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The Secret Legacy of Jesus

The Judaic Teachings That Passed from James the Just to the Founding Fathers

Foreword by James D. Tabor
Published by Inner Traditions
Distributed by Simon & Schuster



About The Book

Shows how the true teachings of Jesus were passed down through the centuries and shaped the vision of the Founding Fathers

• Reveals for the first time the hidden link that connects James the Brother, Islam, the Cathars, the Knights Templar, and Freemasonry

• Shows how the Founding Fathers used these teachings enshrined in Masonic principles to build a new nation

With the success of Paul’s desire to impose his vision for the Church, the true teachings of Jesus--as preserved by his family and disciples--were forced into hiding. This clandestine movement was evidenced by such early groups as the Nazarenes, Ebionites, and Elkesaites but is generally thought to have died out when the Church of Paul branded these groups as heretics. However, despite the ongoing persecution by the Roman Catholic orthodoxy, this underground Jewish strain of Christianity was able to survive and resist incorporation into its more powerful rival. Jeffrey Bütz, author of The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity, reveals for the first time the hidden theological link that connects James the Brother of Jesus and the Ebionites with the religion of Islam, the Cathars, the Knights Templar, and Freemasonry.

In The Secret Legacy of Jesus, Bütz demonstrates how this centuries-old underground stream of Christ’s original teachings remained alive and how it surfaced again in Colonial America, where the Founding Fathers used Masonic principles rooted in Jewish Christian teachings to establish what they believed would be a “New Jerusalem.” With the rise of a fundamentalist Christianity, this potent spiritual vision was lost, but Bütz contends it can be recovered and used to bring about the reconciliation of Christians, Jews, and Muslims throughout the world.


Chapter 14

From Jesus to Freemasonry
The Building of a New Jerusalem

I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also . .
Jesus (John 10:16)

I need to make the disclaimer right up front that while I am not myself a Freemason, I have had a long-standing interest in Freemasonry and have done quite a bit of research into its historical origins over the past twenty-five years. I have come to the conclusion that there is a definite link between the theology of earliest Jewish Christianity and the rituals and teachings of Freemasonry. I posit that Freemasonry has somehow preserved in its rituals and teachings the core essence of Nazarene and Ebionite theology.

Masonic Theology

One of the most obvious pieces of evidence for my claim is that, for a group that was founded by Christians and still today has a large Christian majority, belief in the divinity of Jesus is not a requirement. There is nothing in Masonic ritual that a Jew or Muslim would find offensive. In fact, Freemasonry is one of only a few international organizations that welcomes people of all religions. The only requirement to be a Freemason is that one believe in a Supreme Being. However, one is never asked to declare what their particular beliefs about the Supreme Being are. The Supreme Being can be understood as Jesus by a Christian, as Allah by a Muslim, or as Brahman by a Hindu. In its rituals and writings Freemasonry refers to God in neutral terminology as the Great Architect of the Universe.
A “Volume of the Sacred Law” is always part of the standard “furniture” of the Masonic lodge room, and while this is commonly the Bible, in lodges with members of other religions, it is not uncommon to have scriptures of other religions placed alongside the Bible. A lodge is the basic organizational unit of Freemasonry. “Blue” lodges, also known as “Craft” lodges, confer the three basic degrees of Freemasonry--Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. It is interesting that Masonic lodges are also commonly called “Temples.”
Today there are approximately five million Freemasons in the world and Freemasonry is found in almost every nation, though it is telling to note that Freemasonry is outlawed in many Muslim nations for being a Zionist organization. Some radical Muslims argue that Freemasonry promotes Jewish interests around the world and that one of its aims is to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque so that the Temple of Solomon can be rebuilt.
The generally accepted definition of Freemasonry among Freemasons is that it is “a system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.” In pursuit of this ideal, Freemasonry, which is commonly referred to by Freemasons as the “Craft,” uses the symbols of masons’ tools, such as the square and compass, as part of an allegorical retelling of the story of the building of King Solomon’s Temple, meant to inculcate the building of straight and upright moral character. In Freemasonry, as in Jewish Christianity, deeds are more important than any particular expression of faith. “What good is it . . .if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?” (James 2:14).
The first question a new candidate is asked in the entrance ritual for the first degree of Masonry is this: “In whom do you put your trust?” The prescribed and only accepted answer is: “In God.” To answer “Jesus” would not be acceptable. The candidate is later asked by the Worshipful Master, “From whence come you, and whither are you traveling?” At this point the Senior Deacon answers for the candidate, “From the west, and traveling toward the east.” The Worshipful Master then asks, “Why leave you the west and travel toward the east?” The prescribed answer is, “In search of Light.”3 It is interesting that the Letter of James refers to God as the “Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17) and the favorite gospel of the Cathars, the Gospel of John, calls Jesus “the true light” (John 1:9). The questions and answers that are the first part of Masonic initiation exhibit Jewish-Christian and Gnostic theology, not necessarily orthodox Christian theology.
But how did Jewish-Christian theology make its way into Freemasonry? I believe it came through the Knights Templar who had been uniquely exposed to both Cathar and Muslim theology. We have seen how a Gnostic form of Jewish-Christian theology came to be preserved in Catharism and how this influenced the Knights Templar. I believe the main connecting link between the Nazarenes, the Templars, and Freemasonry is the Jewish temple. The Temple was the focal point of the Nazarene community under James. The Temple was where the Nazarenes continued to worship, and it is where James was martyred. The Temple remained the center of Nazarene worship not only because of its historical and religious significance but especially because it was the site of the expected Parousia of Messiah Jesus.

