God and Pronoun Case Form

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January 4, 2013 by bradcharlesbeals

Much of grammar involves putting things into categories. Case forms of pronouns are one group of categories, and I spend a lot of my grammar-teaching time talking about case forms of pronouns.

For example, we say “Please take a picture of Abdul and me.” Not “Abdul and I.” Why? because the pronoun me is in a particular category; it’s in the objective case. That is, it’s acting as an object. Something is pointing at it–either a verb as in “do you love me?” or a preposition like the of in our example. I, on the other hand, is never an object. At least it’s not supposed to be. It does other jobs, the primary one being subject. Then there’s the possessive case, as in my, mine, his, her, your, our, their. That one’s easy–it’s the form a pronoun takes when showing possession.

So I’ve been thinking about case form lately, not because I teach it but because I find myself conceiving of God in certain ways. There are times when I am unusually aware that everything around me is oriented toward God. Everything is pointing to God. Ontologically, God is in the objective case, not only in a category sense, but in an ultimate sense. He is the object toward which all things point and move. Of course, everything is always oriented toward God in the sense that all things exist in God and are held together by God. But my awareness of this is as variable as wind. I wish I were more constant.

At other times, I have a stronger sense that God is the prime mover behind things, and I conceive of him as being in the nominative case. He is the original subject, actor, force, first cause. He is before all things and “in him all things consist.” And yet, all things are still oriented toward him, so he is both subject and object, and there’s no category for that. After Jesus calmed the storm, the disciples asked, “What manner of man is this?” In their amazement, they were pointing out a theological truth–that there is no known category to put Christ into, that he is unique.

He is both nominative and objective.

Oh yeah, he also owns everything, so he’s possessive too. That would be all three.

Like I said, it’s only a sense I have that drives this thinking, so I’m careful with it. The Bible doesn’t use grammatical terms (except the Word) to describe God, so I should emphasize that these are only senses that point me to what is already stated as truth: That God is the prime mover behind all things, that all things are oriented to him, that he owns and rules over all things. By analogy, He is nominative, objective, and possessive.

And that’s our grammar lesson for today.

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”

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