3

This question and answer by the same person is designed to simply list the opinions of a group of people about the validity of claims made by core Christian cannon. Are such posts on topic? I see no difference between this post and simply writing Q&A's summarizing any literature where individuals or minority groups have made remarks about Christianity, for good or bad. Might as well be a summary of the claims of "The God Delusion", or "God is not great".

Moreover, the end result of these "studies" done by this small group of like minded individuals are conveniently packaged into nice books for sale. I feel that such posts are:

  • Advertisements in the capitalistic sense.
  • Advertisements of the opinions of the extreme minority, be it for or against (in this case 200-ish people's opinions against some 3+ billion alive today).
  • 2
    FWIW the answer is at least temporarily deleted for plagiarism as it was at least half a copy and paste of content with no indication of being a citation. If the author fixes that it will be back, so working out the answer to this meta post is still relevant. – Caleb Aug 15 '16 at 12:17
  • @Caleb thanks for the update. – user20766 Aug 15 '16 at 12:20
  • 1
    The God Delusion is largely a philosophical book, not an irreligious one specific to Christianity. I would close such a question as "General philosophy." – 3961 Aug 15 '16 at 15:52
  • 2
    This is an obvious attempt to silence an opinion @TechnikEmpire does not like. The claim that Dick's inquiry is about a commercial book is false -- the results of the Acts Seminar are reported in free pdfs online. The 'update' is just an ad hominem attack on the Seminar, not a constructive argument about the appropriateness of Dick's post to this site. I find the whole question disingenuous, a veiled attempt at theological censorship. – Schuh Aug 15 '16 at 22:10
  • @Schuh It's not, it's an attempt to keep the rhetoric of blatantly anti-Christian groups out of a site for Christianity. I think you're sore that I dug up their original 1980's report which shows in their own words that they claim to have refuted every core belief of nearly every Christian denomination. – user20766 Aug 15 '16 at 22:36
  • Plus, if you read the bio's of the chief people involved, they do not claim to be of any Christian denomination. Plus, these claims are not given in the context of any denomination. PLUS these are "Truth" claims, and they're not even put in the context of a specific denomination. – user20766 Aug 15 '16 at 22:38
  • You can't call it theological censorship when the claims being presented self declare that they do not believe any God is involved in the topic at hand at all. This is site about people subscribing to the theological claims of Christianity. This material is from a group that claims there's nothing theological about Christianity. It's off topic. – user20766 Aug 15 '16 at 22:41
  • @Schuh Also re: your comment about sales, you either didn't look at their site or you're intentionally misrepresenting the facts. I updated my question to refute your claim about it not actually being a commercial advertisement. – user20766 Aug 15 '16 at 22:49
  • @Caleb What do I have to do to have my account deleted again? Just put my wishes in my profile and ask? – user20766 Aug 16 '16 at 0:29
  • 1
    @TechnikEmpire You can apply for account deletion following the directions in the help center. I have to say though even though I agree with you this was a poor question and answer, you parachuting in with an agenda to guard a specific point of view (orthodox or otherwise) was not very helpful. I've made this meta post into exactly what you were complaining of in the first place. This is a poster child for why we don't do "truth questions" at all and why this site isn't and cannot be a bastion of sound doctrine. – Caleb Aug 16 '16 at 13:52
  • @Caleb my agenda was simply to object to the concept of anti-Christian material being posted on a site called "Christianity". Being a Christian it's obvious that I'm disgusted by such material. However, I had forgotten that this site is not about Christianity, and as Dick even points out it's right in the site guide "we are not Christians". I'd love to see the Islam or Jewish SE sites force you to denounce your Faith in the site terms. Do they? Hardly. I'll go ahead and get the deletion process underway ASAP. – user20766 Aug 16 '16 at 16:17
  • Before I go I think I'll suggest a site name change, perhaps something like "Hellbound" or "AntiChrist.SE". The latter has a ring to it. In the meantime I'll drive by the related Jewish and Muslim faith sites and start posting material directly against them and see how that blows over. – user20766 Aug 16 '16 at 16:25
  • 3
    @TechnikEmpire Nobody requires you to denounce your faith to participate here. The suggestion that we do is is preposterous. Granting others a space to document their beliefs inside the confines of clearly scoped question is not even remotely related to you denouncing your faith. We don't even require you to consider those views Christian, only to recognize that some other people do. There is plenty of room here for open disagreement, but that's also why we insist on each question defining it's own scope. – Caleb Aug 17 '16 at 5:59
  • Since the OP is gone now can we roll it back to when it was just about reviewing books and not about if they are for or against (very subjective) Christianity? – Joshua Aug 19 '16 at 20:04
  • 1
    @Joshua That sounds like a good idea. The latter issue has a pretty well established answer already, the only interesting part of this question that could use community consensus is what to do with the liturature summary / review type questions. I've rolled this back, but I'm wondering if a different meta post might be in order with a more focused issue. This one is a mess. – Caleb Aug 19 '16 at 20:13
3

