Cognitive Linguistics and Theological Reasoning

Team Members/Contributors

John E. Sanders Hendrix College Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

The field of cognitive linguistics has produced numerous insights that help elucidate how our ordinary embodied experience shapes the way we think about anything, including God. Cognitive linguists utilize disciplines from anthropology to psychology in order to grasp the processes by which humans understand their experiences. This project proposes to apply a number of insights such as basic-level image schemas and conceptual metaphor theory to the way Christians speak about and conceptualize topics such as God, atonement, truth, sin, and moral absolutism. Evangelical Christians, a sizeable and influential group in the United States, tend to think that there is only one correct way to formulate any particular doctrine or moral issue. This study will show, from readily available examples used by evangelicals, that on many topics there simply is no definitive way of conceptualizing the issue but only ways that are better or worse depending upon what wants to achieve. The goal is enable evangelicals to become more open to consider other ways of thinking without believing that the only alternative to absolutism is relativism. Next year I have a semester sabbatical and am seeking external funding for one additional semester off from teaching in order to complete a manuscript.