A biblical response to RAP spokesman Rev Ron Johnstone
Behind Closed Minds is an examination of the book 'Behind Closed Doors' by "Royal" Arch Purple Spokesman Rev Ron Johnstone, Armagh, on behalf of the
Chaplains Committee of the Grand Chapter of the Royal Arch Purple Chapter of Ireland.
In our response, we have deliberately chose to concentrate upon the arguments relating to the actual "Royal" Arch Purple degree rather than reply to the
author's many unjust personal attacks upon the author of Behind Closed Doors.
Key matters Mr Johnstone sidesteps
The informed observer must notice how the author of 'Behind Closed Minds' has been careful to avoid addressing many of the central aspects of
the RAP ritual. He side-steps these as if they don't exist. Notwithstanding, these important portions of the degree are all covered in great detail
in Behind Closed Doors (the book he is supposed to be rebutting). It seems like he is more interested in engaging in mud-slinging and attempting
to discredit the author's character.
We can understand the author's reluctance to address these core issues as they include many degrading practices and much anti-scriptural
Mode of Initiation
No one familiar with the RAP degree could surely take Mr Johnstone's booklet to be a serious rebuttal of Behind Closed Doors or a thorough
examination of the degree. Numerous biblical arguments presented by Mr Malcomson are ignored and many of the key aspects of the initiation
are completely avoided, as if they do not exist or they are unimportant. Rev Johnstone cherry picks issues and even then fudges the biblical
arguments put forward by Mr Malcomson.
A case-in-point is the preparation of the candidate. This is a central facet of the degree. The appearance of the new recruit is
saturated in symbolism and importance. The oath-bound Royal Arch Purple candidate is prepared for initiation in typical Masonic manner, by
being stripped of much of his clothes. He is divested of his coat and vest, collar and tie, shoes and socks. One shoe is then placed on
candidate's left bare foot, and the legs of his trousers rolled up above the knee, his left breast being bare. The candidate is then
blindfolded, and a piece of purple ribbon is fastened to the front of the candidate's shirt or other garment.
Is this an acceptable way to enter a Christian meeting? In what way does Mr Johnstone thing this prepartion is honouring to the
Lord Jesus Christ?
The Protestant Truth Society booklet written by former Deputy Grand Chaplain of Grand Orange Lodge of England, Rev. Alexander Roger, states: "Is it
becoming to a Christian man and the self respect of any gentleman to appear in this half stripped condition? Is it necessary in order to secure his adherence to
the maintenance of the Protestant Faith in Church and State to enforce submission to what after all is a degrading ceremony bordering upon the blasphemous?
That it should be deemed necessary to blindfold the Candidate until nearly the close of the initiation is strongly suggestive."
As we analyse the pitiful sight of the blindfolded Royal Arch Purple candidate, we see a remarkable picture of the carnal Laodicean Church described in
Revelation 3. The Lord condemned it, saying: "thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." (V. 17) This vivid betrayal, which
is shared with most other secret societies and occult bodies throughout the world, shows the incredible lengths to which Satan will go, to mock the
Word of God. Could this pitiful mode of preparation be a graphic picture of the dismal spiritual state of the Church in Ulster today?
Jesus says of the Laodiceans, "thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold
nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:15-16).
Mr Johnstone is careful to ignore the degrading way the candidate travels the degree. To think that this is all done in the name of Christ
adds insult to injury. What possible glory could this custom bring to Jesus Christ? How can an evangelical minsiter endorse this folly?
As the Royal Arch Purple candidate enters the Chapter room, a sword or other sharp object is pressed into his bare breast. The Protestant Truth
Society booklet of 1925 revealed: "The oath taken, the candidate is branded with the Seal of the Lodge upon his bare chest - the seal, if a metal
one, having been previously heated for the impression." The reason for such an action is explained during the Royal Arch Purple lecture.
Q. "How were you admitted? Or upon what?
A. On the point of a sword, spear, or some other warlike instrument
to my naked left breast.
Q. Why to your naked left breast?
A. Because it was nearest my heart.
Q. Did you feel anything?
A. Three sharp pricks to my naked left breast.
Q. What did these three sharp pricks to your naked left breast signify?
A. As they were a prick to my flesh in the meantime, so may they be a sting
to my conscience hereafter, if ever I should divulge anything I had received
or was about to receive."
The significance of this practice is solemnly outlined during the Masonic first degree initiation, when the candidate is told: "At your entrance
into the Lodge, this sword was presented to your naked left breast, so that had you rashly attempted to rush forward, you would have been accessory
to your own death by stabbing. Not so with the brother who held it; as he would have only remained firm to his duty" (Masonic Manual p. 9).
Clearly even the RAP had no justification for this act of entry into the Chapter. Mr Johnstones circumvents this practice as if it doesn't exist.
The blindfolded candidate is further disturbed by a loud and unexpected bang. This surprise can take many forms and often differs from area to
area. One Chapter may fire a blank round from a gun at the initiate, another may smash a set of cymbals, another may simply drop the poles of the
lodge's banner on the floor beside him and others use different means. Regardless of the method or the means the aim of the Chapter is always
to unsettle the unsuspecting candidate and reduce him to a vulnerable condition. From a medical perspective this behaviour is highly dangerous,
but from a spiritual standpoint this performance is deeply offensive. The Chapter seems to justify this foul practice, in its lecture, by
claiming Divine approval:
Q."What did you hear?
A. A loud report, as of a cannon-gun, or some other small piece of musketry.
Q. What did this loud report signify?
A. The Lord thundering down his wrath upon the children of
Israel for their disobedience unto him."
The disoriented candidate is then forced to his knees, where he is required to 'pray for his own deliverance'.
Could we ask Mr Johnstione what this farce has to do with evangelical Protestantism?
