Some of the strongest
opposition that my teaching has received has been by Masons. Also, some of
the most unusual teaching efforts have been in the climate of Masonry. I
say this because Masons often deny doctrinal assignments and, yet, they maintain
that they have taken an oath of secrecy; therefore, they cannot discuss the
matter. However, the mystique and esoteric nature of Freemasonry has long
ago been disclosed. One authority relative to Freemasonry wrote:
"Freemasonry alone has no secret doctrine. Its philosophy is open to the world. Its modes of recognition by which it secures identification and its rites and ceremonies which are its method of instruction, alone are secret. All men may know the tenets of the Masonic creed."(Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Mackey, One Volume edition, p. 799).
In 1970, there were an estimated four million Masons in the United States comprising the order of Freemasonry (A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, pg. 34). Many believe that during the last ten years, Freemasonry has experienced a revival; therefore, the present numbers are probably much greater.
Some view Freemasonry as simply an innocent fraternal order made up of men who simply are attempting to benefit humanity without any effort to compose a religious order, as such; much less, a religious order that is replete with false doctrine and idolatrous practices and views of God. There are a number of recognized works one can consult to ascertain the basic nature and tenets of Freemasonry. Works such as Lightfoot's Manual of the Lodge, Morals and Dogma, the Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, and Duncan's Masonic Ritual and Monitor. Duncan's Masonic Ritual and Monitor contains the rites and ceremonies of the first seven degrees of the York Rite of Freemasonry. Morals And Dogma of the Ancient And Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry was written by Albert Pike, a thirty-third degree Mason. Albert G. Mackey, who was also a thirty-third degree Mason, and probably the greatest Freemason scholar of all time, authored the Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. These works are viewed as authoritative and accurate in setting forth the beliefs and practices of Freemasonry and they, together with other works, shall be used to succinctly present Freemasonry from a biblical perspective.
The origin of Freemasonry. Tracing and establishing the precise inception of Freemasonry is difficult, if not impossible. One thing we do know, Freemasonry is not as ancient as some of the proponents of Freemasonry want us to believe. One thing used to confuse is operative Masonry is admittedly ancient (stone craft) and some deliberately confuse operative Masonry with modern speculative Freemasonry. Consider the following statement from Albert Pike:
"It sits apart from all sects and creeds, in its own calm and simple dignity, the same under every government. It is still that which it was in the cradle of the human race, when no human foot had trodden the soil of Assyria and Egypt, and no colonies had crossed the Himalayas into Southern India, Media, or Etrusia." (Morals and Dogma, Pike, pg. 153).
One reason Freemasonry is difficult to trace back in time is because many of its conceptual views and practices are commonly seen as characteristic of a number of pagan religions (the symbolism, rites, etc.). However, many historians site the year 1717 A. D. as an important year relative to Freemasonry (theYork Rite). The year 1717 is actually sited by some as the official introduction of Freemasonry. However, it could be that 1717 marked the convergence of certain doctrines that came to be what we know as Freemasonry, this writer's observation. Regardless, it is evident that Freemasonry does not go back to the time of Solomon and Moses, as some claim. Moreover, ancient and pristine Christianity knows nothing of Freemasonry (see addendum). Esteemed Masonic scholar Albert Mackey wrote:
"Many years of subsequent research have led me greatly to modify the views I had previously held. Although I do not rank myself among those modern iconoclasts who refuse credence to every document whose authenticity, if admitted, would give to the order a birth anterior to the beginning of the last century, I confess that I cannot find any incontrovertible evidence that would trace Freemasonry, as now organized, beyond the Building Corporations of the Middle Ages." (Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Vol. 3,. Cp. Vol.1, pg. 87).
The purpose of the lodge. Every active Mason is a member of a specific lodge. There are many local lodges and then there are Grand Lodges that are over the subjected lodges (each state has a Grand Lodge). In the New Testament, we read of local churches that were totally autonomous and overseen by the presiding elders (I Cor. 1: 2, Rom. 16: 16; Acts 14: 23, I Pet. 5: 2ff.). The church has Jesus as her head and is totally in subjugation to Jesus' authority (Eph. 1: 22, 23). Those who contend that Freemasonry is not a religion would have to view the lodge ("lodge" is used of the building and the Masons in a geographic area who are members of that lodge) as simply a place where men gather for humanitarian or educational reasons. Please consider the following:
"7. It is a lesson, which every Mason is taught at one of the earliest points of his initiation, that he should commence no important undertaking without first invoking the blessings of Deity -- hence the next step in the progress of the opening ceremonies is to address a prayer to the Supreme Architect of the Universe. This prayer, although offered by the Master, is to be participated in by every brother, and, at its conclusion, the audible response of 'So mote it be' should be made by all present. 8. The Lodge is then declared, in the name of God and the Holy Saints John, duly opened. A Lodge is said to be opened in the name of God and the Holy Saints John as a declaration of the sacred purpose of our meeting; of our profound reverence for that Divine Being whose name and attributes should be the constant theme of our contemplation, and of our respect for those ancient patrons whom the traditions of Masonry have so intimately connected with the history of the Institution." (Lightfoot's Manual of the Lodge, pg. 2).
Based on the purpose and activities conducted in the local lodge, it would appear to most discerning people that Freemasonry is a religion. We saw this in view of the role of public prayer, the "sacred purpose" of the lodge meetings, and "the name and attributes of God are a constant theme" in the meetings.
