Mid-Year Report 2020

The first six months of this year has presented us all with challenges that were not anticipate. We have all had to adapt to the continually evolving Covid-19 environment, the end of which is still in the distant future. Our primary job has become taking care of ourselves and those closest to us so as to ensure that we do not become infected and then cause others to become infected as well.  I think that not since World War II has there been a threat that was so widespread. Yet, we have also witnessed a shift in the ways and means used to communicate the gospel.

Initiated in January 2019, the MCF has been conducting an experimental online NextLevel men’s discipleship group. Members of the group come from Kingston, Ottawa, Valcartier, Gagetown and the Miramichi area. While other in-person groups have ceased, and their members have drifted, the MCF group has been an outstanding success providing its members with a consistent and rich Christian fellowship experience that has facilitated a deeper relationship with our Lord.

In April while the Covid-19 caseload was expanding across Canada, in response to the Lord’s calling a team of MCF members joined together to deliver the Alpha Course online. We unknowingly became part of a movement of God to provide the gospel through online Alpha that stretches across Canada, the US, the UK and other locations that I am just now hearing about.  The MCF group has seen great results as the Holy Spirit has worked in the lives of everyone who is on the course, both team leaders and participants. This coming weekend marks the end of the course and we are expectant that the Lord will do more in the lives of everyone who has been involved.

On May 9th the MCF collaborated with Ellel Ministries Canada to deliver a webinar on moral injury resulting from military operations. A first for both organizations. The MCF had been working with Ellel Ministries International to hold a weekend seminar in the Netherlands coinciding with the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands; however, global restricts forced the cancellation of that event.  The planning team came together to pray and discuss if there was anything that we could do, and we were unanimous in our understanding that we should not lose faith but press on to find another way.  The result was the delivery of a webinar that was attended by 67 people from Canada, the US, the UK, Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy and Australia. The MCF has never before had such a reach. All due to the Lord’s intervention and favour.

In the next six months we understand that we are to again offer the Alpha Course online, that we are to again provide a webinar experience for members of the military community and that we are to provide training for NextLevel group leaders for the development of new online Nextlevel groups amongst military community leaders.

Thank you for your prayers for the military community, they are having an effect that has eternal implications.

Gerry Potter

Moral Injury: Trauma In Active Service

Due to social distancing we have an update on the Moral Injury conference originally planned for Netherlands. It will now be a 1 day VIRTUAL seminar. May 9, 2020, the  find the brochure HERE. MCF and Ellel Ministry will co-host a seminar on moral injury and will be available free to all participants. Please register as soon as possible: Registration form.


Earlier last fall Kevin Davis invited me to a one-day training session with Ellel Ministries during which leaders from this ministry presented a theological framework for the progressive healing of first-responders who had been subjected to spiritual trauma as a result of situations they faced within their areas of work. I found that the framework presented dove-tailed well into the studies that I had been conducting on the subject of Moral Injury within the context of military operations. Kevin and I met with representatives of Ellel
Ministries from both Canada and the Netherlands in an effort to discern if there could be an opportunity for us to work together. Our discussions have been fruitful.

Just War Theory has been and continues to be a subject of debate within academic circles. Governments and military leadership alike discuss its application, many times indirectly and on occasion unconsciously as they consider potential and actual courses of action. Such discussions are of no value to the men and women who are directly involved in the application of military power and experience the effects of both their actions and inactions while performing such work. Increasingly, recognition of the existence of moral injury is occurring. While the lifting of the veil on a previously ill-recognized effect of military operations is important, it is only the beginning of what needs to be a fulsome understanding of the malady and its successful treatment from a sound theological perspective. This joint seminar is the MCF’s first foray into what has been a previously poorly understood effect of military operations.

If you have been sensitized to the matter of moral injury either as a care practitioner or as an individual who has them-self suffered such an injury or has a friend or family member who has been so injured I recommend that come to this seminar. You will not be disappointed.

Gerry Potter
Colonel (Retired)
President

The MCF is hosting Online Alpha Course

I pray that you are adapting to our shift to social distancing as well as you can.  I find that I am missing getting together with my friends and neighbours as I do my part to minimize my movements outside of my home.

While there are activities that we can busy ourselves with, we are by nature social, and we are drawn to each other.

Interestingly, this desire for social contact amongst each other is a function of our having been made in the image of God.  God by nature is social and He demonstrated this aspect of His nature in the first chapter of the first book of the Bible.  In Genesis 1:26 God said: “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…” God described Himself in the plural form, which Christians have come to understand is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, otherwise known as the Trinity. While God expresses Himself as a Trinity, elsewhere He is clear that He is still One (Deuteronomy 6:4).  It is an aspect of God that many people puzzle over.

There are lots of aspects of God that are not only mysterious, but also interesting and in some cases truly lifechanging. The Alpha course is a program that provides an environment where curious people can learn about God, ask questions and be heard as they join each other in exploring God.

I think that there is no better time to become part of an online Alpha course than now. We have questions about where is God in all that we see occurring around us, we have the need to socialize and we have then need to be safe. The online Alpha course can address all of these aspects. So, on 19 April I and several of my MCF colleagues are going to host an 11-week online Alpha course using the teleconferencing platform called Zoom.

If you have questions about God and want to learn and discuss your questions in a safe environment, then please sign up for the Alpha course. You may also extend this invitation to a family member or a colleague.  Please contact the MCF office for more information and to register.

