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The Rosicrucian Order
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AMORC (also known as ‘The Rosicrucian Order’.)
AMORC - ’The Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis’ (also known as ’The Rosicrucian Order’.)
Founder: H Spencer Lewis (1883-1939)
While still a young man (21) Lewis was elected president of the New York Institute for Psychical Research. He travelled widely in this capacity, including spending time with, and being influenced by, the infamous Aleister Crowley, who was for some time a member of the ’Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn’. On his return to the United States after some years of travel and research, Lewis spread his message through the official bulletins of his institute.
In 1915 the work was formalised and AMORC born. Lewis was appointed Chief Executive (’Imperator’). In 1917 a committee ’...composed of ten or more well-known Freemasons...familiar with ritualistic and fraternal law...’ approved the adoption of a revised French constitution for use in the U.S.A. They reported that Rosicrucianism ’...was distinctly different from anything they had contacted in their other affiliations, and worthy of the deepest and most profound study on the part of every seeker for the greater light.’ (Rosicrucian Questions & Answers p.176-7)
After Lewis ’experienced the Great Initiation of Transition’ (died) in 1939, he was succeeded as Imperator by his son, Ralph M. Lewis. The latter in turn ’passed through transition’ in January 1987. He was followed as Imperator by Gary L. Stewart, a 34 year old Californian at the time of taking over.
AMORC’s VIEW OF HISTORY
AMORC claims to spring from the Mystery Schools of Egypt (c.1500B.C.), especially from the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaton (Amen-hotep iv - c. 1350 b.c.) who, it is claimed, introduced monotheism to the world. ’...This was thirteen hundred years before Christianity adopted the doctrine of a belief in a single God.’ (Rosicrucian Initiation - Neophyte Second Portal -inside Front cover) Akhenaton worshipped the sun. Rosicrucians regard him as ’the first individual in history’ and their first Grand Master. (ibid)
Supposedly the teachings of the Egyptians slowly spread through Greece, and on to Rome. Eventually they reached Europe, where, in the Middle Ages, they were hidden for several centuries due to the peculiar circumstances of the times. The teachings began to surface in the twelfth century, to come to public attention through the ’Fama’ in the seventeenth century.
After a period of development, the movement reached America where it was taught in various places for around three hundred years. Finally, it came to the attention of young Spencer Lewis, who gathered others around him to espouse the teachings, and also published them in various occult magazines, until AMORC was born.
THE AMORC SYSTEM
AMORC Headquarters are situated at Rosicrucian Park, San Jose, California (just south of San Francisco). The most impressive complex (styled in 1920s Hollywood ’Egyptian’) contains offices, a ’University’, museums of Egyptology and Science, and the AMORC Supreme Temple.
The group advertises widely, through much of the Western world. It claims to have responsibility to an international accrediting organisation, for the Americas, the British Commonwealth and Empire, France and Africa. The international body, based in Europe, supposedly also accredits other groups who have the remaining countries of the world under their jurisdiction.
Initial contact with AMORC is normally through an advertisement for the booklet The Mastery Of Life, a glossy introduction to the questions which concern AMORC, and to the organisation itself. The enquirer is invited to join the movement (subject to approval of one’s application, which seems to be readily given), by paying the joining fee and monthly dues generally reducible if paid quarterly.
For this money one receives a copy of the monthly magazine, Rosicrucian Digest, and undertakes a series of correspondence courses, which introduce the student to AMORC teachings. The Initiate (or Neophyte) may attend various lodges and meetings.
The correspondence courses are sent to the member at a rate of two each month. They take approximately 1Â½ hours per week to complete and include both instruction and experiments, usually of a psychic nature. The correspondent also receives instruction in self-initiation into the organisation, and progresses towards full status in the Order.
Lessons are also provided at the various lodges around the AMORC ’jurisdiction’, and also at the Rose-Croix University in San Jose. While not overly strong, there appear to be groups and lodges in most Australia capital cities, and a few others scattered around the country.
