Good day all.

Can anyone instruct me about what constitutes an acceptable question? Allow me to illustrate the problem below:


"How are we to understand evil?"


Scripture is replete with statements regarding evil (Prov. 8:13, Psa. 23:4, Rom. 12:9, 21, Eph. 6:12, etc.). How are we to understand this ungodly menace? Does it consist of a "thing" or should we view it as something else entirely?

Suggested Edits

Another member suggested that I use a few examples from Scripture. I fully agreed with his proposal as it was obvious to me that I had not used any specific verses in my post. Here is what he recommended:

Proverbs 8:13 To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,[a] I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Ephesians 6:2 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

The question was then closed with the explanation:

"This is a theological synthesis question and therefore off-topic."

I have been on the site for a little while, but I'm still in the dark how to resolve this mistake. Should I have only used one passage to clarify the point? I'd like to request that someone assist me with this -- ideally, using my question above.



1 Answer 1


Biblical Hermeneutics, the study of the Biblical texts, is only one discipline and both depends upon and informs the disciplines of theology. This has been called the Hermeneutical Circle, as illustrated by Don Carson:

Image of the Hermeneutical Circle by Don Carson

Our reading and interpretation of the Bible informs the theology that we develop from it. And although we might like to think that we can read the texts completely unbiased, the reality is that our theology informs the way we read the texts.

The topic of this site is the core task of exegesis, the reading and interpretation of Biblical texts. We have a few Biblical Theology questions, but most theology questions, whether Biblical, History, Systematic, or Pastoral, belong on our sister site Christianity.SE.

So when asking questions here, it is important to ensure that the question is predominantly about the exegesis of a passage.

It is fine for a question to be prompted by some theological topic, but the question itself must be an exegetical one.

It is fine for answers to use various theological matters in their arguments for how a particular passage should be read.

What's not okay is for the question itself to ask a predominantly theological question. The most common issue that results in questions being closed is because they are predominantly asking a Systematic Theology question, or as I've come to say, because they are asking for theological synthesis. (I think this might explain what the question is about a bit better than "Systematic Theology", as people have various ideas about what that means and might not think their question fits the definition they're familiar with.) These questions ask us how multiple passages should be read together and to bring them together to determine a theological conclusion.

This is what your question did, both when it just asked "what is evil?", and when it listed multiple passages. As the question did not ask us to exegete one passage, it was closed. However even if you had only listed one passage the question could still be off-topic - the question must not just cite a passage in order to meet the rules of the site, but to actually inquire about the meaning of that passage. But with your latest edit you are now doing so, and I have reopened the question.


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