Of the Order of Melchizedek
Not only is the Blackman told that he is a high priest and that he belongs to the priestly Levitical tribe, he is also assured that he is a priest in the order of Melchizedek. The Bible student will know that no one in scriptural history was able to belong to both orders, not even Christ. What is more, no other man or institution today can hold the order of Melchizedek. This is a high priestly order that is exclusively held by the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone possesses this illustrious office and none other is able to hold it. Whilst Blackmen do not deny that Christ is of the order of Melchizedek they claim that they also are of it. Thus instead of having One person of this heavenly order we have countless self-appointed pretenders.
First introduced in Genesis 14, Melchizedec was before the law and therefore before the introduction of the Levitical tribe. Whether this appearance in Genesis was literally Christ or a type of Christ is not the pre-eminent concern of this book. It is sufficient to establish that He was not of the tribe of Levi. In taking this Order, Christ removed the Old Testament priesthood. For that reason, the priestly order of Melchizedek and priestly tribe of Levi never functioned together. They belonged to different ages and economies. It is therefore extraordinary that the Black should boast of belonging to both the old and new covenant priesthoods at the one time – in our day. Christ could not even hold both; He could not be of a priesthood He had come to abolish. He belonged to the new eternal order of Melchizedek. For the Black to claim it is of both high priestly orders is irrational and unscriptural, and brings it again into the realm of blasphemy.
Hebrews 7:21-24 says, speaking of Christ, “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.”
This reading confirms that Christ holds this holy office “for ever.” Hebrews 5:6, 6:20, 7:3, 17 and 21 repeats this great truth. The word interpreted “unchangeable” here is very significant in the light of the teaching of the Black. It comes from the Greek word aparabatos, which simply means non-transferable. It is a legal word. For example, it relates to a judge laying down a decision that is unalterable and non-transferable. It also describes something which belongs to one person and cannot be transferred to anyone else. This means that no one else can hold the Melchizedek priesthood. Christ continues alone in this role, having an unchangeable non-transferable priestly office. Unlike the old covenant priesthood, Christ has no successors in this office. The reason being He never dies. Therefore, He never needs replaced.
All the main evangelical commentators agree with this understanding. Matthew Henry remarks on this passage: “This our high priest continues for ever, and his priesthood is aparabaton – an unchangeable one, that does not pass from one to another, as the former did; it is always in the same hand.” Adam Clarke says of this order, “A priesthood that passeth not away from him; he lives forever, and he lives a priest forever.” Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown agree that Christ “hath His priesthood intransmissible: not passing from one to another.” Albert Barnes states: “The idea is not strictly that it was ‘unchangeable’, but that ‘it did not pass over into other hands’. The Levitical priesthood passed from one to another as successive generations came on the stage of action … but … it [the order of Melchisedec] is permanent, and does not pass from hand to hand.”
Hebrews 7:16 tells us that Christ “is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.” From this we can see, this priesthood cannot pass from one to another, it is not transferrable. No other can appropriate this title or share in the function of the position, Christ alone holds that sacred high priestly office. Christ is the only real and perfect high priest today. He is the ultimate and final High Priest of the redeemed of God.
Read a detailed exposure of the Royal Black Institution:
Dr Ian Paisley quotes an address by Henry Atherton of the Sovereign Grace Union called The Priesthood of Christ on his website www.ianpaisley.org. In it, he makes clear, “Melchisedec’s Priesthood is unchangeable. The Levitical priesthood was constantly being changed by reason of death; it had to pass from father to son. But this Priesthood is untransferable; it is priesthood without any succession, because ‘He ever liveth’. It is indestructible and complete, therefore of perpetual value; and this Priest is qualified to make intercession for those for whom He stood as representative. This priesthood no man living can ever claim; it belongs exclusively and solely to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Christ is consecrated a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec, by an oath which stands fast for evermore. Hebrews 7:27-28 confirms this, telling us that Christ “needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.”
Once again there is no end to the Lord’s hold on this office. What is more, this priesthood that belongs to Christ is far superior to the old one because it is established with an oath of God which indicates something sure, final, eternal and unchanging. We therefore need no other high priest or no other mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). Christ will not (or cannot) share this office with another, neither can He hand the baton over to others. He holds it firm and alone as of right and by way of an everlasting oath. Those that purport to steal this sacred title enter into the dangerous arena of heresy.
The actions of the Black Knights denigrate this illustrious title and usurp the position and priestly ministry of Christ. The Black promotes its members to a position of equality with Christ. Regardless of what the Royal Black Institution and other secret societies and cults pretend, no Blackman can succeed or join Christ in this high priestly order because He will never vacate or co-own this office. Indeed, there are no other high priestly orders recognized by heaven. The Royal Black Institution’s attempt to bestow the high priestly order of Melchizedek upon every eighth degree candidate, thus creating countless high priests of the Melchizedec priesthood, is clearly unachievable. It is a phoney conferral which enjoys no scriptural warrant.
Hebrews 5:9-10 confirms, “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.”
This high priestly order is not ordinary. It was not like the old temporal priesthood that existed before the cross. For anyone to be qualified to be of this exalted order they had to be “perfect” and become “the author of eternal salvation.” We know there is no human being that can fit such exalted requirements and therefore assume such an elevated office. For Blackmen to take (or think they can take) this position means they are wilfully usurping the authority of Christ. They are placing themselves in the place of Christ who alone is “the author of eternal salvation.” Christ is man’s sole hope and means of salvation. No other can obtain this cherished order. As we explore the hallowed pages of Scripture and learn what it teaches of this great order we see the gravity of the profanity involved in this degree. True Christians know: Christ fulfils His priestly ministry uniquely, exclusively, perfectly and eternally “after the order of Melchisedec.” He holds this office faithfully. He is therefore our one and only perfect and eternal great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14, 5:6, 9). The Black has therefore absolutely no grounds for claiming to be of the high priestly order.
