A Baptist university in Minnesota is urging its students and faculty to eschew words like “man” or “mankind” where referring to the human race, even though most Bible translations use those terms, the conservative-leaning Campus Reform website reported Wednesday.
“Bethel University is encouraging its faculty ‘to be clear in our Christian witness’ by eschewing masculine terminology,” Campus Reform said, citing a publication by the St. Paul, Minnesota, institution titled “Language is a Powerful Tool.”
“The Bible teaches us to value all people because they are created in God’s image,” notes the publication. “Some traditional uses of language have been perceived as excluding a substantial group of people. To be clear in our Christian witness, the Bethel faculty encourages the use of inclusive language.”
Beyond gender guidelines, the document — produced by the Bethel faculty’s Family & Gender Equity Committee — also touches on sensitivity to various groups on the basis of age, class and disability and appears to serve as a supplementary style guide for academic work at the institution.
The document makes clear that the guidelines listed therein are not to be considered binding. “We would like to affirm that these suggestions are truly that: suggestions. … Our goal is to encourage a humble and Christ-like use of language, not to fetter specific disciplines.”
As Campus Reform observed, biblical texts often use the term “man” or other male pronouns in a way that applies to women as well, and Bethel itself professes to uphold the Bible as God’s very word.
“We believe that the Bible is the Word of God, fully inspired and without error in the original manuscripts, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and that it has supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct,” reads the first article of the school’s Affirmation of Faith.
Bethel’s Affirmation of faith also uses gendered language, Father and Son, which the Bible uses for the first and second persons of the Trinity, respectively.