Guide to Capitalization

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Specific Circumstances

Ark of the Covenant

  • The title/name for the Ark of the Covenant should be capitalized as seen in the style guide.
  • "Ark" when used synecdochically to refer to the Ark of the Covenant should be capitalized.
  • "Ark" when referring to another structure should NOT be capitalized.

Church and The Church

  • In reference to the church as a collective group—including reference to historical occurrences of the church, such as “the early church”—the word “church” should ordinarily not be capitalized.
  • In reference to a particular church (a local congregation, or a denomination) the word “Church” should ordinarily be capitalized, including when the words stands alone in reference to the named body; thus:
“The Presbyterian Church in America” as referred to in this example: “the Church passed the resolution at their annual assembly…”
  • In reference to local churches in general, without describing a particular named body, the word “church” should ordinarily not be capitalized.

Covenant

  • "Covenant" when not included in the title/name "Ark of the Covenant" should not be capitalized, unless used in another title such as, "New Covenant" or "Covenant Theology".

God / The Lord

  • All names of God should be capitalized.
  • Pronouns referring to God, or to a member of the Trinity, including indirect pronouns (who, whom), should not be capitalized.
Strong preferences against this, voiced by the author, may be accommodated—in such cases, attend carefully to consistency.
  • Common words or descriptions, when in reference to God, should be capitalized (e.g., Creator, Maker, Redeemer, etc.)
  • All Old Testament quotations which utilize an translation of the Hebrew Yahweh into the word "Lord" shall be represented in SmallCaps; Thus:
Lord (rendered in SmallCaps) NOT LORD

Gospel

  • In reference to the title of one of the biblical books called the gospels (e.g., The Gospel of Luke, etc.) the title should be capitalized using a form of title case. Likewise, when the word serves as a synecdoche for such a work (e.g., “in Luke’s Gospel…” or “the Gospel writers…”) it should be capitalized.
  • In reference to a particular example of a gospel, but not a title (e.g., “the gospel according to the Old Testament prophet Isaiah”) then the word “gospel” should not ordinarily be capitalized.
  • In reference to a the theological concept of the gospel (i.e., “the good news of the Kingdom of God”) then the word “gospel” should not ordinarily be capitalized.

Heaven and Hell

  • In manuscripts whose topic is heaven, hell, or both, these should be capitalized throughout (Heaven, Hell), except in citations.
  • In all other cases, these should be in lowercase (as per Chicago).

Kingdom of God and “The Kingdom”

  • In reference to the Kingdom of God, the word “Kingdom” should ordinarily be capitalized.

"Reformed Theology"

  • When referring to the school of theology, the word Reformed should be capitalized.
  • NOTE: the term "Reformation Theology" is an acceptable synonym. "Reform Theology" is NOT an acceptable synonym; neither is simply "Calvinism" (Calvinism, while a subset of Reformed Theology, refers specifically to Soteriology—the doctrine of salvation—and not to the whole of Reformed Theology).
  • Care should be exercised to note those occasions when "reformed" doesn't refer to the theological sense, but a broader sense.

"The Sacrament" (Baptism/The Lord's Supper)

  • When "sacrament" is accompanied by another title ("...of the Lord's Supper"; "...of Communion"; "the Communion...") then it should NOT be capitalized.
  • When it appears in plural, referring to both ("the sacraments") then it should NOT be capitalized.
  • When it appears synecdochically, as a colloquial reference to a single sacrament ("the Sacrament" meaning specifically Communion) the it SHOULD be capitalized.
  • See section below for more.

The Sacraments

  • The titles/names of the sacraments should always be capitalized, including the Lord's Supper, Communion, the Eucharist, the Supper, the Lord's Table, the Table, and Baptism.
  • The names of sacramental rites in other traditions (i.e., "Mass", "Confession", etc.) should always be capitalized.
  • The general reference to the sacraments collectively (i.e., “the sacraments”) should ordinarily NOT be capitalized.
  • Be careful with words that serve both as titles/names of sacraments and have an ordinary usage. Thus, the following:
We partook of Communion in worship on Sunday.
Worship on Sunday was a time of sweet communion with God and His people.
  • Note: in Presbyterian/Reformed traditions (and most protestant traditions), only two liturgical rites are recognized as true sacraments: Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
  • See section above for more.

