basis for this belief" often go unheeded.

As a result, we often get well-intended answers, which don't actually answer the question. For example this answer uses Biblical references, but fails to directly tie to the subject matter of the question. On the same question, this answer does a great job of explaining the basis for the belief, but relies primarily on extra-Biblical sources.

Sometimes it's also unclear whether a question truly fits within the "Biblical basis" format. Some groups may hold a belief because they believe it is in scripture, others may hold a belief for other reasons. What do we do in these cases?

To move this discussion more into the abstract, how would we answer:

Q. What is the Biblical basis for Oompa Loompas?

And for the sake of argument, lets suppose that someone finds a prooftext somewhere that could, with some imagination, be used to support Oompa Loompas.

Is such a question Primarily-opinion-based (as the existence of a Biblical basis depends on opinion)?

Does the question implicitly ask "... according to those who believe there is a Biblical basis?" (I suppose this is implied today, but I don't think it solves the problem.)

Should some, or all, Biblical basis questions be broadened to simply "basis" questions, to fairly allow for these possibilities?

At the moment, we're left with voting wars (as evidenced in my first example question), and this doesn't seem like the appropriate course.

  • Prove it. Prove that someone is claiming that the bible supports the condition. I know I could easily find some one with the Trinity question. Many the Paul/Torah question. Certainly not the virginity/marriage or oompa loompa question. – 3961 Jun 11 '16 at 20:28
8

How would we decide which biblical basis questions are valid and which ones aren't?

By the criteria of, "Does this belief actually have a biblical basis," I happen to believe that most of the biblical basis questions here are invalid, because I believe that most of the beliefs whose biblical basis are being asked for don't have a valid basis in the Bible.

Does that mean I would get to go around voting to close all biblical basis questions for which I think the biblical basis is unsound? Can I get 'em closed by gathering together enough users with sufficient rep who agree with my position, and together VTC?

What objective criteria could we adopt that would give us a valid guideline beyond our own beliefs and our own interpretation of the Bible to determine which biblical basis questions are and aren't valid?

I can think of only one:

Does any recognizable Christian group or denomination hold to the belief, and think that it has a basis in the Bible?

This is the only criteria I've found useful in questioning a biblical basis question, and leaving comments for the OP: Can you point to an actual Christian group or denomination that holds to this belief, and thinks it has a biblical basis? This would be the answer to your theoretical Oompa Loompa biblical basis question.

If we make any modification to the on-topic criteria of biblical basis questions, this is the one I would suggest.

Here, for reference, is the current "Biblical basis" guideline in: Types of questions that are within community guidelines:

  1. Some questions ask for the "biblical Basis." Example. It is vital to note that a good answer to this kind of question mandates that you provide the verses and arguments used by proponents of the view in question. Whether the verses are being interpreted correctly or not by proponents of that view is irrelevant to this site. Another example here.

By the same token, answers that say "there is no biblical basis," and especially answers that give the biblical basis for the opposite belief, such as this one, would be "Not an Answer" for a biblical basis questions, because the on-topic guidelines would require that some Christian group thinks the belief does have a biblical basis. Of course, answers that give the biblical basis for the opposite belief should instead be posted in answer to a corresponding question asking for the biblical basis against the belief specified, such as this one in relation to this one.

Edit: As I've said in some of my comments on this and some of the other answers here, I don't think we should require biblical basis questions right off the bat to identify a Christian group or denomination that holds to the belief in question and thinks it has a biblical basis. But I think questions should be challengable as to whether any Christian group or denomination holds it, and if no one can identify such a group, then the question should be closed.

Requiring that a denomination be identified right off the bat is too high a bar for new users who come here having heard about a Christian doctrine and wanting to know its basis in the Bible. We already chase away enough new users who don't ask questions "in the right way." Most biblical basis questions will be about an identifiable Christian doctrine. Any that aren't we can deal with on a case-by-case basis through challenging the question as stated above.

