Original Research - Special Collection: Practical Theology

Attitude change through understanding (cognition) of the influence of the persuasive language of liturgy

Ferdi Kruger
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 72, No 2 | a3234 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v72i2.3234 | © 2016 Ferdi Kruger | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 October 2015 | Published: 18 November 2016

About the author(s)

Ferdi Kruger, North West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa


The aim of this article is to argue that the use of language in liturgy during worship services should be meaningful to contribute to persuasion in the lives of the participants in liturgy. Language is a prominent medium to convey meaning. In fact, the essence of liturgy that has to lead to the liturgy of life is in itself a meaningful act. The question regarding the meaning of worship services that people often raise is another reason why research on the influence of liturgy is crucial. This investigation is anchored in research on the importance of cognition in persuasive language use to promote attitude change. The research gathers insights from the fields of language philosophy and cognitive psychology. It is clear that the meaning of words in language can never be separated from people’s understanding of the meaning of language. Communication and communion are not opposites. In the normative phase of this investigation, perspectives from Romans 12 are offered. The renewal of the mind that leads to discernment of God’s will must also lead to a new cognition (understanding or phronesis) of each believer’s place within the Body of Christ. The insights gained from language philosophy, cognitive psychology and the normative grounding make it evident that people always try to make sense of what they are experiencing and of what they are observing. The attempt to understand necessitates further reflection on the importance of cognition. Finally, practical theological perspectives are offered to indicate that cognition is important to create a meaningful liturgy. This cognition is anchored in God’s presence during worship services and, therefore, it requires meaningful words from liturgists.


liturgy; language; attitude; cognition; persuasion


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1. Participation in Christ’s body and his blood during celebration of Holy Communion as illuminated by the meaningful lenses of cognition and recognition
Ferdi P. Kruger
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies  vol: 74  issue: 1  year: 2018  
doi: 10.4102/hts.v74i2.4767