The Royal Arch Purple candidate is led round the Chapter room three times in a time-honoured heathen manner. This practice is known as
'circumambulation' and is common to all the pagan ancient mysteries and all their modern day counterparts.
In the draft copy of the Royal Arch Purple book 'History of the Royal Arch Purple Order', the Chapter states: "The part of the degree
which we refer to as the 'travel' is where the original theme is played out. It is conducted in a time honoured manner, namely by 'circumambulation'
or walking all around. This is a practice that has been used from very early times in all the mysteries and religions of every age. It was usual
to walk all around a sacred object or place in a very formal manner. The Romans observed this custom for expiation and purification and their word
'Lustratio' implies purification and walking in a circular direction always in a clockwise direction."
A Degrading Inititiation
The Royal Arch Purple candidate circumambulates the Chapter room three times, the floor of which is covered in branches and brambles, so as to
ensure the journey is one of obvious suffering for the barefooted candidate.
During his three journeys round the Chapter room, the candidate (without warning) is violently whipped on his legs with brambles and branches
by the assembled brethren. This practice normally results in varying amounts of cuts and bruises to the initiate, depending on the brethren
administering such, the candidate enduring a symbolic fall, each lap of the hall.
The whipping of the initiate's legs and the barefooted travel over brambles and branches is painfully endured by the candidate to the
accompaniment of hilarious laughter from all those present, many imitating goat bleats, (reminding the candidate of his impending ride on
the goat). This deeply offensive practice is carefully designed to further humiliate the nervous candidate. Amazingly, such ridiculous
buffoonery is accompanied by the reading of Holy Scripture.
The Protestant Truth Society's pamphlet of 1925 again testifies to such, stating: "The Chaplain during this portion as other portions
of the ceremony, is engaged in either reading portions of Scripture or certain prayers."
The Society booklet of 1925 then asks an important question: "Can you picture a more discreditable parody of Sacred things, conducted
as it was amid efforts of the onlookers to restrain inordinate laughter? Does not this introductory invocation to the Holy Spirit bring it
within very close proximity of blasphemy? Think of so-called ministers of the Gospel taking part in such a scene! To countenance it at all
is to disgrace their profession and bring discredit upon themselves."
Five Points of Fellowship
The three journeys of the candidate round 'the wilderness' are accompanied by three great falls symbolising the candidate's victory over
death and the grave. As the candidate is led round the room the first time he sustains a fall, and is raised up, on the words "O death,
where is thy sting?" He is then led round again and receives the second fall, and is raised up, on the words "O grave, where is thy victory?"
The Royal Arch Purple here, foolishly, apply this text, found in 1 Corinthians 15, to all its initiates, presenting a false hope of victory
over death and the grave. Such hope pertains solely to a child of God and should never be addressed to a child of darkness. No amount of
manufactured ceremony within the Royal Arch Purple initiation will ever procure victory over death and the grave for man; such comes through
Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall
not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24).
On the third and final lap round the Chapter room, the initiate sustains his third and final fall, which results in him being blasphemously
raised to a figurative new birth by the five points of fellowship. This practice involves the candidate being raised from the floor by a
lecturer or office bearer, who is assisted by some of the assembled brethren. The 'brother' raising the candidate then embraces him and acts
out each individual point of fellowship; so as to leave a deep impression upon the candidate.
It is the figurative resurrection rite that accompanies the five points of fellowship which proves probably one of the most idolatrous
practices found within secret societies.
That which the Arch Purple often conceals, Freemasonry normally reveals. Even allowing for Masonry's veiled language, there is usually
enough explanation given in their ceremony to give the discerning candidate some indication of the true significance of the Order's practices.
After being raised on the five points of fellowship in the third degree, the Master Mason learns, "It is thus all Master Masons are
raised from a figurative death to a reunion with the former companions of their toils...Yet even by this feeble ray you may perceive that
you stand on the very brink of the grave into which you have figuratively descended" (Masonic Manual p. 70).
W.J. McK. McCormick in 'Christ, the Christian and Freemasonry' explains: "He [the candidate] falls under the blows of the 'Assassins'
and, shamming death, is 'buried'. Some Lodges are constructed with a grave in the floor, into which the candidate is lowered … Well,
after death and burial comes the 'resurrection'. Two attempts are made to raise 'the corpse' and 'prove a slip'. The Worshipful Master
then leaves the chair to show how it can be achieved. He embraces the 'corpse' with the 'five points of fellowship' (breast to breast,
knee to knee, etc.) and the 'corpse' returns to life. The candidate's baser nature is now dead and he rises a perfectly regenerated being"
Whilst this deceptive, superstitious rite is designed by the devil to counterfeit the Christian new birth experience, the child of God can
joyfully testify to being delivered from death unto everlasting life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. The Bible says: “But God,
who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by
grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6).
The true believer stands blameless before the throne of grace, being justified by faith and born again of the Spirit of God. The hand of
God rather than the tainted arm of flesh has graciously raised him up to a marvellous newness of life. The Bible says: “There is therefore
now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life
in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).
Mr Johnstone obviously doesn't want to touch this topic with a barge-pole. What justification could he possible advance to convince his
fellow ministers that this was a laudable evangelical practice to be allowed in Protestant Order? The answer is obvious!
Behind Closed Minds is an examination of 'Behind Closed Doors' by Royal Arch Purple Spokesman, and Free Presbyterian Minister, Rev. Ron Johnstone,
Armagh, on behalf of the Chaplains Committee of the Grand Chapter of the Royal Arch Purple Chapter of Ireland.
Evangelical Truth response
Part 1 - An analysis of the arguments
Part 2 - An analysis of the arguments (continued)
Part 3 - An analysis of the arguments (continued)
Part 5 - The arguments conveniently ignored (continued)
Part 6 - The Conclusion