Christianity and the Masonic Lodge: Are They Compatible? – Program 2

By: Bill Mankin, Dr. Walter Martin; ©1985
Does Masonry have its own God? How is that “god” defined? Is he worshiped?

Do Masons Worship God?

Ankerberg: Welcome! Tonight we have a very interesting program for you. We are talking with a person who is a Christian, to another Christian, and one of the Christians is a 32nd degree Mason in the lodge out in Boise, Idaho. And Bill Mankin is that person. Bill, we’re glad that you’re here tonight. Sitting next to him is Dr. Walter Martin of the Christian Research Institute, also the Distinguished Professor of Comparative Religions at the Simon Greenleaf School of Law. Gentlemen, we’re glad that you’re here.
The way we got into this program is Bill wrote us a letter concerning some of the things that Dr. Martin had said. Point of fact that, Walter, you called the Masonic Lodge a cult. What I would like to start with this week is a quote off of a book that it seems like the majority of those of you who are in the Masonic Lodge will recognize, and it’s this. It says, “Masonry, around whose altars the Christian, the Hebrew, the Moslem, the Brahmin, the followers of Confucius, and Zoroaster can assemble as brethren and unite in prayer to the one God who is above all the Baalim, must needs leave it to its initiates to look for the foundation of his faith and hope to the written scriptures of his own religion.”
Now there are at least five books that I’ve got on the desk back here, Bill, that have this quote in there. Isn’t this the reason why you don’t want anybody to have a strict dogma, because you want to have it open for everybody to bring their own belief into the Lodge, and the prayers are basically in a general way to the one all-powerful Architect, the Supreme Architect of the Universe? Isn’t that the gist of it?
Mankin: Well, in a sense that’s true. There are two things that you do not mention in Lodge at all, ever. One is politics. The other is religion. They are items which would bring disharmony into the lodge and the lodge is based on peace and harmony. Lodges are closed, peace and harmony prevailing. The whole concept of brotherhood is geared toward non-controversial matters.
Ankerberg: Do you have an altar in the lodge?
Mankin: We have an item in the lodge which is described as an altar. There are no sacrifices on it.
Ankerberg: Why did you call it an altar? Why don’t you just call it a desk?
Mankin: Because it’s not a desk. It has the Bible on it.
Ankerberg: Walter?
Martin: “Some attempt to avoid the issues by saying that Freemasonry is not a religion but is religious. ‘Freemasonry is not a religion but is most emphatically religion’s handmaid,’ they say. This has been challenged as meaningless, which it seems to be.” Coil goes on to assert…
Ankerberg: This is in the Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, that just came out.
Martin: Coil goes on to assert that it is a religion: “Does Freemasonry have meetings characterized by the practice of rites in and by which its creed, tenets, and dogmas are illustrated by myths, symbols, and allegories? Yes. So does religion .” The Masonic Encyclopedia now centers the attention on the lodge as a church: “That brings us to the real crux of the matter: the difference between a lodge and a church is one of degree and not of kind. The fact that Freemasonry is a mild religion does not mean that it is no religion. Freemasonry has a religious service to commit the body of a deceased brethren to the dust from whence it came. And Freemasonry utilizes consecration through corn, wine, and oil just as in the finest cathedral or church.” All of the indications of all of the material is that you have everything connected with religion. A rose by any other name will smell as sweet. Call it what you want, but that’s what it is.
Mankin: If it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck,…
Martin: …and it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.
Mankin: Here again we still come back to the thing that the symbols are related to the character of man to man. They are not related to God. We have no symbols that are religious in the sense of symbols in the church.
Ankerberg: I’ve got your own Encyclopedia.
Mankin: Give me a break, John. Let me finish.
Martin: I want to hear this.
Mankin: I’m lost. You…
Ankerberg: I was going to quote your own authoritative historian who asked questions. He says, “A very unusual course is to affirm that true Masonry is neither a religion nor consisting of religious aspects.” This is in the new Encyclopedia of Freemasonry by Arthur Edward Waite. And then he asks the questions that I want to ask you. Here’s a Mason asking the questions: “In such case, why does it insist on that root of contention – faith in a great Architect of the universe?” First question: “Why does it require an intellectual adherence to the notion of resurrection to a future life, however resurrection is to be understood? Why are its rites in all degrees and under all systems and reality neither more nor less than pageants of prayer and aspiration?” We’re going to get down to the third level here: “Can the third degree of the craft, apart from religion, teach a man how to die as it claims to? What does the lesson of the mystical lecture in The Holy Royal Arch by its own claims impress on its members concerning the Royal Arch degree?”
Mankin: I’m not a Royal Arch Mason.
Ankerberg: Well, the answer is, he says, “That it inspires its members with the most exalted ideas of deity.” And he says, “What is this but religion?” Here’s your own historian.
