The Binding of the Candidate
Before being fully accepted as a Royal Arch Purple man the candidate must endure an elaborate initiation ceremony. This occurs on a night that is both mutually convenient to the candidate and the Chapter. Two District Lecturers are required to put the candidate through the initiation.
At the commencement of the ceremony the candidate is required to take a binding oath upon himself known within secret societies as an obligation (this is normally performed in a side room). In this oath he commits himself to the Royal Arch Purple Order, its secrets, mysteries and members.
Before the initiation, the candidate is asked to agree to participate in a ceremony he, as yet, knows nothing about. He is asked, "Do you now wish to receive the Royal Arch Purple degree?" Upon his positive affirmation the obligation is then introduced to him as follows: "Before we can impart to you any of the secrets or mysteries of the Royal Arch Purple degree you will be required to take upon yourself a solemn, sincere, binding, yet entirely voluntary obligation, binding you to us, as we are bound to one another as Royal Arch Purple men." Here the lecturers surround the introduction to the oath in ambiguous language, albeit the child of God receives due notice, at this early stage, of the binding effect of the obligation.
The nature of the obligation is then deceptively described to the candidate, in the following terms. "There is nothing in that obligation that may prove detrimental to you in life, or hinder you in the duty you owe to God, your country, or yourself. Are you therefore willing to take upon yourself that voluntary obligation?"
Whilst this description gives little clue to the true nature and significance of the obligation he is about to take, the candidate must affirm his willingness to adhere to it beforehand, thus foolishly putting his trust in man. Here the Order unfairly demands adherence to an oath the contents of which the initiate knows nothing about.
No Christian has the right to pledge in advance to keep a vow, the substance and conditions of which he is ignorant. The Reformed Presbyterian Church attacks this sinful practice in the testimony of its church saying, "Membership in Secret Societies involves taking an oath before being aware of the obligation. No man is at liberty to bind his conscience by oath without knowledge of the nature and extent of his obligation."
Prominent Irish Masonic author George Power in his book 'A Second Masonic Collection' defines an obligation: "The root of the word 'obligation' is 'lig'. It means bond, a tie or to be tied together. The prefix of the word is 'ob' which means to move toward or to act toward'. Thus we can deduce that an Obligation is something that moves or acts towards the binding of something together. Masonically the Obligation has a two-way method of tying things or people together. The Obligation moves towards the joining of the Lodge to the Candidate, and the joining of the candidate to the Lodge" (p. 77).
Some candidates entering the Royal Arch Purple degree may claim some ignorance as to the meaning and grave significance of such an obligation. Nevertheless such naiveté is not shared with the hierarchy of the Royal Arch Purple Chapter. In its book 'History of the Royal Arch Purple Order' they assert: "An obligation is a binding agreement between two or more parties that each will keep his side of the bargain and be faithful to his words" (p. 192). Like all secret societies the Royal Arch Purple employs 'the obligation' as a subtle instrument for uniting the candidate to the Chapter.
The solemn obligation begins: "I ------- ------------ do most voluntarily, solemnly and sincerely declare that I will never reveal unlawfully, but will ever conceal, the proceedings of my brother Royal Arch Purple men in Chapter assembled, nor will I disclose any matter or thing therein communicated to me, unless to a brother Royal Arch Purple man, well knowing him to be such, or until I have been duly authorised so to do by the proper and legal authorities, . . . And I furthermore do most solemnly and sincerely declare that I will not write, nor indite, cut, carve, stamp, stain, emboss, or engrave upon anything movable or immovable, whereby the secrets of this degree may become unlawfully known through my unworthiness..."
The wording of this bond has been taken directly from the first degree of Freemasonry where the candidate swears to "always hale, conceal and never reveal any part or parts, point or points, of the secrets and mysteries of, or belonging to, free and accepted Masons in Masonry, which have been, shall now, or hereafter may be, communicated to me, unless it be a true and lawful brother or brothers…I further solemnly promise, that I will not write those secrets, print, carve, engrave, or otherwise them delineate, or cause or suffer them to be done so by others, if in my power to prevent it, on anything movable or immovable… that our secrets, arts, and hidden mysteries, may improperly become known through my unworthiness."
The Royal Arch Purple here binds the initiates to conceal the teaching and practices of the Order, and never reveal it to anyone save fellow Royal Arch Purple men. Such secrecy is unscriptural and runs contrary to our Lord's plan for the Church, which was designed to be a just, open and outward-reaching body. Jesus said in Mark 16:15: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
Indeed, the Lord says, "there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops" (Matthew 10:26-27).
The Royal Arch Purple then introduces the Protestant cause, as if to 'Christianise' the obligation. They say: "I will to the utmost of my power support and maintain the Protestant religion, and glorious Constitution of 1688, against all foes, foreign and domestic. I will aid and assist all true and faithful Royal Arch Purple men in all just and lawful actions, and I will not wrong, nor see any of them wronged or defrauded, if in my power to prevent it."
The Arch Purple candidate then swears: "I will not have any unlawful carnal knowledge of a brother Royal Arch Purpleman's wife, mother, daughter, sister, or any of his near or dear female relatives."
