History, Structure & Purpose
The founders of The Gnostic Order of Christ are members of The Order of The Holy Cross. The Gnostic Order of Christ was founded in 1988 to provide a spiritual structure for those called to The Path of the Western Tradition of The Priesthood After the Order of Melchizedek of The Order of the Holy Cross.
We teach that The Order of the Holy Cross has a heavenly spiritual body, but no earthly organization and that the members of this heavenly order are of all religions of the world. The idea is that all religions of the world teach at their core two basic things: First, to love God first; second, that we may love God by loving our brothers and sisters as ourselves.
As regards The Gnostic Order of Christ's Christian expression, we may look to Early Christianity, prior to the formation of Orthodoxy. During the time of the Early Christian Church, churches were small communities and/or schools led by teachers. Jesus and John the Baptist were such teachers. We assert that their message was for all and cosmopolitan in nature and that the goal of spiritual practice was then and is now to develop a personal relationship with God: to come to know God for ourselves individually and to live a good life.
Israel, at the time that Jesus lived, was the crossroads of the Western World and was a part of the Greco-Roman world. As a result, the general community, especially in Israel, was influenced by many steams of thought. The communities of the Early Christians were cosmopolitan in nature, meaning they studied and incorporated into their teachings, expressions and elements of many religions of the world including Greco-Roman and Eastern philosophies and practices, the sciences pertinent to their time period, and so on. Similarly, the Western World today is influenced by many spiritual traditions. While The Gnostic Order of Christ is Christian, we incorporate in our traditions and study ideas and elements of religious practices generated by the religions of the ancient and present global community. These may vary from teacher to teacher, thus, we have no specific dogma or doctrine other than that Jesus Christ was a universalist whose teachings transcend differences of practice and faith.
The Priesthood of Melchizedek is the order spoken of in the Bible when Melchizedek blessed Abraham. All priests of every tradition of the Western World are ordained into the Priesthood of Melchizedek. According to tradition, our particular lineage was first received from St. Paul, the Apostle in revelation by Father Paul Blighton during the mid 1960's. Father Paul Blighton and eleven others, one of whom was Sufi Murshid Samuel Lewis and some of whom were already ordained, established this tradition primarily through The Holy Order of MANS in 1968.
In 1988, The Holy Order of MANS converted to Russian Orthodoxy. In the same year, Master Timothy Harris, one of the founders of the original Holy Order of MANS, who received the Rite to Ordain into The Order of The Holy Cross in 1970, and others of the former HOOM founded The Gnostic Order of Christ for the express purpose of carrying on the work and the lineage as it was originally conceived. Since that time, Master Timothy with others have transmitted the Rite to Ordain and the Lineage to approximately thirty others in the United States, including members of the Independent Bishops of America, also called the Wandering Bishops, and some of other Spiritual Traditions.
We consider the heads of our order to be Jesus Christ and Mother Mary. In The Gnostic Order of Christ, we look to Jesus Christ and his teachings and Mother Mary and what we know about her, for examples. We call for guidance and direction in their names through Holy Communion, devotion, prayer and service. We Baptize, Initiate and Ordain, calling for the presence of The Holy Spirit, The Trinity, Jesus and Mary. We regard both Jesus and Mary as Christed beings and endeavor to become agents of peace and compassion in the world by following their examples. Our spiritual practice consists of six elements: prayer, retrospection, meditation, contemplation, loving devotion, and loving action.
We offer vows and ordination to those called. All vows and ordinations given through The Gnostic Order of Christ are given under The Mantle of The Order of The Holy Cross and "are made to God", not to any earthly order or person. Vows and ordination are a matter of personal calling. Vows to God are administered by priests and teachers to anyone who wishes to receive them. Those life vowed may choose to follow the path of becoming priests and or teachers, but not all are called to do so. In order to take vows or become a priest, one must choose a personal teacher and train with that teacher. Teachers are chosen by the individual. Teachers are personal mentors who assist one in developing one's spiritual practice.
We Baptize and Initiate in The Western Tradition. The Baptism that we use is a little different than the traditional Baptism. Our Baptism is a personal Initiation and at the same time an Initiation into the Universal Order of The Order of the Holy Cross.
The Baptism we use is actually the first of what are sometimes called the Four Great Initiations of The Western Tradition. These initiations were given and were widely practiced in the early church prior to the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. The Baptism is of Chrism, of Christ Light and the Holy Spirit, as in the days of Early Christianity. Our Baptism signifies the commitment of the individual to the Spiritual Path and The Way taught by Jesus Christ and other Great Teachers. In the Eastern Tradition, these Initiations correspond to the Great Awakening, Illumination, Self-Realization, and God-Realization.