  • I might be in favor of requiring "Biblical basis" questions to cite at least one denomination, theologian, or group that believes that there is a Biblical basis. But that might be making the bar too high, by essentially requiring people to answer their own question before asking. – Flimzy Jun 5 '16 at 16:09
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    @Flimzy We wouldn't necessarily have to require OPs to cite at least one denomination right off the bat. But a question could be challenged on that basis, and if neither the OP nor anyone else could point to such a denomination, then the question could be closed. – Lee Woofenden Jun 5 '16 at 16:38
  • That sounds a lot like what Skeptics.SE does for their requirement that every question be about a "notable claim." The OP doesn't have to provide that notable claim necessarily--it's often added later by others. – Flimzy Jun 5 '16 at 16:42
  • See what I've written below on David's answer (and now added as a paragraph to mine): I don't think questions need to demonstrate that a group thinks a belief has a Biblical basis. – curiousdannii Jun 5 '16 at 23:45
  • @curiousdannii I agree, but in a more general way: I don't think we should require biblical basis questions to identify a group at all. See my response to David's answer below. However, if a Christian group holds a position but doesn't claim that it has a basis in the Bible, is it really valid to ask for their biblical basis for that claim? – Lee Woofenden Jun 6 '16 at 17:19
  • @Lee I think so, because it's so rare for Christians to believe something and not find any support for it in the Bible whatsoever. – curiousdannii Jun 7 '16 at 0:17
  • @curiousdanni Churches justify having church boards, but there is no biblical basis for them. Not sure if this is a "belief,' though. – Steve Jun 12 '16 at 13:17
  • Lol. I just answered basically this, but I hadn't read your post yet. – 3961 Jun 12 '16 at 14:41
  • " We already chase away enough new users who don't ask questions "in the right way." Excellent!, Strongly agree. Gets to be off topic, but, how do encourage more people to suggest specific ways to reword modify questions into SE friendly format? – nickalh Aug 10 '16 at 8:18
  • Lee, I disagree with "answers that say 'there is no biblical basis,' and especially answers that give the biblical basis for the opposite belief ... would be 'Not an Answer' ..." In my mind, questions that ask "According to X, what is the Biblical basis for ..." are different from questions that don't qualify the "according to X". If it can be logically shown that the Bible does, in fact, support the opposite belief, this seems to me to be a valid answer. Zero is also a number, right? – guest37 Jan 22 '18 at 5:11
  • @guest37 If my general guideline is followed, biblical basis questions would require that some denomination thinks a particular position has a biblical basis. So if the only answer is, "There's no biblical basis for this position," then the question itself would have to be deleted. However, providing the biblical basis for an opposing point of view simply isn't an answer to that question. And opening up to opposing views would make biblical basis questions into doctrinal free-for-alls. So opposing views simply can't be allowed. Ask for the biblical basis of the opposing view separately. – Lee Woofenden Jan 22 '18 at 6:26
  • Then why not require the question to be phrased along the lines, "What do some hold as the Biblical basis for X?" or "What do Oompalumpians hold to be the Biblical basis for X?" The question "What is the Biblical basis for X?" implies that there actually exists some absolute Biblical basis, not relative to any sect's particular interpretation. It is in effect a loaded question. If the community consensus is that no absolute Biblical basis exists for anything, then "What is the Biblical basis?" questions should either be disallowed or required to be modified. What are your thoughts? – guest37 Jan 22 '18 at 14:32
  • @guest37 The "community consensus" on an answer doesn't matter. This site is not about what the users here think; it's about what various groups and denominations of Christians think. As for requiring less absolute language on biblical basis questions, in my opinion that that would simply make it harder for new users to ask "correct" questions here without providing any significant benefit to the site. Regardless of how absolutely a question is asked or answered, people are going to make up their own minds about whether or not they agree with it. – Lee Woofenden Jan 22 '18 at 18:05
  • I'm late to this discussion, but I'm curious as to your opinion. Should LDS members be allowed to answer unaffiliated biblical-basis questions with biblical interpretation in light of our other scripture? or would that be considered proselyting? Remember, the example is "Biblical verse X supports the belief when interpreted in light of Book of Mormon verse Y." – JBH Jun 27 '18 at 0:07
  • @JBH For the purpose of a biblical basis question, if it's an interpretation of a Bible verse I don't see that it matters in what light it's interpreted. – Lee Woofenden Jun 27 '18 at 6:57
3

Proposal:

In order for any question to be a valid "What is the Biblical basis for", we ask the OP to first show that what they are asking about is a valid teaching within Christianity, and that some source claims that there's a Biblical basis.

