The Church of Sweden urged its clergy to use gender-neutral language when speaking of God. The church recommends always using the term “God” instead of referring to him using male pronouns.
The decision was taken Thursday at the end of an eight-day meeting of the church’s 251-member decision-making body, and takes effect May 20 on the Christian holiday of Pentecost.
This is a next step by the Church of Sweden in changing the language, liturgy and other aspects of the church. The Church of Sweden is 6.1 million members strong, in a country with the populace of 10 million. Sweden’s first female archbishop. It’s currently an Evangelical Lutheran church. The Primate of the Church of Sweden is the Archbishop of Uppsala — currently Antje Jackelén. In an TT news agency interview she that said more inclusive language had already been discussed in 1986. “Theologically speaking, God is beyond our gender definitions, as God is not human,” Jackelen said.
The change was met with criticism, however. Christer Pahlmblad, an associate theology professor with Sweden’s Lund University, told Denmark’s Kristeligt Dagblad that the move was “undermining the doctrine of the Trinity and the community with the other Christian churches.”
“It really isn’t smart if the Church of Sweden becomes known as a church that does not respect the common theology heritage,” he said.