As an agnostic, though well-disposed to Christianity, I recently visited this site to ask one very specific question. I stayed around, hoping to learn more.

What I have learnt on this site is that (some) Christians are still arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. They are also being prescriptive - "My church is the only one."

As I recall from my (reasonably extensive) reading in theology, Jesus's message was inherently simple. Do good, be kind, obey the spirit not the letter of the law, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive your enemies. The publican (the hated tax-farmer) was praised, the woman taken in adultery forgiven, the "beneath-contempt" Samaritan proved more worthy than Jewish religious leaders. Jesus even debated theology with a woman and a Samaritan!

Yet this site is riddled with nit-picking, legalistic, sectarianism - the kind of thing Jesus abhorred. "Harlots and prostitutes shall enter Heaven before you!"

This is said to be a site for, amongst others, people who are interested in Christianity. God help them!

  • How do you propose things should be done differently? Should explaining truth clearly no longer be a goal?
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Nov 9 '19 at 9:33
  • Oh, I'm not proposing a solution, I suspect the site is irredeemable - maybe Christianity is just not suited to the Q&A format of SE. My doctrine may be your heresy, but we can't prove it. Perhaps it should be described as a site for Christians, and drop the bit about people interested in Christianity? On History:SE we can occasionally be harsh to new/less-informed users, but at least we agonise over this in Meta, and try to do better. Christianity:SE just appears to me to be stuck in its own complacency.
    – TheHonRose
    Nov 9 '19 at 11:48
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    Well I actually think it suits Christianity really well. And by focusing on objective questions (in the sense that we can ask and answer what a particular denomination or movement teaches, not whether it actually matches reality) we can handle the questions of non-Christians really well too. I don't see complacency here, but contentment that even though we can't answer every question here, our guidelines let us answer lots of really interesting and meaningful questions.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Nov 9 '19 at 11:54
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    I disagree with your summary of the message of Jesus. What you have summarised is actually the message of John the Baptist, the Messenger of Preparation. But if anyone diligently and sincerely follows that message, then they are not far from the kingdom of heaven.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 10 '19 at 17:21
  • @Nigel - possibly. But I am certain that Jesus loathed legalism - "Which of you, if your son or your ox fell into a pit on the Sabbath, would not pull him out?" Yet this site seems littered with replies of the type - the Council of X in 1463 stated ABC with microscopic analysis of what that means today. But no genuine attempt to" map" it onto contemporary society. Yet - feeding the hungry, clothing the destitute, welcoming the stranger - these are as relevant as 2000 years ago, and I smell not a whiff of them here! Sadly.
    – TheHonRose
    Nov 11 '19 at 1:26
  • @TheHonRose We shall all be judged according to our deeds and according to our words.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 11 '19 at 2:47
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    Most people on this site are not Christians no matter what they claim as they clearly prove otherwise with their actions. I suggest you get a bible and read it. At least the NT. Ignore what so many people claim is true as the bible will clearly show that they are wrong. Nov 29 '19 at 1:45
  • "Yet this site seems littered with replies of the type - the Council of X in 1463 stated ABC with microscopic analysis of what that means today." Generally, that is a response to the question asked.
    – TRiG
    Feb 11 '20 at 17:49

I hear what you're saying and get where you're coming from. Most people who stumble across this site at first mistake it for something it's not. it was frequent enough back when I was an active participant that I wrote this post to try to help others understand:

What Christianity.StackExchange is (and more importantly, what it isn't)

The short version of the misconception is in the first bullet in that answer:

  • This site is a place to come to learn about what various Christian teachings have to say.
    • This site is not a place to come to learn which Christian teachings are true.

Once you understand that distinction, it's easy to see that all the nitpicking is exactly what the site wants to avoid. It's getting people to work within the site's purpose that's a challenge. (And always has been.)

  • thank you for taking my concerns seriously. Unfortunately, the nit-picking seems to be winning :( I am well-disposed to the Christian message, but I'm afraid I find this site deeply off-putting. If someone who knew nothing about Christianity asked me for help to learn about it, this is the last place I, would recommend. Sorry!
    – TheHonRose
    Nov 9 '19 at 16:33
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    If your goal is an understanding of "the Christian message", this site may indeed be less than ideal, @TheHonRose. However, as a clear explanation of the similarities and differences between the divisions of Christianity, this is one of the best sites around. And for specific answers to specific questions, it cannot be beaten.
    – TRiG
    Nov 9 '19 at 22:43
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    Agreed. This is not the place to go to find out whether people can be baptized twice. It is however a great place to go to to see what Catholics and Anabaptists believe about whether people can be baptized twice ("they can't" and "they can," respectively). Nov 11 '19 at 22:33
  • Should the site be renamed as "Christian studies" to emphasize the true purpose of "comparative" denominations? Similar to how the university department / major which studies comparative religion is usually named "Religious studies" ? In both cases it gives a signal to the visitor that the site is not about what is absolutely true, but what is relatively true according to a denomination / religion. Nov 15 '19 at 19:15

There are a zillion things going against making this site a non-depressing place. But here are the top few:

  1. This is a secular site so our goal is to be about Christianity not Christianity itself.
  2. We don't allow pastoral advice so we all come off like resounding gongs.
  3. Affable Geek, our top-most reputation earner (and distinguished kind person) died a few years ago, leaving us all rather orphaned.
  4. We recently lost our two most productive moderators and the mood on Stackexchange, for many committed Christians, is rather sullen.
  5. Very often people come here who don't get the point of the site and we have to spend weeks convincing them they're not supposed to argue with everyone who they think is wrong.

However, I think you got hit the mark with your first question and I hope you stick around to ask some more!

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