In a move to update a 31-year-old handbook setting out how services should be conducted in terms of language, liturgy, hymns and other aspects, clergymen have been asked to use gender-neutral language when referring to God, refraining from using terms such as “Lord” and “he” in favour of the less specific “God” by Church of Sweden.
The new rule set to take effect from 20 May on the Christian holiday of Pentecost, was taken on Thursday at the end of an eight-day meeting of National Evangelical Lutheran Church’s 251-member decision-making body.
Speaking to TT news agency Archbishop Antje Jackelén revealed that a more inclusive language had been discussed as early as the 1986 conference;
“Theologically, for instance, we know that God is beyond our gender determinations, God is not human,” she said.
The change was met with criticism, however. Christer Pahlmblad, an associate theology professor at Sweden’s Lund University, told the Kristeligt Dagblad newspaper in Denmark that the move was “undermining the doctrine of the Trinity and the community with the other Christian churches”.