Anglican Samizdat

March 8, 2009

Canadian Primate, Fred Hiltz tells us what he thinks the Gospel is

Fred Hiltz makes much of the Five Marks of mission, both as it relates to Vision 2019 and elsewhere.

The first is to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom. But what is the Good News, or Gospel according to Fred Hiltz and the Anglican Church of Canada?

It sounds like a simple question and one would think the answer would contain things like: every person has sinned and deserves to be judged by God; God loves us so much that he sent his Son Jesus to take our sin upon himself; on the cross Jesus bore our sin and was punished instead of us; he rose bodily from death and is now alive and with his Father; he offers to us the free gift of salvation so that, instead of judgement, we can experience eternal life with him. Whether you believe this or not, it is relatively straightforward and is the foundation of the Christian Gospel.

But is this what Fred Hiltz means when he talks about the Good News? Apparently not. On January 15th Fred Hiltz spoke in the Diocese of Niagara; during the question time, someone asked him point blank, “what is the Gospel?” After asking the questioner to repeat the question – Fred appeared stunned – and embarrassed laughter from the congregation, he opined that the Good News is:

1.       Parishes having an excellent liturgy

2.       Parishes having preaching that is Christ centred

3.       Telling stories.

Here is the question and Fred’s answer:



  1. The ACoC must be very proud of its Arch Bishop. He’s a leader many social clubs would envy. But as a Christian leader he is an unmitigated disaster. He doesn’t even have answers to basic faith questions. No wonder the ACoC is running rife with apostasy!

    Comment by Jim Muirhead — March 8, 2009 @ 6:33 pm

  2. David, I’m going to have to call you on this one. Listening to the audio, he isn’t answering the question of what the Gospel itself is (which he essentially says would be too complicated to go over at the moment), but of what activities he sees as examples of proclaiming of the Good News. It’s true that he doesn’t answer the question, but he’s also not saying that “telling stories” is the Good News. Actually, his explanation of “telling stories” is just the Evangelical idea of sharing testimonials. Yes, it’s disappointing that he doesn’t directly address the enquiry. There’s nothing more wrong here, though, than the typical behaviour of a presenter who wants to stick to his own topic.

    Comment by Andrew — March 8, 2009 @ 10:33 pm

  3. Andrew,
    You appear to be willing to give Fred more benefit of the doubt than I.

    I agree he evaded the question. I think the evasion was more complicated than a straightforward answer, though, so I don’t think that a proper answer being too complicated was the real reason for the evasion.

    Waffling seems to be a standard Anglican clerical tactic in answering this type of question: the theory seems to be – don’t say anything that can be used to pin you down.

    Which is worst, I wonder: a Primate who doesn’t know what the Gospel is, so he is unable to clearly explain it; a Primate who does know, but is ashamed to explain it; a Primate who thinks the Gospel is so complicated that, when asked to explain it, he takes 6 minutes talking about something else instead; a Primate who believes the gospel is a mish-mash of social policies and knows that admitting it would cause an uproar; a Primate who is so muddled, he thinks that the gospel is actually what is contained in Fred’s response?

    Comment by David — March 8, 2009 @ 11:10 pm

  4. Whatever Fred said or didn’t say is only part of it. The real issue here is the fact that people like him are open to scrutiny as never before. Say one thing wrong and not only is it noted electronically it is heard all over the world live. I think we have heard the last open question and answer session from Hiltz if he is wise.

    Comment by Gawk — March 9, 2009 @ 6:59 am

  5. It sounds like the chipmunks on my computer….

    Comment by Kate — April 21, 2009 @ 3:33 pm

  6. Kate,
    I think that was a quirk of an early version of Flash Player for sound clips at this particular sample rate.

    You could either count yourself lucky to hear chipmunks instead of Fred, or get Version 10 (assuming you don’t have it) Here.

    Comment by David — April 21, 2009 @ 3:40 pm

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