To me, this sort of thing is generally on-topic. Asking questions about the writings of a group, especially where they touch on Christianity, is a major focus of this site – it would be rather inconsistent to restrict ourselves to only historical works, or not allow overviews/summaries of particular works.

That said, here are a few things to watch out for:

  • Asking for a review of an entire work can be too broad. Asking for a review of the theology of the Pilgrim's Progress would be huge, but asking if it supports predestination is much more reasonable. Closing as too broad can thus be appropriate.
  • Just because something is on-topic doesn't mean that it's a great question:
    • If the material is already easily accessible elsewhere, like Wikipedia, downvote it for lack of research.
    • If the question is simply uninteresting to you, or you don't think it's useful, downvote it.

In summary: there's nothing inherently off-topic about a question like this. But such questions may be too broad, and they are certainly open to the community's downvotes.

  • I think my problem with it is that it's just some random group of people, a very small group of people at that. It's not like we're talking about a meeting or study held by officials where the outcome officially fundamentally reflects cannon or something. It's just some guys who are not anymore distinguished from Joe off the street, unless worshiping titles bought and paid for from private for-profit businesses is your thing of course. If this is acceptable then frankly I think the next logical step is that all Q&A here is purely subjective. Everyone's opinion counts as both a Q and an A. – user20766 Aug 15 '16 at 12:16
  • It's personal perception of Scripture at the end of the day. Last time I was schooled on the format of this site, putting down "this is what I believe" and especially "this is Truth" kind of stuff was a no-no. This is both of those things. "This is Truth and that is not, because that's what I think. What I think is Truth because [insert list of lofty titles purchased]. – user20766 Aug 15 '16 at 12:19
  • 2
    @TechnikEmpire There are a number of small groups with practically no credibility that are "on-topic" here (like the Westboro Baptist Church), so that in itself isn't sufficient to make something off-topic. There's also a distinct difference between asking "What are the findings?" and "Are the findings true?" – the latter is clearly off-topic, but the former is on-topic in many cases. Many of our users have non-mainstream views, and they can express them by properly framing a question (What does X tradition think about Y?). – Nathaniel Aug 15 '16 at 13:43
  • That said, the big question in this case is whether this group can be considered a "Christian" group (do they claim that they are?) and if not, if we want to document explicitly non-Christian beliefs here. I'm not opposed to it from an off-topic/on-topic perspective, since I think it can be done well, and if it isn't, it can be downvoted. – Nathaniel Aug 15 '16 at 13:46
  • @Nathaniel But I think there is a difference between asking what the findings are and how those findings relate to Christianity. Right now it is only asking the former which is hermeneutics and textual criticism and dating. If it is changed to relate the results to Christianity I could see it fitting here even if it's on that overlap between CSE and BHSE. But right now it's on the other side of that line to me because the findings by themselves are hermeneutical. – Joshua Aug 15 '16 at 20:10
  • There were a few things that were about Christianity. Such as it not starting in Jerusalem, but then it becomes, as you said, far too broad. I could see several questions dealing with the book's conclusions and how they relate to specific areas of Christianity and Christian history that would all be on topic here. – Joshua Aug 15 '16 at 20:13
  • 1
    @Joshua I'm not willing to give BHSE a monopoly on dating/textual criticism questions =). To me they seem quite relevant here, and typically just because something is on-topic on one SE site doesn't automatically make it off-topic on another. – Nathaniel Aug 15 '16 at 20:15
