GS 2010 art 109

GS 2010 Article 109 – Appeal from Surrey re: Article 166 of the Acts of Synod Smithers 2007

1.         Material

Appeal from the church at Surrey re: Article 166 of the Acts of Synod Smithers 2007 (8.5.r).

2.         Observations

  • 2.1        The church of Surrey-Maranatha appeals the decision of Synod Smithers 2007 “to retain the capitalization of the personal pronouns referring to God (Article 166, 4.1).”
  • 2.2        Surrey provides two main grounds for its appeal:
    • [1.]          Synod Smithers did not provide adequate grounds for its decision.
    • [2.]          Synod Smithers did not take into account some further points which we raise.
  • 2.3        Surrey requests Synod to judge:
    • [1.]          Synod erred in its judgement.
    • [2.]          The practice of the NIV and the ESV be followed with the result that uppercase initial letters not be used in the Book of Praise for second and third person pronouns referring to God.

3.          Considerations

  • 3.1        Synod Smithers bases its recommendation on four considerations. Closer scrutiny reveals that this recommendation really hinges on one recommendation namely 3.4 “While the points of Observation 2.4. have merit, to capitalize is consistent with how the pronouns have been capitalized in our forms in the past.” To base capitalization on what is done in the Forms in the Book of Praise instead of sound principles of biblical interpretation constitutes a very weak ground or consideration.
  • 3.2        It needs to be noted that the former recommended translation in our federation, the RSV, and the current recommended translation in our federation, the NIV, do not capitalize pronouns for God. It should also be noted that the oldest, dominant English version, the King James Version, does not capitalize pronouns for God either. (Surrey is mistaken in its reference to the RSV.)
  • 3.3        Surrey is correct when its states that “the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic text of the Bible have no such practice, current rules of English usage avoid this, the NIV does not use this, and there are no known biblical grounds for this convention.”
  • 3.4        Surrey also rightly comments “using an uppercase initial letter may obscure the immediate Old Testament referent.” As well, it mentions “in some texts of the Old Testament it is not clear who is in view when pronouns or metaphors are used that have God as their referent.” This shows that capitalization is not just a matter of translation but can so easily become a matter of interpretation, and a wrong interpretation at that.

4.          Recommendation

That Synod decide:

  • 4.1       To sustain the appeal of Surrey-Maranatha.
  • 4.2        To instruct the Standing Committee for Publication of the Book of Praise to bring all pronouns for God in the entire Book of Praise into conformity with the NIV.