Join me on 19 April at 7:00 pm EST.  These Sunday evening sessions will past approximately 60-75 minutes during which we will watch short videos and discussion what we think and how we feel. I think that you will enjoy our time together and I look forward to meeting you.

Gerry Potter
President

2020 – ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

This year’s annual general meeting (AGM) is scheduled to take place on 29 February commencing at 1:00 pm EST.



This year we will be able to meet without having to physically travel to a specific location for the AGM.  As we did in 2019, we will be using the teleconferencing application called “ZOOM”, which the executive team has been using for a few years.  We have had great success with this application and have expanding its use in support of the AGM.  For the best experience please download the application to whichever device you will use to connect to the AGM.  This application will permit you to join the MCF AGM, to participate either through chat or voice, to view presentations that will be given and allow members to vote all from the comfort of where ever you choose to be at the time of the meeting.  Again, the only condition is that you have internet access and for the second time, attendance at the MCF AGM is available for all without associated travel arrangements and costs. I look forward to meeting with you at the MCF AGM on 29 Feb.

You should likely use a device that will permit you a viewing screen larger than a smart phone. There may be documents and power point viewing necessary during this meeting.  You can access the application either through your device’s application functionality or at this web-site – https://zoom.us/signup.

We are excited over what has happened during the past year and over what we are planning to do during the coming year.

Please note that more information will be provided in the coming weeks.

***Only members of the MCF will be given the right to vote at the AGM. Please confirm your membership by contacting the office.

Inexplicable joy

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”  
Luke 1:35



A young woman who was a virgin was selected by God the Father to bear God the Son by the power of God the Holy Spirit at a specific moment in all of time for the sole purpose of reconciling sinful people to God thereby granting them life eternal with Him. Restoration to God’s original design. It is a wonderous gift that is presented to mankind and we believers reflect not only on our own new birth as sons and daughters of the Most-High God, but also on the continuing offer to those around us who have not yet received the gift of faith. Christmas is filled with wonder, not because of observable things, but because the Spirit who indwells the children of God quickens believers and pours out through them to the earthly society within which they live. A strange joy pervades.

While involved in operations during the Afghan conflict I was located at the NATO HQ in Kabul and by God’s design I also co-led a small but vibrant church whose members were from various NATO nations. At Christmas time, Nick, the lead chaplain, a British man who had found favour in the eyes of General Richards, Commander ISAF, asked our church to assist him in ministering to all of NATO HQ Kabul by conducting a Christmas Eve service. We responded to the request with a resounding unified yes and an explosion of excited joy. While we continued to perform our military duties, we were energized to concurrently and collectively work alongside Nick in preparing for the Christmas eve service.  We worked, we prayed, we prepared for two weeks. The intensifying and profound excitement that we all experienced was as tangible as it was surprising to us.  There we were in the midst of a conflict zone, involved in the conduct of military action against an aggressive opposing force yet we were joy-filled.

Romans 8:9 asserts that a Christian is not in the flesh, but rather in the Spirit. The indwelling Spirit works to develop within the believer Christ-like character, part of which is inexplicable joy. At a specific moment in time, God called together a disparate group of believers from various nations to work together and glorify His name in the midst of a conflict zone. The Christmas Eve service lasted only one hour.  There were over 600 military personnel in attendance. The gospel was preached. The Lord was glorified. And our small entourage of disciples experienced God’s presence with absolute joy.

At the end of the service General Richards addressed the crowd, himself visibly emotive, and testified of the reality of Christ and of his gratitude for the opportunity to be reminded of that which is of utmost importance, while in the midst of the hard labour of military operations.

If you are child of God, you have been called to serve on His mission, no matter where you are or what you are engaged in. Christmas is a time of wide-spread quickening, opportunities to testify about Jesus and the salvation that is available only through Him abound. My prayer for you and for me is that like a sentry standing watch we will be alert to the opportunities that He leads us into and that we will respond without hesitation. Merry Christmas, Serve Well!

Gerry Potter
Colonel (Retired)
President

Thank you for your partnership and support

Today I reflected on what the Lord has been doing within the military community and the portion of work that He has assigned to the MCF. Even though it appears that Canadian society is becoming increasingly secularized, He is even more active stirring the hearts and minds of people to turn towards Jesus.  There is no fanfare, no great media announcements, rather like the wind of His Spirit the effects of His presence are observable, and it is exciting to see and to feel.  It is like the breeze off the ocean in the middle of a hot summer day – cool, refreshing, invigorating.  He is moving, and we are permitted to move with Him.

This past year the MCF has experienced His favour, and the forecast is that this favour will increase. I can say this because we are receiving increased funding, some of which is from sources unknown. I am grateful for what the Lord is doing in the hearts of people, drawing them to Himself and motivating them to contribute to the mission of bringing the good news of Jesus to the military community.  If you are one of these people, then thank you.  Thank you for your willingness to invest in what He is doing and is about to do. Please consider accompanying your financial contribution with prayer.  Prayer for the military community and prayer for the members of the MCF as they serve Jesus by serving this unique community and bring the gospel along with them.

If you are reading this and have not yet contributed financially to the MCF, please take a moment and pray asking the Lord what He would have you do.  Please also consider if you would join us on our mission.