  • I've updated the question to shed more light on the situation. – user20766 Aug 15 '16 at 21:19
  • IMO @DickHarfield did not ask a hermeneutical question about a text: he asked about a particular Christian-identified group's opinion about a text. Their work touches on BH, but Dick's question is about a Christian institution, not the Bible itself. – Schuh Aug 15 '16 at 22:34
  • 1
    Also, suggesting Westar is not a 'Christian' institution -- and therefore inappropriate for discussion here -- reflects parochial bias unbecoming of genuine Christian scholarship. Let us err on the side of open-minded inquiry rather than censorship. – Schuh Aug 15 '16 at 22:35
  • 2
    @Schuh This site has a broad definition of "Christian" (basically, if you claim to be a Christian, you are one, for this site's purposes), but it's not clear to me that Westar makes that claim (does it call itself "Christian"?). – Nathaniel Aug 15 '16 at 22:59
  • 2
    @Nathaniel, what is a Christian institution for these purposes? Westar is "dedicated to fostering and communicating the results of cutting-edge scholarship on the history and evolution of the Christian tradition ..." Its areas of focus are the historical Jesus, Paul, early Christian literature, and the origins of Christianity. Its fellows are PhD-level critical scholars representing a "wide spectrum of religious belief," including Catholic and Protestant Christianity and Judaism. Many are pastors. Some are the leading scholars of their denomination. Yes, I'd say they're 'Christian'. – Schuh Aug 15 '16 at 23:35
  • 1
    @Schuh Considering that historically, their published work involves dismissing the divinity of Jesus, all miracles of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, and claim the resurrection (you know, the general topic of the new testament) was a lie crafted and perpetuated by the Apostles, I think we need to not only dismiss the nonsensical assertion that they're a "Christian" organization, but also recognize that they at best are responsible for publishing anti-Christian material. – user20766 Aug 16 '16 at 0:02
  • 2
    @TechnikEmpire In this case, I don't know that Westar would be considered Christian, since their website doesn't seem to make that claim. But the question still may be on topic because its writings are at least about Christianity, even if they are primarily attacks on traditional Christian beliefs. – Nathaniel Aug 16 '16 at 0:37
  • 2
    @Schuh There are many professed Christians in many of the most secular universities' religious studies departments. Does this make them Christian institutions? No. Please stop insisting Weststar is a Christian Institute. It is not. No I am not concluding from that that we cannot ask valid questions about how their research relates to Christianity. But it seems to me you are going one step too far in one direction just as you accuse, and I agree, Technik goes too far in calling it advertisement. Let's all take a breath and take a step back to the middle of the room. – Joshua Aug 16 '16 at 11:28
3

I understand it cannot be migrated to BHSE as it is, but I believe the question should be closed with the suggestion it be reworded specifically for BHSE or Christianity SE. However, in it's current form it is really not perfect for either site but is closer to falling within BHSE standards.

Let's review the tours for the two SE sites and what Westar and the seminar and the topic question all say:

Christianity Stack Exchange Tour:

Ask about...

  • the history of denominations (such as Roman Catholic, Anglican, Church of Christ, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-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 the Westar website: https://www.westarinstitute.org/about/

Westar is not affiliated with any religious institution or denomination and does not advocate a particular theological point of view.


Don't ask about...

