Discussion Policy

My comment policy is a longer than most others. The whole thing is summarized by the time you get through Item 2. 

Welcome, and thank you for coming here to share your thoughts at Thinking Christian.

We welcome respectful, thoughtful debate. The perspective I ask of writers here is that you treat others as persons, not as projects and not as foes to be defeated at whatever cost. With that in mind:

  1. Opinions posted here are not necessarily those of the host.
  2. Comments must be civil and clean, “family friendly,” as they say. Your opinion is welcome, whether you agree or disagree, under what I call the “Starbucks Standard,” practicing the kind of courtesy you would give another person while sitting over coffee together. That means no personal insults or gratuitous character attacks on other persons. Any first-time commenter here who introduces himself or herself to me, or to other commenters, with character attacks (for example, the accusation that we are liars) will find his or her comment summarily deleted, and future comments banned.

    That’s all you’re likely to need. The  rest of this is here because I’ve often been accused of banning people just because they disagree with me, or “you can’t handle my arguments so you have to drive me away!” I’m detailing all the conditions under which anyone ever gets banned, so that if I do ban someone I can explain exactly why.

  3. You are welcome to comment on any topic raised in the blog entry to which your comment is attached. This is not the place, though, to share just anything that’s on your mind. Comments introducing tangential or completely new topics for argument may be edited or deleted. (This applies especially to material that is deemed to be mere advertising for other sites.)

  4. Please try to make your comment a substantive addition to the discussion. (If you point to another web page to support your point, that’s fine, but at least make your point here so we can respond to it.)

  5. Call it a pet peeve of mine, or simply call it writing in educated English: the word “God,” when used as a proper noun, is to be capitalized. The same applies to other proper nouns, such as names of religions.

  6.  Commenters are responsible for any personal information they reveal here, and waive all copyright privileges to their content.  (This waiver of copyright does not apply to the original blog post or to comments by Tom Gilson, which are copyright © Thomas A Gilson as of the date of posting. Commenters may retain such copyright for any specific comment as the law allows by entering a copyright statement with the post, e.g, Copyright 2012 by –name–. Actual legal names are required.) Update January 18, 2013: Comments are covered under the Creative Commons License. (See below for the siteowner’s copyright information.)

  7. Consistent with guideline 3, and because it is not helpful to the topics brought up here, political discussion is strictly off limits. This applies to comments regarding political parties or candidates, and to specific pending legislation. It does not necessarily apply to social issues that may come up for governmental consideration. (As a representative of a 501(c)3 US nonprofit corporation, I have a duty to monitor this, and to use my best judgment to follow appropriate policies.)

  8. If you criticize other content here–regardless of what perspective is being supported or criticized–be constructive in your criticism, and do what you can to support it with substantive evidence/reasoning.

  9. There have been a few persistently unproductive discussions on this blog. I may decide to close off comments by one or more persons on those threads, just on the basis of their being unproductive. This applies also to “discussions” in which a commenter’s transparent purpose is just to stand and shoot at other people’s opinions, rather than to engage in productive dialogue. It includes fragenblitzen techniques (bursts of simultaneous multiple questions, with the implication that if they’re not all simultaneously answered then the questioner has won the round.) It may also apply to discussions in which a commenter persistently and/or selectively ignores discussion directed toward him or her.

  10. Persons who claim to be believers in Jesus Christ, yet who bring manifestly false teaching on basic doctrines of the faith, and/or promote evil acts, are not welcomed into discussion here. (Romans 16:17; 2 John 9,10; Titus 3:9-10). I further reserve the right to hold fellow believers to a higher standard in fellowship, in demeanor, and in other ways not necessarily specified here.

  11. A clearly identifiable lie, or a series of flagrant distortions or misrepresentations of another’s position, may be grounds for immediate banning.

  12. I require a genuine email address accompanying all comments. Your email address will never be revealed unless there is a credible threat of harm or it’s required by a court of law.

  13. Commenters who use other social media for gross character attacks on persons commenting here may be banned. This does not refer to disagreement, even strong disagreement, but specifically to character attack (“she’s a liar,” “he’s a moron,” etc.).  If you want to take behind-the-scenes-yet-public potshots that’s your choice, but you’re not invited here if you do that elsewhere.

In Case of Violations

I reserve the right to determine when any of the above is the case.

Violating any of these guidelines may result in your comment being deleted. Flagrant or repeated violations may result in the commenter being banned.

Another Way To Say It

My policy toward answering commenters is best expressed by Augustine, in City of God 2.1: Of the Limits Which Must Be Put to the Necessity of Replying to an Adversary.

If the feeble mind of man did not presume to resist the clear evidence of truth, but yielded its infirmity to wholesome doctrines, as to a health-giving medicine, until it obtained from God, by its faith and piety, the grace needed to heal it, they who have just ideas, and express them in suitable language, would need to use no long discourse to refute the errors of empty conjecture. But this mental infirmity is now more prevalent and hurtful than ever, to such an extent that even after the truth has been as fully demonstrated as man can prove it to man, they hold for the very truth their own unreasonable fancies, either on account of their great blindness, which prevents them from seeing what is plainly set before them, or on account of their opinionative obstinacy, which prevents them from acknowledging the force of what they do see. There therefore frequently arises a necessity of speaking more fully on those points which are already clear, that we may, as it were, present them not to the eye, but even to the touch, so that they may be felt even by those who close their eyes against them. And yet to what end shall we ever bring our discussions, or what bounds can be set to our discourse, if we proceed on the principle that we must always reply to those who reply to us? For those who are either unable to understand our arguments, or are so hardened by the habit of contradiction, that though they understand they cannot yield to them, reply to us, and, as it is written, speak hard things, and are incorrigibly vain. Now, if we were to propose to confute their objections as often as they with brazen face chose to disregard our arguments, and so often as they could by any means contradict our statements, you see how endless, and fruitless, and painful a task we should be undertaking.