A biblical response to RAP spokesman Rev Ron Johnstone (Part 3)
Behind Closed Minds is a publication written by “Royal” Arch Purple spokesman Rev Ron Johnstone, on behalf of the Chaplains Committee of the Grand Chapter of the Royal Arch Purple Chapter of Ireland, responding to the book ‘Behind Closed Doors’. 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.
Actually, the most notable aspect of Behind Closed Minds, which has been heralded by some as both a defence of the Royal Arch Purple and a rebutal of Behind Closed Doors, is its evasive nature. It repeatedly ignores the many biblical arguments outlined in the latter. Notwithstanding, it also succeeds in avoiding the vast bulk of the degrading RAP initiation as if somehow it didn’t exist. We will however refer to these matters in the final part of our response.
Quotes from Behind Closed Minds will be made in bold italics for the purpose of study.
The author of Behind Closed Minds states, “Readers of his [Paul Malcomson’s] book will be shocked to read that he claims the Order emanates from hell, teaches a counterfeit Gospel and is, ‘damning countless souls in a Christless eternity. Such utterly reckless and despicable charges are in contrast to the concluding words of The ‘History of the RAP’.”
It is hard to respond to a wild claim like this when Mr Johnstone makes no effort to tell us what he is actually talking about. We assume he is talking about the “Royal” Arch Purple’s false gospel taught to every candidate at the conclusion of his initiation. If this is so, then, Mr Johnstone fails to address the argument presented in Behind Closed Doors or detail the wording under scrutinty.
Notwithstanding, we will assume he is talking about the closing address of the RAP ceremony, and outline the teaching under condemnation so that the earnest seeker may judge for himself. This teaching is taught to the blindfolded candidate after he has survived his degrading initiation ceremony. It is a solemn address and is focussed on the subject of death and the ‘thereafter.’
The address states: “You can wear an emblem of the coffin, a representation of which you knelt upon, to take that part of your solemn obligation. It reminds us of death, which may come to everyone, break the brittle thread of life, and launch us into eternity. At this very moment the Angel of death has received the awful mandate to strike many of our brethren from the roll of human existence. If perchance we have escaped the numerous evils incident to childhood, and youth, and with health and vigour have arrived at manhood, yet and withal we too shall be cut off and gathered to the land where our fathers have gone before us.”
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And continues, “Whilst reflecting upon the solemn thought of death, this degree teaches us that all must die; we follow our brethren to the brink of the grave, and, standing on the shores of a vast ocean, we gaze with exquisite anxiety until the last struggle is o’er. We see them sink into its fathomless abyss, and feel our own feet sliding from the precarious brink on which we stand. A few more suns, and we too shall be whelmed neath death’s awful wave to rest in the stilly shades, where darkness and silence shall for ever reign, around our melancholy abode.”
And continues, “But this is not the end of man, nor the glorious aspirations of the brethren of our Order, who, true to their principles, look for the manifestations of the three great lights in the east, representing Death, Resurrection, and Ascension. And bid us turn our eyes with faith and confidence beyond the silent grave towards the dawn of a glorious eternity.”
And concludes, “Finally my brethren, by the careful regulation of our lives, pondering well our words, and the cultivation of brotherly love and loyalty, we may obtain our Great Grand Master’s approbation [authorisation and approval]. Then, when the embers of mortality are faintly glimmering in the sockets of existence, and death does come, and we are ushered into the Grand Lodge above, there shall be revealed to us the real secrets of the Ark of God; and we shall realise, for all eternity that the Great Jehovah has been our Guide.”
No explanation is made of this peculiar Masonic teaching, thus leaving the candidate baffled and confused.
Imagine an evangelical minister teaching such error in his church at the Sunday morning service? He would be immediately censored and brought before his ruling elders.
Despite the criticism of Mr. Johnstone, we make no apology for reiterating our opposition to this teaching. And challenge the author of Behind Closed Minds and the Chaplains Committee of the Grand Chapter of the Royal Arch Purple Chapter of Ireland, which he represents, to address this erroneous teaching.
Here, at the conclusion of this offensive ceremony we see a strange gospel expounded. In keeping with all secret societies, the Royal Arch Purple presents a false hope of salvation through an upright character and good works. Nevertheless, the Bible says: “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).
Nowhere in this closing address do we hear the Name of our beloved Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ mentioned, nor do we learn of His great atoning death on Calvary. As in Freemasonry, the Royal Arch Purple has an invented substitute called the “Great Grand Master.” This is a title, which Scripture does not allow, and is clearly unwarranted. The Bible declares: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
The Royal Arch Purple makes much in its address about the moral righteousness of its members without emphasising the biblical truth that such conduct will never render a man justified in the eyes of God. The Order expounds such teaching by conveniently ignoring the blight, which contaminates every man – sin.
