Anglican Samizdat

March 16, 2009

Canadian Primate, Fred Hiltz, immanentising the eschaton

There are a couple of significant things about this clip from Fred Hiltz:

First, he tells us that mission for Anglicans is not just about personal salvation. Having been a Canadian Anglican for over 30 years, were it not for the fact that I am a member of an evangelical parish, I could easily have missed the point that the Anglican mission is about personal salvation in any way whatsoever.

Second, Fred goes on to tell us that the Anglican mission is about much more than personal salvation and a relationship with Jesus: it is about transforming society to come under the just reign of God – a similar kind of theocratic utopianism to which Islam aspires.

I think Fred has neatly summed up one of the quintessential errors of the Anglican Church of Canada: for years the church has been focussing most of its energy on the “much more than that” rather than the apparently lesser issue of a person’s salvation. The perfect, just reign of God is going to come when Jesus returns but not before; it is a Christian’s duty to try to do what is right and to work justly in society, but placing this above salvation means setting the temporal above the eternal and making an idol of it.

As C. S. Lewis said in his wonderful essay, The Weight of Glory:

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization-these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit-immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.

There isn’t much more than that.


1 Comment

  1. On the surface, a very nice homily.
    However, instead of a recognition that all action on earth must flow out of our relationship with Christ, Hiltz constructs this “so much more” social mission.
    It’s a seductive diversion that leads the faithful to believe that they can do God’s work in the world apart from God.

    Comment by Jim Muirhead — March 17, 2009 @ 10:49 am

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