Free Online Bible Library | Rationale for BTL's Scope

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Rationale for BTL's Scope

BTL is a repository of articles about topics related to the Bible and the Christian church. This encompasses a wide variety of topics, but not every topic related to Christianity is appropriate for inclusion here. To maintain BTL's focus and scholarly credibility, we adhere to a strict set of guidelines in determining what content is and isn't approrpriate.

Please familiarize yourself with these standards before you begin contributing to BTL. Content that falls outside these guidelines will be deleted by the site moderators.

Theological standards for all BTL content

Every article on BTL must be in compliance with BTL's Statement of Faith. No content on BTL may contradict any part of these statements, nor may it step beyond the boundaries established by these statements. Articles may not cast doubt on or call into question the assumptions and beliefs outlined in the Statement of Faith.

This theological standard is of the utmost importance, and the site administrators take it extremely seriously. If you suspect that any content on BTL is in violation of this basic rule, please Contact BTL to report it to the site administrators.

The spirit of the rules, not the letter

It is important to understand that we'll always work to adhere to the spirit of these guidelines. This means that we won't allow the letter of the law to trump its spirit when making decisions about what is and isn't appropriate. We ask you both to be patient and understanding with the decisions we make, and to avoid exploiting perceived "loopholes" in the above rules in an effort to undermine their clear intent.

Standards for articles on BTL

Scope of allowable topics for articles

The following types of content are appropriate for BTL articles. An article that meets one or more of these requirements is acceptable for inclusion.

Note that all articles must be approved by one or more members of the Teacher user role before the article appears on the public BTL site. Teachers are responsible for making the final determination of whether or not a suggested topic meets the standards laid out below.

  • BTL documentation and meta-information (like this page).
  • People, places, or topics directly mentioned in the Bible. Anything directly referenced in the text of the Bible can be written up as an article. Examples: Jesus, Moab, forgiveness, Rome, nephilim, anger, sin.
  • Topics or themes implied or suggested in the Bible. Many important theological concepts are present in the Bible but may not be mentioned specifically by name. Such topics can be written up as articles, provided that the Biblical support for the concept is clear. Examples: Trinity, expiation, omnipotence, communion.
  • Subjects directly related to Bible history or church history. We want BTL to contain useful reference information on historical people, places, and events that had a strong tie to the Bible and to Christianity. However, the broad scope of this category also makes it more potentially problematic than the first two standards on this list. See the following section for a more complete explanation of this guideline.

Allowable non-Bible or historical topics for articles

As noted above, BTL welcomes articles about historical people, places, and events that have a strong tie to the Bible or to Christianity. We encourage you to contribute such content, provided the topic meets the following qualifications.

  • The topic must have a direct tie to the Bible, Christian theology, Christian missions, or Church history. If it's a concept or idea not addressed explicitly or implicitly in the Bible, it is outside the scope of BTL. If it's a person, place, or event that's neither in the Bible nor connected in a meaningful way to Christian history, it's outside the scope of BTL.
  • The topic may not be of purely local interest. People and places in BTL must have an influence or significance beyond their local communities. This precludes pastors, churches, and publications which, regardless of their merits, do not have significant influence on, or recognition in, the global church. John Calvin or Vatican City are thus acceptable topics, but the (hypothetical) 1st Bapto-Presbyterian Church in Smalltown, Michigan is not.
  • The topic must be of significant and serious interest to the Christian community. BTL is a resource intended to have academic credibility. Consequently, while each article should have interest to general readers, it should also be appropriate for an academic audience and suitable for academic study. In determining whether or not a topic meets this requirement, you should be able to answer "yes" to one or more of the following questions:
  • Would this topic plausibly be covered in a college or seminary course related to biblical, theological, or ministry-related disciplines?
  • Are there articles, books, or other works about the topic?
  • Is the article more than mere opinion? Is it a viewpoint cogently expressed with evidence and logical argumentation?

Article copyright standards

All content posted to BTL becomes covered by BTL's copyright policy. No content covered by an incompatible license or copyright may be posted on BTL except within the terms of fair use as understood in the United States and defined by the content's own license. Any such content must be cited as required by its copyright status and license.

Article formatting standards

All articles on BTL must conform to BTL's formatting standards.

Resolving questions about topics or articles

Observant readers will notice that despite our best efforts, there is still room for debate within some of the above restrictions. When you have a question about whether or not a topic meets the above guidelines, the best thing to do first is to ask other members of the BTL for their feedback, using a discusson page. If no consensus can be reached, the BTL site administrators can be asked to make a decision, with the assistance of a panel of moderators. This decision is considered final, although we plan to institute an appeal process to allow users to appeal a questionable or outdated decision.

If you have a question about these guidelines, suspect that an existing topic doesn't adhere to these guidelines, or want the BTL administrators to decide on a topic's appropriateness, please use the appropriate discussion page to bring up the issue. If this does not resolve the issue, please Contact the BTL administrators with your questions or concerns.

Standards for images on BTL

BTL encourages anyone to upload photos or images that would add value to an article. Images should conform to the same standards applied to articles.

Questions about these standards

If you have questions about any of these standards, please Contact BTL adminstrators. For questions about specific articles or topics, the appropriate discussion page is the first and best place to seek feedback from the BTL community.

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