The Masonic Lodge and the Christian Conscience


THE MASONIC LODGE AND THE CHRISTIAN CONSCIENCE

BY JOHN WELDON
CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL 1994

"Because of your support, the vote of the Southern Baptist Convention is
a historic and positive turning point for Freemasonry. Basically, it is
a vitalization of our Fraternity by America's largest Protestant
denomination after nearly a year of thorough, scholarly study. At the
same time, it is a call to renewed effort on the part of all Freemasons
today to re-energize our Fraternity and move forward to fulfilling its
mission as the world's foremost proponent of Brotherhood of Man under
the Fatherhood of God." The Scottish Rite Journal, Aug. 1993

Millions of men throughout the world, including four million Americans,
look to the Masonic Lodge for brotherhood and fellowship. They are proud
to be part of an organization that engages itself in worthwhile causes,
such as children's hospitals. Many of them feel strongly about the
Masonic tenets of the Fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, and the
immortality of the soul.

Masonry (or Freemasonry) claims to be the friend of Christianity, and
yet it contains doctrines that are contrary to biblical teaching. As
unpleasant as it may be, it is the obligation of the discerning
Christian to point this out, both for the sake of the hundreds of
thousands of Christian Masons and for those who might yet become Masons.

The relationship of Masonry to Christian faith has been controversial
for at least 200 years, and over that period the different sides have
attempted to defend their positions to the best of their abilities.
Therefore, confusion often befalls the layperson who must carefully wade
through the arguments on both sides before he or she can hope to resolve
the issue responsibly. While this article cannot relieve such laypeople
of the task of discerning the matter, its purpose is to provide them
with a strong yet concise presentation of the case against Christian
involvement with Masonry.*

This article was planned for the JOURNAL long before controversial
publications on Masonry were released by the Southern Baptists. However,
because the Southern Baptist publications bring all of the concerns I
intended to address into sharp

* Further documentation and analysis of the claims and arguments of
Masonry can be found in Bowing at Strange Altars (an evaluation of the
Southern Baptist Study on Masonry) and The Secret Teachings of the
Masonic Lodge: A Christian Appraisal, both of which I coauthored with
Dr. John Ankerberg. I urge interested readers to secure these volumes
for further study in dealing with this issue. This article is primarily
excerpted, with some changes, from Bowing at Strange Altars.

focus, and because they are of significant contemporary concern, they
will play an important role in my evaluation of Masonry.

MASONRY AND THE SOUTHERN BAPTISTS

A committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant
denomination in America, concluded in its two 1993 publications, A Study
of Freemasonry (hereafter Study) and A Report on Freemasonry (hereafter
Report) - and at its annual convention the same year - that it cannot
frankly state it is wrong for a Christian to join the Masonic Lodge. (1)
In so doing the Southern Baptists are perhaps the only conservative
Christian denomination in America not to warn their constituents that
membership in the Masonic Lodge is not compatible with biblical
teaching.

In the coming years many other churches and denominations will face the
question of whether their members should participate in the Masonic
Lodge. What happened in the Southern Baptist Convention's examination of
Masonry points to the necessity for churches and denominations examining
this subject to carefully select their investigative committees. Such
committees should be composed of individuals who not only accept the
authority and inerrancy of Scripture, but who will also not uncritically
accept Masonic claims of compatibility with Christianity or be
influenced by political pressures - as was true for the Southern
Baptists. (2)

In its six-page Report, the Baptist Home Mission Board listed numerous
reasons why it is wrong for a Christian to be a member of the Masonic
Lodge. For example, it cited several illustrations from the first three
degrees of Masonry (the Blue Lodge degrees) concerning the taking of
bloody oaths by the Masonic initiate. It warned, "Even though these
oaths, obligations and rituals may or may not be taken seriously by the
initiate, it is inappropriate for a Christian to 'sincerely promise and
swear,' with the hand on the Holy Bible, any such promises or oaths, or
to participate in any such pagan rituals" (emphases added).(3) The
Report also stated. "Many tenets and teachings of Freemasonry are not
compatible with Christianity and Southern Baptist doctrine...," and
again cited examples such as the teachings of salvation by personal
character/good works and the doctrine of universalism. (4)

In fact, both the Study and the Report offered solid reasons why Masonry
and Christianity are incompatible and why Christians shouldn't
participate in the Lodge. But then, illogically, they gave the
contradictory advice that membership in a Masonic Order should be a
matter of personal conscience. In what follows I demonstrate the
problems with this conclusion.

MASONRY AND SALVATION

It is my contention that the Masonic ritual (i.e., Masonry's ceremonial
rites of initiation that all Masons must pass through) of the First,
Second, and Third Degrees teach all Masons exactly what God condemns as
a false gospel, namely that a person is saved and goes to heaven as a
result of his or her personal character and good works. As all
Christians know, the Bible places such a teaching under God's curse.
Paul said in Galatians 1: 8-9: "But even though we, or an angel from
heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have
preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say
again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that we
have preached to you, let him be accursed." The Bible clearly teaches
how a man is saved: "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and
that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; not as a result of works,
that no one should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9. Cf. John 3:16; 5:24; 6:47; Rom.
3:28-4:6; 11:6).

Proof of Masonry's false gospel can be found in standard "Monitors" -
the official textbooks containing authoritative Masonic ritual which are
more or less uniform for each state. In the ritual, the Masonic symbol
of the lambskin or white leather apron is explained, in part, to each
candidate as follows: "The lamb has in all ages been deemed an emblem of
innocence; he, therefore, who wears the lambskin as a badge of Masonry,
is thereby continually reminded of that purity of life and conduct,
which is essentially necessary to his gaining admission into the
Celestial Lodge Above, where the Supreme Architect of the Universe [God]
presides (emphasis added)." (5)

Please keep in mind that the instruction concerning the lambskin can be
found in the Ritual book of all the Lodges in all 50 states. None
exclude it, although it may be placed in different rituals in the
manuals of different states.

When a Mason is told that his purity of life and conduct is necessary to
his gaining admission into the Celestial Lodge Above (i.e., heaven), how
can anyone deny that Masonry is teaching another way of salvation than
what the Bible teaches? How can anyone deny that this is a works gospel?

In the Second Degree (the Fellow Craft Degree) and elsewhere the
candidate is instructed further in the importance of the lambskin as
follows: "You are to wear it as an emblem of that purity of heart and
conscience that is necessary to obtain for you the approval of the Grand
Architect of the Universe" (emphasis added). (6) Moreover, as even some
Masonic authorities have admitted, Masonry has, in all, some 40 degrees
implying or teaching its candidates salvation by personal merit. (7)

What did the Southern Baptist Report conclude on this issue? The
Committee that engaged in the study agreed that such teachings were "not
compatible with Christianity or Southern Baptist doctrine." (8) The
Report likewise concluded that Masonic writings and rituals imply that
"salvation may be attained by one's good works," and therefore that some
"Masons...may be led to believe they can earn salvation by living a pure
life with good conduct." (9) In addition, the Study confessed that
Masons "insist the lambskin [i.e., lambskin apron, used in Masonic
ritual] does not bring salvation, but rather, 'the purity of life' it
symbolizes brings salvation" (emphasis added). (10)

The Committee stated that there was "the prevalent use of the term
[Masonic] 'light,' which some may understand as a reference to salvation
rather than knowledge or truth."  (11) The Report further conceded that
"the heresy of universalism (the belief that all people will eventually
be saved), which permeates the writings of many Masonic authors ..... is
a doctrine inconsistent with New Testament teaching." (12)

In its mention of former Mason Jack Harris, the Study noted that "Harris
was typical of other Masons who hope Freemasonry will take them to
heaven" (emphasis added). (13) Here it is acknowledged that Masons can
indeed believe that Masonry alone is sufficient for salvation.