The Supreme Temple and the various lodges offer a variety of ceremonies including weddings and funerals. AMORC insists that if its members wish to have a church (or other) funeral service in addition to that in the AMORC facility, then the Rosicrucian service must be the last one performed. (Rosicrucian Manual, p.170)
BELIEFS OF AMORC
Is AMORC a religion?
’The Rosicrucians do not constitute a cult, either religious or otherwise. They constitute a fraternity of men and women...The members of the organization are of every religious denomination, and are not asked to change their religious beliefs in any way.’ (Rosicrucian Questions & Answers, p.213)
’The Rosicrucian Order is absolutely NOT a religious movement or sect...The Order itself...is free of religious alliances...The teachings and philosophical doctrines of the Order do not interfere with the religious freedom of its members.’ (Who & What are the Rosicrucians? p.5)
Are these claims accurate?
Very soon after commencing study in the correspondence courses, the ’neophyte’ is instructed to ’...lay aside temporarily whatever theories of life, religion, philosophy or scholastic doctrines you may have in your mind...’ (Secret Mandamus No.2 p.1) In other words the student should not judge the teachings critically, nor use some external standard such as the Bible to assess the truth of claims made.
What then, does AMORC teach?
Its beliefs are stated reasonably plainly in two books by H. Spencer Lewis - Rosicrucian Questions And Answers With Complete History of the Rosicrucian Order and the Rosicrucian Manual.
Attitude To Christian Doctrines:
’...the order takes no definite stand in regard to the religious doctrines of any church or religious movement...there is nothing in the real teachings of the Rosicrucians which would make a devout Christian unhappy in his orthodoxy, nor is there anything in the teachings which would make the Jew or the Mohammedan [sic] unhappy.’ (Rosicrucian Questions and Answers, p.261-262)
If this statement is true, then studying AMORC’s philosophies would be acceptable for Christians. If it is untrue, then Christians would need to be wary of this movement.
Attitude To The Bible:
’It is but natural that the studies of spiritual and natural laws would lead to the close study of the Christian Bible as well as many other sacred books...Rosicrucians are devout students of the Christian Bible, for they find therein many expressions of the early comprehension of God’s great laws.’ (Rosicrucian Questions & Answers, p.304)
While it is true that one will find excerpts from scripture sprinkled throughout AMORC material, there is nothing therein which promotes reading of the Bible, nor could it be fairly stated that there is any indication that Rosicrucians are in reality ’devout students of the Bible’. The attitude of the group to the Bible is clearly shown when one notes the reason members read the Bible: not to gain a personal knowledge of God’s will for oneself and for mankind, but to learn how God’s law was understood in millenniums past. The Bible is seen as having historical value only. Even then, as will be shown, this value is regarded as limited at best, as Rosicrucians regard Biblical history as inaccurate.
AMORC’s teachings do not reflect the teachings of the Bible, and they frequently contradict the claims of God’s word.
Attitude To Other Religions:
The preceding comments regarding AMORC’s attitude to Christian doctrines and the Bible apply equally to its view of other religions, also.
In AMORC writings, it is not uncommon to find comments such as ’In every true religion...’ (Rosicrucian Initiation, 1st Portal, p.1)
Introductions to Rosicrucian ’Portals’ (self-initiation instructions) carry the following statement:
’Each of the world’s great religious founders, those who left to mankind a spiritual heritage, a system, doctrines or a code of living by which man could commune with the God within, was a beacon of Divine Light in a dark and saddened world of humanity. Their lives were shining examples of the truths they expounded. The bitterness that oftentimes exists between the present-day exponents of these great religious movements is because they in their own lives and conduct do not, as their predecessors did, exemplify their religious principles. It is intriguing and inspiring to read The Story of Light, the beginning and evolution of the great religious movements, the construction of broad roads upon which man hopes to reach a closer understanding of his God. It is most befitting that with each initiation intended to evolve your consciousness you be given a brief biography of these religious founders, these eminent personages.’