The United Protestant Council in its examination of the Black’s application for membership regarded the teaching contained in this degree as another significant obstacle to approving the application. It particularly highlighted the practice of ascribing the title of the order of Melchizedek to Blackmen as a major problem. This, more than any of the other objections presented by the UPC, caused the Black Preceptory and its defenders the greatest trouble. The organisation knew that if it defended it they would be exposed as apostate; if it denied the issue it would have been dishonest. Basically it found itself in a no-win situation.
It is manifest from reading the defence on behalf of the Black Knights that they struggled to formulate a viable explanation for the continued existence of this secret high priestly order. In the end they sheepishly dismissed the charge as if it did not exist. They ignored their own beliefs and simply reiterated the traditional evangelical position on this matter hoping that it would satisfy the United Protestant Council’s concerns. This attempt was ultimately to prove unsuccessful. It was obviously a smokescreen to cover the continued existence of this illegitimate priesthood. It allowed them to dodge defending the indefensible. The fact is that the ongoing existence of unscriptural claims to this high priestly order within the Black totally negated their outward disclaimers. They could not have it both ways.
For more on the internal debate within the Orders we recommend The Orange Order by Brian Kennaway:
The UPC charge was simple: “In one degree the candidate is told that he is a priest forever after the Order of Melchizedek, a title which applies to Christ alone.” As we have seen from our research, this deduction was absolutely correct and irrefutable. The Loyal Orders were invited to make a response to this charge. The Imperial Grand Black Chapter of the British Commonwealth Province of England responded (15/07/04), “A candidate is not told that he is a priest after the Order of Melchizedek, for quite rightly that is a title that is only applied to the Lord Jesus Christ. I suspect that whoever said this was not clear on exactly what was said at the degree and they have misunderstood the lecture that accompanies the degree.”
One just has to look over the text of this degree to see the factual error of this Black denial. Whilst we can understand the desire of the Black to join the UPC, there can be no excuse for this misleading statement. Facts are indeed stubborn things. Many of us who have travelled through the degree can testify to the accuracy of this UPC charge. The English Amalgamated Committee of the Apprentice Boys Of Derry state in their defence of the Royal Black Institution, (26/07/04), “It is made quite clear in the Degree that there is only ONE High Priest of the Order of Melchizedek, namely Jesus Christ – all other Priests (i.e. as in the Priesthood of all Believers) are subservient to HIM – see Hebrews Chapter 7.”
It is fine stating this, but (as we have seen) the Black actually teaches: “I am a priest … Of the Order of Melchisedec … Of the tribe of Levi” – “I am of the high priestly order.” This could not be clearer; notwithstanding, the Apprentice Boys carefully circumvent the text of the Black, thus avoiding the real issue. Whilst the Black makes allusions to Scripture, including Hebrews 7, it makes no effort to expound the great truth that there is but one High Priest after the order of Melchizedek in its Gold Star & Garter catechism. Scripture is rather used to reinforce this bizarre teaching. When the detail of the degree is examined by the light of Holy Writ, rather than harmonizing, it is found to be in blatant conflict. Like all secret societies, God’s Word is only used by the Black to support its secret esoteric doctrine.
This Masonic teaching on the matter of the order of Melchizedek was the very inspiration that caused Joseph Smith to birth Mormonism. He went on to create his own Aaronic Priesthood and his own higher order of Melchizedek. Plainly, the Black has some strange bed-fellows. The Black Knights have had to be more vigilant in protecting their strange doctrines from outsiders, in order to prevent the evangelical world from discovering their beliefs and denouncing them for what they are.
Anyone who has travelled this degree or has viewed the evidence will see the inaccuracy and contradiction of the Apprentice Boys’ statement. Nowhere in the wording of the degree does it state that “there is only one High Priest of the Order of Melchizedek, namely Jesus Christ” – not in the lecture, the catechism, or the address. Granted it quotes Hebrews chapter 7 in the degree, but the ceremony misapplies and misinterprets this chapter. The Black Knights misuse and abuse Scripture for the purpose of giving respectability and support to their false teaching. Whilst all Christians know there is only one High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, the Black nowhere state or teach this, in fact quite the opposite.
The working of the Gold Star & Garter degree witnesses the supposed admission of many Blackmen into the order of Melchizedek – something expressly forbidden by Scripture. In its defence of the Royal Black Institution the Apprentice Boys refuse to admit that the Black initiates men into the order of Melchizedek. Their intent, of course, was to convince the UPC that the Black was soundly evangelical. Fortunately, this effort failed and its claims were found to carry no substance.
The Loyal Orange Institution of England in its response, written by Blackman Sir Knight Harvey (02/07/04), said, “There is a degree which refers to the fact that the Aaronic priesthood, representative as it was of the covenant of law, has been superseded under the covenant of Grace by the high priesthood of Christ who alone is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. This is absolutely consistent with the revelation of scripture as set down in Hebrews Chapter 7 and we the Royal Black Institution are in full agreement that the term ‘a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek’ is a title which can only be applied to Christ.”
