"The Sacred Meal", by Nora Gallagher, is book 6 of 8 in the Ancient Practices Series. This book is nothing more than New Age-Buddhism wrapped in a pretty "Christian" cover. In fact, this book is a fraud if Gallagher intends to teach Christian doctrine about the Eucharist. Shame on Thomas Nelson for publishing this garbage as Christian. They, too, will have to give an account for leading people astray by putting their stamp of approval on that which is professed to be Christian.
For starters, never ever anywhere in the book did Gallagher mention Jesus as the sole Sacrifice that would assuage the Father's wrath for sin, or the Cross as His means for accomplishing our salvation! She wrote, "Jesus did not suddenly make a choice between power and vulnerability. He put his foot on a path, and years later he looked back and saw where that path had led him" (p.22). She never spoke of the historical biblical reference for why we celebrate the Eucharist/communion. She never mentioned God delivering the Israelites from slavery in Egypt by the "plague of the firstborn". She never referenced the Passover event as a historical event that foreshadowed Jesus Christ. Instead, Gallagher's view of the Eucharist is from a largely "social justice, all-inclusive, new age" approach.
As if Jesus, to Gallagher, was simply a man who happened to be enlightened and achieved a purpose that God intended for all of mankind, she wrote, "...what I am coming to understand is that Jesus meant to say these things to himself, as much as to me. He said these things to himself because he understood that choosing the vulnerable path was the way to keep his soul alive, and protected, from the harsh realities of power. He sought out the vulnerable because they helped keep him vulnerable. And he finally came to identify with them" (p.20). To her, it seems, Jesus was not the Son of God who came to accomplish His Father's will.
Almost heretically, Gallagher steers readers away from Jesus Christ on the Cross as our Sacrifice, to making us the central focus of communion: "...of course, we're remembering Jesus, but that should not be all we're doing. I don't think Jesus was interested in everybody just remembering him. What's the point of that?" [ummmmm, His sacrifice in our place maybe?] But I digress. She continues, "That puts Jesus in the category with the various celebrities who will do anything to get into the media so we'll remember they're still alive. Instead, I think Jesus wanted his disciples and everyone who came after him to remember what they had together. What they made together. What it meant to be together. How the things he wanted them to do could not be done alone. How the things he did could not have been done without them" (p.24). Gallagher's view is very man-centered, not Cross-centered, and the Eucharist is designed for us to remember Him, not us. Think I'm crazy? She added, "When we all show up and do our parts, we are the sacrament, the body of Christ" (p.24).
Jesus, to Gallagher, was simply an enlightened person, as I mentioned before. She wrote, "But he [Jesus], too, was 'healed'. He was opened. He was changed. He was no longer so sure of what his job was, what he was meant to do. It may be that this is what kept happening to him [Jesus interacting with all sorts of needy people], over and over again. He met a blind man and was changed by the encounter; he met a woman at a well and Mary Magdalene and a tax collector. The difference between Jesus and us may not merely be one of degrees of divinity, but also his openness to others and their capacity to bend and awaken his heart" (p.62).
-This paragraph is bad on so many levels.
-Was Jesus in need of being enlightened that He required change to get there?
-Was Jesus ever unsure of his purpose on earth? Not according to scripture. Instead, He knew exactly what His purpose was...to seek and save the lost, to give life abundantly, to testify to the truth, etc. I don't recall Him ever thinking, "Hmmmm, what should I do now?"
-Were all of these encounters simply chance encounters? Seems so, according to Gallagher.
-Finally, THE difference between Jesus and us IS divinity. That's the point! Only HE was able to satisfy the righteous requirements of the law of God. Something we could not do! By the way, she mentions we are simply separated by "degrees" of divinity...as if we have any divinity in the first place. It seems that we are on par with Jesus in Gallagher's worldview.
Other problem areas include (I could go on to write a book here about Gallagher's bad theology, but I'll just make a few bullet points instead):
--"I hope, not to become one with God in such a way as to lose my own sense of self and boundaries, but instead to become in God more like myself" (p.93) We ARE the problem...I don't need more of me, but less! I need God!
--She referred to the feeding of the 5,000 by Jesus as a parable (p.95), rather than a historic miracle. At first, I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt that this could have been a typo. But after considering the whole of her statements, I don't think she believes the reality of the Jesus presented in the Bible.
--She tells a story of how she joined an inter-faith group consisting of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in an evening of "breaking bread" together. After all, she states, we all descended from the same Abraham. Anyway, she went on to tell how she not only observed the Muslims' prayer service, but participated to the point that she was doing exactly what the Muslim woman next to her was doing. Sadly, Gallagher's theology allows her to be easily influenced by false teachings, and she leads readers to think that's ok.
--Gallagher wrote, "We have known for some time that the Gospels were written long after the death of Jesus and were compiled by men who lived long after him" (p.110). Actually, 40 or 50 years is not that long to recall events and teachings that left indelible marks on one's life. It's like asking a World War 2 veteran to write a book today about the horrors he faced in battle. Not at all an inconceivable notion!
--Death, to Gallagher, is New Age-ish, almost like reincarnation: "There is another way to think of dying and where we go. Instead, we die in...that is, we re-enter earth, to be part of the earth that gave us our beginning (so, the earth gave me life? Not God?), to become part of all that lives, and moves, and has its being (then she wrongfully cites Acts 17:28 as if to provide support to her statement). What if the risen Christ does not die out, as in being lifted into the heavens, but rather dies in, that is, dies into the whole of the world?" (p.131)
I doubt Christ, to Gallagher, truly died on the Cross, and I doubt He truly rose from the dead! If not, why celebrate remembrance of His sacrifice? That's exactly why I think Gallagher has the liberal view she has: Jesus was simply a fairy tale! She supported this crazy notion by telling a story of her brother's death, and how he re-entered the world..."similar to what the writers of the resurrection stories in the gospels were trying to convey" (p.135). Gallagher herself applies what she said about dying and rising directly to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Do I have to give this book a star? If so, I guess I'll just give it 1 star out of 5 for bad theology and mis-application of scripture. At least the pages are soft, it would work well as TP!
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