Bad question:

What is the Biblical basis for Ommpa Loompas?

Improved Question:

Father John Jones of the Catholic Church, preaching at the Church of St. Willie Wonka said in his sermon, recorded online here, that Oompa Loompas do, indeed, exist, and were mentioned in Scripture, but he didn't say where". What is the Biblical basis for Oompa Loompas?

It's less heavy-handed than an outright ban and addresses the issue of "any old fool can make up any old thing and ask for the Biblical basis".

As a means to enforce it, a comment pointing back to this post, and closing as "unclear what you're asking" until the OP makes the necessary edit, at which point, it can get flagged for re-opening.

If this works, maybe we can incorporate some verbiage on this into the help under "how to ask".

  • My only hesitation here is the idea that a single pastor could say something like this and that that's enough for a biblical basis question. Perhaps one prominent person is sufficient, but I tend to prefer the "group" language that Lee uses – Nathaniel is protesting Jun 5 '16 at 18:07
  • I don't think we should be requiring questions to demonstrate that anyone thinks there is a Biblical basis, because excluding groups like the LDS which have additional scriptures, almost all denominations will attempt to ground almost all of their beliefs in the scriptures. Even for the Catholic Church which has a strong tradition component uses the scriptures to back up most of their beliefs (the Immaculate Conception question I linked to in my answer is one of the few that doesn't.) I think all we need is to show that a group believes the thing in question. – curiousdannii Jun 5 '16 at 23:43
  • @curiousdannii I agree, but I'd call that "scriptural basis" instead. – David Stratton Jun 6 '16 at 0:40
  • @David Except for the LDS, how are they different? – curiousdannii Jun 6 '16 at 0:47
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    @Nathaniel: If a single person claims a Biblical basis for Oompa Loompas, that should be sufficient to answer the question (assuming someone can find where they claim to get that Biblical basis--if that answer can't be found, the question would remain unanswered, as any answer saying "I think the Biblical basis for Oompa Loompas is X" would be NAA). – Flimzy Jun 6 '16 at 8:00
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    @curiousdannii: I don't see what distinction you're drawing between LDS and other groups. LDS has "Biblical basis" or other "Scriptural basis" same as all other Christian groups--same as Catholics might use the Apocrypha to answer such questions. – Flimzy Jun 6 '16 at 8:02
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    I don't think we should require questions to identify a group that holds a particular position. Only that if challenged, someone is able to point out a group that holds a particular position and thinks that it has a biblical basis. The learning curve to ask questions on this site is already very steep. We chase away a lot of people who don't ask questions "in the right way." Many doctrinal positions are common, and people have heard of them, and want to ask about their biblical basis. Making them say where those doctrines came from before asking about them is too high a bar. – Lee Woofenden Jun 6 '16 at 17:15
  • @Nathaniel Presumably, if a poster with a church said it, some of his church probably believes it. – 3961 Jun 12 '16 at 14:43
2

I think you're conflating a few different issues.

One is asking about topics which are either unclear, or for which there is reasonable doubt whether it's actually held by Christians. If someone wants to ask for the Biblical basis for the theology of Oompa Loompas, then the question should be closed as unclear until they can edit it to explain better, preferably with quotes from those who hold it.

Another kind of question are those for which its adherents do not argue from the Bible for it. An example is What is the biblical basis for the Immaculate Conception?. These questions are fine, and some of the few ones where it is appropriate to answer the question with "there isn't." (This is a very different situation from the more common kind of question where most people think a belief doesn't have a Biblical basis, but a minority scrape together some kind of Biblical basis.)

On the specific questions you raised:

  • What is the biblical basis for the idea that believing in the Trinity is necessary for salvation?

    • I don't think this is a problematic question. It could perhaps be clarified to ask for what the earliest supporters of the Athanasian creed thought, or more broadly, what any subsequent adherents thought and argued. Its answers are mostly okay, but I don't really like any because they're not focused in on what the creed was saying.
  • What is the Biblical basis for claiming that Paul upholds and teaches the Torah law?

    • This is fine, but a quote of someone saying he did uphold it would help.
  • What is the biblical basis for valuing virginity, but dispensing with levirate marriage?

