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I'm sure we've had this discussion before, probably when there were 0 moderators who didn't believe in private interpretation of scripture, but I'm having a hard time figuring out where people draw the line between a good answer completely composed of appropriate Bible quotes and a bad answer completely composed of random Bible quotes.

This question, for instance:

How can it be said that Paul taught a pre-tribulational rapture of the Church given 2 Thessalonians chapter 2?

If it's asking for pre-tribulational rapture, the answers should cite sources from believers in pre-tribulation rapture, not just be from adherents of a pre-tribulational rapture and give some verses that back it up.

That is why I thought

This was a good answer https://christianity.stackexchange.com/a/74962/4

and the several answers that are deleted and you may not be able to see, containing mainly Bible verses, need improvement.

If I'm off base here, please let me know. As a Catholic, it seems to be, that if you are just offering up Bible verses as an answer, then your answer is opinion based because the interpretation of said Bible verses is based on your opinion, but as a Protestant, who believes scripture is clear, you feel it's much more natural to go straight to the Good Book to answer questions and anyone else's opinion is as good as yours so you might as well not cite said opinion.

Now... That may be a straw-man argument for Protestants and I'm sure they expect you to do better in seminaries, so maybe we just need to stress that this site is mainly to get Expert/Scholarly answers on things and take the hit for new users.

What say you?

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  • What is the situation when a question specifically asks for the biblical basis for belief in a teaching that is common to most Christian denominations? I don’t mean a question where a particular denomination is asked to provide the biblical basis for one of their own teachings (for example that only 144,000 persons will ever go to heaven). For example, this question: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/62358/…
    – Lesley
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 15:01
  • @Lesley my interpretation of what we hashed out is that that question is on topic because it is in relation to a Christian doctrine, not a practice. So what is the Biblical Basis for using a soft toothbrush? is not good; what is the Biblical Basis for caring for your body? is good. But narrowing down to what is the Biblical Basis for anabaptists using soft toothbrushes is good (Assuming you have some rationale for thinking they use soft toothbrushes).
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 15:25

2 Answers 2

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I think our approach here should be the same as for this Meta question of yours from last year. (Even though you did select an answer I disagree with, which also has the most votes, it looks like there's a fair amount of support for my position too.)

  1. Answers don't have to provide references or quotes to authoritative sources if they think it's common knowledge that denomination X teaches doctrine Y, but authors should be ready to provide them if ever challenged.
  2. There is a big difference between saying "Catholics/Presbyterians/Creationists believe..." even without providing proof, and saying "The Bible says... Therefore..."

I don't think 100% of answers need to give references if something is common knowledge, but authors should always be prepared to give those references if challenged.

I think this is a more reasonable approach. It lets us all write answers when we're not at our home/office/college library. (I've written a lot while commuting.) And sometimes people ask questions here with massive misunderstandings of what a denomination believes. If someone asked whether, for example, Protestants taught that Melchizedek was a celibate priest, then I'm not sure whether I could find a Protestant source that actually discussed that specific issue, but I can confidently say that Protestantism doesn't teach priestly celibacy in general so we'd have no reason to say that he was one. Not a great example, but I hope you get my point.

For that pre-tribulation question, both Mr. Donutz and Mr. Bond's deleted answers seems to be arguing against the premise, so their deletion is appropriate.

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  • Sounds good - FWIW, I could use a little context around the NAA flags when they come in because my gut instinct says they're NAA for a completely different reason.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 0:52
  • @PeterTurner Can you explain more what you mean?
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 0:58
  • 1
    It's certainly not your flags, but most flags I handle are Not An Answer flags with 0 comments and I have to interpret for myself why a post might not be an answer. So what looks to some to be a frame challenge looks to me to be opinion based. I generally post something when I delete NAA posts and when I get that wrong, it makes kerfuffles.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 14:19
  • @Peter It could easily be my flags, I often don't comment, especially if I'm on my phone. I'll try to comment more consistently from now on.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 14:29
  • I certainly DID NOT delete my answer. Someone else did. And although it was admitted it was a well thought-through answer, I never had a decent explanation on anything wrong with it based on the rules and guidelines on the site. Without any comments on what exactly needed "improvement". I'd think some abuse the NAA flag to get rid of things they don't like to see/hear, despite the existence of features such as downvoting for disagreement, with comments for those who have the decency. All in all, I personally found that one a rather poor display, regardless of the motive or thought behind it.
    – Mr. Donutz
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 20:17
  • On the upside to the above, I find now that constructive discussion about the topic is possible, so thumbs up for that. To be fair, I think the approach that this (family of) site(s) has does not necessarily fit well for any questions where answers or even sources need a more integrated discussion before a concluding answer can be given, if that is even possible. "Climate change" is another such subject that is wide open for interpretation and you'll find groups having entirely different viewpoints on same or similar findings based on their backgrounds, interests and priorities.
    – Mr. Donutz
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 21:32
  • @Mr.Donutz It's not "abuse" - you didn't answer the question because you didn't explain how those who believe Paul taught a pre-tribulation interpret 2 Thess 2.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 22:11
  • I've explained under my own answer how I got to that sort of reasoning, because I have no evidence to conclude that Paul believed in, let alone taught, a pre-tribulation rapture. But of course, that would invalidate the question, so I'd taken a course towards explaining the context, in which Paul described exactly the answer to the question: there would be men teaching different things to draw people after themselves, which is why it can be said that Paul was doing something that he didn't do. Could you agree that such an answer is appropriate? (see final 2-3 comments on my own answer here)
    – Mr. Donutz
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 22:17
  • 1
    @Mr.Donutz It doesn't matter at all if you think he didn't teach it, other Christians do, and it's their perspective that was asked about.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 22:19
  • I think you're right to say that I may have considered not answering at all, or perhaps asking for further clarification, maybe even going as far as suggesting a re-phrase using the comments function. Also, question rephrase might be demanded to be more specific, e.g. focussed on denomination. Either way, mod action had been taken and I've pretty much settled with how things went now. I'm not interested in endless arguments on which sort of approach is the best and don't believe my approach was outright inappropriate, so to me it's a lower-priority matter of differing opinions.
    – Mr. Donutz
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 22:25
  • @Mr.Donutz We've found that these rules are essential to keeping this site friendly and respectful. By ensuring that answers always match the perspective asked about they are only compared on accuracy, clarity, and detail, and we completely avoid the situation where there are answers complete on theology and people are tempted to vote based on what they personally believe. These rules have worked for years to make this site an excellent resource.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 22:30
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    Fair enough. I can well imagine and have experienced first-hand on a number of occasions that debates can get quite heated indeed, at times even moving the focus towards a more personal thing. This reminds me of 2 Timothy 2:23,24 that says a "slave of the Lord doesn't need to fight", but needs to be "gentle toward all, qualified to teach, showing restraint when wronged". On my side, I do have to accept that it's not for me to tell how this site works and at the end of the day, and if I want it differently, I will have to start my own site. Simple as, no place for arguments on that one.
    – Mr. Donutz
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 22:48
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I did give an answer to that question, but someone simply deleted it, even while admitting it was a well though-through answer based on Scripture. I'd reckon some just don't want to know.

