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Is there a good way to ask what should be simple questions (and get simple answer)? And by simple questions, I mean ones that any elementary school kid would be apt to ask.

I just heard my son ask his mom who is teaching him about the Sacrifice of Isaac ask "Why did God change His mind?" And I was thinking:

  1. I'm glad I don't have to answer that question
  2. How would I ask that on Christianity StackExchange?
  3. My wife is awesome

The awesome part was because, she zips out an answer without missing a beat: "God didn't really change His mind, He was testing Abraham"

Now, I'd probably close the question because it starts with "Why does God" and I'd probably delete the answer because it is way too short.

But, now, gentle meta community member, are these questions not important enough to be asked and answered here?

Could we have an (not a meta tag, this question is about how to answer sunday school type questions) where-in the question and the answer must be simple. Like the simplified wikipedia or the XKCD explanation of spaceshuttles in the 1000 most used words?

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  • This is probably a duplicate of christianity.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4031/… but I'd specifically like to tackle it from the perspective of a sunday-school teacher
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Oct 18, 2022 at 14:59
  • What is the policy of Stack Exchange, as a platform, in regard to 'simplifying' (I'm not sure if 'dumbing-down' would be appropriate) what is supposed to be an academic medium ? SE - English Language & Usage (provided for etymologists and linguists) has a 'sister' site SE - English Language Learners, which might be one way to go.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 18, 2022 at 20:31
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    @nigel being a site for experts wasn't in our charter (not that we have a charter) - all they wanted out of us was objectivity. Honestly, I'm not hoping for more simple questions, I'm hoping for more help for catechists and sunday school teachers.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Oct 18, 2022 at 20:34
  • @NigelJ My proposal (see my answer) would NOT dumb down the answer but move the details to the "fine print" section; rather, it is like adding a TLDR in a 6th grade language. Given we have newcomers that have little clue about Christianity, it can serve an apologetics purpose to get them more engaged and motivated for deeper investigation. Oct 19, 2022 at 5:30

1 Answer 1

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Great idea. My proposed sunday-school-question tag guidance:

Tag Guidance

Appropriate questions for this tag

  1. The question should be something that is likely to be asked by a Sunday school kid, or better yet, something that have actually been asked before.
  2. As much as possible, the question should be something that most denominations will answer the same way. A denominational scoping CAN be included in the tags and in the question's "fine print" section.

Rules

  1. Usual rules that can be relaxed:

    • Denominational scoping: if most denominations have a similar answer. If answering for a specific denomination, please include it in the "fine print" section.
    • Truth questions (Why does God ...): are allowed.
  2. Apart from correctness, acceptance is based on the best answer that satisfies an elementary age Sunday school kid.

  3. In the "fine print" section the answer should contain the usual substantiation to make the answer objective. This is also a great place for including:

    • a longer answer
    • footnotes and Bible references
    • references for further reading
    • denominational exceptions / variations

    for the Sunday school teacher's or for older students' (youth, young adult) consumption.

Style and format

  1. The question should be phrased just like how a Sunday school elementary kid would say it in class.
  2. The answer writer should imagine a Sunday school teacher mouthing the answer verbatim, thus in the style of conversation / speech / homily / lecture.
  3. Use at most the 6th grade vocabulary, like the NLT grade level.
  4. Separate an answer or a question "fine print" section using the "----" markdown code.

Examples

Example #1

Question: Why did God change His mind in the "Abraham sacrificing Isaac" story (Gen 22)?

Answer: God didn't really change His mind, He was testing Abraham's faith (Heb 11:17-19).


Further reading: Concordia Theological Quarterly April 2004 journal article Does God "Repent" or Change His Mind? by Walter A. Maier III discusses two frameworks, Open Theism and Orthodox position (God is outside time), and apply the Orthodox position with considerations of translation/interpretation of Scriptures to several passages.

About the Binding of Isaac story (Gen 22):

In Genesis 22 God puts Abraham to the test by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac. God knows in advance what Abraham will do, and that God's purpose will be accomplished. God did not actually want the patriarch to slay his son; other scriptural references proclaim clearly that God abhors child sacrifice. The Angel of the Lord prevents Abraham from killing Isaac, not because God has had a change of mind, but because Abraham has successfully met the test, by God's grace and power. As a result of this crisis Abraham's faith reaches its highpoint; he holds steadfastly to the word of God, as the author of Hebrews indicates.

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    Probably a tag like sunday-school-question would be better, because we could get (if we don't already have) actual questions about sunday schools.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Oct 18, 2022 at 22:01
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    I like this, except that many people trying to ask basic questions will not be coming from a Christian culture and so will not know what a Sunday school is. Different tag? Oct 19, 2022 at 18:56
  • @DJClayworth that is a fair point.
    – Luke Hill
    Oct 20, 2022 at 15:09

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