Submit your rule suggestions

As a preface, I should say that I contacted Jeff (the Webmaster) and asked for permission to post this thread. He gave me the ok.

Please read this very carefully

This thread is not for venting anger, insulting others, or for voicing personal opposition against the staff or any others. This thread is not for the purpose of debation forum rule modifications with each other. Please do not engage in debate in this particular thread. This is strictly for rule suggestions and is here so that people who have legitimate concerns about certain forum rules can (1) explain what issue(s) they have with those rules (i.e., why they think the rules in question are inadequate) and (2) offer what they feel are appropriate revisions or modifications to said rules and explain why they feel that the revisions or modifications would better serve a Christian community.

Anyone and everyone who wants to make some suggestions are free to do so.

Jeff asked me to note that there is no guarantee that the suggestions will be implemented. That does not automatically mean, however, that no suggestions will be implemented. Jeff said he spoke with the mod team and that they plan on taking the good suggestions given in this thread, going over said suggestions privately as a team, and then they'll decide whether or not they can implement them based on their experience. I think that's fair and shows flexibility and concern on their part.

Ok, so, since I started the thread, I may as well go first.

Presently I have three main concerns as regards forum rules.

In another topic on this site (entitled "A spiritual Christian: Is a temple where no sin exist"), Thankful said the following to Banarenth

"First about the thread of mine that you closed, became a fight between two other people. I was at a point of only quoting scripture."
Banarenth replied
"It was indeed a fight between others, and I am not faulting you for that."
I want to make it clear that I'm not faulting Banarenth for closing a thread. I think he did a good job as a moderator and did what he had to to keep the peace. It occured to me, though, that one of my threads in the Apologetics and Debates section was closed for a very similar reason. Minister Tony and I disagreed on a subject and, although I tried to reason with Tony, it wasn't working. In the end I told Tony that further conversation between him and I would be pointless because , from my perspective anyway, he didn't seem willing to meet me halfway, and he seemed pretty upset so I felt further communuication would only make things worse. Banarenth soon closed that topic (which, after some of the things Tony had said, I felt kind of relieved about). I did feel a certain degree of regret, though, that such an important topic cannot be viewed now because of one or two people acting afool and being uncivil. I told the truth, documented my claims, I think I kept my cool and stayed on topic in my thread, and I don't think I contributed to my thread being closed (I could be wrong on that though, perhaps I acted incivil at times without reaziling it. I'm not perfect). However, forum member Thankful, it seems was not responsible at all for the closing of his thread. He seems to have been the victim of others on here who chose to act in an uncivil way in his thread.

So my first concern is about the regulation of behavior in the forums. After seeing some of the behavior on here it seems to me that its real easy to get someone's thread deleted if you don't like what they have to say. Just goad and poke and prod and make subtle assertions about their moral character and, eventually, you'll have more and more people gradually becoming less civil. That sentiment spreads like cancer and inevitably leads to a thread deletion.

I think some people may realize that they can do this and then play the victim, and that's a problem. When the uncivil people get a thread shut down, the folks who are actually acting civilly are left out, because they now cannot discuss the issue. When uncivil people get a thread shut down....everyone misses out.
I have a suggestion, though, that I think would really help in this regard.

Suggestion 1: Instead of deleting the entire thread because of the actions of some people, I think it would work better to (1) give the person(s) involved in the uncivil behavior warnings. If they ignore the warnings, the mods can (2) not delete the thread, but rather simply block the uncivil folks from further posting in that specific thread. That way the only people who miss out are the ones who are breaking the rules, and the people who are following the rules can continue to post in said thread peacefully. I think that's pretty fair.
I think the mods do the best they can given what they have to work with. I don't know if they have the programs availible to block specific accounts from posting in specific threads yet. If they do, I would appreciate it if they'd give this suggestion some consideration. I have to be honest, the thought of respectful people missing out on what would have been a fruitful discussion on account of a few people who want to act like children is........not a comforting thought.

