There appears to be breaking out among us a disease, which, if not checked, soon could spread to epidemic proportions.
This affection could well be called yaws, not, however, to be confused with frambesia, the contagious nonfatal tropical disease known to most missionaries. The variety of which we write is yaws precatio and affects particularly the mouth, being known to some diagnosticians as persona secunda pluralis.
One can readily detect the signs and symptoms when congregations are assembled in public worship, for he may hear somebody pray, "We thank you, Lord, that you . . . your . . . yours." Fortunately this disease is not fatal and it does not affect the heart. In fact, all those tainted with this yaws of the mouth have been found to have hearts of gold; but experimenters have also found that this condition of cardia aureola is not a cure for oral yaws.
Could we not be slow to follow this trend, and adopt a conservative attitude in the use of the second person plural for the Deity?
After all, there are three personal pronouns singular and three plural. In common speech to each other we use the second person plural, Quakers being the exception. We are not surprised when the editor uses the first person plural—we even expect it; nor when the third person singular is used of Her Majesty the Queen. But cannot we retain the second person singular always for the divine pronoun? Thee, Thy, and Thine, to my ears at least, admittedly tutored by former experience, have a majestic sound. "You" to our heavenly Father introduces a familiarity that nearly breeds contempt. It appears to be a hearty, matey, overfriendly kind of approach that places the Creator on our own human level. It reminds me of Dr. P. B. Ballard's story of his own daughter who wrote home in this strain: "Dear Old Spud, SOS Short of tin."
The Oxford English Dictionary states that Thou, Thee, Thine is used in addressing God or Christ and also in poetic language. Chambers says that these pronouns are used only in solemn address.
It is interesting to note that in the Middle English period (approximately 1150-1485) thou, thee, and thine were gradually superseded by ye, you, yours when addressing a superior, and later an equal, so that a distinction was made in the choice of pronouns. Custom has now seen a complete reversal and the singular form of address is reserved for superiors.
Do we have any counsel from the Spirit of Prophecy on this point? Frankly no, if we refer specifically to the singular pronoun; but it seems to me that the general principle is covered. As early as 1854, when a section of Adventists attempted to set a specific date for the Lord's advent, they were guilty of using the name of God in an irreverent manner. Some still "speak of God as they would of a horse or of any other commonplace thing."—Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 410.
Certainly we should be very careful in the impressions we give others. "With what reverence should we, who are fallen and sinful, take it [the name of God) upon our lips!"—Education, p. 243.
Then: "Some think it a mark of humility to pray to God in a common manner, as if talking with a human being."—Gospel Workers, p. 176.
And finally: "In the name of Jesus we may come before Him with confidence, but we must not approach Him with the boldness of presumption, as though He were on a level with ourselves. There are those who address the great and all-powerful and holy God, who dwelleth in light unapproachable, as they would address an equal, or even an inferior. There are those who conduct themselves in His house as they would not presume to do in the audience-chamber of an earthly ruler. These should remember that they are in His sight whom seraphim adore."—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 252.
While we recognize that God is our Father, that Jesus Christ is our Comforter, like a guardian to orphans, that we are by God's grace, members of the family of earth and heaven; yet can we not remember that the angels bow themselves before the Majesty of the heavens? One of the least marks of reverence could surely be to address our Father as "Thou." "Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory," may we continue to pray.