These ’religious founders’ include Confucius, Zoroaster, and interestingly, the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, who is included because, while he was not, in the strict sense, the founder of any religion, he ’is considered by many...to be an important contributor to a number of existing religions’. (First Portal, inside front cover)
These founders are spoken of in the most glowing terms. Of Confucius, for example, it is said that,
’...his life was all that one could expect of a religious leader. Those who deny Confucianism are perhaps measuring it by their own narrow religious views or by the doctrines of their own sects. His, in many respects, was a very enlightened and advanced religion...He taught that man approaches God through virtuous conduct and individual spiritual development...’ (Third Portal, part 1, inside front cover)
The view that man approaches God through virtuous conduct is far from the Biblical view, which states that Jesus is the way to God, that we are saved by God’s grace, and ’not as a result of works, that no one should boast’. (Eph 2:8,9 - NASB) Nor is the ’construction of broad roads’ in an endeavour to reach God compatible with the Bible, which clearly states that the road leading to life is narrow, and few find it. The wide road, we are told, leads, in reality, to destruction, and many pass along it. (Matt 7:13,14)
’To Rosicrucians there is but one God, everliving, ever present, without limiting attributes or definite form of manifestation - it is the God of our hearts...In ancient rituals we find this as part of the Rosicrucian pledge: "Man is God and Son of God, and there is no other God but Man". But this has a mystical meaning and is not to be taken literally. The Rosicrucian concept of God is essentially a universal mind, intelligence and infinite power. The concept is not dogmatic. The Roscrucians expound the principle that God is wholly a subjective experience and thus a personal interpretation. Consequently the Rosicrucian refers to the God of my heart.’ (Rosicrucian Manual, p.171)
’Rosicrucians do not believe that there is any such thing as supernatural law. They believe that there is nothing more Divine or wonderful than nature...and that nothing can be higher than nature.’ (Correspondence Lesson, Third Degree, No.1 p.6)
’Rosicrucians believe that their Order has certain work to do, “To the glory of God and for the benefit of mankind.”’ (Rosicrucian Initiation, Neophyte Guide, p.3)
The Rosicrucian God, as revealed in these statements, is not a personal being. Rather, IT is pantheistic (monistic?) and related to the mind. It bears no relationship to the God who is revealed in scripture, and made manifest in Jesus Christ.
H. Spencer Lewis wrote two books focusing on the life and teachings of Jesus - The Mystical Life Of Jesus, described as ’The most surprising book ever written’; and The Secret Doctrines Of Jesus.
The Mystical Life Of Jesus claims to be based on facts contained in ancient Rosicrucian and Essene records, which do not, we are informed, reflect the ’incomplete, partly erroneous, and greatly veiled life of Jesus as it appears in the Christian Bible...’ (Mystical Life, p.18) The Rosicrucian Order claims to have inherited or located many such records, but these are generally kept secret.
The book tells the story of the Essene brotherhood, a group of ’pure blooded descendants of the Aryan race’, who built a monastery at Mt Carmel in Northern Israel. According to the Jewish historian Josephus (37-c.100A.D.), the Essenes were a secret Jewish sect, NOT Aryan, and they probably were based at Qumran, rather than Mt Carmel. Such historical evidence did not concern Lewis, however.
