American Orthodox Catholic Christianity

Faith Of Our Fathers Series

  The Rosicrucians

THE LEGENDARY origin of modern-day Rosicrudanism was a manifesto, the "Fama Fraternitaris, published in 1614. This document proclaimed that an anonymous German called 'The Highly Illuminated Father C.R.C." was the founder of the first "Secret Society of the Rose Cross" in the thirteenth century.

       According to the Fama, "C.R.C." (the initials of his pseudonym, Christian Rosenkreutz) set out on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem at the age of sixteen. Along the way he met with mystics and Kabbalists in an Arabian city and never made it to Jerusalem. After learning their "mysteries" and "ancient wisdom"-some of which was apparently simply primitive science mixed with pagan philosophy and occultism-he returned to Germany and founded a secret fraternity, whose goal was to reform all human knowledge and society itself.

       More than a century after his death, C.R.C.'s body was accidentally found by members of his brotherhood--the original place of entombment had, naturally, been kept a secret during the remodeling of a Rosicrucian temple in Europe:

       'The members entered a vault with seven sides and seven corners....Although the sun never penetrated this tomb, it was brilliantly illuminated by a mysterious light in the ceiling. In the center was a circular altar, upon which were brass plates engraved with strange characters. In each of the seven sides was a small door which, upon being opened, revealed a number of boxes filled with books, secret instructions, and the supposedly lost arcanum of the Fraternity.

      "Upon moving the altar to one side a brass cover was disclosed. Lifting this revealed a body, presumably that of C.R.C., which, although it had lain there 120 years, was well preserved as though it had just been interred. It was ornamented and attired in the robes of the Order, and in one hand was clasped a mysterious parchment... [1]'

      It is claimed that C.R.C.'s birth was the beginning of a new spiritual era in the West and, since his death, he has "taken a new body when his successive vehicles have outlived their usefulness, or circumstances rendered it expedient that he change the scene of his activities....He is also embodied today, in Initiate of high degree, an active and potent factor in all affairs of the West--although unknown to the world." [2] This is a good example of what one encounters in Rosicrucianism: a curious mixture of fables, occultism, numerology, the supernatural and, just possibly, a small element of historical truth. Unfortunately, almost nothing about the actual origin and early history of Rosicrucianism can be proven by recognized scholarly standards. Historians agree that the Fama was written by a Lutheran theologian, Johann Andreas, and published in 1614, that there is a Rosicrucian degree in Scottish Rite Freemasonry, and that there was a flourishing Rosicrucian settlement near Philadelphia between 1694 and 1801 (which tourists still visit today). All the rest is speculation-which is why Rosicrucian organizations disagree about major aspects of their own history, although in broad outline they agree about the content of their Order's "secret wisdom." All of them use the symbol of the mystic "Rose-Cross"--a Latin cross with a rose at its center.

      Rosicrucians believe in spiritual and physical evolution, occultism, reincarnation, some forms of astrology, and vegetarianism. "Moreover, man must learn to use the pituitary...and the pineal gland, two small organs in the brain. He must thus become a clairvoyant, which is far more difficult than becoming a medium.' [3]

      Nothing in the Rosicrucian philosophy--which claims to possess the "secret of the ages" -is built upon Jesus Christ and His revelation to man. Rosicrucians teach that Christianity has perverted and suppressed "ancient truths." They deny the historic definition of the Trinity and the divinity of Christ, declaring that the Son of God was only "a spirit be longing to our human evolution...The Christ spirit which entered the body of Jesus...was a ray from the Cosmic Christ. We may follow Jesus back in his previous incarnations, and we can trace his growth to the present day.'' [4]

      The underlying error of Rosicrucianism is pantheism--the heresy that identifies God with the universe and man: 'There is endless progress, for we are [as] divine as our Father in heaven, and limitations are impossible....Back of every manifestation in nature are forces, not blind forces, but intelligences.'' [5] There is but one soul in the universe.

      Rosicrucians, in common with all occult and New Age groups, espouse certain meditative techniques for the attaining of "cosmic consciousness"-a nirvana-like state wherein the meditator is supposed to experience the oneness of himself with the universe and with God. These techniques are remarkably similar to those of Hinduism, where "the mind and heart are left blank to be played upon by outward forces"--creating a dangerous state where, one critic has pointed out, "it may be expected that 'doctrines of demons' will be infused from without. It is no wonder that astrology and spiritism and necromancy are so consistently forbidden in the Old Testament!'' [6] In the United States there are two main groups claiming to be THE authentic Rosicrucian fraternity--both with headquarters in California. The lesser-known and smaller of the two, founded by Max Heindel, is headquartered in Oceanside. A small organization, it consists primarily of individuals or small study groups around the country.

      After Heindel's death in 1919, his widow--who had been a Christian Scientist for twenty-five years---kept his numerous books in print, and they are still available today. Among many ritual techniques, Heinders married followers are urged to pray to the Angel Gabriel on Mondays at sunrise, from the new moon to the full, in order to conceive an "unknown and unseen" Ego that is "seeking embodiment through a married couple" as it reincarnates its way throughout the ages! [7]

      The larger and more visible group is called the "Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis," or AMORC, with extensive headquarters called "Rosicrucian Park"--including administrative buildings, an auditorium, Egyptian museum, temple, art gallery, library, science museum and planetarium--in San Jose, California. Its payroll is above one million dollars a year, and it belongs to the local chamber of commerce.

      The founder of AMORC, H. Spencer Lewis, was born in 1883. As a young man he joined the Methodist Church and later was director of the New York Institute for Psychical Research. He claimed that secret documents from the 18th-century Philadelphia Rosicrucians were transmitted to him and this set him on a trek to Europe-where, in 1909, he was authorized by Rosicrucian "adepts" of the “Sovereign Sanctuary and Rose Cross University"of Belgium to establish his modern Rosicrucian Order.

      At Rosicrucian Park, one can also see documents proclaiming that Lewis was, in 1921, initiated by the "supreme Magus" of the Swiss Rosicrucians into the "Ancient and Primitive Oriental and Mystery Rites of Memphis and Mizraim, Egypt"--the "Ordo Templi Orientis," a group which is affiliated with many modern satanist organizations. He was also inducted into the "Chivalric Order of Oriental Templars" and given a hereditary coat of arms m 1933. In 1931 he became "Hierophant" of the "Great White Brotherhood Lodge for the Occidental World," a position he held until his death in 1939.

      As "Supreme Autocratic Authority" and "Imperator for North, Central and South America, the British Commonwealth...etc., etc." Lewis built his Rosicrucian Order into a modest empire that, today, spends in excess of half a million dollars a year to advertise "the secrets of the ages" in popular and respectable magazines and newspapers. AMORC boasts 100 lodges in 31 states, 26 in France, and nearly 40 lodges between Canada, England, Brazil, and Africa. Much of the ritual used in these lodges is adapted from Freemasonry.

      If a prospective member does not live near a lodge, he becomes a member of the "Grand Lodge Sanctum" and receives instruction and ritual initiation into the numerous degrees by correspondence Upwards of Seven million "monographs" (a year) are mailed out bi-weekly--all for a fee. The "neophyte" is instructed to prepare a "home altar" with a table, linen, candles, special rose incense (which he purchases from headquarters) and a mirror into which he stares while meditating (!).

      One glance at AMORC's slick advertising campaign explains the attraction of modern-day Rosicrucianism: the “basic appeal is to people of modest education and income who feel that others are succeeding while they are standing still or falling behind. The insecure come to believe that if only they could latch onto a secret key, they took could open the door to prosperity and peace of mind.... Surrounding their activities with secrecy [Rosicruciansi not only provide an aura of mystery but allow the initiate to imagine that he knows things hidden from the great mass of lesser men...he is privy to wonderful arcana passed on through the ages from ancient Egyptian sages."  [8] Gnosticism is alive and well in the twentieth century.

      Although AMORC claims its origin in the Egypt of Pharaoh Amenhotep IV, teaches that Chnstian Rosenkreutz was only one of the "adepts," and that the infamous 18th century Count Cagliostro was another, in reality "this commercial version of a centuries-old mystery school consists of a hodge podge of Theosophy, reincarnation, superstition, Freemasonry, discarded scientific theories, phony Egyptology, vegetarianism, mental telepathy, and other occult borrowings.'' [9]

      Clearly, Rosicrucianism is a secret society (forbidden by Christ's Church) which promotes and sells paganism, superstition, and thinly-veiled demonism. It is as objectionable to the Orthodox Christian as Freemasonry.

Fr. Alexey Young (Russian Orthodox Church Abroad)


[1] Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages.

[2] Max Heindel, The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception of Mystic Christianity.

[3] J.K. Van Baalan, The Chaos of the Cults.

[4] Heindel, The Rosicrucian Philosophy.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Van Baalen, op. cit.

[7] Heindel, Rosicrucian Philosophy

[8] William J. Whalen, Faiths for the Few.

[9] Ibid.

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