BACKGROUND FOR THE STUDY ON FREEMASONRY
At the 1985 Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas, Charles Z. Burchett of Kirbyville, Texas, introduced a resolution: "Free-masonry [sic] Not Compatible with Baptist Faith and Message, Bold Mission Thrust, or Cooperative Program." The resolution was referred to the Home Mission Board (HMB) for study. (1)
The HMB reported back to the 1986 Southern Baptist Convention in Atlanta that "after a thorough study by the Interfaith Witness Department, it is the Board's conclusion that Freemasonry does not fall within the scope of assigned responsibility of the Home Mission Board." (2) The HMB report was accepted by the messengers to the Convention. The Christian Index reported that HMB leaders had concluded, "The Department of Interfaith Witness does not recognize Freemasonry as a religion." (3) During the 1992 Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis, James L. Holly of Beaumont, Texas, introduced a motion on Freemasonry:
The Southern Baptist Convention in annual session June 9-11, 1992, at Indianapolis, Indiana, directs the president elected at this convention, to appoint an ad hoc committee for the study of the compatibility with Christianity and Southern Baptist doctrine of the organization known variously as the Masonic Lodge, Masonry, Freemasonry and/or Ancient and Accepted Rite of Freemasonry. This study is to encompass any and all branches and/or lodges thereof. Furthermore, the Convention directs the president to appoint this committee within thirty days of the conclusion of this convention and to charge this committee with the responsibility of bringing a report with recommendation to the convention which is to meet in Houston, Texas, June 1993. (4)
Alvin Rowe of Rockledge, Fla., moved to amend the motion. His amended motion passed:
(1) "Proceedings," 1985 Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention (Nashville: Executive Committee, Southern Baptist Convention, 1985), p. 69.
(2) "One Hundred Forty-First Annual Report, Home Mission Board," 1986
Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention (Nashville: Executive Committee,
Southern Baptist Convention, 1986), p. 175.
(3) The Christian Index, April 3, 1992, p. 2.
(4) "Proceedings," 1992 Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention (Nashville: Executive Committee, Southern Baptist Convention, 1992), pp. 60-61.
The Southern Baptist Convention in annual session June 9-11, 1992, at Indianapolis, Indiana, directs the Interfaith Witness Department of the Home Mission Board to study the compatibility with Christianity and Southern Baptist doctrine of the organization known variously as the Masonic Lodge, Masonry, Freemasonry, and or Ancient and Accepted Right [sic] of Freemasonry. The study is to encompass any and all branches and or lodges thereof. Furthermore, the convention charges the Home Mission Board with the responsibility of bringing a report with recommendation to the Convention which is to meet in Houston, Texas, June 1993. (5)
Messengers at the 1992 Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution "On Christian Witness and Voluntary Associations." While not mentioning Freemasonry, many observers concluded its intent was directed at Freemasonry. Resolutions are not binding on local churches, but represent the opinions of the messengers present and voting. Still, resolutions are often used as guides by local churches. The resolution stated:
WHEREAS, We are called to be in the world but not of the world; and
WHEREAS, We are called to maintain biblical standards of holiness and to avoid compromise of our Christian witness, or cooperation which would threaten that witness: and
WHEREAS, We are called to maintain Christian witness openly before the world; and
WHEREAS, We recognize the value of many social, fraternal, and philanthropic organizations.
Therefore, Be it RESOLVED, That we, the messengers to the 135th session of the Southern Baptist Convention, call upon all Christians to maintain personal purity in all activities, associations or memberships; avoiding any association which conflicts with clear biblical teaching, including those teachings concerning the taking of oaths, the secrecy of activities, mystical knowledge, or racial discrimination; and
Be it further RESOLVED, We affirm that biblical doctrine is to be open and public knowledge and that the Christian faith is to be a clear and public expression of the truth that Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation, that the Bible is our infallible guide, and that salvation comes by the Gospel [sic] of grace and not by works; and
(5) Ibid., p. 86.
Be it finally RESOLVED, That we urge all Southern Baptists to refrain from participation or membership in organizations with teachings, oaths, or mystical knowledge which are contrary to the Bible and to the public expression of our faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, which must be above all reproach. (6)
The Historical Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention examined a
comprehensive index of SBC annuals from 1845 to 1965 and found no mention of
Freemasonry or any topic that appeared related to Freemasonry. No resolution
on the subject of Freemasonry appeared in a list of resolutions between 1965
and 1992. The staff of the Historical Commission also examined titles of
theses and dissertations in Southern Baptist theological seminaries, an
index to the minutes to the Home Mission Board and the Executive Committee,
and other sources in their library and archives. Lynn E. May Jr. concluded,
"We cannot say with absolute certainty that the subject of Freemasonry does
not appear in the Convention annuals in the past, but that appears to the
(6) Ibid., pp. 89-90.
(7) Letter from Lynn E. May Jr., executive director-treasurer of the
Historical Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, August 14, 1992.
There are approximately 4 million Masons in the United States. Christopher Haffner gives the number of Masons worldwide as:
Regular Freemasonry: 5,500,000
A racial division in Freemasonry has existed in the United States since the late eighteenth century, when slavery was a social institution. Under the leadership of a black preacher named Prince Hall, a lodge was formed in Massachusetts in 1784. As a result of Hall's endeavour, a completely independent clandestine organization of Grand Lodges arose and spread across the United States to Canada, the West Indies, Liberia, and the British Isles. (9)
A "regular" lodge is one recognized by the Grand Lodge of the state; a "clandestine" lodge is not recognized by the regular Grand Lodge of the state. The regular Grand Lodge of each state generally refuses to recognize lodges not affiliated with it, hence the term clandestine. A parallel in Baptist life would be an independent Baptist church, which is not part of a local Southern Baptist association. Neither the independent Baptist church nor the local Southern Baptist association recognizes the other as a cooperating entity, although each knows the other exists.
This division between regular Freemasonry and Prince Hall Freemasonry is
slowly being broken down. Eight Grand Lodges (state organizations) in the
United States, as well as the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and
Quebec, have officially recognized Prince Hall Freemasonry as regular. The
U.S. Grand Lodges that recognize Prince Hall Freemasonry are Colorado,
Connecticut, Idaho, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Washington, and
Wisconsin. Discussions are taking place in other Grand Lodges, and it is
anticipated that mutual recognition will eventually occur. (10) Some Prince
Hall Lodges have not indicated a willingness for mutual recognition. Some
Grand Lodges are refusing to accept this progress toward racial
reconciliation. The Georgia Grand Lodge,
(8) Christopher Haffner, Workman Unashamed: The Testimony of a Christian
Mason (Shepperton, England: Lewis Masonic, 1989), p. 23.
(10) Jim Tresner, Perspectives, Responses and Reflections (Guthrie,
Okla.: Unpublished manuscript, 1992), pp. 82-84. Tresner is editor of The
Oklahoma Mason and director of The Masonic Leadership Institute. Two books
on Prince Hall Freemasonry are recommended by Tresner. They are Joseph
Walkes Jr., Black Square and Compasses: 200 Years of Prince Hall Freemasonry
(Richmond: Macoy, 1979) and Henry Wilson Coil Sr., A Documentary Account of
Prince Han and Other Black Fraternal Orders (Trenton: Missouri Lodge of
for instance, does not recognize the Grand Lodges mentioned here, which have recognized Prince Hall Freemasonry as regular. According to Masons, this refusal to recognize Prince Hall Grand Lodges in each state stems from the position that there can be only one Grand Lodge in each state, rather than simply a reluctance to recognize Prince Hall Freemasonry.
Blacks are also being accepted in some regular Lodges, such as the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, the Grand Lodge of Colorado, and the Grand Lodge of Washington. A photo in the October 1992 issue of The Scottish Rite Journal showed five black and five white Masons on a tour of the House of the Temple in Washington, D.C. Two of the five black Masons hold the 32nd degree. (11)
A number of critics accuse the Masonic Lodge of racism. One critic quotes Albert Pike, who served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, "I took my obligations from white men, not from negroes. When I have to accept negroes as brothers or leave Masonry, I shall leave it." (12) Some critics claim the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was founded by Freemasons and supported by Masons. Stating a Masonic position, Jim Tresner writes, "Membership in the KKK is sufficient cause in many states, including Oklahoma, to deny a man membership in Masonry." (13) Tresner says he has personal knowledge of "men [who] have been denied membership to Masonry on the basis of KKK membership." (14)
The Masonic Lodge has been slow to respond to the acceptance of blacks into its membership. The Lodge tends to follow the lead of the general society, rather than being a leader in racial reconciliation. However, racial reconciliation is slowly occurring in the Lodge.
A small group of Grand Orient "Masons," living primarily in France and Belgium, do not require members to believe in the existence of God and so are not accepted by regular Freemasonry. (15) This report will not address these Grand Orient Masons, since it is concerned only with American Freemasonry.
Men who become Masons join the Blue, or Symbolic, Lodge. It is usually
called the Blue Lodge because the colour blue is a primary symbol of
Freemasonry. (16) The origin of the use of the colour blue by Masons is
uncertain; perhaps it is an analogy of the blue sky or of heaven. (17) The
officers of the Blue Lodge include the Worshipful Master
(11) The Scottish Rite Journal, October 1992, p. 36.
(president or chairman), the Senior Warden (first vice president or vice chairman), the Junior Warden (second vice president or vice chairman), the Senior and Junior Deacons (who serve as messengers during the ritual work), and the Senior and Junior Stewards (who assist the candidate during the initiation). The Blue Lodge also has a secretary, a treasurer, and a chaplain. The final officer is the Tiler, who sits outside the door and arranges the introduction of visitors and guests. (18) These titles have been used for several centuries.
Men who wish to join the Lodge must request a petition, complete it, and
submit it to a Mason who will sponsor him. Masons are not allowed to ask
others to join, but this prohibition is sometimes abused. A person desiring
to join the Lodge is investigated by a committee and then voted on by Masons
in the Lodge. Election in most states must be unanimous. Several states have
discussed requiring two black balls or cubes to reject a petitioner; Texas
has already done so.
There are only three requirements to join the Lodge: the individual must (1) be a man (2) of good reputation who (3) believes in God. He is not required to define who he understands God to be.
The Blue Lodge consists of three degrees: (1) the Entered Apprentice, (2) the Fellow Craft, and (3) the Master Mason. A Master Mason in the United States enjoys all of the rights and privileges of full Masonic membership.
Approximately 80 percent of all Masons stop with the Master Mason degree; they do not proceed on to higher degrees in the Scottish Rite or York Rite branches. The Scottish Rite branch of Freemasonry was founded in France, not in Scotland as its name suggests. The American Scottish Rite branch, formed in Charleston, S.C., on May 31, 1801, consists of 29 numbered degrees (4th through 32nd); the 33rd, or highest degree, is an honourary degree given only to the most faithful Scottish Rite Masons. The administrative head of Scottish Rite Masonry in a state, or "Orient," is a Sovereign Grand Inspector General, or S.G.I.G. A Master Mason joins Scottish Rite Masonry at meetings called reunions, where the degrees are presented in one-act plays, each exploring a different area of philosophy or human thought. Scottish Rite Masonry concentrates its charitable activities in three primary areas: college scholarships, childhood learning disorders, and various medical treatment and research endeavors. (19) Local Scottish Rite Masons may sponsor other charitable activities, such as providing shoes to needy elementary school children through the Mercy Shoe Fund, as has been done by the Scottish Rite Temples in Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tenn., every year since 1960. (20)
There are two jurisdictions within American Scottish Rite Masonry. The Southern Jurisdiction, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., consists of 35 states and the District of Columbia. The Northern Jurisdiction, with headquarters in Lexington, Mass., consists of 15 New England and Great Lakes states.
The York Rite designates its 10 degrees by name, such as Royal Arch
(18) Tresner, Perspectives, Responses and Reflections, pp. 7-8.
Order of the Red Cross, and Order of Knights Templar Commandery. The York Rite degrees are based on traditions related to the Temple of Solomon and the Crusades of the Middle Ages. York Rite charitable activities include college scholarships. The primary charity of the York Rite is the Knights Templar Eye Foundation. The Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America has sent Christian ministers to the Holy Land for the past 15 years. The first seven ministers were sent in 1977. In 1992, 117 ministers from 40 states were given the trip, for a total of 507 ministers from 42 states since the program began. The ministers do not have to be Masons to be selected for the trip, and their expenses are paid. (21)
Although it is common to speak of the "higher degrees" of the Scottish Rite or York Rite branches, it is also said that the "highest degree in Freemasonry is the Third Degree or the level of a Master Mason." (22)
The Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America is distinct from other parts of Freemasonry. It was created in the late 1800s as an organization strictly for fun and fellowship. In keeping with this purpose, Shriners refer to their leader with the pompous title of Potentate. The Shrine, as it is sometimes called, is often criticized for its obvious Arabic theme, with the red fez and black tassel and logo of a sword, crescent moon, and star. This is sometimes believed to refer to a belief in the Islamic religion. Shriners say that the Arabic theme, according to tradition, was developed after an American, Billy Florence, attended a party in Marseilles, France, which was hosted by an Arabian diplomat. Fascinated with the colourful surroundings at the party, Florence is said to have created the rituals associated with the Shrine. (23) Shriners have earned a negative reputation for their rowdy, sometimes drunken, meetings. It would be, however, untrue to conclude that all, or even most, Shriners are drunken revelers.
Shriners operate 22 Shriners hospitals, 19 orthopedic hospitals, and 3 burns institutes. Their threefold purpose is treatment, research, and education. These hospitals are found in 17 U.S. states; Montreal, Canada; and Mexico City. Since 1922, when the first Shriners hospital was built, more than $2 billion has been spent building and operating the hospitals. The 1992 budget was $306 million -- $250 million of which was for the operation of the hospitals, $20 million for research, and $36 million for construction. The hospitals accept children up to age 18 if they can be helped and if treatment at another facility would place a financial burden on the family. There is absolutely no charge to the child, the family, or a third party for treatment. In 1991, the 22 Shriners hospitals admitted 21,015 children; another 197,882 patients were seen on outpatient or outreach clinic visits. The average length of stay at the orthopedic hospitals was 97 days; 103 days at the burns institutes. The hospitals are supported by an annual $5 hospital
(21) "15th Holy Land Pilgrimage," Knight Templar, May 1992, p. 18; Letter
from P. Fred Lesley, co-chairman of the Committee on Holy Land Pilgrimage,
Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America, October
assessment of each of the 717,461 Shriners in 191 Shrine Temples throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Republic of Panama.(24) An endowment fund provides additional support.
Real estate, securities, and life insurance are other sources of income. In addition, Shrine Temples conduct more than 1,800 fund-raising activities annually. There are two types of Shrine fund-raisers: Charitable fund-raisers, where 100 percent of the net proceeds benefit Shriners hospitals; and Fraternal fund-raisers, which benefit the Temples, which in turn may distribute funds as they decide, including to the hospitals. (25) All Shrine fund-raising promotional materials are required to list the purpose of the fund-raiser. For example, profits from the annual Shrine Circus are for Fraternal fund-raising and are not deductible as charitable contributions. The purpose is stated on the circus ticket. Only a Mason who has achieved the 32nd degree in the Scottish Rite or the Knights Templar degree in the York Rite can become a Shriner. (26) The largest Shrine Temple, with 17,762 members, is the Murat Temple in Indianapolis.
Masonic groups are involved in a variety of other social activities. The Pennsylvania Masonic Foundation for the Prevention of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Among Children in Elizabethtown, Pa., provided grants totalling about $1 million during its first five years of operation. It has a 501 (c) (3) federal tax exemption. (27)
The Eastern Star, which takes its name from the Star of the Nativity (Matt. 2:2), is open to women closely related to Master Masons, as well as Master Masons themselves. Its primary charity is the Masonic Homes for the Aged. The Eastern Star also provides scholarships.
The Royal Order of the Amaranth is similar to the Eastern Star. Its primary charity is the Diabetes Foundation.
(24) Figures as of December 31, 1991, from phone conversation with C.
Howard Bozeman, emeritus member, Board of Trustees, Shriners Hospitals for
Crippled Children, October 1, 1992.
Masonic youth organizations are the Order of the DeMolay, the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls, and Job's Daughters. The Order of the DeMolay, founded in Kansas City, Mo., in March 1919, is open to young men between the ages of 13 and 21. Its headquarters is located in Kansas City. (28) The Rainbow Girls, headquartered in McAlester, Okla., is open to all girls between the ages of 11 and 21; no Masonic affiliation is required. Rainbow girls are taught "the importance of belief in the existence of a Supreme Being, and the value of the great truths taught in the Holy Bible." (29) Job's Daughters is open to young unmarried ladies, who are related to Masons and are between ages 11 and 20. These young people volunteer time for blood drives and at nursing homes. They provided baby-sitting services during Operation Desert Storm so families of military personnel could attend support groups. The order takes its name from the Book of Job. (30)
(28) June 1969 issue of The New Age Magazine is devoted to the Order of
the DeMolay. The Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction,
introduced The New Age Magazine in 1903. The name of The New Age Magazine
was changed to The Scottish Rite Journal in 1990, due to the increasing
popularity of the New Age Movement and the New Age Journal. The New Age
Journal promotes the New Age Movement's Hindu-based worldview and includes
the following disclaimer in every issue: "The publisher of NEW AGE JOURNAL
has no affiliation with any fraternal organization."
Masonry critics generally cite one or more of the following reasons for being opposed to Freemasonry.
1. Freemasonry is a religion.
This study will examine each of these criticisms.
A number of difficulties in reaching objective conclusions about Freemasonry have been noted by such writers as Robert A. Morey. Recognition of these difficulties is necessary to avoid arriving at misleading or false conclusions.
