The Language of Church Sermons: A Stylistic Perspective

Nov 9 2010

Andrew Onoja
Department of English, University of Jos

The concept of language as well as the varied uses to which man puts it, is hydra headed. These language associated complexities are usually brought to the fore if they are intrinsically and consciously examined in relation to the society in which language is used. Language, like man or other living organisms, has a fluid nature with the capacity to adapt to any situation, context, place, time or to any given shape, form or use as determined by its users. The various uses to which a society puts a given language at any given time or place constitute the varieties of that language. This paper examines one of such language varieties informed by Christian religious adherents in the context of church sermons. The essence is to enhance familiarization with the different aspects of „church language‟, especially for non-Christians as well as the laity. It focuses on the Pentecostal setting and is based on a sermon by Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church, Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria. The sermon which is titled “Operating in the Supernatural” was delivered at the Church‟s annual Shiloh event which took place between 9th and 13th December 2003. Some of the peculiar linguistic/stylistic features examined include the use of complex sentences, register, diction, anaphora, repetition, archaisms, tone, and rhetorical questions.

201008-Onoja-Church Sermons.pdf327.74 KB