Divine words

Church of Sweden asks clergy to refer to God using gender-neutral language

Geoff Hall,owner of DPI print company at Newhouse near Motherwell stands in front of his 15 metre by 15 metre reproduction of the world renowned Sistine Chapel ceiling on March 10, 2009 in Newhouse, Scotland. DPI Print has spent a week and £2500 creating a reproduction of Michelangelo's famous scene to show prospective customers there printing talents.

In a controversial move, the Church of Sweden has asked its clergy to use gender-neutral language when referring to God — or in other words, to refrain from using masculine-specific terms like “Lord” and “He.”

As The Associated Press reports, the church’s decision-making body issued the request as part of its update to a 31-year-old handbook that dictates how religious services should be conducted. Their decision is expected to go into effect on May 20.

In a country of 10 million citizens, around 6.1 million people belong to the Church of Sweden. And not all of the church’s clergy members are pleased about the imminent change. “It really isn’t smart if the Church of Sweden becomes known as a church that does not respect the common theology heritage,” explains Christer Pahlmblad, an associate theology professor with Sweden’s Lund University, according to the AP.

But Archbishop Antje Jackelen, the head of the church (who, incidentally is a woman), maintained in an interview with Sweden’s TT agency that inclusive language does not defy established Christian theology.

“We know that God is beyond our gender determinations,” she said. “God is not human.”

Read the full story at The New York Post.

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