How to Edit Christian Writing: God vs. god – Which is It?


God vs. god? Which is it?  Well, it depends on the usage. Many people tend to want to capitalize the word “god” all the time; let’s look at the context.

The Chicago Manual of Style says that “understanding is best served by capitalizing only what are clearly proper nouns, and adjectives in the context of the discussion.” So basically, when the word “god” is used, look at its context. Is god used as a proper noun? In other words, can you replace “god” with a proper name? Consider the following sentences:

“It is a simple matter of believing in God.”
“What does God say about that?”
“It appears that the gods are angry.”
“Which god do you believe in?”

In the first two examples, God was used as a proper noun, and you can easily insert a proper name in place of “God” and the sentence still makes sense. Also, it is apparent that the phrases are referring to one Supreme Being, and that always requires capitalization. In the third and fourth examples, “god” is used as a regular noun and cannot be replaced with a proper name; you can see that the god in reference is rather generic and not specified.

How to Edit Christian Writing

All names that are referring to God as a supreme being need capitalization.

The Almighty
the Lord
the Supreme Being
the Holy Spirit
the Messiah

The SBL Handbook of Style is an indispensable guide for Christian writing. It gives guidelines for when to capitalize certain terms and names.

the word of God; the Word (when meaning Jesus)
the Apostle Paul; but Paul the apostle
the apostles

In Christian writing, there are very few times when there is cause to use the lowercase “god.” I think it’s safe to say that if you are a Christian writer, you are typically only speaking of one GodThe Lord God Almighty. Always capitalize any reference to him when using a proper name, but lowercase God pronouns. Of course, there is always room for discussion of other topics and other gods in Christian writing. That is where we exercise the distinction between the gods. Consistency is key, so make sure you follow through with consistent capitalization throughout the text. Please note that even the names of deities of other religions are capitalized, such as Allah.

I love Christian writing. It is always a joy for me to read. It is close to my heart, and I often get some clarity, revelation, or confirmation about something in my life. Anyway, I hope this helps answer some questions.

Originally posted 12/18/2008 and happily updated 11/15/2017. Thanks for reading!

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