Like the other defences, Sir Knight Harvey avoids addressing the problematic wording of the Gold Star & Garter degree; instead, he presents his own personal and more palatable alternative rendering, which was obviously carefully prepared for evangelical taste-buds. The only problem is, once again, this outward statement bears absolutely no resemblance to the existing internal theology of the degree. The essence of Harvey’s statement is not found anywhere in the Gold Star & Garter lesson. In fact, it totally contradicts it. In asserting what he does, Harvey only serves to expose further the internal beliefs of the institution he belongs to. He underpins the position of the UPC in objecting to the Black and corroborates the concerns outlined in our own study. It was certainly advantageous for Mr Harvey to ignore the instruction contained within this degree, for to address it (or defend it) would have ensured a swift UPC rejection of the Royal Black Institution. In articulating the biblical position in his defence, he fails to address the error of the Black degree he was supposed to defend.
Mr Harvey seems to be telling the UPC what they needed to hear. It seems once more that the Loyal Orders were playing to their evangelical audience and concealing their own position. However, if they taught and practised inside the Institution what they are asserting outside there would have been little reason for the UPC to refuse the Black membership, and there would have been no need for the publication of this book.
The United Protestant Council in their rejection of the Black’s application for membership produced a booklet examining the bona-fide nature of the Royal Black Institution from an evangelical perspective (Oct 2005). The booklet took on board the defences we have just quoted. After painstaking research, it concluded: “In this degree the candidate says, or has said for him, ‘I am a priest of the order of Melchizedek’. This is blasphemous for any Christian to say. There is only one priest of this order the Lord Jesus Christ – Ps. 110:4, Heb. 7:17. The candidate further says that he is of the tribe of Levi. This confuses Scripture since our Lord was a priest, yet he was of the tribe of Judah. Melchizedek was not descended from Israel and therefore did not belong to any of the tribes. No Christian, least of all a Protestant Christian, should describe himself as a priest in the Old Testament sense.” And we should add, neither should he claim membership of both priesthoods at once, nor of that priesthood which belongs to Christ alone.
Christ sprang from the tribe of Judah.
In the initiation, the Blackman testifies:
“I am a priest.
Of what order?
Of the Order of Melchisedec.
And of what tribe?
Of the tribe of Levi.
Why stand thou thus?
… I am of the high priestly order.”
It is important to establish an absolute here; it is the Blackman in this degree who confesses he is a “priest” in “the high priestly order” of “the Order of Melchisedec.” This is something all three defending Loyal Orders are careful to shy away from. This is not Christ speaking; neither is the Blackman speaking on Christ’s behalf. He would have no warrant to do that anyway. In any case, this cannot be speaking of Christ, as He did not belong to the tribe of Levi. The person in view here must be someone apart from the Saviour.
Read a detailed exposure of the Royal Arch Purple by W P Malcomson:
Hebrews 7:14-17 proves this: “For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”
The writer of the book of Hebrews uses the word “evident” to underline the obvious nature of the fact that Christ came out of the tribe of Judah and not Levi. You would nearly think the Holy Spirit specifically inserted this into the Word of God because He knew that one day there would be secret fraternities claiming otherwise. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown say of this word “evident” (prodeelon): it means “‘manifest before the eyes’ as indisputable: a proof that whatever difficulties now appear, then Christ’s genealogy laboured under none.”
Regardless of what the Black Knights say, the subject in view in this catechism cannot be Christ. How any Blackman could attribute this instruction to Christ is astonishing. This degree is therefore not remotely speaking about Jesus as these Black defenders publicly claim. If it is speaking of the Saviour then it is a total misrepresentation of scriptural truth. None of the defences of the Black Knights make any reference to the fact that the one that is said to be of the order of Melchizedek is also said to be of the old covenant priestly tribe. In fact, they do not mention the Levitical tribe anywhere. They just make sheepish outward denials of the charge that Blackmen are said to be of the order of Melchizedek. Whilst this may have been for the purpose of assisting their application to the United Protestant Council it is patent deceit.
Matthew Henry says of this reading, “There is a change in the tribe of which the priesthood comes. Before, it was the tribe of Levi; but our great high priest sprang out of Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning the priesthood, v. 14. This change of the family shows a real change of the law of the priesthood.” The Wycliffe Bible Commentary declares, “Jesus was not of Levi but of Judah. This debarred him from the order of priests under the Law.”
Contrary to what the Black teaches, the Levitical priesthood and the priestly order of Melchizedek are two completely distinct and diverse priesthoods, which operated in two separate economies. As we have discussed, the Levitical tribe was the priestly tribe in the Old Testament. From this tribe a solitary high priest was chosen to make a yearly atonement for the whole nation. Here we have a very serious doctrinal error. The Blackman is manifestly lifted to a more distinguished place than the Old Testament high priest; and most alarming, he is in a sense elevated to a more privileged place than Christ.
The Lecturers continue:
“Why do you take the-tribe-of-Judah for your great and grand password and you of the tribe of Levi?
Because from thence The Lion sprang that prevailed.
Have you the great and grand password of the Knights of the Gold Star and Garter or the High Priestly Order?
This part of the lecture should remove any doubt (if any remains) that the person being informed he is of the order of Melchizedek and the tribe of Levi is anyone other than the Black candidate. Here he is again reminded that he is “of the tribe of Levi,” he is also once more informed that as a Knight of the Gold Star & Garter he now belongs to “the high priestly order.” We should not overlook the fact that being a Knight of the Gold Star & Garter is considered synonymous with being of “the High Priestly Order.” Armed with this knowledge he is then told that the great and grand password of the Knight of the Gold Star & Garter is “the-tribe-of-Judah.” After that he is told why: “Because from thence the lion sprang that prevailed.” Christians will know that Christ is the lion of the tribe of Judah.
