-2

In the spirit of Christmas and giving, please give the moderation staff here a break. I'm going to post one answer in favor of entirely banning questions scoped to Trinitarians and their nemesis Anti-Trinitarians (whoever those are). Please give it much love, I will explain why I think this needs to be done in that answer. This is not to say you can't ask questions about the Trinity or that all 500+ questions we have will be closed any time soon, but I want this open-ended feast of inquiry buttoned up and I would like to have the community support to do so.


Note, this is about what do to about Trinitarians (i.e. those who accept the Trinity as defined by the Council of Nicaea, without considering the touchy subject of filioque) as a scope, not the Trinity as a subject. Banning the Trinity as a subject would be ... bad.

Fundamentally what I'm asking is, how do we avoid confusion while allowing clearly Protestant answers to stand side-by-side with clearly Catholic answers on the subject of the Trinity?

3
  • I do like the idea of being stricter over arguments during this holiday period. We won't let anyone take advantage of the mods being potentially slightly less available.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Dec 16, 2022 at 4:56
  • "please give the moderation staff here a break" My guess is this is actually what's going on here. Peter has repeatedly referenced not wanting to moderate extensive commenting. I propose the site adopt a strict commenter policy. 1 comment in response to a given Question or Answer. If the other person responds, any further response requires a link to a chat room, where any further responses can be made. Repeat violations and you're suspended. Dec 19, 2022 at 21:34
  • This would only apply to the main C SE site, since Meta.C.SE seems to be focused on discussion. Dec 19, 2022 at 21:37

4 Answers 4

9

I strongly disagree with this, and I'm very confused about why you think these questions are even problematic.

Trinitarian questions already have very clear scopes, the doctrine defined by the ecumenical creeds, primary the Nicene-Constantinople Creed, and also the Apostles' and Athanasian Creeds. The various Trinitarian denominations have many internal disputes, but their theology of the Trinity should be united. Allowing various denominations to answer questions about the Trinity is not like asking them to answer questions about other topics where they have different answers. They should not be having different answers, but instead different ways of explaining the same theology. But this is not different from any other type of question, where answers can use various resources to support what they say, for example how Catholicism answers could rely on the Catechism, or Catholic commentaries, or various official Vatican publications, or various unofficial Catholic publications, such as the websites of various local Catholic parishes.

The problem is not questions about the Trinity. If there are problematic questions it is because of other things:

  1. Arguments and debates in the comments. This is not what comments are for. We delete lots of comments already, but we may need to do so even more. If commenters are making excessive comments then we may need to give them formal warnings to stop, and then suspensions if they continue.

  2. Answers that don't adequately provide supporting evidence. I don't think we're getting an excessive number of these at present, and I think our current moderation practices are sufficient, which is typically to add a post notice saying that more supporting evidence is needed, followed up by deletion approximately a week later if none is provided.

  3. Questions that are aggressively asked to win an argument or prove other Christians wrong. I don't want anyone to think that we want to censor difficult questions on this site. I think that it is a legitimate purpose of this site to ask questions of another denomination that you think do not have satisfactory answers. It's really more a matter of tone, and so inherently much more subjective and therefore difficult to moderate. We want questions that gently but firmly ask how apparent contradictions in a groups theology (or between the theology and the scriptures) can be resolved. This pretty much always requires very clear quotes outlining the doctrine under question. The tone of the questions needs to remain polite, respectful and non-accusatory. Even if you think the question has no real answer, ask it in such a way that it would sound like it came from an enthusiastic adherent of the group who wants there to be a satisfactory answer. If we can manage to ask our questions in that way then people won't feel attacked, emotions won't run hot, and the site will remain respectful and peaceful. Which will hopefully mean that more insightful answers will be written!

    I won't say I've always managed to hit this tone myself, but here are a few questions I've asked which are aiming at that tone:

    You may not even have realised seeing those questions that I don't think that a satisfactory answer is possible; I think that's the tone we want to aim for with these kind of persuasive questions.

In regards to questions targeted towards non-Trinitarianism, because that is a highly heterogenous group, these questions must be seen as overview questions. That can be okay, but if we go by current overview question rules, that really means we expect each answer to cover all the non-Trinitarian positions. Instead it is usually better to ask a question of just one non-Trinitarian branch.

