Frequently Asked Questions:
So who exactly are you people anyway? And what the heck is a Narthex?
We are a lay community of the Apostolic Johannite Church that studies together, meditates together, and otherwise pursues spiritual development in a welcoming group environment. We are not yet a full parish as we do not have resident ordained clergy. “Narthex” is an architectural term for the area outside of a cathedral’s sanctuary where catechumins congregate. In this sense, it symbolically represents our first steps toward being a full parish just as the Narthex is for those still taking their first steps in their path to join the church.
I’m still not real clear on what you are? You said you are a church…as in, a Christian church?
Indeed. We are a Christian Church within valid Apostolic Succession. However, we are a Gnostic church as well. That means a lot of different things but in short, it means that we believe that personal experience with the Divine is the highest form of worship and growth. We tend to focus more on spiritual practice rather than adherence to certain dogmas. As an esoteric church, we believe that answers lie within us and a greater understanding of ourselves leads to a greater understanding of God and visa versa.
So what do you believe?
Ask ten Johannites what we believe and you are likely to get twenty answers…possibly all from the same person! Our beliefs are fluid and we are proud to welcome questioning of all kinds. As we progress on our path, our views change. That’s the point. Personal growth and curiosity to learn more about who or what God is, and thus who or what we are, requires a willingness to abandon old beliefs as new realities present themselves. But to be clear: We DO have certain core beliefs. At a basic level, these beliefs are presented as our Nine Principals which are available on the AJC website at johannite.org or here as well. The Principles should not be considered an exhaustive list of our theology, merely a starting point.
So what about Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Salvation, all that stuff?
Because we all have a different subjective experience of these things and operate in a eclectic background of both ancient and modern paths, there is no pat answer to this question. Answering questions like “What is Salvation?” or “Who was Jesus Christ really?” is the quest of a lifetime.
What should I expect if I attend a meeting?
It honestly depends on the type of meeting. We have coffee shop meet ups to discuss religious texts, Logos services where we perform a liturgy and meditation, and will likely be doing nature hikes, agape meals, and other fun group activities as well. If there is a Logos service, there will be a call and response liturgy and a time for shared group meditation or prayers. If there is a book discussion, details about what book we are study will be posted well in advance so you can do the reading before arrival. Regardless of what we are up to, as long as you show up in a spirit of goodwill, absolutely anyone and everyone is welcome. We do not discriminate based on race, sex, gender identification, sexual preference, social class, or any other category you can come up with. Everyone is equal in love.
Do you expect money or donations?
We expect nothing but we certainly accept any financial support. This financial support remains solely within the group to be used for altar supplies, rental of worship space, and to cover other expenses directly related to meetings. Financial information is available upon request to anyone who asks. We are an open book.
So you are a bunch of heretics? Or maybe a cult?
Heresy is in the eye of the beholder. One man’s heresy is another man’s solemn faith.
As far as a cult, no. We do not meet any of the criteria of a cult. We value personal responsibility, freedom of thought, and desire no control over your soul or your finances. We just leave the light on and a candle lit for anyone to join us for as long or as little as they wish.
If you are so focused on individual progress, then why even meet as a group?
Good question. The short answer is this: We are moving towards a brighter future but we can only get there together. Only by sharing each other’s personal experiences, burdens, joys, and sorrows can we grow fully into the mature beings that it is our destiny to become. In short, the world is better with you in it, and so by extension, we are better too.
I’m familiar with the concept of a Gnostic or Esoteric church already. What makes you different or sets you apart?
The Apostolic Johannite church continues the Johannite Tradition of Bernard-Raymond Fabre-Palaprat and our institutional narrative includes the succession of Grand Masters of the Knights of the Temple of Solomon as our spiritual forefathers. We have a valid Apostolic Succession unifying multiple lines and a very well established model for leadership within the church. We are a vibrant, living community of spiritual seekers of all types that joins together in celebration of the Christian, Gnostic, and esoteric traditions.
However, this is all words. The true test is in practice and experience. Watch our Youtube Channel, listen to our Lecturn Podcast series, or come out and see us. We would be happy to have you.