Monday, November 06, 2006

Evangelical Christians Combine Contemplative Mysticism with Catholic Eucharist

Evangelical Christians Combine Contemplative Mysticism with Catholic Eucharist
This article or excerpt is from Lighthouse Trails on November 4, 2006 @ 1:35 am

Many Christians believe that the Christian tradition of communion is the same as the Catholic tradition of the Eucharist. But this is not so. The Eucharist (i.e., Transubstantiation ) is a Catholic term for communion when the bread and the wine supposedly become the very body and blood of Jesus Christ; thus when taken the partaker is said to experience the presence of Jesus. These transformed elements are placed in what is called a monstrance and can then be worshipped as if worshipping Jesus Himself. The implications are tied in with salvation. With the Eucharist, salvation becomes sacramental (participation in a ritual) as opposed to justification by faith in Christ alone. While this mystical experience called the Eucharist is a form of idolatry (as well as the very heart of Catholicism), there appears to be an increase of interest by evangelical Christians towards this practice.

In Roger Oakland's vital book, Another Jesus?: The Eucharistic Christ and the New Evangelization, he explains that the Catholic church leadership, concerned because of apathy for the Eucharist within the Catholic ranks, is hoping to "rekindle the amazement" of the Eucharist through what is called their "new evangelization program." With a two-fold purpose - to keep present Catholics and to bring evangelicals into the Catholic church - church leadership hopes to enliven the Eucharist. By saying "rekindle the amazement," they mean bring out the mystical, supernatural element of the Eucharist.

Acceptance of the Eucharist by evangelical Christians has been simmering in the background for some time. Chuck Colson's Evangelicals and Catholics Together document played a significant role with desensitizing believers into finding common ground with Catholicism. Rick Warren has openly shown, time and again, his affinity to joining Catholicism and evangelicalism together. But as we have succinctly pointed out in our other works, it is mysticism that unites all the world's religious traditions. In that mystical realm that is achieved through contemplative prayer, it is taught that God is in all things, and God is all things. To those who traditionally haven't had much ritual in their lives (i.e., Protestants) the ambiance of the Mass would have great appeal because of it's religious novelty - thus the interest in the Eucharist by those evangelicals who promote contemplative. And for most Catholics, the Mass (where the Eucharist is presented), in and of itself, is not a mystical experience, but if you add the contemplative as a draw, one actually does enter the mystical realm. On the surface this phenomenon seems complex, but when you look underneath it makes perfect sense. Within the contemplative prayer realm you actually are getting in touch with a spiritual power or force. Combining the tradition of the Eucharist, which appeals to many raised in the Catholic church, with the relatively recent explosion of contemplative practice, the Catholic church sees this as a way to recover its robust state it had in previous decades.

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