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I have been drawn to this site because of the academic knowledge represented here. This site is not afraid to handle difficult questions that often get glossed over or tossed aside unanswered in the general public. This site gives in depth consideration to the text, context, language, historical background etc.--things that I love to explore. I thought however, this would be a community that would work together to endeavor to ascertain what the truth is about the text. I have been disappointed to discover that the goal here is not necessarily to discover truth.

I have been trained to humbly approach the Bible asking:
What does it say?
What does it mean?
What difference does it make?

I have found that the Bible is alive and it makes me come alive: I love to share it with others and watch them come alive. Thus I merely endeavor to discern the truth of what the passage says and means, so that it can be received in faith and bring life.

After much thought, I realize, that often, when I come in here I am actually looking for an Inductive Bible Study forum. I see too that there is no Inductive Bible study Stack Exchange. (If anyone knows of one please let me know).

With that, I realized that many of my answers here would actually be considered personal research. My answers mostly reflect personal observations and conclusions based on those observations.

My question is: Would you like me to remove/delete my answers because they are mostly personal research. Or would the site consider opening up to Inductive Study answers so long as they show their work and are well thought out?

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Inductive study is at the very heart of what we are looking for in answers. Your list roughly corresponds to one that I've used successfully in small group studies:

  1. Observation (What does it say?)
  2. Interpretation (What does it mean?)
  3. Application (What difference does it make?)

This site focuses almost exclusively on step 1 and 2, but step 3 is out of bounds for questions. We also tend to prefer answers avoid personal application, but fitting the text into a broader framework is certainly important to understanding the text. Since different people use different frameworks, the answers to "What difference does it make?" are often divergent.

See also: Hermeneutical Approaches vs. Inductive Bible Study

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  • I agree that this site would pertain to 1 and 2, and perhaps even more to 1 than 2 if what Monica says is correct (see link above). I guess, what I am asking is if personal observation is welcome even though it is personal research. Perhaps I am not understanding what personal research is. – user2027 Sep 24 '13 at 20:40
  • @Sarah: Personal observations from the text are certainly welcome. What gets a little bit tricky is that some people have better access to the text in it's original language. Because translation requires some measure of interpretation, it's usually better to start with the languages that the Bible was written in. That might require a little more expertise than other aspects of answering. In general, our English translations are serviceable and observations from the English text that we make as individuals are accessible to all. – Jon Ericson Sep 24 '13 at 20:49
  • Indeed! I would not argue that and others are certainly more equipped to offer that than myself. If others who are gifted in that area are about that task and someone like myself cares to offer insight by stepping back from traditional doctrine to examine just what the Bible contains relating to a question or issue, though it sinks to the bottom, is it still welcome or is it seen as clutter on the forum. Am I wasting my time to share it. Am I casting pearls out merely to be trampled. And, would I not be more properly a part of a community that sought the truth as I do. – user2027 Sep 24 '13 at 21:13
  • @JonEricson, 'application' seems to be a frequent surrogate for 'doctrine'. The 'for me' part of the definition for inductive study in the other posting you link also seems to point in the wrong direction. – user947 Oct 20 '13 at 19:28
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This is a useful question and I'm really glad you have brought it to meta. We'd love you to continue contributing: several of your answers have been well received and one accepted by the OP, this is a good sign. A clear understanding of the goal of the site will help you to contribute answers that are helpful to a wide pool of users and benefit everyone.

I have been disappointed to discover that the goal here is not necessarily to discover truth.

At the risk of sounding patronizing (which I do not intend in any way), the goal of this site is to answer questions about Biblical Hermeneutics. Not just for the OPs benefit, but for anyone who has Google: the distinctive of this network is the voting system that (usually) lets the most helpful answers float to the top, making it much easier to find answers. Compared to struggling through threads on a forum, SE is a absolute breeze. In my IT job I find answers on this network every day to real problems I face just by searching on Google: this saves me so much time.

This focus on usefulness to others is I believe the rational behind our criteria for good answers:

Answers should show their work. Part of what will differentiate a good quality answer from a shoddy one is the ability of other experts to review -piece by piece- the train of reasoning that brought us from the text to its meaning. This serves both as a way to verify their quality and as a way for people new to the field to learn. If answers don't show their work, nobody will come away from our site with more knowledge about the field of hermeneutics.

What this site is not: it is not a discussion forum for bouncing ideas back and forth. That's a useful thing to do but it's not what the main Q&A site is built for (we are welcome to do so in chat of course).

Would you like me to remove/delete my answers because they are mostly personal research.

The short answer here is 'No'. The reason being that 'personal research' and 'usefulness as an answer' are orthogonal. What matters here most is whether answers:

  1. answer the question
  2. show their work (see the 'Answers should show their work' above for why)

So, if your personal research is relevant and you explain your reasoning piece by piece, you have probably given a good answer. On the other hand even if you just quote other sources and include no personal research, if your sources don't explain their reasoning piece by piece the answer isn't likely to be helpful.

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  • The question that the OP accepted is one of the main reasons I ask this question. That answer is nothing but personal research and it occurred to me that this might be the reason the community so strongly objected to it. I thought perhaps I should remove especially that one. But more generally, most of my posts are simply my own observations of the text, context, language, and such. I offer them because I think they might help. In light of the "no personal research" standard, I wondered. So, does direct observation of the text and context constitute personal research? – user2027 Sep 24 '13 at 20:53
  • One thing that is a concern from a Christian perspective is that while no scripture is of private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20), there are things that are spiritually discerned and cannot be discerned devoid of the spirit; they are foolishness to those who are perishing. Thus in a site like this it is possible that much empty knowledge will come forth that itself is not true and will never lead to truth. – user2027 Sep 24 '13 at 21:01
  • I added a link in the question to clarify the context of what was meant by the goal of the site not being to find truth. – user2027 Sep 24 '13 at 21:17
  • @user2027 that's just one users personal opinion: you are just as entitled to yours aren't you? – Jack Douglas Sep 25 '13 at 6:09

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