So to sum up: evidently there are two parties in view here – both who are said to belong to a high priestly order. The Blackman claims to belong to both the tribe of Levi and the order of Melchizedek, but Scripture shows that to be an impossibility. Christ, on the other hand, belongs to the tribe of Judah (which was not the Israelite priestly tribe) and holds the order of Melchizedek. The Blackman is placed in two high priestly orders, Christ is placed in one. Here we have a notable conflict. The reality is that the Black Knights belong to neither the tribe of Levi nor the order of Melchizedek. Their claims to both are spurious and their stated position is entirely imaginary.
The symbols of this high priestly order
After progressing through this degree, the newly entitled Knight of the Gold Star & Garter is then informed of the symbols he is now qualified to wear, and what they specifically denote. The explanations are quite revealing. They are identified to him in the following way: “The emblems worn for this degree are the gold star, the garter and the lion.”
He is then told their secret meaning
“The gold star with its seven points is a symbol of perfection; it was qualified in the Order of Melchisedec. It had its origins before Aaron’s priesthood and its fulfilment in the ascension of our Lord. It was ordained to typify the incomprehensible dignity and unchangeable duration of Jesus Christ of whom God took an oath that he should be made forever a High Priest after the Order of Melchisedec.”
As a supposed member of the order of Melchizedek the Blackman is now authorized to wear the seven- pointed-star. He is informed that this star represents “perfection.” The Blackman now joins Christ in this illustrious order. It is said to be the identifying badge of the order of Melchizedek and has its origins way back before the law. Being of the order of Melchizedek would obviously signify that one was perfect; however, this is exactly why no human being can join Christ in that priestly order. As we have seen, Hebrews 5:9-10 states, “Being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.”Christ alone meets this awesome description. He single-handedly holds this eternal office. Whilst a Christian’s standing is perfect before God in salvation, only Christ was born perfect. Scripture beautifully outlines Christ’s unique sinless nature. His spotless character and pure life set Him apart from sinful men. Who can compare? Who outside of Christ is worthy to take this priestly office? None!
The Blackman who has apparently been initiated into this illustrious order is now permitted to wear the gold star as a symbol of perfection. This can only be viewed as brazen blasphemy and utter folly. The Blackman is claiming a status that is Christ’s alone – namely High Priest. He is boasting of being of an order that belongs exclusively to Christ – namely the order of Melchizedek. He is also taking an attribute that only Christ Himself can own – namely faultlessness. These are very serious issues that do injury to the Person and standing of Christ. Many professing Christians are entangled in this transgression. It is high-time that the call to separate was loudly heard. The continued existence of this underground order cannot in any way bring honour to the exalted name of Christ. It brings shame upon the Protestant people who support it.
There is no doubt that this teaching gives rise to many more questions than answers. For example: when did the seven-pointed gold star become the symbol of the order of Melchizedek? How did it become “a symbol of perfection”? Who decided that it was “a symbol of perfection”? Where in Scripture does it say that the gold star originated before the law? When was the gold star “ordained” to represent “the incomprehensible dignity and unchangeable duration of Jesus Christ”? This is a classic example of the Black acquiring myths and concepts that they then mix with Scripture, which results in a confused concoction.
This seven-pointed gold star like most symbols in the Black was directly inherited from the Knights Templar. It too links it to the order of Melchizedek. The Black Knights, like their fraternal Masonic brothers throughout the globe, take it upon themselves to add and amend Scripture as they please. It seems that the Black will employ whatever it takes to impress its mysteries, even if it violates Holy Writ. This again underlines the counterfeit Protestant credentials of the Black.
The candidate is further taught: “The garter is a distinguished badge of an honourable order. And to us has this significance that where the law did abound grace doth much more abound.”
The garter is said to represent the fact we are looking at “an honourable order” – this symbol being a hallowed image within the hidden world of secret societies. It is often identified with ancient chivalry. The Royal Black states that it also signifies “where the law did abound grace doth much more abound.” This quote seems to be an allusion to, or an attempted paraphrase of, Romans 5:19-21, which states, “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 abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
As we can see, the Black’s paraphrase here does not accurately represent the wording or import of the passage. Firstly, it is not the law that abounds in order that grace might much more abound, but rather sin. The text tells us that “the law entered, that the offence might abound.” The existence of the law reveals man’s inborn sinfulness thus causing him to see his need of Christ. The law shows us our Adamic nature and forcefully confirms our guilt before God. Against this dark background of our sinfulness, grace is seen then to even more abound in our salvation. The fact is that if man does not see his own depraved condition he will never see his need of a Saviour.
The whole thrust of Romans 5 is to demonstrate the necessity of conversion. This passage places men in one of two distinct groups since the beginning – those in Adam and those in Christ. Those in Adam simply experience one birth in life and never know the joy of the second spiritual birth. The second group are those in Christ, referring to the redeemed throughout time. They represent every person who has been saved by God’s grace and washed in the blood of Jesus and have known the delight of sins forgiven. This is the only salvation known to man. Before Calvary the believer looked forward by faith to the finished work of the cross of Jesus, today we look back by faith to the atoning work of Christ.
The Black Order does not apply the whole Bible passage or context to the candidate here (as elsewhere), rather it cherry-picks phrases or rewords passages to suit the purposes of its ritual. This is common with secret societies. It leaves promises hanging without showing the candidate the means of appropriating the same. In the teaching before us, the garter is supposed to remind the candidate of the grace of God. Surely this is dealing with sacred things in a superficial and irreverent manner. Surely the Black is abusing Scripture for its own selfish purposes. Scripture becomes a pond in which to fish for all types of esoteric ideas and doctrines. As is common with these underground brotherhoods, the Black never speak about the member’s condemned state outside of Christ. It never warns him of the reality of hell if he does not repent. It never demonstrates his need of the new birth in order to experience the grace of God and “the peace” that “passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). It takes it for granted that all its members are saved, weighing them down with all types of religious platitudes, bogus promises and spurious honours. All the time it is selling the initiate counterfeit goods.