  • a survey of all Christian views on a particular subject
  • what the Bible says about a subject (unless you specify a doctrine/tradition)
  • advice on how to handle certain situations (pastoral advice questions)
  • is "X" a sin questions that ask whether a certain action or belief is sinful
  • "Truth" questions that do not focus on what a specific group of people teaches
  • whether some group or person is "Christian"

From the summary of the Seminar on the Acts of the Apostles:

The Seminar on the Acts of the Apostles began deliberations in 2001, with the task of going through the canonical Acts of the Apostles from beginning to end and evaluating it for historical accuracy.


Biblical hermeneutics Stack Exchange Tour:

If your question is about...

  • interpretation of a specific Bible passage
  • hermeneutical approaches
  • translation of Biblical texts
  • historical context (with regards to a particular text)
  • source criticism

... then this is the right place to ask.


The question at hand says:

The Seminar on Acts of the Apostles sat for ten years until 2011, examining the Acts of the Apostles. What were its main findings and how were they arrived at?

An answer that has a description of how they were arrived at would be a purely hermeneutical exercise (unless they did come out of a specific Tradition).

What their findings are is a very agnostic question. It fails to connect to Christianity in any specific way. At best it is too broad. Their findings may involve or impact Christian history or doctrine but the result is broad and/or vague.

Suggestion for editing for C.SE

I would suggest a series of questions that specifically target a review of the Seminar and it's influence, disagreement or similarity, or doctrinal impact if true on a specific scope/denomination/tradition. Or questions clarifying its conclusions within Christian history.

If Christianity did not begin primarily in Jerusalem, where did it? (According to the Seminar on Acts)

Or

If true, how would adherents of biblical inerrancy reconcile character names in Acts being fictional?

Conclusion

Specifically in this case:

Being neither a focused question about Christianity nor a question solely about the Seminar's approach and evidence, the question should be modified to be tailored for one specific site, or two, with one version for each, even.

In general as policy:

Questions simply asking for a review of the content of a book should not be allowed on Christianity SE. Questions on books or any published material (research papers, journal articles, recordings, videos, etc) should have to engage with a particular part of Christianity: it's doctrine, denominations or history. Asking for a book reviews is not a good question.

Does it have to be "Christian"?

I'll add that a benefit of this approach will be that we as a community do not need to sit in judgment on the source. Whether or not the source that is engaged with a part of Christianity is Christian itself is irrelevant. In fact, just as the site guidelines say, it's not really our place to ask if a group or person is Christian.

If we both require sources to be Christian and allow questions summarizing sources then part of such questions will be to decide if they are Christian, necessarily violating our own guidelines.

Instead, we should be ensuring that all questions are about Christianity in some way. Even secular sources can now engage or be engaged by a point of Christianity.


Appendix

Some of my Reasoning

One may also think of it this way, a Formula:

Consider how we have concluded that "What does the Bible say about X?" questions are off-topic. Same with "What did Martin Luther (Y) believe?

The proper way to ask such questions is "What does the Bible have to say about X according to Y?" And "What did Martin Luther (Y) believe about X?"

X is the part of Christianity that is being discussed. Y is the part that is engaging with or being engaged by X in some way. But a question needs both factors X and Y to be complete, focused and on-topic. A question with only one factor tends to either be too broad (Y with no X) or primarily opinion based (X with no Y)

A question asking for a review or summary of a source (book, recording, video, article, any published material) is just like asking about the Y but not telling us where or what X is. It is just asking:

"What does Y say?" This never an acceptable question in any other case, why would it be now?

Some books will certainly engage with Christianity by their nature and topic, but in what and in how many ways? At best, it is still too broad. I highly doubt that C.SE wants to open the "Pandora's Box" that would be allowing book reviews simply summarizing a source's content.

Compare:

  • "What does Augustine's City of God say?" vs "What does Augustine's City of God say about original sin?"
  • "What does Dawkins' The God Delusion say?" vs "How have Reformed theologians responded to what Dawkins' The God Delusion says regarding Original Sin?"

The latter still allows even secular sources to engage with Christianity though you may notice it is reversed to be how Christianity has engaged with Dawkins.