1. Many Masons and their critics begin with conclusions, which they then seek to prove. Larry Kunk points out "the tendency of humans to be limited by their paradigms." A paradigm is a model that a person believes describes the truth about something. As Kunk points out, a person can be misled by his paradigm and make a false conclusion.
Many Masonry critics begin with the paradigm that Freemasonry is an anti-Christian religion. Kunk says, "The reader must look at Masonic writings from the perspective of someone who does not believe that Jesus is the only Son of God." (31) If you make up your mind before you take an objective look at Freemasonry, you will probably arrive back at your beginning point because you stay within your paradigm, namely that Freemasonry is an anti-Christian religion.
On the other hand, many Masons are guilty of believing that "Light and Truth" can be found within Freemasonry because that is what they may have been told in the beginning. That is their paradigm. Both Masons and their critics can be misled by their paradigms. If someone believes Freemasonry is a religion, he can find numerous quotes to support his paradigm. If someone believes that Freemasonry is not a religion, he can also find numerous quotes to support his paradigm. It is difficult to conclude which paradigm is correct.
2. Both Masons and their critics have created fraudulent documents to prove points, such as the antiquity of Freemasonry, or to attack Freemasonry with the often-repeated claim that Freemasonry is a "secret Luciferian devil cult." (32) Morey cites numerous fraudulent documents that have misled many people about the history of Freemasonry. (33)
Several critics cite a speech allegedly given by Albert Pike on July 14, 1889, to prove that the god of Freemasonry is Lucifer, "The Masonic Religion should be, by all of us initiates of the higher degrees, maintained in the purity of the Luciferian Doctrine. . . . Yes, Lucifer is God, and unfortunately Adonay is also god.... but Lucifer, God of Light and God of Good, is struggling for humanity against Adonay, the God of Darkness
(31) Larry Kunk, "What Is the Secret Doctrine of the Masonic Lodge and
How Does It Relate to Their Plan of Salvation?" (Unpublished manuscript,
P.O. Box 291, Fishers, IN 46038, 1992), p. 1.
and Evil." (34)
That this quote is a hoax has been shown by Wesley P. Walters in "A Curious Case of Fraud" in The Quarterly Journal of Personal Freedom Outreach. Walters, although an anti-Mason until his death, writes that the quote is taken from a French publication of Abel Clarin De la Rive titled The Woman and Child in Universal French Masonry (La Femme et L'Enfant Dans La Franc-Maconnerie Universelle, Paris: Delhomme et Briguet, 1894). (35) The hoax was created by Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pages, who was both an anti-Mason and an anti-Catholic, in an attempt to embarrass both groups. Raised in a Jesuit school, Jogand-Pages hated the Roman Catholic Church. Using the name of Leo Taxil, he attacked the Pope in his publication The Secret Loves of Pius IX. He also joined the Masonic Lodge but was soon expelled. Taxil began to write about alleged immoralities and orgies in the Lodge, during which the forged statements of Albert Pike first appeared. He also fabricated a Diana Vaughan, who claimed she was a daughter of a Satanist in Louisville, Ky., who was associated with Albert Pike. Taxil admitted his hoax in January 1897, but some Christian writers still use his hoax as if it were true.
Many Masonry critics believe almost anything, especially the most sensational stories, that shows Freemasonry in an unfavourable light. They repeat stories they hear without checking facts, and ignore any evidence contrary to their beliefs. An untruth repeated until it becomes common knowledge does not cause it to become true.
Likewise, most Masons believe their writers without verifying accuracy and documentation. Both Masons and their critics would do well to do real historical study into the charges against Freemasonry to determine which are true and which are false.
An estimated 100,000 books have been written on or about Freemasonry. (36) Readers experience the difficulty of reading and digesting such a vast amount of literature, especially when different Masonic books directly contradict each other. It is impossible to know which books or authors accurately reflect the beliefs of all Masons, or even a majority of Masons.
(34) J. Edward Decker, The Question of Freemasonry (Issaquah, Wash.: Free
the Masons Ministries, n.d.), pp. 12-14; James L. Holly, The Southern
Baptist Convention and Freemasonry (Beaumont, Texas: Mission and Ministry to
Men, Inc., 1992), p. 18; and Jack Harris, Freemasonry: The Invisible Cult in
Our Midst (Towson, Md.: Jack Harris, 1983), pp. 24-25. Harris states the
date of Pike's speech was July 4, 1889, rather than July 14, 1889. This
quote is also cited by Muslim anti-Masons Muhammad Safwat al-Saqqa Amini and
Sa'di Abu Habib in Freemasonry (New York: Muslim World League, 1982), p. 41.
Gary H. Kah refers to the same quote in En Route to Global Occupation
(Lafayette, La.: Huntington House Pub., 1992), p. 114, as do other
This is coupled with the fact that books on or about Freemasonry almost always have been written by individuals in one of two groups: one group, either non- or anti-Masonic, attacks Freemasonry as anti-Christian; the other group, committed Masons, defends Freemasonry as compatible with Christianity. There is virtually nothing written on or about Freemasonry by neutral or unbiased scholars. Critics of Freemasonry often are guilty of faulty research. The use of logical fallacies to prove false premises is common. One is led to conclude that even though most Masonry critics claim to do original research, many quotes and ideas are borrowed from earlier critics.
The Grand Lodges do not prohibit Masons from reading any books, no matter what the books teach about Freemasonry. (37) At the same time, the Grand Lodges do not conduct investigations to determine whether a Masonic author's book is acceptable. There is nothing to prevent a Mason from writing a book giving his personal views about religion, Freemasonry, or any other subject. This freedom sometimes comes back to haunt Masons, since some Masonic writers have their own agenda or personal ax to grind. Some Masonic writers have been non-Christians who write from a non-Christian worldview. Some Masonic writers promote pagan religions. This freedom accorded Masonic writers provides critics with a wealth of material from which to develop their anti-Masonic positions.
3. Anti-Masons typically assume that Freemasonry is based on the writings of one person. Albert Pike (1809-1891), perhaps the most controversial of all Masonic scholars, is often said by Masonry critics to be the most authoritative spokesman for Freemasonry. However, few Masons own a copy of Pike's Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, and even fewer have read it. One Scottish Rite Mason estimated that fewer than 1 in 1,000 Masons had read Morals and Dogma. Masonry critics John Ankerberg and John Weldon surveyed 25 of the Grand Lodges in the United States to ask which authors and books were considered authoritative for Masons. Only 4 of the 25 Grand Lodges recommended Pike's Morals and Dogma as authoritative. (38)
Traditionally, a copy of Morals and Dogma was given to each candidate when he received the 14th degree. This practice was stopped in 1974 and candidates have not been given Morals and Dogma since then. Morals and Dogma is still available for purchase by anyone, Mason and non-Mason alike. A Bridge to Light, by Rex R. Hutchens, was published in 1988 to replace Morals and Dogma and to encourage Scottish Rite Masons "to investigate more fully the profound teachings of the Rite and learn how to apply them in their daily lives."(39) A Bridge to Light is recommended by C. Fred Kleinknecht, Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction,
(37) When Walton Hannah's anti-Mason book, Darkness Visible: A Revelation
& Interpretation of Freemasonry (London: Augustine Press, 1952) could not be
located, a Mason loaned his personal copy.
and is unanimously approved by the Committee on Rituals and Ceremonial Forms for the Southern Jurisdiction.
Masons have never held that Pike's words in Morals and Dogma must be accepted by any Mason. In the Preface to Morals and Dogma, the reader is told, "Every one is entirely free to reject and dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to him to be untrue or unsound." (40) Still, it is apparent that Morals and Dogma is held in high regard by many Masons, especially Masons holding the highest degrees.
Albert Mackey's 25 landmarks of Freemasonry listed in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry are sometimes cited as the ultimate authority in Masonic activities. Mackey held that the landmarks were essential, unrepealable boundaries of Freemasonry. However, 14 Grand Lodges have created and adopted their own lists of landmarks, four Grand Lodges accept the "Old Charges" of Anderson's Constitutions as their landmarks, and 13 Grand Lodges have adopted no list of landmarks. (41)
Masons insist that the only written authorities in Freemasonry are monitors and other books approved and published by the various Grand Lodges or other official bodies. Other books may be accepted by some or many Masons, but they ultimately are the opinions of the authors, not authoritative works that all Masons must accept.
When Ankerberg and Weldon conducted a survey of the Grand Lodges in the United States, 25 of the 50 Grand Lodges responded to the question, "Which books and authors have been recommended by the Grand Lodges as being authoritative for Masons?" (42) Eleven, or 44 percent, of the Grand Lodges responded that Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, by Henry Wilson Coil, was authoritative. Nine, or 36 percent, cited Joseph Fort Newton's The Builders; and eight, or 32 percent, responded that Albert G. Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry was authoritative. Ankerberg and Weldon list six other books cited by four to six (16-24%) of the Grand Lodges as authoritative. The other books cited were Introduction to Freemasonry by Carl H. Claudy (24%), The Newly-Made Mason by H.L. Haywood (24%), A Masonic Reader's Guide by Alphonse Cerza (20%), History of Freemasonry by Robert F. Gould (20%), The Craft and Its Symbols by Allen E. Roberts (20%), and Morals and Dogma by Albert Pike (16%). No single book was cited as authoritative by more than 44 percent of the Grand Lodges responding. (43)
Ankerberg and Weldon, in The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge, repeatedly cite Jonathan Blanchard's Scottish Rite Masonry Illustrated. They state that Blanchard
(40) Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish
Rite of Freemasonry (Washington, D.C.: Prepared for the Supreme Council of
the Thirty-third Degree for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States
and Published by Its Authority, 1964), p. iv.
was "a former Sovereign Grand Commander and a 33d Degree Mason." (44) Art DeHoyos, in The Cloud of Prejudice: A Study in Anti-Masonry, responds:
In their recent book, The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge, authors John Ankerberg and John Weldon seriously err in their selection of source-material for information on Masonic rituals. For information on the Scottish Rite rituals, for example, they relied on a reprint of Jonathan Blanchard's outdated Scotch Rite Freemasonry Illustrated, which was actually an exposure of Cerneauism, a "clandestine" (illegitimate) pseudo-Masonic organization of the 1800's. Most non-Masons would be unfamiliar with this fact and would likely accept its ritual as those of genuine Freemasonry. An examination of their endnotes reveals that Ankerberg and Weldon refer to Blanchard over fifty times in the book. (45)
Both the Northern and Southern Jurisdictions of Scottish Rite Freemasonry deny that Blanchard was either a 33rd degree Mason or a Sovereign Grand Commander. During his years as president of Wheaton College, Blanchard was an active anti-Mason. He founded the Christian Cynosure and the National Christian Association to support his anti-Masonic activities. With his son-in-law, Ezra A. Cook, he incorporated the National Christian Association to continue his attempt to destroy all secret societies, especially Freemasonry. (46)
Haffner reminds us that "there is very little that is official or authoritative, and almost all the tens of thousands of books published about masonry [sic] in this country [England] and overseas merely represent the personal views of individual Freemasons." (47) It is apparent that Masons and their critics differ on which books are authoritative and how authoritative particular books are.
4. Many writers assume that Freemasonry is a monolithic organism, which can be traced back to a single origin. In fact, many individuals and groups have been influential in the history of Freemasonry. Likewise, not all Masons believe the same thing, nor do all Masons around the world hold identical views. Each of the 110 Grand Lodges around the world is completely independent of the others. Some Masonic groups, such as the Grand Orient Masons in Belgium and France, are not recognized by any of the 110 Grand Lodges. As Ankerberg and Weldon state, there is "no single definition of Masonry . . .
(44) Ankerberg and Weldon, The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge, p.
accepted by all Masons." (48) Freemasonry means different things to different people -- for some a social club, for others a benevolent organization; for some a place to meet close friends, for others a religion. Freemasonry is not consistent in its specific teachings and rituals from country to country or even from state to state. Freemasonry has even changed through the years. (49)
Stephen Knight, in The Brotherhood: The Secret World of the Freemasons, says that "Freemasonry is not a worldwide secret society.... although the British Grand Lodges recognize more than a hundred Grand Lodges (forty-nine of them in the USA), they have no control over them, and most reflect the character and political complexion of the country in which they operate." (50) Knight admits that "Perhaps a better subtitle [of his book] might therefore be Freemasonry: An Interim Report, because in addition to being wide-ranging and complicated (though always intensely fascinating), the nature of Freemasonry is changing." (51)
Morey examines the history of Freemasonry and concludes that it has changed its focus and teachings in significant areas. For example, Morey claims that a Christian interpretation of Freemasonry was the accepted norm until an anti-Masonic movement from 1826 to 1836 forced the conservative Christian majority to leave Freemasonry. Families and churches were scenes of raging controversy as Masonic church members were told to choose between membership in their church and the Lodge. More than half the lodges in the United States were closed as thousands of Christians left Freemasonry. In this vacuum of leadership, according to Morey, non-Christian and pagan leaders assumed leadership and changed the direction of Freemasonry. (52) Masons reject Morey's theory.
Knight traces the history of Freemasonry back to the conclusion of the Gothic Age in the sixteenth century when Scottish, and then English, non-Mason gentlemen joined the dying Masonic trade unions. He argues that the "de-Christianization" of Freemasonry began immediately after the formation of the first Grand Lodge in London. James Anderson's Constitutions, presented in 1723 and revised in 1738, contained only
(48) Ankerberg and Weldon, The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge, p.
(52) Morey, The Origins and Teachings of Freemasonry, pp. 19-21.
one reference to Jesus Christ, when, in the Preamble, he noted, "in whose Reign [Caesar Augustus] was born God's Messiah, the great Architect of the Church." (53) The Preamble was removed from the Constitutions in 1815, and with it, the reference to Jesus Christ.
In addition to changes in focus and teachings in Freemasonry through the years and differences among Grand Lodges, Masonic teachings are ultimately subjective. Knight concludes:
There is therefore no authoritative statement of what Masons believe or what the Brotherhood stands for in the first, second and third degrees, to which the vast majority of members restrict themselves. Even a 33d Mason who has persevered to attain all the enlightenment that Freemasonry claims to offer could not -- even if he were freed from his oath of secrecy -- provide more than a purely personal view of the masonic message and the meaning to be attached to masonic symbolism, since this remains essentially subjective. (54)
Monitors are revised by Grand Lodges as needed. One edition of the Louisiana Masonic Monitor apparently includes quotes by Albert Pike and Max Muller. (55) The Louisiana Masonic Monitor in the HMB research library, copyrighted in 1988, does not contain either quote. In fact, neither Pike nor Muller is mentioned in the 1988 edition of the Louisiana Masonic Monitor.
5. It is usually claimed, by many Masons and their critics, that Freemasonry is a secret society. Other Masons counter that Freemasonry "is not a secret society, but rather a society of secrets." (56) To Masonry critics and many non-Masons, this is only a word game designed to hide Freemasonry's goals and objectives. Although symbolism, passwords, and rituals are used in Freemasonry, many books in academic and major public libraries detail the meanings and practices of Freemasonry. The passwords and rituals have not been changed in Freemasonry, even though they can easily be learned by non-Masons. To a casual observer, changing these would appear essential to a secret society, just as passwords are changed on computers when the passwords are compromised. Secret groups are popular among large numbers of people, from boys' clubs with passwords and rules ("No girls allowed" is usually at the head of the list of rules) to men's clubs for purely worldly ambitions. Initiation ceremony, oaths of secrecy, symbolism, and sometimes the awe of religious and moral elements are often included. One critic writes:
Masons need to understand that the Masonic secrets are known [sic] to others. We know their secrets, their signs, their Jewels, their secret so
(53) Knight, The Brotherhood, p. 27.
called "LOST WORD", their pass-words, their due-guards, the "Grand Hailing Sign of Distress", their land-marks and their rituals with blood oaths and torture penalties; all these are KNOWN BY US. The Masonic [sic] interpretations of their rituals and symbolisms are known far and wide by thousands of people, many of whom are very outspoken about them. (57)
He is correct. Freemasonry is a secret society in name more than fact.
(58) When a secret becomes known, it is no longer a secret to the person who
has learned the secret. Masons point out that membership rosters are kept at
every lodge and it is not difficult for non-Masons to learn who are
Freemasons. In fact, Masons are quite eager to let non-Masons know of their
Masonic membership. Names of lodge officers are readily available. The
Masonic symbol appears on Masonic halls and temples with no attempt to
conceal their existence from the public. The Jewels, to which Wilkinson
refers, are listed on pages 333-334 of Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, a book
readily available to anyone in any Masonic library, in some major university
libraries, and for purchase from Masonic sources.
Many organizations have closed meetings. Each lodge has an officer, called the Tyler, whose responsibility is to stand outside the door to prevent non-Masons, called cowans, from entering. The symbol of the Tyler's office is an unsheathed sword, but Masons insist it is only a symbol and not intended for use in keeping non-Masons from
(57) Aubrey Wilkinson, "Wishing Freemasons the Best" (Kyle, Texas:
Unpublished manuscript, n.d.), p. 7.
entering the temple or hall. Human beings are naturally curious individuals; the desire to spread and listen to gossip is a case in point. Masons should not be condemned for holding closed meetings. However, the secrecy of Masonic meetings will remain a point of criticism for many non-Masons, because, for a growing number of people, things done in secret are always associated with evil.
Secrecy is probably more harmful than helpful to Freemasonry. Probably very few men become Masons because it is a secret society or even a society of secrets. Better education of Masonic members and the general public would serve Freemasonry well. Many Masons realize this. Renewal Update, a publication of The Masonic Renewal Committee of North America, states, "Masonry cannot afford to be viewed as 'out of touch' with society; it cannot afford to be secretive, hostile, misunderstood and unknown." (60) The Masonic Renewal Committee of North America has held four strategic planning conferences with leaders from 31 Grand Lodges to produce "Blueprint 2000," outlining the future needs of the fraternity.
