A Biblical Analyse of the 5th Royal White Degree
The Innocence of the Candidate
The Black candidate for the 5th Royal White degree initiation enters the Preceptory room, and is met with the following catechism:
“Why do you wear that colour?
Because I am innocent.
Why are you innocent?
Because I am but a youth – a mere stripling.
Where are you from?
What have you been doing there?
Herding and taking care of my father’s few sheep that were going astray for the want of a shepherd.
Where are you going?
To the valley.
The valley of Elah.
What to do there?
Slay that man that defieth my brethren.
What man defieth your brethren?
Goliath of Gath whose height is 6 cubits and a span.”
“How do you intend to get to the valley?
By the benefit of a password
Have you that password?
Will you give it to me?
I will, if you begin.
Go, and the Lord be with you!
Did you slay him?
By what power?
The power of Almighty God.
A sling and small stone.
Was there any honour conferred upon you for so doing?
What was it?
A white robe on account of my innocence, richer than the Golden Fleece more ancient than the Roman Eagle more honourable than the Star and Garter or any other order that could have been conferred upon me.”
The Black address later adds, “The shepherd’s boy was heralded the conqueror and arrayed in a spotless robe of white.”
In this Black lecture, David is rewarded with a white robe “on account” of his “innocence.” The colour of this robe is intended to be a powerful illustration of the presumed innate character of David. Most Bible students will immediately distinguish the error of this teaching and recognise how there is not the slightest link between the Black version of the aftermath of this great battle and the true biblical narrative. Notwithstanding, there are four significant aspects to this Black instruction that we must look further into, as these will greatly assist us in understanding the whole tenor, meaning and origin of this peculiar teaching.
First, we shall examine the actual detail of the Black account of David’s victory over Goliath and what it is that the Black Knights state resulted from it. Secondly, we shall also consider how this relates to the Black candidate being initiated. Thirdly, we shall establish the source of this teaching. Fourthly, we shall carefully scrutinise the first three elements in the light of the teaching of the Bible. We will not necessarily look at these in any order.
Before examining the finer detail of this teaching, and by way of introduction to the overall matter, we should say, nowhere in Scripture is David (or any other person for that matter) ever rendered innocent because of their youth. Neither is there any evidence that he was endowed with any honorary white robe as a reward for his glorious victory against Goliath. The most basic study of 1 Samuel 17 will quickly confirm that David is not “heralded the conqueror” by being “arrayed in a spotless robe of white.” Consequently, this annuls the proposition that he received a white robe on account of his innocence which was “richer than the Golden Fleece more ancient than the Roman Eagle more honourable than the Star and Garter or any other order.” Plainly, this teaching comes from another source.
So where did this Black legend originate? Was it invented by Blackmen at the end of the 18th century, or was it received from an outside source? Where did the inspiration for such strange sentiments derive from? Before addressing this, it would be helpful to look at the teaching of the sister-order of the Black – the Knights of Malta. This order, which also purports to be Protestant, carries the exact same esoteric teaching as the Black. There, the candidate is dressed in a white robe as he travels the degree. The Knights of Malta candidate is taught:
“Why do you wear that Robe?
That white Robe.
Because I am innocent.
You are what?
I am even yet a stripling.”
So where did this legend originate and what is the true significance of this instruction? As elsewhere, the Black slides into familiar Masonic territory here. In the Entered Apprentice degree (the 1st degree) the Masonic candidate is assured, “I now invest you with this an apron, the distinguishing badge of an Entered Apprentice Freemason. Observe, it is made of lambskin, the emblem, from time immemorial, of purity and innocence. It has been worn with distinction throughout the ages and even Kings and Princes have not thought it beneath their dignity to exchange the sceptre for the trowel. It is more ancient than the Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle; more honourable than the Garter; or any other order which can be bestowed upon you. I exhort you to never disgrace it and you can be assured, it will never disgrace you.”
We can immediately recognise the source from which the Royal Black teaching on the white robe sprang. Although Freemasonry uses a white apron instead of a white robe the connection between the two is indisputable. Few will be surprised at this, as Masonry is the fountain-head from which most of the Black’s symbols, ideology and traditions emanate. As already shown, it is the inspiration and influence behind most of the Royal Black secret theology. The Lodge looks upon this garment with reverence and awe and lauds it as the perfect symbol of “purity and innocence.” The bestowing of this garment upon the Masonic candidate is supposed to symbolically represent the character and conduct of the Mason.
The Lodge exalts the merits of this dress-wear with exactly the same praise we find in the Black. It too views its intrinsic worth as greater than the Golden Fleece, the Roman Eagle and the Order of the Garter. This cannot be a matter of coincidence. The Masonic Lodge elevates its ceremonial white apron in its teaching, and points to the garment’s inherent virtue and illustrious origins as a reason why the candidate should treat it with dignity and reverence. Every Mason is awarded one when he joins the Lodge and is expected to carry it with honour and respect through life. It is said to be “the distinguishing badge” of every new Masonic initiate. It is the universal identification mark of a Mason. Every member owns this badge of innocence with pride.
In an article in The Rough Ashlar (the Public Relations Magazine of the Grand Lodge of Quebec, Canada), we have an insight into the value of the white apron from a Masonic perspective. We discover the deep spiritual significance attached to it within the Lodge. The essay, which is appropriately called The Masonic Apron asserts, “The first origin of the apron was the attempt to simulate innocence, and to preserve that innocence of desire [speaking about the Garden]. And herein we have the two fundamentals of the Masonic investiture – a desire to preserve innocence, and a recognition of duty and of the necessity for self-denial and sacrifice”
It adds: “When a Brother is invested he has renounced all profane habits and bias, and made himself clean from the exterior influence and ignorant prejudice. He has turned his back upon the darkness, and seeks with a single-hearted loyalty the light that is from the East – and he dons the white apron as a testimony and a reminder. In this emblem of innocence, of pure desire, and of segregation from all that is unclean and base, more ancient than all other emblems of chivalry and virtue, he stands forth, the youngest Mason among his Brethren.”
The whole weight of teaching and intended indoctrination that accompanies the awarding of this garment surrounds the idea that it is an outward representation of a new birth experience which the new recruit has just supposedly undergone by joining the Lodge. The innocent depiction of the lamb is directly applied to the Mason.
Masonic authority Albert G. Mackey agrees. In The Symbolism of Freemasonry he explains, “It is with the Masonic lodge as it was with the Jewish church, where it was declared that ‘no man that had a blemish should come nigh unto the altar’; and with the heathen priesthood, among whom we are told that it was thought to be a dishonour to the gods to be served by any one that was maimed, lame, or in any other way imperfect; and with both, also, in requiring that no one should approach the sacred things who was not pure and uncorrupt. The pure, unspotted lamb-skin apron is, then, in Masonry, symbolic of that perfection of body and purity of mind which are essential qualifications in all who would participate in its sacred mysteries.”
Mackey equates the flawless physical appearance of the old covenant priest who operated within the temple of God in ancient times to that of the spiritual state of the new Masonic member. He connects the purity of body to the purity of soul. Masonic writer Steven W. Sanford adds: “The apron not only reminds us to keep ourselves innocent, but as Speculative Masons it reminds us of our obligation to sacrifice” (The Badge of a Free and Accepted Mason). This is a common theme in Masonic writings.
Mackey’s comments correspond with the criteria outlined in the qualification for membership of the Lodge, which has existed from the original Book of Constitutions in 1723. It demands, “No Master should take an Apprentice, unless he be a perfect youth having no maim or defect.” Of course Masonry’s definition of a perfect youth and that of God do not match up, although that does not seem to hinder it in its belief. The Masonic Lodge seeks to attribute perfection to its devotees at every turn. The pure lambskin is designed to symbolically epitomise the moral condition of the new initiate. The white apron is no insignificant piece of Masonic apparel. In fact, there is no other symbol connected with Masonry that is revered as much as the white lambskin apron. Lodge commentators loudly and proudly extol the virtues of this item of clothing and present it as the perfect representation for righteous living in this life. It is so elevated that acquiring the item through ritual initiation is depicted as the Mason’s great hope of salvation and eternal reward.
Masonic historian William Harvey, in his detailed dissertation on the subject, entitled The Mason’s Apron, asserts, “We are told that the Apron is the badge of Innocence and the bond of Friendship … In addition to being the badge of Innocence and the bond of Friendship, the apron is an ever-present reminder of that purity of life and action which should at all times characterise a Freemason … the apron is an emblem of all that is highest and best in human life … When first invested with it we are conjured to let its pure and spotless surface be to us an ever-present reminder of rectitude of life and purity of conduct; and a never failing argument for higher thoughts, nobler deeds, and greater achievements. What is all this but an appeal to the best that is in us to make this world a better place for ourselves and our fellow-men?”
He adds, “The apron is the most comprehensive symbol of our faith.” We should not overlook the nature and gravity of this last statement as it is in such contrast to Christianity where Christ is the exclusive focus of the believer’s faith.
Freemasonry points to this white garment as the ultimate picture of purity and spotlessness. The donning of this garment is said to be indicative of the righteousness of the wearer. We cannot underestimate the importance the white robe or white apron plays in secret society thinking. Plainly, it is not a mere a badge of recognition between members nor simply a garment of decoration for special ceremonies, but it is an emblem of great honour and spiritual signification among the secret fraternal family. It represents a virtuous standing through human attainment. It denotes righteous living, something man cannot achieve outside of Christ and the Christian new birth.
Masonic writings praise the merits of this white apron and present it as a proof that there is some special virtue within the make-up of the Mason wearing it. One can come to no other conclusion but that it is intended to represent the idea that man is justified through his own good works. The member and his white garment are inextricably connected. He has become a new man – a pure man, all by being inducted into the Masonic Lodge by means of ritualistic initiation.
During the opening initiation in Freemasonry, the Lodge directs the new applicant’s eyes toward his lambskin apron as his exemplar for heaven. He is told: “The lamb has in all ages been deemed an emblem of innocence. He, therefore, who wears the lambskin, or white leather apron, as the badge of a Mason, is thereby continually reminded of that purity of life and conduct which is so essentially necessary to his gaining admission into the Celestial Lodge where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides” (The Official Monitor of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, State of Illinois 1915 ed., p. 15).
The wording of this promise is common to most English-speaking Masonic jurisdictions, with the occasional modification to fit the taste of the respective governing Grand Lodges. This declaration is also read (nearly word-for-word) over a Mason’s grave when he dies.
In an article on its website, the Grand Lodge of Texas says, “May the pure and spotless surface of this Apron be an ever-present reminder of ‘that purity of heart and uprightness of conduct so essentially necessary’, thus keeping pure your thoughts, and inspiring nobler deeds and greater achievements. Then, when at last, your weary feet shall have come to the end of life’s toilsome journey, and from your nerveless grasp, shall drop, forever, the working tools of life, may the record of your life and actions be as pure and spotless as this Apron now is; and when your soul, freed from earth, shall stand naked and alone before the Great White Throne, may it be your portion to hear from Him who sits thereon, the welcome plaudit: ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant! Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!’”
Masonry is always trying to attribute the spotless natural qualities of the white lambskin apron to the candidate, as if they can somehow spiritually attain such by human endeavour. They are always elevating the good works of its members. This is often seen in the way Masonry sells itself in its promotional material. It speaks highly of its own good works and its charitable activities as if this is somehow meritorious before God and the key to obtaining His favour. They do this without the slightest mention of the only means of cleansing and forgiveness for sin in this life – namely the Lord Jesus Christ and His shed blood on Calvary. The Gospel truth seems to be deliberately overlooked – that Christ is man’s only hope.
Not only does Freemasonry continually try to identify the whiteness of the lambskin apron with the character of the candidate, it also constantly elevates the apron as the Mason’s sole hope of salvation and therefore way of access into heaven. The Lodge endeavours to relate the purity of the white apron to the “life and actions” of the Mason. It promises the candidate that if he follows the example of the lambskin apron he will one day stand before the Great White Throne and here the immortal words: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant! Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!” (Matthew 25:21, 23).
Little does Masonry realise that the One whom the Masons choose to circumvent in their teaching – our beloved Saviour – is the very One whom they will one day solemnly stand before as Judge at the Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11-15). There Christ will damn every soul who rejects His free offer of salvation and chooses any other path apart from Him. Rather than hearing the well-done of Christ, they will hear the fearful words “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
The Masonic sources we have examined illustrate the importance attached to this garment in Masonic Lodge opinion. They reveal the linkage that Masonry and its offspring make between the white garment on show and the condition of the aspirant being initiated. It is plain to see, the white apron is intended to be a symbolic expression of the pure disposition of the wearer. Just as the apron is clean and spotless, so allegedly is the one who dons it. By trusting in the apron and the Masonic thought it signifies, the participant is said to obtain a perfect body and a pure mind. This shows the deceit that engulfs Freemasonry. The Lodge then foolishly promises its brethren an eternal celestial home without going through God’s only way of access to heaven – the Lord Jesus. As Jesus said, in John 3:36, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
Not surprisingly, the white robe endowment conferment plays a crucial part in the Mormon temple initiation ceremony. Its founder, Joseph Smith, was a zealous high-degree Freemason. Before receiving his white robe, symbolising his innocence, the Mormon candidate must go through a washing and anointing ceremony in which he is firstly stripped of all his worldly clothing, washed by his instructors, symbolising the removal of his sins. He is then anointed with oil in recognition of his supposed innocence, which thus enables him to be endowed with his robes of purity.
The Mormon lecturers then teach: “Brother, having authority, I place this garment upon you…which you must wear throughout your life. It represents the garment given to Adam when he was found naked in the Garden of Eden, and is called the garment of the holy priesthood. Inasmuch as you do not defile it, but are true and faithful to your covenants, it will be a shield and a protection to you against the power of the destroyer until you have finished your work on the earth. With this garment I give you a new name.”
The Mormon lecturers then declare, “Brethren, you have been washed and pronounced clean, that through your faithfulness, you may become clean from the blood of the sins of this generation. You have been anointed to become hereafter kings and priests unto the Most High God, to rule and reign in the House of Israel forever.” Finally, alluding specifically to these white garments, the Mormon lecturer affirms (in close keeping with Masonry), “these endowments are to prepare you for exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom.”
Like the fraternal world of secret societies, Mormonism takes these material garments as a symbol of the initiate’s supposed innate purity and presents them as his assumed guarantee of heaven. In keeping with Masonry it associates salvation with the reception of this garment – with it they obtain “a new name.” The mysterious awe with which these supposed garments of spotlessness and innocence are held, reveals the idolatrous nature of Mormonism. The veiled language used in the Temple ceremony exposes the hidden Occult significance of its teaching. In reality this garment is symbolic of Satan’s deceptive religion of good works. Mormonism is just another of the progeny of the Masonic mother, which means that it too is a sibling along with the Royal Black Institution and the Knights of Malta. The likeness between all these daughters of Masonry is remarkable.
Secret societies, the cults and the Occult foolishly point their initiates to a man-made white garment as a sign of moral cleanness, and as their hope in this life of salvation. Scripture on the other hand points men to the Saviour and what He has secured for sinners. As the Mason departs this life, at the point of death, his Lodge colleagues’ eyes are directed toward the lambskin apron for their example and eternal hope around the grave. The white apron follows him into the grave. At the Mason’s burial the “Worshipful Master” repeats the assurance that all Masons receive when they first joined the Lodge and receive their own white aprons.
He affirms, “The lambskin or white leather apron is an emblem of innocence and the badge of a Mason. The lamb has in all ages been deemed an emblem of innocence; by the lambskin the Mason is, therefore, reminded of that purity of life and conduct which is so essentially necessary to his gaining admission into the Celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the universe presides. This emblem I now deposit in the grave of our deceased brother” (Funeral Service of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Freemasons of South Carolina). The “Worshipful Master” then throws the apron into the grave. There, the Mason’s hope lies flat upon his coffin in the form of a piece of worthless cloth.