The candidate then learns: “The lion is symbolic of the tribe of Judah because it was the most numerous and most powerful of all the tribes. It occupied the most fertile land in Canaan. From it God chose kings to rule and govern his people and in all matters pertaining to the well being of Israel the tribe of Judah took precedence, hence the lion of the tribe of Judah, Jesus Christ who alone was found worthy to open the seven seals, who is the author of peace prosperity and salvation takes precedence on heaven and on earth to whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess.”
We recommend The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge by John Ankerberg and John Weldon
The Royal Black Institution contradicts itself here by locating the Saviour in the tribe of Judah. The whole drift of this degree is given over to showing how the one holding the order of Melchizedek is also of the tribe of Levi. We have seen how this is biblically impossible since it refers to Christ alone. The Black Knights insist that the holder of this illustrious priestly office belongs to the tribe of Levi. This reinforces the Black conviction that the candidate holds the order of Melchizedek and also springs out of the Levital tribe. Christ, on the other hand, holds the kingly office and emanates out of Judah.
Whilst the Knight of the Gold Star & Garter is assured that he is of the tribe of Levi and of the order of Melchizedek he is also said to be qualified to wear a symbolic badge representing the tribe of Judah, this badge being a lion. This allusion to the tribe of Judah correlates with the grand password of the Knights of the Gold Star & Garter. The lion reminds the candidate of his secret password: “the-tribe-of-Judah.” Every symbol the Black owns has a hidden meaning. The onlooker may see the symbols on the Black Knights’ collarettes, certificates and banners, but they have absolutely no grasp of the real value and significance of the same. That can only be gained in the degree teaching. Again, scriptural words, phrases and titles are used in an unsatisfactory ad-hoc manner to reinforce esoteric thought.
We can trace the origin and concepts of esoteric teaching relating to Melchizedek right back to Philo the Greek philosopher in the first century. Philo viewed the person of Melchizedek allegorically and argued that Melchizedek, as high priest, represented reason. His bizarre teaching had a great influence upon the development and beliefs of the ‘Christian’ Gnostics of the early church period. In fact, they leant hard upon the teachings of the Greek Philosophers Plato and Philo. Interestingly, like Philo, they had their headquarters in Alexandria. They took his heathenish teaching, mixed it with Christian teaching, shrouded it in secrecy and developed it into a perverted Christianity.
The early church fathers testified of the existence of an esoteric group amongst the Gnostics called the Melchizedekians and attested to their heretical ideas in relation to the order of Melchizedek. In fact, Hippolytus of Rome (A.D. 180-230), in The Refutation of all Heresies specifically singled them out along with the Nicolaitans as a grouping to be avoided. He named one of the chapters of his book ‘The Melchisedecians; The Nicolaitans’ and warned, “different questions have arisen among them, a certain (heretic), who himself also was styled Theodotus, and who was by trade a banker, attempted to establish (the doctrine), that a certain Melchisedec constitutes the greatest power, and that this one is greater than Christ. And they allege that Christ happens to be according to the likeness (of this Melchisedec). And they themselves, similarly with those who have been previously spoken of as adherents of Theodotus, assert that Jesus is a (mere) man, and that, in conformity with the same account (already given), Christ descended upon him” (Book VII, Chapter XXIV).
Epiphanius of Salamis wrote a manuscript which he called Adanacephalaeosis (375 A.D.), which was described as The Refutation of the Eighty Sects (obviously referring to the major cults of his day). At number 55, he names the “Melchizedekians” who are described as those “who honor Melchizedek and claim he is a power of some sort and not a mere man, and have dared to ascribe everything to his name arid say so.” Plainly this is an ancient error which the Black secretly espouses.
We recommend a sound compelling book written by the great revivalist Charles Finney who was a former Freemason (The Character, Claims And Practical Workings Of Freemasonry):
Mormonism and the Roman Catholic Church
It is ironic that the Mormon Church also initiates its membership into the same two priesthoods as the Black – the Aaronic priesthood (of the tribe of Levi) and the Melchizedek priesthood. In fact, every office within Mormonism flows out of these two priesthoods. The Aaronic priesthood is the lesser priesthood in Mormonism and originates in the Levitical priesthood. Those who hold this office are entitled to progress to the offices of deacon, teacher, and priest. The Melchizedek priesthood is the greater priesthood. It consists of several offices, including elder, seventy, high priest, patriarch or evangelist, and apostle.
Bruce R. McConkie, in his book Mormon Doctrine, explains: “Perfection does not come by the Levitical order … But it is a preparatory priesthood, … which prepares its worthy and faithful ministers for the oath and covenant and perfection that appertain to the Melchizedek order” (p. 11). This corresponds with the operation of the titles within the Loyal Orders. When the candidate starts his degree journey (in the Orange degree of the Orange Order) he is told that he is of the Levitical tribe. By the time he has advanced to the eighth degree of the Royal Black Institution he is informed that he is a priest after the order of Melchizedek. The Orange, the Black and the Mormons are bedfellows here.
The Encyclopaedia of Mormonism states, “The Melchizedek Priesthood is the authority, responsibility, and power to act in the name of Jesus Christ and to organize and direct part of his work. Through the opportunities of this priesthood, men and women in partnership with God can conduct the work of the family and the Church.”
