The Lord's pronouns
A reader who has been made editor of the religion section of her paper—she will need your prayers—wonders about the proprieties of capitalizing pronouns referring to the deity. She has read my previous post “God’s pronouns” and understands that Chicago and AP lowercase those pronouns, but she wonders whether exceptions can be made for columns and op-ed essays.
The short answer: Sure, she can. She’s the editor.
A longer one: There was no such capitalization in either the Hebrew Scriptures or the Greek New Testament, both of which were written in capitals. And there was, I now discover, no such capitalization in the Geneva, Douay-Rheims, and King James Bibles of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries—a time when capitalization was rife.*
Capitalizing the pronouns as a mark of respect is common in devotional literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, such as hymns, and remains common in evangelical circles. But it is purely a matter of taste and personal preference. An ardent believer may feel that the capital letters reinforce his piety, but preferring them to be lowercase does not make The Chicago Manual of Style an agent of the Evil One.
The editor of religious articles should follow the newspaper’s established style for ordinary articles, which would in most cases lowercase pronouns referring to God, but it would be perfectly acceptable to allow the practice in a personal essay, where more editorial latitude is given generally.
It might be useful to draft a stock answer for readers who are agitated by the apparent inconsistency.
*This may astonish readers who assume that the capitalization was always there. The widespread phenomenon that what one encountered as a child is ancient practice and that anything different is a dangerous innovation turns up often in ecclesiastical circles. Vide the members of the congregation who prefer the “old” hymns, the ones written in the nineteenth century, to newfangled plainchant.