As far as I can tell, people rather see tradition being posted here as an answer (things that "saints" said), instead of going to what Scripture itself says. Anyone thinking that is not the case, by all means comment below.

Admittedly, I did find it a bit grievous, and still do, but perhaps the mature option would really be to just let it rest. Still, I'd rather have a number of downvotes and comments on it, for people to show themselves as they are up-front. I agree that mods need to exercise some quality control, but for a "NAA" to be handed out, I'd think something has to be really off-topic or out of bounds, such as argumentative specifically against a person. If Scripture does not support an idea, than that idea is not Christian in origin and I don't see why that can't be acknowledged openly, without telling people what to believe. That latter is for each to decide on their own, but at least come out about it as it is, without making a pretense.

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  • 1
    I'm glad you took to meta to met this out. If someone reads (or skims) all this and then hits your conclusion "Paul did not teach..." if the question is "how can it be said that Paul did teach..." then you're in effect, challenging the questions foundation, which is what we specifically disallow here. Unless you can prove within the confines of a doctrinal framework, that the person asking the question is off base (in which case it's often better to just close the question), you are converting a question about doctrine into a question about Truth, which only God can answer.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 20:20
  • Since the only possible doctrinal framework I can find in the question (and hence the only reason to keep from closing the question outright) is that of pre-tribulation rapture, you have to answer from the standpoint of one who does in fact teach a pre-tribulation rapture, with sources to that effect.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 20:22
  • @PeterTurner Thanks for your reply. Sorry about that one on my conclusion. You're right: if someone is seriously interested in the answer, they will read through the post. Also, if you're unhappy with the conclusion being added, that is something that can be discussed indeed. Is it not possible to modify the answer instead of deleting it? As far as I know, I could then at least see the modification, perhaps even with the comments on the reasons.
    – Mr. Donutz
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 20:25
  • It's possible for you to modify the content of an answer, but nobody else really has any mandate to do that. I don't know what the exact reasoning behind that is, since obviously it is possible, to just redact anything we don't like. However, I can't read (or comprehend) the whole post. I handle flags to the effect that other users on the site decided to alert me that there's something not quite right about the answer. On top of that, do you really site sources in support of a pre-tribulation rapture (or even talk about that) elsewhere in the answer?
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 20:57
  • No, I didn't cite sources supporting a pre-tribulation rapture, because I have no reason to believe that the Bible teaches such a thing. Yet, we'll both agree that arguing against such a teaching is inappropriate for the question. On the other hand, I am firmly convinced Paul did not believe in a pre-tribulation rapture as the tradition goes. So I thought the best way to answer was to show the context around that statement, in the light of what he wrote in general and what he referred to. Then, it is for the reader to come to a conclusion. I think it's difficult to get such writing right.
    – Mr. Donutz
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 21:08
  • Looking at the question with (for me) sufficient evidence that Paul did not believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, you may imagine that the question to me looks something like "How can it be said that Paul taught [... some doctrine he didn't believe in ...]"? If you read my answer in that light, I hope you understand the direction I was taking, namely, that he didn't teach something he didn't believe in. But how would you phrase a question that would have that as an appropriate answer? Wouldn't such a question likely be closed as "opinion-based" or "asking for opinions"?
    – Mr. Donutz
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 21:15
  • Yeah, I see, you're right, in that case, the question should have been closed or migrated to BH.SE. Or you should ask clarifying questions in the comments under the question.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 21:24
  • 1
    Answers must match the perspective asked about. If they don't then they will be deleted, even if most of us agree with what they say. But there's no limit to what can be asked, so just ask the question from the other perspective (or find one that's already been asked.)
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 22:09
  • Thanks for coming to meta to sort this out. Your sincere desire to engage in dialogue warms my heart. Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 21:35

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