Examples

Examples of relevant precedents from these two sites:

Questions on Christianity SE that involve books but connect to Christianity specifically:

How does mainstream Christianity view "Heaven is for Real"?

Notice it is not "What is the book "Heaven is for Real" about?" That would be invalid.

Have any major Christian intellectuals responded to Stephen Hawking's "The Grand Design"?

This is not asking for a summary of The Grand Design but it is looking for a response from Christianity.

On BHSE

Involving multiple biblical books and a particular model at BHSE:

https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/4401/what-is-the-relationship-between-the-synoptics-and-the-gospel-of-thomas

Not out of one text but only directed to particular texts identified as Q by particular criticism model:

https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/4402/what-signs-does-q-show-of-stages-of-composition

  • So you don't think any kind of book review should be on topic on C.SE? What about a review of an obscure book written by a clearly Christian author? – Nathaniel Aug 16 '16 at 20:32
  • @Nathaniel I'm short on time now. But I will add to the appendix some more hypothetical examples to flesh out the subtle differences and what I'm saying. To quickly respond though, I don't think simply labeling an author or material as "Christian" is up to us or a valid criteria for being on topic. The question must engage Christianity with the material or author. The existing example is how has Heaven is for Real been received? That is valid. But simply asking what is Heaven Is for Real about? Is not valid. More to come this evening. – Joshua Aug 16 '16 at 21:46
  • @Caleb Joshua suggests BH.SE for this Q. As stated by another person in this meta, I was prompted to ask/answer this question because I felt an answer I gave in BH.SE needed more info, but that this was too much for the question put. I posted on CH.SE because I felt it was the better site, but would be equally happy to migrate it to BH, if someone could suggest changes that make it more ideal for that site. – Dick Harfield Aug 17 '16 at 2:21
2

I agree the question doesn't really belong on this site, but I'd stop short of calling it advertising. It is related to Christianity, but if we keep to our site mission of documenting the beliefs and practices of Christian groups, then it's not quite there. (Unless it could be established that the vast majority of the seminar participants are self-identified Christians.)

It should be migrated to the Hermeneutics site.

  • I was thinking the same thing in terms of migration. +1 – user20766 Aug 15 '16 at 12:05
  • 1
    The question doesn't start from a text. I don't see how I could justify a migration to BH.SE in its current form. – Caleb Aug 15 '16 at 12:17
  • @Caleb I'd justify its migration by saying that it's a question about higher criticism of a Biblical text seeking an overview of how that (large) text is seen by a perspective. If questions like the following are allowed I think this question could be too: 1, 2, 3, 4 – curiousdannii Aug 15 '16 at 12:28
  • 2
    I see your point, @curious, but I think all of those examples start from an issue arising from (or at least related to criticism of) the text, even if "the text" is large. This one starts from a seminar. (It is not, "what arguments have been offered against the authenticity of Acts?" which would be on topic, although maybe too broad.) – Susan Aug 15 '16 at 12:58
  • Would you extend this argument to say that asking for an overview of arguments made in an anti-Christianity book, written by an atheist author, would be off-topic? – Nathaniel Aug 15 '16 at 13:33
  • @Nathaniel For which site? – curiousdannii Aug 15 '16 at 13:44
  • @curiousdannii C.SE. – Nathaniel Aug 15 '16 at 13:47
  • @Nathaniel Yeah I don't think that would be on-topic. – curiousdannii Aug 15 '16 at 13:49
  • @Caleb it most certainly does start in a text. It's just that in this case the text is the entire book of Acts. Which could certainly mean it's too broad as Nathaniel points out. However questions of Canon criticism, dating and authorship are all purely BHSE purview, even when it's an entire book. – Joshua Aug 15 '16 at 19:16
  • I've updated the question to shed more light on the situation. – user20766 Aug 15 '16 at 21:19
2

I'll let others defend my question, but I would like to address three points made by Technik Empire:

The first is that this is a site "a site for Christianity"; and " This is site about people subscribing to the theological claims of Christianity." It is not. It is a site about Christianity, and defined as a secular site: Brothers, we are not Christians‼ The difference means that relevant source material can be used in either a question or an answer, even if we consider that material to be secular. I will add a personal comment to exclude an anti-Christian rant, but I wrote this question and (so far) the only answer, and assert that neither the question nor the answer consists of a rant.