Here, the Royal Arch Purple selectively proscribes one sin, that of unlawful carnal knowledge and then hypocritically applies limits to its extent, namely the female relatives of its own members.
We again find the source of such error in Freemasonry where the third degree Mason refers to the female relatives of his brethren in his oath. He vows to "support a Master Mason's character… and strictly respect the chastity of those who are most dear to him, in the persons of his wife, sister, or his child: and that I will not knowingly have unlawful carnal connexion with any of them" (Masonic Manual p. 66).
Imagine a believer subjecting himself to such exclusive unscriptural conditions! Taking such a vow to simply abstain from one individual sin is hypocrisy, but qualifying the bounds, to which this sin may be committed against, is an arrogant contravention of God's holy Word.
James 2: 9 -11 says: "If ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law."
Evangelical author Martin L. Wagner, refers to the subject in his book 'Freemasonry - An Interpretation' when he states: "This covenant does not forbid adultery. It aims only to restrict it [and]… while it purposes to protect female virtue, in fact undermines it."
The revival preacher Charles G. Finney in his book 'Character and Claims of Freemasonry' argues that it does not even imply "the semblance of virtue" (p. 44).
Whilst the Royal Arch Purple and Freemasonry are selective in their opposition to sin and discriminating in those to whom it applies, the Word of God is certainly not. Such selective teaching is contrary to the instruction of Scripture and is, in itself, a sin.
The Bible clearly shows that God is no respecter of persons. Romans 2:11 says, "For there is no respect of persons with God." Proverbs 28:21 teaches that "To have respect of persons is not good." Secret societies should therefore follow God's example and act upon the solemn instruction of His Word.
God hates sin (Romans 1: 18), and cannot look upon it (Habakkuk 1: 13), therefore we have no warrant to be selective in our prohibition or condemnation of it. Sin is sin. Professing believers must therefore be consistent in their Christian walk and undiscriminating in their denunciation of wrongdoing.
The hypocrisy of taking such a vow is highlighted by that great man of God, J C Ryle when he says: "If men professing to be converted, and true believers in a crucified Christ, cannot be chaste, self-denying, and obedient without solemnly registering a vow, I must plainly say I think they are not likely to do much good… I think it will be a public confession that they are an inferior order of men" (Charges and Addresses p. 240).
Not only does the Royal Arch Purple obligation break the Law of God, but it also breaks the law of the land. After earlier vowing to "aid and assist" his new brethren in "all just and lawful actions" he is forced to hypocritically swear, "I will obey the five points of fellowship, and keep and conceal the secrets of my Royal Arch Purple brethren within my breast, as well as my own, murder and treason excepted."
This illegal vow, where the Royal Arch Purple candidate binds himself to conceal the secrets of his fellow Arch Purple brethren "murder and treason excepted" is both morally and scripturally wrong. The extent and scale of such concealment is mind-boggling and must be viewed with the greatest concern and abhorrence. So extreme are the legal implications that one wonders how a child of God can offer any justification for such bondage. From manslaughter to rape, incest to robbery, a brother's sin and crimes must be covered up.
The origin of such language is again found within the third degree of Freemasonry when the candidate affirms: "I promise and swear, that I will not speak the Master Mason's word... except... on the five points of fellowship. I promise and swear that a Master Mason's secrets... shall remain secure... murder and treason excepted."
The Westminster Confession of Faith (Ch 22 sec 7) states, "No man may vow to do anything forbidden in the Word of God, or what would hinder any duty therein commanded, or which is not in his own power, and for the performance whereof he hath no promise of ability from God…"
Charles G. Finney says of this sinful Masonic oath, "It is self-evident that this Master's oath is either a conspiracy against the execution of law, or Master Masons care nothing for the solemnity of an oath" (Character and Claims of Freemasonry p. 44).
The Protestant Truth Society pamphlet on the Royal Arch Purple Order written in 1925 by former Deputy Grand Chaplain of the Grand Orange Lodge of England the Rev. Alexander Roger states: "If clerics aid and abet a contravention of the Law of the Realm what is to be expected of the ordinary lay Orangeman?"
The Lord Jesus Christ solemnly cautions in Matthew 12:36-37: "That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
Here also, like the Freemason, the initiate promises under oath to keep a practice he yet knows nothing of, namely the 'five points of fellowship'. The ignorant candidate will later discover that it is in fact a mock resurrection rite, involving even further bondage. Ironically, this 'rite' is common to nearly every secret society and cult throughout the world today.
The RAP candidate concludes his obligation by blasphemously asking God's blessing upon his unholy vow: "O help me, Almighty God, and keep me steadfast in this my solemn vow."
Some misguided apologists for the Royal Arch Purple have sheepishly argued that the contents of the obligation are not to be taken literally. Nevertheless, to invoke the name of Almighty God in an oath is a very serious matter, and something that is not to be taken lightly. To treat an oath in such a flippant manner clearly contravenes the third commandment, which states: "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain" (Exodus 20:7).
This Royal Arch Purple obligation is a literal, binding agreement; therefore no child of God can justify committing himself to such illegal SINFUL conditions.
