Can Only Catholics Be Templars?
One of the questions that comes up in one variation or another with some frequency is this:
“Templars? So this is a Catholic Order?”
It’s a fair comment and a fair question, the short answer is no, the long answer is involved but comes down to a few key items.
- Catholicism has evolved substantially since the 1100’s
One of the primary arguments is that the original Knights of the order were Catholic and therefore the spirit of the Templar must include only Catholic beliefs. While it’s a historical fact that the original Knights of the Order were Catholic what’s important to understand is that in Catholicism doctrine and theology changes in “Ecumenical councils” and the original Order would have been beholden to the Council of Vienne and back, but that’s it, which means there were 6 major councils that adjust and revise Catholic doctrine that would have not been known to any Templar let alone the original knights. If the standard is what the founding knights believed then there are 11 councils which they would not recognize. To that end the argument cannot be made that the Order is “Only open to those that believe as the original Knights did” because no existing Catholic would qualify either.
- The Order was not founded by the papacy
There are a number of things which are unique to the Order, one of the interesting things is that the Order was initially founded with approval, not of the papacy, but of the King and Patriarch of Jerusalem. They operated actively for 10yrs before receiving approval from the Pope in 1129 and while they certainly always intended to receive Papal approval, they very clearly did not hesitate to operate without it.
- The Order predates many of the divisions in modern Christendom
The Order is founded in 1119, the oldest schism (That of the East and West) only dates back to 1054 so many of the pilgrims that the Order would have been protecting were likely to also be what we would consider “Eastern Orthodox” and the Protestants would not come into existence until the 1500’s so in the one instance where we can see interactions between the Order and non-Catholic Christians they appeared to interact without discrimination so in the latter we can assume we would also see positive interactions. To that end we maintain that so long as the Postulant subscribes to a denomination of Christianity which recognizes the Holy Trinity and the divinity of Christ, we will likely accept them as Christian.
In short, the OSMTJ (Knights Templar) is a non-denominational ecumenical order which requires of it’s members a resolute faith in the divinity of Christ as our one and only savior and a resolute acceptance of the Holy Trinity. We welcome Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Christians, and Trinitarian Pentecostals with no discrimination or limitation placed on any.