David wrote many beautiful Psalms as he was carried along by the Spirit. I draw your attention to Psalm 37 and in particular verse 4 – “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  If you are still looking for a New Years resolution, consider this one: seek to delight yourself in the Lord no matter what your circumstances.  I am confident that He will fulfill your desires.

Thank you for your partnership and support in 2018.  Now let’s see what the Lord will do in 2019!

Gerry Potter
Colonel (Retired)
President

The Biblical Role and Responsibility of a Man

Article by: Col (Ret’d)  Gerry Potter (President)

This article is an exploration of the biblical role of a man.  Genesis 1-2, a unique biblical narrative, records God’s initial design for the Creation, so this articulation of the role of a man will rely principally upon the framework described within these two chapters.  While the Fall described in Genesis 3 corrupted God’s initial design, it is my understanding that follow-on biblical references to the role of a man are intended to provide both further detail regarding God’s primordial framework and to facilitate a man’s reorientation with the original and perfect design.  At the outset, it is important to define what is meant by the term role. In the context of this assessment the term role is used as a descriptor of the fundamental duty or activity that a man is responsible and accountable before God to perform.  Since a man’s biblical roles are that which have been given by God in his Word then they are neither bound by time nor socio-cultural contexts.  Biblical male roles are universal.  Yet, the practical expression of those roles is greatly influence by the socio-cultural contexts in which Christian men live.  Though most of the passages referenced refer to both a man and a woman, the focus of this study is the roles of the man.

Genesis 1:26-28 (NASB)

In the Biblical narrative of the Creation, Elohim (God) declares that the plurality of Himself, identified in Genesis 1:2 as Elohim (God) and Ruach (Spirit), and creates human beings out of His unity.  While this portion of Scripture shows God only as Elohim and Ruach, John 1:1-5 and 1:14-18 further reveals that Jesus Christ was also present during the Creation fulfilling a central role. Thus, the Trinity, in perfect unity, created man as a binary male-female construct that He describes as imaging Himself.  The purpose for which God created man according to this passage was two-fold: the first was to procreate and the second was to rule over all living things.
There was no distinction made between the male and the female regarding the initial two-fold purpose, but rather God’s declaration clearly implies that the accomplishment of the purpose was intended to be through the unity of the male and the female, which is a reflection of the unity of the Trinity.  The implied purpose for the male-female construct was to image the Trinity in His unity.  Looking at the male and female individually then, there is an additional implied role for each of them, that being to execute their two-fold purpose in unity such that they together in the fulfillment of the roles of procreation and ruling reflect the Trinity in oneness.  A further implication is that whatever the male and female do, they do as a unity. So, from this passage there are three original roles for the man: to procreate, to rule over the creation and to perform the first two roles in unity with the female thus imaging the Trinity’s oneness.

Genesis 2:15-17 (NASB)

Though in Genesis 1, the narrative describes the global purpose of man, in Gen 2:15-17 the reader is exposed to some of the specifics of ruling and subduing, as the male, Adam, is specifically assigned the activity of cultivating and keeping the garden of Eden. The context of the verb to cultivate can be generalized to mean “to work.”  It is reasonable then to conclude that work that serves to rule and to subdue over the earth is a role that the male has been given.  This is not to say that work is a role exclusive to a male, since this would contravene the general purpose assigned to both the male and the female in 1:26-28.  However, given that the male is singled out in the role assignment there is an implied assigning of responsibility and accountability for the fulfillment of the role. Additionally, Adam was tasked to “keep” the garden which can be understood to mean that he was to protect the garden.  The requirement to protect introduces the concept of an existing threat, yet no such threat has been previously identified.  However, the requirement for protection is revealed in later passages. So, from this passage the male has two roles: to work within the creation to fulfill a general improvement agenda and to protect the creation from threats.  A third role that is obedience to God’s commands.  Obedience renders two results: the freedom to enjoy creation within a limited restricted structure.

Genesis 2:18-25 (NASB)

While in chapter 1, the narrative describes the purposeful creation of both male and female, in this passage additional details are provided as to the reasoning and the sequencing behind God’s decision to create females.  First, God announces that it is not good for a man to be alone.  A resultant implied role for a man is to avoid an independent existence and be in relationship.  God rectifies the specific “not-good” situation by creating a female as a compatible helpmate for the male. God gives further specificity to a man’s role to be in relationship, that is to be in a unity with a woman in which the two work in a integrated manner, reflective of the Trinity, to fill the earth and subdue it.  Additionally, since the woman is referred to as a helpmate to the male there is an implied role of leadership with associated responsibility and accountability for the effects of that leadership.  Also, in Genesis 2:24, a man is to leave his parents and become united with his wife, a female, becoming fully integrated with her.  There is a sense of a new entity being created in this passage, one that consists of one male and one female that together become “one flesh.” The image is that of a complete integrated unity.  It is worth noting that there is an implied role for the man of being the responsible agent for the unity.  The last implied role in this section is that of being exposed before each other and before God, and given the male’s leadership role, it can be conclude that the male had a responsibility to lead this as well.