The committee found that Masons were open to providing information requested. Committee members were given full library privileges at three Masonic libraries. Questions were answered quickly and clearly. As with all organizations, including the Christian church, some individuals were better able to answer questions than others. In nearly every situation when answers appeared less than complete, it was believed the Mason was not aware of the answer or could not articulate his answer. On only a few occasions was an attempt to be evasive observed.
1. Both Masons and their critics should verify their sources to determine if they are historically valid and quoted accurately.
2. Better education of Masonic members and the general public is essential.
3. The secrecy of Masonic meetings will remain a point of criticism by many non-Masons.
(60) Five Ways to Make a Lodge Relevant," Renewal Update, December 14, 1992, p. 8.
THEORIES ON THE ORIGIN OF FREEMASONRY
No factual history on the origin of Freemasonry exists. John Hamill, writing in The Craft, said, "When, Why and Where did Freemasonry originate? There is one answer to these questions: We do not know, despite all the paper and ink that has been expended in examining them.... Whether we shall ever discover the true origins of Freemasonry is open to question." (61) Theories by Masons and non-Masons range from fields of fantasy, to the possible, to outright fraud. Prospective members are told, and most Masons believe, that Freemasonry can be traced back to King Solomon and the building of the first Jerusalem Temple. Occasionally, it is reported that John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, or Noah were Masons. Some Masons believe Freemasonry was first revealed to Adam in the Garden of Eden. However, there is nothing in the Bible about Freemasonry. Albert Pike claimed that the Buddha was the earliest known "Masonic Legislator." (62) Others speculate that Freemasonry can be traced to the Druids in England, the Essenes, or early Egyptian mythology. More recent Masonic writers seem to be more cautious about claiming an early origin of Freemasonry. As L.C. Helms writes, "This type of blind allegiance to the past serves Freemasonry no constructive purpose." (63)
Most scholars agree that modern Freemasonry can only be traced historically with sound documentation to the Grand Lodge founded in London, England, on June 24, 1717, when two ministers, Presbyterian James Anderson and Anglican John Desaguliers, encouraged Masons in four London lodges to join them in a move toward centralization. By 1723, fifty-two Lodges comprised the Grand Lodge of London. (64) However, the existence of Masonry prior to this date is documented by other scholars. In Masonry in Texas, James David Carter mentions a report to Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1561 that "the business of Masonry is the cultivation of morality and science, harmony and peace." (65) Carter provides the names of several Masons in the United States, including Quaker William Penn, as early as 1682. (66)
Helms cites A.D. 926 as the approximate date for the origin of Freemasonry. He
(61) John Hamill, The Craft: A History of English Freemasonry
(Bedfordshire, England: Crucible, 1986).
arrives at the date from "the oldest Masonic document yet discovered, the Halliwell Document or Regis Poem." (67) However, Regis Poem, written about 1390, alludes to an organization of builders, not to an organization like modern Freemasonry.
Other scholars attempt to establish a connection between Freemasonry and
the Order of the Knights Templar, founded in Jerusalem in 1118. Originally
called "the poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon," they
protected pilgrims on the way to and from the Holy Land. The Knights Templar
became a wealthy order before Roman Catholic King Philip IV of France, deep
in debt to the Templars and with the support of Pope Clement V, arrested
every Templar in France on October 13, 1307. (68) Fifteen thousand Templars
were arrested and put in chains on Friday the 13th. The bull Pastoralis
Preeminentae issued by the Pope on November 22 stated that the charges of
heresy against the Templars appeared to be true and that authorities could
"spare no known means of torture" to secure confessions. Thousands of French
Templars were hanged, beheaded, disembowelled, and quartered; their property
was confiscated by the Roman Catholic Church. Three months later, King
Edward I of England, after Pope Clement V issued a formal bull against the
Templars, issued orders for the arrest of the Templars in England. However,
in those three months the Templars in England had disappeared, along with
their treasure and records. The Knights Templar was officially abolished by
Pope Clement V in 1312. (69) John J. Robinson details a possible scenario
that the Knights Templars survived as a secret order until it later
reappeared as the Freemasonry fraternity after England officially became a
Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh agree with Robinson that the deposing of pro-Catholic King James II and the crowning of anti-Catholic William of Orange as the king of England in 1688 was the catalyst for the emergence of Freemasonry. They, however, are not as convinced of the Knights Templar connection as is Robinson. They do not see the evidence that Robinson does. (70)
Other Masons trace Freemasonry, including the name, to the stonemason guilds found in various European cities and towns from the tenth to the seventeenth century when building cathedrals and castles was widespread. Some stonemasons were also called "free masons" because they were free to travel from city to city in their occupation.
(67) Helms, A Modern Mason Examines His Craft, pp. 7, 19.
With the decline in the building of cathedrals and castles, the free
masons in guilds organized social groups and began accepting members who had
never been stonemasons. These men were called speculative masons, rather
than operative masons, since they never actually were stonemasons.
Masons would stop much of the criticism of their fraternity if they admitted that there is no connection with early religions, if they rejected such ideas found in some of their writings, and if they taught their members that there is no connection.
The most fundamental question in this study is whether Freemasonry is a religion, as critics of Masonry charge and some Masons claim. Most books by Masons and their critics have produced more heat than light in answering this question. It is the contention of Masonry critics that Freemasonry is a religion, and that it does not conform to the beliefs and practices of the Christian faith. Since it is a religion and does not conform to the beliefs and practices of the Christian faith, it is a false religion. Since it is a false religion, critics contend, Masons are guilty of membership in a false, even Satanic, religion.
Most Masons are just as adamant that Freemasonry is not a religion. Carl Sanders states, "Freemasonry is not and has never been a religion.... Freemasonry has never asked me to choose between my Lodge and my Church.... Possibly there are those who have made a god out of Masonry. You can make a god out of anything -- your business, your labour union, your civic club, your Lodge and even your Church." (71) Still, some Masonic writers and rituals exacerbate this controversy by comparing Freemasonry to obviously pagan religions.
Critics argue that Freemasonry is a religion for several reasons. They include the Masonic requirement that all Masons must profess a belief in God, that members are required to obey God, and that they are expected to pray for divine guidance before any important undertaking.n The critics are correct that Masons are expected to believe in God, obey Him, and seek His guidance in life.
Part of the problem lies in the fact that humans are religious creatures. Darrell Robinson writes, "Humankind is incurably religious. In every person is a God-shaped void." (73) If most Masons are Christians, as they are in this country, it would be out of character to expect them to leave their faith on the doorstep when they enter the Lodge hall. Quite the contrary, Christ expects, and ministers exhort, Christians to always be "ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence" (1 Pet. 3:15, NASB).
The 1992 resolution "On Christian Witness and Voluntary Associations," cited on pages 2-3, states:
Be it further RESOLVED, We affirm that biblical doctrine is to be open and public knowledge and that the Christian faith is to be a clear and public expression of the truth that Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation, that the Bible is our infallible guide, and that salvation comes by
(71) Carl J. Sanders, "A Mason Without Apology," Freemasonry and Religion
(Washington, D.C.: Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry,
Southern Jurisdiction, United States of America, 1990), n.p.
the Gospel [sic] of grace and not by works.
Does this resolution establish the criterion for Christians to evaluate their free association? It could be argued that Freemasonry is not open and public, but exclusive and elitist. If Freemasonry is exclusive and elitist, then the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and other groups are also exclusive and elitist because each limits membership to selected individuals. Neither do these organizations require belief "that Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation," that "the Bible is our infallible guide," or that "salvation comes by the Gospel of grace and not by works." If this is a reason for condemning Freemasonry, then Christians must reevaluate their memberships in all social and professional clubs and fraternities. This section of the resolution is describing the theology of the Christian church. It is not listing the required teachings of organizations such as DAR, VFW, or Freemasonry before a Christian may join. The resolution would apply to Freemasonry only if Freemasonry were defined as a religion or a church.
Albert G. Mackey defined Freemasonry as "a beautiful system of morals, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." (74) Mackey also wrote that "the religion of Masonry is cosmopolitan, universal; but the required belief in God is not incompatible with this universality; for it is the belief of all peoples." (75) Another Mason stated that "Masonry is a system of ethics based on the divine command, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.'" (76)
Several critics have said that some Masons give more attention to their Lodge membership than their church membership. This is a serious charge. Masons admit this charge is sometimes true, but that the individual who is guilty should be criticized, not the entire fraternity.
Masons write, "Regular attendance at Lodge is no faith substitute for regular attendance at church or synagogue." (77) "The Lodge can never take the place of a man's church, synagogue, mosque, or temple." (78) Hutchens, in A Bridge to Light, wrote, "Masonry does not seek to take the place of religion but, like religion, acknowledges a higher law than that of man." (79)
(74) Carl H. Claudy, Introduction to Freemasonry, p. 8.
Albert Pike's statement that "every Masonic Lodge is a temple of religion; and its teachings are instruction in religion" is often quoted by Masonry critics. (80) In fact, it is probably the single most quoted passage from Masonic sources found in anti-Masonic sources. However, Pike, elsewhere in Morals and Dogma, wrote, "Masonry is not a religion. He who makes of it a religious belief, falsifies and denaturalizes it." (81)
Henry Wilson Coil, like Mackey, defined religion in a most general way, not in the same sense that a person speaks of Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia states:
There can be religion without any church and, indeed, without any congregation, or even one companion, save God. There can be religion without the recitation of any liturgy; and the recitation of a formula does not necessarily induce religion. In short, there can be much religion which is neither a religion nor one of the religions. (82)
In a 1921 decision, the Supreme Court of Nebraska, in the case of the Scottish Rite Building Company vs. Lancaster County, ruled that Freemasonry was not a religion.
The true interpretation of the Masonic attitude in that respect [religion] is that no religious test at all is applied as a condition of membership. The guiding thought is not religion but religious toleration. The order simply exacts of its members that they shall not be atheists and deny the existence of any God or Supreme Being. Each member is encouraged to pay due reverence to his own God, the Deity prescribed by his own religion.... The Masonic Fraternity, in other words, refrains from intruding into the field of religion and confines itself to the teaching of morality and duty to one's fellow men, which make better men and better citizens. The distinction is clear between such ethical teachings and the doctrines of religion. (83)
William Schnoebelen, who acknowledges that he is an ex-witch, ex-Mormon, and ex-Mason, states in Masonry Beyond the Light that Freemasonry is a religion because it requires a belief in God, is highly ritualized, and has a code of ethics. (84) Other organizations have these same requirements but are not considered religions. They
(80) Ankerberg and Weldon, The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge, pp.
42-43; from Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. 213.
require a belief in God, but not all members are necessarily Christians, so they would not worship the God revealed in the Bible. (85)
The Freemasons' Diary sets this priority for a Mason concerning his faith and religious practice:
A Freemason is encouraged to do his duty first to his God (by whatever name he is known) through his faith and religious practice; and then, without detriment to his family and those dependent on him, to his neighbour through charity and service. None of these ideas is exclusively Masonic, but all should be universally acceptable. Freemasons are expected to follow them. (86)
Of course, not all Masons have their priorities in the correct order.
Southern Baptist Mason James P. Wesberry wrote, "Masonry is not a religion, nor a church. A good Mason keeps his priorities in order.... For any person to allow Masonry to become his religion or to take the place of his church is a mistake and not due to Masonic teaching but to someone's misinterpretation or misunderstanding." (87) Many men make the Lodge their religion. While a survey was not conducted, these men most likely have been non-Christians searching for spiritual answers in the wrong place. The answer to every person's spiritual needs is found in Jesus Christ, not in the Lodge or any other human organization. Thomas A. Whelan, in the November 1992 issue of the Las Cruces (New Mexico) Scottish Rite Bulletin, shared with his readers, "We can reflect on our Masonic teachings and continue to support and attend the church of our choice." Ankerberg and Weldon state that Freemasonry is a religion because it has a creed, which they state is defined by Webster as "a state of belief, principles, or opinions
(85) Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of America require members to
believe in God, but not all Scouts are Christians. Baptist youth certainly
do not worship the physical god of Mormonism or the impersonal god of
Hinduism, yet they join with youth and leaders from these religions to earn
religious emblems. They have certain rituals that identify them as Scouts
anywhere in the world, such as the Scout sign with three upraised fingers
and the handclasp using the left hand instead of the right hand. Scouts also
have a code of ethics. See Webelos Scout Book, Boy Scouts of America [no
copyright information], pp. 349, 352, 402; and "Girl sues Scouts over God
reference in pledge," Journal of the American Family Association, January
1993, p. 2. The article reports that a 6-year-old girl and her father claim
the reference to God in the "Girl Scout Promise" is a "religious test oath."
on any subject." (88) This definition does not require that the creed be religious. The word creed come from the Latin word credo, which means "I believe." Credo is the first word of the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds in the Latin translation, "I believe in God the Father Almighty...." The Scottish Rite Creed was printed on the back cover of The New Age Magazine for years. Its statements are not religious in nature. Pike used the term in a different, more religious, way when he spoke of "the Masonic Creed: BELIEVE, in God's Infinite Benevolence, Wisdom, and Justice: HOPE, for the final triumph of Good over Evil, and for Perfect harmony as the final result of all the concords and discords of the Universe: and be CHARITABLE as God is, toward the unfaith, the errors, the follies, and the faults of men: for all make one great brotherhood." (89) But Pike seems to distinguish between this Masonic Creed and creed in the sense of a confession of faith. He says, "To every Mason, there is a GOD; ONE, Supreme, Infinite in Goodness, Wisdom, Foresight, Justice, and Benevolence; Creator, Disposer, and Preserver of all things. How, or by what intermediates He creates and acts, and in what way He unfolds and manifests Himself, Masonry leaves to creeds and Religions to inquire." (90) Pike "allows every brother of the Order to assign to each [great religious reformer] such higher and even Divine Character as his Creed and Truth require." (91) Elsewhere, Pike states that "Masonry propagates no creed except its own most simple and Sublime One; that universal religion, taught by Nature and by Reason." (92)
Ankerberg and Weldon state that Freemasonry is a religion because it teaches theology. (93) Masons insist they teach no theology, that "Freemasonry is religious; but it is not a religion, it is not a theology." (94)
Critics claim that Freemasonry teaches that one religion is as good as another because men of all faiths are admitted. As Baptist minister and Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, Thomas S. Roy, wrote:
Freemasonry does not assert and does not teach that one religion is as
good as another. We do not say that all religions are equal because we admit
men of all religions. We refuse to apply a theological test to a candidate.
We apply a religious test only. We ask a man if he believes in
(88) Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second
College Edition (Fairfax, Va.: William Collins Publishers, Inc., 1980), p.
God, and that is a religious test only. If we asked him if he believed in Christ, or Buddha, or Allah, that would be a theological test involving a particular interpretation of God. Belief in God is faith; belief about God is theology. We are interested in faith only, and not theology. We do not set ourselves up as judges of the qualitative values of the theological interpretations of God. (95)
Ankerberg and Weldon state that the ritual in Freemasonry is really worship, because "in actuality Masons are worshipping every time they practice the ceremonies of a Lodge." (96) They quote Pike's Morals and Dogma, "Masonry is a [system of] worship." (97) Ankerberg and Weldon add the emphasis on is and the words [system of] to Pike's quote. Masonry critics charge Freemasonry is a pagan religion because prayers are offered during Masonic rituals, usually without mentioning the name of Christ. Critics are correct that prayers are offered during Masonic rituals, usually without mentioning the name of Christ. At times, prayers concluded in Christ's name may be voiced in Masonic meetings. The prayers are generally requests for God's blessing and guidance. However, the U.S. Congress opens its sessions with prayer, usually without mentioning the name of Christ. No one has ever suggested that the U.S. Congress is a religion. Prayers or invocations are offered at the sessions of the U.S. Supreme Court, at meetings of Lions Club and Rotary Club, and at some corporation luncheons. Usually, these prayers are very general and routine. No one has ever suggested that these gatherings are worship services. It simply means that these organizations, like Freemasonry, are composed of religious people who believe that their religion should enter into all of life. (98)
The title of the Lodge leader, Worshipful Master, is a point of criticism
by most Masonry critics. Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters; for
either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and
despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. 6:24, NASB).
Masons insist Worshipful Master is a title of respect and honour carried
over from late Medieval England and still used in England when referring to
magistrates and certain others holding high rank. A Mason reminded the HMB
Interfaith Witness Department staff that many Christian ministers are called
"Reverend," while the Bible only uses the word in Psalm 111:9 (KJV) where
the term is used of God's name, "holy and reverend is his name." Just as
there is no implication of identifying the minister's name with God's name,
there is no implication of giving a Master Mason the worship due only to
God. Worshipful Master is an archaic title. Masons would do well to replace
this title with some other title. Many Christians feel
(95) Thomas S. Roy, "An Answer to Anti-Masonic Religious Propaganda"
(Boston: Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, 1952), p. 224.
this practice violates the biblical admonition to call no man master, Freemasonry is called a religion by critics because many of its buildings are called temples. Many Christians are also offended when Masons refer to their buildings as mosques or shrines. The building in which the Lodge meets is often called a temple. Masons insist they call their buildings temples because they symbolize the construction of Solomon's Temple; it is "a symbol of the Temple of Solomon under construction, before it was consecrated for worship." (99) Masons see life as building character in members, as earlier masons constructed Solomon's Temple. Granted, the word temple causes most people to think of a Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, or other place of worship; but Webster's New World Dictionary also defines temple as "a building, usually of imposing size, etc., serving the public or an organization in some special way [a temple of art, a Masonic temple]." (100) While the symbolic connection with Solomon's Temple is held, Masons would reduce criticism if they referred to their buildings simply as "halls" or "lodges."