Regardless of how man sees himself or what grandiose titles he bestows upon himself, he is still a vile sinner in need of redemption. The Bible says that we are all “by nature the children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3).
We also find the fraught assumption, throughout this teaching, that all Arch Purple brethren go to heaven – whilst ignoring the clear scriptural requirements of true faith and repentance. The Bible says: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
Secret societies by their nature are cunningly designed to lure men away from God rather than to Him. Subtly embodied within every aspect of Arch Purple practice and doctrine is deceitful error. They sinfully point their initiates to an institution with its obligatory demands of loyalty to its own membership, as opposed to God-ordained earthly relationships. This type of convoluted teaching within the Royal Arch Purple leads its members to believe that acceptance of its forms and rituals guarantees eternal life.
The roots of such error, like every aspect of Arch Purple teaching, can be found in pagan Masonry. Freemasons receive the same false hope, when they are told, in the third degree, that “when we shall be summoned from this sublunary abode, we may ascend to the Grand Lodge above, where the world’s great Architect lives and reigns for ever” (Masonic Manual p. 73).
The ‘Grand Lodge above’ which secret societies so consistently refer to, is clearly not the heaven of the Bible. It is a fabricated alternative abode where secret society members are promised to ascend to, without trusting in Christ.
While the Royal Arch Purple remind their initiates of the certainty of death, they carefully omit to warn them of the solemn appointment which all shall meet after death, that of the judgement. Hebrews 9:27 says, “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” It is here that true justice will finally be exercised. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
Even though the Royal Arch Purple draws the attention of its candidates to the important matter of eternity, in this closing discourse, it is exclusively in the context of a heavenly reward for its brethren. By doing so, they also make the unacceptable assumption that every Royal Arch Purple man is destined for heaven and eternal bliss without warning them of the grim reality of hell for all those who die outside of Christ. In fact the Order avoids the solemn subject of hell altogether.
Whilst the Royal Arch Purple Order is evasive on the doctrine of hell, the Lord is clearly not. Revelation 21:7-8 declares, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Evangelist John R. Rice in his book ‘Lodges Examined By The Bible’ (p. 54) declares: “Beyond any shadow of a doubt, then, the lodges deny the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are blind leaders of the blind, leading millions of men and women away from salvation by the blood. They lead them to depend upon their own righteousness and doubtless lead them to feel no need of regeneration, lead them to ignore the warnings of the gospel, and so lead them to fall at last unprepared into a devil’s Hell!”
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The Lord encountered the same proponents of dead religion in his day, when he confronted the ‘religious’ Pharisees of the day. In doing so, He directly addressed the solemn subject of hell, saying, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” He then asserted, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23: 27&33).
In proclaiming a self-righteous gospel, as the Royal Arch Purple clearly does, they are leading countless souls to a Christless eternity. Iain H. Murray once cautioned, “Error, preached as truth, has contributed to the delusion of multitudes who are lost.” Christians who belong to the Royal Arch Purple Order, are countenancing, by their continued membership, a false hope of salvation for the unsaved. How sobering are the words of Scripture, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6-8).
This ambiguous Royal Arch Purple concoction, like every other counterfeit emanating from hell, is ultimately designed to direct men away from God’s only provision for lost sinners, the Lord Jesus Christ. Such a deceptive address, not surprisingly, leaves the candidate in a horrible state of confusion and leads him away from the simplicity of the true biblical faith. The Bible instructs the believer to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:2-4).
The Blood of Jesus
The author of Behind Closed Minds says, “he (Mr Malcomson) accuses the RAP of carefully omitting any reference to the Blood of Christ and therefore of being a propagator of a false Gospel…The irony of the author’s claim is seen by turning to Appendix b where the author tells the ‘unsaved reader’ how to obtain salvation. One discovers he omits any reference to the Blood of Christ. It is ironic that he does not seem to realise that by unfairly condemning others he is in reality condemning himself.”
Again, the author of Behind Closed Minds chooses to ignore the lengthy passage in Behind Closed Doors which, in stark contrast to the “Royal” Arch Purple Order teaching, outlines the sin-destroying merits of Christ’s atoning blood.
Behind Closed Doors declares: “Salvation does not come through a ritual or obedience to a set of secret society rules invented by man. Salvation does not even come through being an upright person. The Bible says, ‘We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags’. (Isaiah 64:6). Man’s own garments are clearly stained by sin. Accepting one’s sinful condition means looking to God’s only provision for lost sinners, namely His impeccable sinless Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Behind Closed Doors continues: “‘For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more’ (Romans 5:17-20).”
