The 251-member church made a rather startling decision this past week. They’ve decided to update their handbook which is what they use to direct the services that their leaders conduct.
“We talk about Jesus Christ, but in a few places we have changed it to say ‘God’ instead of ‘he,’” Church of Sweden spokesperson Sofija Pedersen Videke stated.
So… as an example, when referring to the Trinity — The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — will be shortened to simply “God and the Holy Trinity”. They view this change as more “gender neutral”.
As reported by The Telegraph:
“We talk about Jesus Christ, but in a few places we have changed it to say ‘God’ instead of ‘he’,” Church of Sweden spokesperson Sofija Pedersen Videke told The Telegraph. “We have some prayer options that are more gender-neutral than others.”
“A wide majority of people decided on the book,” she said, adding that she had heard of no priests who objected to the new linguistic framework.
The Church of Sweden is headed by Archbishop Antje Jackelen, who was elected Sweden’s first female archbishop in 2013.
Archbishop Jackelen defended the decision, telling Sweden’s TT news agency: “Theologically, for instance, we know that God is beyond our gender determinations, God is not human.”
The decision was met with some criticism. Christer Pahlmblad, an associate theology professor at Lund University in Sweden, told Danish newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad that the decision 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. The Church of Sweden has 6.1 million baptised members in a country with a population of 10 million.
The Church of England told The Telegraph that it also chooses to avoid divisive language in its services, but not with regards to God. “When liturgy is revised we also seek to use inclusive language where appropriate when referring to people,” a spokesperson said.