The Mighty Comma
Lynne Truss pointed out years ago that 'A panda is a large black-and-white bear-like mammal that eats, shoots and leaves' means something very different from 'A panda is a large black-and-white bear-like mammal that eats shoots and leaves.' But the difference is only one comma - a mighty comma.
This past Sunday we began our worship with Andrew King's excellent setting of the creed: 'We believe in God Almighty' and someone queried the theology; for one verse says 'Once baptised, our sins forgiven'. They took it to mean that we need to be baptised in order for our sins to be forgiven - and I've heard the point made before. I've even seen it in print.
Once more, it's down to the mighty comma. 'Once baptised our sins forgiven' WOULD mean 'Once baptised our sins are forgiven'. That, of course, is error. But put in the comma, 'once baptised, our sins forgiven' and it becomes a list - a list of things that have happened to the Christian. He has been baptised once, and his sins are forgiven. (It's based, of course, on the Nicene Creed - and see Ephesians 4:5.)
Then again, there's 'Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven'. As it stands, it is calling out to the soul to praise the King of Heaven. Take out the first comma, though ('Praise my soul, the King of Heaven') and it's calling on the King of Heaven to praise my soul. Quite a difference, eh?