Mormon website LDS Patriot (as in Latter Day Saints), explains: “The Melchizedek Priesthood is one of the ‘orders’ of priesthood in the Mormon Church. Its proper name is the ‘high priesthood of the holy order of God’ but it is called the ‘high priesthood’ or ‘Melchizedek priesthood’ to avoid overusing God’s name.” This is very similar to the Black who call the Knights of the Gold Star & Garter “the High Priestly Order.” Regardless of whichever cult, aberration from Christianity, or secret society you look at, all claim to belong to this distinguished priesthood which only Christ can hold.
The title of the order of Melchizedek is also bestowed upon Roman Catholic priests when ordained into the priesthood. Converted priest Bartholomew F. Brewer testifies to this fact in his book Pilgrimage from Rome, saying, “My ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood was at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary in Washington, DC, the seventh largest church in the world today … ‘His Excellency, the Most Reverend Bishop’ John M. McNamara imposed his hands on my head and repeated the words from Psalm 110:4 … ‘Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek’.”
Brewer says of this induction, “I was overwhelmed with the belief that I was now a mediator between God and the people. The anointing and binding of my hands with special cloths signified that they were now consecrated to changing bread and wine into the real (literal) flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, to perpetuate the sacrifice of Calvary through the Mass, and to dispense saving grace through the other Roman Catholic sacraments of baptism, confession, confirmation, marriage, and the last rites. At ordination a Roman Catholic priest is said to receive an ‘indelible’ mark: to experience an unending interchange of his personality with that of Christ, that he may perform his priestly duties as another Christ (alter Christus) or in the place of Christ.”
It is quite amazing the common thread that is found through all these religious deviations from the truth. Although varying in outward belief and practice they certainly share some remarkable similarities. The likeness to Gnosticism is especially seen in the murky world of secret societies – of which Mormonism is an offshoot. All closely replicate the secretive activities and teaching of the early-Church Gnostics. All hide their theology from the outside world and maintain it by way of an underground oral tradition. Their theology is deliberately concealed from the masses in order to preserve its power and mystique. It is of the utmost concern that the Black copies this ancient order and shares its erroneous beliefs rather than the plain biblical thinking of evangelical Protestantism.
As with most of what the Black own, we find the home of this error in the Masonic Lodge. In the 19th degree of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, the candidate receives the degree of Grand Pontiff. During this ritual the candidate swears an oath of secrecy and an oath of total obedience. The Master of the Lodge, who is called “Thrice Puissant,” anoints the initiate with oil on his head and pronounces “Be Thou a Priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” It is worth noting, this word “Puissant” means mighty or powerful. Here, the Master of the Lodge takes upon himself a designation that can only be used by God – namely thrice mighty or powerful.
Evangelical authority on Freemasonry Ed Decker says of this degree, in The Question of Freemasonry, “It must be pointed out that what has taken place here is the Masonic priesthood taking upon itself the Holy Priesthood of Jesus Christ. That is a Priesthood that can be held by only one person and that one person is clearly defined in scripture as Jesus Christ!”
There is an older degree within Masonry that still survives in a few Masonic regions throughout the world today called The Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests. It has been known under an assortment of different titles, designations and identities through the years. The name it assumes was normally dependant upon the location where it was active and the day in which it was worked. Local preferences and peculiarities would most likely have determined its title, although, the actual degree that is being referred to seems to involve the same overall ceremony and detail.
Although historians debate where it originated, it appears to have been at its height at the beginning of the 1800s. This was a period when the Masonic degrees were not governed as strictly as they are today. The degree was variously known as the Priestly Order, the White Mason, The Order of Melchizedek, The Pillar’d Priests and other differing terms. Whilst it was popular within the higher degree fraternity about 200 years ago it was gradually replaced by the current Knights Templar ritual.
Masonic historian G.C.Love confirms its various labels in an article called Melchisedek – An Appraisal. In it he explains, “In regard to the Arch and Knights Templar degrees (in Ireland during the 1800s) Jones (1965) states, ‘a degree known as the Sacred Band Royal Arch Knights Templars, Priests after the Order of Melchisedec’ … The KTP (as the Order is commonly referred to) could be called ‘Order of Melchisedek’, but also White Mason, Order of Holy Wisdom, (Holy) Order of High-Priesthood, etc. Even a Gnostic Melchisedekian Order, but that is another story … It appears to have its foundations in Ireland where records exist of workings dating back to the late 18th century. From the writings it is suggested Knight Templars from various Craft lodges joined together as a ‘Union Band’ to confer the degree.”
We would recommend a very compelling book written by Masonic authority E. M. Storms called Should a Christian be a Mason?:
Masonic historian A.E. Waite says in A New Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry: “there was a grade of Melchizedek or Royal Priesthood in the Rite of the Asiatic Brethren, and there are vestiges of a Priestly Order in Ireland of the eighteenth century.” He confirms that it was known in Ireland as “the Priestly Order, otherwise White Mason, or alternatively the Most Solemn Grade of the Royal Arch Knights Templar Priests.”
History seems to prove that there were two working Masonic Knights Templar orders that were active at the close of the 18th century. Masonic authority John Yarker confirms this in his exhaustive history The Arcane Schools. He contends, “There was however a second body of Templars in Ireland termed the ‘High Knights Templar’, who conferred the Rite under their Craft Charter.” Under the subject of Templar Priest he explains, “All the Templar bodies of the 18th century in England, Ireland, and Scotland, possessed this degree, which was at one time in esteem; it is now entirely abandoned; in Ireland because the Orangemen obtained it, at a time when there was a close alliance between that body and Freemasonry. The ceremony is an embodiment of Fludd’s idea that: ‘It is under the type of an Architect that the prophet warns us – Let us go up to the mountain of reason and there build the Temple of Wisdom’.”