Behind Closed Doors adds: “The Lord Jesus Christ (the spotless Lamb of God) voluntarily laid down His life for lost, hell-deserving sinners. The Bible says, ‘And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation… 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’ (2 Corinthians 5:18&21). The way by which God pardons a man’s sin, is through the shedding of blood. The Bible clearly says, ‘without shedding of blood is no remission’ (Hebrews 9:22).”
Behind Closed Doors continues: “Christ paid the believers’ penalty in full by His vicarious atoning death, thus relieving him fully of his guilt, and purchasing his complete redemption. 1 Peter 1:18-19 says, ‘Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot’.”
Behind Closed Doors continues: “Like all secret societies, the Royal Arch Purple address carefully omits any mention of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. For a so-called Protestant Order to omit the blood from the Gospel is to propagate a false gospel. 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).”
Behind Closed Doors continues: “The true believer can joyfully sing with the hymn writer: ‘What can wash away my stain? Nothing but the blood of Jesus, What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus’. Ephesians 2:13 states: ‘But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ’.”
If Mr Johnstone had done a throrough and fair review of this book how could he have missed this? He either saw it and chose to ignore it or he did a rough shod analyse. The only one who could miss such a clear lengthy passage like this, whilst purporting to address the issues, is someone who simply chose to!!!
This is more evidence of an internal cover-up of the facts!
An informative read:
Behind Closed Doors declares, “In Matthew 23 the Lord rebukes both the religious title of ‘Father’ which is so commonly used by Rome, and the religious title of ‘Master’ which is used by all secret societies. Jesus says: “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ” (V. 9-10).”
The author of Behind Closed Minds concludes, “the ridiculous misapplication of the reference to calling no man Master reveals how far he [Mr Malcomson] is prepared to go to attempt to blacken the Order.”
Here again, Mr Johnstone is swift to write off a clear biblical argument without presenting any kind of defence for his own position. Furthermore, he also fails to furnish his readers with what he believes is the proper interpretation of the text. Clearly, the Lord is rebuking false religious titles here. After first condemning the title Rabbi, Jesus adds: “call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ” (Matthew 23:9-10).
Maybe the author of Behind Closed Minds could explain: if Christ is not referring to religious titles what is He referring to? I’m sure the Church of Rome would appreciate some long overdue support in getting them free from this unambiguous prohibition.
As all true evangelicals know, this text is not referring to a natural parent anymore than the allusion to master is referring to a headmaster or an academic qualification. Therefore, no religious priest has the authority to use the title ‘Father’ just as no Lodge chairman or religious secret society has the scriptural warrant to use the title ‘Master.’
It is ironic that ministers within the Loyal Orders oppose Rome’s widespread use of the religious term “Father,” employing Matthew 23 as the clear biblical evidence, yet they unashamedly use the religious term “Master” on a wide-scale within their secret Lodges which is equally condemned in the same passage.
The Masonic origin of the “Royal” Arch Purple is reinforced when prefixing the title “Master” with the term “Worshipful” thus bestowing its chairmen with a blatant unscriptural apellation.
The true Church only has one Worshipful Master – the Lord Jesus Christ – Who alone is its Head. The Bible says, that God “hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23).
Behind Closed Doors says, “Secret societies by their very existence are an alternative to the body of believers the Church, and thus deprive Christ of His rightful place in men’s lives. Found within these institutions are all the component parts of the Church, albeit in imitation form. They even mimic God’s people by portraying themselves as a brotherhood, referring to their fellow members as ‘brethren’ and the individual member as ‘brother’. Nevertheless Jesus said, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:50).
The reality is: Christians have no right to undermine their privileged position within the body of believers by joining such man-made counterfeits. Such compromise, damages their walk with God, weakens their commitment to the body of believers and flies in the face of Scripture.
The Bible commands: “Honour all men, Love the brotherhood, Fear God, Honour the King” (I Peter 2:17). John Gill, in expounding this passage, explains, “Love the brotherhood; or ‘your brethren’…. the whole company of the brethren in Christ, who are born of God, are members of Christ, and of the same body, and have the same spirit, belong to the same family, and are of the household of faith.”
The Bible instructs the believer to “do good unto all men, specially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). The child of God’s position within the brotherhood of believers negates any need for man-made imitations.
Mr Johnstone disagrees: “In his attack on the Orange Order on page 159 he (Mr Malcomson) repeats again the nonsense that a believer can only call a fellow believer his brother. He must not have read Acts 2:29; 7:2; 22:1; 23:1; Roms 9:2. Mr. Malcomson’s interpretation of scripture is totally opposed to the teachings of the Apostles Peter and Paul and the Martyr Stephen. This along with the ridiculous misapplication of the reference to calling no man Master reveals how far he is prepared to go to attempt to blacken the Order.”
Let us look at the verses forwarded by Mr Johnstone as justification for the compromise of his fraternity.