The second is that the Seminar was all about "nice books for sale". There is nothing in my question to do with selling books. There is nothing in my answer to do with selling books. One could read all the online reports produced by the Seminar and be only peripherally aware that there is a (low cost) report available for purchase. It happens that I am adding a copy to my library, and in reply to a comment request, I undertook to answer fair-dealing questions regarding the contents - so by chance this already eliminates the impetus for most of us here to buy the book. Finally, for what its worth, Westar is a non-profit institute, so presumably it does not tout its reports to earn a profit for shareholders "in the capitalistic sense.".

My third response concerns "the end result of these "studies" done by this small group of like minded individuals"; "it's just some random group of people, a very small group of people at that. It's not like we're talking about a meeting or study held by officials where the outcome officially fundamentally reflects cannon or something. It's just some guys who are not anymore distinguished from Joe off the street"; "worshiping titles bought and paid for from private for-profit businesses [presumably a reference to the qualifications and honorifics of the Fellows attending the Seminar]." Some of this is clearly insulting, so I will deal with it carefully.

Based on voting figures, there appear to have been around 100 Fellows attending and voting. At this stage, I do not have access to their names and credentials, other than the contributing authors of the final report. The Institute claims that over 200 "scholars of religion" called Fellows have participated in the various Seminars held to date. Given their credentials and speciality, this is a sufficiently large group as not to constitute "a very small group of people." Membership as a Westar Fellow is open to:

  • Scholars with advanced academic degrees (Ph.D. or equivalent) in religious studies or related disciplines from accredited universities worldwide.
  • Published authors who are recognized authorities in the field of religion (by special invitation only).

The requirement to have a PhD or equivalent, or to be a published author who is a recognised authority in the field of religion, seems to exclude from Fellowship "guys who are not anymore distinguished from Joe off the street".

Not only do the Institute's Fellows not merely hold titles bought and paid for from private for-profit businesses, but the report's contributors, at least, hold very senior academic positions that set them apart and give cause to listen to their findings:

Dennis E. Smith, Ladonna Kramer Meinders Professor of New Testament at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Joseph B. Tyson is Professor emeritus of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas.
Rubén Dupertuis, Associate Professor of Religion, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas
Perry V. Kea, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies, University of Indianapolis, Indiana
Nina E. Livesey, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, University of Oklahoma at Norman
Dennis R. MacDonald, Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, Claremont School of Theology, California
Shelly Matthews, Associate Professor of New Testament, Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth
Milton Moreland, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee
Richard I. Pervo, retired, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Thomas E. Phillips, Dean of Library and Information Services, Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, California
Christine R. Shea, Professor of Classics, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana
William O. Walker, Jr., Jennie Farris Railey King Professor Emeritus of Religion, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas


In summary, I feel I have to agree with the opinion expressed above, that this is an obvious attempt to silence an opinion @TechnikEmpire does not like.

  • Dick, to start, you probably know I disagree with "that opinion" but I also hope you know I can be objective and am not trying to silence you.My objective is this: "What were its main findings and how were they arrived at?" That question has nothing to do necessarily with Christianity. This could be a research on ancient Greek documents for all we knew. You ask "what" and "how". The "how" was clearly arrived at through scholarly hermeneutics and textual criticism. If you can relate the question directly to a focused part of Christianity I would have no issue. – Joshua Aug 16 '16 at 11:51
  • 1
    Questions that start with a biblical book or text are immediately assumed as being about Christianity because it's from a Christian book. So a question asking when was Acts written may get answers that include the seminar on Acts. But you are asking what the seminar to say about the book of Acts. To me this is why we have BHSE, to remove such questions from a religious or theological context and to free it from any particular denominational restriction. I understand it would not be perfect in its current form for BHSE either but it would be a step in the right direction. – Joshua Aug 16 '16 at 11:56
-1