The Temple and the Lodge

One obvious connection between the Templars and Freemasonry is that the original group of nine Crusader Knights from France took the name “The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon.” All Masonic ritual is centered on the building of Solomon’s Temple, allegorized as a spiritual temple. In Masonic ritual and symbolism the pillars of the Temple play a central role. I do not believe it is coincidence that James, Peter, and John were referred to even by Paul, who was often at odds with them, as the “pillar apostles” (Galatians 2:9).

About The Author

Jeffrey J. Bütz is an ordained Lutheran minister and adjunct professor of world religions at Penn State University's Berks-Lehigh Valley campus. He lives in Catasauqua, Pennsylvania.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Inner Traditions (December 21, 2009)
  • Length: 400 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781594773075

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Raves and Reviews

“Bütz . . . is eminently readable and accessible to nonscholars while being thorough in [his] research. [He] raises the specter of a revisioned Christianity and challenges readers to rethink the nature of both orthodoxy and heresy.”

– Publishers Weekly

The Secret Legacy of Jesus is masterful, nothing less than the new definitive work on Jewish Christianity. It’s the whole story of what happened to the religion of Jesus, in one place. Immensely readable, this insightful book will challenge those who continue to believe that Paul’s Gentile Christ Movement was the only form of early Christianity.”

– Barrie Wilson, professor of Religious Studies, York University, Toronto, and author of How Jesus Bec

“Many books are informative; this remarkable book is also important. Rev. Bütz traces an ‘underground stream’ of Jewish-Christian (Ebionite) affirmation of the humanity of Jesus--from his family and original apostles through nearly two millennia, culminating in Freemasonic traditions of the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution of the United States.”

– Margaret Starbird, author of Magdalene’s Lost Legacy and Woman with the Alabaster Jar

“I just read Jeffrey Bütz’s latest brilliant work and am more convinced than ever that America is the New Jerusalem. Bütz lays out clearly and convincingly that the original teachings of Christ, as handed down by Jesus’s brother James, impacted Freemasonry. When the Freemasons threw their support behind Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and others, they were able to manifest the greatest expression of a democratic republic this planet has ever seen: the U.S. Constitution. This book is superb!”

– Robert R. Hieronimus, Ph.D., author of Founding Fathers, Secret Societies and United Symbolism of Am

The Secret Legacy of Jesus is a major contribution to the study of the historical Jesus. Bütz manages to deal with extremely complex phenomena yet retain an easy reading style. Such an accomplishment is made even more challenging by the scarcity of facts surrounding the Desposyni, which makes this book as much a mystery solver as a historical document. One of the great joys of reading this book is that Bütz gives us a sweeping panorama stretching across two millennia. This is a must read for anyone interested in Christianity.”

– Dr. James Gardner, author of Jesus Who? Myth vs. Reality in the Search for the Historical Jesus and

“What a pleasure it was to read The Secret Legacy of Jesus! It is well written, unconventional, conversational, and engaging. His tone and relaxed writing style convey the very tolerance and universalism that he sees in early Christianity. This is an important addition to the growing body of literature on early Jewish Christianity, a subject that has been heretofore largely ignored.”

– Keith Akers, author of The Lost Religion of Jesus

"While evidence for an unbroken tradition is tenuous at best, Bütz's book provocatively reminds readers of the persistence of non- and even anti-Pauline types of Christianity; for spiritual seekers, scholars, and open-minded Christians."

– Library Journal, Jan 2010

" . . . a pick for any spirituality collection including secret societies and Christian history."

– The Midwest Book Review, Apr 2010

"Butz has uncovered details that other authors have missed . . .

– Nexus New Times Magazine, Vol. 17, No. 4, June/July 2010

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