(a) Acts 2:29 records Peter referring to two peoples, saying, “(1) Men and (2) brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.”
(b) Acts 7:2 records Stephen addressing three different peoples, saying, “(1) Men, (2) brethren, and (3) fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran.”
(c) Acts 22:1 records Paul referring to the same three peoples, “(1) Men, (2) brethren, and (3) fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.
(d) Acts 23:1 records Paul speaking to two peoples, saying, “And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, (1) Men and (2) brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.”
(e) Romans 9:2 makes no mention of the brethren: “That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.”
In their public outreach the apostles would doubtless have faced a mixed audience. We see evidence of this in their references to the crowd in these passages. They recognised both their “brethren” (God’s people) and their unsaved fellow countrymen (“men” and “fathers”).
This is consistent with our Lord’s teaching on the issue that the brethren are those alone who are saved. He said in Matthew 12:50: “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
Whilst veiled with religious trappings and outward respectability, the “Royal” Arch Purple Order is subtly designed on the devil’s drawing board to be an alternative to, and a counterfeit of, the true brotherhood of believers, the Church. This brotherhood of believers is not only ordered of God, but is created by Him for His glory and the extension of His blessed Kingdom. This body, the Church, is the sole institution ordained of God for the proclamation and defence of the Word of God, and has Christ as its supreme ruling Head.
The Bible says, in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
Some so-called separated ministers tell us they oppose apostasy, ecumenism, immorality and drunkenness, yet they happily sit in a secret religious order in fraternal union with such people, viewing them as brothers. In defiance of explicit Scripture, they are brought into “fellowship,” “communion,” “concord,” and spiritual “agreement” with an unregenerate brotherhood. They then cement this unscriptural union with a sinful vow before God which commits them under blood-penalty to unswerving loyalty “murder and treason accepted” to these men.
Notwithstanding, God’s Word strongly teaches separation, separation from ungodly fellowship, separation from false teaching, separation from sin. Charles H. Spurgeon once said: “A man is known by the company he shuns as well as by the company he keeps.”
The Bible says, “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19).
I wonder how the author of Behind Closed Minds also justifies his membership of a sinful religious fraternity which elevates scores of unregenerate men to the office of Chaplain? Why did he ignore this in his rebuttal? How can he subject himself to the authority of such people? Once again Mr Johnstone sidesteps major evangelical objections to these secret fraternities.
The author of Behind Closed Minds chooses to totally ignore the issue of religious authority outlined so clearly in Behind Closed Doors, which says: “Like all secret societies the Royal Arch Purple Order preside over the hypocritical large scale appointing of scores of unsaved men to the office of ‘Chaplain’. Whilst some so-called separated ministers within the Royal Arch Purple Order are quick to deride the mainline churches for placing unconverted men into office, they themselves are condoning the same by their active participation in the Royal Arch Purple. Such behaviour wherever it occurs is unscriptural and is more akin to the sinful actions of disobedient King Jeroboam in Scripture who “made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi” (I Kings 12:31).”
Are these so-called separated ministers happy to sit in Lodges, Districts, Counties and Grand Lodge under the religious authority of apostates? In fact, the Orange Order, the “Royal” Arch Purple Order and the “Royal” Black Institution are controlled by such people. How can a separated “Royal” Arch Purple man explain that? How can he continue in a denomination that so vehemently opposes such hypocrisy?
Those who defend this sinful man-made religious counterfeit are clearly disobeying God not Evangelical Truth.
Evangelist D.L. Moody once stated: “I do not see how any Christian, most of all a Christian minister can go into these secret lodges with unbelievers. They say they can have more influence for good; but I say they can have more influence for good by staying out of them, and then reproving their evil deeds. You can never reform anything by unequally yoking yourself with ungodly men. True reformers separate themselves from the world” (‘Should a Christian be a Mason?’ p. 77).
Revelation 18:4 commands us, “Come out of her, my people that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
For more on the internal debate within the Orders:
Evangelical Truth response
Part 1 – An analysis of the arguments
Part 2 – An analysis of the arguments (continued)
Part 4 – The arguments conveniently ignored
Part 5 – The arguments conveniently ignored (continued)
Part 6 – The Conclusion
Evangelical Truth response to Former Independent Orange Grand Master on Behind Closed Doors.
Evangelical Truth debate with Independent Orange Institution
Ulster Christian review of Behind Closed Doors
The response of George Dawson (Imperial Grand Master of the Independent Orange Institution).
Readers response (including the author of ‘Behind Closed Doors’ – Paul Malcomson).
Second response of George Dawson (Imperial Grand Master of the Independent Orange Institution).
Evangelical Truth reply to George Dawson
Royal Arch Purple degree