, , ,


Church of Sweden to stop clergy calling God ‘he’ or ‘the Lord’ in bid to crack down on gendered language

The Church of Sweden is urging its clergy to use gender-neutral language when referring to the supreme deity, refraining from using terms like “Lord” and “He” in favor of the less specific “God.”

RT: Why is this taking place? Is it because the Greek text of the New Testament demands this, or is there some other reason? A good translation can‘t do anything but responsibly translate in an accurate manner the (a) word from the document of origin to the language of destination. Thus, when the word “theos” in Greek is translated, the language of destination (English) uses the word “God.” What Greek word is used to give us our English word “Lord”? That word is kurios. It’s a word that conveys power and authority, appropriately translated “Lord.” Does not the word “God” convey the same? It can and does, but the word “God” does not come, translationally (if you will), from kurios. The less specific “God” is not less specific (with regard to authority), except when one wants to eliminate an idea that permeates the Bible, especially the New Testament, such as the idea conveyed in the word “Lord”.

The move is one of several taken by the national Evangelical Lutheran church in updating a 31-year-old handbook setting out how services should be conducted in terms of language, liturgy, hymns and other aspects.

RT: Since the Evangelical Lutheran Church is not a term one reads of or about in the Bible, then their origin as a church is from the mind of man. Anything man conjures up is bound to change; he is as steady as the waves of the sea. The Holy Spirit gave warning in these words: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; But the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12, ASV).

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.

A former state church, headquartered in Uppsala, some 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of the capital, the church has 6.1 million baptized members in a country of 10 million. It is headed by a woman, Archbishop Antje Jackelen.

RT: The Scriptures teach, “Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness” (1 Timothy 2:11-12). In today’s environment, such words as from the apostle Paul are not well received. Of course, this makes our point. With man there is constant change. With God, He is steady as a rock, the Rock. The Lord, in other words, does not support the head of any church filled by a female or, for that matter, a male. He (Jesus) is the head of the church, and what He says concerning it is not up for discussion. Paul, in writing to the church in Ephesus about Jesus, said this: “far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and he put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church” (1:21-22).

Jackelen told Sweden’s TT news agency a more inclusive language had already been discussed at the 1986 conference. “Theologically, for instance, we know that God is beyond our gender determinations, God is not human,” Jackelen was quoted as saying by TT.

RT: Yes, it is true, inherently speaking, God is beyond our gender determinations, but it is not true that God did not become human. When Jesus became flesh (He who was/is God), He became a man, a male, not a female. There is a reason for this, and the reason belongs entirely to God. Thus, God is not beyond our gender determinations!  Consider what Paul said about the Lord in his second letter to the Corinthians, “Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (5:21). Notice the pronouns; substitute those pronouns with a neutral word, then read it; for instance, use the word “it.” How does this help one to properly understand?

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.

RT: This is not an answer to the problem. It’s not a matter of heritage, but of truth as revealed in Scripture. Perhaps there are occasions when a neutral word is much better than a word specifically oriented; on the other hand, those who have an agenda to neuter language for the sake of psychology might also have an agenda to neuter and neutralize the Way of God. The Church of Sweden, the state church seems to have this approach (their denials not withstanding!).  

Gender-neutral terms | Checklist

Forefathers – ancestors, forebears

Gentleman’s agreement – unwritten agreement, agreement based on trust

Girls (for adults) – women

Housewife – shopper, consumer, homemaker (depends on context)

Manpower – human resources, labour force, staff, personnel, workers, workforce

Man or mankind – humanity, humankind, human race, people

Man-made – artificial, manufactured, synthetic

Man in the street, common man – average/ordinary/typical citizen/person

Right-hand man – chief assistant

Sportsmanship – fairmess, good humour, sense of fair play

Cardiff Metropolitan University’s Guide to Inclusive Language