LTRP Note: The following is from Chris Lawson’s book Taizé—A Community and Worship: Ecumenical Reconciliation or an Interfaith Delusion?
Taizé is an ecumenical interfaith community in France where over 100,000 young people travel to each year; and Taizé worship is becoming very popular in the United States. This particular section below is about the “Eucharist,” which is practiced by Roman Catholics and being looked at favorably by a growing number of evangelicals. We were reminded of this section of Chris’ book today when we received two photos (see below the article) from a reader of Bethel Church’s Bill Johnson.
By Chris Lawson
Spiritual Research Network
The exchange with God becomes real for us in prayer: by his Holy Spirit, God comes to dwell within us. By his word and by the sacraments, Christ gives himself to us.1—Brother Alois of the Taizé community in France (emphasis added)
Christ, the Word made flesh, gives himself to us visibly in the Sacrament. Draw strength from the Eucharist, the meal of thanksgiving, and do not forget that it is offered to the sick of the People of God. It is there for you, frail and weak as you always are.2—Brother Roger
of the Taizé community in France (emphasis added)
Similar to the Roman Catholic Church, the Taizé Community invokes a “Jesus” that can be eaten and ingested—“the Body and Blood, together with the Soul and Divinity”3 during Eucharistic services.
It may be that some reading this are not familiar with the Eucharist, also referred to as the Blessed Sacrament. The word Eucharist has a primary appeal to Roman Catholic Eucharistic adoration. It’s worth noting here that many of the Protestant Reformers were burned at the stake for refusing to accept the Catholic Eucharistic belief.4
Father John A. Hardon, S. J. wrote an article in Soul Magazine (published by the World Apostolate of Fatima) titled “Holy Eucharist is the Whole Christ.” The article states:
The most fundamental question to ask about the Blessed Sacrament is, “Who is the Holy Eucharist?” And the correct answer is: The Holy Eucharist is Jesus Christ.
There is more behind this answer than many Catholics realize. When the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century defined the meaning of the Eucharist, it declared that “the Body and Blood, together with the Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore the whole Christ, is truly, really and substantially contained in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.5
The Catholic Eucharist is not the same as the Protestant communion. Protestants traditionally have followed Scripture that tells us to have communion as an act of remembrance of Christ dying on the Cross and pouring out His blood for our sins. In the Catholic tradition, a priest performs what is called transubstantiation, which Catholics believe literally transforms the wafer into the actual body of Christ and the wine into His blood though maintaining the “appearance” of bread and wine.
Father Hardon continues:
Shortly after Trent, Pope St. Pius V authorized the publication of the Roman Catechism which built on the Council of Trent and explained its teachings for the pastors of the Church.
Regarding the Real Presence, the pastors were told to explain that “in this sacrament is contained not only the true Body of Christ—and that means everything that goes to make up a true body, such as bones, nerves, and so on—but also Christ whole and entire.” Consequently the Eucharist contains Jesus Christ in the fullness of his divinity and the completeness of his humanity.
Jesus is therefore in the Blessed Sacrament “whole and entire: the Soul, the Body and Blood of Christ, with all their component parts. In heaven a complete human nature is united to the divine nature in one . . . person. It is a denial of the faith to suppose that in this sacrament there is anything less.”6
In essence, according to the Roman Catholic Church, you can literally eat Christ, but only a Catholic priest can perform this transformation of a wafer and wine. Robes, incense, and mystical prayer that bring it all together are intended to be reminiscent of the sacrificial altar of the Old Testament.
Oddly, chapters nine and ten of Hebrews are contradicted by this ritual in that these chapters describe Christ’s sacrifice as a one-time sacrifice that can never be repeated (Hebrews 9:25-28), and that the repeated sacrifices of a priest can never take away sin (Hebrews 10:10-12).
It is also worth noting that in John 6, Jesus refers to Himself as “the living bread which came down from heaven” (John 6:51). But when He says they must eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have eternal life (vs. 53), even His disciples murmured saying, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (vs. 60). Interestingly, in response, Jesus never gave them a literal rendering of what He had said; and He couldn’t have done so because the partaking of any kind of blood was absolutely forbidden in the Law. Jesus made it clear that not only would He soon return to Heaven (vs. 62) and thereby no longer be physically present, but that He had been using a figure of speech, in that there was no benefit in the literal partaking of flesh (vs. 63). His meaning was spiritual—of the eternal life He would offer to those who would believe in His approaching sacrifice at Calvary. Here are Jesus’ exact words which are succinct and clearly understandable of His departure to Heaven in the near future and of His figure of speech:
What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:62-63)
Upon examination of John 6, it becomes clear that Jesus never intended for people to be thinking they are literally eating His flesh and drinking His blood during communion but that they are remembering a very real event that happened only once—Jesus’ death on the Cross for the remission of sins as Peter so aptly testified:
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)
To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. (Acts 10:43)
The popes, the priesthood, and all who believe in the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation (Sacrifice of the Mass; “re-presenting Jesus”) would have to contend with Paul the apostle were he alive today. Paul refuted any ideas about Jesus contrary to Christ’s person, nature, and work.
Not only that, Paul referred to perversions of the biblical Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the true Gospel as “another Jesus . . . another spirit . . . [and] another gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:4). This “another” that Paul is exposing as a dangerous influence is a different “Jesus, spirit and gospel.” It is not merely another of the same kind but rather a substitute Christ, a pseudo-Christ, or what Scripture refers to as an anti-Christ—where “anti” not only means in opposition to but in place of (i.e., a replacement). It is an unbiblical Jesus—a non-scriptural, heretical idea of Jesus, and a false gospel. In actuality, it is no gospel—no good news, at all. It is bad news because it removes the Gospel that saves.
