17. Rampant and Irresponsible Capitalization

Christians like to capitalize things.

Don’t believe me? Let’s have a bet. Wait, we probably shouldn’t gamble about something related to Christianity. (I’m pretty sure there’s a passage in Hebrews that forbids gambling about religion.) How about I dare you instead of placing a bet? All right, I dare you to go to church next Sunday and see how many Christian words are capitalized.

A lot of people—even some non-Christians—capitalize divine pronouns (pronouns used to refer to God) in order to show reverence or respect. C.S Lewis, a man for whom I have utmost admiration, capitalized divine pronouns. He also capitalized Heaven and Hell because they are places, like London or New York City, and should therefore be capitalized as proper nouns.

C.S. Lewis was consistent in his capitalizations and could give good reasons for them. It seems many people, however, are guilty of rampant and irresponsible capitalization. I may just be cynical, and I’m definitely a literary snob, but it seems sometimes as though American Christians capitalize words related to Christianity just to make them seem holier.

For example, hymns and worship songs never refer to God and his mercy. It’s evidently more holy to capitalize the divine pronoun and refer to God and His mercy. And if we capitalize mercy, which is a divine attribute, it makes the hymn or worship song even holier. I mean, God and His Mercy is clearly holier than God and his mercy, isn’t it?

So sermons are full of Grace, Goodness, Predestination, Prophecy, Agape, Apostles, Epistles, Pre-Millennialism, Mid-Millennialism, Post-Millennialism and the Millennium Falcon. All right, maybe not that last one. At least not in any sermons I’ve heard.

Anyway, there have come to be so many capitalizations that capitalization is becoming meaningless.

If a word is capitalized, there should be a good reason for it. I capitalize Gospel to distinguish the good news of Jesus Christ from the music genre. I capitalize Church to set apart the worldwide community of God’s people from the fancy building down the street. I capitalize Prophets to differentiate between a section of the Old Testament and the plural form of a common noun.

Unlike C.S. Lewis, I don’t capitalize heaven or hell or divine pronouns. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with capitalizing these words, but it doesn’t seem necessary. I don’t think God cares much about capitalization. He cares more about love and obedience and mercy.

Should divine pronouns and spiritual words be capitalized? Should there be more sermons about the Millennium Falcon? Let us know in the comments!

3 thoughts on “17. Rampant and Irresponsible Capitalization

  1. Millennium Falcon should always be capitalized and worked into sermons, ideally on quarterly schedule. I totally love what you have to say here on the truth of capitalization. Although, some might say you’ve only scratched the surface. Deeply spiritually Christians have been BLESSED with the DISCERNMENT to know when a word is Holy enough to be completely capitalized. After all, how will heathens be able to see the TRUTH if we don’t scream it at them?

  2. As a parochial school child, I always capitalize the divine pronouns, like they taught us to do. ^^ This year I capitalized “who” in a history paper when referring to the Christian God and was marked down for it. =P

  3. Pingback: Style Books, Capitonyms & C.S. Lewis « Mere Inkling

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