Regarding our Warfare
by 1st Sgt Daniel Clausen, Priory of St. Michael New England
The Knights Templar were founded as a religious military order in the days when Christians faced a violent threat from Islam. In those days the threat posed by physical oppression was a way of life. Civilization had not yet developed a desire to prevent armed conflict. On the contrary, kings and kingdoms still attempted to expand their territory by force and ideas were frequently suppressed by the sword rather than by the strength of reason.
Today, the fields of battle have changed. Although there is still a threat in the United States of mass shootings by individuals, the days of fielding an army within our own borders is seemingly gone, and should the need arise, it is the task of the secular armed forces to handle such threats. Within our ranks, there may be those who have the skill and training to utilize their second amendment rights to be guardians of the innocent wherever they may venture – may God use them. But one might be left to wonder what the major task of an Order of warrior-monks should do under this very different field of threats than what the historical Knights Templar faced?
The first thing we must understand is that though we are not in a physical warfare, yet we are in a battle against many threats in the modern age – and our fight ought to be no less vigorous, courageous or zealous. The threat may change, therefore tactics change, but the fact that we are warriors changes not.
In fact, one could argue that the nature of our current warfare is more Biblically aligned than our historical forebears. Consider the words of the Apostle Paul: 2 Corinthians 10:3 “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”
The Apostle is clear that the mission of the Christian warrior is not skill against sword, shield, spear, or bow, which may kill the flesh, but against ideas and beliefs that are contrary to God and have the power to kill the soul. These are the real enemies. The true strongholds to siege are not made of stone and mortar, but the entrenched battlements of stubborn unbelief in the hearts of men and in our culture.
Jesus makes it clear to us the one we ought to fear: Matthew 10:28 “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” This verse speaks specifically about those who warfare against us, who may persecute us and slay our bodies – they are not to be feared, but rather we fear only our Father in Heaven who has the power over the soul. Classically, knights battled those who could kill the body, but in our age, we battle those who endanger themselves and others with poisonous ideas that are capable of securing themselves the condemnation of their irreligion. It is our compassion that drives us to save them from themselves. It is our mercy that causes us to throw ourselves into the heat of this spiritual melee.
Therefore, those who bear the sword of Atheism, we engage them in a battle of knowledge. If they ride upon the steed of Islam, we set up a spear of reason to meet their charge. We don our armor with the understanding that the very people who bear these convictions are not our enemy themselves, but are rather the weapons employed by our perennial foe, Satan, who like a cruel dictator would use his own populace as human shields against the force of our press.
What does this mean in practical living? First, we must truly and deliberately arm ourselves with knowledge and with prayer for the purpose of engaging our culture and communities with a clear expression of the Gospel. This means we must actually talk to people about the difficult and sensitive topics of religion and belief. We must be trained not only in our Christian ways, but in the ways of the beliefs we oppose. Or do you suppose the Templars were only familiar with their own fighting tactics, and not the strategies of the Fatimids or the Ummayids? We study to show ourselves approved and educate ourselves not only in our arguments, but be prepared for what the world will confront us with.
But do not despair, fellow soldier. Just as a man has apprehension before going into battle, perhaps you have apprehension about engaging in a heavy discussion and debate. Nevertheless, a soldier must fight, and if they fight not, they are no soldier but a deserter, or else a coward. Men pray for their weakness in the trenches, and we must pray for our weakness in our debates. We must pepare for battle to tear down cultural strongholds and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. By doing this and training others to do so, we protect the souls of pilgrims on their way to the heavenly Jerusalem.
Furthermore, this requires that we must cultivate fortitude of character by the Holy Spirit to engage in this combat without descending into spite, anger, or pride.
Consider the Holy Armor the Apostle commands us to put on: Eph 6:10-20 "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."
If you will note, the entire purpose of the Whole Armor of God is stated with a view to bold utterance to make known the mystery of the Gospel to hostile hearers. It seems that even the great Apostle Paul needed boldness through prayer and donning the Armor – it was not innate for him, it was provided and utilized.
Lastly, when we are not engaged in active warfare, we use the means given to us to bring solace and comfort to those who have been casualties of Satan's wiles. This involves everything from bringing food to the hungry, care for the orphan, prayer for the afflicted. These things we do in our own lives as individuals, corporately within our Priories, and universally as Templars. We use funds to aid persecuted Christians in some of the most difficult places in the world through established missions, such as Voice of the Martyrs. There is no lack of good a Templar may do if we take this seriously. Resist the temptation to view your Templar life as a club or fraternity. Your warefare is real, present, and pressing all around you. Do your duty, good Templar and prepare yourself today. And should you wage war today against the Spirit of Anti-Christ which is already in the world, in the great Day of the Lord you may be found worthy to fight alongside our King and His Ten Thousands of Holy Ones as He descends to "execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." Jude 1:15.