Thus, according to Genesis 1 and 2 a man has five fundamental roles.  The first is to image God. The role of imaging God as a male is repeated in Genesis 5:1-2 and in the post-deluvian narrative in Genesis 9:6. In 1 Corinthians Paul refers to a man’s role of imaging God when he describes the complementary aspects of the male’s and the female’s specific roles in their imaging God.  For the male, he images God by having his head uncovered when he prays, which serves to reflect the image and glory of God.  In Ephesians 4:24 Paul provides additional commentary on the meaning of imaging God, a person is to “put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.  The image referred to in this passage is that of the “new self,” which is to put on Christ (Rom 6:5-7; 13:14).  Putting on Christ requires a renewal of the mind (Rom 12:2; Col 3:10).  So, to image God, is to emulate Christ (Rom 8:29; 1 Cor 15:49; Philp 3:21), and to emulate Christ requires a renewed mind that manifests thoughts and behaviours that reflect Christlikeness. Further, a component of imaging God is the implied role of unity in community.  Unity in Genesis 1-2 is described as an integration between a man and a woman that is so complete that the two become one.  This degree of male-female oneness is repeated in Matt 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9 and Eph 5:28-33.  However, as evidenced in Gen 3:16b, unity between a man and a woman has been frustrated due to the Fall resulting in an innate struggle between the man and the woman to control the other. Yet, a man is called to over-ride his base programing through Christ-like love for his wife (Eph 5:25-33).

A man’s second role is to procreate. The man-woman construct is jointly assigned the role of procreation.  God repeats this assigned duty in 9:1, when He speaks to Noah and his sons after the deluvian flood.  In Leviticus 26 God dictates to Moses His moral code of conduct restating the role of procreation as part of a conditional promise – if God’s decrees and commands are carefully obeyed (26:3) then the consequences of the fall will be reversed including God-orchestrated procreation.  Psalm 127:3-5 describes successful procreation as evidence of God’s favour.  Yet, because of the Fall, procreation is filled with pain (Gen 3:16a).  There is no Scriptural reference that indicates that this aspect of procreation in a post-Fall world will be redeemed prior to Christ’s Second Coming.

A man’s third role is to subdue, rule and protect the Creation; or in other words to work. While the role of subduing, ruling and protecting was a permanent assignment, as a result of the Fall, the Creation has been cursed frustrating this role resulting in painful toil.  However, in conjunction with procreation, Lev 26:2-13 indicates that the effects of the Fall upon man’s role to subdue, rule and protect can be reversed if a man will follow and carefully obey God’s decrees and commands.

A man’s fourth role is to obey God. In Gen 1-2 the man was given several commands, one of which had a stated consequence should the man disobey.  The man was not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, if he did then he would die (Gen 2:17).  The man disobeyed God, and then he blamed God and the woman for his failure.  The effects of the man’s disobedience were catastrophic resulting in: not only his death, but the death of the woman and the death of all mankind; and the frustration of all assigned roles.  Yet, as mention previously, in Lev 26:2-13; Deut 7:12-26; and 28:1-14 God provides an opportunity for the redemption of all that had been lost.  In Deut 6:5; Matt 22:37; Mk 12:30-31 and Lk 10:27 the Scriptures reveal the core commandment of God. Love the LORD God with all heart, soul, mind and strength; and love one’s neighbour as oneself.  According to John 14:15, 21, 23; 15:10; 1 John 5:3; and 2 John 6 a man expresses love to God through obedience to God’s decrees and commands.

The fifth and final general role of a man is to lead.  A man’s leadership role is described in relation to a woman with whom he has entered into a relationship of unity. Characteristics of this role are described in Eph 5:25-33 and in Col 3:18-19 in which a husband is called to love his wife, like Christ loved the Church, like he loves his own body, and to avoid becoming embittered against her. A further amplification is given in 1 Pet 3:7-6 in which the man is commanded to exhibit understanding and honour towards his wife. Col 3:21 extends the man’s leadership role to his children in which he is cautioned to not exasperate them such that they lose heart. The man’s role of Christ-like loving leadership within the male-female unity construct was frustrated by the Fall which resulted in conflict and an unloving-style of leadership. Yet, the commands contained in the New Testament reveal that the man is required to counter the effects of the Fall, by imaging Christ.

Within the Creation narrative, there are several roles assigned to a man, all of which are expressed within the male-female construct, and all of which are shared with the woman with whom he is in a unity relationship, except for one, leadership. This is not to say that the female does not possess or is gifted with leadership within the family or societal context, but it is clear that God holds the man principally responsible and accountable for the couple’s state of oneness; obedience; procreation; subduing, ruling and protection of the Creation; and for imaging God.  The practical cross-cultural implications of the male’s unique role of leadership are that the man is responsible and accountable for: all decisions affecting the male-female unity; all actions affecting the subduing, ruling and protecting of the creation; modeling the imaging of God; modeling obedience to God’s commands; advancing procreation and the nurture of children and conducting his roles along with his wife in a loving, understanding and honouring manner.

The Creation narrative sets the stage for the existence of all things. God decreed that a man and a woman in a unity relationship would form the base construct for all of humanity and assigned them four fundamental roles: image God; procreate; subdue, rule and protect the creation and obey God.  To the man alone, God assigned the responsibility and the accountability to lead the fulfillment of the four joint roles.  An important next question is – What is Godly leadership?