Theological Terms Generally

  • Apart from the theological terms listed above, theological terms referring to biblical events or concepts should not be capitalized (e.g., the cross, the resurrection, etc.).
  • The exception to this is when a particular theological term is the focus of a book, a chapter, or a major section of a manuscript, in which case it may be capitalized.

Titles of Officers in the Church

  • When referring to a specific officer according to his title, the terms pastor, minister, elder, etc. should be capitalized:
Pastor Smith visited his members regularly in their homes.
When the people came forward, Elder Jones served them the bread and wine.
All requests for benevolence were forwarded to Deacon McCheyne.
  • when referring to the office or to the members of that office, these terms should be rendered in lower-case:
Training was held for new elders and deacons.
Those who are ministers of First Church were the first to be notified.

Word and The Word of God

  • In reference to the Bible, the word “Word” should be capitalized in any form; thus:
“The Word of God” or “the Bible is God’s Word” or “you find in the Word that…”

Common Words

A–C

a historian (not an historian)
Abyss, the
acropolis
administrating (not administering, in reference to the spiritual gift, to match ESV)
advent, the
advent of Christ
age of grace
Agnus Dei
Almighty, the
almighty God, the (but God Almighty)
amid, not amidst
amillennial
ancient Near East(ern)
Angel (theophany)
angel
angel Gabriel, etc.
annunciation, the
Anointed One, the (Jesus Christ)
ante-Nicene fathers
Antichrist, the (contra ESV)
antichrist (the spirit of antichrist)
anti-Christian
anti-Semitism
anti-Trinitarian
Apocalypse, the (Revelation)
apocalyptic literature
Apocrypha, the
apocryphal
apostle Peter et al.; Peter the apostle
Apostle to the Gentiles (when in place of Paul, but Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles)
apostles
apostolic age
apostolic council
apostolic faith
apostolic Fathers (the group of writings)
apostolic father (the men)
apostolic succession
archaeology (not archeology)
Ark of the Covenant --- but Noah's ark
ascension, the
ascension of Christ, the
atonement, the
atonement of Christ, the
axe
baby Jesus, the
Babylonian captivity, exile
baptism of the Holy Spirit
baptism, the (of Christ)
battle of Armageddon
beast, the (of Revelation)
beatitude, a
Beatitudes, the
Being (God)
biblical
biblical theology
blood of Christ
body of Christ (the church)
book of Genesis, etc.
book of life
boy Jesus, the
Bread of Life (Christ; contra ESV text style)
bride of Christ (the church); the bride (contra ESV)
bridegroom, the (Christ)
Canon, the (Scripture)
canon of Scripture, the
canonical
catalog, but dialogue
Catholic Church (Roman Catholic)
catholic church (universal)
Catholic Epistles (James, etc.)
Catholicism
charismatic
“cheap grace” (always enclose in quotation marks)
Christlike
Christology
Chronicler, the
church (body of Christ; universal)
church (building; service; local)
church age
church and state
city of David
Codex (Sinaiticus, etc.)
codex, a
commandment (first, et al.)
Communion (Lord’s Supper)
Confession (Augsburg, etc.)
confirmation
co-regency
Council (Trent, etc.)
Court of the Gentiles
Court of the Women
covenant of grace, works, etc.; Abrahamic covenant, etc.; old/new covenant
covenant breaker
coworker, but co-laborer
creation (event)
creation (world, nature)
creation of man, the
Creator, the (of God but not of Christ)
Creed (Nicene, etc.)
cross (both the event and the object)
crucifixion, the
crucifixion of Christ
Crusades, the
Cynic (as school of philosophy)