Evangelical authority on Freemasonry, Martin L Wagner, comments on this: “After the candidate has been initiated into the first degree and has become pure and innocent, he is given the white lambskin apron, which ‘is his badge as a Mason, a sign of his purification and innocence’. It is to be laid upon his coffin and buried with him, and entitles him to eternal reward” (Freemasonry p. 23).
Only Satan himself could devise such a potent plan that could delude millions of males throughout the world, causing them to put their eternal hope in a piece of useless secret society cloth. One can hardly think of a more foolish religious deception. The apron is indeed representative of the Mason; it symbolises the folly of his hope. He sadly looks to this garment in life to inspire him to a “purity of life and conduct” instead of looking to the One who alone personified purity and perfection; the One who died to set men free; the One who alone can save – the Lord Jesus Christ.
Roots in the Mysteries
Most underground religious groups clothe their devotees with spotless religious garments to signify their presumed spotless state. The white robe or apron is one of the most important and common of all esoteric symbols, and finds its origins in the ancient mysteries. Albert G. Mackey explains in The Symbolism of Freemasonry: “In the Persian Mysteries of Mithras, the candidate, having first received light, was invested with a girdle, a crown or mitre, a purple tunic, and, lastly, a white apron … The Jewish sect of the Essenes, who approached nearer than any other secret institution of antiquity to Freemasonry in their organization, always invested their novices with a white robe … In all these modes of investiture, no matter what was the material or the form, the symbolic signification intended to be conveyed was that of purity.”
Mackey continues: “The heathens paid the same attention to the symbolic signification of this color. The Egyptians, for instance, decorated the head of their principal deity, Osiris, with a white tiara, and the priests wore robes of the whitest linen. In the school of Pythagoras, the sacred hymns were chanted by the disciples clothed in garments of white. The Druids gave white vestments to those of their initiates who had arrived at the ultimate degree, or that of perfection. And this was intended, according to their ritual, to teach the aspirant that none were admitted to that honour but such as were cleansed from all impurities, both of body and mind. In all the Mysteries and religions rites of the other nations of antiquity the same use of white garments was observed.”
33rd degree Masonic historian Daniel Sickel contends: “The apron in ancient times was a universally received emblem of truth. Among the Grecian mysteries the candidate was invested with a white robe and apron.” We can see that both the white robe and the white apron enjoy the same ancient heritage and elevated status within the mysteries. Moreover, both garments were employed to symbolise the same superstitious idea of moral cleanness.
Albert Pike says in his Morals and Dogma, “In Crete, Jupiter Ammon, or the Sun in Aries, painted with the attributes of that equinoctial sign, the Ram or Lamb;–that Ammon who, Martianus Copella says, is the same as Osiris, Adoni, Adonis, Atys, and the other Sun-Gods, – had also a tomb, and a religious initiation; one of the principal ceremonies of which consisted in clothing the Initiate with the skin of a white lamb. And in this we see the origin of the apron of white sheep-skin, used in Masonry.”
Masonic writer H.L. Haywood declares in The Apron, the Golden Bowl and the Silver Cord: “For one purpose or another, and in some form, the Apron has been used for three or four thousand years. In at least one of the Ancient Mysteries, that of Mithras, the candidate was invested with a white apron. So also was the initiate of the Essenes, who received it during the first year of his membership in that order, and it is significant that many of the statues of Greek and Egyptian gods were so ornamented, as may still be seen. Chinese secret societies, in many cases, also used it, and the Persians, at one time, employed it as their national banner.”
However we look at it, we discover that the ancient pagan cults universally wore white robes or white aprons to signify the supposed innocence and purity of their devotees. It is no surprise that the white garment would take on such a prominent position within, and bear such an honourable significance to, the modern day descendants of the mysteries, Freemasonry, Mormonism, the Jesuits and the Royal Black Institution.
Greater than the Golden Fleece, Roman Eagle and Star and Garter
What does it mean that this white robe is “richer than the Golden Fleece more ancient than the Roman Eagle more honourable than the Star and Garter or any other order that could have been conferred upon me”? What are the Golden Fleece and the Roman Eagle? What are the Star and Garter? The Grand Lodge of Germaine, Study Curriculum for Entered Apprentice concisely explains: “These are the honored royal decorations of Ancient Rome and Medieval England.”
The Masonic The Short Talk Bulletin (Vol. 5 November 1927 No. 11) further explains these accolades, saying, “The most specific way of conveying thought and expressing truth is by comparison. It is difficult to comprehend an idea unless we can correlate and compare it with something already known. The Order of Golden Fleece here referred to was founded in the year 1492 by Philip, Duke of Burgundy; the roman eagle became Rome’s ensign of imperial power about one century before the Christian era, while the apron has come down to us from the very sunrise of time.”
It continues: “The Order of the Star was created by John II of France at the beginning of his reign in the middle of the 14th Century. It was a royal plaything and at the time of its formation its founder was engaged in acts of despotism and destruction … The Order of the Garter was formed by Edward III of England in 1349. It was composed of the king and twenty-five knights and originated in the false pride and fantastic pomp of medieval manners.”