Reflections Upon the Origin of the Knights Templar

Christians on a Mission 

Romans 12:1 

“Rejoice, brave warrior, if you live and conquer in the Lord, but rejoice still more and give thanks if you die and go to join the Lord. This life can be fruitful and victory is glorious yet a holy death for righteousness is worth more. Certainly ‘blessed are they who die in the Lord’ but how much more so are those who die for Him.” [i]
Bernard of Clairvaux

The Knights Templar had a simple and undramatic beginning.  After the conclusion of the First Crusade nine knights banded together to apply their skills and knowledge of warfare in service to the king of Jerusalem to meet an urgent need.  The group grew, slowly at first, and then seemingly exponentially in numbers and wealth.  The Knights Templar was a construct that had come of age.  The order enjoyed the favour of popes and kings, of nobles and peasants.  The order was envied by its peers and persecuted by its opponents. Yet, in spite of all the honour and wealth the order enjoyed, their existence was short-lived by monastic standards and their demise was as meteoric as their rise in popularity.  The Templars have become popularized and their history has become muddled; however, there are reliable sources that present sufficient details from which much can be learned and even applied today.  This paper will review some of the thinking that led to the Templar’s genesis and growth focusing on the two primary topics of the evolution of practical theology and men’s responses to it.

To understand the thinking that underlay the birth of the Templars it is instructive to consider the teachings of Augustine on the theology of “Just War.” In his written response to the Manichean Faustus, Augustine argues the unity of the Old and New Testaments, with a particular focus on the rightness of military actions that were on the surface seemingly wrong.  With specific reference to Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of his son Isaac, an act that in the eyes of an uninformed observer would have been incomprehensible, Augustine justifies Abraham’s action as having been specifically ordained by God.[i]  Also, writing of the wars conducted by Moses, Augustine argues that the conflicts were ordered by God, which therefore made such action right.  God-ordained conflict is not an evil, rather the evil would be to not enter into the conflict, which would be an act of disobedience.

…in wars carried on by divine command, he showed not ferocity but obedience; and God in giving the command, acted not in cruelty, but in righteous retribution, giving to all what they deserved, and warning those who needed warning. What is the evil in war? Is it the death of some who will soon die in any case, that others may live in peaceful subjection? This is mere cowardly dislike, not any religious feeling.[ii]

This line of thinking resulted in the first criterion for just war or conflict, that being Jus Ad Bellum– the right to go to war.  Though a conflict may be justified, Augustine also argued that the motivations of those involved in the conflict could themselves be a source of evil, which leads to the second criterion for just war, Jus In Bello– the right sorts of conduct in war.

The real evils in war are love of violence, revengeful cruelty, fierce and implacable enmity, wild resistance, and the lust of power, and such like; and it is generally to punish these things, when force is required to inflict the punishment, that, in obedience to God or some lawful authority, good men undertake wars, when they find themselves in such a position as regards the conduct of human affairs, that right conduct requires them to act, or to make others act in this way.[iii]

While a fulsome investigation of Augustine’s theology on the matter of justified conflict is beyond the intent of this paper, the fundamental criteria of Jus Ad Bellumand Jus In Belloare helpful in understanding the theological logic behind the creation and operations of the Templars.

Another factor to consider is the state of European society during the 10thcentury.  In general, European society was fractured and it was violent. The grand powers of the Church and the monarchy dominated the urban centres, of which there were few, while the countryside, which accounted for the majority of territory, was rampant with lawlessness.  Chieftains ruled locally, in accordance with their individual desires. They fought with neighbouring lords at their discretion and for their purposes.  Travel was restricted due to the inherent dangers in a lawless environment where might was the determinant factor in what was right.[iv]  The mightiest was the one whose fighting men were adept at fighting from a horse, individuals that the Franks termed chevalier.  Horses large enough to carry a man encased in protective and offensive equipment and those who rode them were necessarily large, healthy and well trained.  These discriminators meant that only those of some degree of wealth could afford to be chevaliers.  Such men came from families of at least some substance and normally enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with local clergy.  Though direct lines of cause and effect are not possible to identify, the influence of the clergy and an enlightened code of conduct, evidently inherent within Germanic tribes, is viewed as a primary source for the development of a code for the conduct of mounted men.  A code of behaviour which became a system of Chivalry or Knighthood.  The code was not a written Rule, rather it was a series of practices that were learned through practice as well as observation.[v]  Given the development of the Augustinian theology of Jus Ad Bellumand Jus In Bellothe evolution of a social code of conduct in conflicts between mounted men, who were themselves somewhat educated for the time period, is likely.

In the mid 11thcentury the Holy Land had been occupied by Muslim forces since the 7thcentury.  In spite of its occupation, Church doctrine of the era, stipulated that pilgrimages to designated holy sites were “a significant penitential act after the commission of serious sins.”[vi]The need for Christians to travel to Jerusalem and environs was essential. Fortunately, Caliph Omar made a solemn promise to Sophronius the patriarch that one fourth of the inner city would remain in the hands of Christians, and pilgrims would be permitted to transit Muslim held territory to visit revered sites and objects upon the payment of a small fee.  Thus a mutually beneficial, albeit unequal, relationship between the occupiers, and Christian residents and pilgrims evolved and became the source of a peaceful co-existence. There, was evidently a spiritual revival of a sort in 1064, for over 7,000 pilgrims made the long journey to Jerusalem that year.  However, the year following, circumstances changed.  Turcoman forces under the command of emir Ortok invaded the region. 3000 citizens of Jerusalem were murdered, and Christians specifically came under sever persecution.[vii]

Twenty years later, persecution of Christians in the Holy Land had become normalized, yet Pope Urban II saw value in liberating Jerusalem from Islamic occupation.  Islamic scholars point to:wide-spread poverty in Europe and a resultant loss of faith among the populace, a power struggle between the Church and secular authorities, envy towards the wealth of the Muslim East and a papacy’s fanatical desire to export Catholicism through a militarized delivery system as precipitates of Urban’s call for crusade.[viii]While, there may be some truth within these assessments, they do not present sufficient rational to explain the overwhelming response and the apparent religious zeal that infected some who volunteered.  On 27 November 1095, at the Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II appealed to the 300 clerics in attendance.[ix]  An original copy of Urban’s speech does not exist; however, there are five separate accounts from either witnesses or those who spoke to clerics who had attended the Council.  The pertinent parts of his speech as it pertains to the First Crusade were: first, the Holy Land was occupied by infidels and it was the Lord’s will that it be liberated by Christians of the West; second, that any Christian who participated in the crusade, whether they died on the way to the Holy Land or they died in battle against the pagans, would earn for himself the complete remission of all sin; and third, that resources hithertofore expended in conflict between Christians must be redirected against the infidel.[x]In the 11thcentury, salvation was works-based. Penance was a standard means by which to receive forgiveness and every sin had an associated penitential act. The life of a Christian was one of confession, repentance, and penance. People lived under the fear that they would not be able to sufficiently even the scales between righteousness and sin to assure themselves of a place in heaven.  Urban II was offering the ultimate penitential act.[xi]  One year later, four armies were fielded.

The Crusader armies were disjointed. The first to arrive in the East was led by Peter the Hermit, a monk of no military training.  They were crushed.[xii]Subsequent, Christian forces were better trained, with leaders experienced in armed conflict. On 7 July 1099, Jerusalem was liberated, and Pope Urban’s II divinely assigned mission was complete. Western forces returned to their regions victorious and free from the consequences of their sins: past, present, and future.  For those who sought pilgrimage, the road to Jerusalem had been reopened. Unfortunately, though Islamic fighters had either been killed or driven out of the urban areas, those that lived continued to operate in the country side and harassed, robbed, raped, terrorized and murdered pilgrims who were transiting.

It is within this post-crusade context in 1120 that Hugh de Payens, a knight of Champagne, along with Geoffrey de Saint-Omer and seven other knights formed a small para-military type police force[xiii].  All had distinguished themselves in the battle for Jerusalem, and having witnessed the continuing persecution of Christians by localized Muslim bandits they collectively decided to apply their knightly skills and knowledge towards ensuring the safety of pilgrims and the defence of religion. Though unpaid, they formally offered their services to king Baldwin II of Jerusalem, who evidently seeing value in such service accepted their offer. Concurrently, and at the discretion of the nine, a decision was taken that they should collectively swear a solemn vow to Guarimond, patriarch of Jerusalem, embracing the fundamental monastic vows of perpetual chastity, obedience and poverty. Initially, the nine took upon themselves the name of “The Poor Fellow-soldiers of Jesus Christ.”[xiv]Knights were not simple-minded men. By their nature, as previously intimated, they were themselves men of some degree of wealth and education.  They had performed the ultimate penitential service and could return home in honour and in a state of permeant righteousness.  Heaven had been earned. Yet, they remained in Jerusalem.

Military service in the Middle Ages provided the soldier with a variety of compensations: respect, honour, esteem, purpose, plunder and adventure, so there was an attraction.  It also offers moral confusion and injury, physical disease, psychological misery, physical and psychological injury and death. While there were benefits to be enjoyed as a knight, one must return to the presence of family and friends and away from the risks of battle to obtain them.  The nine rejected the benefits and by their actions embraced the cost.

In medieval times there were essentially two types of religious vows: the simple vow and the solemn vow.  The simple vow, though given in similar manner to the solemn vow, was temporary in nature, valid only while serving with a particular congregation or order, and it could be relinquished at the will of the individual.  The solemn vow was permanent, rendering the individual a religious in the canonical sense and the giver could only be liberated from his commitment at the discretion of the Church and then only in the gravest of circumstances, such as apostasy.[xv]  The nine collectively surrendered themselves to the life of a religious.

Recognizing the potential value of an increased number of Templar knights, King Baldwin II sent Hugh de Payens back to France in order to further legitimize the nascent community by obtaining “from the Pope the approbation of their order.”[xvi]  Seeking support for the initiative, Baldwin sent a letter along with Hugh de Payens to St. Bernard of Clairvaux requesting his assistance with the Pope.[xvii]  Bernard was a French abbot and the primary reformer of the Cistercian order, an order that itself was young, having only been established in 1098.  Impressed with Hugh de Payens and the concept behind the brothers of the temple, Bernard influenced the sitting of a Council at Troyes to consider Hughes application for papal recognition of the order.  At the Council Hughes explained to the Council the history and purpose of the order of the temple knights of Jerusalem. Bernard, who was recognized within the Church for his wisdom and piety and who history has deemed as the last of the Church Fathers, provided his endorsement and a Rule for the new order based upon that for the Cistercians.  The Council approved the establishment of knights of the Temple as a monastic order with a unique mission and the Rule by which they would live.[xviii]

