11th Red Cross degree biblically examined
Now a True Believer
At the commencement of this final ceremony – the 11th Red Cross degree – the Black candidate is informed by way of catechism:
“Why do you wear that emblem?
That red cross?
Because I am a true believer.”
Here, irrespective of his spiritual standing before God, the Royal Black Institution deems all its Red Cross initiates to be true believers. The Black Knights present the attainment of the Red Cross degree and the candidate’s subsequent mandate to wear the Red Cross jewel on his collarette as evidence that he is a genuine Christian. Being the end of his Loyal Orders degree journey, there is a real sense of arrival with this degree. After all, it has taken him a minimum of eleven months (usually much longer) to make it to this lofty place and qualify to wear this emblem. This is the pinnacle of his Black ritualistic degree work. The only other thing left for him to receive is the Grand Charge – which is just a short general overview oration covering the salient points of all the degrees he has traversed. Not surprisingly, the member experiences a great feeling of relief and achievement on arriving here.
If he wishes to enhance his knowledge further in the secret mysteries the Red Cross Blackman must migrate over to the Masonic Lodge, which takes his experience to another level – and many do. Whilst this is not officially sanctioned, it frequently occurs through the influence of strategically placed Masons within the Black who use their sway and power to draw disciples into Masonry. The Royal Black Institution is a major recruiting ground for Freemasonry. This is particularly so amongst the lecturing fraternity – the Institution’s teachers.
From a Christian perspective, the Red Cross assurance is unacceptable. It is wrong to deem a man a “true believer” without due qualification. The Royal Black Institution has no right to bestow such a spiritual description upon all its members, especially when one takes into account the high percentage of men within its organisation that make no claim to be saved. The Black Knights place no condition on this pronouncement; they just grant it freely to all who achieve the Red Cross degree. Contrary to what the Black teaches, attaining the top degree in the Order does not prove any righteous merit in the aspirant nor does it signify any special spiritual favour from the Lord. Further, it in no way confirms the bona fide nature of the Blackman’s Christian profession. All it shows is the aspirant’s enormous appetite for ritualistic advancement, and human achievement.
Ephesians 5:6 cautions, “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.”
It is evident that the Black takes incredible liberties with Scripture. It seems to view the consecrated pages as a fitting resource to gather all types of descriptions and terms, and to use them in the most unbiblical and far-fetched manner. It employs Holy Writ for its own purposes, mainly to reinforce its secret doctrines. Scripture is repeatedly misused, misquoted or misapplied, thus giving the Blackman a distorted understanding of the real meaning of scriptural truths. This does untold damage to the Gospel. In doing this, it is following in the footsteps of its mother order – Freemasonry. We should always remember: truth mixed with error is still error – often more dangerous error than it was before, because it purports to have the support of truth.
The Red Cross initiate is further taught: “The emblems worn for this degree are the red cross, the lamb and the key. The red cross is the symbol of redemption purchased by the redeemer in the sacrifice of himself, and is represented in the lamb that under the law was offered as an oblation for the sins of the whole world. The key is the Holy Scriptures that were effectively used by the Apostles to open the kingdom of heaven. By the amalgamation of these emblems we learn this lesson, that we manfully bearing our cross over the tempestuous seas of time, a lamb like offering the sacrifice of a contrite spirit we may too use the key of knowledge to open the gates of that eternal city which standeth foursquare whose builder and founder is God.”
There is quite a lot here to dissect. However, we should note that when speaking of the red cross the Black Institution uses the definite article: “The red cross is the symbol of redemption.” But is the red cross sign? Where do the Black Knights get this from? Scripture certainly does not say so.
True Christians do not put their trust in symbols and have never looked to a physical cross to represent their salvation, and they definitely do not regard the Templar red cross emblem as expressive of such. They rather look to Christ, who “is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Christ is the exclusive personification of our deliverance. One look at Him with the eyes of faith is sufficient to remind us of our redemption. Hebrews 12:2 tells us, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Christ is all we need. He is the perfect representation and plentiful evidence of our redemption. Believers do not need anything else. Religious imagery and superstitious attachment to the same is something evangelicals have carefully steered away from over the years. In fact, this would be a significant distinction between true Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. Evangelical Reformed circles have no part with the Roman Catholic fascination with the physical cross and its associated religious imagery and veneration. They reject the crucifix as a superstitious religious image, choosing rather to keep the work of the cross and Christ crucified to the forefront of their thinking. For that reason, it is difficult to grasp how so many Blackmen have been taken in by this bogus symbolism.