Mankin: He is not an official historian of Masonry. Here is a man that characterizes Masonry as a religion. But it also says that you bring whatever religion you want into the lodge, so by the very fact you’re saying that you’re not characterizing it as a religion.
Ankerberg: Let’s turn the coin over, then, Bill. I’ve quoted to you five encyclopedias, the Masonic Bible, and you say all of these that I have quoted – which we have gotten from the Grand Lodges around the country – they said that they hold to these beliefs. Now, let’s put it the other way. Is there any book that you could point us to that says that Jesus Christ alone is God or that the Masonic Lodge strictly does not deal in talking about the future life like they do in the Third Arch Degree there, as is said? Do you have any books that recant of all that?
Mankin: There is nothing in Masonic Ritual today that would identify Christ as Lord. But…
Ankerberg: But you have prayers; you have an altar; you have a funeral service at the end for those that are Masons; you have all of these people advocating the fact that it is religious.
Mankin: That is their opinion. There are just as many people that advocate that it is not a religion.
Martin: But they’re not writing the books, are they?
Mankin: Alfonse Cerza says that it’s not a religion.
Martin: Alfonse Cerza. I know he does, but you can’t really quote Alfonse Cerza, because he’s not authoritative.
Mankin: Why isn’t he authoritative?
Martin: Because I don’t think he is. After all, if you don’t think…
Mankin: But it’s the same thing. What we’re talking about is opinion and opinion is opinion. It’s just that. If a man chooses to characterize Masonry as religion, that’s his business. It’s certainly not mine.
Martin: May I bring a point out?
Ankerberg: Certainly.
Martin: Alfonse Cerza’s book Let There Be Light: A Study of Anti-Masonry, highly recommended; you have it right there, isn’t that right? You have it, too. You count him authoritative, yeah? You got that from the Masonic Service Association of the United States which mails out literature in the name of the Masons all over the country. And here’s a letter from its executive secretary explaining that this is the best and most authoritative statement, against those who criticize Masonry, in existence. So I thought I’d better get the best that there was. And I got Cerza. And I read what Cerza had to say. He’s a distinguished writer and author and so forth and so on, despite the fact that the same organization recommends Mackey, Waite, Pike, Coil as world authorities on Masonry and Cerza is not in their class.
Mankin: I’m going to say one of the things that you love to say and I’ve seen you say it on many, many occasions. You quote out of context. You take a paragraph, your girl, Sharon Mather, at the Christian Research Institute sent me twelve paragraphs on why Masonry was not Christian.
Martin: Not from me. I didn’t quote out of context.
Mankin: No. The paragraphs came out of…
Martin: I didn’t do it.
Mankin: Well, Sharon did…
Martin: But I didn’t. I’m not Sharon.
Mankin: …and told me why Masonry was not Christian and why I shouldn’t be a Mason and a Christian at the same time, and a lot of it didn’t even have to do with the three degrees. Morals and Dogma is a thousand pages long. The books that you just had there are hundreds, and in many cases more than a thousand, pages, and you give me a paragraph. And you’ve done the same thing to people who pick things out of the Bible.
Ankerberg: Would you say that what I quoted to you is out of context?
Mankin: It’s out of context with the whole chapter, with the whole thing that everybody has said.
Ankerberg: Oh boy, I’d love to read… I recommend those books…
Mankin: We don’t have time to go through them.
Martin: But we do have time to go into the three degrees in a couple of minutes. You know, you said something before that was interesting. When I made the statement last week about Hindus and Buddhists and everybody, and sort of fatherhood of God, brotherhood of man, neighborhood of lodge, we were talking about it. I thought it would be interesting to get some of the sources on Masonry and quote what they had to say. “The Holy Bible is the great light of Masonry.” Do you believe that?
Mankin: I believe that.
Martin: “So far, no responsible Masonic authority has held that a Freemason must believe the Bible or any part of it.”
Mankin: Because it’s not a religion.
Martin: But what good does it do to talk about the Holy Bible as the great light of Masonry if you’re not required to turn on the switch? You’re walking around in darkness saying, “It’s a great light,” but you don’t use it.
Mankin: I would like to read you the charge from the first degree.
Martin: Can I give you the third degree?
(Laughter)
Martin: “The all-seeing eye pervades the innermost recesses of the human heart and will reward us according to our merits.” (Ritual). “There is an immortal spark in man.” (Ritual). “There was never a false god nor was there ever really a false religion, unless you call a child a false man.” (Masonic Monitor). “I for one can never understand how anyone who takes an exclusive view of Christ as the only revelation of God’s Truth can become a Freemason without suffering from spiritual schizophrenia. Be assured that God is equally present with the pious Hindu in the temple, the Jew in the synagogue, the Mohammedan in the mosque, and the Christian in the church.” (Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry).
