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Having been a casual user of this site for some time, I have noticed some patterns. Purely off of my own experience I will say that the preferred form of question seems to be scoping to a particular denomination.

From the outside looking in, this is particularly convenient for Catholicism, because they have a clearly defined authority structure, and a plethora of citable sources. Many an obscure and strange question scoped to Catholicism are deemed appropriate, while less obscure and more relevant (my opinion) questions from a non denominational perspective are tossed into the nether, and have a hard time ever coming back from being put on hold.

Not to rail against the Catholics, I don't believe this is being done intentionally, it's just the natural playing out of the rules.

My question is, what if anything can be done for questions which are asked from a non-denominational perspective?

---------- fun fact --------------- according to http://hirr.hartsem.edu/cong/nondenominational-churches-national-profile-2010.html If non denominational were a proper denomination, it would be the third largest in the US, behind Catholic, and Baptist.

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People like to use the term "non-denominational" as though it is a completely amorphous, shapeless mass that cannot be measured or categorized. But in fact, even though such churches don't associate with a denomination, their teachings can still be categorized with a bit of precision:

  • Protestant
    • Therefore trinitarian, sola scriptura, and sola fide
  • Either Calvinist, Arminian, or a blend (such as Amyraldism)
  • Often Dispensational, sometimes strictly so
  • Baptistic (i.e., credobaptism; no infant baptism)
  • Often holding a Zwinglian (memorial) view of the Lord's Supper
  • Primarily congregational polity
  • Often literal, six-day creationists
  • Sometimes charismatic

So it's quite possible to ask about the views of "non-denominational" churches here. Just pay attention to what doctrines these churches include in their statements of faith and in their teachings, and identify which historical tradition that particular view falls into.

Often that means that if it's a question about eschatology, ask for the dispensational view(s). If it's about the trinity, as for the trinitarian view. If it's about baptism, ask for the Baptistic (credo-baptism) view.

As much as non-denominationalists may want to avoid such labels, at the end of the day, their major teachings almost always fit at least fairly well into the major historical categories of Christian thought.

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This is entirely the fault of non-denominationalists1 for using confusing terminology and trying to pretend the elephant in the room doesn't exist. As much as many people inside the tradition would like to believe otherwise, non-denominational is itself a fairly specific theological tradition with a heritage, boundaries (albeit fuzzy ones), and norms that define it. As such "non-denominational" is actually a pretty defining label in itself and for many questions would be sufficient scope to ask about on this site. Nathaniel's answer gives some more specific ways of asking, but I would also suggest that some questions might be best addressed at just "non-demominational" churches. Specifying a region might help though because their theological trends does tend to follow different tracks by region. Non-denominational in the Pacific Northwest suggests something different than non-denominational in the deep south, and quite another thing in central Asia.

One other point to note is that on this site we try to avoid making stuff up or expressing personal opinions, but sticking to things that can be documented. It's really hard to ask good questions about stuff for which there there are few extant written sources to turn to as authorities. This is one thing that makes questions about Catholicism easier to work with than Protestantism: they document everything ad nauseam and they care about minutia most other Christians just don't care about, much less have documentation for. That doesn't make other traditions any less topical here, it just explains a little bit why RCC scoped questions tend to have much less friction.

1 I have some leeway to say this having grown up in such an environment.

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One reason for there being more denominationally scoped questions is because we goad users into making their Truth questions on-topic and the easiest shortcut to that is to add a denomination.

But we've always allowed questions about the Bible, about a Biblical Basis for a belief or practice, about historical events, about the Church Fathers and we allow questions about modern (and not-so-modern) works, applications and figures in Christianity.

Unless there was a non-denominational teaching authority, a non-denominational pope or a Catechism for non-denominationalists, we can't answer non-denominational questions objectively because my non-denomination indubitably answers questions differently than your non-denomination.

  • I’m not sure if this comment was made or not - prev. attached to a deleted answer. I disagree with the comments. I could be wrong, but I take OP’s question not to mean the perspective of people from a “non-denominational” background, but rather questions on which denomination should have no bearing. An example could be, “what language did Jesus speak?”. Most Christian groups would give an identical answer to this, no denominational tag should be used. Also, I find the some of the responses a tad offensive to the millions of Christians in the world not attached to any established denomination. – Morgan Hart - LoveGod.Blog Sep 12 at 0:21
  • 1
    @morg yes you can ask all the historical-based questions you want, but when they cross the line into doctrine (such as most Biblical exegesis questions are) then we almost always require a denomination. Although sometimes the denomination can be broadened to "All Protestants" assuming all protestants believe in the 5 Solas, or "All Trinitarians" assuming all Trinitarians accept the Apostles Creed or Chacedonian Christians. The goal is, we want one correct answer per question. We're not going to ask or answer Pilate's question, "What is Truth?" we tolerate all Christians as truth seekers. – Peter Turner Sep 12 at 12:12
  • I understand and agree, and I think denominations are helpful for driving OPs away from opinion and towards citable resources. But that leaves the problem of questions that can be reasonably answered or addressed with scripture verses. If the answer was taken from a book that only certain Christian groups accept, such as the Book of Mormon or the books of the Apocrypha, that might be an issue, but I’m assuming books like the 4 Gospels have near-universal acceptance among Christians. So what is the consensus for answering denominational questions with scriptures? – Morgan Hart - LoveGod.Blog Sep 12 at 14:48
  • It's a pretty normal approach, we leave it up to users on the site to flag things that are deemed inappropriate for the matter at hand. Mods handle flags and step in if needed. As a Catholic, I find these answers useless, there are 10000 saints and 300 popes and hundreds of reputable Catholic authors, plus several Catechisms and Concordances. But I'm not going to go too far out of my way to delete those answers (especially if Catholicism was tacked on at the last minute), unless it gets out of hand as it did once a few weeks ago. If a question is flagged, then it's a judgement call. – Peter Turner Sep 12 at 15:04

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