But Masonry also teaches that individuals may be saved by being good
members of their respective religions - whether Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim,
Jewish, or other. For example, Dr. Jim Tresner, director of the Masonic
Leadership Institute, affirmed that Masonry "leaves the member to devote
himself to his own religious faith to receive...salvation." (14)

In light of the above confessions I am perplexed. In 1992 the Southern
Baptist Convention passed a resolution entitled, "On Christian Witness
and Voluntary Associations," encouraging Christians everywhere to (1)
"maintain Christian witness openly before the world"; (2) avoid "any
association which conflicts with clear biblical teaching"; and (3)
"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..." (emphases added). (15)

By stating such confessions and conclusions in its resolution in 1992,
the SBC had effectively prohibited Christians from joining the Masonic
Lodge. In light of these admonitions to Christians everywhere, how can
the Home Mission Board and the Southern Baptist Convention a year later
conclude that Freemasonry does not ultimately oppose Christian doctrine
and that individual Christians are free to join the Masonic Lodge? (16)

THE MASONIC GOD

During the ritual, Masonry has its candidates swear that they believe in
God, typically called the "Great Architect of the Universe." It also
informs them that all Masons are to bow before the sacred name of Deity,
and explains that all Masons of every country, religion, and opinion are
united in the belief that they have been created by one Almighty Parent.
The question is, Is this Almighty Parent or Great Architect - the God of
the Masonic Lodge - also the God of the Bible? The answer is clearly no.

In the "Masonic Bible," published by the A. J. Holman Press, we are told
this "Almighty Parent" is the one true God that all men worship. This is
so regardless of the name by which He is identified: Jehovah, Krishna,
Buddha, Allah, or some other.

The Masonic Bible is actually the King James Version bound with a
special cover stamped with the Masonic insignia. In the front of this
Bible there is a lengthy preface made up of articles concerning Masonry
and the Bible. One of these articles is entitled, "The Great Light in
Masonry," written by Masonic authority Joseph Fort Newton, who states:
"For Masonry knows, what so many forget, that religions are many, but
religion is one...therefore, it [Masonry] invites to its altar men of
all faiths, knowing that, if they use different names for 'the nameless
one of a hundred names, ' they are yet praying to the one God and Father
of all" (emphasis added). (17)

But when a Hindu prays to Vishnu or Shiva, is he really praying to
Jesus? When a Muslim prays to Allah, is she really praying to Jehovah?
When Buddhists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Mormons pray, are they really
praying to the same God the Christian prays to? The answer is no,
because all these concepts of God are opposed to the concept of God as
revealed in the Bible. (18)

Another Masonic authority, Carl H. Claudy, writes:

[The Mason] must declare his faith in a Supreme Being before he may be
initiated. But note that he is not required to say, then or ever, what
God. He may name him as he will, think of him as he pleases; make him
impersonal law or personal and anthropomorphic; Freemasonry cares
not...God, Great Architect of the Universe, Grand Artificer, Grand
Master of the Grand Lodge Above, Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, Vishnu, Shiva,
or Great Geometer (emphases added). (19)

And,

Masonry does not specify any God of any creed; she requires merely that
you believe in some Deity, give him what name you will ...A belief in
God is essential to a mason, but...any God will do, so long as] he is
your God (emphasis added). (20)

Masonry thus argues that all people of varying faiths are really praying
to the one true God, the universal Father of humankind, regardless of
the name they give him. Nevertheless, this "Almighty Parent" of Masonry
is a different God than Christianity teaches - a fact conceded by both
Masonic sympathizers as well as Masons themselves. The Baptist Study
agreed that the Great Architect of Masonry is not the Jehovah of the
Bible: "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." (21)

In his encyclopedia on Masonry, Masonic authority Henry Wilson Coil
refers to the biblical God as "a partisan, tribal God" and implies that
such a God concept is far inferior to the God of Masonry, which is a
boundless, eternal, universal, undenominational, and international,
Divine Spirit, so vastly removed from the speck called man, that He
cannot be known, named, or approached. So soon as man begins to laud his
God and endow him with the most perfect human attributes, such as
justice, mercy, beneficence, etc., the Divine essence is depreciated and
despoiled....The Masonic test [for membership] is a Supreme Being, and
any qualification added is an innovation and distortion (emphasis
added). (22)

Coil even admits that "monotheism... violates Masonic principles, for it
requires belief in a specific kind of Supreme Deity" (emphasis added).
(23) Of course, at this point Coil has just excluded the God of biblical
teaching and Christian faith for being too specific despite the fact
that he has ascribed a specific doctrine of God (eternal, unknowable,
etc.) to Masonry.