Lodges may elect not to "charge dues against Ministers of the Gospel, actively engaged in their calling." (101)
Masonic codes prevent lodges from holding meetings on Sundays. "It is unmasonic for a Lodge to hold a communication, regular or special, on Sunday for the transaction of any business except conducting a funeral or holding a Lodge of Sorrow. And no Lodge shall let or lease its Hall on that day except for divine worship." (102) Would Freemasons place such a restriction on the use of a Lodge if it were an anti-Christian religion?
No doubt, some non-Christian or non-church-affiliated Masons have had religious experiences in Masonic ceremonies or rituals, but does that make Freemasonry a religion? Religious experiences are not restricted to religious ceremonies in a church setting. People, even Christians, have spoken of the awe and closeness to God they have felt when they gaze into the vastness of the Grand Canyon in Arizona or walk among the towering Sequoias in California. That Masons claim to have had religious experiences in Masonic ceremonies or rituals speaks to the fact that people are religious creatures. Both Masons and non-Masons testify that this experience has led some unsaved Masons to a salvation experience with Jesus Christ and membership in His church.
1. Masons and their critics are divided about whether Freemasonry is a religion or a fraternity.
2. Masons use religious symbols, terms, practices, and items.
3. The term Worshipful Master is especially offensive to many Christians.
(99) Haffner, Workman Unashamed, p. 147.
The ritual is particularly offensive to Masonry critics. For one thing, Masons are prohibited from discussing religion or politics during Masonic meetings. Therefore, no proclamation of the gospel is allowed during the meetings. Given the nature of Freemasonry, which welcomes men of different faiths and cultures to become members, religious or political discussions could quickly become disruptive to the fellowship. Nothing, though, prevents Christian Masons from developing friendships during this time, which may lead to discussions and witness outside Lodge meetings. Discussion of one's personal faith and church membership is allowed at some Lodge meetings. Invitations to visit one's church may be extended to fellow Masons. Numerous articles appear in Masonic literature, testifying of one's faith in Christ for all to read.
The so-called "bloody oaths" are regularly cited by Masonry critics and non-Masons as objectionable. Masons prefer the word "obligation" rather than oath to describe what they promise to do. The penalty that follows the obligation is the symbolic consequences of failure to keep the obligation. The Freemasons' Diary states, "The physical penalties which are purely symbolic do not form part of an Obligation." (103) The "penalty" for the Entered Apprentice degree is:
All this I most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, . . . binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my throat cut from ear to ear, my tongue torn out by its roots, and buried in the sands of the sea, at low-water mark, where the tide ebbs and flows twice in twenty-four hours, should I, in the least, knowingly or wittingly violate or transgress this my Entered Apprentice obligation. (104)
The "penalty" for the Fellow Craft degree is:
All this I most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, . . . binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my left breast torn open, my heart plucked from thence, and given to the beasts of the field and the birds of the air as a prey, should I, in the least, knowingly or wittingly, violate or transgress this my Fellow Craft obligation. (105)
The "penalty" for the Master Mason degree is:
All this I most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, . . . binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my body severed in two,
(103) The Freemasons' Diary, 1992-1993, p. 21.
my bowels torn from thence and burned to ashes, and these scattered before the four winds of heaven, that no more remembrance might be had among men or Masons of so vile a wretch as I should be, should I, in the least, knowingly or wittingly violate or transgress this my Master Mason's obligation. So help me God and keep me steadfast. (106)
If John J. Robinson's and others' arguments are correct, the words of
these penalties can be traced back to the Middle Ages when the Knights
Templars were subject to arrest and death if their identity became known.
The nature of the penalties remind the Mason of what actually happened to
people for no other reason than that they belonged to an organization. As
one Masonic source stated, "We do not ask you to die for Masonry, although
down through the ages men have been persecuted and have suffered even death
for claiming membership in our illustrious Order." (107)
Ankerberg and Weldon write, "It is a fact that no candidate entering into Masonry is told during the ritual that the penalties of the oaths he is swearing to are merely symbolic." (108) William T. Still states, "The following details of the initiation oaths of the first three degrees of Masonry are closely-guarded Masonic secrets. In fact, every Mason must swear to kill any fellow Mason who reveals them." (109) Masons insist Still makes this charge for the emotional impact it must surely have on his readers because there is no truth whatsoever in his statement. Masons contend that no Mason promises to cut anyone's throat or sever a body, even by implication. They contend that candidates are told penalties described are only symbolic and that they "may not be inflicted on a
(106) Ibid., pp. 154-155.
Mason by his Brothers." (110) The obligations are seen as an undertaking between Masons and Almighty God, not a contract between Masons and the Lodge or any other group of men. They are held to be obligations, freely invoked, which cannot be broken. They are reminders of the serious consequences of being a Mason that have been experienced in the past, and which still could arise under dictatorial governments. (111) Even if symbolic, these penalties are very offensive to many Christians. Grand Lodges should either revise or eliminate the oaths and penalties.
The obligations in the Masonic rituals are taken seriously, while Masons argue that the penalties are seen as symbolic. That the Christian Mason takes the obligations by swearing on the Bible in God's name is a point of contention for many non-Mason Christians.
Likewise, while the ritual is memorized for the three Blue Lodge degrees, a great majority of Masons have no understanding of the meaning of the details of the ritual. Masonry critics underscore this weakness in Freemasonry and insist that the meanings of the ritual are intentionally withheld.
A Christian Mason who takes the higher degrees of the Scottish Rite will be exposed to beliefs and practices quite different from his own. For example, the candidate is introduced to Egyptian deities Osiris, Isis, Horus, and Amun; to Scandinavians deities Odin, Frea, and Thor; to Hindu, Greek, and Persian deities; and to Jewish Kabbalism. Masons state that a person studies how people through the centuries have attempted to understand God and His relationship to mankind in these degrees. It cannot be denied that some of the religions studied in these degrees are pagan and that their teachings are totally incompatible with Christianity. James D. Carter, in Masonry in Texas, states that "the great object of Masonry is not to tell a man what to think but to stimulate him to think for himself." (112) There is no requirement or expectation of commitment in these higher degrees. Little of the content of the Scottish Rite ritual is learned or retained, given the rapidity in which the degrees are granted. The 4th through the 32nd degrees of the Scottish Rite ritual are taken over a period of two days at the Masonic Temple in Atlanta. The ritual for each degree lasts from 25 minutes to 2 hours and 10 minutes.
The altar in the lodge is most certainly of religious origin, similar to those used in the Old Testament as places for sacrifices to God. Masons are not certain why an altar was first used in the lodge, except perhaps as a place for the Bible.
"Secret" passwords are used in Masonic degrees. The password for the
Entered Apprentice degree is "Shibboleth" from Judges 12:6. According to the
verse, those who mispronounced it were killed. "Tubal-Cain" is the password
for the Master Mason degree. In Genesis 4:22, he was "the forger of all
implements of bronze and iron." Other secret words include
Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Isa. 8:3); Berith (Gen. 6:18), meaning covenant;
Shaddai (Ex. 6:3), meaning Almighty God; Giblite (1 Kings 5:18); and
(110) Roger M. Firestone, "Masonic Penalties," The Scottish Rite Journal,
March 1990, p. 60. The bold word in the quote is found in the original text.
Abaddon (Rev. 9:11). Mahabone is another secret word, but its origin is uncertain. Several Masons admit that too many meaningless words are used in Masonic rituals. Some words have been dropped from the rituals, or, if used, then only one time. The use of words such as Shaddai and Abaddon are especially offensive to many Christians.
Readers of Masonic literature will notice that dates such as 5993 A.L. are sometimes used. A.L. is an abbreviation for Anno Lucis, a Latin phrase for "the year of light." Masons use it to date God's creation of light (Gen. 1:3). It approximates Archbishop Ussher's calculation for creation in 4004 B.C. Masons tend to round the date off to 4000 B.C., thus 5993 A.L. is A.D. 1993. Genesis 1:3 and the Masonic A.L. both refer to the creation of physical light, not the Light brought in the person of Jesus Christ. The Hebrew calendar, used since A.D. 360, also begins with creation, allegedly 3,760 years and three months before the beginning of the Christian era. Therefore, January 1993 on the Gregorian calendar, used in the United States since 1752, is the year 5753 on the Hebrew calendar. The Gregorian calendar, named after Pope Gregory XIII, replaced the Julian calendar in most Catholic countries in 1582. Other countries were slower to adopt the new calendar.
Critics charge that Freemasonry is a religion because it "uses symbols just like those found in a church or synagogue." These symbols include the letter G, the altar, the Volume of Sacred Law, and prayers. (113) Certainly, Freemasonry uses symbolism throughout its various degrees and in its buildings. Symbolism is the heart of Freemasonry. Christians also use symbols to express their faith. The fish symbolizes Christ; the Easter lily symbolizes the resurrection. A butterfly symbolizes the change Christ brings in the life of a new believer; an equilateral triangle is sometimes used to symbolize the Trinity. Meanings given to these symbols are not shared by non-Christians. The butterfly is a common New Age symbol for self-transformation. New Masons are told that the meanings of the symbols are imperfect and incomplete. Individual Masons find personal meanings beyond their stated and original meanings. Sometimes Masons misapply the symbols; sometimes Masonry critics misapply the symbols. Given the nature of Freemasonry, this is a major problem that will not disappear, but Masons can lessen the problem by explaining more clearly the meaning of their symbols to both members and nonmembers.
The "All-Seeing Eye" is well known as a Masonic symbol for God. The psalmist writes, "The eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him" (Ps. 33:18, NASB). Proverbs 15:3 (NASB) states, "The eyes of the Lord [YHWH] are in every place, Watching the evil and the good." This reminds the Mason that his actions do not go unnoticed by God. Masonry critics remind us that the All-Seeing Eye was also the Egyptian symbol for Osiris. Some Masons cite this use of the symbol, but others cite the biblical foundation of the All-Seeing Eye. It is uncertain when the All-Seeing Eye became a Masonic symbol. The meaning behind the All-Seeing Eye is analogous to the rainbow today. Followers of the New Age Movement have begun using the rainbow as one of their symbols. The Bible also points to the rainbow as a sign of God's covenant with Noah after the flood (Gen. 9:8-17). Symbols can mean different things to different people.
A bride normally wears a veil at her wedding, although few know the
origin of this practice. Centuries ago, it was believed a rejected man might
try to place a evil
(113) Ankerberg and Weldon, The Facts on The Masonic Lodge, p. 19.
spell upon the bride. The veil was believed to provide spiritual protection from the evil spell until the bride was protected by the sacrament of marriage received from the Roman Catholic Church. Most Christians also use the Christmas tree, and many participate in Easter egg hunts. Both the Christmas tree and the Easter egg were originally pagan symbols. Shall we dispense with these traditions because their origin is rooted in the occult?
In the Masonic ritual, a sword is pointed toward a candidate's bared heart. Masons believe this part of the ritual reminds the candidate that justice will come, even though our thoughts and actions may be hidden from our fellowman. The Monitor of the Grand Lodge of Texas reminds the Master Mason that the sword:
. . . demonstrates that justice will sooner or later overtake us; and although our thoughts, words and actions may be hidden from the eyes of man, yet that ALL-SEEING EYE . . . pervades the inmost recesses of the human heart, and will reward us according to our merits. (114)
Throughout the Bible, from Genesis 3:24 to Revelation 19:21, the sword is a symbol of God's judgment against His enemies. Masons specifically refer to Simeon's prophecy in Luke 2:33-35 as key in their use of the sword. (115)
Many Christians are concerned about the use of the lambskin apron because they believe it signifies works salvation and that a Mason believes he has already achieved a pure life essential for salvation. Masons insist they use the lambskin apron as an emblem of innocence, a symbol of the purity of life and moral conduct demanded of all Masons. They insist the lambskin does not bring salvation, but rather, "the purity of life" it symbolizes brings salvation. They use the lambskin as a symbol of Christ, who is "a lamb unblemished and spotless" (1 Pet. 1:19, NASB).
Masonry critic A. Ralph Epperson quotes Albert Mackey in his discussion
of the Masonic teaching concerning the direction north: "The north is
Masonically a place of darkness." (116) Citing Isaiah 14:13, Epperson states
that the direction north is associated with darkness in Masonry because "the
God of the Bible sits in the north." Epperson claims that only when Lucifer
assumes God's throne will Masons find light in the north. (117) Epperson's
claim is not based on any Masonic source. In the very next sentence, Mackey
explains why "the north is Masonically a place of darkness." Using the
symbol of Solomon's Temple, Mackey writes, "The sun in his progress through
the ecliptic [its normal path across the sky] never reaches farther than 23ø
28' north of the
(114) Monitor of the Lodge (Waco: The Grand Lodge of Texas, 1982), p. 90.
See also Lester, Look to the East! p. 195.
equator. A wall being erected on any part of the earth farther north than that, will therefore, at meridian, receive the rays of the sun only on its south side, while the north will be entirely in the shadow at the hour of the meridian." (118) In other words, the rays of the sun never shine on the north wall of Solomon's Temple.
Likewise, Israel's enemies were to come from the north. "Then the Lord said to me, 'Out of the north the evil will break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. For, behold, I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north,' declares the Lord; 'and they will come, and they will set each one his throne at the entrance of the gates Jerusalem, and against all its walls round about, and against all the cities of Judah"' (Jer 1:14-15, NASB). Repeatedly, Jeremiah says Jerusalem's enemies will come from the north: "For evil looks down from the north, And a great destruction" (Jer. 6:1, NASB).
The sound of a report! Behold, it comes --
The directions of the compass are important in Freemasonry, as they are in the Bible. Ezekiel 40 - 43 describes in considerable detail the walls and gates of the chambers of the Temple, using the four directions of the compass. In his vision, Ezekiel saw that "the glory of the Lord came into the house [Temple] by the way of the gate facing toward the east" (Ezek. 43:4, NASB). After He entered the east gate, the Lord told Ezekiel, "'This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut"' (Ezek. 44:2, NASB).
The legend of Hiram Abif in the ritual for the Master Mason's degree is criticized by Masonry critics. According to 1 Kings 7:13-47, Hiram Abif was a bronze worker in Solomon's Temple:
Now King Solomon sent and brought Hiram from Tyre. He was a widow's son from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in bronze; and he was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill for doing any work in bronze. So he came to King Solomon and performed all his work.... Now Hiram made the basins and the shovels and the bowls. So Hiram finished doing all the work which he performed for King Solomon in the house of the Lord (1 Kings 7: 13-14, 40, NASB).
The ritual for the Master Mason's degree says that three workers in the
Temple attempted to learn the secret Master's Word from Hiram. When he
refused to reveal it, they killed Hiram and buried his body secretly. The
body was discovered after King Solomon ordered a search for it. Only "the
strong grip of a Master Mason" by King Solomon could raise Hiram's body from
the grave. One critic writes, "After a lot of ritualized fussing around,
Solomon takes the decomposing right hand of Hiram Abif by
(118) Mackey, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, vol. 2, p. 518. This idea is
also found in Charles Bahnson, North Carolina Lodge Manual, p. 28, and in
the Louisiana Masonic Monitor, p. 61.
the 'Strong Grip of the Lion's Paw,' the Master Mason grip, and hauls his carcass out of the ground, apparently resurrecting him (although this is never clear)." (119) Contrary to what critics say, Masons insist Hiram was not resurrected from the dead; his body was removed from one grave and reburied in another. The ritual says they then "carried it to the Temple, and buried it in due form." (120) Quoting the Masonic Book of Constitutions, Mackey writes, ". . . after some time allowed to the Craft to vent their sorrow, ordered his obsequies to be performed with great solemnity and decency, and buried him in the Lodge near the Temple, -- according to the ancient usages among Masons, -- and long mourned his loss." (121)
Schnoebelen argues that the Order of the Eastern Star could not have borrowed their logo, the "Eastern Star," from Matthew 2:2. He rightly states that the Bible does not say "eastern star," but rather "star in the east" (Matt. 2:2, NASB) and "the star, which they had seen in the east" (Matt. 2:9, NASB). Schnoebelen concludes, "Since the wise men were from the Orient (i.e., Persia), the star which they saw over Bethlehem could not have appeared eastern to them, but western." (122) Neither does the Bible say "western star." Schnoebelen accuses the Order of the Eastern Star of "playing with words." He argues that the Eastern Star actually refers to the star Sirius, which "is sacred to the god, Set. Remember Set as the evil Egyptian god who killed Osiris? Set is probably the oldest form of Satan. The Eastern Star is the star of Set." (123) He also argues that the star, with its single point down, is the inverted pentagram, which with the goat's head inside, is the official symbol of Satanism and witchcraft. Again, symbols mean what the user intends them to mean; symbols can mean different things to different people. To the occultist, the inverted star or pentagram refers to the Goat of Mendes or Satan; to the Order of the Eastern Star, it refers to the miracle star that guided the Wise Men to the Christ child. (124) The Order of the Eastern Star teaches that the five points of the star represent the daughter of Jephthah whom he killed after taking a vow to God (Judg. 11:30-40). The Eastern Star rituals give this unnamed daughter the name Adah. The other points represent Ruth the Moabitess (Ruth 1:22), Queen Esther (Esther 2:17), Martha who was Lazarus' sister (Luke 10:38-42), and Electa (2 John 1). (125)
Masonic burial and memorial services are often the target of criticism.
Indeed, burial and memorial services are the most public rituals conducted
by Masons. Every
(119) William Schnoebelen, Masonry: Beyond the Light, p. 149.
