On referring to God/god

I always find it a bit deceptive to quote from a book I’m not actually reading at the moment.  However, the other day I was leafing through some of my books and I read the preface to N.T. Wright’s The New Testament and the People of God.  He had a couple of interesting things to say:

On “God” vs “god”:

I have frequently used ‘god’ instead of ‘God’.  This is not a printer’s error, nor is it a deliberate irreverence; rather the opposite, in fact.  The modern usage, without the article and with a capital, seeme to me actually dangerous.  This usage, which sometimes amounts to regarding ‘God’ as the property name of the Deity, rather than as essentially a common noun, implies that all users of of the word are monotheists and, within that, that all monotheists believe in the same god.  Both these propositions seem to me self-evidently untrue.  It may or may not be true that anyworship of any god is translated by some mysterious grace into worship of one god who actually exists, and who happens to be the only god.  That is believe by some students of religion  It is not, however, believed by very many practitioners of the mainline monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) or of the non-monotheistic ones (Hinduism, Buddhism and their cognates).  Certainly Jews and Christians of the first century did not believe it.  They believed that pagans worshipped idols, or even demons. (pp. xiv-xv)

See also: “If God is Jesus, is Allah or Yahweh God?

And then he says this

[About] the currently vexed question of the gender of language about ‘God’, or gods.  Here again we meet a puzzle.  Nobody insists that a Muslim theologian should refer to the god he or she discusses as ‘she’; this is just as well, otherwise Muslims would not be able to write much theology.  The same would be true, I think, for all Jews until very recently, and certainly for the great majority of Jews in the present.  Nobody insists that someone writing about Hindu deities should make them all indiscriminately androgynous: some are clearly masculine, others equally clearly feminine.  Nor would the pagan gods and goddesses of the ancient world have been pleased if their devotees had got their genders muddled.  In a work of history I think it is appropriate to refer to the god of the Jews, the gods of the Greco-Roman world, and the god of the early church, in ways which those groups would themselves have recognized as appropriate. (p. xvi)

Interesting stuff.