A succession of papal Bulls increased the legitimacy, autonomy and power of the Templars. In 1139, Pope Innocent II issued a bull entitled “Omne Datum Optimumthat granted the Templars a range of extraordinary privileges.”[xix]Among which, the Templar order was accountable only to the Holy See, permanently; they were exempt from all forms of tithes and taxes, they retained their own clergy, and they were the “designated ‘defenders of the Catholic Church and attackers of the enemies of Christ, a licence so broad as to be effectively all-encompassing.”[xx]  In 1144 Pope Celestine II’s Milites Templi (Knights of the Temple), granted all members of the order permanent relief from penance, essentially the same as that granted to participants who died in and on the way to the First Crusade. And in 1145 Pope Eugene III’s Militia Deireconfirm the Templars the right to select their own clergy, use their own cemeteries and to establish their own oratories, which would allow the order a steady and substantial cash flow through tithes and fees.[xxi]

There is no evidence as to why the nine chose to become religious.  During the 11thcentury monasticism in general had been experiencing a paradigm shift.  Previously, monastics were men of solitude who dedicated their lives to contemplation and prayer.  The shift was towards an outward service orientation.  Yet, the same underlying denial of self, detachment from earthly things and complete consecration to God remained as values in the evolving orders.  Within Jerusalem were the Hospitalliers, a monastic order of the new paradigm, and at the time of the Templars inception, the Hospitalliers were solely dedicated to providing medical care to injured and sick pilgrims.  It may have been that the nine were influenced by their medically oriented counter-parts, but it still would not fully explain why nine knights would surrender their lives in service to physically defending the weak and advancing the Catholic cause. It is also possible that the earlier teachings of Augustine’s Just War, and its 11thcentury interpretation and application were also influences. Initially, there was no financial gain as they lived on alms, wore old clothing and ate left over food given to them by the Hospitalliers. It is likely that these nine men were profoundly affected by: their previous training and experiences as knights; their response to Urban II’s call to arms; the immediate needs of the community in which they lived; their abilities as knights and a spiritual call to serve in the name of Jesus Christ in similar manner to their non-military monastic peers. Whatever motivation or series thereof moved the nine to take the solemn vow in 1120 in service to the sovereign and the patriarch of Jerusalem, their actions were seismic.  Within twenty-five years of its inception the small band of nine had become Pope’s Special Forces, completely self-contained, self-sustaining and self-governing.  Tens of thousands would line up and join.  20,000 would literally give their lives in sacrifice unto the mission. Yet, in spite of the Templar inspired spiritual revival, their unique and privileged position would eventually provide the stimulus for the order’s decimation.

Gerry Potter
Colonel (Ret’d)
President[i]John Langan, “The Elements of St. Augustine’s Just War Theory,” The Journal of Religious Ethics 12, no. 1 (Spring 1984): 21.

[ii]Augustine, “Contra Faustum, Book XXII,” New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, paragraph 74, accessed December 10, 2017.  http://www.newadvent.or”g/fathers/140622.htm

[iii]Augustine, paragraph 74.

[iv]Woodhouse, F. C. The Military Religious Orders of the Middle Ages: the Knights Templar, Hospitaller and Others.(Great Britain: Leonaur, 2010), loc. 116, Kindle.

[v]Woodhouse, loc. 159.

[vi]James R. Ginther, The Westminster Handbook to Medieval Theology, (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press), 151.

[vii]C. G. Addison, The Knights Templars Third ed., (London: Longman Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1842), loc. 205.

[viii]Al Jazeera, “Shock: The First Crusade and the Conquest of Jerusalem,” Al Jazeera, December 07, 2016, accessed December 13, 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/the-crusades-an-arab-perspective/2016/12/shock-crusade-conquest-jerusalem-161205081421743.html.

[ix]Wikipedia, “Council of Clermont,” Wikipedia, December 11, 2017, accessed December 13, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Clermont.

[x]Charles River, ed., The Teutonic Knights: The History and Legacy of the Catholic Church’s Most Famous Military Order(Charles River Editors), Loc. 127, Kindle.

[xi]Dan Jones, The Templars: the Rise and Spectacular Fall of Gods Holy Warriors (NY, NY: Viking, 2017), loc. 309, Kindle.

[xii]Wikipedia, “First Crusade,” Wikipedia, December 11, 2017, accessed December 13, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Crusade.

[xiii]Jones, loc. 647.

[xiv]Jones, loc. 220.

[xv]Charles Warren Currier, History of Religious Orders: A Compendious and Popular Sketch of the Rise and Progress of the Principal Monastic, Canonical, Military Mendicant and Clerical Orders and Congregations of the Eastern and Western Churches together with A Brief History of the Catholic Church in Relation to Religious Orders, (New York, NK: Murphy & McCarthy, 1898), pg. 31.

[xvi]Addison, loc 288.

[xvii]River, loc. 2378.

[xviii]Jones, loc. 888.

[xix]Jones, loc. 1066.

[xx]Jones, loc. 1078.

[xxi]Jones, loc. 1100.

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Readiness

William Carey (1761-1834) is historically known as the “father of modern missions.” A former Anglican, Carey became a Calvinistic Baptist Non-Conformist in 1779.  Of note, though being Calvinist in his theological understanding of salvation, Carey along with Andrew Fuller held the perspective that they were still responsible to evangelize.  Inspired by a number of predecessors, such as John Wesley, the Moravians and other earlier missionaries Carey argued for the evangelization of peoples who had not yet heard the gospel, which eventually resulted in the creation of the Baptist Missionary Society.  Taking his own advice, Carey along with his family, became a missionary to the peoples of India.