Masonic authority (24) Albert Pike also denies the biblical God. He
argues that "if our conceptions of God are those of the ignorant,
narrow-minded, and vindictive Israelite...we feel that it is an affront
and an indignity to [God]...." (25) Anyone who has ever read what Albert
Pike and other Masons have taught about God in the higher degrees of
Masonry knows that the God of Masonry has nothing whatever to do with
the God of the Bible. (26) For example, Pike categorized the God of
Scripture as a false god and an idol when he wrote that "every religion
and every conception of God is idolatrous, insofar as it is imperfect,
and as it substitutes a feeble and temporary idea in the shrine of that
Undiscoverable Being [of Masonry]..." (emphasis added). (27)

If Masonry rejects the God of Christianity, however, how can it
logically claim to be the true friend of Christian faith? Further, if it
offers an unknowable, unapproachable, and undiscoverable God beyond the
different concepts of God found in other religions, how can it
appropriately or logically ask the men of those religions to join its
local lodges?

Masonry does this because it seeks to develop a worldwide religious
brotherhood beyond the sectarian religious beliefs of humankind. To
further this goal it must, at one level, accept all religions, while
simultaneously pointing and leading to a "higher" truth beyond
separatist religion - a truth that is capable of uniting all men in a
common universal brotherhood, that is, the fraternity of Masonry.

Masonry therefore encourages all members of different religions to pray
to and worship their own respective gods: Brahma, Krishna, Allah,
Buddha, Jehovah, Vishnu, Jesus, and so forth. This is the means by which
Masonry can appeal to the members of all the different religions in the
world and attempt to unite them in a universal "common brotherhood."

But then Masons cannot possibly all be praying to the same God because
all these gods are different in nature and in what they expect of humans
(if they expect anything). In other words, the Masonic doctrine of the
spiritual "Fatherhood of God and Brotherhood of man" is only valid if
there is some larger God beyond the contradictory lesser gods that
people worship.

On the one hand Masonry claims it is an organization of tolerance that
accepts the different religions of all people; on the other hand, it
offers a supreme God that is supposedly the one true God that all people
are really praying to, who is beyond the inferior, primitive concepts of
individual religion - whether Christian, Hindu, Islamic. Buddhist. or
any other. (28)

At whatever level Masonry approaches God, however, its theology presents
irresolvable conflicts for the Christian. If the Christian God is merely
an inferior and false concept, then Masonry denies that the God of the
Bible is the one true God. Further, if Masonry points Christians to an
unknowable "Almighty Parent" beyond all religion, then it encourages
Masons to worship a false god, and this is idolatry. This violates the
first commandment in which God warned His people, "You shall have no
other gods before Me" (see Exod. 20:4-6; Deut. 13:1-5).

Even at a surface level Masonry actively encourages idolatry. The
Baptist Study, for example, cites The Freemasons' Diary as setting "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..." (emphasis
added) (29)

To encourage Masons to do their religious duty to their various gods is
to encourage the Muslim Mason to worship and serve Allah; the Hindu
Mason to worship and serve Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva; the Buddhist Mason
to worship Buddha and various Buddhist deities; the Mormon Mason to
worship Mormonism's own gods; and the pagan Mason to worship any variety
of additional gods. This is unacceptable for the Christian in that it
promotes spiritual deception under the guise of alleged spiritual
brotherhood.

Jesus emphasized, "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the
only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent" (John 17:3). God
Himself declares, "I, even I, am the Lord; and there is no savior
besides Me....I am the Lord and there is no other; besides Me there is
no God" (Isa. 43: 11; 45:5). Jesus also emphasized that "God is Spirit,
and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth" (John
4:24). How, then, can Christian Masons logically join and swear
allegiance to actively support Masonry when it encourages people to
believe in false gods and to deny the truth that God has revealed in the
Bible?

