Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Bigoted Progressive Church of Sweden Refuses To Call God By His Preferred Gender Pronouns

Last week, the Babylon Bee (a satirical website) ran an article entitled, "Bigoted Progressive Christian Refuses To Call God By His Preferred Pronouns."  Well, life didn't waste any time imitating art, with this (real) news from the Church of Sweden: "Priests to be banned from calling God 'he' or 'the Lord' in bid to be gender neutral."

The Bible tells us that God has a name (YHWH).  But the Jews had such reverence for God's name that they refused to use it, though they had other names for God: Adonai, El Shaddai, etc. that reflected his Personhood.  Jesus taught his followers to call God "Father."  And Jesus couldn't call God "Mother" because he had a mother, and she wasn't God.  The YHWH of the Old Testament was/is Jesus' Father; and, the precious truth of the Gospel and the New Testament is that, if we are in Christ, his Father becomes our Father.

But more recently, especially in the West, we simply refer to God as "God."  And when you do that, you can invest that rather ambiguous name with any content (or gender) of your choosing.  You can create a god to fit your liking or your perceived needs.  But that is the very essence of idolatry.  (Side note: The god of philosophy is not the Christian God.)

But in order for God to be God--in fact, and not merely in our imagination, he has to have an objective existence and identity.  (The late Francis Schaeffer had that right: the two most essential things a person must know about God are summed up in two of Schaeffer's books: The God Who is There; and He is There and He Is Not Silent.) 

God has an objectively real identity; and in order for us to know God, he has to have revealed himself to us, which he has done in the words of the Bible.  The Bible is God's Word written, just as Jesus of Nazareth is the Word of God Incarnate.  So, either we stick to the imagery and identity of God as he has revealed himself in the Bible and in the Person of Jesus Christ, or else we are just making it all up.  And this, apparently, is what the Church of Sweden and other theological liberals in our day want to do.

From The Mirror (UK) [with my comments added in bold type and brackets]:
The Church of Sweden, which is headed by a woman, made the decision during an eight-day meeting but not everyone is happy with the new rules.

Church clergy have been told to refer to God using gender-neutral language, dropping masculine words such as He and Lord.

The order came after more than 250 members of The Church of Sweden, which is a Evangelical Lutheran church, met to discuss ways of updating a 31-year-old handbook that sets out how services should be conducted.  [Just wait until the Episcopal Church (USA) comes out wth its new Prayer Book, possibly as early as next year's General Convention.]

The church is headed by a woman, Archbishop Antje Jackelen, who told Sweden’s TT news agency the church had been discussing using more inclusive language since its 1986 conference. [Because if you have been talking about it for a long time, that makes it okay.]

She said: “Theologically, for instance, we know that God is beyond our gender determinations, God is not human.”  [God is not human, but God is a Person.  And personhood requires gender, which is why God chose to reveal himself to us in personal language and, ultimately, in the Person of Jesus Christ.  ("He who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).]

But not everyone is happy with the decision.

Christer Pahlmblad, an associate theology professor with Sweden’s Lund University, told Danish newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad the move was “undermining the doctrine of the Trinity and the community with the other Christian churches.”

He added: “It really isn’t smart if the Church of Sweden becomes known as a church that does not respect the common theology heritage.”  [And, more importantly, when you face God at the Last Day, he isn't going to be very happy either.]

The meeting lasted eight days and the decision was one of many made by the church’s 251-member decision-making body.

The new rules will come into affect on May 20 next year, which is the Christian holiday of Pentecost.

The Church of Sweden is known for its liberal position on many issues, particularly homosexuality.

When Eva Brunne became Bishop of Stockholm in 2009, she was the first openly lesbian bishop in the world.

The church has 6.1 million baptised members out of a country of 10 million people. [Because it is a state church and they baptize everyone who doesn't say no; yet they still only get about 200,000 people in church on the average Sunday.]

A Church of England spokesman told The Mirror its clergy will continue to refer to God as male. [For now.]

He said: “The Church of England has always used masculine language when speaking about God, for example in the words of the Lord’s Prayer – ‘our Father, who art in Heaven’ – and in referring to God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and continues to do so."

However, the spokesman said the C of E uses “inclusive” language when referring to people and, earlier this month, published guidelines on helping children “explore the possibilities of who they might be", including their gender identity.  [This is how it begins.]

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