God is not a man, according to The Church of Sweden.
Sweden’s national Evangelical Lutheran church is urging its clergy to stop gendering their almighty creator by using terms like “he” and "lord.” It's updated its official handbook to reflect the changes, which will go into effect on May 20th during the Christian holiday of Pentecost.
"Theologically, we know that God is beyond our gender determinations, God is not human," explained Archbishop Antje Jackelen, the female head of the church.
The change was approved by the church's 251-member decision-making body Thursday after days of careful deliberation, but there are still some vocal critics.
"It really isn't smart if the Church of Sweden becomes known as a church that does not respect the common theology heritage," said Christer Pahlmblad, an associate theology professor at Sweden's Lund University. The move undermines “the doctrine of the Trinity and the community with the other Christian churches," he claimed.
Most Christian churches accept that God does not have a gender, but still refer to the supreme spiritual deity with male pronouns. Even the Catholic Church catechism is confused on the topic, "God is neither man nor woman: he is God," it says.
In recent years, official bibles have attempted to amend patriarchal language. In the King James Bible "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" has turned into, "What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?"
The majority of Christian groups believe that God is triune and exists as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In the old testament, the Holy Spirit is referred to as a woman.
According to the Church of Sweden’s updated handbook, God will now be referred to as both mother and father. An example of an updated prayer, according to the church, would read as “God, Holy Trinity, Father and Mother, Son – Sister and Brother, and Spirit – Lifeguard and Inspirator, lead us to your depths of wealth, wisdom and knowledge.”
More from Newsweek