    • I think this question has a faulty foundation, but I couldn't justify voting to close it because it's indisputable that most Christians do value virginity but don't support levirate marriage. bruised reed's answer is good: it addresses the faulty foundation and gives the real basis for why virginity is valued.

I don't think we should be requiring questions to demonstrate that anyone thinks there is a Biblical basis, because (except for groups like the LDS which have additional scriptures) almost all denominations will attempt to ground almost all of their beliefs in the scriptures. Even the Catholic Church, which has a strong authority of tradition, uses the scriptures to back up most of their beliefs (the Immaculate Conception question above is one of the few on this site that doesn't.) I think all we need is to show that a group believes the belief in question.

  • So I don't see any suggestions for how to handle these as a guideline. It is a correct assumption that your proposal is to change nothing because all is fine as-is? – David Stratton Jun 5 '16 at 17:59
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    @David I don't think we need to change our guidelines, though for individually questions we should be encouraging people to add quotes supporting the question. – curiousdannii Jun 5 '16 at 23:35
  • Your last paragraph doesn't make sense to me. How do you see LDS as different, or being excluded? – Flimzy Jun 6 '16 at 8:03
  • @Flimzy I meant that except for LDS almost everyone tries to ground their beliefs in the Bible. The LDS are different because they ground many of their beliefs in the other books the ground as scriptural. – curiousdannii Jun 6 '16 at 8:19
  • @curiousdannii: For LDS, they still use scripture. If we broaden 'Biblical basis' to 'Scriptural basis', that covers it, right? – Flimzy Jun 6 '16 at 10:37
  • @Flimzy Yeah we should rename the tag. I can't think of any good reason why it should be limited strictly to the Bible considering the scope of the site. And it would be much better to rename the tag than to start using a second tag. – curiousdannii Jun 6 '16 at 10:39
  • @curiousdannii: Sounds like a good idea... want to bring it up in its own meta post? – Flimzy Jun 6 '16 at 11:17
1

It is estimated that there are over 40,000 Christian denominations worldwide. I have attended the services of perhaps fifteen of them, and read books and articles concerning a few dozen more. I think it hubris for me to challenge anyone who asks a Biblical basis question, because the odds that some denomination somewhere views that question as important is likely to be high.

I think it important to note that "Biblical basis" means different things to different people. I studied Physics and Mathematics in college. I know what a mathematical proof is. I have also read books on the law and archaeology. What constitutes a proof or a defense of an idea means different things in all these disciplines.

I do not believe in Purgatory, but I admit that there are some verses in the Bible that support such an idea without proving it. Likewise the necessity of belief in the trinity for salvation. There are verses that touch on facets of this question, whether supporting or contradicting it. Those relevant verses are the Biblical basis for an opinion one way or another about what ideas are consistent with the Bible and what are not.

Taking the trinity as an example. The full doctrine of the trinity is a complicated matter. It is likely that one cannot justify all aspects of it using the Bible alone. But that does not mean that one cannot justify some aspects via Scripture. I think it a worthwhile endeavor to search for as much support (or the opposite) as possible in order to sift it and come to a conclusion concerning a question. A full, mathematical proof would be nice, but in a court of law it is often the preponderance of the evidence. Thus stating the following is useful:

a) this is what must be proven

b) this is what has strong support

c) this is what has poor support

d) this is what has no apparent support

0

There's a class-within-the-class of questions that come up often that for me makes this site a turn-off: find the Biblical basis for a particularly Catholic doctrine.

