Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Christianity Edition


Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?

Since Sunday is Easter for Christians around the globe, I thought it would be a good time to cover some words and traditions that are specific to Christianity. We've already covered Judaism for Hannukah and Islam for Eid and in previous posts.

One of the Abrahamic monotheistic religions, Christianity is based on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Christians believe that Jesus, or Christ, is the son of God and a savior of those who believe in him. The world’s largest religion, it has more than 2.4 billion followers.

The three main branches of Christianity are Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and Eastern Orthodox. The other denominations include Anglican (or Church of England), Baptist, Church of Christ, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or Mormons), Coptic, Eastern Rite, Episcopal, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Quakers, and Seventh-day Adventists.

Here are some of the words used when referring to and writing about Christianity.

Altar: a table-like platform used for religious services and not to be confused with the word alter, which means “to change.”

Antichrist, anti-Christ: The noun, Antichrist, is the individual the Bible states will challenge Christ. The adjective, antichrist, means opposed to Christ.

Ash Wednesday: First day of Lent, forty-six days before Easter.

Bible: The major book of Christianity. Capitalize. It does not require italics or quotation marks when you are referring specifically to the scriptures in the Old or New Testaments. Lowercase in all other uses, such as in a phrase like "Vogue, the fashion bible."

Blessed Virgin: Jesus’s mother, Mary.

Canonization: The process of declaring someone a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. When the first miracle is confirmed, the person is beatified. After the second miracle is confirmed, the person can be canonized.

Christmas: The holiday on December 25 to observe Christ’s birthday.

Clergy: There are many titles of Christian ministers, including reverend, pastor, nuns or sisters, elders, deacons, priests, cardinals, bishops, and archbishops.

Easter: Commemorates the resurrection of Jesus. Western Orthodox christians follow different calendars and observe Easter at different times.

Good Friday: Friday before Easter, it is commemorates the day when Jesus of Nazareth was crucified.

Gospel: The four books of the New Testament. Capitalize when referring to any or all four books. Lowercase in all other references, according to the Associated Press Stylebook (AP).

Holy Father: Another name for the pope. AP prefers using pope or pontiff.

Lent: Period from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, which commemorates the forty days of penance Jesus did in the desert. Does not include the six Sundays between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday.

Mass: the rite of the Roman Catholic Church. Interestingly, it is celebrated and not said, according to AP.

Sacraments: baptism, Holy Communion, confirmation, penance (or sacrament of reconciliation), matrimony, holy orders, anointing of the sick. Notice that Holy Communion is the only one that should be capitalized.

Satan: Uppercase the proper noun Satan, but lowercase devil and satanic.

Synod: a council of churches or church officials.

EFG Digest
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These books are on my desk at all times. Maybe they'll help you as well.

The Associated Press Stylebook, 2017 edition
The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition
Strunk and White's The Elements of Style
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition


A professional writer/editor for almost 30 years, Karen Wojcik Berner's wide and varied experience includes such topics as grammar, blog content, book reviews, corporate communications, the arts, paint and coatings, real estate, the fire service, writing and literature, research, and publishing. An award-winning journalist, her work has appeared in several magazines, newspapers, and blogs, including the Chicago Tribune, Writer Unboxed, Women's Fiction Writers, Naperville Magazine, and Fresh Fiction. She also is the author of the Bibliophiles series, contemporary fiction with a sprinkling of the classics, and is a member of the Chicago Writers’ Association. For more information on Karen, please visit www.karenberner.com.


Very timely post!

Happy Easter to all who celebrate.
R. Doug Wicker said…
And here I thought "canonized" was the process, usually at a carnival or circus, of firing someone from a canon. My bad.

Just kidding. Another great, and timely, article once again, Karen.
Anonymous said…
Happy Easter!

Ours will be a week later. :)

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