Several issues have come up related to appropriate terminology. Rather than discuss these each time they come up, I suggest using this question as a catch-all place for noting the acceptable terminology to use. This will make it easy to link to when editing.

New suggestions are welcome here, but if you have objection or what to see further discussion of this issue other than the ones referenced, please open a new meta thread and link to it in a comment on the relevant point. This thread is not a poll! It is a convenient reference to link when commenting or editing answers. We will all keep it up to date with the general consensus from individual threads.

  • 3
    Good initiative! Great to have all the terms in one place. Sep 1, 2011 at 12:16
  • What about capitalising He, Him etc. when referring to God (in all three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit)? Sep 1, 2011 at 13:43
  • @WikisAtArea51: Thanks for the suggestion. I looked around for a precedent to document and the only one I found was that it isn't important one way or the other. If you think there is more too it than the summary I gave, please feel free to make a case on a meta thread.
    – Caleb
    Sep 1, 2011 at 18:56

7 Answers 7


Always capitalize proper names include God, any person of the Trinity, and anybody with a proper name. If the word god is used in in the sense of a god or gods other than God, god should be lower case.*

The capitalization of pronouns that refer to any member of the Trinity seems to be a matter of tradition and personal preference. There seems to be a some weight favoring capitalization, but even in historical works of those traditions the usage is mixed. Use what you feel comfortable with, and edits should respect the post author's choice on pronouns.

Reference meta question: Editing questions/answers for capitalization, etc.

Reference main site: Is it appropriate to capitalize pronouns referring to Jesus Christ?

* Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

  • It can also be helpful to distinguish a Person from a person. Apr 17, 2013 at 21:22
  • I find in my writings that when the article is devotional in nature, then I capitalize He and Him, but when otherwise, I often not capitalize.
    – Steve
    Dec 28, 2013 at 11:07

Use terms such as "non-Christian" or "non-believer" rather than the litany of terms that could be used (e.g. pagan, heathen, etc) when referring to people who do not hold to Christian beliefs. This is particularly important in the context of comments directly at individuals on this site. If somebody wants to call themselves a heathen ("As a heathen allow me to say...") that's their prerogative.

Note that the words Pagan and Heathen have specific meanings, and neither is a simple synonym for non-Christian. (Notably, modern people who self-identify as Heathens usually follow a polytheistic path based on traditions derived from Northern Europe, often incorporating the Norse Pantheon into their worship.)

Reference meta question: The role of the non-believer on the site.


In order to disambiguate the proper name from the common adjective or noun usage of the world 'catholic', it is common practice to use the "the Roman Catholic Church" to refer to the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. Usage of simply "Catholic Church" are not wrong but have the potential to lead to misunderstandings particularly in mixed-tradition company such as this site.

The adjective catholic can refer to the universal church as long as it is clear from the context that this is the usage. If a given context is not clear, reversing the terms can be used to clarify which meaning was intended. For example "The catholic church teaches that" is potentially ambiguous and should at least be capitalized, but using "Roman Catholic church" is recommended if referring to Catholicism, but "The church catholic teaches that" plainly sets out to represent all of Christianity that is part of the visible or universal church.

Reference meta question: Regarding "Roman Catholics" and names for other groups

  • This isn't what the consensus in the other question suggested. Every single answer there stated that "Catholic Church" is ambiguous, and every answer specified the way to disambiguate the term is to use "Roman Catholic Church".
    – user72
    Sep 4, 2011 at 8:50
  • @MarkTrapp. Sorry my bad ... I specifically made these CW however in case of such mistakes. I apparently read "not uncommon" as "uncommon on the top post there and understood from the OP that Roman wasn't a designation they used for themselves.
    – Caleb
    Sep 4, 2011 at 14:32
  • @MarkTrapp: Does that fix it? If not please help yourself, I'm out of my field of knowledge a little bit there.
    – Caleb
    Sep 4, 2011 at 14:41
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    Still, you're not going to find many Catholic Churches that say "Roman Catholic Church" on them and people aren't just wondering into said Catholic Churches out of confusion.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Sep 8, 2011 at 23:47

If you have a personal preference it doesn't officially matter, but if in doubt or ambivalent on the matter, most Christians will be more receptive to the use of the historical BC and AD to refer to dates rather than the more modern BCE/CE.

Reference main site: "AD & BC" vs "CE & BCE"

  • 3
    Use whatever you feel like. I see no reason why there should a policy on this.
    – TRiG
    Oct 9, 2011 at 17:14
  • I realize that nobody (at least to my experience) has mentioned this, but the usage of BCE and CE might actually be more offensive to more people than BC and AD, since, CE literally stands for "Common Era" (Common to whom? Certainly not to the whole world -- are we saying they don't count?). Whereas BC and AD refer only to a subset of people (those who have a date system that roughly corresponds to the Birth of Jesus Christ). Dec 29, 2015 at 22:40
  • @Raphel your comment appears to be self-contradicting. Did you perhaps use the wrong abbreviations attached to reasons or forget to negate a sentence? What are you actually advocating for?
    – Caleb
    Dec 30, 2015 at 5:52

Well all know that a troll is a troll is a troll. However that doesn't mean we get to call them out in comments. Try to carry on a respectful, constructive interaction with them. If they fail that turing test, flag the discussion with the closest appropriate reason ("too chatty", "not constructive", or "offensive") and move on. Do not feed the troll after you have determined what it is.

Reference meta thread: How to handle comment trolls?

Reference meta thread: How do we deal with trolling in questions and answers?


When mentioning "James the Apostle", specify "The Greater" for James the brother of John or "The Less" for James the brother of Jude -- unless of course the question is about the Epistle of James.

Reference meta thread: Apostle tag suggestion


Using the Latin word "Auctor" (meaning author or originator) has come to be a generally accepted practice for referring to the author of Hebrews. While there are many other books that are also disputed, it is widely recognized by liberal and conservative scholars alike that the authorship of this book is particularly uncertain. You may suggest whether you or your tradition thinks that person was Paul or another author, but if the issue is not important to your point just reference "Auctor".

Of course the long hand "the author of Hebrews" is fine too if you are not familiar or comfortable with the technical term, but using the academic terminology is acceptable here.

Reference meta question: Bible-scholarship integrity?

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    the author of the letter to the Hebrews is usually referred to as simply "Auctor", as in "The above statement by Auctor is..." or "Auctor's use of Exodus in the theology of Hebrews..." or "...my suspicions about Auctor's use of Ps 95...". I would want to lean toward this commonly-accepted term, with a couple of hesitations. This terms is usually used in scholarly literature, and although this is supposed to be an expert-driven site, in point of fact it is not.
    – Ray
    Sep 1, 2011 at 13:12
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    I'd consider myself fairly well read for a non-academic and I've never seen this word before. Stick with "the author of Hebrews"!
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Dec 28, 2013 at 9:33
  • I agree with @curiousdannii here. Dec 29, 2015 at 22:41

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