  1. Almost all of these already have a post on Catholic Answers. Someone asking a question here probably didn't do their homework. They might not like or agree with the corresponding post on Catholic Answers, but those posts seem to be the official Catholic response very reliably.
  2. Answers are unwieldy: the doctrine in question is often defined in an encyclical, at an Ecumenical Council or in the Catechism, which provide scriptural citations (or citations to other sources which in turn contain Scriptural citations, eg, if it quotes Aquinas or Augustine who in turn were referencing scripture). To ask for the Biblical basis is therefore to ask for a reproduction of sometimes lengthy arguments which are a poor fit for SE sites. At the same time, providing the citation to the appropriate encyclical, paragraph in the Catechism, etc., gives someone who is genuinely curious everything he or she needs to understand the reason for the logic.
  3. It pre-supposes a sola scriptura approach (or often comes across that way). Presumably, someone asks a question here either (1) they are trying to understand a different view, or (2) they are trying to understand something their own church teaches. In the first case, trying to understand someone else's point of view while constraining answers to your frame-of-reference seems self-defeating.
  • I especially appreciate your final paragraph--it's true that these questions do tend to assume, or at minimum, lead toward sola scriptura. But what do you think should be done? Do you have any suggestions, or do you think things are fine as they are? – Flimzy Jun 8 '16 at 6:10
  • Seems like you're pre-disposed to close a lot of questions. That's a big turnoff about this site that I've never been able to shake. Christianity.SE should be far more inclusive; not just a gathering for Christian elites. That's not what God had in mind when He created His Church and that's not what the founders had in mind when they created Stack Exchange. – Jim G. Jun 8 '16 at 11:35
  • Catholic Answers loves to call its opponents "Fundamentalists" :/ – curiousdannii Jun 8 '16 at 12:09
  • 1. You may be right that many of the questioners haven't done their homework. Feel free to downvote any such questions, that's what the downvote button is for. – curiousdannii Jun 8 '16 at 12:12
  • 2. The benefit of this site is that it gives the opportunity for a variety of people to answer questions in different ways. One person could quote the encyclical, another could explain it in their own words, another could quote from another Catholic resource etc. In addition, the comments feature allows us to ask for an explanation of jargon, which you can't do so easily on other sites. If you feel it's too much work, then you could just leave a link to the encyclical as a comment on the question. – curiousdannii Jun 8 '16 at 12:12
  • 3. I wouldn't say it presupposes sola scriptura, but it does presuppose that the Bible supports most doctrines. This is true even for denominations like the Catholic Church which aren't sola scriptura. It's very rare to see a Biblical Basis question about Catholic doctrines with zero Biblical support - the Immaculate Conception question is the only one I've found so far. – curiousdannii Jun 8 '16 at 12:13
  • @curiousdannii, Catholic Answers uses (or at least aspires to use) "Fundamentalism" in the technical sense, that is a movement within Protestantism that began in the late 19th century. Karl Keating, in his book, spends a couple pages discussing just this point. – James Kingsbery Jun 8 '16 at 14:40
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    The relevance of that original sense of Fundamentalist is basically 0% now, on the internet. It's just needlessly combative IMO. – curiousdannii Jun 8 '16 at 15:44
  • This is why I have [biblical-basis] as one of my "don't care" tags. – Peter Turner Jun 9 '16 at 14:52
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    Yes, biblical basis questions are almost always asked from someone who presupposes a Sola scriptura framework. It kind of follows with the nature of the question type. As Peter suggests, if you often find them not worth your time, simply hide them. – 3961 Jun 12 '16 at 21:42
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Prove it. Prove that someone is claiming that the bible supports the condition. I know I could easily find some one with the Trinity question. Maybe the Paul/Torah question. Certainly not the virginity/marriage or oompa loompa question.

So I have a pretty simple solution. Any biblical basis question stands with the assumption that some Christians do use the bible to support the belief. But, if challenged, the OP must prove that assumption. It can be as simple as a single blog post that makes the claim that the bible supports the position and that there are Christians who believe it does.

This is very much like the requirement to prove a Christian belief exists and is therefore on topic. A self identified Christian must simply and publicly claim the belief.

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    I agree, but with the significant modification that a self-identified Christian group or denomination must simply and publicly claim the belief. C.SE is, after all, about the beliefs of Christian groups and denominations, not about the beliefs of individual Christians. – Lee Woofenden Jun 17 '16 at 11:08
  • @LeeWoofenden Yes, a good point. Though if the OP says he believes it too, then that makes a "group", though they may not identify as a group on that basis, which is not the requirement, however. By the same logic, links to at least two different sources claiming it should suffice. – 3961 Jun 17 '16 at 14:46
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    Is "Christian group" defined anywhere for the purposes of C.SE? I wouldn't call two isolated people a "Christian group." "Group" implies some cohesiveness and common activities as well as common beliefs. – Lee Woofenden Jun 17 '16 at 15:11
-2

I'm going to suggest a formula that if the question cannot fill in, it is not on topic:

  • According to [Perspective], (what is the)/(is there a) Biblical basis that [Subject] [Claim about subject]?