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  • In the spirit of Christian charity, I will not give you the perfunctory revenge -1, but I will say you are completely wrong on this matter. I feel strongly about it because I refuse to answer questions that are not scoped to Catholicism or something I feel will get an objectively true answer. As a Catholic, I believe the Catholic Church has the only power to relate and interpret doctrine. If we do not sufficiently scope questions on the Trinity we're left with nothing to reference past the 4th century.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Dec 16, 2022 at 4:40
  • @PeterTurner No one is saying you have to answer such questions, or pay them attention (beyond responding to flags on them), but I don't think you've really justified that these questions are problematic.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Dec 16, 2022 at 4:41
  • I also refuse to answer these questions because they remind me of the first year of this site when a solid Catholic answer could just be brushed aside in favor of two or three well placed Bible quotes. I will not go back to allowing denominational competition in answers and neither should you. We will need to work together to make sure they're representative of all Nicene Christianity and if you can do that, then you might as well answer all the questions yourself.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Dec 16, 2022 at 4:42
  • 1
    "If we do not sufficiently scope questions on the Trinity we're left with nothing to reference past the 4th century." That is not true. The doctrine was defined in that period by the ecumenical councils. But answers can reference anything to explain the teachings they defined. We want answers which reference medieval Catholic sources, and reformation era sources, and 20th and 21st century sources. We have 17 centuries of helpful resources to consult to help us explain the theology that we Trinitarians have been united about since the 4th century.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Dec 16, 2022 at 4:43
  • OK, but what we do not want is just a bunch of Bible quotes, am I correct?
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Dec 16, 2022 at 4:45
  • 4
    @PeterTurner Yes, generally we don't want just a bunch of Bible quotes. Answers which are nothing but Bible quotes are not valid answers, explanation of some kind must be given. Answers with Bible quotes and explanation are better if they also provide supporting evidence from secondary church sources (catechism, commentary, creeds, etc), but we would judge them according to the general rules on supporting sources: sources are not always required if we judge the answer to be genuinely general knowledge.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Dec 16, 2022 at 4:51
  • As an example of the latter, I think it would be okay to answer a question asking for the Biblical Basis of Jesus existing before the incarnation with quotes and explanations of the very common verses seen as supporting this theology (John 1, John 17, Col 1, Phil 1, etc). Okay, but only okay. Good and great answers will do that as well as referencing other Trinitarian sources showing that those verses are relied upon. But I think that those verses are seen as the Biblical Basis is close enough to general knowledge that supporting references should not be required.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Dec 16, 2022 at 4:54
  • I just flagged a bunch of answers, some to closed questions, like this one, which were closed by me in my pre-mod days (and affable geek and David Stratton and Fredsbend,) we all believed they were off topic. And the one answer (that self-answer) was pretty detailed, it was the first one I saw that actually brought up the council.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Dec 16, 2022 at 4:58
  • @PeterTurner Yeah there's probably a lot of old answers which need to be cleaned up!
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Dec 16, 2022 at 4:59
  • Well there's a lot of old questions which you should probably re-open if you really want to be consistent. You're changing the rules, not me!
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Dec 16, 2022 at 5:00
  • @PeterTurner What rules in regards to closed questions do you think I'm changing? I don't think I'm changing any rules. I have suggested that it is better that narrow questions be broadened to the applicable scope (so questions asking what Baptists think about the Trinity should be edited to ask what Trinitarians think), but I haven't been forcing anyone to do that or closing any questions I do think are too narrow.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Dec 16, 2022 at 5:02
  • 5
    @PeterTurner "As a Catholic, I believe the Catholic Church has the only power to relate and interpret doctrine.". When you ask or answer a question that is fine but when you don your moderator cap you should lock that belief away in a box. This is not Catholicism-SE. Dec 16, 2022 at 14:08
  • @mike that is entirely the point of scoping questions, we don't need Catholicism.SE because we're supposed to limit the Truth to the scope of the question. To me, catholicism is true and everything else is either irrelevant or wrong. To you, everything in catholicism is probably the same way. But if things are trinity and I disagree with answers because they do not rely on Catholic authorities or you disagree with them because they do, where does that leave us?
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Dec 16, 2022 at 14:16
  • 1
    @PeterTurner It leaves us in a forum where everyone who calls themselves "Christian" is equally welcome and nobody is wrong. It is hard to be here. Dec 16, 2022 at 16:04
  • 1
    @mike exactly, and the only reason I can tolerate this place is because the tools (and tact) let me ignore chains that are not palatable. I think I'm advocating for you to be able to post a sola scriptura answer about the Trinity, if we don't provide additional scoping, then only thing you can objectively do is utilize conciliar documents you might not give a hoot about.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Dec 16, 2022 at 16:13
9

I humbly suggest that at the heart of the problems addressed in this most recent flurry of Meta activity is this:

  1. We are a company of people asking, answering, and commenting on things that we all believe are built upon a foundation of absolute truth.

  2. We each believe by "religious" necessity that we have clearly grasped at least some of that truth. None of us are operating on the principle that we think we are probably wrong about everything or that truth isn't real.

  3. We meet together in an arena where questions asked or answers given from a standpoint of absolute truth are disallowed so as not to alienate one another.

