2

Fredsbend's older question "What is the Lake of Fire?" is no longer a good fit for the site. I was thinking to myself, how could truth questions like this be edited to narrow the scope and provide opportunity for a scholarly answer (this question already has one, thankfully).

I considered how this question might be edited into a biblical bases question, but I failed to come up with one- "What is the biblical basis for the Lake of Fire" is a completely different question.

I am soliciting opinions about a "Biblical Definitions" tag. For instance,"What is a biblical definition of the Lake of Fire?" Such questions, similar to biblical basis questions, would be heavily supported by citations of biblical passages and of written interpretations of those passages, such as Mike's answer to the question at the link.

Is this an appropriate question format for the site? I see that in some cases, biblical definitions may still be debatable and so it treads toward being opinion-based, however I don't believe such a question would do so more than a biblical basis question.

  • I don't really understand what your proposed tag would be for. The best way to make such a question would be for an overview of either exegesis or theology. But the question is really too old to transform it in any direction. – curiousdannii Jun 7 '17 at 14:14
5

To answer your titular question in an unsatisfying way – it depends.

For a slightly more satisfying answer, let's look at three examples of "biblical definition" questions:

  1. What is a "talent" of gold?
  2. What is the Lake of Fire?
  3. What is the Holy Spirit?

All three of these could be classified as "biblical definition," but the differences between them help show how that's not a very useful classification:

  1. Objectively answerable. Highly unlikely that any Christian denominations make the weight of a talent a matter of doctrine.
  2. Borderline truth question. Different Christian denominations have different understandings of the text, and thus develop different doctrines from it (see Wikipedia). For the meaning and connotation of the Greek words, BH.SE is the right place to ask. Here, an overview may be the best approach, or a broad scope (annihilationism vs. eternal conscious torment) could be provided.
  3. Blatant truth question. Such a question must be scoped; it can't be answered here as is, probably not even as an overview.

You may disagree with my specific points on each of these, but hopefully it's obvious that question #1 and question #3 are vastly different and must be handled differently. I'd argue that this is exactly the same difficulty we face with all unscoped exegesis questions, and thus I'd see "biblical definition" questions as a subcategory of them.

So far we haven't agreed upon a dividing line between "objectively answerable" and "obvious truth question" for these sorts of questions. I'm partial to my own attempt, but one way or another I hope we can arrive at better consensus.

2

For a while now, I've thought questions basically asking for some simple exegesis are being wrongly closed as "Truth questions". I'd rather we devise a formula for asking and answering them. Biblical basis is such a formula, and it usually works. Exegesis is a straightforward topic that can be approached apathetically. Yes, there's some opinion in it, but I think that falls under "good subjective". In this case, I'm asking what the lake of fire even is. It's hardly intuitive by the depiction of what it does. It's not like anything I've ever heard. Conversely, "What is the lake of fire like?" or "Why is it there?" is asking for Truth, not exegesis. Mike's answer has some good parts too that I think could be fashioned into a basic formula for answering this kind of question.

I don't think "biblical definitions" is heading in the right direction. That invites systematic theology, which can be severely anachronistic and is always opinion-based. Exegesis is an effort to determine what the author was trying to say. In a simple phrase, exegesis just rewords what the author said, but doesn't change the meaning. It's a combination of word study and history and an attempt to know the author. Frankly, we already have the tag exegesis. That's exactly what this is, so I don't see why we can't devise a formula for questions and answers like this one and edit the exegesis tag accordingly.

  • 1
    Simple exegesis questions shouldn't be closed currently - I think many of us are working with these guidelines. But you may have more in mind than that. – curiousdannii Jun 7 '17 at 21:56
  • I appreciate your input. – Andrew Jun 8 '17 at 13:12
  • @curious I down voted that answer. I don't think exegesis necessitates a "tradition". In fact, I think it's the other way around. Exegesis creates doctrine. Such a rule forces answers into appeals to authorities. Nothing wrong with it inherently, but it is often boring. But these authorities commonly let doctrine determine the veracity of exegesis, meaning, they have a systematic theology to support. With this rule, we'd not allow exegesis questions at all. We'd only allow the form "How does x interpret this verse?" With a score of only 1, I'd say it's a very soft rule, if a rule at all. – 3961 Jun 8 '17 at 13:23
-1

I don't like the idea of making old questions on topic if they've got answers. I don't recall there being a very long period where "Truth Questions" were on topic and certainly not since Mr. Bend graced our presence. There was just a long period where people weren't all that adamant about flagging them as such. I noticed about 10 minutes into this game that answering generic Bible questions with references to Dei Verbum wasn't gonna get me much traction.

However, I do think asking for "all the places in the Bible where The Lake of Fire is referenced" would be a good topical question, it can be objectively answered with a minimum of theological opinion. The interesting things that come up would be all the other places where such a thing is talked about that might not be obvious.

An example of this might be where are all the places that the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the OT.

  • 1
    "all the places in the Bible where The Lake of Fire is referenced" sounds like a verse search question, which we don't allow. A. It's a list question. B. It's easy to answer with a concordance. C. The edge cases where a topic is mentioned tangentially are very opinionated. All the OT references to the HS is exactly the kind of question that can't work here. – curiousdannii Jun 7 '17 at 21:58
  • @curious I think that a "verse search question" is a question that's like "what verse in the Bible does it talk about being lifted up on eagles wings?" I know that's an extremely minute difference, but it makes sense to me. – Peter Turner Jun 8 '17 at 14:17
  • 1
    I'd call that a verse identification question, but our normal approach to those specifically avoids requests for a list or analysis of passages referencing something in particular. – Nathaniel Jun 8 '17 at 23:43

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