It is an unquestionable fact of history that the use of the cross is found long before Christ’s earthly ministry and therefore pre-dates Christianity. The cross is recognised as one of the most ancient pagan symbols in existence, its origins tracing back to the Babylonians of the ancient Chaldea, and the Egyptians. Scarcely an ancient pagan tribe can be found throughout history where the cross has not been prominently displayed. The cross was first introduced into the Christian Church by Constantine in 312 AD. The Roman Catholic American Ecclesiastical Review, p. 275; Sept., 1920 authority, admits: “It may be safely assumed that only after the edict of Milan, A.D., 312, was the cross used as a permanent sign of our redemption. De Rossi [a Roman Catholic archaeologist] states positively that no monogram of Christ, discovered in the Catacombs or other places, can be traced to a period anterior to the year 312” (Roman Catholicism p. 286).
Protestant theologians have tended to shun imagery of the cross, concentrating rather upon the eternal worth of the transaction which occurred at Calvary. The fact is: there is nothing in the Scriptures that shows the physical cross as something to be revered. On the contrary, the cross was an object of shame and an instrument of death and indignity for condemned criminals. We see the offence of it in the passage we just quoted in Hebrews 12. Christ underwent unspeakable reproach, suffering and death on our behalf on the cross. Indeed, the physical cross was a Roman composition designed to hold the worst of malefactors. It was a shameful symbol.
It is wrong for Christians to be preoccupied with Christ’s actual physical cross. The actual cross is not (or should not be) the focus of the Christian faith, but what was secured there is what really matters. Likewise, it is futile to parade a representation of the cross around, as if there is somehow something laudable in doing so. Scripture gives no such commission. It is quite ironic how many Orange and Blackmen ardently condemn Roman Catholics for wearing a cross around their necks, condemning it as superstitious, when they themselves are content to wear them on their Black regalia. Frankly, there is no difference between a Blackman exhibiting a red cross upon his Black collarette, supposedly representing Calvary, and a Roman Catholic donning a crucifix, indicating the same. Both parties wear them as supposed outward proofs that they are true believers.
As we have said: Christians look to the cross-work rather than a literal cross. They view this as the central point of history and the focus of their Christian faith. They see this alone as the sole reminder of their salvation. There, Christ laid down His life for lost hell-deserving sinners. Faith in this finished work, resulting in a renewed life is the evidence that an individual is a true believer, not parading around with a religious cross attached to a secret society sash or collarette.
Galatians 6:14 declares, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” When Paul speaks of “the cross” in such a way he is not speaking of a wooden design made by some Roman soldiers 2,000 years ago, but the actual transaction that occurred at Calvary
Along with the skull and bones, the red cross is probably the most distinctive symbols in the Black Institution. Whether on a Black collarette, banner or certificate, this emblem is very much to the fore. Those who have advanced to the dizzy heights of the Red Cross degree (the 11th and final degree in the Black Institution) are qualified to wear this emblem. However, many Blackmen display the red cross knowing little about its history or true significance. What are the actual origins of the red cross? Where did its usage within Christendom come from? The origin of the blood red cross can be traced back to the Crusades in 1146. The then Pontiff, Pope Eugenius III, created the symbol and granted it to the Knights Templar as a mark of appreciation for their faithfulness to the church and their willingness to die in the advance of the cause of Roman Catholicism.
History tells us that many Templars lost their lives in the Crusades in the subjugation and keeping of Jerusalem. The red cross was added to the left breast of their white cloaks and the shoulder of their mantles, representing martyrdom and their resolve to shed their blood for their faith. Roman Catholic priest (and writer) Augustus Arnold confirms this, saying, “The knights wore, besides their armour, simple white cloaks, adorned with octangular blood-red crosses, to signify that they were to shed their blood in the service of the Faith.”