At my writing of this discussion topic I am in Jerusalem to participate in Easter celebrations, while concurrently avoiding the implications of the recently expressed Islamic call for a day of rage to correspond with Passover.  Tension in Jerusalem, and Bethlehem for that matter, I have learned, is a way of life that the general populace seems to take in stride.  What is an aberration is the frequent interjection of “Christians” who are bringing a different gospel, one that is filled with eschatological goofiness that is grounded in aberrant teachings of self-proclaimed prophets, some of which have large followings.  Likely, it is the time of year, but since this is my first visit to Israel and since my encounter with such groups has been frequent over the past week, I can’t help but make an uninformed speculative observation that there is an overabundance of such “missionaries.”  I confess that I am over sensitized to doctrinal deviations in general as a result of seminary studies and I do try to contain my surprise at the Scriptural interpretations I hear so freely and confidently thrown around like they were divine dictates from an “anointed” orator.  But, I also confess that sometimes I just can’t keep my mouth shut.

Carey observed the vast void of the gospel among heathen people and though a Calvinist who wholeheartedly subscribed to the doctrine of election, he also fully endorsed the essential need to preach the gospel so that the elect could hear the Word and by the Spirit be born again.  Unlike Carey’s century, our world is awash in digital information.  Seekers merely have to type “Jesus” into a web-browser to access a seemingly unlimited reservoir of information to inform, entertain, and titillate their senses about Him.  But, in that is our challenge.  In Carey’s day the darkness was a deafening silence, into which the Words of Scripture needed to be spoken.  Today, the darkness is the overwhelming barrage of fake gospels, which is equally deafening, but maybe more difficult to overcome.  The need for missionaries who are equipped to bring the Word is equally dire as that in Carey’s time.  I am a Calvinist in my doctrinal understanding, and I am convicted by the likes of Carey and Fuller of the need to communicate the gospel at every chance I am granted.  Trusting in the Holy Spirit to use the Word to illuminate, quicken and save those whom Christ has called.  I am also convicted of the need to train more biblically grounded messengers.

For most military Christians their India is the military community in which they work and live. Though the prevalence of churches around our communities and the wealth of information available through our hand-held devices is vast, the call of God expressed in 1 Tim 4 to pay close attention to and persevere in biblically grounded teaching is urgently needed by every believer.  Do not allow yourself to whimsically wander from one trendy “thought” to another; rather like preparation for deployment get yourself readied through good biblically teaching, so that you may be able in season and out to give the reason for the hope that is in you.

Gerry Potter
Colonel (Ret’d)
President

“The MCF War Room”

In 1st Timothy Paul writes to his protégé telling him to stay in Ephesus and intervene with those who were teaching false doctrine.  In Ephesus, there were teacher-wanna-bees who, as Paul describes them, were fully confident of their worldly viewpoints and sought to communicate their heresy.  It is clear from Paul’s instruction that there were many who taught error and shipwrecked not only their faith, but the faith of others.  Two thousand years later, such circumstances continue.

There is a popularized phrase that one can hear used by various personalities, both national and international, that being “fake news.”  Fake news isn’t new.  It existed when the gospel was first being proclaimed.  Paul’s council to Timothy is as applicable to you and me as it was when Timothy was in Ephesus.  So, I want us to take note of the specific action step that Paul gave to Timothy.

In Chapter 2 Paul states:

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

Paul’s first line of offense was petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving so that all people (that’s everyone) would be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. The objective is not to be a better debater than the fake-news artist, but it is to know Christ and to make Him known.  The first means by which to attain that objective is through the spiritual weapon called prayer.

Prayer? Yes prayer!

In chapter 5 of James, the author also discusses the weapon of prayer and what is accomplished when it is welded by a person who is right with God.  It is powerful and effective.  Ordinary Christ-followers who have prayed in faith have witnessed and experienced the intervention of the Living God, who desires to answer their prayers as they intercede for others. Recently, a film entitled “The War Room” dramatically presented prayer as a weapon of spiritual warfare that when use by the Christ-follower results in spiritual breakthroughs.  Prayer is not a repetition of some magical incantation, rather it is a conversation with our Lord expressing our thanks to Him, raising matters of spiritual and practical needs on our own behalves and the behalves of others.  Jesus taught us repeatedly (Matt 18:19; 21:22; Mark 11:24; John 14:13; 15:7; 15:16; and 16:23) that we are to present our requests, our concerns, and our hopes for the spread of the gospel.  This is what we intend to do.

During the past several months, a number of MCF members have been gathering together to pray for the military community.  The objects of our prayers have been for political and military leaders; for churches that seek to minister to the military community and for individuals within that community.  We are seeing and hearing of positive developments within those areas that we pray for.  We get it – prayer works.  So, beginning on 21 October, the Ottawa group of the MCF will live-stream on Facebook what we have entitled “The MCF War Room.”  We have chosen to live-stream the event so that you may observe, be inspired to do the same and participate either in praying with us or by submitting your prayer requests to us, which we will immediately pray for.  The focus of our prayer will generally remain the same, the Canadian military community and the proclamation of Jesus throughout.  Exact timings, and other details will be communicated to you in the following weeks.

I admit that I am nervous and a bit intimidated at where the Lord is leading us, but more than that I am excited to see what He will do.  The men, women, and families of the military community need Jesus; our mission is to bring His good news of relationship with him to this community; will you join us in the War Room?

Until All 

Gerry Potter
Colonel (Ret’d)
President