Mason in good standing may request a Masonic burial service. The family normally makes the final decision concerning a Masonic funeral for a loved one. Baptist minister and Mason Don R. Long suggests to fellow Masons, "Do not force the issue of having a Masonic service if it is going to cause a great deal of hurt feelings among the family and minister. It is best not to have a masonic service than to cause trouble and hard feelings." (126) One cause of the misunderstanding that can arise between the Lodge and the minister over the funeral service is that many Lodge officers are not aware of funeral courtesies and how to work with the minister whom they may not know. The minister may resent the Lodge taking control of the service, which he believes is his responsibility. The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars will also conduct burial rites upon request. Funeral expenses will be paid by the Lodge if the Mason is indigent.
In the Louisiana Masonic Monitor, the ritual for a Lodge of Sorrow is explained. The Lodge of Sorrow "is intended to celebrate the memory of our departed brethren." It may be held in a church, public hall, or in the Lodge hall; non-Masons are permitted to attend. (127) Reference to "the ancient Egyptian ceremony of the Judgment of the Dead, or Judgment of Amenti" and the Egyptian Book of the Dead is made in the closing ceremonies of the ritual for the Lodge of Sorrow in the Louisiana Masonic Monitor. (128) To study about Egyptian religions is one thing; to incorporate teachings from the Egyptian Book of the Dead in a funeral, memorial, or Lodge of Sorrow ritual is quite another. For a Christian, this moves from the realm of the acceptable to the unacceptable. This closing ceremony will continue to be cited by Masonry critics, and rightly so, until it is removed. These references are offensive to many Christians and their use is incompatible with the Christian faith. References to Egyptian religion should be removed from this ritual. The reference to Egyptian religion was not found in any other monitor examined.
1. Even if symbolic, the penalties in Blue Lodge Masonry are offensive to many Christians. Grand Lodges should either revise or eliminate the oaths and penalties.
2. Masons would reduce criticism if they referred to their buildings simply as halls or lodges, rather than temples, shrines, or mosques.
3. The use of words such as Shaddai and Abaddon are especially offensive to many Christians.
4. Masons could reduce misunderstanding and criticism if they explained the meaning of the symbols to both members and nonmembers.
5. Masons should find illustrations other than obvious pagan sources to
use in lessons taught in the various degrees.
(126) Don R. Long, "Masonic Funeral Courtesies," The Texas Freemason,
Fall 1984, pp. 25-26
Every Mason is required to profess a belief in God, but each Mason is allowed to define his understanding of God as he wants. There is no doubt that Masons take belief in God seriously.
The North Carolina Lodge Manual speaks of a Mason's relationship with God in this way: "There are three great duties which, as a Mason, you are charged to inculcate -- to God, your neighbour, and yourself To God, in never mentioning his name but with that reverential awe which is due from a creature to his Creator." (129)
The letter G is a well-known Masonic symbol. It is found within the square and compass to form the most public symbol of Freemasonry. As with many symbols, Masons are uncertain when and why it was first used. Most Masons say the G denotes either geometry, the Grand or Great Architect, or simply God.
The true name of God has been the subject of speculation for both Jews and Christians. This problem arose because Old Testament Jews held that the name of God was too holy to utter, so the name Adoni, or Lord, was substituted for His name. The fact that the Hebrew alphabet did not use vowels until the sixth or seventh century A.D. caused the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton, "YHWH," to be forgotten. Petrus Galatinus is often credited with creating an artificial word, Jehovah, in about A.D. 1520 when he combined the vowels from Adoni with the Tetragrammaton. (130) Many biblical scholars today believe the correct pronunciation of YHWH is Yahweh.
In Old Testament times, with many gods worshipped among the tribes in the Middle East, it was important to know which god men worshipped. It was thus necessary to know God's name to distinguish Him from the many other gods worshipped by non-Israelites. Micah 4:5 (NASB) reflects this belief:
Though all the peoples walk
L. James Rongstad, in How to Respond to The Lodge, says that the
"rediscovered" secret name for God is "Jah-Bul-On." (131) This, Rongstad
says, is the Royal Arch Masons' "Trinity." He says, "'Jah' is an
abbreviation for the Hebrew name of God:
(129) Charles F. Bahnson, North Carolina Lodge Manual (Raleigh: Edwards &
Broughton Co., 1929), pp. 37-38.
JAHWEH, or JEHOVAH. 'Bul' or 'Bal' is the name for the Assyrian deity, and is mentioned throughout the Old Testament as 'Baal' or 'Baal-peor.' (This is the idol God told the Israelites to avoid at all costs.) 'On' is the Egyptian sun god." Edward J. Decker claims that "'ON' is the term used in the Babylonian mysteries to call upon the deity 'OSIRIS.'" (132) Osiris is an Egyptian deity, not a Babylonian deity. Ankerberg and Weldon also identify On with Osiris. (133) In other words:
Jah is from Jahweh or Jehovah.
Masons insist that this argument is fallacious and that the derivation is incorrect. They insist the spelling of words are changed by Masonry critics to support their argument. Rongstad changes the spelling from Bul to Bal, which is closer to the name of the Canaanite fertility or storm god, Baal. It is a leap of faith to get "On" from Osiris since there is no "n" in Osiris.
Christopher Haffner traces this charge to anti-Mason Walton Hannah, who, in Darkness Visible: A Revelation and Interpretation of Freemasonry, wrote:
This word, JAH-BUL-ON, is explained in the Mystical Lecture as consisting of certain titles or attributes of divinity to which in English no-one [sic] could take exception. Yet this word is made up (as is also explained) of the Hebrew Jahweh coupled with the Assyrian Baal, so utterly repugnant to the prophets even as a symbol, and the Egyptian On or Osiris." (134)
Hannah offers no explanation or documentation for his charge. Haffner and
other Masons insist the ritual for the Royal Arch degree, from which this
identity allegedly comes, "says nothing of the sort." (135) Still, this
charge has taken on a life of its own and is commonly repeated. Masons point
out that the name Bul is found in the Old Testament. It is the name of the
eighth month of the Jewish lunar calendar. The building of Solomon's Temple
was completed in the eighth month, "And in the eleventh year, in the month
of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished throughout all its
parts and according
(132) Edward Decker Jr. The Question of Freemasonry (Issaquah, Wash.:
Free the Masons Ministries, n.d.), p. 15.
to all its plans" (1 Kings 6:38, NASB). It was common to add an epithet to the Semitic term (El) for God in the Old Testament to distinguish whether El was referring to a pagan or false god, or to the true God of Israel. One of the Old Testament names for YHWH is El Elyon, or God Most High. Melchizedek was "a priest of God Most High [El Elyon]" (Gen. 14:18, NASB). El Elyon is identified with YHWH in Deuteronomy 32:8-9 and 2 Samuel 22:14. Another name for YHWH is Adon as in Exodus 34:23 (NASB), "Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Lord [Adon] God [YHWH], the God [Elohim] of Israel." Adon refers to God's eternal nature or His perpetuity. The name of God revealed an attribute about Him, such as Yahweh Shalom, meaning "the Lord of peace."
Coil admits that Masons are divided over the origin of the "On" ending. Some say it refers to the sun-god Ra, whose center of worship was in On; others claim that On refers only to the name of the city. (136) On was an Egyptian word meaning "city of the pillar," called Heliopolis or "city of the sun" in Greek, and Beth-shemesh or "city of the sun" in Hebrew (Jer. 43:13). (137) Coil writes:
Jah, Bel, and On appear in the American ritual of the Royal Arch degree on the supposition that Jah was the Syriac name of God, Bel (Baal), the Chaldean, and On, the Egyptian. But the last name seems was actually the name of a city, error having arisen from the Biblical story that Pharaoh gave Joseph, for a wife, Asenath, who was the daughter of Potepherah [Gen. 41:45], priest of On, meaning priest of the city of On, not the god
Haffner quotes Hannah, who says Jah-Bul-On:
. . . is a compound word, and the combination forms the word JAH-BUL-ON.
It is in four languages, Chaldee, Hebrew, Syriac and Egyptian. JAH is a
Chaldee name for God, signifying "His Essence and Majesty Incomprehensible."
It is also a Hebrew word, signifying "I am and shall be," thereby expressing
the actual, future and eternal existence of the Most High. BUL is a Syriac
word denoting Lord or Powerful, it is in itself a compound word, being
formed from the preposition Beth, in or on, and UL, Heaven or High;
therefore the meaning of the word is Lord in Heaven or on High. ON is an
Egyptian word, signifying Father of All, thereby expressing the Omnipotence
of the Father of All, as in that well known prayer, Our Father which art in
Heaven. The various significations of the words may be thus collected:
(136) Coil, Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, p. 456.
I am and shall be
Haffner argues that Jah-Bul-On does not refer to three gods, but to Yahweh, who revealed Himself in the Old Testament. The epithet to the name speaks of specific characteristics of Yahweh, just as does Yahweh Shalom. Critics, of course, do not accept Haffner's interpretation. They see an obvious pagan origin to the name.
In the face of continued attacks by Masonry critics, as well as Christians within Masonry, over the use of Jah-Bul-On as a name for God, the Grand Lodge of England stopped using it in February 1989. (140) American Masons should follow the lead of their English brothers.
Ankerberg and Weldon quote Martin L. Wagner, "This Great Architect as conceived by Freemasons is not identical with the Jehovah of Christianity, but . . . is another and distinct entity." They further quote Wagner, that the Great Architect and Jehovah "are entirely separate and different, mutually exclusive and no syncretism can harmonize them." (141)
However, the Monitor of the Grand Lodge of Texas, in the ritual for constituting a new lodge, states, "I now solemnly consecrate this Lodge, to the honour and glory of Jehovah, the Grand Architect of the Universe." (142) Jehovah's name is mentioned two additional times in this ritual, including in the following prayer:
This Temple, designed and build [sic] by Wisdom, supported by Strength, and adorned in Beauty, we are first to consecrate in the name of the great Jehovah; which teaches us, in all our works, begun and finished, to acknowledge, adore and magnify Him. It reminds us, also, in His fear to enter the door of the Lodge, to put our trust in Him while passing its trials
(139) Haffner, Workman Unashamed, p. 218, quoting Hannah, Darkness
Visible, pp. 181-82. The copy of Darkness Visible used for this paper was
published in 1952, but the page numbers coincide with Haffner's copy.
and to hope in Him for the reward of its labours. (143)
Haffner states that "Christian Freemasons have always identified the 'Great Architect of the Universe,' with our Lord Jesus Christ, and far from shutting Him out of the lodges, have felt His presence in accordance with His promise." (144) The name Great (or Grand) Architect of the Universe, abbreviated G.A.O.T.U. or T.G.A.O.T.U., has been used by Masons from at least as early as 1730. (145) Masons, however, were not the first to speak of God as Architect. French reformer and theologian John Calvin (1509-1564) referred to God as Architect. In his Commentary upon The Book of Psalms, Calvin writes:
David shows how it is [in Psalm 19] that the heavens proclaim to us the glory of God, namely by openly bearing testimony that they have not been put together by chance, but were wonderfully created by the supreme Architect.... As soon as we acknowledge God to be the supreme Architect, who has erected the beauteous fabric of the universe, our minds must necessarily be ravished with wonder at his infinite goodness, wisdom, and power. (146)
In his Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin wrote, "Hence God was pleased that a history of the creation should exist -- a history on which the faith of the Church might lean without seeking another God than Him whom Moses set forth as the Creator and Architect of the world." (147) In the same book, Calvin wrote, "The former is exemplified when we consider how great the Architect must be who framed and ordered the multitude of the starry host so admirably." (148)
Masonic writer Wallace McLeod wrote:
Actually this phrase [the Great Architect of the Universe] entered Freemasonry by way of the first Book of Constitutions [sic], printed in 1723. The compiler was Rev. Dr. James Anderson, a graduate of Aberdeen University, and minister of the Scotch Presbyterian Church in Swallow Street, Piccadilly, London, from 1710 to 1734. He did not invent the phrase, but took it over from John Calvin, who uses it, for example, in his
(143) Ibid., p. 168. See page 163 for the third reference to Jehovah.
Commentary on Psalm 19; the heavens "were wonderfully founded by the Great Architect" (ab apifice praestantissimo); again, according to the same paragraph, "when once we recognize God as Architect of the Universe" (mundi opificem), we are bound to marvel at his Wisdom, Strength, and Goodness. In fact, Calvin repeatedly calls God "the Architect of the Universe," and refers to his works in nature as "Architecture of the Universe," ten times in the Institutes of the Christian Religion alone. (149)
Even Masons admit that the term Great Architect of the Universe expresses an incomplete idea of God. (150) The Masonic Great Architect of the Universe appears more like the Aristotelian "First Cause" than the personal God who has revealed Himself in the Bible. The Masonic Great Architect of the Universe must be interpreted in light of the biblical revelation of God in Jesus Christ. While Calvin emphasized the importance of recognizing God as Creator and Architect, he also reminded us, "It was necessary, in passing from death unto life, that they should know God, not only as a Creator, but as a Redeemer also; and both kinds of knowledge they certainly did obtain from the Word." (151)
It has been said that Masons have rejected God for "the lowest-common-denominator god." (152) It is true that God is not defined by Freemasonry; each Mason is given the freedom to define God for himself. Neither is God defined in the phrase "In God We Trust" on the backs of Federal Reserve Notes. As Christians, we interpret that phrase as referring to God, who was revealed in Jesus Christ. But if that were somehow made official by an act of Congress, Jews, Muslims, and other non-Christian American citizens would immediately challenge the act. The Christian church is free to define who God is. But we must allow non-Christians the freedom to also define who God is.
One critic discusses the all-seeing eye above the pyramid on the back of $1 Federal Reserve Notes. Referring to Masonic writers Carl Claudy, Albert Mackey, Manly P. Hall, Rex Hutchens, and Albert Pike, he concludes, without offering any specific documentation, that "some of these writers have reported that the sun-god was Lucifer. So, the all-seeing eye is a symbol of Lucifer, the all-seeing god of the universe. " (153)
In response to this charge, the reader is reminded that Lucifer is a created being and not equal to God. The Bible, which must be the only source for our understanding
(149) Wallace McLeod, The Grand Design (Des Moines: Iowa Research Lodge
No. 2, 1991), p. 108.
about Lucifer, does not speak of Lucifer as having an all-seeing eye. Only God is described as having this characteristic. God, not Lucifer, sees all things. Job 28:24 (NASB) states, "For He [God] looks to the ends of the earth, And sees everything under the heavens." Job 34:21 (NASB) says, "For His eyes are upon the ways of a man, And he sees all his steps."
Psalm 33:13 (NASB) says, "The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men." Lamentations 3:50 (NASB) says, "Until the Lord looks down And sees from heaven." Albert Mackey states that the All-Seeing Eye is "an important symbol of the Supreme Being, borrowed by Freemasons from the nations of antiquity." (154) Mackey cites Psalm 34:15 (NASB), "The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry"; Psalm 121:4 (NASB), "Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep"; and Proverbs 15:3 (NASB), "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Watching the evil and the good," in his discussion of the All-Seeing Eye. Epperson correctly cites Mackey as saying that "the Egyptians represent Osiris, their chief deity, by the symbol of an open eye." (155) However, Masons insist Mackey was simply reporting that Egyptians represented Osiris with the symbol of an open eye; Mackey nowhere said Masons must believe this.
Another critic cites W.L. Wilmshurst's allegorical interpretation of Matthew 2:15 (NASB), "'Out of Egypt did I call My Son"' in his effort to prove that the god of Masonry is Lucifer. (156) Christians will also recognize this as a quote of Hosea 11:1. Wilmshurst interprets the passage allegorically when he writes, "'Out of Egypt have I called My Son'" is, in one of its many senses, a biblical allusion to this passing on of the catholic Mysteries from Egypt to new and virgin regions, for their enlightenment." (157)
William E. Gordon concludes:
Wilmshurst's statement, while blasphemous, does not indicate that Lucifer is the god of the Lodge.... Nowhere does Wilmshurst state that Lucifer is the god of Freemasonry.... Wilmshurst teaches his pagan concept of religion under the guise of revealing the deeper symbolism of Masonry. (158)
Some critics quote Mackey in an effort to show an "intimate connection"
between the Kabbala and Freemasonry, "The EN SOPH, therefore was compelled
to create the
(154) Mackey, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, vol. 1, p. 47.
world in an indirect manner, by ten emanations from the infinite light which he was and in which he dwelt. These ten emanations are the ten Sephiroth." (159) Gordon points out that "Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry does not state that this is the Masonic understanding of God. Rather, he states that this was the understanding of God taught by the Kabbala." (160) The Kabbala is a school of Jewish mysticism. En Soph is the supreme being of the Kabbala school. Mackey does find the 10 emanations of the Kabbala reflected in "the Masonic mysteries the Ladder of Kadosh, and lastly, the Theological Ladder of the Symbolical degrees." (161) As Gordon concludes, there is no proof that the god of the Lodge is Lucifer, but he does show that many influential Masons have attempted "to teach their pagan religious beliefs under the pretense of explaining the inner meaning of Masonic symbols." (162)
Mackey repudiated the idea of Masonic descent from "the Ancient Mysteries":
It has been a favourite theory with several German, French, and British scholars to trace the origin of Freemasonry to the Mysteries of Pagans, while others, repudiating the idea that the modern association should have sprung from them, still find analogies so remarkable between the two systems as to lead them to suppose that the Mysteries were an offshoot from the pure Freemasonry of the Patriarchs.
In my opinion there is not the slightest foundation in historical evidence to support either theory, although I admit the existence of many analogies between the two systems, which can, however, be easily explained without admitting any connection in the way of origin and descent between them. (163)
1. Freemasonry requires no specific belief about God, so there is a diversity of opinion among Masons concerning God.
2. American Masons should follow the lead of their English brothers and discontinue the use of Jah-Bul-On as a name for God.
(159) Holly, The Southern Baptist Convention and Freemasonry, p. 23.
Holly cites Mackey, page 167. The three passages cited by Holly are found on
p. 376 in the HMB Interfaith Witness Department's copy of Mackey's
Encyclopedia of Freemasonry.
