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Spiritual Style

November 4, 2011

I’ve been in Christian publishing for over 10 years, first as an editor at LifeWay Christian Resources, and now as a freelance contributor. In addition to stylebooks, such as the AP Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style, those who work in Christian publishing have additional style guides for religious terms. For example, how do you know whether to capitalize “godly” since it refers to God? Is “Bible” always capitalized? One of the best resources is “The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style” by Robert Hudson (Zondervan, 2004). However, each publishing house will have its own style guide, as well. LifeWay may style curriculum and resources differently than Zondervan or Thomas Nelson. But most of them agree on the following styles below.

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Whether you are a writer, editor, or you merely refer to religious and spiritual terms as a Christian, these following tips can serve as a helpful guide.

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Capitalize Words That Refer to God

Examples: Lord, Almighty, Baby Jesus, Christ, Comforter, Counselor, Creator, Father, Godhead, Judge, King, Providence, Redeemer, Savior, Servant, Son, Sovereign, Trinity

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Lowercase General References to Jesus

Examples: friend, person, baby, child, boy, and man (Jesus is my friend.)

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Capitalize Adjectives That Are Part of God’s Name

Examples: Almighty God, Anointed One, Divine Savior, Good Shepherd, Great Physician, Heavenly Father, High Priest, Holy Father, Holy Spirit, Promised One, Sovereign Lord, Suffering Savior, Suffering Servant, Supreme Being, Wise Creator

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Refer to the Holy Spirit as “He,” not “It

Examples: The Holy Spirit comforts me; He brings peace into my life.

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Capitalize pronouns (except relative pronouns) that refer to God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit

Examples:

God gave His Son for our sins.

God loves His children; He loves us with an everlasting love!

 When Christ died on the cross, He gave Himself for our sins.

O Lord, You are holy!

Christ is the One in whom we find salvation

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Lowercase Relative Pronouns (who, whom, whoever, whomever) referring to God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit

Examples:

The God whom we serve is faithful.

God, who is most faithful, loves us unconditionally.

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Lowercase Most Derivatives Referring to God, (Whether Nouns or Adjectives)

Examples:

godly (He is a godly man.)

fatherhood messianic

lordship

saviorhood

sonship

Exceptions:

Capitalize these words: Christian, Christlike, God-fearing, Godlike, Godhead

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Always Capitalize “Bible” and “God’s Word”

Examples:

The Holy Bible is God’s Word.

God speaks through His Word, the Bible.

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Always Capitalize “Scripture”

Examples:

The Scripture says, “Great is thy faithfulness!”

The Scriptures are God’s truth to His people.

Read the Scriptures daily to know God.

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Gospel: Whether to Capitalize Depends on Meaning

    • “Gospel” meaning “good news” is not capitalized.
      Examples:
      Tell others the gospel message of Christ!
      I love good old gospel music!
    • “Gospel” meaning first four books of the New Testament is lowercased, except when it is included in the name of the book.
      Examples:
      The four gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
      The Gospel of John is my favorite book.
      John’s gospel is my favorite book.
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Lowercase Names of Places

Examples: heaven, hell, paradise, garden of Eden, kingdom (God’s kingdom; kingdom of God)

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Which of these styles do you use most in your everyday life?
Do you blog about “God” or how the “Scriptures” impact your life?
Do you have a question about how to style a particular word or phrase?
Let me know by commenting below!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan DiMickele permalink
    November 5, 2011 7:40 pm

    This makes good sense. I need all the help I can get!

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