I don't see anything wrong with the question. It's asking about a specific decision, made by a council of men who voted to determine their interpretation of certain biblical texts. Isn't this the same as asking "What exactly was the purpose of the Council of Nicea, and what methods were used for their decision"? The OP only asked for the conclusion of this council, and for a few examples of how they came to that decision. The question seems to be on-topic, and his answer definitely addressed his specific questions.

  • 4
    No, your comparison one of apples vs. rabbits. The Council of Nicea was composed of church leaders directly responsible for guarding the theology of their congregations and the results were binding for many congregations. The Westar Institute is nothing like that. In fact on their very own site they claim «Westar is not affiliated with any religious institution or denomination and does not advocate a particular theological point of view.» As far as their relationship to extant branches of Christianity (and hence the scope of this site), they are a world apart from an actual church council. – Caleb Aug 15 '16 at 17:38
  • Oh I see. Thanks @Caleb. I was just trying to help Dick out. I'm pretty sure he asked this question in response to one of my answers at biblical hermeneutics, so I thought it should be available for those that wish to question the validity of Acts. Dick is respected around here, and I assure you he had very good intentions for posting this. – Cannabijoy Aug 15 '16 at 17:50
-2

The Christianity: Stack Exchange tour page includes the following relevant points:

Christianity - Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. ...

Ask about ....

  • understanding the Bible from the perspective of a specific viewpoint,
  • explanations of the beliefs and practices of a denomination or movement. ....

Don’t ask about ...

  • whether some group or person is “Christian.”

By these measures @DickHarfield’s question is appropriate to this site. Dick himself is obviously part of the target community as described here, and his question fits the requirements of the site, namely, "understanding of the Bible [the Acts of the Apostles] from the perspective of a specific viewpoint [Acts Seminar].” Westar Institute and its academic publishing arm, Polebridge Press, certainly contribute to critical biblical scholarship, which is certainly a movement within Christianity. The tour page does not restrict questions only to denominational institutions or those who self-identify as 'Christian', as some have suggested.

  • 2
    This is an over simplification that misses the point. Our site summary is terse and does not cover all possibilities. Yes "understanding the Bible from the perspective of a specific viewpoint" can be on topic, but per our site guidelines only viewpoints of established groups that claim Christianity as their own identity are on topic. The Bible from the perspective of Kundalini is not on topic. This Westar Institite has relates itself to Christianity as a topic of interest but not as its own identity—in fact they explicitly deny any affiliation with it ecclesiastically or theologically. – Caleb Aug 16 '16 at 6:21
  • Westar does not identify with a particular denomination or brand of theology, but it's ludicrous to claim that a very well-known and respected scholarly institution whose sole focus is Christianity is off-topic here. Questioning whether Westar is Christian or not is itself off-topic and inappropriate to this site, per the quoted rules. – Schuh Aug 16 '16 at 7:28
  • I didn't claim it was off topic. All I'm pointing out is that this particular line of defense the way you have presented it is not valid. A group's focus being Christianity is different than their claimed identity being Christian, and the latter is our measure of topicality not the former. I know several (real, not hypothetical) Islamic groups whose entire focus is anti-Christian apologetics. Their sole focus on Christian doctrine doesn't make their views a valid scope for questions on this site. You haven't identified what's different about this case from that example. – Caleb Aug 16 '16 at 8:20
  • @Caleb, where is the "claimed Christian identity" rule defined? By your measure, all nonsectarian organizations -- including divinity schools, professional scholarly associations, and questions about Bible translations (e.g. christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/5532/…) would be out-of-bounds. – Schuh Aug 16 '16 at 17:16

You must log in to answer this question.