My second suggestion. After the discussion with Tony, it looks as though a person risks penalty for so much as saying "I respect and love you brother, but I think you're wrong on this issue and here are my reasons....". I said something to that effect in the Apologetics and Debates section. One cannot debate without arguing that the other person is wrong in their conclusion. As a matter of fact, one cannot even offer their own perspective without implying that everyone who has a different perspective is incorrect. If you say "I disagree with you" it follows logically that you think the person you're conversing with is wrong. Saying "I disagree with you" seems to be fine, but it means the exact same thing as "I think you're wrong". Yet one can be reported and punished for one, but not for the other. Niether one of those statements is rude from my perspective. Its an honest point of view. Some individuals confuse disagreement with disrespect. They see that someone disagrees with them and they take it as a personal insult on their dignity. Such individuals are hasty to auto report anyone and everyone who disagrees with them. I have a serious concern that thin-skinned individuals can abuse that sort of rule to attempt to sort of cyber bully others into "accepting" their view as truth. I don't see any reason, biblically-speaking, to think that saying you think someone's opinion is wrong is somehow immoral. It seems intellectually healthy to me to exchange ideas and to discuss things rationally. One cannot even preach the Gospel without explaining that those who disagree with the Gospel are incorrect.

Suggestion 2: So my second suggestion is that people ought to be allowed to say that they think other peoples' interpretation of Scripture is incorrect. To do so and still convsre respectfully with others shows maturity, and it's already implied by everyone on here anyway whenever we "disagree" with another.

On that note I also would like to address forum rule 2.2

Rule 2.2 If someone disagrees with you do not immediately jump to the conclusion that they are not truly saved just because they disagree, there are differences of opinion in translating Biblical doctrine.

In my deleted thread Tony took issue with my statement that Mormons are unsaved and "reported" me for breaking a forum rule. When I asked what rule I broke, HisManySongs quoted rule 2.2.
That rule is a little trickier and I think to apply it to the Christianity/Mormonism discussion would be a misapplication. Its a great principle to follow when we're dealing with people who hold to the essential tenets of the Doctrine that Christ gave us. No one ought to declare a fellow Christian unsaved because of a disagreement on secondary, ancillary issues (i.e., tithing, clean dn unclean foods ect). But this rule shouldn't apply to non-Christians. I don't think that people should risk being punished for repeating what Christ and His apostles said regarding the essential tenets of Christian doctrine and salvation. Christ said in John 8:24 that those who deny that He's God will die in their sins. Paul said that if anyone teaches or accepts a different Jesus, spirit or Gospel than the one that Christ and the apostles taught, then it's foolishness ( 2Corinthians 11:4 ). He also spoke of the dangers of turning to a different gospel in Galatians chapter 1 and said that if someone teaches a different gospel, "let him be accursed" ( Galatians 1:8 ). I'm not saying that we ought to beat Mormons over the head with the Bible or harrass them or verbally attack their personal character. The thread was about their doctrine and whether their doctrine placed them into the category of save individuals.

Mormons do in fact deny that Christ is God, claim that God the Father used to be a man on another planet, and claim that Christ's shed blood on the cross is insufficient to save us, insisting that we must perform works to make up for what Christ's blood cannot accomplish. In short, Mormons clearly preach a different Jesus and gospel and deny that Jesus is God. So, from the statements of Christ and His apostles, we can see that, as of yet, Mormons are still in their sins. There's nothing the matter with my saying that. Its the truth and everyone ought to be aware of it. So for the record, I don't think that its a violation of rule 2.2 to say that Mormons are unsaved, since (1) I'm not "jumping to the conclusion" that they're unsaved simply because they disagree with me. I'm acknowledging the words of Christ and His apostles. They're unsaved because they deny Christ. Christ said it, so it's law. And (2) The last clause of the rule seems to imply that the rule applies to matters of biblical interpretation, which has nothing to do with Mormon beliefs regarding Jesus, since they don't base their beliefs on biblical interpretation, they actually get it from outside sources (Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Preal of Great Price). Their source for their peculiar beliefs are extra-biblical. If the Bible disagrees with the three afformentioned books, Mormons disregard what the Bible says as false.
(for the recaord though, I find nothing wrong with someone saying they feel my interpretation of Scripture is false. I actually appreciate the honesty and invite constructive criticism and like people to discuss it with me).

