Faith or faith? Extremely simple question

When I say I have “faith,” should it be lower case?

When I say I share the “faith,” should it be capitalized?

When I say I share my “faith,” should it be lower case?

If I say there is one Church and one “faith,” should that be capitalized?

If any instance of “faith” needs capitalized, is there a reason why the Bible never capitalizes the word, “faith?”

Guardian - I’m not complete certain, but my thought is that ‘faith’ refers to faith in general; it would be capitalized when used in combination with a specific faith, such as the Catholic Faith.

Just my thought -


That’s what I thought, too. But if my faith aligns with the Catholic Faith, is it still kept lower case?

I’ve always used the rule that if you can replace the word ‘faith’ with Catholicism, the Catholic Church, etc. captialize it.

For example:

I love my Faith. (upper case - i.e., I love the Catholic Church).
I have faith in God. (lower case - not referring to the Church).

It probably falls into the category of words that you can capitalize out of respect to indicate your religious affiliation, but that connote no disrespect when they aren’t capitalized. Proper names or titles for particular people (e.g., the Holy Father, Bishop X) and sometimes things or places (e.g., the Catholic Church) should always be capitalized, but there are terms when used generically need not be (e.g., “popes”, “bishops”, the marks “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic”). Some people might always capitalize “Pope,” for example.

I wouldn’t bother with capitalizing “faith,” not even in phrases like “the Catholic faith.”

Edit –

I’ve always used the rule that if you can replace the word ‘faith’ with Catholicism, the Catholic Church, etc. captialize it.

That seems a little weird. I’ve never heard of “Faith” being used as a proper title for the Catholic Church. Catholicism is used as a proper name for the belief of people in the Catholic Church, so it gets capitalized just like Presbyterianism or Methodism. But in “I love my faith,” “faith” isn’t really referring to the Catholic Church properly.

I’ve been asked many times “What Faith are you?” (meaning - what church do you go to? maybe it’s a colloquialism in my area- who knows?).

I would respond “I’m Catholic”. If asked, are you happy there? (which I have been asked), it would be perfectly natural for me to follow up with 'Yes, I love my Faith ". (again - meaning the Catholic Church). Like I said, maybe it’s just an oddity where I live that we use it this way.

Interesting; it is just being used interchangeably with Church. I hadn’t heard that turn of phrase before, but it sounds like a reasonable answer. Just goes to show you can learn something new every day. :slight_smile:

Capitalization is used to indicate the beginning of a sentence, or for the 1st-person singular pronoun “I”, or to indicate the uniqueness associated with ‘proper nouns’, i.e., the precise names of very specific and unique things, such as people or countries. It is this last which may be involved here.

Usually, one says, “I have faith”, because, in this sentence, faith is a generalized, abstract quality. The same applies when one “shares one’s faith”. It is not capitalized, because it is merely a common noun, much the same as “desk”, or “cat”.

When one talks about “the faith of my ancestors”, this is one particular faith separated out from all of the faiths in the world, and so one prefixes it with the definite article (“the”), but it needs no capitalization because it is not strictly unique, being one separated from others by a particular quality (which, in this case, is the prepositional phrase “of my ancestors”). It is still a common noun.

However, should one wish to talk about “the Faith”, or “one Church and one Faith”, capitals are often used to say, “This is the One and Only True and Unique Faith”. The capitals are then employed as a form of emphasis. This is a common noun which has been changed into a proper noun.

Regarding Bible translations, Greek worked differently. First, in the time of the writing of the Scriptures, ‘lower case’ letters had not yet been invented: they were created in about the C7th by monks who needed to save paper (vellum, more precisely) by putting the letters more closely together. As such, everything in the manuscripts of the Bible texts is in capitals. Second, Greek used its definite article in a different way from that in which we use ours. E.g., 1 John 5:4 ends, in English, “our faith”, whereas the Greek is η πιστις 'ημων, or ‘the faith of us’. Similarly, where the English says, “God”, the Greek is almost always 'ο θεος, ‘the God’. All of this further complicates deciding when to capitalize expressions in a translation.

If you so wished, you could employ “the Faith” in such locations as in Act 13:8 and 14:22, wherein you might want to say that “faith” is too general and abstract. That, however, brings up the whole messy question of authorial intention, which is always a good way to initiate yelling matches at academic conferences.

-Mystophilus, refugee from English-language teaching