Masonry critics repeatedly say that "a Mason is not allowed to pray to or testify of Jesus in the Lodge. A Christian Mason cannot even share the joy of Jesus with a 'brother Mason' in the Lodge." (164) However, the Masonic Code of the Grand Lodge of Alabama gives instruction on the use of the name Jesus Christ in Lodge prayers. "A Mason offering prayer in the Lodge may pray to his God -- observing his own conception of Deity. It is therefore proper and in accordance with Masonic law and tenets for a Mason who believes in the Christ or Jesus to offer prayer in the Lodge in His Name." (165) However, a Mason must use the written prayers provided in the ritual in all ritualistic ceremonies. W.R. White, a past president of Baylor University and a Mason, wrote:
The Cross of Calvary is the symbol of our order [the Red Cross of Constantine]. One part of it is vertical; the other part is horizontal. It signifies our instrument of victory.
We look up to the God revealed in Christ. That is our vertical direction or look. Our solid ground of hope is in Him. Here is the source of our faith and power.
The other part of the Cross extends horizontally. This is the outward or manward look. We are to see man as Christ saw him from the Cross -- perverse and helpless without God. Yet, He saw man redeemable through sacrificial love. For the joy of that potential, He endured the Cross, despising the shame. (166)
Earl D. Harris, in his article on "Brotherly Love" in the Masonic Messenger, quotes Jesus by name, calls Him "The Great Teacher," and capitalizes personal pronouns referring to Him. (167) The Masonic Messenger is the official publication of the Grand Lodge of Georgia. It is not true that Masons may never talk or testify about Jesus to their fellow Masons. Masonic codes disallow this discussion or testimony only during the ritual, and the fellowship immediately afterward.
Masonry critics often claim the name of Jesus Christ is never spoken in official Masonic rituals and ceremonies. This is not completely true. Other critics state, "Masonry absolutely prohibits all attempts by Christians to share Jesus Christ with other
(164) Schnoebelen, Masonry Beyond the Light, p. 64; Ankerberg and Weldon,
The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge, p. 130.
Masons." (168) Masons insist this restriction exists only in official Lodge meetings and does not apply outside those meetings.
The ritual for the Fellow Craft degree in The Murrow Masonic Monitor used by Oklahoma Masons includes the "Doxology," with the phrase "Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." (169)
Also found in the Murrow Monitor, from the ceremony for laying a
cornerstone, is, "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a
wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth
thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other
foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (170)
My Brethren, this is the anniversary of that Last Supper of which Jesus of Nazareth partook with His humble disciples, after which He was betrayed and crucified.
Who, of any creed, can picture to himself, unmoved, that noble and sweet countenance, which never looked on any thing in anger, pale with agony, and streaming with tears? His back was torn by the lash, His brow pierced by the thorns. He suffered, willingly, until it seemed, even to Him, that His God and Father had forsaken Him.
And yet, even then, bruised, hanged upon a cross, betrayed by one He loved, suffering and, for a moment, questioning, He still calls down not curses but blessings and a prayer for forgiveness upon those who had so treated Him. When any man might be forgiven for cursing or, at the least, indulging in self-pity, He thinks not of His own pain, but of the pain and suffering of others. (171)
From the 18th degree of the Scottish Rite: "That wherein they [older
forms of religion] were deficient [Masonry] found in the New Law of Love,
preached by Jesus of Nazareth, and which He sealed with His blood.... We
regard Him as our Master, and
(168) Ankerberg and Weldon, The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge, p.
use such terms only as none can dissent from." (172) From the 26th degree of the Scottish Rite:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made through Him; in Him Life was, and the Life was the Light of mankind. The true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. And the Word became incarnate, and dwelt in man and they beheld His glory, a glory as of the Only-born of the Father." Thus said the Ancient Christian Masons; and they said also: "There are Three that bear record in Heaven; the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these Three are One....
When the morning was come, all the Chief Priests and Elders took council against Jesus, to put Him to death. And when Pilate would have appealed to the people to release Him, the priests incited the people, so that they shouted, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him." (173)
In the ritual of the Red Cross of Constantine, a system of degrees in the York Rite, we find Mark 16:1-6 quoted verbatim. (174)
While critics can find examples where Masons have deleted the name of Jesus in books, it is not true that Freemasonry ignores or denies Jesus Christ. That Freemasonry does not refer to Jesus Christ as much as some critics would like can, in part, be attributed to the fact that Freemasonry sees itself as symbolically building Solomon's Temple, constructed 10 centuries before Christ, within each member.
Ankerberg and Weldon state that "Pike asserted that Jesus was only 'a great teacher of morality' -- but no more." (175) They refer to page 525 of Pike's Morals and Dogma. The quote actually states:
It [Freemasonry] sees in Moses, the Lawgiver of the Jews, in Confucius and Zoroaster, in Jesus of Nazareth, and in the Arabian Iconoclast, Great Teachers of Morality, and Eminent Reformers, if no more: and allows every brother of the Order to assign to each such higher and even Divine Character as his Creed and Truth require. (176)
In this statement Pike did not, and Freemasonry today does not, see Jesus as the
(172) Ibid., p. 145.
unique Son of God and Saviour of the world. As Pike says on the same page, "It is beyond the domain of Masonry to decide." Why? Masons respond that it is because Freemasonry is not a religion. Each Mason, though, as Pike states, is free to decide who Jesus is.
1. Masons are not supposed to talk or testify about Jesus during the ritual, and the fellowship immediately afterward. This prohibition does not apply at other times.
2. One Mason wrote that "perhaps Masons should be reminded that as we seek 'Masonic Light,' we find that Jesus is indeed 'The Light of the World.'" (177) Christian Masons affirm that Jesus Christ is "the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me" (John 14:6, NASB).
(177) Letter on file.
"The greatest Masonic symbol of light, or truth, is the Holy Bible, the Great Light of Masonry" (178) is an often-stated Masonic teaching.
Critics charge that the Bible, for Freemasonry, is "only a symbol" and not the "rule and guide for faith and practice," just as a flag is "a piece of cloth symbolizing freedom." (179) The North Carolina Lodge Manual informs Masons that "the Holy Bible is given us as the rule and guide of faith." (180) The Mason is also told that "the Bible is the light which enlightens the path of our duty to God." (181)
"The Light is the open Holy Bible that is central on the altar of every lodge. The Holy Bible reveals God's will and God's grace." (182) "What does the first marker (Commandment) reveal to you about the mind of God? The answer is very important because the first marker is the one on which all the other nine markers depend. What does it reveal? "Worship no God. but Me." . . . Our Lord . . . said that the greatest Commandment is to put God above everything else in your life." (183)
In the lectures for the Entered Apprentice degree in Louisiana, the candidate is reminded:
This Book [the Bible] contains the Word of God -- the state of man, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are Holy, its teachings are binding, is hostory [sic] is true, and its decisions are indisputable.... Read it, my brother - study it! It is God's plan of life. Live according to the light you find therein and you will indeed become a true Mason and merit the rewards God has promised. It points out the only way to salvation. (184)
Each Grand Lodge has its own monitor; the text is not identical in all monitors. The Louisiana Masonic Monitor says about the Bible:
(178) Masonic Lectures, Complied by the Grand Lecturers of the Grand
Lodge of the State of Louisiana, March 1990, p. 18.
(181) Ibid., p. 58.
However they may differ in creed or theology, all good men are agreed that within the covers of the Holy Bible are found those principles of morality which lay the foundation upon which to build a righteous life.... [Freemasonry] points to the open Bible thereon [on the altar], and urges upon each that he faithfully direct his steps through life by the Light he there shall find, and as he there shall find it.... Live according to its divine teachings, with its everlasting assurances of a blessed immortality. (185).
Take, then, my brother, this sacred Volume, the symbol of our ancient Craft, and make it the rule and guide of your life and conduct. It is the one Volume which has lived in the hearts of the people, moulding and shaping their destinies; and it leads the way to Him who is the Light of the world. Take its divine light into your very soul and you will be thereby enabled to mount from the humble estate of your earthly nature to the glorious heights of God's eternal truth. (186)
It is well known that scriptures other than the Bible are used in some Masonic lodges. For example, the Quran may be used in lodges where Muslims are members or guests and the Vedas in lodges where Hindus are members or guests. However, Christians are never required to accept scriptures other than the Bible as authoritative; they accept a fellow Mason whose accepted scripture may be the Tanach (Hebrew Bible), Quran, or Vedas. The Grand Lodge of Israel places the Tanach, the New Testament, and the Quran on its altars. In some lodges in India and Singapore, several scriptures may be opened during the ceremony. While Christians may see this as an effort to make other scriptures equal with the Bible, Masons insist this is not true. Each Mason has the right to choose the scripture of his own faith and it is upon it that he makes his promises. To require a Mason to make a vow on a book in which he does not believe, Masons insist, would be hypocritical.
The Bible, along with the square and compass, are referred to as the Furniture of the Lodge. Every faith, whether Christianity or non-Christian, holds its scripture as sacred. To compare scripture to a square and compass, even symbolically, is an affront to the faith. Masons should give the Volume of Sacred Literature the supreme place in the Lodge, rather than on par with symbols such as the square and compass.
(185) Louisiana Masonic Monitor, pp. 24-25.
Many critics believe Freemasonry teaches a false path of salvation. For example, Ankerberg and Weldon cite the Tennessee Craftsman or Masonic Textbook concerning the lambskin apron worn by Masons to prove this charge:
In all ages the lamb has been deemed an emblem of innocence; he, therefore, who wears the Lambskin as a badge of Masonry is continually reminded of that purity of life and conduct which is necessary to obtain admittance into the Celestial Lodge above [heaven], where the Supreme Architect of the Universe [God] presides. (187)
Masons find puzzling the use of this quote to prove that Masons believe in a works salvation. They insist that neither this statement nor its context says anything about salvation; rather, it simply states that the lambskin should remind the Mason that "purity of life and conduct . . . is necessary to obtain admittance into the Celestial Lodge." This statement does not say that wearing the lambskin or doing good works brings salvation. "Purity of life and conduct" comes only from faith in and obedience to the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.
Ankerberg and Weldon state that "Freemasonry is a religion because it presents its own plan of salvation." (188) They ask, "At death, do all religious people believe as Masons do that they will reside in the 'Celestial Lodge in the Sky' for all eternity?" (189) This leading question is intended to draw a certain response from the reader. Do all Masons believe all Masons will reside in the Celestial Lodge in the Sky for all eternity? Masons emphatically answer no.
Masonic author Christopher Haffner, in his book Workman Unashamed, writes that a deep faith in Jesus Christ is essential for Masons since membership in the Lodge is inadequate for salvation. (190) The Monitor used by the Grand Lodge of Texas suggests the following presentation if a Bible is given to a Master Mason after receiving his degree:
Adopting no particular creed, forbidding all sectarian discussion within its Lodge rooms, but urging each to be steadfast in the faith of his profession, Masonry would take every good man by the hand, lead him to its altar, point to the open Bible thereon, and urge that he direct his way through
(187) Ibid., p. 79.
life by the light he there shall find. (191)
This Monitor includes a "mandatory" prayer to be offered by the Worshipful Master just before a candidate is "raised" to the Master Mason degree. The prayer concludes, "Yet, O Lord! have compassion on the children of Thy creation; administer them comfort in time of trouble, and save them with an everlasting salvation!
The Louisiana Masonic Monitor states that "the design of the Masonic Institution is to make its members wiser, better, and consequently happier." (193) Masons insist that neither this statement nor any other in the Louisiana Masonic Monitor refers to a man finding salvation through Freemasonry.
The Monitor of the Grand Lodge of Texas gives several burial and memorial services, which may be used. Statements from prayers in these services include:
O Almighty and Eternal God! There is no number of Thy days or of Thy mercies. Thou hast sent us into this world to serve Thee, but we wander far from Thee in the path of error. (194)
We place you [the deceased Mason] in the arms of our Heavenly Father who grants his love and protection to those who put their trust in him. (195)
Because of an unshaken faith in the merits of the Lion of the Tribe of
The chaplain in the funeral service in the Masonic Manual of the Grand Lodge of Georgia says, "I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." (197)
Masonic writer Henry W. Coil said:
Freemasonry has a religious service to commit the body of a deceased
(191) Monitor of the Lodge, p. 97.
brother to the dust whence it came and to speed the liberated spirit back to the Great Source of Light. Many Freemasons make this flight with no other guarantee of a safe landing than their belief in the religion of Freemasonry. (198)
Unfortunately, just as do many Masons, many church members make their flight with no other guarantee of a safe landing than their church membership. Former Mason Jack Harris wrote, "In all the rituals that I taught for eleven years, Masonry did teach how to get to heaven.... Never at any Masonic ritual did they point out that Jesus is the way of salvation." (199) Harris became a Mason in May 1961, became a Knight Templar, and later joined the Shrine. He held various offices, including being installed as a Worshipful Master of his lodge in January 1968. Harris became a Christian in October 1970 and resigned from Freemasonry in May 1972. (200) When he taught that Masonry would lead a man to heaven, Harris was wrong, for two reasons: It is not biblical and it is not Masonic. If any man is a Mason because he believes Masonry will take him to heaven, he is a Mason for the wrong reason. Harris was typical of other Masons who hope Freemasonry will take them to heaven. When they find salvation through Jesus Christ, they become disillusioned with Freemasonry because it failed to provide what they had hoped.
Harris quotes from the Entered Apprentice ritual, "A poor blind candidate, who desires to be brought from darkness to light and receive a part of the rights and benefits of this right worshipful lodge, erected to God and dedicated to the Holy Saints John." (201) Many critics interpret "from darkness to light" as "from lostness to salvation." Coil gives a Masonic definition for this phrase:
Light is everywhere the symbol of intelligence, information, knowledge, and truth and is opposed to darkness which symbolizes ignorance and evil. So, in the ceremonies, the candidate is said to be brought from darkness to
Nowhere is salvation or anything related to salvation mentioned in either the phrase quoted by Harris or in the definition given by Coil. Readers must be careful that they are not guilty of reading something into a sentence that is not there.
(198) Ankerberg and Weldon, The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge, p.
88, quoting Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, p. 512.
1. It is indeed tragic that any Mason would base his hope for eternal life on his Masonic membership, as any Christian Mason would attest. Freemasonry does not save anyone. Any Mason who believes Freemasonry will save him will be eternally damned when he stands before God in judgment.
2. Masons would do well to emphasize that "Masonic light" does not refer
to salvation, but to understanding, wisdom, and knowledge.
While the average Mason knows little or nothing about Albert Pike, his writings have been tremendously influential in Freemasonry during the past 120 years. His writings are generally the first target for Masonry critics.
Albert Pike, born December 29, 1809, was the oldest of six children born to Benjamin and Sarah Andrews Pike. Pike was raised in a Christian home and attended an Episcopal church. Pike passed the entrance examination at Harvard College when he was 15 years old, but could not attend because he had no funds. After traveling as far west as Santa Fe, Pike settled in Arkansas, where he worked as editor of a newspaper before being admitted to the bar. In Arkansas, he met Mary Ann Hamilton, and married her on November 28, 1834. To this union were born 11 children.
He was 41 years old when he applied for admission in the Western Star Lodge No. 2 in Little Rock, Ark., in 1850. (203) Active in the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, Pike took the 10 degrees of the York Rite from 1850 to 1853. He received the 29 degrees of the Scottish Rite in March 1853 from Albert Gallatin Mackey in Charleston, S.C. (204) The Scottish Rite had been introduced in the United States in 1783. (205) Charleston was the location of the first Supreme Council, which governed the Scottish Rite in the United States, until a Northern Supreme Council was established in New York City in 1813. The boundary between the Southern and Northern Jurisdictions, still recognized today, was firmly established in 1828. (206) Mackey invited Pike to join the Supreme Council for the Southern Jurisdiction in 1858 in Charleston, and he became the Grand Commander of the Supreme Council the following year. Pike held that office until his death, while supporting himself in various occupations such as editor of the Memphis Daily Appeal from February 1867 to September 1868, as well as his law practice. (207) Pike later opened a law office in Washington, D.C., and argued a number of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. However, Pike was impoverished by the Civil War and remained so much of his life, often borrowing money for basic living expenses from the Supreme Council before the council voted him an annuity in 1879 of $1,200 a year for the remainder of his life.208 He died on April 2, 1892, in Washington, D.C.
Realizing that a revision of the ritual was necessary if Scottish Rite Freemasonry
(203) Walter Lee Brown, "Albert Pike, 1809-1891." Unpublished
dissertation. (Austin: University of Texas, 1955), p. 716. Brown's 910-page
dissertation on Albert Pike gives considerable detail on Pike's life, but is
of limited help in understanding his contribution to Scottish Rite
were to survive, Mackey encouraged Pike to revise the ritual to produce a standard ritual for use in all states in the Southern Jurisdiction. Revision began in 1855, and after some changes, the Supreme Council endorsed Pike's revision in 1861. (209) Minor changes were made in two degrees in 1873 after the York Rite bodies in Missouri objected that the 29th and 30th degrees revealed secrets of the York Rite. (210)
Pike is best known for his major work, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, published in 1871. Morals and Dogma should not be confused with Pike's revision of the Scottish Rite ritual. They are separate works. Walter Lee Brown writes that Pike "intended it [Morals and Dogma] to be a supplement to that great 'connected system of moral, religious and philosophical instruction' that he had developed in his revision of the Scottish ritual." (211)
Morals and Dogma was traditionally given to the candidate upon his receipt of the 14th degree of the Scottish Rite. This practice was stopped in 1974. Morals and Dogma has not been given to candidates since 1974. (212) A Bridge to Light, by Rex R. Hutchens, is provided to candidates today. Hutchens laments that Morals and Dogma is read by so few Masons. A Bridge to Light was written to be "a bridge between the ceremonies of the degrees and their lectures in Morals and Dogma." (213) While recommended to Masons, we cannot conclude that Masons are expected to accept every thought in A Bridge to Light. Books by liberal theologians and writings by non-Christian philosophers are assigned by professors in Baptist colleges and seminaries. Students are not expected to accept the teachings found in these books and writings. Rather, they are assigned to help students understand the thoughts of men of the past and their struggle to understand themselves and their relationship to God. With exposure to these ideas, students can better form and defend their own understanding of these critical issues.