Now, Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” [John 14:6] “Neither is there salvation in any other. There is no other name given under heaven among men whereby we must be saved.” [Acts 4:12] It is one of the basic tenets of Masonry, whether you want to own up to it or not, that whatever a brother’s religion may be is irrelevant, he’s still a brother – you defend him – and that inevitably he has as much a chance for eternal salvation as anybody else.
Mankin: That’s not strictly true.
Martin: In the Christian lodge it might not be, but it is everywhere else.
Mankin: No. We hold that a man’s beliefs are sacred to himself. I can’t tell a man who is a member of a lodge…
Martin: Supposing they’re false?
Mankin: Then I would speak to him. I would witness to him as a Christian outside the lodge. I’m not going to make him a Christian inside the lodge.
Ankerberg: So that you would say that when you have those prayers to the one supreme God and he doesn’t agree with your Christian God, why are you praying?
Mankin: We are praying to the same God, the one God, the all-creating God, the same God that is on the dollar bill – In God We Trust – and the same…
Martin: And the Hindus, too, and the Buddhists?
Mankin: You’re nit-picking and that’s not really what this is all about.
Martin: That’s very factual. Just a minute. That’s the crux of the whole thing. The God of the Bible is not the god of the Hindus. The God of the Bible is not the god of Buddhists. The God of the Bible is not Allah. The God of the Bible is the Lord, eternal God who became man in Jesus Christ. You cannot call Him by all these different names and say you’re talking about the one God. That’s biblical nonsense.
Mankin: We are not doing that.
Martin: You just said that a minute ago.
Mankin: When I say a prayer in lodge, I say a prayer to my God.
Martin: But they’re praying to the same God?
Mankin: No. When I acted as chaplain, I said my own prayer. I didn’t even use the prayer which was provided. There was no point in doing it.
Martin: In a Buddhist lodge, in a Zoroastrian lodge, in a Muslim lodge, are they praying to the same God you’re praying to?
Mankin: They are praying to their god.
Martin: To the same God you’re praying to?
Mankin: Well, no. I can’t say that.
Martin: Then they’re lost, right?
Mankin: Yes, but they’re still Masons.
Martin: But they’re lost.
Mankin: But they’re still Masons.
Martin: So all your Masonic brothers – I want to get this out – all your Masonic brothers who reject Jesus Christ’s gospel and follow these things, even in the full light of Masonry are lost?
Mankin: According to my beliefs as a Christian, yes.
Martin: Thank you.
Mankin: But that’s their choice.
Martin: I believe you’re right.
Ankerberg: Gentlemen, I’ve got a book in my hand. It’s called Duncan’s Ritual of Freemasonry. I’ve read this and a few books maybe I’m not supposed to, but I’ve got it and I’m going to bring it up. It says that the Royal Arch degree, which is the 7th degree in the Masonic Lodge, describes the lost name of God as J-B-O. And the Masons here have a whole two pages right here describing what J-B-O means, actually “JAH-BUL-ON” is the entire word. Walter, I’m sure that you’re familiar with this. Would you explain why possibly as a Christian you object to what the Royal Arch or the 7th degree Masons have sworn to never reveal, and why is it they’re holding this?
Martin: “Ya” is the only vowel and consonant that we know in Hebrew for the name of God in the Old Testament, “Ja” or “Ya” depending on the pronunciation. “On” is for Osiris, the pagan god of the Egyptians. And “Bul” is for the concept of Baal. And you have an unholy Trinity in which you unite two pagan concepts with the concept of the God of the Bible. At least this has been documented and affirmed by scholars who have studied Masonry a great deal longer than I have, and I have no reason to dispute their translation.
Ankerberg: Right here in Duncan’s book it says that this being is worthy of our utmost veneration.
Mankin: You’re both one up on me, because I know nothing of that. The Royal Arch is a York Rite. I’m not a York Rite Mason; I’m a Scottish Rite Mason. And if that in fact exists in the York Rite, you know, I can’t speak to it.
Martin: We’ll give you the references and you can check it out. It’s there. Because the combination of pagan names strikes you instantly.
Ankerberg: Because also in the Old Testament you have a direct revelation from God about how He feels about those other two gods being linked with Him. Let me give you an example: 1 Kings 16: “And Ahab did evil in the sight of the Lord and it came to pass as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam, that he took to wife Jezebel… and then went and served Baal, and worshipped him.” God says, “Terrible.” [1 Kings 16:29-33] Judges 3:7, “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgot the Lord their God, and served Baal. Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel.” The God that you know and that I know says, “In no way do that. In no way link yourself with that.”
Martin: Well, John, since you raised this issue, I think that there’s something additional that should be brought up with it, and that is that in the rite at that time they state, “We three do meet and agree in peace, love, and unity, the sacred word to keep and never to divulge the same until we three or three such as we do meet and agree.” No Royal Arch Mason can pronounce the name himself. It has to be three of them together before they can do it and the three names, two pagan and one Christian, are pronounced.
