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It seems to be a consistent response for a trinitarian to ask a non-trinitarian oriented question and the resultant answer gets severely downvoted. The answer seems to offend some innate sensitivity. What kind of answer are they expecting?

This question has been answered with a link to the source data and 3 dv’s because, one might reasonably suspect, they don’t like the content. Calling it an “angry rant” when the content is biblically based throughout with sound reasoning applied.

Why ask if you really don’t want to know?

This particular question is ambiguous as it is with, ‘what does it mean’. I simply expressed what I thought it means with appropriate backup as requested.

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    ”Why ask if you really don’t want to know?” Yet it has a 200 bounty as we speak! This gives the impression that the OP does want an answer.
    – Ken Graham Mod
    May 1 at 12:35
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    Maybe the FIVE downvoters need to consider that the answer is providing information about a Q they really don't want to think about. It's not reflective of a bad answer, just a biased, punitive response which is not in the spirit of the site's purpose. And none with an associated comment which is just gutless and immature behaviour. It does shed a bad light on trinitarians as another comment proposed.
    – steveowen
    May 1 at 12:54
  • Perhaps I should go with Dottard's suggestion, Take these downvotes as an indirect piece of flattery that you(r) answer is higher and better than such people are capable of understanding
    – steveowen
    May 1 at 12:59
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    On a personal note, I have never asked downvoters to explain themselves on any of my posts! Should upvoters be required to explain why they up voted a post? No. But to express that down voters without ”an associated comment which is just gutless and immature behaviour,” is at a minimum not a polite way to deal with others! Require reason for down-votes?
    – Ken Graham Mod
    May 1 at 13:49
  • @steveowen I’m generally pretty Leary of doing bounties. Bounties are expensive on rep and I rarely get an answer. So when I do a bounty, I really want an answer. I, and others, downvoted your answer because of its failure to address the question. Furthermore, the “angry rant” comment was referring to you attacking trinitarianism as a man made doctrine born out of Rome (your exact quote escapes me)
    – Luke Hill
    May 1 at 14:33
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    As for the answer I was expecting - I would defer to One God the Father’s answer. He did a good job at answering my question.
    – Luke Hill
    May 1 at 14:35
  • Speaking in general (not the question linked to in specific), ya, there are some bad apples here which unfortunately are spoiling the bunch, who reflexively dv questions (more egregious) or answers just because they think those things shouldn't be asked or said. It's an obvious trend. May 11 at 17:03
  • @steveowen Related question christianity.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/7277/… May 26 at 23:38

2 Answers 2

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As one of the relatively few active users here who is neither Unitarian nor Trinitarian, perhaps I can offer a distinct perspective. I have no dog in that fight.


It seems to be a consistent response for a trinitarian to ask a non-trinitarian oriented question and the resultant answer gets severely downvoted.

I reviewed some relatively recent questions that fit this mold and found several dozen examples, so there does seem to be something of a trend here, though getting sunk all the way to -5 is an outlier in terms of magnitude.

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Why ask if you really don’t want to know?

I believe the OP genuinely does want to know--and the bounty was an effective show of good faith...but, I also think that steveowen's post answers a plausible reading of the question. Therefore, even though I strongly disagree with several points in the answer, I upvoted it.

My hypothesis is that the OP asked the question with one interpretation of the question in mind, and the respondent answered with another interpretation of the question in mind. I propose the charitable interpretation here is misunderstanding, not malice. If the OP does not see in the answer what he is looking for (because he had something very different in mind), he's certainly under no obligation to select that answer or award it the bounty. But I do think the dog-piling down-votes are overkill for at least 2 reasons:

  1. The post gives an answer to a plausible read of the question
  2. Let's be honest about dog-piling: in the Bible, when are the people doing the dog-piling ever the good guys??

Some will contest that there is no dog-piling on this site (because they've never been on the receiving end); this is about as compelling an argument as there is no war in Ba Sing Se coming from someone who has never been near the city walls (yes, I really did just quote a cartoon there).

I have noted and flagged dog-piling on this site a number of times and I do not believe it is helpful to the community. It sends the message "we don't want your kind here"...which is of course, exactly what Jesus went around saying, right...?