D–F

Davidic
Day of Atonement
day of judgment
day of Pentecost
deacon --- but Deacon McCheyne
Dead Sea Scrolls
Decalogue, the decision-making --- hyphenate only as adjective
deism, -ist
deity of Christ
Deity, the (God)
deluge, the (the flood)
descendant (not descendent)
Deuteronomic
devil, a
Devil, the (Satan)
dialogue, but catalog
Diaspora, the (dispersion of Israel)
Didache
dispensation
Dispersion, the
divine
Divine Providence (God)
divine providence (God’s)
divine Victor
Divinity, the (God)
divinity of Christ, the
Documentary Hypothesis
Door, the (Christ; contra ESV text style)
doxology, the
Dynasty, cap, only for Egypt
East, the
Eastern church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern religions
ecumenical
Eden, garden of
El Shaddai
elder --- but Elder Jones
elect, the
Eleven, the
Elohim
Emmaus road
Emperor Nero, but the emperor Nero
Empire (Roman Empire, etc., but, within the empire)
end-time (adj.), end time (noun, final day of judgment), end times (larger scope of final days)
Enemy, the (Satan)
Epicurean (school of philosophy; but “epicurean tastes”)
Epiphany
epistle (genre of)
epistle (John’s epistle etc.)
epistle to the Romans, etc.
Epistles, the (apostolic letters); NT Epistles
equipped not equiped; but worshiped not worshipped
eschatology, -ical
eschaton, the
eternal God, the
Eternal, the (God)
eternity
Eucharist, the
Evangel, the (any of the four Gospels)
evangel, the (the Good News)
evangelical, -ism, etc.
Evangelist (Gospel writer)
evangelist (one who evangelizes)
Evil One, the (Satan; contra ESV text style)
exile, the
exodus, the (but New Exodus)
extrabiblical (no hyphen)
faith, the (Christian)
fall, the
false prophet, the (of Revelation)
Farewell Discourses (in John)
Father (God)
Father of Lies (Satan) (contra ESV text style)
fatherhood of God
Fathers, the (fathers of the church)
fathers of the church (and church fathers)
Feast of (Passover, etc.)
Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah)
fellow Christian (no hyphen)
Firstborn, the (Christ)
firstfruit
flood, the
footwashing
fundamental, -ism, etc.

G–J

garden (Eden or Gethsemane)
General Epistles
Gentile(s)
Gethsemane, garden of
Gloria Patri
gnostic, -ism (generic)
Gnosticism (specific form of)
god (pagan)
God Almighty
God of gods
God’s Word (Bible)
God’s word (promise)
Godhead (essential being of God)
godhead (godship or godhood)
godless
godlike
godly
God-man
godsend
Godspeed
God’s Son
God’s Spirit
golden calf
Golden Rule, the
good news, the
Good Samaritan, the (person)
good Samaritan, the (parable)
Good Shepherd (Jesus) (contra ESV text style)
good shepherd, the parable of the
gospel (adj.)
Gospel (John’s, et al.)
Gospel, first, second, third (numbers not capped)
gospel, the (way of salvation)
Great Awakening, the
Great Commandment, the
Great Commission, the
Great High Priest, the (Christ)
great King
Great Physician, the
Great Shepherd, the
great tribulation, the
great white throne, the
Greco-Roman
groom (Christ)
Hades (mythological)
hades (hell)
half-tribe
hallelujah
head, the (Christ, of the church)
heaven
heavenly Father
Hebraic
hell
Hellenism
Hellenist
hellenize
high priest, a
High Priest, the (Christ) (but only when the name of Christ is not present)
high priestly prayer, the (Christ’s)
Historical Books, the (part of the Old Testament)
Holy Communion
Holy Eucharist
Holy Land (Palestine)
Holy of Holies (use Most Holy Place, to match ESV)
Holy One, the (God, Christ)
Holy Place
Holy Spirit
Holy Week (before Easter)
hometown -- one word
house church -- no hyphen
Imago Dei
immaculate conception, the
incarnation, the
insofar
Intercessor, the (Christ)
internet
intertestamental
Jacob’s trouble
jeremiad
Jerusalem council
Jewish Revolt, First (AD 66–73 (Second Jewish Revolt, AD 132–135)
Johannine
John the Baptist
John the Evangelist
Jordan River
Judaism, -istic
Judaize
Judeo-Christian
Judge (the Lord: the universal Judge; but God in the role of judge)
judges, the
judgment day
judgment seat of Christ

