Saturday, December 31, 2016

The first Templar House at Temple Mount, Jerusalem

"To the south of this holy Mussulman temple (the well-known dome-shaped Dome of the Rock, TN), on the extreme edge of the summit of Mount Moriah, and resting against the modern walls of the town of Jerusalem, stands the venerable christian church of the Virgin (now the Al-Aqsa Mosque; TN), erected by the Emperor Justinian, whose stupendous foundations, remaining to this day, fully justify the astonishing description given of the building by Procopius. (It is this building and its surroundings that was in about 1120 made available by king Baldwin to the newly formed group of the "Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon"; TN).

That writer informs us that in order to get a level surface for the erection of the edifice, it was necessary, on the east and south sides of the hill, to raise up a wall of masonry from the valley below, and to construct a vast foundation, partly composed of solid stone and partly of arches and pillars (todat known as King Solomon's stables; TN). The stones were of such magnitude, that each block required to be transported in a truck drawn by forty of the emperor’s strongest oxen; and to admit of the passage of these trucks it was necessary to widen the roads leading to Jerusalem.

The forests of Lebanon yielded their choicest cedars for the timbers of the roof, and a quarry of variegated marble, seasonably discovered in the adjoining mountains, furnished the edifice with superb marble columns. The interior of this interesting structure, which still remains at Jerusalem, after a lapse of more than thirteen centuries, in an excellent state of preservation, is adorned with six rows of columns, from whence spring arches supporting the cedar beams and timbers of the roof; and at the end of the building is a round tower, surmounted by a dome. The vast stones, the walls of masonry, and the subterranean colonnade raised to support the south-east angle of the platform whereon the church is erected, are truly wonderful, and may still be seen by penetrating through a small door, and descending several flights of steps at the south-east corner of the inclosure.

Adjoining the sacred edifice (at the left of the building on the above illustration; TN), the emperor erected hospitals, or houses of refuge, for travellers, sick people, and mendicants of all nations; the foundations whereof, composed of handsome Roman masonry, are still visible on either side of the southern end of the building."

source text: The history of the Knights Templars, the Temple Church and the Temple, by Charles G. Addison of the Inner Temple. London 1842; source illustration; links added bij TemplarsNow (TN).

Friday, December 23, 2016

Tempelgesellschaft - a modern free Christian Community

 "We are a free Christian religious community. Free not only because we are not aligned to any of the Christian Churches, but also because our understanding of the essence of Christ’s message departs, in some aspects, from what they teach as being essential.

We teach and believe that the Kingdom of God is at one with the affirmation and practice of the commandment to love God and your fellow man. In working towards this Kingdom, we recognise the task given to humanity and unite in communities in order to contribute to its realisation on Earth according to the directive given by Jesus: »Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Justice!« (Matthew 6:33).

The name »Temple«, based on New Testament texts (Eph. 2:21,22 and 1 Peter 2:5a), expresses itself through the members of the community seeing themselves as living components of God’s temple, which they strive to build in unity and cooperation. Essential for Temple Society membership is not a commitment to doctrine, but the willingness to contribute to the Society’s task of cultivating Christian fellowship.

Because of its Free Christian orientation, the Temple Society is a member of the  Bund für Freies Christentum (Association for Free Christianity) and represents their concerns. We share a bond with all those who work for the good of humanity and towards peace."

"Following the call of their faith, they began moving to the Holy Land in 1868. They were the first to successfully drain swamps and make the land habitable for Europeans. To this day, many traces testify to their beneficial activity...

First of all a necessary distinction: they have nothing to do with the Knights Templar of the crusader era. That order was dissolved in 1312 AD.

The Christian community of the Templers evolved out of mid-nineteenth century Protestant Pietism. The Temple Society was brought into being by the theologian Christoph Hoffmann (1815-1885),  who was the son of the founder of the Korntal Pietist Community near Stuttgart and a delegate to the 1848 National Assembly in the Frankfurt Paulskirche. Its special concern is to return to the core message of Jesus, to his promise of the kingdom of God and his directive to contribute to the making of a better world through personal action to bring about this kingdom of love and kindness.

In view of the grave social ills of the time and guided by this basic attitude, Hoffmann and his followers saw the renewal of society in line with Jesus’ teachings as the foremost challenge facing a Christian community. They separated from the Church because they believed that, along with all the other Churches, the Protestant Church was neglecting this main task.

They perceived such renewal to be achievable through a more profound Christianity, where individuals strive to align their life and the choices they make with the words of Jesus in the New Testament, and where creeds, dogmas and rituals are of secondary importance in line with the Society’s motto: Set your mind on God’s kingdom and his justice before everything else.

source quotes and illustration: tempelgesellschaft.de

Sunday, December 18, 2016

An Analysis of Prophet Muhammad’s Covenants with Christians

"This article examines the roles that religious pluralism and civic rights played in Prophet Muhammad’s vision of a “Muslim nation”. I demonstrate how Muhammad desired a pluralistic society in which citizenship and equal rights were granted to all people regardless of religious beliefs and practices.

The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of his time are used as a framework for analysis. These documents have received little attention in our time, but their messages are crucial in light of current debates about Muslim-Christian relations.

The article campaigns for reviving the egalitarian spirit of the Covenants by refocusing our understanding of the ummah as a site for religious freedom and civil rights. Ultimately, I argue that the Covenants of Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of his time can be used to develop a stronger narrative of democratic partnership between Muslims and Christians in the “Islamic world” and beyond."

This blog quotes the abstract of the paper "Religious Pluralism and Civic Rights in a “Muslim Nation”: An Analysis of Prophet Muhammad’s Covenants with Christians" by Craig Considine, published on www.mdpi.com; illustration source www.covenantsoftheprophet.com