Question:

What is the correct way of saying a particular congregation: the La Vista church of Christ or the church of Christ at La Vista? Some contend the the latter should be used. They argue that the former emphasizes place rather than the church. They use as illustration as to what Paul is referred in the New Testament: "Paul, the apostle" rather than "the apostle Paul", saying that being an apostle was a work not a title and so with the church. And never in the Bible can we find that Paul was referred as Apostle Paul. I need you comments in this. Thanks


Answer:

It appears to me that some people have too much time on their hands and are merely looking for ways to divide. Grammatically the two forms are equivalent. Though it is true that one form does place more emphasis on the modifier than the other.

"When the information contained in an adjective is not the main focus of a statement, then the adjective is usually placed before the noun in the attributive position.

However, when the main focus of a statement is to give the information contained in an adjective, the adjective is usually placed after the verb in the predicative position, compare:

He handed me a bucket of hot water. (attributive position)

I put my hand in the bucket, the water was very hot. (predicative position, emphasizing hot.)

[Kerry Maxwell and Lindsay Clandfield, Adjectives and noun modifiers in English]

Notice that this is the opposite of what is claimed. Saying "church of Christ" places emphasis on Christ. If we said, "Christ's church" it would put the emphasis on the church. Therefore, "La Vista church of Christ" first puts emphasis on "Christ", second on "church", and last on the location "La Vista." "The church of Christ at La Vista" places first emphasis on the location, then the ownership, and finally on what we are discussing.

"Paul, an apostle" places emphasis that Paul was one of the apostles. Paul uses this form to emphasize his duty and not himself as a person. "The apostle Paul" focuses on the fact that we are discussing one particular apostle, Paul. We use that form today because there are many people named Paul and we want to make sure everyone knows which Paul to whom we are referring.

Thus, we are dealing with an unimportant argument that is based on a misunderstanding of English.