Anyway, this isn't about that thread, I just wanted to give an example of the dangers of taking rules like forum rule 2.2 too far and applying a "saved" status to non-Christians. Christians ought to be able to say that non-Christians are in an unsaved state without being panalized (so long as they're doing it respectfully, that is). I want the above to serve as a preface so that you can see where I'm coming from with my third suggestion.

Suggestion 3: So my third suggestion is that forum rule 2.2 ought not to be applied to persons who espouse a viewpoint that Christ and/or His apostles (1) clearly taught to in breach of the essential tenets of Christian doctrine and (2) made clear that such persons who hold said counter-Christian view(s) fall into the category of the unsaved.

That's it for now. If something else comes to mind I'll be sure to post it. For now this'll do.

A whole-hearted thanks goes to the staff for allowing this thread. They aim to get feedback from all the users on here, and to take the best suggestions into consideration, so feel free to offer your suggestions! Please also be patient with them and understand that some rules are in place to make the the site workable for the mods.

God bless
Just my thoughts to give some background info.

Suggestion 1: I really, really tried to keep that topic. I had to go back 5 pages of posts before I found a point where the topic was still salvageable, but at that point, the discussion had changed so much and gotten so far off topic that it no longer made any sense. I really did try hard to save it, but it had just degraded too far. I don't mind topics with people that disagree, but it does get to a point where two people just start pounding their chests and growling at each other. This is the reason that we never permitted debates in the past, which I always felt was a shame. The problem is with behavior. Some people just cannot let go and believe that if anyone disagrees with them on even the smallest of issues, then they must be sinners or something. We need a way to handle the behavior, and I am completely open to suggestions on that.

Suggestion 2: This is a huge issue. I have no problem with disagreements. I have no issue whatsoever with stating your case and even disagreeing with someone else's opinion. I only have a problem when people push it a bit over the line and make statements like "just because you disagree with Scripture" or "You are wrong". I know it seems like an odd line, but again, it's about behavior and attitude. Just because someone disagrees with a specific interpretation of Scripture, does not mean they disagree with Scripture. Take a moment to think about that. This is a common way that JW argue. They build straw-man arguments and that isn't even valid logic. It automatically puts people on the defensive, and it's a stupid and illogical statement. Let's face it. There are theologians all over the world that have better resources and better mediums to discuss their differences than we could ever hope to foster here. If the issues were simple, we could just get the two smartest theologians we can find to debate each issue and have an ironclad decision at the end of the week on ever subject. Pit John Calvin against John Wesley and once and for all put the OSAS debate to rest forever and eliminate all denominations!!! What a great world that would be!!! Except, it can't happen because it isn't a simple issue. Very few issues are (if any at all in fact). This is the main issue I have been having with some of the debate posts and why I gave that warning. I think we need a debate coach or something because the people involved in these debates aren't following debate rules, they are just arguing. We don't need to argue here. There are literally THOUSANDS of forums where Christians are encouraged to debate. They all seem to have one thing in common. They last a few years and then tear themselves apart from all the bickering and hurt feelings. These are not issues that are just gonna be solved by a "better argument". If someone finds a system for debating properly, I'd love to see it. The sad thing is, that there are debate topics I really wanna get involved in, but I really can't as a moderator due to a conflict of interest.

Suggestion 3: Oh yeah. I'm spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to pull this one off without having a specific doctrine adopted by the site. One of the great things about this site is that we are all from different backgrounds. Even within the moderator group we disagree on some pretty fundamental issues, but we recognize each other as Christians nonetheless.
Heya, Banz:

On Suggestion 1: I don't blame you for having to shut down topics. It's your job to do that when things go too far. I agree that most debate threads end really badly because people are often very prideful. I think that can be remedied by disallowing the disruptive people from further posting in said thread and allowing the respectful people (even if its only a few) to continue. I made a point of saying that I don't fault you for having to shut down topics. I hope it didn't come off as me criticizing you. You were keeping the peace as best you could within the guidelines of the rules.