Texe Marrs' claim that "the Lodge encourages every Mason to consider [Morals and Dogma] as their basic guide for daily living" (214) is without foundation. Larry Kunk claims Morals and Dogma is "often called the 'Bible' of Freemasonry." (215) He does not cite any Masonic sources to support his conclusion.
Pike was deeply interested in mythology and comparative religions. He believed the history of man's thought was the only history worth studying. Morals and Dogma is a collection of his readings of mythology and comparative religions, which he believed
(209) Ibid., p. 737.
revealed mankind's struggle to understand God. Pike's style of writing easily leads to misunderstanding. Even the Preface to Morals and Dogma hints at this. "In preparing this work, the Grand Commander has been about equally Author and Compiler; since he has extracted quite half its contents from the works of the best writers and most philosophic or eloquent thinkers. Perhaps it would have been better and more acceptable if he had extracted more and written less." (216)
Morey says that "Morals and Dogma is nothing more than a presentation of the doctrines of classical Hinduism with a mixture of astrology, magic and reincarnation." (217) Morey finds Hindu-occult teachings in Pike's book as follows:
1. Man is divine and therefore a god.
Morey is correct; Hindu-occult philosophy is found in Morals and Dogma. That Pike revered the Aryans of early India is beyond doubt. However, it must be considered whether Pike was teaching those doctrines as ones he personally held or was stating them as those held by some philosophers and religious teachers. For example, it is said that Pike rejected the physical incarnation of Jesus because of the following statements: "Light appeared in the darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not; according to the words of St. John. The Light could not unite with the darkness. It but put on the appearance of a human body, and took the name of Christ in the Messiah, only to accommodate itself to the language of the Jews." (218)
Masons point out that this passage does not prove that Pike rejected the physical incarnation of Jesus Christ. Rather, this passage is part of Pike's discussion of the Manicheans, which began on page 565. The Manicheans were a third-century heretic Gnostic sect, which held that matter was evil; so, according to the Manicheans, it only appeared that Jesus had a physical body. (219)
C. Fred Kleinknecht, the Sovereign Grand Commander of the Southern
(216) Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. iii.
Freemasonry concerning Morals and Dogma: Morals and Dogma represents the
opinions of Albert Pike. It does not represent dogmatic teachings for
Freemasonry or for the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, USA, of
Freemasonry. Every interested person is encouraged to read, even study,
Pike's work, but should do so only after reading the book's preface which
was authorized by The Supreme Council, 33d, and printed in the very first,
1871, edition of the work. This preface has been reprinted in every edition
of Morals and Dogma and still applies today. (220)
The Preface states, "Every one is entirely free to reject and dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to him to be untrue or unsound." (221) Masons insist there is no requirement to read or accept any of the philosophical speculations contained in Morals and Dogma.
Pike affirmed this idea when he wrote, "What is truth to me is not truth to another.... No man is entitled positively to assert that he is right, where other men, equally intelligent and equally well-informed, hold directly the opposite opinion." (222)
Another Masonic philosopher often denounced by Masonry critics is Manley P. Hall. His 245-page book, An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolic Philosophy: The Secret Teachings of An Ages, has been reprinted several times since it was first published in 1928 by The Philosophical Research Society, Inc., Los Angeles, which was founded by Hall. Masonic reviewer Earl D. Harris notes that "some of it [The Secret Teachings of All Ages] can be considered as controversial, offensive and even repugnant to orthodox Christian and Jewish teachings." He cautions Masons to "be careful what, how and to whom you quote this book." (223)
No one will disagree with the right to read any book a Mason wishes, but for the Christian, Paul's recommendation may be in order: "All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify" (1 Cor. 10:23, NASB).
Even though very few Masons will read Hall's difficult book, its
recommendation is one of many reasons that non-Masons question the true
nature of Freemasonry. Masons will continue to find themselves hard-pressed
to defend their fraternity as long as books such as Hall's, Pike's, and
others are recommended.
(220) C. Fred Kleinknecht in Rex R. Hutchens and Donald W. Monson, The
Bible in Albert Pike's MORALS AND DOGMA (Washington, D.C.: The Supreme
Council, 33d, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern
Jurisdiction, United States of America, 1992), p. iv.
Freemasonry has had its opponents since the seventeenth century, earlier than the seventeenth century if Masonic tradition is considered. For example, Jacques de Molay was burned at the stake in 1314 because he was a Knight Templar, not because he was a Mason.
The earliest known printed attack on Freemasonry appeared in 1698 in London, England: "All Godly people in the Citie [sic] of London" were warned to "mingle not among this corrupt People lest you be found so at the World's Conflagration." (224)
John Robison, a professor at the University of Edinburgh, published a book in 1797 entitled Proof of a Conspiracy Against An the Religions and Governments of Europe Carried on in the Secret Meetings of Freemasons, Illuminati, and Reading Societies, Collected from Good Authorities. (225) Robison's attack was primarily on European Freemasonry, not English Freemasonry. The book appeared soon after the American colonies won their independence from England and the Church of England with the assistance of French Freemasons such as Marquis de Lafayette. As Robison's book suggests, opponents of Freemasonry fall into two general classifications: religious and political.
The following year, 1798, Jedidiah Morse, using ideas gleamed from Robison's book, preached a sermon in the United States. The sermon was later printed in pamphlet form and circulated widely in the northern states. Morse's sermon and pamphlet fueled an anti-Masonry movement, which has continued with rising and diminishing intensity until today.
In 1826, anti-Mason William Morgan mysteriously disappeared while in the process of publishing a book, which allegedly would have revealed Masonic secrets. Because some Masons in Canandaigua, N.Y., had made statements against Morgan, the public assumed they had something to do with Morgan's disappearance. William T. Still claims, "Morgan was killed by Masons shortly after obtaining a copyright for an expose on Masonry." (226) While this is intriguing speculation and may have been true, it has never been proved. The alleged chief conspirator in the disappearance, Elihu Mather, was twice tried and twice acquitted of conspiracy in the disappearance. A motion for a third trial was denied by the state Supreme Court.
Out of this disappearance, a widespread opposition arose to all secret
societies. Even college Greek fraternities, including Phi Beta Kappa, came
under suspicion. The anti-Masonic feeling led to the formation of a new
political party called the Anti-Masonic Party. The party held political
conventions in 1830 and 1831, when it nominated William Wirt of Virginia as
its presidential candidate. Wirt carried only Vermont with seven electoral
votes in the 1832 presidential election. With his defeat,
(224) Alphonse Cerza, Anti-Masonry: Light on the Past and Present
Opponents of Freemasonry (Columbia: Missouri Lodge of Research, 1962), p. 8.
the party joined with National Republican and anti-Andrew Jackson Democrats to form the Whig Party. (227) In his newsletter, Concerning the American Underground, as recently as 1992, Wayne Lela called for the re-creation of the Anti-Mason Political Party. (228)
At the end of World War I, a German general, Eric von Ludendorff, organized a movement against Freemasonry charging that Jews were planning to take over Germany by using Freemasonry as their vehicle. He accused the League of Nations, forerunner of the United Nations, of being a Masonic conspiracy.
Freemasonry was outlawed in Russia in 1922 after the Communist Revolution of 1917.
Benito Mussolini, the Fascist dictator of Italy for almost 21 years, ordered members of the National Fascist Party to choose between the party and Freemasonry because "there is only one allegiance, absolute, and humble allegiance to the Duce [Mussolini] and other leaders of Fascism at all times." (229) Later, a law was passed in Italy providing for the immediate dismissal of public employees who were Masons. Masonic property was confiscated. Freemasonry was effectively suppressed in Italy until after World War II.
The National Socialist (Nazi) Party, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, suppressed Masonic Lodges in Germany with a decree, "Jews, Freemasons and the ideological enemies of National Socialism." (230)
Freemasonry was suppressed in Portugal in 1931 and the Grand Master
imprisoned. Lodges in Austria were pillaged in 1938 and the Grand Master
imprisoned. Masons were imprisoned in Spain by pro-Fascist dictator
Francisco Franco in 1945 in an attempt to prevent his overthrow by secret
organizations. Freemasonry was declared illegal in Hungary in 1950. Fidel
Castro confiscated the Masonic Temple in Havana, arrested the Grand Lodge
officers, and declared Freemasonry illegal in Cuba in 1962 after he
overthrew the government of Fulgencio Batista. Even the Soviet dictator
Nikita Khrushchev is reported to have said, "Freemasonry is the greatest
threat to mankind today." (231)
(227) N. Lee Dunham, "Free Masons in Government in the United States,
1776-1840." (Waco: Baylor University, 1965), pp. 101-104, 110.
A number of Christian denominations have taken positions opposing Freemasonry. The Roman Catholic Church has been one of the most vigorous in its opposition. Pope Clement XII issued the first bull against Freemasonry on April 27, 1738. Different Popes issued six additional bulls before April 20, 1884, when Pope Leo XIII issued the encyclical Humanum Genus, the strongest and most comprehensive papal condemnation of Freemasonry. In it, the Pope attacked Freemasonry as a "wicked force" and a "contagious disease" because Freemasons (1) call for religious liberty, (2) call for separation of [the Roman Catholic] Church and state, (3) call for the education of children by laymen rather than the Church, and (4) believe people have the right to make their own laws and elect their own government.
Albert Pike, responding to the Humanum Genus in 1884, wrote, "This is clearly a manifesto against every other Church, calling itself 'Christian,' than the Roman Catholic Church, . . . The Pope has alone received 'the Kingdom of Jesus Christ' to protect. All so-called 'Christianity,' except the Roman Church, is 'the Kingdom of Satan.'" (232)
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has been opposed to Freemasonry since at least 1948. It "has declared itself to be firmly opposed to all societies, lodges, and associations of unchristian and antichristian character." (233) The Synod "requires that pastors of the Synod do not administer Holy Communion nor admit to communicant membership members of such organizations." (234)
The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), headquartered in Atlanta, asked
its Masonic members to "reconsider their relationship with Freemasonry." In
particular, the Ad-Interim Committee to Study Freemasonry expressed the
following serious concerns: "Joining Freemasonry requires actions and vows
out of accord with Scripture; participation in Masonry seriously compromises
the Christian faith and testimony and may lead to diluting of commitment to
Christ and His Kingdom." (235) The General Assembly rejected an "overture"
from the Missouri Presbytery that "no member of a Masonic organization be
received into membership of the PCA and that any present members of the
church be given one year to resign from the lodge or the church or
(232) Albert Pike, A Reply of Freemasonry in Behalf of Humanity to the
Encyclical Letter "Humanum Genus" of the Pope Leo XIII (Washington, D.C.:
The Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite of
Freemasonry, 1964), p. 42. Author's emphasis.
become subject to formal church discipline." (236)
The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland issued a ruling in 1927 that no member could be a Freemason. The Greek Orthodox Church condemned Freemasonry in 1933. The Church of the Nazarene condemned "oath-bound" societies in 1946. The Society of Friends, or Quakers, in Philadelphia declared itself against secret societies in 1952. The Church of the Brethren recommended in 1954 that its members not join Freemasonry.
The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod has taken a position against the following groups for various reasons, not all of which are doctrinal: Freemasonry, Boy Scouts of America, Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, and Lions Club. Members also have been cautioned about joining veterans organizations, labour unions, and fraternities and sororities. (237)
Other Lutheran denominations in the United States have provisions in their constitutions opposing "secret societies," but do not mention Freemasonry by name.
The British Methodist Conference issued a report advising English Methodists to examine their consciences about whether Freemasonry and the Christian faith are compatible. The action did not bar Methodists from belonging to the Lodge. (238)
The Committee on Secret Societies of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, in its report to the ninth General Assembly, June 2-5, 1942, concluded that "membership in the Masonic fraternity is inconsistent with Christianity." It also cited other popular orders, including the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Knights of Pythias, the Loyal Order of Moose, the Independent Order of Odd-Fellows, the Improved Order of the Red Men, the Woodmen of the World, and the Order of the Eastern Star. (239)
The Assemblies of God, the Reformed Presbyterian Church, and other Christian denominations have also taken positions against Freemasonry, or against secret societies without mentioning Freemasonry.
(236) The PCA Messenger, July-August 1988, included in material received
from the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in
America, September 6, 1991.
Numerous sources list prominent men in the history of our nation who were or are Masons, including as many as 14 U.S. Presidents. (240) They range from liberal Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Earl Warren to arch-conservative U.S. Senator Jesse Helms.
According to the Historical Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), Freemasonry did not appear as a subject of controversy at an annual meeting of the SBC until 1985 when a resolution by Charles Z. Burchett was introduced at the SBC meeting in Dallas. (241)
However, this issue has divided Baptists for two centuries. In 1798, Charleston Baptist Association, South Carolina, examined Freemasonry and "found only one fault with the Order which would militate against 'serious Christians' joining it, and that was the vow of secrecy; yet it advised that the matter be left with the judgment of the individual." (242) About the same time, Shaftsbury Baptist Association, Vermont, adopted a position similar to the position of Charleston Baptists.
Not all churches adopted such a tolerant view. Between 1822 and 1840, Freemasonry threatened the peace and harmony of many Baptist associations. Sandy Creek Baptist Association in North Carolina voted in 1827 to exclude Masons from church membership; this action was apparently ignored in later years. Many Baptist churches in Indiana adopted a similar policy. The controversy apparently died down after 1840 (243) and many well-known Southern Baptists have had Masonic membership since the formation of the SBC in 1845.
In 1991, the Home Mission Board submitted questions concerning
Freemasonry in the SBC to Baptist VIEWpoll. Baptist VIEWpoll is a survey by
the Corporate Market Research Department of the Sunday School Board, SBC, of
1,433 Southern Baptists (283 pastors, 430 ministers of education, 247
directors of missions, 202 deacon chairmen, and 271 church clerks). Of the
1,433 who received the questionnaire, 997 responded. One question was how
important it was for the SBC to have an official statement on Freemasonry. A
majority of pastors (60%), ministers of education (56%), directors of
missions (72%), deacon chairmen (63~o), and church clerks (74%) felt that
such a statement was either "not very important at all" or had no opinion
about whether a statement was needed. When asked if the issue of Freemasonry
ever caused a problem in their churches/associations, the vast majority of
each group responded that their churches/associations had never dealt with
Freemasonry. Of those responding, 14
(240) Ankerberg and Weldon, The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge,
percent of the pastors, 5 percent of the ministers of education, 13 percent of the directors of missions, 18 percent of the deacon chairmen, and 12 percent of the church clerks were or had been Masonic or Eastern Star members. (244)
An estimated 400,000 - 500,000 Southern Baptist men are Masons. Among this number are many well-known Southern Baptist leaders. No attempt will be given to naming living Southern Baptist Masons. However, following are some well-known Southern Baptist Masons from the past. Robert E. Baylor was one of eight Masons who petitioned for a charter for Baylor University in 1845. "Every president of Baylor University has been a Master Mason." (245) One president was William R. White, 33d, who served as president of Baylor University from 1948 to 1961. He served as pastor of First Baptist Church of Austin, First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City, First Baptist Church of Lubbock, and Broadway Baptist Church of Fort Worth. He also served as executive secretary, and later as president, of The Baptist General Convention of Texas.
The first two missionaries sent by the SBC to Texas, James Huckins and William Tryon, were Masons.
George W. Truett (1867-1944), pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas (1897-1944), president of the SBC (1927-1929), president of the Baptist World Alliance (1934-1939), and trustee of Baylor University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, was a Scottish Rite Mason. He was raised a Master Mason in 1920 in the Dallas Lodge No. 760; he received the 32nd degree in 1921. Of his Masonic membership, Truett said:
From my earliest recollection, sitting about my father's knees, who was a Mason, and hearing him and fellow Masons talk, I imbibed the impression in early childhood that the Masonic fraternity is one of the most helpful mediating and conserving organizations among men, and I have never wavered from that childhood impression, but it has stood steadfastly with me through the busy and vast hurrying years. (246)
Truett, in perhaps his most famous sermon, preaching on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on May 16, 1920, addressed the 15,000 people gathered:
The right to private judgment is the crown jewel of humanity, and for any
person or institution to dare to come between the soul and God is a
(244) Baptist VIEWpoll, November 1991, and memorandum from Steve Whitten
to the HMB Administrative Council, February 20, 1992.
impertinence and a defamation of the crown-rights of the Son of God.... Every one must give an account of himself to God. Each one must repent for himself, and believe for himself, and be baptized for himself, and answer to God for himself, both in time and in eternity. (247)
B.H. Carroll (1843-1914), first president of Southwestern seminary, was a member of Waco Lodge No. 92 and Herring Lodge No. 1224, both located in Waco, Texas. (248) Carroll was instrumental in the creation of the Department of Evangelism of the Home Mission Board in 1906. Carroll was the author of more than 20 books, including The Bible Doctrine of Repentance (1897), Baptists and Their Doctrines (1913), and Evangelistic Sermons (1913). It is said that his favourite causes were evangelism, prohibition, home missions, and Christian education. (249)
L.R. Scarborough (1870-1945) was a member of Gray Lodge No. 329 in Houston, Texas. (250) He served Southern Baptists as pastor of First Baptist Church in Abilene, Texas, from 1901 to 1908; professor of evangelism at Southwestern seminary from 1908 to 1914, when he became president of the seminary. He authored a number of books, most of which focused on evangelism, including How Jesus Won Men (1926), or were collections of his sermons. (251)
W.W. Barnes (1883-1960), professor of church history at Southwestern seminary (1913-1953), was an active 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason.