MASONRY AND PAGAN RELIGION

The previously mentioned 1992 SBC resolution that encompassed
Freemasonry stated: "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." (30) Further, the Study of
Freemasonry submitted to the Baptist Home Mission Board conceded that "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 Scandanavian deities Odin, Frea, and Thor; to Hindu,
Greek, and Persian deities; and to Jewish Kabbalism [i.e.,
occultism]....lt cannot be denied that some of the religions studied in
these degrees are pagan and that their teachings are totally
incompatible with Christianity" (emphasis added). (31)

The Report on Freemasonry concluded that paganism is not only found in
Masonic rituals, but it also discovered paganism in many readings that
Masonry encourages its initiates to pursue: "[Many of] the recommended
readings, in pursuance of advanced degrees, of religions and
philosophies...are undeniably pagan and/or occult..." (emphasis added)
(32) Among those mentioned are the writings of Masonic authorities or
authors Albert Pike, Albert Mackey, Manley Hall, Rex Hutchins, and W. L.
Wilmshurst.

Even some official Masonic Monitors encourage paganism. The Texas
Monitor, for example, tells us: These [aspects and teachings of Masonry]
were practiced from remote ages, in ancient temples of many nations. The
most learned among Masonic scholars...conclude that Masonry is of very
ancient origin, and is, in some aspects, the modem successor of, and
heir to, the sublime Mysteries of the Temple of Solomon, and of the
Temples of India, Chaldea, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, as well as the basic
doctrine of the Essenes, Gnostics and other mystic Orders. (33)

Because the Texas Monitor argues that Masonry is related to ancient
paganism, it advises that every candidate for the Mysteries of Masonry,
at the proper time and in an appropriate manner, should be taught the
truth that the rite of Initiation means much more than a formal
ceremonial progress through the Degrees....lnitiation is to be attained
only after real labor, deep study, profound meditation, extensive
research and a constant practice of those virtues which will open a true
path to moral, intellectual, and spiritual illumination. (34)

In other words, the Texas Monitor itself maintains that the initiate is
to be informed as to and/or practiced in the deeper pagan meanings of
the Masonic Ritual.

JESUS CHRIST

The Baptist Study comments, "it is not true that Freemasonry ignores or
denies Jesus Christ" (emphasis added). (35) The Study nevertheless
admits that "Freemasonry today does not see Jesus as the unique Son of
God and Savior of the world." (36)

The Masonic Ritual of the First, Second, and Third Degrees never
instructs its members that Jesus is the only mediator between God and
men. It never tells them they can't truthfully call God their Father
until they have a relationship with His Son. It doesn't tell initiates
that they can't build their spiritual house until they ask Jesus Christ
to forgive them of their sins and build it for them. No Mason is ever
told officially that a man can never do enough good deeds or live a pure
enough life to gain admission into the Celestial Lodge Above, or that
entrance into heaven comes only by faith in Jesus Christ. The truth is
that by its ritual, teachings, and prayers, Masonry does ignore and deny
Jesus Christ. (37)

IS MASONRY A RELIGION?

One of the key issues in this discussion is whether or not Masonry is a
religion. (38) The Baptist Study concluded:

"Strong feelings have been expressed on both sides of this difficult
issue....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"(emphases added). (39)

No one denies that the vast majority of Masons say Masonry is not a
religion, but one must go beyond mere claims. For example, virtually all
Mormons claim their religion is Christian, which is demonstrably false.
(40)

Masonry claims it has the qualities of a religion but is still not a
religion; or that it is religious but still not a religion. However, the
latter point makes as much sense (as even Coil pointed out) as to say
that a man has no intellect but is intellectual, or that he has no honor
but is honorable. Religious is defined as "imbued with or adhering to
religion or a religion." (41)

While it is possible for an organization to have a religious quality and
yet not be a religion - such as Christian groups that specialize in
missions or research and have daily periods of prayer, Masonry is more
than this. The religious quality of Christian organizations is based on
Christianity while the religious quality of Masonry is based on Masonry
itself, which qualifies it as a religion.