In the Masonic Knights of the East and West degree the candidate is told: “In the year 1127 Pope Honorius II at the request of Stephen, a Patriarch of Jerusalem, ordained the Knights should be clothed in white; to which Pope Eugenius III added a red cross, to be worn on the breast.” Albert Mackey says in “Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and its Kindred Sciences, “At first, the Templars wore a white mantle without any cross. But in 1146 Pope Eugenius III prescribed for them a red cross on their breasts, as a symbol of the martyrdom to which they were constantly exposed.” Chev. Dr. Robert J. Kovarik, KCTJ states in a Chronology of the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple Of Jerusalem, “Pope Eugenius III authorised the Templars to add the red cross on the left breast of their tunics and the shoulder of their mantles, symbolising willingness to shed their blood and die for the Faith.”
The Crusades were essentially a series of military campaigns carried out by the Roman Catholic Church between AD1095 and AD1291. The main objective was to liberate “the holy land” from Muslim rule and re-establish Jerusalem as a Christian centre. These protracted campaigns were waged under the sanction of the papacy and saw the slaughter of many innocent people. In their endeavour, Rome successfully secured the ancient city as a safe haven for ‘Christendom’. The Roman Catholic Encyclopaedia – New Advent, succinctly says, “The Crusades were expeditions undertaken, in fulfilment of a solemn vow, to deliver the Holy Places from Mohammedan tyranny.”
Although the Crusaders are praised by Roman Catholic scholars as great heroes, they engaged in some of the worst atrocities known to religious history. These campaigns were driven with the intent to rid the Middle East of non-Christians – thus establishing the control of the Church of Rome over the region. In doing this, the Crusaders left a trail of terror and destruction throughout the whole area. History tells us that they molested many who would not convert to Roman Catholicism. These Crusades witnessed the indiscriminate slaughter, rape and pillage of large numbers of Jews and Muslims. In fact, it is difficult to exaggerate the savagery of the crusaders.
It is not surprising that the Jesuits (founded by Ignatius of Loyola between 1534 and 1540) identified greatly with the Crusader concept and specifically the warrior Knights Templar. They were fascinated with the Templars’ exploits and wished to replicate their achievements in a religious sense with the militant spread of the Roman Catholic message throughout the world. They were a religious army and became known as “the soldiers of Christ” – religious activists who operated with military precision. Their actions were not ruled by the Bible, but governed by a list of rules which had been created for the Jesuit Order by their founder Loyola. History has shown them to have been the main counter-Reformation movement within the Roman Catholic Church. Their design has always been to harm and undermine the evangelical Protestant cause. The greatest means of doing this was always by infiltration.
The Jesuit Society took upon itself the black imagery of the Templars. In fact, the Jesuits became identified by the black colour of their long cassocks. They were widely known as “the men in black.” During their missionary endeavours they became branded by the native peoples they evangelized as “Black Robes.” In their secret ceremonies and imagery the red cross and skull and bones symbols were very much to the fore. We have already seen this in our research into the 1st Black degree – where we saw the Jesuit candidate being inducted into the order under “a black banner with a dagger and red cross above a skull and crossbones, with the word INRI.” The candidate is then required to take a solemn oath by kneeling upon a red cross lying on the floor. It just so happens that these are precisely the same icons that have become the distinguishing marks of the Black movement – the identification stamp of the Black since its formation.
It was the Jesuits who popularised the cross which Constantine allegedly saw. They made its colour red – thus aligning with the Templars – and attached Constantine’s slogan In Hoc Signo Vinces to it. The amalgamation of these seems to be of Jesuit design. This subsequently became the motto of the Jesuits. Amazingly, all these symbols and secret practices have been gathered up and put to use within the so-called Protestant Royal Black Institution.
Higher degree Masonry was to be an important carrier of this symbolism. In the upper echelons of the Masonic Lodge we find all types of varying red cross orders: the Knights Templar degree, the Rose-Croix degree, the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross degree, the elaborately named The Masonic and Military Order of Knights of the Red Cross of Constantine and of the Orders of the Holy Sepulchre and of St John the Evangelist degree. Freemasonry seems to be spellbound by this symbolism.
Red Cross societies tracing their origins to the crusades and their motto from Constantine are many within the weird underworld of secret societies. Modern secret chivalry societies take their influence and inspiration from the Crusading Knights Templar. They model themselves on these ancient Knights and claim a religious identity with them. They profess to replicate many of their traditions and customs. Some even claim a direct unbroken lineage back to the Crusaders, even though there is little or no credible evidence for this.