Definitions

  • Subject, Doctrine or Concept: The basic topic of discussion. In the first given example it would be The Trinity. The Subject of the question. Can be a person or group.

  • Claim: This is what separates a good question from a bad. A claim about the Oompa Loompas must be made for which you are seeking biblical support or basis. Until a specific claim about them is made, you are just asking....if they exist? Its unclear at best and primarily opinion based at worst since no starting or ending perspective is given either.

  • Perspective: The Established theological perspective, framework, system or denomination. Examples: Reformed Theology, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Protestant, Pentecostal, Anglican, Lutheran, LDS, etc. It may be the perspective of the desired answer, or simply of who is making the claim. It can even be left open to all Christianity in some cases. This is not traditional scope.

I am not saying questions should be scoped(verb) I am simply saying all questions do have a perspective or scope(dictionary noun definition). I am placing no demands on what that scope is, I am simply identifying it. Much like every argument has a bias, every question has a scope. The problem is when it is unsaid and too unclear from the rest of the question to comprehend naturally.

Please stop commenting about requiring scope. No where have I said that and I have repeatedly said that is not what I am saying.

Example variants:

  • According to most [Protestants], is there a Biblical basis for [Oompa Loompas] [being the lost 10 tribes of Israel?]

  • [Does anyone] (any Perspective) believe there is a biblical basis [for the existence] of [Oompa Loompas] and, if so, what is it?

  • How do the [Southern Baptists] respond to the biblical evidence for [Oompa Loompas] being [the lost tribes of Israel]?

As you can see the variations are limitless and even help in slightly different cases such as the last one.

Quick Check Questions

Obviously questions will not be phased in this format, but in three questions we can answer if it could:

  • Who? - The Perspective
  • What? - The Doctrine, Concept or Subject
  • What's the claim? (How?) - what is being said about [what]?

Put another way: Who is saying what about what?

Examples

What is the biblical basis for the idea that believing in the [Trinity] (Subject) is [necessary for salvation] (Claim)?

This gives the clear perspective of starting at the Athanasius Creed within the body of the question, even if the title is missing it. +1

What is the Biblical basis for claiming that [Paul] (Subject) [upholds and teaches the Torah law] (claim)?

This may be a rare case where the perspective is missing or left wide open to all Christianity, though I could argue the scope is Early Church. +1 But borderline. Could possibly be improved.

What is the biblical basis for [valuing [virginity] (2nd concept?), but dispensing with] (Or 2 claims?) [levirate marriage] (main Concept)?

This question is confusing because it is either looking for Biblical support for two claims, or for two concepts. -1 This confusion is evident in the response to it. It could be refined by making one claim and making the other claim into the perspective:

According to proponents of abstinence (no premarital sex), what is the Biblical basis for dispensing with levirate marriage? (not saying that is what the OP is asking, I'm not even sure. Just rephrasing for example)

Now the question is much clearer. Clear perspective, subject and claim.

Validity

I think the matter of a Claim's validity or acceptance should simply be left up to the community. There is too much chance for simple ignorance on a topic for users to judge it without being familiar with the perspective.

One could be asking about a fringe concept or heterodoxical doctrine, but as long as it has all three elements defined it is still a valid question.

This proposal only streamlines the first of three levels of interpreting a question, as we will cover next.

Philosophy

My concept comes from observation of this site. Much like the subject, verb and object of a sentence, a question is most clear when it has all three elements.

This applies to far more than biblical basis questions, but because they have consistent form and are less abstract than other questions it makes it much easier to apply this concept to them.

The Subject will always determine the possible perspectives. The Claim also impacts the possible perspectives. A question on the Trinity will be assumed to not be about Jehovah's Witnesses or Oneness Pentecostals unless the Claim makes it clear. It is my belief that the perspective should be left as the most broad possibility dictated by subject and claim. But, we can often get in trouble assuming things. This is why I suggest the perspective be identified. I am not requiring a specific scope.

How do we understand sentences everyday without even thinking about it? We do it constantly. We 1) identify the parts, we 2) fit them into coherent places, and then we 3) examine their content, what they say.

I understand this question is focusing on 3), but I am arguing we as a community are not even doing 1) and 2) the same and until we do, debating what is and is not valid is pointless because we are essentially reading different questions.