The Study wrongly concluded that Masonry is not a religion. Nevertheless
it was forced to confess that "many men make the Lodge their religion."
(42)

The major issue in determining whether Masonry is a religion is to look
at its demands on the candidate. Masonry requires the candidate to
believe in God, obey Him, worship Him, seek His guidance, and so forth,
which qualifies it as a religion. And, as I have already documented,
Masonry claims its members will earn admittance to heaven based on
personal character and good works. This also classifies the Lodge as a
religion. In fact, any standard dictionary or encyclopedia definition of
religion proves beyond doubt that Masonry is a religion. (43) Dr.
Shildes Johnson is only one of many scholars of comparative religion who
have concluded: "A comparison of the moral, allegorical, and symbolic
teachings of Freemasonry with these definitions of a religion reveals
that the lodge is a theistic, non-Christian, man-centered, and universal
religion." (44)

All this is why numerous leading Masonic authorities have publicly
confessed that Masonry is, in fact, a religion. For example:

Albert G. Mackey: "The religion of Masonry is cosmopolitan,
universal...." (45)

Henry Wilson Coil: "Religion is espoused by the Masonic Ritual and
required of the candidate"; and, "Freemasonry is undoubtedly religion";
and, "Many Freemasons make this flight [to heaven] with no other
guarantee of a safe landing than their belief in the religion of
Freemasonry" (emphasis added). (46)

Albert Pike: "Masonry...is the universal, eternal, immutable
religion...." (47)

Joseph Fort Newton: "Everything in Masonry has reference to God, implies
God, speaks of God, points and leads to God. Not a degree, not a symbol,
not an obligation, not a lecture, not a charge but finds its meaning and
derives its beauty from God the Great Architect, in whose temple all
Masons are workmen." (48)

Doesn't all this constitute evidence that Masonry is a religion? Yet the
Study of the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board concluded it is not a
religion. (49)

The Baptist Study offered a number of reasons to allegedly substantiate
its claim that Masonry is not a religion. For example, it points out
that in a 1921 decision the Supreme Court of Nebraska ruled that
Freemasonry is not a religion. But all this means is that the Supreme
Court of Nebraska was wrong. State Supreme Courts and even the Supreme
Court of the United States have frequently been wrong, as can be proven
by the number of opinion reversals enacted by those bodies. The United
States Supreme Court has reversed itself no less than 200 times in its
history. These are admissions of error.

The Study next cites the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America. It
points out that not all Scouts are Christians. Yet Christians may become
members of the Scouts without worshipping the gods of those in the
Scouts who follow other religions, such as Mormons and Hindus. "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...." (50)

What if the Boy Scouts of America claimed it was not a religion when it
was? What if the Scouts had an agenda that they kept hidden? What if the
Scouts had their own plan of salvation? What if the Scouts actively
taught members that they could be saved and go to heaven by good works?
What if the Scouts had bloody oaths requiring secrecy on pain of death?
(51) Who would argue that Christian youth should join such an
organization?

Next, the Study claims that those Individuals who allow Masonry to
become their religion do so only because of their own misinterpretation
or misunderstanding of Masonry and (quoting a Southern Baptist Mason)
"not due to Masonic teaching." (52) In The Secret Teachings of the
Masonic Lodge, however, John Ankerberg and I devoted some 200 pages
showing that the reason individuals do make Masonry their religion is
"due to Masonic teaching."

Perhaps it is worth noting that of all the conservative Christian bodies
who have studied Masonry, I discovered almost unanimous agreement among
them that Masonry is a religion and that Masonry and Christianity are
not compatible. (53) The conclusion of a Presbyterian report is only one
of almost two dozen denominational inquiries that concluded Masonry is a
religion: "In our study of Freemasonry' s promotional literature,
through personal interviews with Masons, and by letters received from
Masons, we were told that Freemasonry is not a religion. However, a
close scrutiny of the ritual of the lodge and books written by
authoritative Masons points to the contrary...(emphasis added). (54)

In its section on the position of other Christian denominations relative
to Masonry, even the Baptist Study documents that Masonry has been
rejected by the Roman Catholic church, Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod,
the Presbyterian Church in America, the Free Presbyterian Church of
Scotland, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Church of the Nazarene, the
Church of the Brethren, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 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." (55)

One must wonder, "Didn't this near unanimous condemnation tell Baptist
committee members something?!" If Masonry and Christianity are really
compatible (as the Baptist Study implies), and if individual Christians
can actually become Masons "in good conscience," then why all the
negative conclusions condemning Masonry and urging Christians not to
join the Masonic Lodge from all these widely varying Christian bodies?

