Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Secrets of the Knights Templar

There are many who claim to have found some mysterious secret about God or ultimate truth. Some lost to the ages and now perhaps only recently found by them or the group they represent. This is not a new idea, but part of a pattern that goes back to ancient times. But it is hard to fit this approach in with Biblical Christianity and the One who said He did nothing in secret (John 18:20,21). Yet there are continuously those who try to fit the two together. One example of this is the attempt to read things into the story of the Knights Templar.

The Knights Templar were a special fighting monastic order created to defend Palestine at the time of the Crusades. When Palestine was lost, they continued as an order in hopes of one day regaining it. But they were abolished based on charges brought by Philip the Fourth, King of France. This event has led some to claim there was a mysterious secret belonging to the Templars that King Philip abolished the order to destroy. But is there evidence for this? The Knights Templar were accused of worshiping an idol called Baphomet, cursing the cross, homosexual activity, and sexual activity with demons. None or this seems to reflect any kind of coherent philosophy or alternate form of Christianity. It also is not believable (even leaving aside the sexual relations with demons). These things were claimed to be in the initiation rites into the Templars. We are to assume young men wanting to enlist in the Crusades would all easily agree to such things and no one would blab. Also, Baphomet was a European distortion for Mohammed, who, it was claimed, the Muslims worshiped. Given it was a slander that Muslims worshiped Mohammed, it is not possible that the Templars picked it up from them. The only evidence for this was confessions elicited by torture, many of which were later retracted. All this ends up looking like an attempt by King Philip to confiscate the Templar's holdings (rumored to be very considerable). King Philip took a similar approach toward Pope Boniface VIII, who had opposed him, by claiming the pope had been involved in magic and summoning demons. These accusations helped lay the foundation for the later witch hunts. There was no real basis for the charges against the Templars, let alone a dangerous secret they held.

This is an example of the kind of approach that looks for mysterious secrets where there are none. It is better to stick with the clear, open form of Christianity, rather than looking for such mysteries. Is it really possible that the true meaning of Christianity had somehow been passed down secretly only to emerge without solid evidence at a later date? And is it not better to look to the open testimony of history to decide  what Christianity is?

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