In conclusion, this Lodge publication lauds the superior attributes of this important item of Masonic clothing, saying, “As a badge of honor, the Lambskin Apron spells out integrity, honesty of purpose, probity of character, and soundness of moral principle.”
Masonic writer H.L. Haywood also explains, “Carrying with it so rich a freightage of symbolism the Apron may justly be considered ‘more ancient than the Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle, more honorable than the Star and Garter’, for these badges were too often nothing more than devices of flattery and the insignia of an empty name. The Golden Fleece was an Order of Knighthood founded by Philip, Duke of Burgundy, on the occasion of his marriage to the Infanta Isabella of Portugal in 1429 or 1430. It used a Golden Ram for its badge and the motto inscribed on its jewel was ‘Wealth, not servile labor!’.”
He adds, “The Romans of old bore an eagle on their banners to symbolize magnanimity, fortitude, swiftness, and courage. The Order of the Star originated in France in 1350, being founded by John II in imitation of the order of the Garter; of the last named Order it is difficult to speak, as its origin is clothed in so much obscurity that historians differ, but it was as essentially aristocratic as any of the others. In every case, the emblem was a token of aristocratic idleness and aloofness, the opposite of that symbolized by the Apron; and the superiority of the latter over the former is too obvious for comment” (The Apron The Golden Bowl and The Silver Cord).
Obviously these ancient honours are combined in the teaching for the purpose of showing the eminence and prestige that this secret society white garment is held by the secret brotherhoods. It is revered above any other earthly garment. Essentially they are trying to impress that nothing compares to the glory and reputed dignity of this fraternal apparel. Secret societies view it as being matchless in its worth, unrivalled in its splendour and without equal in its nature. All other ancient symbols individually or collectively do not measure up to the importance of this secret ceremonial attire.
The Black Position
The Black Lecturers Manual, which purports to point its instructors to the scriptural source of its teaching, attempts to advance 1 Samuel 18:4 and the situation where “Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him and gave it to David” as justification for its esoteric teaching. However, there is not the slightest hint in the narrative that this particular garment was “a spotless robe of white.” Neither (as we have seen) is there any suggestion in Scripture that David was innocent. Also, there is not the slightest hint that this robe carried all the superstitious qualities assigned to it by the secret society world. The Black and its fraternal relatives force that into their teaching. In short, this whole story is a Black myth. Therefore, the whole imagery and teaching of this degree and the foundation upon which it is built is faulty. It is graphically exposed by the dependable language of Scripture. The whole thrust is built upon the fallacy of man’s ingenuity rather than the truth of God’s Word.
Of course, the Black goes further than saying David was innocent, it actually relates the imaginary virtues ascribed to David to each candidate. This is confirms when the Black candidate reaches the pinnacle of the Black degree ladder. He is assured in the final retrospective degree (which is an overview of the eleven degrees of the Black): “by aid of that mysterious word that was lost and found, you beheld the purity and innocence of that God guided youth, (whom you represented).”
Here is verification from the Black that the initiate supposedly takes on all the exalted virtues that the body relates to this Bible character. The International Masonic Research Society the Philalethes Society validates this, stating, “As we seek to walk the path they have walked, we become Adam, we become Abraham, we become Hiram. Their stories belong to us — and their lives are our lives; for the truth of their lives is the truth of human existence” (Veiled in Allegory and Illustrated by Symbols, The Philalethes Magazine, Vol. XLIX No. 3, pp. 74-75).
As we have seen through our study, the only difficulty with this practice is that the secret societies in question frequently invent merits (and events) that are unknown to the Bible narrative and attribute them to the scriptural individual in question. They then apply these false traits to the initiate. The candidate is thus lumbered with a spurious religious lie. He is said to be something he is not. The detail of such lectures carries a dualistic application – firstly to the Bible figure in view and then to the candidate being initiated. It is impossible to divide them in the presentation.
Anthony D. Buckley (a social anthropologist working at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum) wrote in an article in Folk Life (Volume 24, 1985-86), alluding in passing to this type of procedure in his article on the Royal Black Institution – The Chosen Few. He explains: “In the course of being initiated into a Royal Arch Purple Chapter, or into one of the degrees of the Black Institution, the candidate typically participates in a ritual drama in which one or more Bible stories are dramatically re-enacted. Two ‘lecturers’ who supervise these ceremonies will, as part of the proceedings, give a ‘lecture’ (actually more like a catechism) in which these and perhaps other Bible stories are read out and explained. The initiate, as part of this rite, must take the role of one, or sometimes successively several of the characters in the plot.”
The fact that its teaching is by way of an oral tradition ensures that the Black member cannot scrutinise it from a biblical perspective. This allows these religious groups effortlessly to mix Scripture and legend together into a dangerous concoction that only astute minds could discern as they are being initiated.
In the story before us the lecturers start off speaking of David, wrongly rendering him innocent (linking his character to the white robe), they then in turn relate the same to the entrant that travels the degree. As we discovered at the beginning, the two lecturers speak on behalf of the candidate in the initiation by way of catechism, saying, “Why do you wear that colour? What colour? Royal White? Because I am innocent.” This particular segment could not be more explicit. Moreover, it is given without the slightest qualification.