The Essenes, according to Lewis, believed, among other things:
a) ’God is principle...He is not a person. His attributes manifest only through matter to the outer man.’
b) ’The ego in man is of God, and at one with God, and is consequently immortal and everlasting.’ (p30ff)
Jesus was, according to Lewis, born of ’Gentile’ parents, of Aryan descent, but ’Jews by forced adoption,’ (p.55) Essenes living in Galilee, although not in Nazareth since no such town existed in that century. This last was a popular theory when Lewis wrote, however, it has since been debunked by archaeological evidence for the existence of the town at that time. (R.L. Morey, The New Atheism, p.70)
Mary is said to be the daughter of a high priest of the Temple of the Sun outside Jerusalem. (p.97) She was so-named because at her birth the sun ’was in the sign of Libra.’ (p.99) Joseph was a widower at the time. (p.104). Mary conceived (as a virgin) by the word of God which was breathed on her. (p.106)
Neither Mary nor Joseph were of the house of David. The Bible is in error on this point, according to Lewis. The Biblical genealogies are ’only an attempt on the part of later admirers and followers of Jesus to make it appear that he was of the House of David, as hoped and prayed for by the Jews.’ (p.59)
The Rosicrucian Order believes ’that Jesus was NOT the first and only, but the last and greatest of all the messengers of God conceived in this manner and born on earth.’ (p.93) We are led to believe that, according to Essene records at the school in which Jesus was educated at Mt Carmel, he registered under the name of Joseph, the reincarnation of Zoroaster, the ’Son of God.’ (p.158)
Jesus was born, not in a manger in Bethlehem, but in an Essene cave on the highway outside Bethlehem. (p.119) After his education by the Essenes, he travelled with two Magi to the east. While in India He took a short course in Hindu practices and also investigated Buddhism. (pp.182, 185) On His return west, He was baptised by John at Lake Moeris in Egypt, a secret
known only to members ’of the Rosicrucian Order and to those in the high branches of the Brotherhood in Tibet, India and Egypt.’ (p.214) And, we might add, to readers of Lewis’ book.
The crucifixion did take place, but not quite as the Bible relates the event. The words of Jesus, ’Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani’ do not mean ’My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?’, as Christians believe, but, according to Lewis, ’My Temple of Helois [the sun], My Brethren of Helois, Why hast thou forsaken me?’ (p.263) Just why the singular ’thou’ was used when speaking to a plural number of people, is anyone’s guess. While on the cross, Jesus was apparently given food and water, and when, after some hours, it was discovered that He was NOT dead, the cross was taken down and the body removed. Lewis seems to have no difficulty with the idea that the body should be removed precisely because Jesus had not died - but why was it not removed earlier? Why was He crucified at all, if it was intended that He should not die? Then the living Jesus was supposedly taken to the garden tomb, where Essene doctors were waiting to take care of Him. By the time the stone was rolled away by other Essenes, Jesus was found to be ’resting easily, and rapidly regaining strength and vitality.’ (pp.265-269)
Jesus appeared to various disciples at different times over the next few days, demonstrating ’the ability of the Master to project his personality and consciousness to places distant from His physical body.’ This was no unique feat, but was common to ’many of the eminent Avatars [or Spiritual masters] of the past, and in fact, some of His apostles and disciples and many of the brethren of the Great White Brotherhood...’ (p.277)
When the time came for His ascension, Jesus took the apostles to a mountainside where they gathered in a semicircle facing the setting sun. Jesus stood before them, silhouetted against the sky. He instructed the apostles not to move until they received ’apostolic power’, ’the influx of the Holy Ghost’. A great light surrounded Jesus with the last rays of the setting sun, and ’a mist formed over His head and gradually enveloped Him. When the mist lifted, and ascended towards the sky again, they saw that Jesus was gone.’ (p.280)
The apostles did not at first move, as instructed, then they turned for home. ’That night Jesus appeared among the High Priests in the monastery at Carmel, and retired to the rooms that had been set aside for Him as His sanctum, and the door of His public life was closed to mankind.’ (p.282)
The ascension, we are told, ’was wholly a mystical and psychic event, and there is nothing in the original accounts of it to warrant the belief that Jesus rose physically or in His physical body in a cloud into the heavens...This important event in the life of Jesus must be viewed in the mystical and spiritual sense.’ (pp.283-284)
Perhaps we are to believe that all Jesus did was walk away from His gathered apostles down the other side of the hill, and that before they felt able to stand and look, or before the mist cleared, He had already disappeared into the distance.
