Having Come Lately

I tend to think that I came to the question of divisions among Christians rather late in the day.  We all have.  Most of the divisions among Christians which exist now already existed before any of us were born.  The division between European Christians and most varieties of Middle Eastern and African Christians happened fifteen centuries ago; the division between Eastern Orthodox and the Latin West is almost a millennium old.  The Protestant Reformation is approaching half a millennium old, and even the Methodists are a quarter of a millennium old at this point.  Many of the Pentecostal denominations are older than a century, as is the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy which sprouted new denominations.  All of these divisions occurred before we were born.  So the question facing us is what to do about those divisions now, given the history that has already transpired.

There are many ways one might answer that question.  Some people regard it as an intellectual challenge, to discern which denomination is the True Church and join it.  Others regard the divisions among Christians as evidence for falsity and abandon the religion, or refuse to join it.  Some people think the correct response is to convince everyone else to join their own group; others prefer  to pretend there are no divisions among the groups.  Perhaps the vast majority of Christians just ignore the issue, staying in the church where they are and ignoring other denominations as irrelevant to them.  None of these is my response, although the reason why will require some background narrative of my own experience. (more…)


Dilemma: Capitalizing God or not?

In English translations, it was popular for a while to capitalize pronouns and nouns referring to God.  This has not always been the case (the 1611 King James Bible did not capitalize pronouns for God), and is decreasingly the case in modern versions.  Of course, the original Hebrew text does not have a distinction between capital and lower-case letters, and the original Greek text did not (although the distinction was introduced by the 9th C, yet without, I think, capitalizing nouns or pronouns referring to God).  So on the one hand, it may feel that the contemporary trend in English translations to de-capitalize pronouns relating to God is a decrease in reverence, but on the other hand it is merely the end of a relatively brief trend in Bible formats.  Capitalizing words that refer to God, while recognized as reverent, also has the disadvantage of forcing disambiguation of nouns or pronouns that might be ambiguous in the original (as to whether the referent is God or not).  This forced choice evokes frequent (and frequently heated) discussion wherever the word “Spirit” occurs.  So I see advantages on both sides of the capitalization debate, although I might be slightly leaning away from the tendency to capitalize every reference to God (which is more familiar to me from my first post-conversion Bible, which is also the Bible I have read most from) to the capitalization only of the noun “God” itself when it refers to the living Creator.