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A recent post about this topic has illustrated clearly the need for good, solid guidelines. It has shown that we cannot reasonably expect to field all questions about Christianity. The correct response to this was that we don't try to field all questions about Christianity, rather we try to field questions about Christian Doctrine.

This was the effort of our recently implemented standards for questions and answers. What those standards boil down to is this: Questions must be about, or in regards to, in within the framework of Christian doctrine.

If a question is about doctrine, but doesn't specify a doctrine, it's Not Constructive because it turns into a voting war. If a question is about biblical interpretation but it doesn't specify a doctrine, it's actually a question about doctrine masquerading as a "Bible" question. Therefore, it has to be within a doctrinal framework or else it turns into a voting contest.

There was a special class of questions ("fact-based") that are allowed dealing with historical Christianity (ie historical doctrine), or factual questions about the Bible in general (source criticism, authorship, etc.). However these have proven to be a very minor percentage of our site and I doubt that this percentage will grow.

Proposal

We now have these standards in place--standards that garnered strong initial support and have proven themselves unavoidable in order to remain a valid fact-based SE site. These standards are essentially re-forming our site to be a site about Christian Doctrine, rather than a broad, open-ended site about Christianity in general.

Should we rename our site to Christian Doctrine?

Keep in mind, I'm not referring to changing the name of the url. Christianity.stackexchange.com is, I believe, a great name. However, rebranding our site as Christian Doctrine would make every page of our site ring with the standards that we have in place.

Ultimately, the only change I'm proposing is in all the graphics that are sprinkled through our site and the SE Network.

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  • This seems to be a simple yes or no question. Since you're asking, and looking for how everyone else feels, would it be appropriate for you to post a "Yes, we should" and a "No we shouldn't" answer for everyone else to vote on? (By the way, regardless of my previous post, I would vote yes on this. I don't want to post those answers because I can't vote on them.) – David Stratton Dec 13 '11 at 5:17
  • @DavidStratton Makes sense, but I'm a no and would like to explain my reasoning as well as just saying as much – Waggers Dec 13 '11 at 11:07
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    I would rather "Christian Theology" and someone else has suggested. – user32 Jan 29 '14 at 6:31
  • And while we are at it, I think the site should adopt one of the historic creeds to define what "Christian" actually is, probably the Apostolic or Nicene Creed. – user32 Jan 29 '14 at 6:32
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I disagree with that interpretation of the guidelines. Certainly there are a lot of theological questions on here, which do indeed need to be focussed on doctrine. But equally there are other questions that are currently on-topic that would be excluded if we were to restrict the site to just Christian doctrine. These aren't necessarily questions that have been asked (yet) but include matters such as:

  • church history
  • Biblical geography/politics
  • church organisational structures and customs
  • styles of worship, church layouts, etc

Probably not an exhaustive list. In a nutshell, this is the "A few questions about Christianity will not involve doctrine but must be answerable using referenced facts" part of the questions guidance and the "Answers may claim factual support by making references to respectable outside sources" part of the answers guidance. Yes, these questions may be in the minority, but there are some pretty high quality questions and answers on the site that fall into this group, and personally I find these more interesting than many of the doctrinal questions, so would hate to see them go.

I accept that the proposal is to rename the site not to change the guidance to exclude the "factual" bits, but if the name of the site implies doctrine-only then (a) it's only a matter of time before the guidelines are changed to match the new title and (b) people looking for answers to "factual" questions and experts in these matters will not be attracted to the site. I don't find that acceptable.

  • I agree that fact-based questions are (and always will be) on topic. However, the sites name doesn't necessarily reflect every question covered by this site. The advantage of changing the name would be that it would support the standards. It would help remind people of the standards or make them think about it. But it seems that I may be in the minority on this one, so I guess I'll just keep enforcing the standards and pray that people will learn by example. – Richard Dec 13 '11 at 15:41
  • Just found this meta question and thought I'd chime in. To appear to limit the site explicitly to doctrine would be to appear to limit the scope of questions, so I disagree with the proposal. I could live with "Christian Doctrine and Practice" -- but how long does a title have to be before "Christianity" is actually better? – Andrew Leach Jul 4 '12 at 17:59
  • People's associations with the word "doctrine" includes "dry, boring, stuffy, academic, irrelevant". I don't think using it in the title would do anything to attract more people. – DJClayworth Jul 9 '12 at 14:51
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I am not finding myself in disagreement with this idea. but FWIW, I'd hope we could also keep the big for our favicon.

I guess I'll make this the "In favor of" post. I am in favor of this idea mainly because a majority of the questions are about they "why's" and "how's" of Christianity, I'd call that Christian Doctrine. It's actually pretty interesting to me as a Catholic to read about non-Catholic Christian doctrine - at least as it relates to spirituality.