The Study acknowledges that "this issue has divided Baptists for two
centuries." (56) But why has it divided Baptists for two centuries? We
think the reason is evident - because the Baptist tradition has never
officially taken a position on Masonry, thereby allowing individual
Christians in every generation to be deceived by its false claims. This
would seem to explain why, as the Study itself concedes, half a million
Southern Baptists (at least) are now Masons - including many Southern
Baptist pastors, ministers of education, deacons, and directors of
missions. (57) But even if there were ten million Christians in the
Lodge, this fact alone would not justify Masonry. I can only agree with
the conclusion of the Presbyterian report and many others that say:

a) Joining Masonry requires "actions and vows out of accord with
Scripture."

b) "Participation in Masonry seriously compromises the Christian faith
and testimony."

c) "Membership in Masonry and activity in its Ritual lead to a diluting
of commitment to Christ and His kingdom." (58)

Certainly the Baptist stress on individual freedom of conscience cannot
be carried so far as to accept the right of Christians to join the
Mormon church or the Baha'i Faith. On what basis, then, can the Southern
Baptist Convention say it is permissible for a Christian to join the
Masonic Lodge? The issue is not individual conscience. The issue is, Can
Christianity and Masonry be logically joined together without violation
of scriptural teaching and Christ's glory? If not, then the verdict of
each Christian's conscience must be to abstain from the Masonic Lodge,
and the obligation of each church body must be to proclaim this basic
incompatibility of Masonry and Christianity.

NOTES

(1) ln the text and endnotes. the term Study refers to the 75-page
analysis, A Study of Freemasonry (Atlanta, GA: Home Mission Board of the
Southern Baptist convention, 1993), available from the Home Mission
Board. SBC. 1350 Spring Street, N.W., Atlanta, GA 30367- 5601
(1-800-634-2462). The term Report refers to the six-page A Report on
Freemasonry, published by the Home Mission Board, SBC, 17 March 1993.

(2) See John Ankerberg and John Weldon, Bowing at Strange Altars
(Chattanooga, TN: Ankerberg Theological Research Institute, 1993).
10-12.

(3) Report, 5

(4) Ibid., 5-6

(5) Code Revision committee, Masonic Manual of the Grand Lodge of
Georgia, Free and Accepted Masons, 10th ed. (n.p.: Grand Lodge of the
State of Georgia, 1983), 17.

(6) "Most Worshipful Grand Lodge Free & Accepted Masons of Arkansas,
Masonic Monitor of the Degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and
Master Mason (n.p.: Grand Lodge of Arkansas, 7th ed., 1993), 17.

(7) See John Ankerberg and John Weldon, The Secret Teachings of the
Masonic Lodge: A Christian Appraisal (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991), 86,
cf. 78-92 .

(8) Report, 4.

(9) Ibid., 5-6

(10) Study, 14.

(11) Report, 5.

(12) Ibid., 6.

(13) Ibid. ., 54

(14) Jim Tresner, "Conscience and the Craft," The Scottish Rite Journal.
February 1993. 23.

(15) Study, 2-3.

(16) Ibid., 70.

(17) Joseph Fort Newton, "The Great Light in Masonry" (title of the
section containing: "The Words of a Great Masonic Divine: The Bible and
Freemasonry," in The Holy Bible: The Great Light in Masonry (Nashville:
A. J. Holman, 1940), 3-4,

(18) See Ankerberg and Weldon, Secret Teachings, 194-95.

(19) Carl H. Claudy, Introduction to Freemasonry, vol. 2 (Washington:
The Temple, 1984), 110.

(20) Carl H. Claudy, "Belief in God," in "A Master's Wages," in Little
Masonic Library, vol. 4 (Richmond: Macoy Publishing, 1977), 32.