Like all the other esoteric structures that adhere to this secret doctrine, the Royal Black Institution treats this garment with reverence. We cannot over-emphasise the awe that secret society theology attributes to this attire, which only goes to reveal the religious folly that is practised behind the closed doors of the Royal Black. Teaching is propagated and customs are practised that would not be tolerated by Christian men if they were performed openly in the light. The admiration that the Black Institution directs toward this superstitious article of clothing would simply not survive if it were publicly advocated in the name of evangelicalism. Jesus said in John 3:19, “Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
What does Scripture say?
Christians need no such natural garments to help them grasp the great truths of salvation, righteous living and eternity. They certainly do not require these things to represent the holiness and purity that comes from a surrendered life to Christ and godly behaviour before others. They find in Christ (and Christ alone) the perfect example and only means of finding favour with God and the ability to live a holy life. He is altogether sufficient. Christ alone is man’s example for righteous living and the only way of salvation.
Christ was indeed “made perfect” (Hebrews 5:9). There was no inherent sin in Him. 1 Peter 2:22 confirms He “did no sin,” the simple reason being “in him is no sin” (1 John 3:5). He also “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), therefore He was “without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). That meant that He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26). Hebrews 9:14 tells us He was “without spot.” 1 Peter 1:19 tells us He was “without blemish and without spot.” Heaven’s provision – the Lord Jesus Christ – had to be perfect. He had to live a perfect life and fulfil the law in every minute detail. It was only that type of person who was qualified to take the sinner’s place. Christ was the only person capable to meets such overwhelming demands. Christ represents everything that man needs for a perfect example. The whitest secret society garment can never remotely touch the purity and perfection of Christ. He alone is man’s example and point of reference when speaking of salvation, justification, holiness and eternity.
The Christian minister needs no secret ritual or esoteric teaching to assist him in preaching the message of salvation. God’s precious Word is sufficient. It is there that he finds God’s only antidote for sin. He believes and affirms, in the words of John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). This is the only Lamb that can change the sinful heart of man. Moreover, this is man’s only model of righteousness, purity and innocence in this life. We need add nothing to Christ – He is indeed “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
We should never be amazed at the devil’s foolish counterfeits. The truth is that there is nothing new in his schemes. Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” Man has been trying to cover his own sin in his own way (independent of God) since the very beginning of time. Genesis 3:7 says, “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”
Adam and Eve’s ingenious efforts showed the natural inclination of man is always to try and cover his own sin in his own way. The fact that they tried to cover themselves only served to show their personal guilt. Man has been doing the same ever since. This was unpleasing to God. It is a picture of man trying to cover his own sin by his own labours. This is confirmed by Job in Job 31:33, when he states: “If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom.” Religious men try to create their own covering through their own works – that’s what the apron represented in the Garden when their perfect communion with God broken, Adam and Eve tried to cover their own sin with a bloodless covering. However, this was an offence to God and was quickly rejected.
Most secret societies and cults cause their devotees to depend upon their own (supposed) goodness or their own fleshly endeavours or their own good works to be acceptable unto God, yet they fail to realise that all these innovations are simply putrid to the nostrils of a thrice holy God. God quickly removed man’s filthy rags in the Garden and clothed man in a covering that was acceptable to Him. God will equally remove the foolish coverings that men make outside of Christ and expose it on the Judgment Day as the devil’s great deception.
God decreed that “the blood … maketh atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11). The atonement was the only possible means of salvation for sinful man. It has been the only way of salvation for man ever since. It became the example and pattern for every Old Testament sacrifice following it. Notwithstanding, these sacrifices were only imperfect shadows and figurative representations of the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ. They foreshadowed Christ’s one final individual all-sufficient perfect eternal sacrifice for sin on Calvary. Adam and Eve had to accept this covering by faith, and by doing so they were brought back into union and communion with God. Their condemnation was placed upon the substitute, whereupon they were clothed with God’s righteous covering. It is exactly the same for us today.
The Black lecturer asks the question (during the ceremony) speaking of David (who is representative of the candidate): “Why are you innocent?” Of course, there can be no positive answer to this question as there is no one born since Adam and Eve that can be considered innocent. Notwithstanding, the reply is not even ‘because he trusted in Christ by faith’. Not ‘because of the blood of Jesus’. Not ‘because he repented of his sin and received Christ’. The Black ritual’s answer is: “Because I am but a youth – a mere stripling.” Whilst the Bible does describe David as both a “youth” and a “stripling” at the time of this great battle, it nowhere calls him “innocent” – as we have previously seen.
1 Samuel 17:55-56 records, “And when Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said unto Abner, the captain of the host, Abner, whose son is this youth? And Abner said, As thy soul liveth, O king, I cannot tell. And the king said, Inquire thou whose son the stripling is.”
Nowhere in this reading does it indicate such a description qualified David to be deemed “innocent.” When we look at the original Hebrew we learn that this was no mere child. The word for “stripling” in the original is haa`aalem meaning ‘a youth of marriageable age’ or ‘a young man’. David was not a child. It would have been doubtful if Jesse would have given a child control over his sheep or sent him alone to bring an errand to Israel’s troops on the front line. It is plainly wrong for the Royal Black Institution to suggest that David or any other person was rendered “innocent” or ‘pure’ because he was a young man. Such teaching is devoid of any scriptural basis and runs contrary to the biblical doctrine that man is born in a sinful depraved state.