A.W. Tozer once declared: "Although he [Satan] is a dark and sinister foe dedicated to the damnation of humans, I think he knows that it is no use trying to damn a forgiven and justified child of God who is in the Lord's hands. So, it becomes the devil's business to keep the Christian's spirit imprisoned. He knows that the believing and justified Christian has been raised up out of the grave of his sins and trespasses. From that point on, Satan works that much harder to keep us bound and gagged, actually imprisoned in our own grave clothes."
By consenting to this abhorrent oath, the Royal Arch Purple candidate swears to keep and conceal secrets, practices and teachings he as yet knows absolutely nothing about. A believer's position is more precarious in that he is not only binding himself to an organisation, but also to its members, most of whom bear no testimony of sins forgiven. This unquestionably violates the teaching of God's Word. James 4:4 says, "Know ye not that the friendship of the world is emnity with God? whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
The selfish loyalty demanded by secret societies and the inevitably strong bond of fellowship and loyalty which develops from such a commitment, must surely draw Christians entangled within them away from their first love, the Lord Jesus Christ. As a result, it must inevitably weaken their position within the brotherhood of believers.
The Independent Orange Institution, which owns the Royal Arch Purple degree as its third degree, attempt (in a secret memo released to the membership on the 20th February 1998) to defend this sinful oath. Understandably their defence refers exclusively to the part of the obligation which refers to the Protestant religion. They say, "it is true that the obligation has a binding influence amongst the members. We are a 'religious and loyal brotherhood' dedicated to the promotion of Protestantism. We have bound ourselves together for that purpose. We despair to think that a professed Evangelical would object to that."
Such a distorted and selective defence of this sinful obligation must be carefully analysed and answered.
Firstly, the Royal Arch Purple obligation primarily binds men to a man-made institution and its members, rather than to the Protestant cause. The exclusive demands of allegiance made by this unscriptural oath of obligation, draws men further away from the body of believers, the Church, rather than closer to it. The consequence of this obligation ultimately means that his commitment to the same is seriously compromised.
Evangelical Tom C. McKenney in addressing the subject of obligations in his book on Freemasonry, 'Please Tell Me', outlines how the initiate "puts himself in the position of swearing to put his loyalty to the Lodge above other commitments of loyalty." Brother in the Lord, this is at variance with the very principles of true biblical Protestantism!
Secondly, Protestantism needs no such sinful bondage to secure a man's commitment to the Reformed Faith. Such a glorious cause is maintained by trusting in Christ and living by His unadulterated Word.
A.L. Allen, one of the twenty most prominent Orangemen consulted for their opinion of the Royal Arch Purple degree between the years 1876 and 1878 said, in complete agreement with the others: "If such things are required to interest members of the Orange Institution to act as a bond (as is alleged), all I can say is, it speaks but little for their genuine Protestantism. In my opinion the kind of Protestant that such an absurd profane farce pleases is the very sort we should be better without."
Thirdly, no Christian can take secret society oaths without sinning against Almighty God. Such an obligation contravenes God's holy Word and offends a thrice-holy God. A true child of God cannot truly fulfil this offensive Arch Purple oath!
Galatians 4:9 says, "But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?"
Secret society obligations are clearly unbiblical and must be renounced. The word renounce means to take strong verbal action to reject, cut off, totally disown, or break the legal right of something. The believer who realises he has taken an oath that violates God's precious Word must repent (turn away from his sin). Leviticus 5:4-6 says, "If a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these. And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing: And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD for his sin which he hath sinned."
Matthew Henry commenting on this passage states: "If a man binds himself by an oath that he will do or not do such a thing and the performance of his oath afterwards proves either unlawful or impracticable, by which he is discharged from the obligation, yet he must bring an offering to atone for his folly in swearing so rashly... The offender must confess his sin and bring his offering; and the offering was not accepted unless it was accompanied with a penitential confession and a humble prayer for pardon."
Here at the very beginning of the ceremony, the Royal Arch Purple Order stands exposed. Whilst craftily deceiving the ignorant candidate beforehand, that there was nothing in this obligation that may prove detrimental to him in life, or hinder him in the duty he owes to God, his country, or himself, they demand an oath that contravenes these very things. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that this is unadulterated deception!
God's Word refers to the subject of oath taking in general in James 5:12, stating, "But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation."
Jesus said, "Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil" (Matthew 5:34-37).
Many evangelicals have argued over the years that these verses are evidence that all oaths are wrong. Others assume the Reformed position on oaths which is outlined in the Westminster Confession of Faith (Ch 22 sec 3): "Whosoever taketh an oath, ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act, and therein to avouch nothing but what he is fully persuaded is the truth. Neither may any man bind himself by oath to anything but what is good and just, and what he believes so to be, and what he is able and resolved to perform. Yet it is a sin to refuse an oath touching any thing that is good and just, being imposed by lawful authority."
Whilst debate may continue among evangelicals on the overall subject of oaths there can surely be no justification, from any side, for this sinful neo-Masonic Royal Arch Purple oath.
God's Word admonishes the true child of God to: "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1).
The source of the degree