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4)
Consider that each time a wafer “Jesus” is “re-presented,” as untold millions of Roman Catholics and Taizé followers believe, the true holy personage of Jesus of Nazareth is denigrated; His divine nature is lessened, His propitiatory blood-atoning substitutionary sacrifice on the Cross is undermined, and faith in Him alone for salvation becomes null and void. It was Christ Himself, in regard to His redemptive work on the Cross, who said, “It is finished” (i.e., the price for salvation has been “Paid in full”).
Then saith he to [John] the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19:27-30)
Jesus in heaven versus Jesus in the Eucharist
The global Catholic network (EWTN) and Father John A. Hardon, S. J. express these thoughts about the Eucharistic Christ:
Is there any real difference between Jesus in heaven and Jesus in the Eucharist? No, it is the same Jesus. The only difference is in us. We now on earth cannot see or touch him with our senses. But that is not a limitation in him; it is a limitation in us.
JESUS is really now on earth in the Eucharist.
Jesus IS really now on earth in the Eucharist.
Jesus is REALLY now on earth in the Eucharist.
Jesus is really NOW on earth in the Eucharist.
Jesus is really now ON earth in the Eucharist.
Jesus is really now on EARTH in the Eucharist.
Jesus is really now on earth IN THE EUCHARIST.
The foregoing six statements, repeated and separately emphasized, explain why the Catholic Church has defended the reality of the Real Presence so strenuously down the centuries.*7
Evangelical researcher and author Ray Yungen put it this way:
Everything vital in the Catholic Church springs from the Eucharist (communion). What is simply a component in the evangelical church is the major component in the Catholic Church. In fact, many Catholic works reference the Eucharist that it carries on the work of our redemption as in the following example from Father Robert J. Fox, in his book The Catholic Faith:
“Catholics are bound under pain of mortal sin to participate in the Sacrifice of the Mass every Sunday and holy day of obligation. Only a serious reason would excuse one. Inconvenience, laziness, company came, being tired, poor clothing, headache, etc. are not sufficient excuses.”8
A simple question with profound implications
One essential question must be asked, “How is one going to find Christian ‘love,’ ‘peace,’ ‘unity,’ and ‘the gospel’ in the Taizé Community when a practice is upheld there that re-crucifies the Christ who once and for all died for the sins of the world?” The book of Hebrews is very clear and succinct on this subject as if purposely written as a refutation of the Eucharist as a continual resacrificing of Christ:
[B]ut this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God . . . Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:12, 18; also read Hebrews 9:23 to 10:18)
To take Jesus’ one-time sacrifice on Calvary and repeat it again and again only cheapens and extinguishes the wonderful gift of forgiveness that Jesus accomplished when He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
Some Taizé brothers want to follow a Roman Catholic priesthood and pope and believe they are eating and ingesting God who has been mystically invoked through the Eucharist. Other Taizé brothers don’t agree with this but overlook it because they—as liberal Protestants—no longer protest the heresies of Rome and the blasphemy of “the Real Presence” in the Eucharist. . . .
In laymen’s terms, justification by faith alone means that through simple childlike faith in the Person and finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross and His resurrection from the dead, one is declared perfectly righteous before the Almighty God, who created the heavens and the earth. As a result of Christ’s death at Calvary, when He was made the “propitiatory sacrifice” for our sins, God’s anger and just wrath against sin has been completely satisfied. Jesus, being our All Holy Substitute on the Cross, paid for our redemption with His own blood and resurrected from the dead three days later. Our sin (transgression against the Law of God) was dealt with completely at the Cross—the punishment that we deserve for sinning against God was put upon Christ instead of us. We, the guilty, go free because He, the Sinless Savior, bore our punishment to set us free. Born-again Christians are justified (declared righteous) before God based on what Jesus already did for sinful humanity, not through what a priest today does by blasphemously re-presenting (sacrificing) Christ in the Eucharist, plus one’s good works. When a person truly believes in Jesus Christ and trusts in what He has done for him, then is he “made alive in Christ” (Ephesians 2:1-22) by God’s Holy Spirit who comes to dwell in him and through him (Ephesians 3). Hence the term, “born-again” (John 3:3).
- Brother Alois, Letter from Cochabamba (Taizé Community website; At the Wellspring of Faith, http://www.taize.fr/en_rubrique12.html).
- Brother Roger, The Rule of Taizé (London, UK: SPCK Publishing, 2012, original French version copyright 1954), p. 11.
- John A. Hardon, S. J. “Holy Eucharist is the Whole Christ” (Soul Magazine. Published by the World Apostolate of Fatima; Blue Army, Washington, NJ., https://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/eucha5.htm, posted on the EWTN website).
- J.C. Ryle, “Why Were Our Reformers Burned?” (Hertfordshire, England: Evangelical Press, from Light from Old Times, 1890, First Evangelical Press Press edition, 1980), pp. 15-55.
- John A. Hardon, S.J., “Holy Eucharist is the Whole Christ,” op. cit.
- Ray Yungen, Simple Answers: Understanding the Catholic Faith—An Evangelical Primer (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, Inc, 2017), chapter 3, citing Father Robert J. Fox, in his book The Catholic Faith, p. 269.
LTRP Note: Bill Johnson’s usage of the term sacrament and his claiming that the presence of Jesus is in the “sacraments” is clearly an indication that he is promoting the theology of the Roman Catholic Church.
*For a more indepth study on the Catholic Eucharist, read Roger Oakland’s book, Another Jesus.
(Photo of sacraments from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)
The Conversion of Protestants to Catholicism Through the Eucharist by Roger Oakland