Freemasonry a religion. I recall as a young boy an issue arising in the Primitive Baptist Church in which I was "brought up." A couple wanted to "move their letter" and the men of the church had a problem. A meeting of the men was called and since it was viewed as a very consequential meeting, the woman and young people were invited. I eagerly attended with my mother and grandmother (I always wanted to learn and observe situations). The preacher stated the desire of the couple to have their letter accepted (join) and then stated that he (the man) was an active Mason. The pursuant discussion emphasized the fact that the man was already a member of a religion and that the Primitive Baptist Church did not normally accept people who were concurrently members of another religion. A vote was taken (the Primitive Baptist way of doing things) and the majority voted to refuse to recognize the letter.
Masonry is a philosophy in that it inculcates philosophic principles. Masonry is a philanthropic order because it renders charitable acts. Masonry is philosophic and philanthropic in its essential organizational teaching, I might add. Is Masonry, though, a religion? Let us consider a standard definition of "religion" as offered by the Random House College Dictionary:
"1. A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies usually involving devotional and ritual observances and often specific and institutionalized set of beliefs and practices....6. The practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith...." (pg. 1114).
Masonry (York and Scottish Rites) certainly has a decided view of a Supreme Being and offers this teaching regarding the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe as necessary doctrine to the initial and continued acceptance of all constituents of Masonry. Masonry engages in what could be called devotion in their ceremonies. Also, Masonry as an entity stresses the observance of moral principles and purports to make man better fitted to serve the "Divine Architect of the Universe" and secure an everlasting place with Him.
As seen, The Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry and Morals and Dogmas are two esteemed works. Consider what these works say as to whether or not Masonry is a religion:
"Masonry, then, is indeed, a religious institution; and on this ground mainly, if not alone, should the religious Mason defend it." (Ency. Of Freemasonry, pg. 729).
"Every Masonic Lodge is a temple of religion and its teachings are instruction in religion.. Here we meet as brethren, to learn to know and love each other. This is the true religion revealed to the ancient patriarchs; which Masonry has taught for many centuries, and which it will continue to teach as long as time endures." (Morals and Dogmas, pg. 213, 214.)
"On the contrary I contend, without any sort of hesitation, that Masonry is, in every sense of the word, except one, and that its least philosophical, an eminently religious institution - that it is indebted solely to the religious element which it contains for its origin and for its continued existence, that without this religious element it would scarcely be worthy of cultivation by the wise and good." (Ency. of Freemasonry, pg. 727.)
"The tendency of all true Masonry is towards religion. If it makes any progress, its progress is to that holy end. Look at its ancient landmarks, its sublime ceremonies, its profound symbols and allegories – all inculcating religious doctrines, commanding religious observance, and teaching religious truth, and who can deny that it is eminently a religious institution? (Ency. of Freemasonry, pg. 728.)
The use of religious titles.
The Christian is taught by the Bible to avoid religious titles (Matt. 23: 9).
Only God deserves such an appellative as "reverend" (cp. Ps. 111: 9). Yet,
the Mason who is the head of the Blue Lodge is called the "Worshipful Master."
It is indisputable to the thinking person that Freemasonry is a religion, a competing religion, and a religion that is replete with all sorts of symbolism, beliefs, and practices that are not only contradictory to Bible teaching, but many of them originated in the benighted pagan world. Freemasonry belittles the Bible and the God of the Bible. Freemasonry is the epitome of the ecumenical posture and ultimate compromise. Freemasonry goes beyond the teaching of Jesus and the scriptures; thus, no salvation is found in Freemasonry (2 Jn. 9-11). Freemasonry makes a mockery out of the true light offered by Jesus and makes a false claim in its ability to provide salvation and an ultimate dwelling place with the "Great Architect of the Universe." The oaths and symbolism associated with Freemasonry are repulsive to the knowledgeable Christian. Paul taught, "Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Eph. 5: 10, 11).
Before entering the Lodge as an Apprentice or First degree and prior to advancing to each of the subsequent degrees, the candidate must agree to take certain oaths. These oaths that pledge the taker to secrecy and proper conduct toward Mason brothers are spiritually objectionable. Can you imagine a Christian taking the following oaths:
I, ___________, of my own free will and accord, in the presence of Almighty God, and this Worshipful Lodge erected to him and dedicated to the Holy Saint John, do hereby and hereon most hail, forever conceal, never reveal any of the secret arts, parts or points of the hidden mysteries of Masonry..And this I most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, with a firm and steadfast resolution to keep and perform the same.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. So help me God, and keep me steadfast (Look To The East, pg. 30, 31).
How unthinkable it is to take such an oath of secrecy in view of the command to "prove all things" and be able to provide an answer of defense (I Thes. 5: 21; I Pet. 3: 15). I knew one Christian who suffered withdrawal action against him and ended up splitting the church because he had taken an oath of secrecy and could not discuss his Masonic involvement with his brethren in Christ!
Relative to the Second Degree, the candidate makes the following vow:
"All this I most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, with a firm and steadfast resolution to keep and perform the same.binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my left breast torn open, my heart plucked from thence, and given to the bests 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. So help me God and keep me steadfast" (Ibid., pg. 96).
Freemasonry, just like all false religion, offers a claim that it cannot deliver, salvation outside of Jesus (Acts 4: 12), 10, 11). It is my hope and prayer that this brief study of Freemasonry will cause others to not join it and all Christians who are Freemasons to renounce it. (For further study, read, "An Exchange on Freemasonry".)
Addendum: In London, England, in February of 1717, four struggling Lodges reportedly met to form the Grand Lodge of England. This formation is termed by Masonic scholars and historians as a "revival of Freemasonry" (Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Vol. 3. ed., Vol. 2, pg. 854). This claim of revival was itself challenged by some Masonic writers of the 19th century. W. P. Buchan, a frequent writer in the London Freemason (1871-1872), attacked the antiquity of Freemasonry by refusing to extend its existence prior to 1717. He stated that "our system of degrees, words, grips, signs, etc., was not in existence until about 1717 A. D." (Ibid.).