Question: "What is the meaning of coram Deo?"
Answer: Coram Deo is a Latin phrase found in the Vulgate; it means “before the face of God” or “in the presence of God.” In the Latin Vulgate, the phrase coram Deo appears in Psalm 55:13 (Psalm 56:13 in modern translations). Translated into English, the verse says, “For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God [coram Deo] in the light of life” (emphasis added).
Coram Deo is used mostly in Reformed circles, but other Christian denominations and Catholics have adopted the phrase as well. Various schools and churches include the phrase coram Deo in their name.
Coram Deo is used by many Christians as a reminder that all life is about God and that we must live our whole lives to glorify and honor God. According to R. C. Sproul, the essence of coram Deo is to “live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God” (“What does ‘coram Deo’ Mean?” ligonier.org/blog/what-does-coram-deo-mean, accessed 6/3/20). In Christian theology, the phrase has gained a deeper meaning as a philosophy for living the Christian life.
To live one’s life “before God” (coram Deo) is a scriptural concept, as the Lord is omnipresent and perceives our every action and thought (Psalm 139:1–4, 7–10). Since God created us for His glory (Isaiah 43:7), our lives should be lived for Him and His glory. As Psalm 115:1 says, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” Living coram Deo is to recognize that God is ultimately whom we live for; we do not live for others’ approval, recognition, or admiration (see Galatians 1:10). Since God alone is the One who redeemed us from our sin, He alone deserves all the glory and praise (Acts 4:12; Titus 3:5).
Coram Deo counters what is taught in the world today. Entertainment media constantly presents a version of life in which God is totally absent. The predominate view of society is that we should focus on ourselves and do what we think is right for us. Popularity, fame, and fortune are the acceptable pursuits. In contrast, coram Deo reminds us that we live for an audience of one: the Lord God. Walking before God and living to glorify Him will affect all areas of our lives, and we should be ready to tell others about our purpose of living for Jesus (1 Peter 3:15).