Should questions and answers on Christianity SE strive to provide the highest and well researched acedemic level as possible?

This question is in response to an established user who had made the recent comment that "the point of C SE is to provide easily searchable questions and answers, not become a repository for academia."

In the question itself, the OP appeals to the teachings of Dr. Gaston, thus implying a certain level of academic knowledge is to be invoked in answers themselves!

I believe the point of all SE sites is to provide the best academic (scholarly) and well researched questions and answers, with the best founded acedemic sources and links possible. To say that "the point of C SE is to provide easily searchable questions and answers, not become a repository for academia" is totally false for this site. We are to strive to obtain the highest acedemic level as possible here in order to maintain the integrity of the SE sites and avoid becoming a forum of discussion and opinions.

He states that 'academic' to him "often means shoddy, snotty, agenda driven, big-wordy, mired in groupthink, following the latest fashion, running down all sorts of intellectual rabbit holes, getting caught in all sorts of intellectual thickets, clever-but-not-wise, and so on. I want quality questions and answers, not necessarily 'academic' ones. It seems those words are synonymous for you - not for me. OTOH academics sometimes do solid work, and some are outstanding. Are you aware of the study replicability crisis in the humanities?"

Thus I ask the question: What should the Christianity SE community hold as a proper level for questions and answers be on this site?

3 Answers 3


In a way I can understand the commenter's sentiment. C.SE's primary audience is layperson, not scholars whose "playground" is peer-reviewed journals and books.

So while a good answer should back its opinion by citing some academic sources (if necessary), the answer should be comprehensible by the C.SE audience. A good role model would be GotQuestions, Catholic Answers, Catholic Encyclopedia, etc. If the answer merely copies and pastes quotes from very technical journal / book / commentary without some paragraphs that explain them to a layperson, then it's not a good answer.

So the proper level in my opinion is COMPREHENSIBILITY by a non-specialist. Of course, it also depends on the question too: if the question is introductory, the level should be lower, but for technical questions like this one on morphe in Phil 2:6 (where the gist of the Q is to ask for the refutation of Dr. Gaston's charge) the level should be a lot higher and matching the level of the Q, but should STILL be comprehensible to a non-seminary-graduate Bible student.


Should questions and answers on Christianity SE strive to provide the highest and well researched acedemic level as possible?

The short answer is yes.

Afterall Christianity SE was launched as a question & answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more.

This is not a forum for discussion of religious topics or a place simply to post our personal opinions, beliefs, ideas or as blog sharing site of sorts. Researched questions and answers will do just that: avoiding opinion based posts and poll based blogs.

True that posts should be well written and should be comprehendible for the average person. Research publications are to be encouraged, yet highly sophisticated or technical writings should be simplified so the average person could understand what the post authors are trying to say.

Real Questions Have Answers Here is Stack Exchange’s six guidelines for questions written by a Co-Founder of Stack Exchange:

Constructive subjective questions:

  1. inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”.

  2. tend to have long, not short, answers.

  3. have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone.

  4. invite sharing experiences over opinions.

  5. insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references.

  6. are more than just mindless social fun.

What kind of questions should I not ask here?

  • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite __?”

  • your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use __ for __, what do you use?”

  • there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”

  • we are being asked an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if __ happened?”

  • it is a rant disguised as a question: “__ sucks, am I right?”

Once again we should definitely insist that theological opinions and interpretations be backed up with facts and references.

In the end we should definitely strive to achieve the highest academic level as possible, yet at the same time have post that are quite readable to the average person who desires to read our posts. Academic references and links does just that.

Sometimes there is a dearth of information about a certain subject matter, but nevertheless we should strive to achieve the highest levels of scholarly work to avoid opinions, rants or spam-blog-like details from being invoked.


Given that I asked this while ago and only Gratefuldisciple decided to chime in on it, I think the answer is yet, the community at large is happy where we are.

And where we are is this:

  1. Answers need to have citations.

  2. Answers need to meet the perspective asked for in the question

  3. Questions need to have identifiable perspectives.

The only thing that people seem to be confused on is whether or not the Bible is a citation.

I am not going to tell anyone that it is not a citation, neither am I going to tell anyone that the Bible is their opinion.

What I will say is this: "Find one other published work that agrees with the interpretation you have put forth, if it's that perspicuous then someone else should have thought of it already"

And this, is the fundamental baseline for intellectual rigor we ought to maintain on the site.

Also, this is probably not worth pointing out since it's going not going to prove my point, your point or any point, but


Says the site is for committed Christians, experts, those interested in learning more.

We've made it clear that you can't use the site as a blog for posting your love for our Savior as a committed Christian; we turn off nearly everyone "interested in learning more" because we require perspectives on posts. So all we really have left are experts. And very few of us are credentialed in any meaningful way (although I did stay at a Holiday Inn one time).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .