An exploration into the language of baptism and christening in the Church of England: a rite on the boundaries of the Church

Lawrence, Sarah Catherine (2018). An exploration into the language of baptism and christening in the Church of England: a rite on the boundaries of the Church. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This Practical Theological thesis examines the uses, understandings, and attitudes toward the rite of Christian Initiation (variously known as \(baptism\) or \(christening\)) in the Church of England, contrasting the experiences of churchgoers and clergy with non-regular churchgoers and demonstrating its pivotal role in ecclesiastical boundary drawing. It develops a critical conversation between ecclesiology, theology, and the assumptions of ordinary people, revealed in their language when discussing the rite. Corpus based methods are used to explore naturally-occurring language in various corpora from a variety of genres, from 1500 to the present day.

It concludes that there are significant linguistic differences between clergy/regular churchgoers and non-regular churchgoers and that the roots of this split go back to before Reformation times. Non-regular churchgoers’ use of language to describe this rite is more varied than that of churchgoers, who rarely used the word \(christening\) nor figurative uses of these words. Non-regular churchgoers attached great social importance to the rite, but this was little understood by clergy and regular churchgoers. The Church would benefit from understanding and appreciating these different perspectives, both to enrich their own experience of Christian Initiation, and to allow more sympathetic pastoral care for those requesting the rite for their children.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BX Christian Denominations
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics


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