How long Jesus lived at Mt Carmel, teaching His followers in regular weekly secret sessions, is not stated, but it was apparently for many years. His ’ultimate passing or transition [i.e. death]...occurred peacefully and in the presence of the brethren of the Brotherhood in the monastery at Carmel. His body remained in a tomb on the mount for several centuries but it was finally removed to a secret sepulchre guarded and protected by His brothers. Thus endeth the story of the Great Initiate - the Messiah, and the Son of God - the Amen of the world, Lord and Redeemer.’ (p.299)
The proof for this story, which raises more questions than it gives even theoretical answers for, is supposedly recorded on the aforementioned secret records. It is a pity these records have not been made available to non-Rosicrucian scholars. It seems no scholars have even bothered to go and check the accuracy of the records. If they did exist, and were proven to be accurate, they would be priceless, and would turn Biblical scholarship, and indeed the Christian church, on its head. Not surprisingly, scholars and church leaders have ridiculed the book. In the end, as E.C. Gruss suggests, the book should be retitled, ’The Mythical Life Of Jesus’. (E.C. Gruss, Cults and the Occult, p.107)
It is interesting to compare this book with the later The Secret Doctrines of Jesus, which claims to build on the Mystical Life. The story of the ascension of Christ as outlined in The Secret Doctrines is especially revealing.
’...they moved silently with Jesus out into the stillness of the setting sun and assembled again in a cave beneath a great rock...Then the large assembly dispersed and Jesus and His eleven Apostles...moved up to the rock beneath which they had been assembled, formed themselves into a circle and Jesus stood in the center. While they folded their arms in a mystical salutation with the right hand over the left breast, and with their feet in the correct position, symbolical of their ritualism, a cloud formed in the center of the circle...They too would gain the power to form such clouds...The ancient schools of mysticism and divine science have practised the formation of this formula and process for many years and its secret is still in practice in the mystical schools of today. When such clouds are formed those who are in the midst of them become invisible, but in this case Jesus became not only invisible but as the cloud rose He appeared to rise with it. At a certain height above them the cloud gradually dissolved and the spiritual form of Jesus as well as the physical form disappeared.’ (pp.145-6)
It is difficult to believe that the two accounts were written by the same author, yet both are intended to be taken seriously. If such dissimilar accounts appeared in the writings of the Bible, even by different authors, this would sufficiently discredit the Bible and to disprove its claim to being God’s word. To find them written by the same author would lead one to disbelieve all of his writings if he intended them to be read as fact. These two accounts were, as already stated, supposed to be based on accurate (but secret) ancient records, supposedly free from the errors claimed to fill the Biblical story of the life of Jesus. These widely different accounts prove that both stories are simply the product of Spencer Lewis’ fertile imagination rather than coming from historical records. Lewis makes no attempt, in the latter book, nor in later editions of the earlier one, to justify the differences.
This survey of the AMORC accounts of the life of Christ reveals that: -
a. The accounts are not worthy of consideration as historical.
b. The ’ancient records’ claimed to be held by AMORC, even if they do exist, which is surely doubtful at best, are hardly to be considered as historical or valuable.
c. While AMORC claims that nothing in its teachings is incompatible with Christianity, its view of Jesus Christ is far from that of the Bible, and far from what can be called Christian. In no way can AMORC be considered as compatible with Christianity. It is of interest that while making the claim that it offers nothing that ’would make a devout Christian unhappy in his orthodoxy’, Lewis takes ten pages at the end of later editions of The Mystical Life to respond to the many objections to the book ’on the part of Christian orthodoxy’. (Emphasis added.) He even states that ’It was never believed by either the author or the publishers that any of the Christian priesthood or clergy would approve of and endorse the book’. (Mystical Life, p.301) Surprisingly, Lewis was able to report that this did happen in what he describes as ’a great many cases’.
d. The Jesus of AMORC is NOT the Jesus of the Bible. He is not the unique Son of God, God incarnate, but the last of the great Avatars, and the reincarnation of Zoroaster. He did not die for the sins of the world. His ascension was a fraud. His death meant the end of His existence. Any reference to His future work as portrayed in scripture is completely ignored.
e. AMORC is based on eastern thinking, not on scripture.
