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Church of Sweden
Uppsala, with its large cathedral, remains the seat of the Church of Sweden. Photo Régine Fabri | Wikimedia Commons

Our parent, who art in Heaven …

The Church of Sweden last week told its clergy to avoid referring to God as male. The guidance, announced at the end of an eight-day meeting with church leadership, urged members to refrain from unnecessarily using terms like “the Lord,” “Father,” and “Son” in favor of more gender-neutral terms such as “God” and “the Holy Trinity.”

More than six in 10 Swedes are a part of the Church of Sweden, which has 6.1 million baptized members.

Archbishop Antje Jackelen—the first female archbishop of the church—explained the shift in a TV interview last week, saying that because God is not human, he is “beyond our gender determinations.”

But other Swedes are objecting to the new direction, saying it is “undermining the doctrine of the Trinity and the community with other Christian churches,” said Christer Pahlmblad, an associate theology professor at Lund University in Sweden.

Another point that Jackelen and the Swedish church seem to be ignoring: God calls Himself “The Lord” and “Father” in the Bible.

The decision was part of a modernization of the church’s 31-year-old handbook. The official changes will go into effect in May 2018.

— by Kiley Crossland

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