Should a Christian Be a Freemason?



SHOULD A CHRISTIAN BE A FREEMASON?
by W Bro. The Rev. Norman Lea JP BA

The question which this paper seeks to address has, over recent years,
assumed an importance and a relevance that older generations of Freemasons
would not have thought possible.  This has occurred because various Church
governing bodies - The Methodist Conference, and the General Synod of the
Church of England - have declared the two to be incompatible.  It is the
basic and overriding contention of this paper that there is no theological
or doctrinal, moral or social reason why a Christian should not be a
Freemason.

It is necessary, first of all, to attempt an outline of what the Christian
faith teaches.  It is necessary, because it is essential to know what is
meant when a person calls himself a Christian.

The Christian is one who believes in a God who is the Creator God, Creator
of 'all things in heaven and earth'.  The 'crown' of Creation, according to
the Bible, is Man, created 'a little lower than the angels', having within
himself the means to respond to and acknowledge God.  Indeed, the Bible
stresses that Man is only truly Man to the extent in which he does, through
worship and deed, respond and acknowledge God to the fullest possible
extent.  It is at this point that the picture becomes distorted.  We do
not, individually or collectively, respond to or acknowledge God.  In fact,
our human condition is such that with unrelenting application, we seem to
go headlong in the opposite direction to that which providence and destiny
point us.  To the theologian this state of affairs is know as Sin, sin that
seems part of our nature, and sin that we actively commission in our
failure to be what God intends us to be.

God intended us to be not only creatures created out of love, but beings
who could respond to that love.  His eternal Love is such that he cannot
and will not abandon us, His creatures, to our own fate.  The Old Testament
is really the beginning of this story of God's relationship with us His
people.  It is the bitter sweet account of this loving relationship, the
constancy of God's love and the prodigality of that of His people.  The Old
Testament at its best looks forward to the time when God will 'bring His
people home', when He will give us the means to come back to Him and to
fulfil our true role in His scheme of Creation.  The New Testament is the
realisation of this vision.  The Birth, Death and Resurrection of Jesus is
the fulfilment of all that the prophets, and the aspirations to which the
Old Testament had looked forward.  Here, finally and irrevocably was the
means to bridge the gap between humanity as a whole and God, its loving
Creator and Sustainer. The Christian will not and cannot compromise on this
basic truth.

But this truth of what God has done for us in the person of Jesus, is not a
mere cerebral truth demanding only intellectual assent, it is a truth that
demands various responses from those who would be part of it.  By means of
the Church, or the Sacraments, or the life of Prayer, or the inspiration of
Holy Scripture, the Christian feeds off the Redeeming work of Christ as
displayed on the Cross and the Empty Tomb.  It is by these 'instruments' of
Redemption that the Christian knows it is possible to begin a relationship
of love with God, and by personal sacrifice and dedication, to allow that
relationship to grow and mature.  It is an all embracing relationship, open
ended to see the whole world and everything in it as within the scope of
Redemption.  Once it becomes exclusive and introverted its power is negated
and its saving strength diminished.

Freemasonry does not challenge or seek to challenge anything that has been
said above.  It does not set itself up as a rival or even a parallel
religion, to do so would mean that it would be impossible for a Christian
to acknowledge let along practice Freemasonry.  Masonry does not offer a
'system' of Redemption, it does not seek to enhance or provide a means by
which the Mason is expected or encouraged to see his Masonic activities as
being acts of worship.  A Masonic Lodge is not a church, but a group of men
who seek to implement certain worthy, upright and highly desirable common
basic ideals, which can but add to the richness and variety of life and
living.

The Masonic world, is a world rich in symbolism and high ideals.  Its
principle symbol is that of the Temple, built by King Solomon in response
to God's command.  The story of its construction, quite naturally, receives
a great deal of poetic license in Masonic ritual.  Part of that poetry is
the vision of giving life to the symbol by identifying the Mason with the
process of construction.  The Masonic ideal is to construct within the
individual the virtues of brotherly love, relief for those less fortunate
than oneself and the search for truth and personal integrity.  The symbol
of 'skilled craftsmen' chosen originally for their expertise and skill for
the great work in hand, is Masonically the skill of shaping from the raw
material of each member of a Lodge a deeper understanding of the concept of
brotherhood and the sharing of common concerns.  The Masonic Lodge is the
'workplace' for both the demonstration and the teaching of such skills.

Solomon called upon God for help in the great endeavour he had undertaken.
So likewise, the Masonic Lodge calls on God for help in its endeavours.
This is no empty, ritualistic gesture, but a 'corner-stone' that underpins
all Masonic activity.  It would seem quite natural, in this context, for
the symbolic 'builder' - the Mason - to refer to God,in the symbol of the
Architect, and to do so without in anyway diminishing the concept of God or
indeed to create another deity which the Christian could not acknowledge or
countenance.

The Craft is precisely what it says it is.  A Craft for building a moral
structure centred upon those who seek to participate in its activities.  It
seeks neither to challenge or rival the claims of faith made by the
Christian. Masonry cannot and does not diminish the Lordship of Christ, or
replace His Redeeming and Saving Power. This paper has tried, within its
limits, to affirm wholeheartedly the Christian standpoint and to outline
the Masonic view, and to see no challenge from the Craft to those who wish
to practice and uphold the Christian life.