Through the years, there have been several positions I’ve held that have later been altered. Others have remained constant. One of the more meddlesome, persistent opinions–both in my heart and in the eyes of others, I think–has been that the practice of decapitalizing the letter “C” on the word Church in its proper-name appearance is silly.
Some church bulletins and letterhead paper, and even references to congregations in denominational newspapers and journals will appear like this: “The Main St. church of Christ held a gospel meeting,” or “The East Side Baptist Church, the New Life Community Church, and the West Ave. church of Christ contributed 5 cans each to the Community Food Bank last month.” I’ve written a few “letters to the editor” of the Christian Chronicle on this topic, and a couple have been published. (The current editor seems to have cleaned up the editing on this point!) The more narrow, dyed-in-the-wool CofCers still don’t get it, though.
I imagine it’s difficult for those from other religious traditions even to begin to understand how this practice developed. In order to comment on this, I’ll leave today with a quote from John D. White, found in a book called Restoring the First-century Church in the Twenty-first Century.
Once upon a time, it was almost a dogma that “churches of Christ” had to be spelled with the lower-case “c” on the word “churches” to prove that we were a movement, not a denomination. Tricks of spelling, however, do not disprove the thoroughly denominational status of that recognizable body of churches that may be denominated “Churches of Christ.” The real name in-house of the denomination is “the brotherhood”–who’s in, who’s out, whose preacher gets invited to speak at the Christian [c]ollege lectureships, etc. A more formal institution with elected denomination officers, headquarters, official print organs, and certified educational institutions would be more denominational only by a matter of degree. Informal structures may well be stronger than formal ones.
What do you think about denominations, speaking either from common sense or from scripture? And do you agree or disagree with the last sentence in the paragraph above?
 Here I intentionally say “decapitalizing” and not “leaving uncapitalized” or some other, less negative term. The English-language convention, of course, is to capitalize words in proper nouns. An alteration of that practice, therefore, merits being labeled as de-capitalizing.