Our Baptism is given in conjunction with Holy Communion. We anoint with oil. Our Baptism is a conscious opening of ourselves to receive more fully of the Light of Christ continually; the Baptism is a commitment to daily spiritual practice and the striving to be a better person for the sake of all. We strive to become Christed and enlightened through our spiritual practice and commitment. Please note, however, that we do not believe our path is the only way; we teach that this path is but one of the many ways one may commit oneself to Christ. We accept the validity of all Spiritual Traditions as Pathways to God and some of us practice in more than one tradition. A few of us are also Buddhists, Sufis, Jewish, Native American, and so on. We accept both men and women and do not discriminate on any basis.
We receive Communion and accept the forgiveness of sins. We accept that Communion contains the essence of the spiritual body, mind, and heart of the Great Christ. We believe that in the conscious acceptance of Communion, we are forgiven and transformed, and that we gradually become Christed. We believe that Jesus and Mary are Christed beings available to one and all, no matter what faith and that all anyone needs do is call upon them to be in their presence.
Our teachings and studies are primarily based in the New Testament. We also study the Nag Hammadi, the Dead Sea Scrolls, metaphysics, and the many Sacred Writings of other traditions as well as literature, history, science, philosophy, and psychology. We have no written doctrines or dogmas we subscribe to other than that all the Great Religions of the world share one message, and all are paths to enlightenment. We assert that God reveals the particulars of truths to us individually through living a spiritual life through the six elements of our spiritual practice.
The structure of The Gnostic Order of Christ is based upon the model of the Ancient Path and the early Christian Church. We are householders called to live the spiritual life; some through the taking of Vows to God; some through the receiving of Initiation; some through ordination to the Priesthood of Melchizedek, and all through our devotion and a commitment to our spiritual practice for the purpose of creating a better world.
We do not take vows to any earthly body, nor do we live in monastic communities. We all live and work in the world. We are an order "without walls" as one states, belonging to a heavenly body that has no earthly entity. Wherever we go we are a part of that heavenly spiritual body, united with all of those who have taken vows to serve God by serving people in the global community of the world we live in. We are a part of the body of Christ.
Some of us are silent members belonging to no visible physical community. Others are members and founders of Spiritual Communities in the cities or towns in which we live. Each person and community is self-governing and independent of the others. Communities are governed by the members of the particular community. There is no main corporate headquarters nor a formal hierarchy. We are all of equal standing in our communities and address one another without titles, by first names. We do not believe that enlightenment may be measured according to any scale of initiation.
We strive to love and support one another and to express unconditional love. We live in the world and strive to maintain loving relationships with our families, friends and communities. We consider family relationships as our primary and sacred responsibility. We maintain that our second obligation as spiritual beings is to create loving community wherever we are. Many of us are also members of other churches, traditions and service organizations. We serve through our conscious commitment of adherence to our practice and our vows and the teachings of Jesus Christ and other Great Teachers of all religions. In this way, by practice of our spiritual path consciously, we believe we contribute to the betterment of the entire world community. We assert that it is through the intentional spiritual activities of every individual, whatever religion, that the world will be made a better place.
Priests and Teachers administer vows only to God. Vows are optional and may be taken one at a time or all together. The Vows are:
Humility: We remember that all beings are created equally; God loves all beings equally and unconditionally. We intentionally strive to love unconditionally.
Purity: We see all as created by God, including ourselves, thus we strive to act in accordance with that as it was and is created and in accordance with our highest self.
Obedience: We submit to the Will of God in all things. In our interior struggles we listen for the voice of conscience: the voice of God and we strive for that voice to be the one that finally determines our activities and actions in the world.
Service: We serve God by serving all. God is love and light and life in action. God is ever in motion and is ever giving. We strive to be agents of God in our actions in the world.
Poverty: We remember that all we have is given by God and that all belongs to all beings of the earth.
Harmlessness: Some take a vow of harmlessness; to harm no living person, animal or the earth.
Our Spiritual Practice
Our Spiritual Practice is The Way: The Way is our Spiritual Practice. Our spiritual practice is basically defined by the following six practices:
Loving Devotion: We actively seek to know the great wisdom and the heart essence of All Faiths from within our own beings in ardent dedication to our path and God through our spiritual practice.
Meditation: We meditate to quiet our minds, focus our thoughts and become aware of the presence of peace, love, and compassion in our lives.
Prayer: We pray to hold others in the unconditional love of God and ask for blessings for ourselves and others.
Retrospection: We perform retrospection to examine our own thoughts and actions objectively in the light of spiritual teachings and to perceive the good intent and heart of all concerned.
Contemplation: We contemplate and strive to maintain concentration on the sacred as a constant in private devotion and study to maintain our awareness of God's being and presence in every moment of our daily lives.
Loving Action: We strive to act in accordance with the highest understanding we have received for the benefit of all.
See the chart: The Six Universal Elements of Spiritual Practice