I try to answer your question and explain why this question (the one you pointed out) is on topic. Being a relative newcomer, I defer to others and moderators, esp. those who also moderate other SE sites.
How does the close category
philosophical or sociological without clearly asking for a doctrinal answer apply to my question and what is meant by this close category?
First, let's review the first-level choices and the second-level choices under "
a community-specific reason". I believe the list was designed to be short (5) and each reason is to be as general as possible although this leaves the name of the second level category "
philosophical or sociological" rather ambiguous for specific cases.
C.SE needs to ask for a Christian answer, on topics of Christian theology, church history, and Christian practice. Because your question is asking for secular historian it's off topic, although I can see that
- it is valuable for Christian apologists who need to understand their debate partners as much as possible (like Aquinas did).
- Christians need to use as much "religiously-neutral" disciplines like philosophy, psychology, history, sociology, literature, etc. as possible to build common ground with the skeptics
So while your question is certainly "on topic" for a Christian apologist, it's not necessarily so for C.SE.
What is a "Christian answer" I meant above? For the purpose of this site, it's an answer that have one or more of these properties:
- references at least one Christian-specific sources of revelation: Bible, tradition, doctrines, creeds, etc.
- takes a Christian viewpoint in forming the argument
- assumes a Christian worldview in that the scholarship allows for God acting in history / nature
Whether the author is Christian or not doesn't matter. But a historian pre-committed to only a materialistic account (enshrined in the historiography he/she uses, which we then label "secular historian") will necessarily distort a Christian history, and thus is not eligible for a "Christian answer" per criteria above. Especially in this post-modern age, the pre-commitment of a historian cannot be left out from the scholarship.
Again, the set of "Christian answer" for a Christian person is larger than the set for this site, so the larger set includes the "secular historians" giving support for the "four facts" that you asked.
We need to be aware that C.SE is just one of the dozens in the SE network. Each site has "carved its own domain". Cross posting is thus counter to the spirit of the whole network, where a question needs to be posted to a site that the Q best fits its "on-topic" definition. Cross posting is a big no-no in the SE network [insert reference here, from
First, I thought your Q belongs to History.SE (which covers secular historians), but when I read the close reason for your question there, it's obvious that they don't just answer all history-related questions, just like C.SE don't answer just all Christianity-related questions. It seems for now your question best belongs to Skeptics.SE. If they close it, then we need to find the right home for your question.
Don't be confused by the category wording
"philosophical or sociological" because the choice in practice has become a catch-all for anything that doesn't fit the other 3 choices. I think we should either update the name of this choice, or to expand the 4th option to enable a regular user to suggest one of the dozens of other SE sites. Currently a regular user cannot even suggest Hermeneutics.SE which makes this option rather useless.
Why is this question on-topic? It's because:
- the reference being asked doesn't necessitate a secular answer, leaving room for a Christian viewpoint & worldview defined in #3 above
- canon formation is a specifically Christian topic that is critical for Christian theology, thus Christian viewpoint is automatically built-in. But what you're asking is in essence a "secular allowance" for those 4 Christian "facts" to be realistic according to secular historiographical standard, making it not valuable in their own right for Christian theology, the main topic of this site.
Suggestion for making the question on-topic
If it ends up being closed in Skeptics.SE (thus, cross-posting becomes a non-issue), try:
removing the "secular" criteria, allowing for an answer by a Christian historian (which does not necessarily mean a partisan answer with sloppy scholarship).
instead of asking for who the historians are, ask for the argument that a historian use to regard those 4 "Facts" as historically plausible