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The Name Biblical Hermeneutics, which directly means - the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, especially of the Bible or literary texts.

So if I am going to discuss biblical texts, shouldn't I have an expectation of the audience to have some expectation of a Christian doctrine answer, even if they are not Christian? Otherwise wouldn't this be torah or religious hermeneutics?

I was challenged with the following in chat:

If your argument relies on Christian doctrine--again, you are in the wrong place--this is NOT a Christian site, nor is it to try to proselytize XXXXXXXXXXXX, or anyone else;

So, is answering the scriptures to the best of my knowledge, as both a scholar and a minister not acceptable?

This has left me confused to the purpose of this site.

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First, I generally agree with Susan's answer, and consider it fairly well stated.

I want to address a bit more the quote you mentioned from your chat:

If your argument relies on Christian doctrine--again, you are in the wrong place--this is NOT a Christian site

I think that is poorly worded. You, being a Christian, will necessarily "rely on Christian doctrine" to some extent in answering a question (and probably in posing a question as well). The key to this site, however, is to assume you are addressing an audience that either (1) does not know Christian doctrine, or (2) does not believe it.

Now, you cannot do much about (2). People will either accept or reject your argument, and if your argument relies on doctrine they do not believe, it is not likely to be as persuasive to them. But you can still give it.

As to (1), state what doctrine you feel is necessary as a presupposition to your argument. If possible or necessary, give a brief defense of the presupposition. But as much as possible, rely as little upon doctrine outside the immediate context (historical and literary) as you can, and build the argument from the context of the text itself (and when pulling a text from Scripture you think relates, give some argument as to why and how you think it relates).

nor is it to try to proselytize XXXXXXXXXXXX, or anyone else;

By proselytize, we mean:

  1. Avoid making statements that are a direct call to action for the reader to change their behavior. If the Bible text itself is noting a change of behavior, let the text speak for itself. (Note: a very brief, not "in your face" comment at the end of a good exposition of the text in question is generally deemed acceptable. Especially self directed, "I would apply this...")
  2. It has been noted elsewhere to not prescribe the text, but describe what it is saying (this is another way of stating #1).

In short, regarding:

So, is answering the scriptures to the best of my knowledge, as both a scholar and a minister not acceptable?

Keep the minister aspect in check by the scholar aspect here—minister through excellent, scholarly argument. (And, if you believe as I do, let the Word of God and the Holy Spirit do the work of any conviction on the part of a reader, without added commentary from you to urge conviction or action.)

Whether one can agree to the parameters is a self-reflection (as I had) that each must take. Ultimately, I treat this site as a "public" space of discussion/debate (albeit, through my answer against others), not a "Christian" space where all are of a like mind.

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    That is probably the most well thought out and complete answer I have seen in my searches. I strongly appreciate your time in answering. – Brian Webb Jun 12 '15 at 2:44
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I'm a little confused about why you're confused.

So if I am going to discuss biblical texts, shouldn't I have an expectation of the audience to have some grounding in the Christian doctrine?

This doesn't compute for me. As our help center states:

We welcome Jewish, Christian, Atheist and other viewpoints as long as they take seriously the process of understanding the Biblical texts. The answers we rate most highly stem from and work up from the text.

If you are Christian, it is likely that your grounding in Christian doctrine indeed influences the answers you give here. That's perfectly fine. However, this site is not only meant to host Christian interpretations of the Bible. We encourage answers to work directly from the text to arrive at their conclusions. In that way, answers should be accessible to those without a background in your doctrinal positions.

Your other question:

So, is answering the scriptures to the best of my knowledge, as both a scholar and a minister not acceptable?

This seems acceptable to me. I don’t think the fact that your audience is not made up of all Christians prevents you from answering “to the best of [your] knowledge”. We simply ask that you start from the text and show us your work. When you recognize that doctrinal assumptions are heavily influencing your reasoning, it’s also helpful to state that explicitly.

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  • OK, I know what I miss-phrased in my question. Rewrote my first question. I didn't mean to question the assertions of input from other beliefs. I was questioning the challenge to my post being called out as proselytizing, which is inevitably what I would be doing if I said anything supporting what the scriptures state. Is that wrong for this group? And that is with showing scriptures. – Brian Webb Jun 12 '15 at 1:58

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