Original Research - Special Collection: Christianity as a Change Agent in the 4th Industrial Revolution World

The revenge of the words: On language’s historical and autonomous being and its effects on ‘secularisation’

Kristof K.P. Vanhoutte
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 2 | a6076 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i2.6076 | © 2020 Kristof K.P. Vanhoutte | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 April 2020 | Published: 30 September 2020

About the author(s)

Kristof K.P. Vanhoutte, Paris Institute for Critical Thinking, Paris; Faculty of Philosophy, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, France

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What if language was an autonomous historical being? What if language’s use was not solely dependent on the intentions of the one who speaks? In this text I will test these provocative statements. Specifically, I will investigate whether language’s proclaimed historical independence can be traced in the usage of the concept of ‘secularisation’, and I will try to unveil the consequences of this operation.

Contribution: Has Christianity abandoned the public stage in the ‘secularised’ and industrialised world? In this article I intend to demonstrate that this is not the case. The continuous operative presence of Christianity in our socio-political language is used as the model to prove this argument.


Secularisation; Political theology; Secularism; Linguistics; Conceptual history; Philosophy


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