K–M

kerygma
key word -- 2 words
King David (but David the king)
King (God or Jesus)
King of Glory (Christ)
King of kings
Kingdom (Nubian Kingdom, etc., but, within the kingdom)
kingdom of God, the
kingdom of heaven, the
Koran (but prefer Qur’an)
lake of fire
Lamb of God
Lamb, the (Christ)
land of Canaan
Land of Promise
last day, the
last days, the
last judgment, the
Last Supper, the
law (as opposed to grace)
Law, the (Pentateuch)
law, the (general reference to the Mosaic law)
law of Moses, a (general)
law of Moses, the (general)
Law of Moses, the (Pentateuch)
Lawgiver (God)
lawless one, the
letter to the Romans, etc.
Levitical
Light of the World (Christ; contra ESV text style)
living God
living Word, the (Bible)
Logos, the (Jesus)
loincloth
Lord of lords
Lord’s Day, the
Lord’s Prayer, the
Lord’s Supper, the
Lord’s Table, the
lordship of Christ, the
Lost Tribes (but lost tribes of Israel)
Love Chapter, the
loving kindness --- two words
Magnificat, the
major prophets (people)
Major Prophets, the (OT books)
Majority Text
Maker (God)
Man of Sin (Satan)
Man of Sorrows
marketplace (one word)
Masoretic text
Mass (Roman Catholic liturgy)
Master, the (Christ)
Mediator, the (Christ)
messiah, a
Messiah, the (Christ)
messiahship
messianic
messianic King
Middle Ages
midtribulation, -al, -ism
millennium, the
millennial kingdom
minister --- but Minister Bob
minor prophets (people)
Minor Prophets (the books)
Mosaic
Mosaic law (Pentateuch or Ten Commandments)
Most High God, the
Most Holy Place
Mount of Transfiguration, the
Mount of Olives
Mount Olivet Discourse
movable NOT moveable
Muhammad (preferred)
Muslim (preferred)

N–Q

naïve, NOT naive
name of Christ, the
nativity of Christ, the
Nativity, the
Near East, -ern
neoorthodox(y)
never-ending (hyphenate to avoid confusion)
new birth
new covenant, the (NT)
new heaven and new earth
new Jerusalem
New Testament church
Nicene fathers
nonbiblical
non-Christian (n. and adj., but unchristian)
non-evangelical
nonliturgical
North African
northern kingdom (Israel)
Nunc Dimittis, the
occult, the
old covenant, the (OT)
old covenant —- not hyphenated as adjective
Olivet Discourse
Omnipotent, the
one true God, the
One, the
oneself (not one’s self)
Only Begotten, the
only begotten of the Father
only begotten Son of God
original sin
Orthodox Church, the
orthodox(y)
parable of the prodigal son, etc,
Paraclete, the
Paradise (garden of Eden)
paradise (heaven)
Paradise Restored (heaven; capped because if relates to Eden)
parousia, the
Paschal Lamb (Jesus)
passion, the
Passion Sunday
Passion Week
Passover, the
Passover Feast
Passover Lamb (Jesus)
Passover lamb (actual lambs, to match ESV style)
pastor --- but Pastor Smith
Pastoral Epistles (or Letters)
pasturelands
patriarch, a
Patriarch, the (Abraham)
patriarchs, the (Hebrew or church fathers)
Patristic(s)
Paul, the apostle
Paul’s epistles/letters
Pauline Epistles
Pentateuch, -al
Pentecostal, -ism
person of Christ, the
persons of the Trinity (and second/third person of the Trinity)
Pharaoh (without article)
pharaoh, the (general)
pharisaic (attitude)
Pharisaic (the Pharisees)
pillar of cloud/fire
Poetical Books, the
pontiff, the
pope, the (general)
Pope Benedict XVI
postbiblical
post-Christian
postexilic
postmillennialism, -ist
post-Nicene fathers
post-tribulationism
pre-Christian
predestination
preexilic
preincarnate
premillennial, -ism, -ist
preterism, -ist
pretribulational, -ism
priesthood of believers
priesthood of Christ
Prime Mover
Prince of Darkness
Prince of Peace
Prison Epistles/Letters
Prodigal Son, the (person)
prodigal son, the (parable)
Promised Land, the
Promised One, the
Prophet, in ref. to Jesus (since NT caps, even though Deut. 18:15 has it lc)
prophet Isaiah (etc.)
Prophetic Books, the
Prophets, the (books of OT)
prophets, the (people)
Protestant(ism)
Providence (God)
providence of God
Psalm 41 (etc.)
psalm, a
psalm, the
psalmist, the
Psalms, the (OT)
psalter, a
Psalter, the (the Psalms)
pseudepigrapha, -phal
purgatory
Puritan(s), -ism
Qur’an (preferred)