This survey does not purport to give the complete AMORC version of the life of Christ, but gives sufficient detail to show that it is a travesty of the real facts.
AMORC believes that the consciousness of God pervades all things. This consciousness equals divine, infinite intelligence, and has vitality, mind and constructive power. (Rosicrucian Manual, p.164) It is also called the Universal Mind and the Soul. (Rosicrucian Manual, pp.191,194) AMORC recognises only one Soul - that is ’the Soul of God, the Living, Vital consciousness of God. Within each living being there is this Universal Soul, and this is the Soul of man...The Soul in man is the God in man, and makes all mankind a part of God...’ (Rosicrucian Manual, p.191)
Spirit - is seen as a divine ’universal essence pervading all nature, even unconscious matter’. It is different from Soul in that it operates at a different rate of vibrations, and can therefore enter even atoms, while Soul can only operate psychically. (Rosicrucian Manual, p.191)
AMORC does not believe that there really is such a thing as death. Rather, death, or ’transition’, is synonymous with birth, for both mean entering into another state.
’Both are a form of Initiation affording an opportunity for greater advancement...Matter is indestructible...it can change only its form or nature of manifestation...Neither body nor the soul ever dies...’ (Rosicrucian Manual, p.165)
The soul and personality of the person move onto the cosmic plane at death, and when the time is right, the personality begins another incarnation; never regressing to animals and only occasionally changing sex.
Despite the statement in The Mystical Life of Jesus that Jesus is ’Lord and Redeemer’, salvation appears to play no part in AMORC’s teachings - belief in reincarnation removes the necessity for this.
The Rosy Cross:
AMORC prefers the term `Rosae Crucis’ to `Rosy Cross’.
AMORC believes the Cross derives from ancient Egypt, or possibly Atlantis, It has NO Christian connection in AMORC thinking. The story goes that when an early Egyptian mystic stood worshipping the sun, he raised his arms, giving a cross-shaped shadow.
The rose is seen as a symbol of the circle of life, especially of reincarnation.
Together, the symbols have many different meanings. The simplest explanation is that ’the rose represents Secrecy and evolution while the Cross represents the labors and burdens of Life and the Karma which we must endure in our earthly existence.’ (Rosicrucian Manual, p.43)
AMORC’s philosophy is complex and mostly insupportable, not least of all because the records which are claimed to prove all of the teachings are at best, kept secret, and at worst, nonexistent. The philosophy is, in fact, an early example of what has come to be known as New Age thinking. Based primarily on Hinduism and Buddhism, it has added some Occultism and psychic research, calling it esoteric and ’ancient wisdom’.
Classic New Age philosophies include:
1. God is an impersonal force, perhaps an intelligence or power. ’It’ is normally either pantheistic or monistic in nature.
2. Jesus is simply one of many Avatars, or spiritual masters or gurus who have taught the way to enlightenment.
3. Humans are seen to be essentially divine. Nature also may be divine, God consciousness pervades all things including the soul of man, which is the soul of God.
4. Salvation is by spiritual enlightenment, mostly to an awareness of one’s own deity, and is achieved through a series of reincarnations.
5. Good, evil, and sin have no place.
All of these points have been shown to be part of the AMORC philosophy.
While AMORC claims not to be a religion, it has been clearly shown that it is religious in nature, holding firm views on matters of religious importance. Its teachings belittle the Creator and Redeemer of the world, and take away from God’s written word. Despite its claims to the contrary, AMORC is a religion, and one which is far from compatible with Christianity.
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