Capitalizing ‘God’

     For example:
     – 3rd person pronouns to refer to God (e.g. Father, Son, or Spirit)
     – Referential pronouns (e.g. him/Him, he/He, who/Who, one/One)
     – Adjectives (e.g. Holy One, Almighty)

     “Many people struggle with this question. Some, believing it shows reverence for God, capitalize all pronouns that refer to God. Others, believing the “rules” of English style should be followed, do not capitalize the deity pronouns. So, who is right? The answer is neither. It is neither right nor wrong to capitalize or not capitalize pronouns that refer to God. It is a matter of personal conviction, preference, and context. Some Bible translations capitalize pronouns referring to God, while others do not.
     If you capitalize pronouns that refer to God to show reverence for His name, fantastic! Continue doing so. If you capitalize pronouns that refer to God to make it more clear who is being referred to, great! Continue doing so. If you are not capitalizing pronouns that refer to God because you believe proper English grammar/syntax/style should be followed, wonderful! Continue following your conviction. Again, this is not a right vs. wrong issue. Each of us must follow his/her own conviction and each of us should refrain from judging those who take a different viewpoint.”

Reasons not to Capitalize
1) The original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts do not capitalize.
     + This isn’t a winner take all argument against capitalization, as Greek grammar functions under different rules than English grammar.
2) Many English translations do not capitalize, meaning the translation teams (far wiser than ourselves) didn’t believe it theologically or pastorally necessary to capitalize.
     + ESV, NIV does not capitalize
     + NASB does capitalize
3) In a sense, non-capitalization reminds us of the gospel and the incarnation, in that the second person of the Trinity incarnated himself in human flesh, took on a first century Jewish name, lived a sinless life and died an atoning death among us, and was referred to by our lowly pronouns.
4) To be consistent in capitalization one would need to capitalize far more pronouns than is commonly done (e.g. ambiguous biblical passages, see Justin Taylor’s Puzzling Pronouns in the Prophets).

Reasons to Capitalize
1) Potentially helps readers more easily follow the biblical flow of thought.
2) Logically flows from a desire to exalt God in all things—including grammar.
Both options are valid depending upon the given context.

     To the Capitalizers, I became a Capitalizer. To the uncapitalizers, I became an uncapitalizer. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. (a la 1 Corinthians 9)

     “We should do what the biblical authors did: follow ordinary capitalization conventions for our language. Therefore, for English-speakers, we should capitalize the beginning of sentences and we should capitalize proper names. Other letters, for the most part, are lowercase. Thus, we should capitalize ‘God’ since it is a proper name, but we do not need to capitalize ‘him’ or ‘holy’ or other pronouns and adjectives in relation to God. Furthermore, even non-believers should capitalize ‘God’ because it doesn’t matter if God exists when you’re using the term as a name; we capitalize the names of Spiderman and Gandalf even though they don’t exist.”
     – Jeremy Pierce, Divine Capitalization [paraphrase]

     – Justin Buzzard, “Him”?
     – The Holy Observer, THO Guide to Christian Capitalization

     “I have frequently used ‘god’ instead of ‘God’.  This is not a printer’s error, nor is it a deliberate irreverence; rather the opposite, in fact. The modern usage, without the article and with a capital, seems to me actually dangerous. This usage, which sometimes amounts to regarding ‘God’ as the property name of the Deity, rather than as essentially a common noun, implies that all users of of the word are monotheists and, within that, that all monotheists believe in the same god. Both these propositions seem to me self-evidently untrue. It may or may not be true that anyworship of any god is translated by some mysterious grace into worship of one god who actually exists, and who happens to be the only god. That is believe by some students of religion. It is not, however, believed by very many practitioners of the mainline monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) or of the non-monotheistic ones (Hinduism, Buddhism and their cognates). Certainly Jews and Christians of the first century did not believe it. They believed that pagans worshipped idols, or even demons.
     It seems to me therefore, simply misleading to use ‘God’ throughout this work. I have often preferred either to refer to Israel’s god by the biblical name, YHWH (nonwithstanding debates about the use of this name within second-temple Judaism), or, in phrases designed to remind us of what or who we are talking about, to speak of ‘the creator’ or ‘Israel’s god’. The early Christians use the phrase ‘the god’ (ho theos) of this god, and this was (I believe) somewhat polemical, making an essentially Jewish-monotheistic point over against polytheism. In a world where there were many suns, one would not say ‘the sun’. Furthermore, the early Christians regulrly felt the need to make clear which god they were talking about by glossing the phrase, as Paul so oftem does, with a reference to the revelation of this god in and through Jesus of Nazareth. Since in fact, the present project presents a case, among other things, for a fresh understanding of the meaning of content of the word ‘god’, and ultimately ‘God’, in the light of Jesus, the Spirit and the New Testament, it would be begging the question to follow a usage which seemed to imply that the answer was known in advance. I think it quite likely that many of those who come to a book like this with the firm conviction that ‘Jesus is God’, and equally wel man of those who come with the firm conviction that he is not, may hold views on the meaning of ‘god’, or ‘God’, which ought to be challenged in the light of the New Testament. The christological question, as to whether the staement ‘Jesus is God’ is true, and if so in what sense, is often asked though ‘God’ were the known and ‘Jesus’ the unknown; this I suggest, is manifestly mistaken. If anything, the matter stands the other way around.”
     – N.T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God (p.xvii)

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