Here we see evidence that this esoteric Masonic degree was given over to the Orangemen – obviously speaking about the ritualistic Black Orangemen. This reference to Fludd is significant. This is referring to Robert Fludd the famous 17th century occultist. He was the driving force behind the poignantly named Rosicrucian society the ‘Fraternity of the Rose Cross’ (or Red Cross), which was the spiritual forerunner of higher degree Freemasonry (and hence the Royal Black Institution). He was also the mastermind behind the occultic Kabbalistic Sephirothic Tree of Life.
Yarker here relates this Melchizedek degree we are looking at to the inspiration of Fludd. This is another troubling revelation. This further confirms the Gnostic nature of this Royal Black tradition. Like the heretical Melchizedekians that existed during the early church period, Melchizedekians throughout history have always viewed references in Scripture to “Melchizedek” or “the Word” as abstract ideas. Rather than referring to the person of Christ they relate these designations to the occultic concept of reason. This explains the perplexing nature of the teaching. Masonic authority Manly P. Hall writes in The Lost Keys of Freemasonry or The Secret of Hiram Abiff, “The Word is found when the Master himself is ordained by the living hand of God, cleansed by living water, baptized by living fire, a Priest King after the Order of Melchizedek who is above the law” (page 59).
We should note, this Knights Templar degree mentioned here is different in character to the one operated generally within higher degree Masonry. In this ritual the brethren (who are known as the “Knights Priests”) supposedly wear “white robes of the Temple.” As the candidate successfully progresses through the ceremony he is told: “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in White raiment.” After this, a white robe is put on the aspirant. Worthiness to wear this robe here is determined by his entrance into this ‘high priestly order’ and his ‘high priestly brethren’.
Arrayed in his white robes, the candidate is told, “For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest. And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But ye shall lie named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of God, ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves. Is it your earnest desire to unite your soul with ours in the Lord’s oath, to live in brotherly love, in a spiritual bond of peace, and in holy friendship, joining your heart and hand in true Christian fellowship, neither to be dissolved by length of time, nor broken by slight offences?”
Another similar Masonic ‘Melchizedek order’ is The Holy Order of the Grand High Priest. It too aligns with this secondary Knights Templar grouping. In its introductory comments to the degree, the Grand Council of the Order (1879) explains, “Two versions of the Order seem to have reached Ireland through different channels. One version was brought in about 1770 almost certainly directly from France: it was shewn to a body of Knights Templar, who decided to keep it as a Christian Degree. It was therefore worked in Encampments of Knights Templar and in Lodges which had Royal Arch and Knight Templar sections: or, if a single Lodge had not enough qualified Brethren, two or more Lodges formed a ‘Union Band’ to work it. By 1780 the Order was fairly widespread in Ireland: many certificates, mostly dated in the 1790s, survive with the heading ‘Sacred Band of Royal Arch Templar Priests after the Order of Melchizedek’.”
Lodges Examined by the Bible by John R. Rice
The candidate’s reception into this order is as follows. The sentinel knocks on door, whereupon:
The Herald declares: “There is an alarm at the inner avenue.”
The President responds: “Attend to the alarm and see who seeks admission.”
The Herald then asks: “Who comes here?”
The Conductor answers: “A Companion of the Holy Royal Arch who desires further light in Masonry by being Anointed, Consecrated and Set Apart to the Office of High Priest.”
The Herald asks: “How does he hope to gain admission?”
The Conductor replies: “By having been found worthy by the voice of his Brethren and the approval of his Companions.”
Like the Blackman, the Mason here is told that he is entering into the high priestly order. He is qualified to belong to this order on the grounds that he has gained “the approval of his Companions” because he has “been found worthy by the voice of his Brethren.” Here the commission and recognition to hold this priesthood comes from man, whereas the scriptural order of Melchizedek in Scripture (which we have seen, Christ alone holds), carries the approval and vindication of God.
Acts 2:22 tells us that heaven’s great and only accepted High Priest today – the Lord Jesus Christ – was “a man approved of God.” Here we see the conflict. In all the varying secret fraternities, men appoint men to this fake high priestly office; in Scripture God chooses who fills an authentic high priestly position. Secret societies are trying to appoint men to a position that is already filled and will never be vacated for all eternity. Christ has eternally secured the office. This whole man-made procedure is an elaborate sham.
The Black arose at a time when the order of Melchizedek was being bestowed large-scale in many secret societies throughout the world. Most if not all these fraternities take their origin back to France in the early to mid 1700s. Later in the century they were proliferating in Ireland – at the very time the Orange and Black orders were being created. We will explore this matter deeper in our historic examination near the end of this book. The order of Melchizedek was one of many illustrious offices and terms that was invested upon the initiates. From a biblical perspective, these secret orders are counterfeit by their very existence and blasphemous in procedures. They steal sacred titles and divine promises that are solely attributed to Christ in the New Testament and apply them to their respective memberships. These neo-Masonic ‘Melchizedek orders’ are exposed by their own confessions. It is evident that they are hoisted with their own grandeur and hoodwinked by their own self-conceived commendations. It was not surprising that this spurious order was to be embraced by the ritualistic Orangemen in the form of the Black Preceptory.