(21) Study, 43.

(22) Henry Wilson Coil, Coil 's Masonic Encyclopedia (New York: Macoy
Publishing and Masonic Supply, 1961), 516-17.

(23) Ibid., 517.

(24) Ankerberg and Weldon, Bowing, chs. 7, 9.

(25) Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish
Rite of Freemasonry (Charleston, SC: Supreme Council of the 33rd Degree
for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States, 1927), 223.

(26) Ankerberg and Weldon, Secret Teachings, chs. 89.

(27) Pike 516; Cf 226,295-96.

(28) Tresner, 18. See also J. N. D. Anderson, Christianity and
Comparative Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1977),
11-12.

(29) Study. 26

(30) Ibid., 32.

(31) Ibid. 32.

(32) Report, 5.

(33) Grand Lodge of Texas, Monitor of the Lodge: Monitorial Instructions
in the Three Degrees of Symbolic Masonry (Waco, TX: Grand Lodge of
Texas, A.F.&A.M., 1982), xiii, xiv.

(34) Ibid., xv, xvi.

(35) Study, 48. See also Ankerberg and Weldon, Secret Teachings, 126-29;
Jim Shaw and Tom McKenney, The Deadly Deception: Freemasonry Exposed by
One of Its Top Leaders (Lafayette, LA: Huntington House, 1988), 72.

(36) Study, 48-49.

(37) For further information on Masonic views of Jesus Christ, see
Ankerberg and Weldon, Bowing, ch. 4, and Secret Teachings, ch. 10.

(38) Study, 23

(39) Ibid., 70.

(40) See, e.g., John Ankerberg and John Weldon, Everything You Ever
Wanted to Know About Mormonism (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1991) for
detailed documentation.

(41) Macmillan Dictionary for Students (1984), 842.

(42) Study, 26.

(43) Ankerberg and Weldon, Secret Teachings, 37-38.

(44) Shildes Johnson, Is Masonry a Religion? (Oakland, NJ: Institute of
Contemporary Christianity, 1978), 21.

(45) Albert G. Mackey, An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and Its Kindred
Sciences, vol. I (Chicago: Masonic History Company, 1921), 301.

(46) Coil, 512, 158; Henry Wilson Coil, A Comprehensive View of
Freemasonry (Richmond: Macoy, 1973), 186.

(47) Pike, 219.

(48) Joseph Fort Newton, The Religion of Masonry (Richmond: Macoy,
1969), 58-59.

(49) Studys 70

(50) Ibid., 26.

(51) Ankerberg and Weldon, Secret Teachings, chs. 2, 13-16.

(52) Study, 26.

(53) Ankerberg and Weldon, Secret Teachings, 269-71; cf. ch. 16,
Epilogue; and James Holly, The Southern Baptist Convention and
Freemasonry (Beaumont, TX: Mission and Ministry to Men, 1993), ch. 3.

(54) Minutes of the General Assembly, appendix R. The Report of the
Ad-lnterim Committee to Study Freemasonry, 16th General Assembly of the
Presbyterian Church in Amenca, 6 June 1988, 466.

(55) Study, 63

(56) Ibid., 64.

(57) Ibid., 64-65.

(58) Presbyterian Rewrt. 473.

SUMMARY

The Masonic Lodge in America is a highly influential organization
claiming some four million members. Masonic leaders argue the lodge is
not a religion but merely a fraternal body that seeks to better society
and also assist the Christian church. It does this they claim by helping
Christians become better members of their own faith.

The truth is that Masonry is a distinct religion that espouses teachings
incompatible with Christian faith in the areas of God salvation and
other important doctrines. It is therefore inconsistent for any
Christian to swear the oaths of Masonry to uphold and support the Lodge
when Masonry s own ritual doctrines and impact in history have denied
and opposed biblical teaching.

This is so despite the 1993 recommendation of the Southern Baptists at
their annual convention that membership in the Lodge can be left to the
Christian's individual conscience.


This file courtesy of:

George Helmer
Norwood #90 Grand Lodge of Alberta
SYSOP - Magna Borealis Lux (403) 475-6061