Conclusion

Without the three elements of Perspective, Subject and Claim, a Biblical Basis question is always more unclear, open ended and vulnerable to opinion that it could and should be.

This gives us an objective standard we can apply across the board without discrimination and with limited interpretation. Moderators and the community will still need to struggle with clarity, such as the question on Levirate marriage, but we will have a common standard in mind to try and get a question to achieve. And the community will still have to judge whether the content is on topic.

This is not necessarily a proposal for change (nor does the question require an answer to be one) but a proposal to internally clarify our own community's thoughts and to focus it into constructive feedback.

If we cannot identify to an OP why their question is confusing, what it is missing and what they need to add, then we cannot really help them. We will be left to simply close, close, close, and hope they figure it out. That seems to be the current method. The occasional constructive comment can rarely put its finger on the heart of the issue though. This process would hope to improve that.

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    While I appreciate the intent of this proposal, I don't agree that we should require biblical basis questions to be scoped. There are many common Christian beliefs held broadly across many denominations. Restricting any one question to one denomination would be adding more difficulty to people off the street asking questions here without giving any great benefit. See my comment on @David's answer above. Of course, a biblical basis question can be scoped to a denomination. But I don't think that should be a requirement. – Lee Woofenden Jun 6 '16 at 17:24
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    @LeeWoofenden I used the term perspective on purpose. It can be the scope of the desired answer, but it can also simply identify the proponent of the claim about the subject. And as I said in the second examine, "Christianity" is still a scope. Just a wide one :) You can never eliminate the need for case by case judgements, but you can make it clearer. "Does anyone...." is identifying perspective even if it is completely open. – Joshua Jun 6 '16 at 17:35
  • @LeeWoofenden hope that helps? Clarified in definitions. Really it is just a function of parsing the question, not scope. It can identify the scope, but it is not requiring any certain level of it. We do this naturally, otherwise we answer LDS questions with Reformed theology or we give only one perspective to an overview question. A question is always from our for a perspective. I'm just asking for it to be identified. – Joshua Jun 6 '16 at 18:06
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    I still don't think a perspective should be required for biblical basis questions. I also question the usefulness of the "is there a biblical basis?" type question. The answer would be a simple yes/no, which isn't very useful. I continue to think that if no Christian group is claiming/assuming that there is a biblical basis for a doctrine, that question simply shouldn't be asked, or if asked, should be closed. – Lee Woofenden Jun 7 '16 at 19:53
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    @LeeWoofenden I'm not using Perspective as Scope. I'm using Perspective as the identifying term for what the Scope of the question IS. When parsing a sentence, you simply identify the subject verb and object. When you call the subject a subject, you aren't placing any other meaning on it, you are simply identifying it as you break down the sentence to better understand it. I am identifying a question's scope (whatever that scope may be, however narrow or wide) with Perspective. I'm not placing demands or requirements on anything. I'm just saying it should be identified. – Joshua Jun 8 '16 at 0:17
  • @LeeWoofenden Also, the "Is there..." question clearly has a follow up of "what is it?" It's no different that a "what is the..." question except in this case they are not sure what the group (scope) is. Which you JUST said they don't need to give! – Joshua Jun 8 '16 at 0:20
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    The problem with requiring a scope is that most people will pick one that is too narrow. There are lots of questions that ask either for the Catholic or the Baptist perspective on something which really could be widened to all Trinitarians. So I'd say we should only require a scope like that when the doctrine is actually argued for in multiple ways, such as for infant baptism. Catholics, Lutherans, and Presbyterians all give very different answers, so I'd want at least those three denominations to have distinct Biblical Basis for infant baptism questions – curiousdannii Jun 8 '16 at 12:20
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    @curiousdannii I've edited the answer to say it even louder. I am not, nor have I ever, requiring scope. I am saying that all questions are coming from or are intended for a perspective, but when it is not clearly identified or easily identifiable from the question we make assumptions, as you point out, which causes problems. I'm suggesting we suggest users identify it. I'm not dictating a level of scope, I'm requesting identification. If none is given it defaults the the broadest possible. – Joshua Jun 11 '16 at 5:04
  • Ah, in that case then I'd agree. I think that's what we're already doing, but it wouldn't hurt for people to be reminded. – curiousdannii Jun 11 '16 at 6:54

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