Twice in Scripture David made comments in response to the unmerited manoeuvrings against him by wicked enemies, saying, “I … washed my hands in innocency” (Psalms 26:6, 73:13), but this was simply a direct reaction to the evil activities and false charges of his enemies and the terrible evils they perpetrated against him. This did not mean that he somehow viewed himself as morally innocent before God. He clearly did not or was not. In Psalms 19:13 David declared himself innocent of the error of “presumptuous sins.” However, he has not suggesting he was sinless.
David’s own testimony on this matter demolishes this secret society doctrine. He testifies, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). David knew he was a sinner. He also knew that he had inborn sin, that was inherited from Adam. He equally knew the only means by which he could be rendered clean and pure was through faith in the Lord and true repentance.
Psalm 51:1-4 records David’s heartfelt cry of repentance to God in this Psalm, saying, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.”
Nothing could be a greater rebuke to the Royal Black Institution and its White degree dogma than this contrite confession from David. As powerful a figure as David was, the Black Knights totally misrepresent the nature of David. This Black teaching we are looking at is a belief that runs contrary to Scripture and therefore contrary to truth. Secret societies are always adding error and myth to Scripture, mixing them together and producing what appears to be a tasty religious dish. To the undiscerning individual some of the language may seem familiar and even accurate. However, like appetizing cuisine that contains some deadly poison, secret societies mix the secret teaching of the mysteries with the truth of Scripture and it becomes fatal to the soul. It is Gnosticism. It is ‘salvation through the acquiring of knowledge and through secret initiation’. It is a heresy that has been around from the first century.
Man cannot attain unto salvation through his own good works, human effort or self discipline. He cannot gain any favour with God through his membership of the Black, mystical initiation or the acquiring of esoteric knowledge. Scripture makes it clear: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Regardless of how much it is covered in religious language or biblical words, if a religious order directs its devotees to some good within themselves then they are pointing them to a fallacy.
Membership of a secret society or the keeping of a set of strict religious rules can never remotely remove man’s greatest affliction – intrinsic sin. There is no secret society ritual or religious teaching that can remove this. No man is innocent. Scripture says the opposite. Man’s robes are by nature stained by sin. Isaiah 64:6 tells us, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Our own righteous efforts are likened to garments in this reading, but they are defiled clothes that can only be changed through the blood of Jesus.
Men either depend upon these futile self-righteous garments (that are an abomination before God) or they depend upon Christ’s pure robes of righteousness which are appropriated “by faith.” Man’s garments are temporal and unacceptable to God; heaven’s garments are eternal and are pleasing unto God. Men may wear the whitest material garments that this world can offer, but these cannot in any way conceal the darkness of the soul of the godless candidate or justify him before a holy God. Regardless of how the initiate feels after initiation, he is still a vile helpless sinner in need of redemption. Such religious endowments really symbolise man’s own self-righteousness, disobedience and good works, which, on the Day of Judgment, will damn to hell the deluded soul who trusts in them. Rather than drawing men to God, these orders push men away from Him.
The Texan Masonic website (which we have quoted earlier) makes an astonishing admission whilst describing the spiritual state of its members before the Judgment of the Great White Throne. After impressing the importance of trusting in the lambskin apron for salvation, it says of the Judgment, “Your soul, freed from earth, shall stand naked and alone before the Great White Throne.”
How profound this confession is. Outside of Christ, men will indeed stand naked and alone before the throne of God. They will be devoid of a friend or an advocate. They will lack any covering before God. All their misguided trust in the Lodge and its fraudulent assurances will be exposed on that great day. Their white Lodge aprons and robes will be seen in that day to be one almighty hoax. They will rue the day they ever accepted the Masonic and Black lie that there was something innately righteous within them. They will stand exposed, helpless and alone before the Lord of all the earth. This will be the case for every religious Mason and Blackman who is outside of Christ and who has never undergone the new birth He provides.
The Christian is different; he will stand clothed in Christ’s righteousness alone and will bow down before His Saviour and Lord in love and adoration. He will depend upon what Jesus has done for Him, not the other way round. Judgment day is a day for the believer to anticipate with great joy. For this corruption will take on incorruption. The believer will be clothed with an eternal body and will consequently enjoy Christ for all eternity. 2 Corinthians 5:3 says of that essential covering on that day: “If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked”
The opposite will be the case for the Christ-rejecter. As The Texan Masonic website acknowledges, the religious hypocrite will stand naked and alone before the Great White Throne. His white apron will have long disintegrated in the earth and will be found to be useless on that last day. His trust in it will be shown to have been foolish and misplaced. The Black Knight and Mason’s white garments will be exposed as nothing better than a symbolic representation of the vain religious filthy rags of those who trusted in them. Man’s temporal religious coverings will not survive to judgment day, whereas God’s spiritual covering – His robe of righteousness – will endure forever.
Proverbs 28:13 soberly counsel: “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Commenting on this reading, Matthew Henry says, “Gracious souls are not found naked in the other world; no, they are clothed with garments of praise, with robes of righteousness and glory. They shall be delivered out of all their troubles, and shall have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, Revelation 7:14.”
Plainly, salvation is not attainable from keeping a set of religious rules, through any supposed innate good that man possesses or by being an upright person, it comes through receiving Christ’s heavenly righteousness by faith. Bereft of a covering and lacking a representative, the Christ-rejecting candidate will be damned and doomed for all eternity. Naked he stands (devoid of heaven’s garments), and condemned he stands without a Saviour. Every religious hypocrite will stand naked and exposed on the judgment day; all their religious ceremonies and titles will mean nothing. Their reward will be eternal damnation.
