The question What views are there about the necessity of Christ's murder? asked:

I would now like an overview of what different denominations teach about the subject. (That is, what are the main distinctive opinions?)

This could either mean that the questioner (a) would like representatives from different denominations to present an overview of their denomination's teaching on the subject; or (b) would like a single person to give an overview of the teachings of all Christian denominations.

Interpretation (b) seems ludicrous to me, since there are thousands of Christian denominations worldwide. This interpretation of the question didn't even occur to me and I attempted to present an overview of Eastern Orthodox Christian teaching. Furthermore, the site guidelines for questions specifies that surveys of all Christian views on a particular subject are not constructive and will be closed.

It seems, however, that @Caleb and @bruised reed took the question to mean what Interpretation (b) implies. @Caleb deleted my answer and @bruised reed left the comment:

The question requests for an overview of the views of different denominations, focusing purely on an Orthodox view is not a valid answer to this particular question according to site guidelines.

If I have, in fact, misinterpreted the question as implied and the question really is asking for an overview of the various teachings of thousands of Christian denominations, then I would submit that site guidelines - at least as I understand them - would require the question to be put on hold for being much too broad.

  • Do note that the term "Denomination" is used quite vaguely on this site. It does not necessarily refer to a specific organization but can just be a catchall term for different groups at different levels (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox on one level are different denominations, but there are many smaller subgroups called denominations in Protestantism and then, technically, there are even smaller groups below that (Overall Presbyterian vs the several different specific Presbyterian conferences.) I agree the question needs scoping to identify which denominations or at least on what level.
    – Joshua
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 17:57

3 Answers 3


Overview questions are more difficult to answer, but they do indeed require covering, in a single answer, multiple views held by a particular group. So:

Both of these are fine as overview questions, and answers must at least show an attempt to cover the primary views of the groups mentioned.

Consider reading this answer of mine on a similar question, and the subsequent comments; they may be helpful. Caleb's explanation here is also valuable for understanding this long-standing practice.

Also relevant:


While the current site guidelines do allow for overview questions, not all questions posed as such will be answerable and on-topic. Here is a link to relevant posts on Meta discussing this issue. A general principle to bear in mind, is that you don't need to elaborate a position for every single Tradition, denomination or sect that identifies itself as being Christian; but what is expected is a sense of the range of major positions on the issue at hand and ideally, an indication of who believes what.

eg. On this issue, Catholics hold position A1 (described) similarly Orthodox hold position A2 (describe subtle difference between A1 & A2); Protestants are divided between positions C (described), D (described) and those who take no position on this issue.

For this particular question, I may be wrong, but I don't believe there is a significant divergence amongst the major representative strands of Christianity: 95%+ believe in the absolute necessity of Christ's substitionary atonement in order for sinners to be reconciled to a Holy God. For extra credit, listing minority views such as Unitarians or Swedenborgians whose view of what was accomplished by the Crucifixion may have some particular distinctives.

  • The site guidelines are quite clear to me: "There are questions not constructive to for the format of this site. These include questions asking for "... a survey of all Christian views on a particular subject." The question question posted asked for an "overview of different denominations". Protestantism is not a denomination, but rather a group of denominations. You are presuming based on your personal understanding that the question can be answered succinctly for all denominations, which may or may not be true. Regardless, the question does not conform to site guidelines.
    – user22553
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 16:20
  • There are the site guidelines, and then there is the communities interpretation of the guidelines. If you think it's clear already, then you should just raise the appropriate vote-to-close flag. You can then see if the established community (3k+ rep users) agree - ie by the required quorum of them (5) agreeing with you and voting to close the question. Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 16:27
  • Ok, understood. Truth by applause meter. Sigh.
    – user22553
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 16:34

This question is really a duplicate of this other question:


That question was closed as primarily opinion based.

The question at hand is at least too broad or unclear and is no better than the closed question in terms of clarity. It should at least be required to identify the referenced major denominations it wishes to get an overview from. Until the scope is identified it is uncertain and any answer could be claimed to not be an overview that was asked for.

It is best not to even attempt am answer to such questions until clarified. Unfortunately, sometimes answers to questions that are posted before necessary edits and clarification can sometimes no longer answer the newly stated question.

I would ask for clarification. Flag it in the meantime if you feel it is necessary to get the OPs attention, and await a resolution one way or the other before answering.

No matter how it appeared, this is common practice and applies to everyone of all traditions and should not be taken as a statement on your answer itself, but simply as necessary site procedure and moderation.

  • Thank you for your thoughts on this, Joshua. One member flagged the post at around midnight my time and the moderator deleted it an hour later. I don't think the question was a duplicate. The new question was asking what specific denominations believe, whereas the old question was open-ended.
    – user22553
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 18:28
  • @Dialogist I understand the other one is not even trying to scope itself, but until this one identifies which denominations, or at least what level, it wants overviewed, it's just as bad as no scope. It can be an overview if it identifies who, but until then it is just "everyone" which is too broad, as I said.
    – Joshua
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 19:05

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