I don't personally separate anything that Mr. Waggers mentioned in his majority opinion (history, liturgy, etc..) from Christian doctrine. For a few decades or maybe more, and almost no one knows why, we've called our religious education classes "CCD" which means (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine). I'm pretty sure the Confraternity is really just the folks who were responsible for early 20th century English bible translations and pre-Catechism Catechisms. But if we can accept calling something CCD, wherein the Catechism, Religious History, the Saints, the Sacraments, the Commandments, Our Lady, and most importantly the Blessed Trinity are discussed, I think we can call this site Christian Doctrine without excluding people who area really interested in the estuaries of the Sea of Galilee.

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Yes. I support this name change absolutely. The SE model is completely incompatible with matters of faith. Call it what you will, but naming this site Christianity is doing a huge disservice to those who identify as Christians. To some, it may even be harmful.

Caleb tells me this proposal has been rejected. By whom? What was the process? This particular Q&A and a handful of votes?

You see, so much here is dismissed and discouraged out of hand in accordance with the SE model. That's fine. But some of these things are integral to the Christian faith: doubt, mystery, opinion, belief, service, love, forgiveness. (And before I am pointed to a tedious screed about what this site is or is not, understand that I wish for none of this to change. It won't and I get that.)

I also get that this is not a Christian site. But the name needs to be changed. It’s inaccurate and reinforces the dogmatic perspective that turns so many away from Christ.

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    More than 99.9% of the proposals on the site are accepted or rejected by this Q&A and a handful of votes. Now that we're out of beta I'm not sure SE would change it even if we wanted them to (though I could easily be wrong). – Ryan Frame Jan 28 '14 at 16:19
  • I agree with your third paragraph, but those are things that are much better discussed over a cup of coffee (and it's even better when they're lived out); I don't think it would be possible to adequately discuss them (for the most part) on a Q&A. There are accepted/common teachings for each of them - and we can pull good questions from them, but as far as the things themselves go, they need to be discussed within the context of our lives, and the Internet is much too shallow a place for that. – Ryan Frame Jan 28 '14 at 16:20
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    @RyanFrame First comment: this particular Q. Edited. Second comment: You misunderstand: I (and the OP?) don't want anything to change but the name of this site. – Stephen Jan 28 '14 at 16:29
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    I see. Honestly I don't think a new name would help most new people think differently of our purpose, and most people who stay quickly learn the distinction between "Christianity" the name and "Christian doctrine/practices" the actual topic of discussion. A different name might be more technically accurate, but probably wouldn't solve any practical problems. (I'm not trying to discourage you; as I understand it proposals are open to revisiting at any time (this may be an exception; see comment #1), so bringing this back up may not be a lost cause; I just don't think it's going to happen.) – Ryan Frame Jan 28 '14 at 16:45
  • Do you think a new name would help people think differently about Christianity? If I were a seeker and I came across this site, I would be pretty turned off. So call it what it is, man: doctrine. (And hella rigid at that.) – Stephen Jan 28 '14 at 17:01
  • I'm sorry, I said that badly. I don't think people will think differently about the site. – Ryan Frame Jan 28 '14 at 17:06
  • @Stephen I'm with Ryan here. I don't think a name change would particularly help, in that we would still get off-topic questions and discussion style answers from new users. I don't think many people are actually sure what doctrine is. They know the word, but don't understand the formal definition. If I were to support a name change it would be "Christian theology". That better implies and I think the word is generally better understood. – fredsbend Jan 28 '14 at 21:35
  • You guys are looking at it the wrong way. I am looking at it from the outside in. The SITE doesn't need any more help. You all got it covered. :) CHRISTIANITY needs help. And this site isn't helping, imo, because it dismisses everything in paragraph 3 above. – Stephen Jan 28 '14 at 21:41
  • @Stephen The site never claims to be comprehensive of Christianity. I think the biggest issue we have with new users is that they ask "what is correct" or "is this a sin" kinds of questions. I'm not sure how your list doubt, mystery, opinion, belief, service, love, forgiveness can fit into any q and a site. I wonder if new users actually are confused in the way you are mentioning. – fredsbend Jan 29 '14 at 7:21
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Yes.

(And my personal comment is a comment... just adding this because I need 30 characters :P)

  • Since I'm not really interested in doctrines/dogmas for my faith, it would (okay, is) the end of turn here (but then, I wasn't big here anyway). But I support the renaming because it would fit with the new... doctrines ;D – Jürgen A. Erhard Jun 29 '12 at 22:35
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    You might have used your 30 characters to defend your position. Even the text of the comment would have been more helpful. – Jon Ericson Jul 2 '12 at 21:37

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