This is by no means a trivial issue. This concerns the actions of wealthy and powerful men, acting in accordance to their beliefs. And if you think this is some easily-dismissed band of marginal, esoteric-minded kooks, be aware that the most powerful Christian of his time, Pope Pius IX, did not share in your opinion.
In his landmark encyclical from 1864, Allocution of Pio Nino, Pius identified and categorized the heresy of ‘Johannism,’ which he laid at the feet of the powerful Knights Templar.
"The secret thought of Hugues de Payens, in founding his Order (the Knights Templar), was not exactly to serve the ambition of the Patriarchs of Constantinople. There existed at that period in the East a sect of Johannite Christians, who claimed to be the only true Initiates into the real mysteries of the religion of the Saviour.
They pretended to know the real history of Yesus the ANOINTED, and, adopting in part the Jewish traditions and the tales of the Talmud, they held that the facts recounted in the Evangels are but allegories, the key of which Saint John gives, in saying that the world might be filled with the books that could be written upon the words and deeds of Jesus Christ; words which, they thought, would be only a ridiculous exaggeration, if he were not speaking of an allegory and a legend, that might be varied and prolonged to infinity....
"Thus the Order of Knights of the Temple was at its very origin devoted to the cause of opposition to the tiara of Rome and the crowns of Kings, and the Apostolate of Kabalistic Gnosticism was vested in its chiefs.
For Saint John himself was the Father of the Gnostics, and the current translation of his polemic against the heretical of his Sect and the pagans who denied that Christ was the Word, is throughout a misrepresentation, or misunderstanding at least, of the whole Spirit of that Evangel.
"To acquire influence and wealth, then to intrigue, and at need to fight, to establish the Johannite or Gnostic and Kabalistic dogma, were the object and means proposed to the initiated Brethren.Note that Masonic iconography clever conflates the two Johns- the Baptist and the Evangelist- as one. In this light, it's worth mentioning that this allocution- which was meant to be secret- was somehow leaked to none other than General Albert Pike and printed in its entirety in his own landmark encyclical, Morals and Dogma.
The Papacy and the rival monarchies, they said to them, are sold and bought in these days, become corrupt, and to-morrow, perhaps, will destroy each other. All that will become the heritage of the Temple: the World will soon come to us for its Sovereigns and Pontiffs. We shall constitute the equilibrium of the Universe, and be rulers over the Masters of the World."
"The Templars, like all other Secret Orders and Associations, had two doctrines, one concealed and reserved for the Masters, which was Johannism; the other public, which was the Roman Catholic. Thus they deceived the adversaries whom they sought to supplant."
POST SCRIPT: Being the geek that I am, seeing Pike's name gets me thinking about Captain Christopher Pike and seeing Pius's worry about the Roman Church being supplanted reminds me that James Tiberius Kirk could be interpreted as "To Supplant the Roman Church." Which then gets me to thinking about Captain Picard, whose own first name translates to "John the Light."
Funny how my mind works sometimes.
TO BE CONTINUEDSYNC LOG UPDATE (1444EST) : StrangeEye reports that flash-flooding has left several campers dead or missing at the Albert Pike campground in Arkansas.
SYNC LOG ADDENDA: The floods started at 3:30 AM, an hour after I posted this article.