R–T

rabbi
rabbinic, -al
Rameses, except at Gen 1:11, where it is Raamses
rapture, the
real presence
Received Text, the
Redeemer, the (Christ)
reformation movement
Reformation, the (Protestant)
Reformed church(es)
Reformed theology
Reformers, the (of Protestant Reformation)
Renaissance, the
resurrection, the
right-standing (as adjective, but right standing as noun)
river Jordan, but Jordan River
Rock, the (Christ)
Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholicism
Roman church
Sabbatarian, -ism
Sabbath (day)
sabbath breaker
sabbatical (n. and adj.)
sacrament(s)
sacramentalism, -ist
Sacramentarian(ism)
salvation history (no hyphen)
Sanhedrin
Satan
satanic
satanist, -ism
Savior (of Christ, but savior, generic)
scriptural
Scripture (Bible; n. and adj.) --- but the scriptures
scripture(s) (other religions)
second Adam, the (Christ)
second advent, the
second coming, the
Second Temple Judaism
seder
Semite, -ic, -ism
senate
Sermon on the Mount
Serpent, the (Satan)
servant (referring to the Messiah, in Isaiah); suffering servant
Servant Song
Seven Wonders of the ancient world
seventy-two (in heads, Seventy-two)
sheol
Shepherd Psalm, the
sin offering
Sin-Bearer, the
sizable --- no e
Solomon’s temple
Son of God (Jesus)
son of man (Ezekiel)
Son of Man (Jesus)
sonship of Christ
southern kingdom (Judah)
Spirit-filled
Stoic (school of philosophy; but “a stoic attitude”)
subgenre
subsection
Sunday school
Supreme Being, the
synagogue
Synoptic Gospels
Synoptic writers
Synoptics, the
tabernacle, the (building)
Talmud
talmudic
Tanach
Targum
targumic
temple (but Temple Mount; and Second Temple [as adjective])
temple of Artemis, etc.
temptation, the
Ten Commandments (but the fifth commandment)
ten tribes of Israel, the
tent of meeting
tent of the testimony
Testaments, the
tetragrammaton, the
Textus Receptus
that: upper case in titles and headlines unless used as conjunction (e.g., “unlikely that he’ll be in”; he said that he was afraid); other usages of that, all of which s/b cap: pronoun: the house that Jack built; water that is hot; adj.: that brother of yours; adverb: a nail about that long
theodicy
theophany
thornbushes
threshing floor
throne of grace, the
time of Jacob’s trouble
time of the Gentiles, the
time of the judges, the
Torah
Tower of Babel
transfiguration, the
Transjordan
tribe of Judah
tribulation, the
Trinitarian, -ism
Trinity, the
Triumphal Entry, the
triune
Twelve, the
twelve apostles, the, when lower case, should be “the 12 apostles / tribes, etc.”
Twenty-third Psalm

U–Z

unchristian (but non-Christian)
un-Christlike
ungodly
united kingdom (of Israel)
unscriptural
upper room, the
Upper Room Discourse, the
Valley of X, and X Valley
via (avoid, except in charts)
Victor, the (Christ)
Vine, the (Christ)
virgin birth, the
Virgin Mary, the
warrior (God or Christ)
Water of Life (Christ; contra ESV text style)
Way, the (Christ; contra ESV text style)
West, the
Western church
Western thought, etc.
Wicked One, the (Satan)
winepress
Wisdom Books
Wisdom Literature, the --- but the genre of wisdom literature, wisdom psalm
Wise Men, the (when meaning the kings of the Orient who visited the Christ child)
Word, the (Bible or Christ); but “Hear the word of the Lord”; and God’s word, unless it clearly refers to Scripture
worshiped not worshipped; but equipped not equiped
Writings, the
Year of Jubilee
YHWH (set in all caps, italic)
Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)