The Knights Templar are often accused of having venerated John the Baptist above Jesus Christ. That they regarded him as the Messiah and not the Son of God as described in the Gospels. So – how would that make any sense? Well – it’s rooted in the existence of an ancient eastern strand in Christianity that believes John was the Saviour and not the man called Jesus.
John the Baptist – why might the Knights Templar have worshipped him?
The story of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist strikes me as the most historically accurate part of the New Testament – but for reasons some might find unorthodox. To me, this is the moment that Jesus Christ usurped an already existing cult and took its followers for himself. The evidence is the increasingly outlandish excuses that arise in successive gospels to justify his actions.
The earliest accounts have John greeting Jesus with a degree of indifference and he needs convincing of the claims by Jesus to be the Messiah. But by the end, not only is he thoroughly onside but apparently, many years before, his unborn foetus acknowledged the superiority of Jesus from the womb of his mother.
It’s even been stated that John the Baptist had died in his mother’s womb for several months and was miraculously brought back to life when his mother heard the name Jesus. Why would such implausible stories be circulated? What was the point?
Jesus hijacked the cult of John the Baptist – and the Knights Templar knew this
I would suggest that this was an attempt by Jesus and his followers to justify hijacking John the Baptist’s cult. Effectively, the Jesus crowd were backdating John’s fealty to Jesus all the way to the womb. Yet in the bible, we have a clear account that John the Baptist openly doubted that Jesus was the saviour. He sent his followers to question Jesus further on the matter.
Fortunately for Jesus, John the Baptist was arrested and flung into prison by the Herodian authorities. Later he would be executed. And from his jail cell, we get the impression of a man asking – why haven’t I been rescued? There was no miracle to break John out of captivity. Instead, he was condemned to a pretty ignominious death with his head served up on a platter to Salome.
Consider this – in prison, John directs his followers to ask Jesus: “Are you the one who is to come or shall we look for another?” Yet this is after a voice had boomed out of the skies at the baptism John had performed on Jesus. I mean, why would John doubt the evidence of his own ears? Surely this greeting from God the Father to his Son from the heavens would have been proof enough that Jesus was the Messiah. But apparently not.
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Jesus the imposter v John the Baptist
One variant of Christianity – or offshoot – denied that Jesus Christ was the saviour. Indeed he was seen as either a lesser figure to John the Baptist or an outright imposter. Far from blazing a path for somebody to come after him, John was the redeemer and the baptism of Christ was the act of a superior bestowing a gift to an inferior. Incredibly, there are still people adhering to this view in the Middle East today.
When the Knights Templar were in ‘outremer’ – the Holy Land and crusader territories in the Levant – they undoubtedly encountered many of the eastern variations on Christianity. Unlike the west, religion was disputed and debated over much more vigorously in the east. From the legalisation of Christianity under Constantine to the Middle Ages, the clash of views resulted in murderous feuds between patriarchs in Alexandria, Antioch and Constantinople.
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The so-called “Saint John Christians” – an influence on the Knights Templar?
Most Christians, though, would have outrightly condemned the Johannites or ‘Saint John Christians’ as the Portuguese called them when they encountered such people in the Arabian gulf during their sixteenth century age of navigation.
But it’s been conjectured that the Templars, far from condemning this obviously heretical view – embraced it. Thus the head of the creature called ‘Baphomet’, said to be held by the Order, was the head of John the Baptist. Look at the similarity between the two words – Baphomet and Baptist – say supporters of this view.
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This rather gnostic veneration of John the Baptist as a great teacher – a view sometimes called Mandaeism – was the great secret of the Templars, it is alleged.
Pictured below is one of many John the Baptist heads you can find in churches across the world. He only had one head of course! This one I found in Portugal.