I had an answer of mine deleted from this question on the Christianity channel.

However in the body of the question the asker said he was looking for Calvinist/Evangelical answers. I commented in my answer saying I wasn’t a Calvinist meaning I was answering from an evangelical standpoint, but a moderator deleted my post saying I shouldn’t answer questions which require an answer from a particular denominational standpoint (i.e. Calvinist). His exact words were:

“Answers on the site have to match up with the denomination asked for. Please don't offer your opinion or cite Luther alone to prove or disprove something Calvin taught (or didn't teach)”.

I replied to this saying:

"The asker says he's "looking for a Calvinist/Evangelical answer" so he isn't exclusively only wanting Calvinists to reply. Also since I share the Calvinist view of double predestination I have to disagree with the reasons for your deletion of my post. I cited Luther because he was the original evangelical Protestant who taught that God predestines people to heaven and hell".

What are the rules (if any) concerning answering questions which are wider than the actual title of the question?

1 Answer 1


Many questions on this site, on close inspection, could be seen as being unclearly scoped. Typically that's because either the OP doesn't really understand the vocabulary, or doesn't understand what is on-topic for this site.

When this happens, the best option is to make an edit that captures the OP's meaning (often this requires asking the OP for clarification in comments on the question) and makes the question clearly on-topic.

A riskier option is to answer the question anyway. If you're confident that you are interpreting the question's scope correctly and you are confident that that scope is sufficiently narrow to be on-topic, then you're safe. But if the community disagrees, then your post may be subject to deletion.

In this case, the edit history of the question is rather revealing. In order to prevent the question from being closed as off-topic, an edit was made that added the specific requests for a "Calvinist" viewpoint. This was done because the question in its original state did not provide a sufficiently clear and narrow scope in order to be answerable here.

That's because there is no single "Calvinist/Evangelical" answer to this question, unless we understand that to mean "Evangelical Calvinist" or "Calvinist Evangelical," or we understand it to be asking for an overview of Calvinist and Evangelical positions. This is a Q&A site, and if a question is likely to generate a lot of posts that disagree with each other, then we have debate and discussion – not answers.

In general, if you find a question for which you believe there are multiple, divergent answers, based on your understanding of the scope of the question, you should either (1) not answer and instead flag/vote to close, or (2) provide an answer that fairly describes all the different positions (and understand that your answer may require edits or deletion if the scope changes).

In this case, the "Calvinist/Evangelical" language should have been clarified at the same time the rest of the question was updated, but it was probably just missed by the editor. We note that the OP didn't complain about the edit, and accepted the answer that deals with Calvinism, and thus presume that the edit was well taken. If the OP wanted the Lutheran viewpoint, or an overview of Evangelical viewpoints, those could have been asked in separate questions.

And in fact, you are perfectly free to ask such a question on Luther's view (assuming there's no duplicate out there already) and use the content you posted here in an answer to that question – see Can I answer my own question?

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