Whilst it is hard to definitively locate the beginning of any symbol, it seems as if the Crusaders were the first to introduce it to ‘Christendom’. It was granted by the Papacy as an award for the faithfulness of the Crusaders. It became the recognised symbol of martyrdom for those Roman Catholic knights. It is all the more amazing how this imagery has worked itself into secret “Protestant orders” in our land, especially those that purport to be stoutly opposed to the errors and encroachments of Rome.
The Black emblem is a red cross lying notably at an angle, accompanied by a crown underlain by the slogan In Hoc Sign Vinces. This symbolism was appropriated directly by the Masonic Knights Templar who own the same image. We should note that Constantine’s cross was not believed to be an upright cross as is found in most “Christian art,” but a pagan X (as has been mentioned earlier). This would explain the tilt of the cross in this familiar symbol. The joining of the cross and crown most likely represents the uniting of the secular and religious power that occurred in the office of Emperor of the Roman Empire, with Constantine’s success.
In Hoc Signo Vinces
As we have seen from the writings of Hislop and Boettner, Roman Catholic legend relates the maxim In hoc signo vinces to the battle of Milvian Bridge where Constantine fought Maxentius in the year 312. The story goes that as Constantine was allegedly marching into battle with his army when he looked up to the sun he saw a cross with the accompanying phrase In hoc signo vinces. At first, Constantine did not know the meaning of this apparition. However, the following night he was said to have had a dream in which Christ supposedly explained to him that he should use the sign against his enemies. He adopted this as his motif and won the battle. He was held to have great respect for Christians after this and even made Christianity the official religion in the Roman Empire.
Most Protestant commentators are sceptical of this account (as can be seen in the comments of evangelical historians Hislop, Boettner and Woodrow). They see this whole story as lacking credence, being expediently created by Constantine to secure his military victory, and advanced by the Roman church ever since to justify its superstitious veneration of the cross emblem.
Dr. Alan Cairns in his Dictionary of Theological Terms (under the subject I.H.S) explains: “In Hoc Signo (vinces), ‘In this sign (thou shalt conquer)’. This is the message Constantine is alleged to have seen written in the sky as he led his army into battle. It is the slogan of the Jesuits as they conduct their unrelenting campaign against Protestantism.” Mr Cairns presents this motto as the badge of the Jesuits and a symbol of Rome’s ongoing offensive upon the Reformed position. The abbreviation IHS was believed to have been first popularized within the Roman Catholic Church in the fifteenth century by Franciscan disciple Bernardine of Sienna. It was introduced into the Jesuit Order by their founder Ignatius of Loyola. The Jesuits known also as the Institute of the Society of Jesus gained papal assent from Paul III in 1540. Ignatius was elected General Superior and served in that post until his death in 1556.
The Jesuits insist that IHS represents the first three letters of the name Jesus in Greek. Dr Ian Paisley (former Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church) disagrees in his pamphlet on the Jesuits. He argues that the Jesuit motto really represents “Isis, Horub, Seb” – the pagan Egyptian trinity of the Mother, Child, and Father of the gods. He continues: “IHS pays the semblance of a tribute to Christianity, but they are in reality the substance of devil-worship. The cloven hoof is upon them.” Is it any surprise to anyone familiar with the Jesuit procedures and paraphernalia owned and practised by the Royal Black Institution and the “Protestant” Knights of Malta that these orders would take upon themselves the Jesuit motto In Hoc Signo Vinces as their own?
It should surprise no one that is familiar with the internal workings of the Black that this supposed Protestant order has acquired the motto of the Jesuits. Frankly, it has taken so much of the trappings and paraphernalia of the Jesuits that one can hardly deny the connection. Anthony D. Buckley in his article in the Folk Life called The Chosen Few looking at the origins of the Black confirms the Black’s usage of this slogan. He explains: “In the same way as the Royal Arch Purple degree has a certain similarity to the Royal Arch degree of Freemasonry, so too does the Black Institution, in some respects, reflect the Masonic Order of the Temple. Both institutions regard themselves as orders of chivalry. Their members address each other as ‘Sir Knight’.”
