[sword-devel] Doctrinal Statement

Paul Gear sword-devel@crosswire.org
Fri, 28 Jul 2000 20:09:06 +1000

Philip Kapusta wrote:
> ...
> I don't want to distract others with this "digression" much longer, since I realize this mailing list is for issues related to the
> Sword project, 

Hear, hear!  This is an inappropriate forum for this discussion.

That said, i'm now going to perpetuate it...  ;-)

Franklin Bratcher wrote:
> I would suggest a second eventual CD for non-orthodox texts. IE, if someone
> wants it for comparative study they can request it, but clearly keeping such
> texts distinct from those which the Sword Project considers "reliable"
> material.

In terms of software, we need to remember that the GPL prohibits us from
preventing *anyone* from using, modifying, or distributing the software,
so legally we cannot prevent non-Christians from working on it.  It
would be far better to let them contribute to the project than to force
them to fork the code.

It is the content that makes this an issue - what will be distributed on
the Sword CD.  My major problem with this whole approach is: Who decides
what is "reliable material"?

The second you start to make judgements on this sort of thing, you take
a big step to becoming another Online Bible: only material that supports
a particular doctrinal bias is permitted.  This is a position that is to
be avoided even more than its opposite (allowing virtually any content).

However, i do recognise that some form of censorship (because that is
what it is) is desirable, and possibly necessary.  Thus i see that there
are a few options:

1.  Intentionally keep the amount of content limited and focused on
biblical studies.  Do not go into theological, biographical, or other
types of content.  Let people get other modules from other web sites. 
We won't ever beat the commercial guys this way!  ;-)

2.  Provide a wide range of content, but keep the 'core Sword content'
small and have a 'contrib' directory for the rest, with a disclaimer at
the top that says that CrossWire does not endorse any of its contents. 
This has a lot of advantages, but still means that there is the decision
to be made about what is core content, and what is not.

3.  Do not limit the amount of content, but have some sort of committee
to decide what is heretical and what is not.  Troy, is CrossWire Bible
Society an incorporated body, and as such, does it have a board of
directors?  If so, they might be an appropriate group to make decisions
about content selection.

4.  In the absence of a board of directors, perhaps we could form a
virtual board.  We could give them a dorky Internet title like
e-Directors or something like that if necessary.  ;-)  Such a board
would need to be formed from people who have had a recognised valuable
and wise contribution to the project, and would need to have a few
guidelines laid down for it, but it could work.

Note that "take a vote on the development mailing list" was not one of
the options i considered.  I don't think that democracy would work in
this sort of situation.  We need to have people who have proven their
worth over a significant period of time doing content arbitration. 
Preferably we would have some people from outside (like Bible Societies,
or Wycliffe, or whatever) involved in the process as well.

One way of keeping the load on the board down if 3 or 4 were selected
would be to add content without requiring a review, and only ask the
board to decide if there is a complaint.  You are likely to turn off a
few disgruntled people this way (when they find something they don't
agree with), but it is likely to be much more practical in the long

What think y'all?

"He must become greater; i must become less." - John 3:30