On Suggestion 2: I feel that some statements ought to be off-limits. Example: A couple things that seemed a tad unfair during my topic was, after I posted the abbreviated Mormon Doctrine, Tony made a couple of statements that (it seemed to me) unfairly presupposed dishonesty on my part. The first was "where did he get this mormon doctrine that he says he took word-for-word from the mormons?" Problem was, I didn't say anything about the abbreviated Mormon Doctrine being taken "word-for-word", so he either told a lie that was disguised as a question (a common tactic of internet bullies, in my experience), or he somehow misread or misunderstood what I wrote. I explained to him that it was a paraphrase of what the Mormon Scriptures teach. Basically it was Mormon Doctrine "in-a-nutshell" if you will. He then replied "What? So that's not even what the mormons say? Why would you do that?! Why would you lie about them?" It seems to me, though, that that statement relies on an unfair and fallacious assumption; that a paraphrase is a lie and anyone who paraphrases lies by doing so. I think any person with common sense knows that that just doesn't follow. So, accusatory statements that are actually disguised as questions, I think, should be off-limits.
Perhaps you and I understand certain statements in a slightly different way. I agree with you about people saying "just because you disagree with Scripture". That somehow comes off as elitist to me...perhaps a little pompous. However, I don't really have much of a problem at all when people say to me "you are wrong". The first statement seems like elitism, the second, while it's a rather blunt way of putting it, is an honest expression of one's opinion. On their view, I am wrong. Most people don't really come off to me as rude when they say that. I appreciate when they're honest about it. Myself, I usually precede that sort of statement with something like "I think" so as to give my honest opinion that someone else is wrong whilst acknowledging that I could be wrong in my own assessment of the facts as well. From there the next step is to present our reasons for why we hold our respective beliefs and figure out which person has the best reasons for holding their beliefs.

On Suggestion 3: The other mods disagree with you on fundamental issues? That seems very strange to me. When I say "fundamentals", I don't just mean important issues, I mean things that literally make-or-break Christianity. Things that are so foundational to Christianity that they seperate people and make it impossible for them to be members of the same religion when they disagree on even one of them. Things like: the belief in one and only one God, the deity of Christ and what he accomplished on the cross, the resurrection of Christ, man's need for salvation, Christ being the only way to God etc.
I'm not sure if by "specific doctrine" you meant a specific denominational doctrine, but that's not what I mean. The things that split denominations are secondary, ancillary issues. What I'm talking about is what C.S. Lewis called "Mere Christianity". The absolutely essential issues that all of Christianity, regardless of denomination, agree upon, whether they're Calvinist or Arminian or people who hold to Mediate Theology. Basically the biblical teachings that are outlined in the CFS "Statement of Faith" except I would add one thing to it; a crystal clear statement that Christ, being the second Person of the Trinity, shares the one divine essence of the Godhead that the other two persons have, and is therefore God Himself manifest in the flesh. I think that was already implied by the CFS statement of faith, but it never hurts to be thorough, lol. The only doctrine that the site ought to adopt is the foundational essenitals of Christianity.

Hope all's well with you, bro.
On Suggestion 1: No offense taken whatsoever, just clarifying.

On Suggestion 2: This is the constant challenge we face. Particularly since we are not "hired" employees who are paid to be here for a shift 10 hours a day, it's sometimes hard to discern what a person will read and what is intended. We do our best, but sometimes it just gets too complicated.

On Suggestion 3: Fundamental is the right word, but under the wrong context. I could redefine it as "basic" if that makes it more clear. The concept of Holiness is such an issue. For me, it's a fundamental issue because I was raised in a Nazarene church, but for those who were not, it's not an issue. I come from the Arminian branch, and as such, it isn't a shocking thing for me to hear about a sinless life. This isn't the case with everyone, and I recognize that as well. Calvinists cannot accept that and remain Calvinists. I honestly look at the difference to be entirely conceptual in basis.
Yeah, by "fundamental", I basically just mean the essentials. The "Bare Bones", if you will, of Christianity.

..............You're an Arminian???
For some odd reason I was under the inpression you were a Calvinist.
This is a slight deviation from the topic, but I hope you'll permit me to ask one quick question.
Do you consider Calvinists to be fellow Christians or do you feel that they're unsaved?