A certain base level of dysfunction (and the accompanying irritation) is inherent in such a framework in both moderation and participation. Here we welcome one member who is absolutely sure that the Catholic Church is the sole authoritative interpreter of Scripture (regarding morals and doctrine) to interact with another member who is absolutely sure that the sole authoritative interpreter of Scripture (regarding morals and doctrine) is the Holy Spirit within that member. And so we have the former appealing to the decrees of an ecumenical council which the latter regards as on a par with "my uncle Joe says...". One is content with "7 degrees of Kevin Bacon" and the other wants Kevin himself.

So it is with the debate over the nature of God. In the minds of some the matter has been rightly settled since the 4th century and in the minds of others it was not rightly settled at all and this arena welcomes both equally. This is going to spark continuing debate within a venue whose purpose is to keep "options" open. Therefore if we disallow anything relating to the Trinity (whether for or against) unless certain councils or denominational literature is appealed to we are actually forcing some to either appeal to what they may consider as less than pablum or remain silent.

If we disallow Bible only questions and answers for subjects which actually span and under-gird denominations we are, defacto, shunning all those "Christians" for whom the Bible is the only authoritative resource. Whether they are right or wrong in this belief is not allowed for us to judge here. I not only personally think but am utterly convinced that non-trintarians are wrong but this site repeatedly reminds me that I may not publicly interact with them in this way. If this were Catholicism-SE, or Reformed-SE, for example, things could perhaps be different but it is not.

Let's be honest with ourselves: Here we welcome individuals (and are them) who quite often believe that others here are "not really Christians" based upon what they claim to believe but we are not supposed to say so and if we actually believe otherwise we could be calling our own faith into question. How could Christianity-SE be anything other than exceedingly uncomfortable and difficult to participate in and to moderate?

In closing, I would like to encourage and commend both the mods and the site members at large for striving to maintain a Christian spirit (whatever you take that to mean :)) in the midst of what is, essentially, a corporate non-sequitur:

Let us take what we hold to be most foundationally true (indeed are absolutely sure about) and which we likely believe has eternal implications for every single human soul and present it and defend it within a marketplace of ideas where truth statements are anathema.

My opinion is that the difficulties the moderators face (my hat off to them, I would not do it to save my life) can not be moderated away as they are woven into the very fabric of this site.

-1

Fine, ask your Trinitarian Scoped Questions

But all the answers have to come from sources explicitly accepted by Catholics Orthodox and Most Protestants:

For questions about the doctrine itself, this means the

For questions on the Trinity that are really about the Nature of Christ Himself:

Answering simply from the Bible is not sufficient because different sects have different interpretations, we don't even have the same books in our Bibles (who can know if this is relevant before asking a question)!

Basically, you have to answer questions from the perspective of Donal and Conal

enter image description here

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Patrick.

-5

Yes, please require additional scoping on questions revolving around the subject of the Trinity, Trinitarianism and any scriptural support for doctrines thereof

  1. We, the random Internet people who hang about Christianity Stackexchange do so understand these truths to be self-evident that no good has ever come over a line of inquiry that has taken 1800 years to not fully explain.

  2. Furthermore, we know that no hearts or minds will ever be converted by a rock solid argument by said random Internet people.

  3. Even furthermore, we acknowledge forthwith that the Trinity is a thing that scripture both seems to support and seems to deny and honestly don't give a darn.

To this end, we would like to see questions asked about the Trinity either:

  1. Scoped to asking about conciliar documents and historical literature concerning said doctrine.

  2. Scoped to asking about general understanding of Scriptural Support for said doctrine only under the same criteria that any other question would need (i.e. a specific faith tradition)

The same requirements would be required for for any other known configuration of the Godhead, unless that configuration was in-and-of-itself the basis for the faith tradition (i.e. Biblical Unitarianism).

Specifically, what we would like to see banned is enter image description here

3
  • 4
    I have downvoted as I disagree with your proposition "no hearts or minds have been converted by a rock solid internet argument". The internet and its vast resources were instrumental in my conversion to Christianity and subsequently Catholicism. Furthermore, anti-trinitarians have valuable questions to ask, even if we should be intervening in the flame wars more often.
    – Luke Hill
    Dec 16, 2022 at 6:36
  • @luke the problem I have is that it is as likely to misrepresent Catholicism as it isn't. It's not that the Catholic understanding of the Trinity is peculiar, but this is scoping is fundamentally pitting scholasticism against sola scriptura, which I abhor.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Dec 16, 2022 at 14:59
  • 2
    I was tempted to up-vote this answer on the basis of the photo alone. It speaks a volume of truth as to belligerent attitudes (spoiling for a verbal fight), and doing violence unto the English language. Yet the only thing to be done with the chap in that photo is walk on by and pray for him. Nobody should ban him from having that public stance. He just shouldn't be encouraged by getting reactions he wants. But when I studied your words I was alarmed at what your first 3 points claim, so it's a down-vote from me.
    – Anne
    Dec 16, 2022 at 14:59

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