(The irony here is that in writing this post I'm creating an interesting catch.22--many who read this post will dislike it, and feel a great urge to downvote it--but in so doing, they validate the point I'm making. I'm genuinely curious to see how people ultimately resolve those competing motivations)

Sometimes people ask questions about other viewpoints because they want to understand how someone else can hold a belief that--to the asker--is quite foreign and perhaps even irrational (reconnaissance mode). Good for them for asking! Others explicitly ask "gotcha" questions in order to try to make the "other side" look bad (combat mode), so they are frustrated when the other side comes up with a coherent answer (not the result they were looking for). My own experience interacting with the OP in this case suggests very much to me that his intent was the reconnaissance mode.

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The answer seems to offend some innate sensitivity

Yes, it probably does.

People don't like to see themselves or their ideas rejected in public, so our human nature prompts us to strike back in a way we wouldn't if nobody were watching. On a public internet forum, lots of people are watching, so we want ourselves/our viewpoint to save face.

What appears to trigger this reaction most potently is, ironically, a good presentation of a view we dislike. We don't like to see "the other side" score a point in a debate. If the other side makes an obviously weak argument, it's easy to ignore, but if the other side makes a strong argument, our fight-or-flight is triggered and we're inclined to strike back.

There's an excellent adage in professional debate:

When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the facts are not your side, pound the table.

Five downvotes is what I would expect when either:

  • A post is clearly spam (this one is not) OR
  • Someone's pounding the table

Not a good image for Christianity Stack Exchange. I propose we try to minimize the dog-piling.

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  • His teammates promptly dog-piled the giddy Laettner. Los Angeles Times 1990. [OED entry for 'dog-piling] . . . . . Ngram 'dog-pile', 'dog-piling'.. . . . . It would seem the word itself illustrates its own meaning.
    – Nigel J
    May 14 at 13:32
  • @NigelJ that is an interesting graph. In the context of an internet forum, dog-piling is a bad thing. In a football game, dog-piling may be a good or bad thing, depending on what kind of football we're talking about. (My thoughts are admittedly expressed in American English =) ). I understand you dislike the overall message, but the use of "dog-piling" is contextually appropriate. May 14 at 17:46
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I concur with the comments you received that your response doesn't really answer the question. Most of it did not explain what Unitarians teach it means for Jesus to be the "Son of God", but instead is an argument against various non-Unitarian teachings.

From my reading of your answer, only the very first paragraph even possibly attempts to answer the question, and if it does, it does so rather implicitly.

What does the son of God mean regarding Jesus? From a Biblical Unitarian understanding, Jesus is the one God sent into the world. He is the only holy man, born of Mary by God's intervention (as the 2nd Adam) who has accomplished what God sent him to do, which allowed him to become the Christ. Without him, there could be no resurrection to eternal life, no remission of sin, no reconciliation with God and no defeat of evil and death. Jesus, as the holy son of God, accomplished all this as a man and not as God.

You're not really explicit that any of these bolded phrases are what "Son of God" means to Unitarians, so I am just guessing that's what you mean. You could do to edit this paragraph to more explicitly clarify if any or all of these characteristics are what being the "Son of God" means to Unitarians.

In my opinion everything else you wrote could be deleted without loss. It does not address the question.

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  • As expressed by, Generally the same as most Christian denominations, except for Jesus being a man only as expressed by the scriptures below. I have then proceeded to explain the only difference - otherwise, what is the point of the answer? And how woulfd you define, "What does it mean..."? it is very ambiguous and subject to a variety of understanding what OP is after in the first place - it was a stab in the dark. And 4 DV's - really?
    – steveowen
    May 1 at 9:30
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    @steveowen Sorry, but what? "Generally the same as most denominations (who teach that Jesus being the Son of God means he is the eternal uncreated divine second person of the Trinity) except for Jesus being only a man" is nonsense. To teach that Jesus is only a man is your right, but you can't pretend it's "generally the same" as most denominations!
    – curiousdannii Mod
    May 1 at 22:35
  • "except". I'd think you would agree with my first paragraph. The man only is included in the 'except'.
    – steveowen
    May 1 at 22:40
  • @steveowen When your exception negates all the main points you are not generally the same!
    – curiousdannii Mod
    May 1 at 22:42
  • Your answer's first paragraph is what it means to Unitarians like yourself for Jesus to be the Son of God, but it is not what it means to Trinitarians, even though we would affirm those teachings as true.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    May 1 at 22:45

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