We are Priests
The New Testament knows nothing of any earthly priesthood outside of the priesthood of believers. Scripture teaches that every born again believer is a spiritual priest today. One enters into this favoured position through salvation. This is confirmed in 1 Peter 2:5-9. Speaking of the body of Christ, we learn, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ … ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”
The reference to royal here is simply a description of the kingly spiritual authority enjoyed by true Christians upon conversion. The redeemed are a kingly (or a royal) priesthood today. They are a “holy nation.” Citizenship belongs to people of all races and all tongues – all that know and trust the Lord Jesus Christ as their own and personal Saviour. They are an elect people that have been called out of “darkness into his marvellous light.” This spiritual company can be found anywhere that there are committed believers. It is the community of redeemed, irrespective of colour, race or birthplace.
When Jesus came and died on the cross He instituted the new covenant which allowed the believer to access God directly. No longer would the bulk of God’s people be excluded from the presence of the Lord by a veil. No longer would they need an earthly priest to represent them before God. They were now free to approach Him personally by simple faith. Christ removed the partition between God and His people when He laid down His life for our sins. He became man’s final High Priest. The curtain between the believer and God was eternally torn apart. The separation was removed.
Matthew 27:51 declares, “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent.” This meant that the redeemed of God could have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19). Today, we can “by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving” let our “requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). Ephesians 2:18 says, “For through him (Christ) we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” All believers now have access to a holy God. No barrier separates the righteous from God.
For more information, please William Schnoebelen’s enlightening book Masonry Beyond the Light
This does not stop the Royal Black Institution applying the detail of 2 Peter 2:5-9 to all Blackmen. In fact, this is probably one of the most popular passages quoted within the Institution. The Black believes itself to be that choice, spiritual people to whom Peter refers. This is evident in the comments made by Mr James Molyneux (the then Sovereign Grand Master of the Imperial Grand Black Chapter of the British Commonwealth ), speaking to the faithful at the Black demonstration at Scarva in July 1981. He told the members, “Apathy may be a luxury in which some races can indulge but you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation and a people claimed by God for Himself” (Orange Standard, August 1981, p. 8).
This type of thinking is not restricted to the Royal Black Institution, but is also widely held inside the secret society domain. In the preface to a book entitled Long-Livers, published in 1772, Rosicrucian initiate Eugenius Philalethes said, addressing his Masonic brethren: “Remember that you are the Salt of the Earth, the Light of the World, and the Fire of the Universe. You are living Stones, built up a Spiritual House, who believe and rely on the chief Lapis Angularis which the refractory and disobedient Builders disallowed. You are called from Darkness to Light; you are a chosen Generation, a royal Priesthood.”
These secret societies therefore all arrogate this status to themselves as though they have the sole right to it, whereas it relates to born again believers everywhere, and to them alone. Anyone who has belonged to the Order will know that the vast bulk of the Black’s members make no claim to being saved. They have not entered into the realisation of being called out of darkness into His marvellous light. So whatever way you look at it, the Black has no authority to identify its membership with a scriptural priesthood – whether natural or spiritual, earthly or heavenly, old covenant or new covenant. The Institution’s claim to the title is spurious.
The spiritual priesthood described in 2 Peter 2:5-9 applies only to those who are holy and sanctified. In the New Testament age the term pertains solely to blood-bought believers. This has been the accepted evangelical Protestant position from the Reformation. There is no record of the Reformed fathers recognising unregenerate men as priests. On the other hand there are many accounts of them opposing the Roman Catholic system. This places a large question mark over the Protestant credentials of the Royal Black Institution and the Independent Orange Order’s Knights of Malta. How can these secret fraternities claim the Reformed title with such anti-Protestant practices and beliefs?
Martin Luther, whose heroic stand against the errors of Rome precipitated the Protestant Reformation, and whose writings deeply influenced the doctrines of Protestantism, wrote that “as priests we are worthy to appear before God to pray for others and to teach one another divine things …Thus Christ has made it possible for us, provided we believe in him, to be not only his brethren, co-heirs, and fellow-kings, but also his fellow priests” (The Freedom of a Christian). That great pioneer of truth John Wycliffe (considered the main precursor of the Protestant Reformation in England), who gave us the first translation of the Bible in the English language, said: “Every pious man, predestinated to life, is truly a priest ordained of God.” Another great Reformer, martyr of God, and English translator of the Bible, William Tyndale said: “Jew or Gentile… in Christ they are made priests to offer themselves to God.”
John says in Revelation 1:5-6, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father.” God’s people are kings and priests today, but Scripture nowhere teaches that this priesthood of all believers is Levitical or Melchizedekian, or both. Christians are spiritual priests, and have become such by way of salvation when they enter into all the riches of Christ and His glorious power. We become joint-heirs with Him in His current reign and marvellous glory. We are a kingdom priest by virtue of the fact that we are members of Christ’s kingdom – which we enter by means of being born again (John 3). We become imitators of Him in His humble and contrite earthly ministry. The meek servant-hood of the true believer and his self-sacrificing walk is connected to his priestly position, whereas his reigning in spiritual power and authority is related to his kingly office. These spiritual realities continue on after death when we reach heaven (Revelation 5:5-10 & Revelation 20:6).
We would recommend a revealing book written by David W Daniels – Should A Christian Be A Mason:
All the Black Degrees
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 Crown degree – exposed and biblically examined
(8) Gold Star and Garter degree – exposed and biblically examined
(9) Crimson Arrow degreee – exposed and biblically examined
(10) Gold 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
Purchase direct: Inside the Royal Black Institution
Testimonies from former leading Royal Blackmen Rev. Canon Brian T. Blacoe (former Deputy Grand Chaplain of the Royal Black Institution), Malcolm McClughan (former Royal Black Lecturer) and David Carson (Chairman of the United Protestant Council).
A book for Blackmen to seriously consider by Cecil Andrew of Take Heed Ministries.
For more information read Freemasonry: The Invisible Cult by Jack Harris