W.T. Conner (1877-1952), who taught theology at Southwestern seminary from 1910 until his retirement in 1949, was a member of Southside Lodge No. 1114 in Fort Worth until his death. James T. Draper Jr. referred to Conner as "perhaps the most famous theologian to be associated with Southwestern Seminary." (252)
William W. Hamilton, a Mason, was named the Home Mission Board's first head of the Department of Evangelism in 1906. He served as president of Baptist Bible Institute (BBI), now the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, from 1927 to 1943. While president, he saved BBI from bankruptcy in 1932, when the school defaulted on $353,000 in bonds. He was president of the SBC from 1940 to 1942.
Louie D. Newton (1892-1986), was president of the SBC (1947-1948) and vice president of the Baptist World Alliance (1939-1959), served 27 years on the SBC
(247) Powhatan W. James, George W. Truett: A Biography (New York: The
Macmillan Company, 1945), p. 3.
(250) Letter from James D. Ward of Waco, December 9, 1992.
Executive Committee, and was a member of Joseph C. Greenfield Lodge No.400 in Atlanta. He received his 50-year Masonic pin in 1980. He was also a York Rite Mason and a Shriner. He was the chaplain of the Yaarab Shrine Temple in Atlanta from 1939 to 1953, when he was succeeded by fellow Southern Baptist James P. Wesberry.
James P. Wesberry, who died in December 1992, was pastor of Morningside Baptist Church in Atlanta for 31 years, president of the Georgia Baptist Convention for 3 years, recording secretary for the Georgia Baptist Convention for 20 years, moderator of the Southern Baptist Pastors Conference, and executive-director of the Lord's Day Alliance. (253) He became a Mason in 1927. He was a York Rite Mason, 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason, and a Shriner. He succeeded Louie D. Newton as chaplain of the Yaarab Shrine Temple in Atlanta in 1953. Wesberry was succeeded as chaplain by another Southern Baptist minister, James C. Bryant, in 1981.
Joseph Samuel Murrow (1835-1929) was an appointed Southern Baptist home missionary to the Oklahoma Indian Territory, where he established more than 100 churches, according to one report. Called "the founder of Freemasonry in Oklahoma," he established the first Masonic Lodge in the Indian Territory, served as the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge in the Indian Territory, and wrote the Murrow Masonic Monitor. (254) He was raised a Master Mason in 1867. He served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the Indian Territory from 1877 to 1878 and Grand Secretary from 1880 to 1909. (255)
John T. Christian (1854-1925), a Knight Templar, was chairman of the
informal committee of friends who met in 1915 to consider formation of BBI.
He was professor of Christian history and librarian at BBI from 1919 until
his death in 1925. He donated his personal library of 15,000 volumes to BBI.
The library on the New Orleans seminary campus bears his name. Christian
also pastored First Baptist Church, Chattanooga; First Baptist Church,
Hattiesburg; Second Baptist Church, Little Rock; and other churches.
J.B. Lawrence, a Mason, was vice president of the SBC (1916-1917) and executive secretary-treasurer of the Home Mission Board (1929-1954). In 1943, Lawrence freed the Home Mission Board from debt for the first time.
Richard A. McLemore, president of Mississippi College in Clinton (1957-1968), was a member of Hattiesburg Lodge No. 397 and a 33rd degree Scottish Rite Mason. (256)
David E. Moore was a well-known pastor in southeastern New Mexico until his death in 1992 at the age of 103. He was pastor of Caprock Baptist Church in Caprock, N.M., for many years and was assistant pastor of First Baptist Church, Roswell, N.M., at the time of his death. On his hundredth birthday, he was honoured with the title of
(253) Sunday, September-December 1991, pp. 8-12.
Some insist that "Christian Masons must decide today whether they will remain Masons and deny their Lord, Jesus Christ, or whether they will do the will of their Father in heaven and leave Masonry." (258) They call for Christian Masons to reject the "hypocrisy" of being a Mason and a Christian. "Either follow God or follow Masonry. Either live as a Christian or live as a Mason." (259)
Taking an opposite position, a non-Mason Southern Baptist pastor writes, "The Masons I know are good Christians that are as active and perhaps more active than most church members and are instrumental in the spiritual growth of their peers in their respective churches." He continues, "It is time for us to lay aside our prejudices against other organizations and denominations that differ from us, and focus on the mission of the church. That is to make disciples, to baptize them, and to teach them to reach others." (260)
Obviously, there is no agreement among Southern Baptists whether Christians can, or should, be Masons. Many fine conservative, Bible-believing, soul-winning men can be found on both sides of this issue. (261)
(257) Letter from Ray D. Carpenter, Albuquerque, N.M., November 6, 1992.
Masonry critic Robert Morey says, "Unless something radically happens to alter the present trends, Freemasonry will not enter the new century in a healthy state. To put it bluntly, Freemasonry is dying." (262) It appears that statistics support Morey's conclusion.
The Grand Lodge of Georgia reported a net loss of 16,157 members during the 10-year period from 1982 through 1991, or an average net loss of 1,615 each year. During the 12-month period from July 1990 through June 1991, 112 lodges reported a net gain in Georgia, 292 lodges reported a net loss, and 44 lodges reported no change in membership. (263)
Masons in Indiana enjoyed their peak membership of 185,211 in 1957. They have lost members every year since 1957. In 1991, their membership stood at 133,026, a loss of 28 percent in 34 years. (264)
Masons in Arkansas reported a net loss of 1,197 in 1987; 1,354 in 1988; 1,081 in 1989; 1,103 in 1990; and 989 in 1991 -- or 11.6 percent of their membership during those five years. Masonic membership in Arkansas stood at 35,598 at the end of 1991. (265)
Masons in Oklahoma enjoyed their peak membership of 86,883 in 1959. At
the end of 1990, their number had dropped to 46,343, a decline of almost 47
percent in 31 years. Today, the average age of Masons in Oklahoma is 64
If Freemasonry seriously considered the concerns raised by many
Christians, perhaps fewer men would resign and more would join, reversing
the decline in membership.
(262) Morey, The Origins and Teachings of Freemasonry, p. 121.
Strong feelings have been expressed on both sides of this difficult issue. While some Masonic writers and some Masons consider Freemasonry a religion, even their religion, the overwhelming majority of Masons reject the idea that Freemasonry is a religion. The various monitors of the Grand Lodges and statements from the overwhelming majority of Masonic leaders in the past and today deny that Freemasonry is a religion.
Since Freemasonry requires no doctrinal statement from members, other than the general affirmation concerning the existence of God, it is reasonable to expect that Masons profess a broad range of beliefs about religious matters. Pagan teachings are found in the writings of some well-known Masons, but there is no suggestion that Masons must accept those teachings. In fact, it would be impossible to accept all ideas proposed by Masonic writers; those ideas are too diverse and contradictory. Each Mason is encouraged to decide for himself his personal beliefs. While the vast majority of Masons are professing Christians, some Masons are non-Christians, a few are probably or have been anti-Christian. It is illogical to insist that the beliefs of one or more Masons constitute the beliefs of all Masons.
It was not found that Freemasonry is anti-Christian or Satanic, nor does it oppose the Christian church. While a few Masonic writers glorify non-Christian philosophy and religions, they are clearly a minor voice. Every organization, including the Christian church, has some individuals who espouse positions not held by the vast majority of members. Organizations must be judged by the positions of the majority, not those of a small minority.
The "secrets" of Freemasonry have long been known to anyone taking time to read any number of books presenting them verbatim. These secrets, centering primarily around methods of recognizing one another, are known by thousands of non-Masons. The penalties associated with the obligations are not taken literally by Masons. They are symbolic.
While a few Masons may believe that Freemasonry will save them, the overwhelming majority insist this is not Masonic teaching.
Each person must decide for himself or herself whether critics define Freemasonry as a religion and then condemn it because it does not accept and teach Christian theology, or whether Freemasonry is not a religion. Masons and their critics are both adamant about this issue. The answer to this question is not as black and white as critics would lead us to believe. Certainly, some Masons have made Freemasonry their religion. Other Masons are emphatic that Jesus Christ is their only hope for eternal life, that they have trusted Him alone for their salvation, and that Freemasonry is not their religion.
There are some who have found that membership in the Lodge provides Christian Masons opportunities to witness to people of other faiths that other opportunities fail to provide.
From pulpits and through every avenue from witness training conferences to Sunday School literature, Christians are encouraged to be witnesses in the marketplace and in places of leisure. Certainly, their hearts' desire is that every Mason become a Christian. What better opportunities present themselves than those where they have become friends in Freemasonry. Witnessing relationships can be built by both word and deed (Matt. 5:16) as Christian Masons discover ways to proclaim the hope they have in Jesus Christ, "yet with gentleness and reverence" (1 Pet. 3:15, NASB).
Darrell Robinson suggests that "the masses of lost people will never attend the church's meetings until someone has bridged the gap by going where the people are with the gospel of Christ." (267) Let us all recommit ourselves to the task of taking the gospel to all the people.
The Home Mission Board Interfaith Witness Department staff agree with Charleston Southern Baptists, who, in 1798, advised that the matter of Southern Baptist membership in Freemasonry "be left with the judgment of the individual." (268) They agree with George W. Truett who said, "The right to private judgement is the crown jewel of humanity, and for any person or institution to dare to come between the soul and God is a blasphemous impertinence and a defamation of the crown-rights of the Son of God." (269)
(267) Robinson, The Doctrine of Salvation, p. 133.
MAJOR BOOKS CONSULTED
Authors and Books Critical of Freemasonry:
Amini, Md. Safwat al-Saqqa and Habib, Sa'di Abu. Freemasonry. New York: Muslim World League Pub., 1982.
Ankerberg, John and Weldon, John. Christianity and the Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge. What Goes on Behind Closed Doors. Chattanooga: The John Ankerberg Evangelistic Assoc., 1989.
----. The Facts on the Masonic Lodge: Does Masonry Conflict with the Christian Faith Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House Publishers, Inc., 1989.
----. The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge: A Christian Perspective. Chicago: Moody Press, 1990.
Berry, Harold J. What They Believe. Masons. Lincoln: Back to the Bible, 1990.
Byers, Dale A. I Left the Lodge. A Former Mason Tells Why. Schaumburg, Ill.: Regular Baptist Press, 1988.
Caro y Rodriguez, His Eminence, the Most Reverend Cardinal, Archbishop of Santiago, Chile. The Mystery of Freemasonry Unveiled. Palmdale, Calif.: Christian Book Club of America, 1928 (fifth printing, 1992).
Fisher, Paul A. Behind the Lodge Door. Bowie, Md.: Shield Publishing, Inc., 1989.
Hannah, Walton. Darkness Visible. A Revelation & Interpretation of Freemasonry. London: Augustine Press, 1952.
Harris, Jack. Freemasonry. The Invisible Cult in Our Midst. Towson, Md.: Jack Harris, 1983.
Holly, James L. The Southern Baptist Convention and Freemasonry. Beaumont, Texas: Mission and Ministry to Men, Inc., 1992.
Kah, Gary H. En Route to Global Occupation. Lafayette, La.: Huntington House Pub., 1992.
Knight, Stephen. The Brotherhood. The Secret World of the Freemasons. New York: Dorset Press (division of Marboro Books), 1984.
Kunk, Larry. "What Is the Secret Doctrine of the Masonic Lodge and How Does It Relate to Their Plan of Salvation?" Fishers, Ind. (P.O. Box 291, 46038): unpublished manuscript provided by author, 1992.
Lester, Ralph P., ed. Look to the East. A Ritual of the First Three Degrees of Masonry. Chicago: Ezra A. Cook Publications, Inc., 1975.
McClain, Alva J. Freemasonry and Christianity. Winona Lake, Ind.: BMH Books, 1969.
Morey, Robert A. The Origins and Teachings of Freemasonry. Southbridge, Mass.: Crown Publications, Inc., 1990.
Morgan, William. Freemasonry Exposed. Chicago: Charles T. Powner Company, Inc., 1986 (first published, 1827).
Rice, John R. Lodges Examined by the Bible. Murfreesboro, Tenn.: Sword of the Lord Pub., 1943.
Richardson, Jabez. Richardson's Monitor of Free-Masonry. New York: Dick & Firzgerald, Pub., 1888.
Rongstad, L. James. How to Respond to the Lodge. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1977.
Schnoebelen, William J. and Spencer, James R. Mormonism's Temple of Doom. Idaho Falls: Triple J. Pub., 1987.
Schnoebelen, William. Masonry: Beyond the Light. Chino, Calif.: Chick Pub., 1991.
Shaw, Jim and McKenney, Tom. The Deadly Deception.- Freemasonry Exposed ... By One of Its Top Leaders. Lafayette, La.: Huntington House Publisher, Inc., 1988.
Short, Martin. Inside the Brotherhood: Further Secrets of the Freemasons. New York: Dorset Press, 1989.
Storms, E.M. Should a Christian Be a Mason? Fletcher, N.C.: New Puritan Library, Inc., 1980.
Authors and Books Sympathetic to Freemasonry:
Bahnson, Charles F. North Carolina Lodge Manual. Raleigh: Edwards & Broughton Co., 1929.
Carter, James D. Masonry in Texas: Background, History, and Influence to 1846. Waco: Committee on Masonic Education and Service for the Grand Lodge of Texas, 1955.
Cerza, Alphonse. Anti-Masonry: Light on the Past and Present Opponents of Freemasonry. Columbia: Missouri Lodge of Research, 1962.
---. "Let There Be Light". A Study in Anti-Masonry. Silver Spring, Md.: The Masonic Service Assoc., 1983.
---. Masonic Questions Answered by the Courts. Silver Spring, Md.: The Masonic Service Assoc., 1983.
Claudy, Carl H. The Master's Book. Washington, D.C.: The Temple Pub., 1974 (first printing, 1935).
Clausen, Henry C. Clausen's Commentaries on Morals and Dogma. Washington, D.C.: The Supreme Council, 33d, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A., 1974.
Coil, Henry W. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia. New York: Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Company, Inc., 1961.
DeHoyos, Art. The Cloud of Prejudice: A Study in Anti-Masonry. Kila, Mont.: Kessinger Publishing Co., 1992.
Firestone, Roger M. "Masonic Penalties," The Scottish Rite Journal, March 1990.
Freemasonry and Religion. Washington, D.C.: The Supreme Council, 33d, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction of the World, 1990.
Haffner, Christopher. Workman Unashamed: The Testimony of a Christian Mason. Shepperton, England: Lewis Masonic, 1989.
Holy Bible [Masonic Edition]. Chicago: The John A. Hertel Co., 1942.
Hutchens, Rex R. A Bridge to Light. Washington, D.C.: The Supreme Council, 33d, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A, 1988.
Hutchens, Rex R. and Monson, Donald W. The Bible in Albert Pike's MORALS AND DOGMA. Washington, D.C.: The Supreme Council, 33ø, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Southern Jurisdiction, United States of America, 1992.
Indiana Monitor and Freemason's Guide. Indianapolis: Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Indiana, 1975.
Louisiana Masonic Monitor. Walker, La.: Lavergne's River Parish Press, 1988.
Mackey, Albert. An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and Its Kindred Sciences, 2 volumes. Chicago: The Masonic History Co., 1921.
Masonic Code. Montgomery: Grand Lodge of Alabama, 1963.
Masonic Manual of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free and Accepted Masons. Macon: Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Georgia, 1973.
Mentor's Manual. Franklin, Ind.: Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons State of Indiana, 1953.
Monitor of the Lodge. Waco: Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F. &. A.M., 1982.
Morris, S. Brent. Masonic Philanthropies: A Tradition of Caring. Lexington, Mass., and Washington, D.C.: The Supreme Councils, 33rd Degree, N.M.J. and S.J., 1991.
Murrow Masonic Monitor, Tenth Edition. Guthrie: Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Oklahoma, 1988.
Pike, Albert. Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Rite of Freemasonry. Washington, D.C.: Prepared for the Supreme Council of the Thirty-third Degree for the Southern Jurisdiction, A.A.S.R., U.S.A., 1964.
Roy, Thomas S. "An Answer to Anti-Masonic Religious Propaganda." Boston: Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, 1952.
Truett, George W. "Address to the Grand Lodge of Texas." Waco: Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Texas, 1940.
Scholarly Books on Freemasonry:
Baigent, Michael and Leigh, Richard. The Temple and the Lodge. London: Jonathan Cape Ltd., 1989.
Brown, Walter Lee. "Albert Pike, 1809-1891." Austin: University of Texas
(unpublished dissertation), 1955.
Dunham, N. Lee. "Free Masons in Government in the United States, 1776-1840." Waco: Baylor University (unpublished thesis), 1965.
Robinson, John J. Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry. New York: M. Evans & Co., 1989.
Books on Christian Doctrine and History
Baker, Robert A. The Southern Baptist Convention and Its People. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1974.
Calvin, John. Commentary upon the Book of Psalms. Translated by James Anderson. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1949.
---. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Translated by Henry Beveridge. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1953.
Gonzalez, Justo L. A History of Christian Thought. 3 volumes. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1971.
Harris, R. Laird; Archer, Gleason L., Jr.; and Waltke, Bruce K., eds. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. 2 volumes. Chicago: Moody Press, 1980.
Holman Bible Dictionary. Nashville: Holman Bible Pub., 1991.
Robinson, Darrell W. The Doctrine of Salvation. Nashville: Convention Press, 1992.
Torbet, Robert G. A History of the Baptists. Valley Forge: Judson Press,