British Churchman Book Review
By Jonathan Larner
The Royal Black Institution is the senior order and degree system of Orangeism. Whilst for the uninitiated, very little is known about the activities of this order, it presents itself as a respectable Protestant organisation standing for the reformed faith and biblical truth and with a membership comprising many high profile figures in Ulster political and religious life. For the first time in the order’s two hundred year existence this book fully examines the history and practices of the Black Institution (as well as the Independent Orange’s Knights of Malta).
The section on history could constitute a book in itself and presents a fascinating description of the origins of the order. Of greater significance are revelation of details of the Black’s eleven degrees. These are analysed from a biblical perspective with comments made regarding certain aspects of the rituals and ceremonies. Institution rites and rituals are protected by oaths of secrecy taken by initiates which the author as a former member has purposefully and wilfully disregarded and broken to produce this work.
Overall, the thesis of the book is twofold in that it challenges the credibility of the Black Institution as a Protestant body with an evangelical or biblical basis, and challenges the believer in Christ as to whether it is an appropriate organisation to support or affiliate with. This is in keeping with the author’s previous work, Behind Closed Doors (1999) which took a similar look at the Royal Arch Purple degree. For anyone with an interest in Orangeism or fraternal organisations in general, and an open mind, this book makes interesting reading.
For more information, please William Schnoebelen’s enlightening book Masonry Beyond the Light
Protestant/Evangelical opposition to the Loyal Orders
United Protestant Council initial report into the Royal Black Institution application
United Protestant Council exhaustive report into the Royal Black Institution application
The Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland report on Loyal Orders
A Theological Report by the Church of Ireland – on the RBI
Reformed Presbyterian Church and the Orange Order
The Covenanter Witness (Reformed Presbyterian)
The Burning Bush – A Publication by Rev Ivan Foster, a Free Presbyterian minister.
Rev. Norman W McAuley (Presbyterian Church in Ireland)
Independent Methodist Pastor Paul Johnston
The English Churchman (Rev Dr Paul Ferguson)
Church of Ireland General Synod Sub Committee
Omega Times – Newspaper of New Zealand Evangelist, Barry Smith
Take Heed Ministries (Cecil Andrew)
British Churchman (Johnny Larner)
Former Royal Black Deputy Grand Chaplain (Rev. Canon Brian T. Blacoe)
Former Royal Black Lecturer, Orange Worshipful Master and Royal Arch Purple Worshipful Master (Malcolm McClughan)
United Protestant Council Chairman (David Carson)
Former County Down Orange Treasurer, Worshipful Master, Deputy Master, and Chaplain – Jackson Blakely
Former County Londonderry Orange and Royal Arch Purpleman Andrew Evans
Former County Armagh Orange, Royal Arch Purple and (Red Cross) Blackman Alex Newell
Former County Tyrone Orange Chaplain and Orange/Small Purple Lecturer Paul Stewart (also former Red Cross Blackman)
Lodges Examined by the Bible by John R. Rice