Mankin: Why talk about this? I can’t argue it with you. I have nothing on which to base what you’re saying. I don’t even know if what you’re saying is true, because I’m not a Royal Arch Mason. That’s part of the York Rite. That’s not part of the Scottish Rite.
Ankerberg: Let’s move on to something else then and that would be…
Martin: You are on the 19th level. You’ve gone past the 19th level of Masonry, though, haven’t you?
Mankin: There are the 4th through the 32nd degrees in Scottish Rite.
Martin: But Scottish Rite would include the 19th wouldn’t it?
Mankin: It would include the 19th degree, yes.
Martin: And you’ve been through that?
Mankin: No, I haven’t. I have had some passages read to me. That was not an exemplified degree in our jurisdiction.
Martin: But it is a bona fide degree?
Mankin: Yes.
Martin: Since it is in your Scottish Rite, permit me to read this.
Mankin: The discussion was to be of the first three degrees, Blue Lodge. You guys have run far afield.
Martin: I wasn’t apprised that you were restricted to just three levels, believe me. I came prepared to discuss everything through the 33rd.
Mankin: Well, there again, I’m not a 33rd degree Mason.
Martin: Yeah, but these quotes are to me very important, because they’re part of Masonry and you are representing Masonry as a loyal Mason. It says, “To any chapter of this degree to which I may belong; and the edicts, laws, and mandates of the Grand Consistory of Sublime Princes and Commanders of the Royal Secret as well as those of the Supreme Council of the 33rd degree. It is then that the Thrice Puissant anoints him with oil on the crown of his head and says, ‘Be thou a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.’ And after receiving the password (Immanuel) and the sacred word (Hallelujah) he is dressed in a robe of white linen and given a cordon (a ribbon or sash of honor worn across the breast) of crimson color…” (Scottish Rite Masonry Illustrated, “The Complete Ritual,” Volume 2, E. Cook Publications, 1974). Is it not significant to you as a Christian that in the 7th chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews Jesus Christ alone occupies the priesthood of Melchizedek? In fact, the Greek says “He holds it inviolate and untransferable.” [Heb. 7:17]
Mankin: I have to go back to symbolism. We have to go back to a symbolic act and not something that is designed to…
Martin: But I can’t say to you, “You’re a priest after the order of Melchizedek,” when that’s our Lord’s priesthood.
Mankin: I don’t want you to.
Martin: But that rite says they do it to people that aren’t even Christians. You’re giving the priesthood of Jesus Christ, who intercedes for us in Heaven as our Lord, to people who don’t even acknowledge Him as God. That’s what I’m saying. That’s why Masonry is a cult. It denies the only Lord God, our Lord Jesus.
Mankin: It does not deny! It does not deny!
Martin: It does not deny Him?
Mankin: No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t deny anything.
Martin: By saying that there is salvation in others?
Mankin: This is… we’re running far afield.
Martin: That the Hindu and the Buddhist, they’re all the same?
Mankin: You’re choosing to make this into a conversation that you want it to do. I was led to believe that I was going to be able to discuss these things. I asked you, John. I said, “May I read the charge of the first degree?” Let’s talk about it.
Martin: Fine with me. I just think we ought to look at that one.
Mankin: Can we talk about the first three degrees of Masonry? Let’s talk about Blue Lodge. That’s why I wrote the letter.
Martin: Okay with me.
Ankerberg: But the same thing is, possibly you are committed not to talking about those, and it might be my fault for not communicating the fact of that, I didn’t pick that up. I understood we wanted to talk about those three but not the fact that we were limited just to those three. We intend to talk about those three, but what Walter is saying, too, is documented and it is true. The question that comes back is the fact that you have said that you are a 32nd degree, and the fact is you’ve got to be familiar with that.
Mankin: The fact is that I’m familiar with the three degrees that I work in, the 15th, the 21st, and the 30th. The rest of it I’ve had read to me one time.
Martin: That didn’t register when they read it to you?
Mankin: I told you, you don’t receive all 32 degrees. A number of degrees are exemplified. A number of degrees are what they call communicated, and in that case you merely discuss it. You may discuss it for as little as five or ten minutes. You certainly don’t go through the entire ritual of the degree. I have no knowledge of that degree.
Martin: The Scripture does say no one occupies it but Christ…
Mankin: I know what the Scripture says. I have no problem about that.
Ankerberg: Okay, let’s turn the coin over one more time. Then, as a Christian, you’re saying that it really doesn’t make any difference what idea or image you think about in terms of God, just as long as you believe in a god?
Mankin: I would argue that also.
Ankerberg: Okay, let’s wait until next week and we’ll pick it up right there. Please join us.

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