He continues: “The very name ‘preceptory’ is one which is common both to the Black Institution and to the Masonic Knights Templar and Knights of Malta. There is moreover, a certain similarity between the Knights Templar ritual and that of the first, Royal Black degree in their use of the skull and the cross-bones. And both organizations have the motto (referring to the cross): In hic signo vinces (In this sign you conquer). Both organizations perceive themselves as existing to defend Christianity, although the Royal Black Institution understands ‘Christianity’ to mean ‘Protestantism’ ” (Volume 24, 1985-86).
The Jesuits have certainly popularised this slogan of Constantine’s in modern times and have used it as a symbol of their influence wherever they are found. Anywhere you find the Jesuit presence you will find this ancient motto. Whether in religious orders, education or student training the phrase is always found very much to the fore. Surely there is no greater testimony to its infiltration of Protestantism than the Black’s embracing of it and its replication of its secret practices. Like an artist leaving his signature on a painting to denote ownership, the Jesuits have left their stamp upon the Black. The introduction of their teaching, practices and symbolism did not come through the front door, but the back door.
A good Example
It is very significant that the Black reduces Christ’s atonement to the level of a good example in the Red Cross address, which we have previously examined. Having spoken about Christ’s sacrifice, one would have expected a Protestant organisation to go on and emphasize that it is through faith in this sacrifice alone that one is saved. Unfortunately, the degree states no such thing but rather tells us, “By the amalgamation of these emblems we learn this lesson, that we manfully bearing our cross over the tempestuous seas of time, a lamb-like offering the sacrifice of a contrite spirit we may too use the key of knowledge to open the gates of that eternal city which standeth foursquare whose builder and founder is God.”
So, using Christ as our great example, we must “manfully” take up “our cross,” “sacrifice,” “use” and “open” as we make our own way over the seas of time. It will be our ability to attain and our ritualistic knowledge that will open the gate of heaven and let us in. Note the emphasis on human endeavour here. No reference is made to the evangelical truth of the Gospel. When one considers Christ’s great sacrifice upon the cross, such teaching is highly objectionable. Secret societies are always focusing upon man and how he can achieve his own salvation, rather than upon Christ and what He has done to secure this. In this we see a correspondence with the Knights Templar, the Jesuits and the Rosicrucians.
Satan has always tried to pervert, down-play and undermine the significance of Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross of Calvary. However, the shedding of blood for the remission of sin is central to salvation (Hebrews 9:22). God shows mercy on sinners by means of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Redemption was achieved through His once for all sufficient death on the cross; this involved the shedding of His blood in His vicarious sacrifice for sin. 1 John 1:7 reads, “the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanseth us from all sin.” It is not the wearing of a cross that makes one a true believer, it the embracing of the cross. Salvation does that come through head knowledge but when a sinner personally puts his trust in Christ’s work on that cross as a substitute for his sin.
This symbolism, which was once restricted to the Roman Catholic Church and the ritualists of the High Church of England, has now penetrated the evangelical camp by those who have been inducted into the Black Knights. It is surely time that this was purged out of our midst and despatched to where it truly belongs. Lorraine Boettner poignantly says in his detailed book Roman Catholicism, “Ever since the time that the emperor Constantine allegedly saw the sign of the cross in the sky, and took that as his banner, that banner has been raised over a half Christian and half Pagan church. Protestant churches, too, have often offended in this matter, and, like Lot, who pitched his tent too close to Sodom, these bodies have camped too close to the gates of Rome” (p. 287).
At the conclusion of the lecture the degree passwords are articulated to the candidate. With these he can identify himself to his Red Cross brethren. The lecturers converse as the first one asks: “Have you the password of The Knights of the Red Cross?” The other replies, “And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written King of Kings and Lord of Lords” He asks again, “Have you the great and grand password of the Knights of the Red Cross?” To which he is informed, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”
Talk about trivialising spiritual, sacred and divine things. This catechism surely violates the 3rd commandment. It warns in Exodus 20:7: “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.”
The institution takes Christ’s powerful phrase in Revelation 22:13, which identifies His eternal nature, to identify one Red Cross Blackman to another. Again, the member takes an expression that only Christ can use and glibly utilizes it as a means of recognition within its fraternity. At the very least this is an abuse of the Scriptures and shows a distinct disrespect for the hallowed words of Christ. At worst it is blatant blasphemy. Scripture should not be used in such a casual or flippant manner. No man can say “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” Only Jesus can say this.
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
For further revelations read Inside the Royal Black Institution