The good news for the Mason, Blackman, Mormon and sinner is, the door of opportunity is still open and the day of grace is still here. If they would only discard these man-made innovations, turn from their sin and embrace man’s only hope of salvation, Jesus Christ, they would know the joy of sins forgiven. It is not too late. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” At Calvary our sin was imputed to the Saviour (or put to His account); upon salvation His righteousness was imputed to us (or put to our account) by faith. Christ’s perfect once all-sufficient self sacrifice secured a full, real and perfect redemption for His own. The only way by which God pardons man’s sin is through the shedding of blood.
They alone who put their faith and trust in Christ’s finished work at the cross are graciously clothed in the spiritual robes of Christ’s imputed righteousness. These white garments are not acquired by any intrinsic good in man but they are simply received by faith in our Saviour. It was Calvary alone that ensured that the penitent sinner would be arrayed in divine robes of righteousness. Like all secret societies, this Black address carefully omits any mention of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Bible admonishes us, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:6-7). We either submit to God’s requirement or we surrender to man’s.
The book of Revelation reveals a vast heavenly throng who are adorned with white heavenly robes, in Revelation 7:13-15. One of the elders enquires of John, saying, “What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?” Which John replies, “Sir, thou knowest.” To which the elder affirms, “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple.” Only those sinners who have had their robes washed in the blood of the Lamb stand clothed in white spiritual garments at the final judgment.
The United Protestant Council enquiry
The United Protestant Council enquiry into the Royal Black Institution concluded, when reporting on this matter (January 2004), that this teaching is “a clear denial of Original Sin.” The Imperial Grand Black Chapter of the British Commonwealth Province of England responding to this charge said, “The term ‘innocent’ has a number of meanings in the English language – free from moral wrong, not guilty of a crime, simple, guileless, naïve, or harmless to name just a few.” The Black then attempts to downplay the import of the teaching by stating, “He was as a naïve youth when it came to warfare from a human perspective.”
We could take this Black explanation more seriously if it were actually in the catechism or the address of the Royal White degree, but it is not. In fact, it is nowhere to be found in any of the internal teaching within the degree (or any other degree in the Black for that matter). It is also absent from the Black’s private commentaries of this degree. The apology might also have carried some weight if it had fitted the whole context and teaching of the lesson, but it does not. In reality, as every Blackman knows, the usage of the word “innocent” to describe David is carefully identified with the purity of the white robe and the absolute purity it signifies for the initiated member. In fact, the whiteness of the robe and how it relates to David is the focus of this degree. This is a standard doctrine within all secret societies and religious sects – as we have discovered.
There can be little doubt the Black created an expedient definition of “innocent” to the UPC for the purpose of aiding its application for membership of the group. But that definition does not comply with the theology and meaning of the ritual concerned. Even if we were to accept the rationalization of the Black to the UPC, we would have to divorce it from the remainder of the catechism, because it totally contradicts the teaching that follows. Those of us that have been through the degree know that youthful naivety is never suggested as a reason why David in Scripture and Blackmen in general are found worthy to wear white. The idea that David would be rewarded with an honoury white robe for being “naïve” does not make sense. Why would he be rewarded for being a youth? Anyway, as we have established, no such concept is conveyed in the degree.
There seems little doubt the Royal Black Preceptory is being disingenuous here, putting a veneer of plausibility in its defence in order to conceal the inner doctrinal error involved in this instruction. We must never forget that neo-Masonic theology was never intended for outside scrutiny. It was solely formulated for internal consumption. The Black Knights were therefore very uncomfortable about having to justify this teaching to this evangelical investigation. This explains the defensive and obviously embarrassed nature of the reply to the UPC. The defence presented is unknown to the instruction we are examining and is at odds with its teaching. The defence is therefore bogus.
The United Protestant Council picked up on this matter when it responded to the Black’s case in its recent booklet explaining the reason for rejecting the Black’s application for membership. The booklet questioned the bona-fides of this secret Order: “The Blackmen who have written to the UPC say that the word innocent is used in this context in the sense of naïve or harmless. Yet further on in the degree the candidate is said to be given ‘a white robe on account of my innocence, richer that the Golden Fleece more ancient that the Roman Eagle, more honourable that the Star and Garter’. This does not square with the suggested interpretation of the word innocent. You do not get a prize for being naïve. If we are to identify with David in his trust in the living God, we must identify with him in his confession of his sinfulness – Ps. 51:3.”
The objective Christian mind must surely agree with the UPC on this matter. It is beyond argument.
The Royal Black Institution consists of eleven degrees, as follows: –
(1) Royal Black degree – exposed and biblically examined
(2) Royal Scarlet Degree – exposed and biblically examined
(3) Royal Mark degree – exposed and biblically examined
(4) Apron and Royal Blue degree – exposed and biblically examined
(5) Royal White degree – exposed and biblically examined
(6) Royal Green degree – exposed and biblically examined
(7) Gold degree – exposed and biblically examined
(8) Star and Garter degree – exposed and biblically examined
(9) Crimson Arrow degreee – exposed and biblically examined
(10) Link and Chain degree – exposed and biblically examined
(11) Red Cross degree – exposed and biblically examined
The Institution also possesses a final retrospective degree, which is essentially an overview of the 11 degrees that the candidate has traversed.
Red Cross Grand Charge – exposed