Christianity and the Masonic Lodge: Are They Compatible? – Program 5

By: Bill Mankin, Dr. Walter Martin; ©1985
Is there a deeper meaning behind Masonic rituals? Is there anything in the rituals that should concern Christians?

Are the Masonic Rituals Purely Symbolic?

Ankerberg: Welcome! We’re glad that you joined us. We’re talking about the Masonic Lodge and Orthodox Christian belief: are they compatible? And with me are two Christians on the platform: Mr. William Mankin from Boise, Idaho, who is a 32nd degree Mason in the lodge there; and then Dr. Walter Martin from the Christian Research Institute, who is also a Professor of Comparative Religions at Simon Greenleaf School of Law.
And I’d like to bring up this week, gentlemen, a question to both of you. It seems like when we talk with some folks in the lodge that they will admit that there are rituals; they will admit that there is symbolism. We can talk about resurrection at the funeral service, but it’s symbolic. We can talk about the belief in one God. We can talk about the altar in the lodge. We can talk about all of these things, and yet as symbols. I hear you saying, Bill, that there is no content that restricts a Christian in any way. There is nothing that conflicts with his Christian belief concerning that.
I’d like to bring up the fact that here in the book The Meaning of Masonry, by W. L. Wilmhurst, who is quoted in the Encyclopedia Britannica as being one of the foremost authorities, especially on British Masonry, and this book, now, this last year, was put out by the Grand Lodge in New York. They said this, as far as they are concerned, so we at least have one of the largest lodges, one of the key states in our country, saying that this is the meaning of those symbols. Now, in a couple of programs we’ve talked about the mysteries and the rituals. And I thought it would be interesting to go back and see what this man says. What does he say those are tied to? Where does the meaning and the symbol fit together?
He says the relationship of modern Masonry, Masonry today, to the ancient mysteries, mysteries of Egypt and of Babylon and so on, it is directly related. In other words, if we want to know the meaning of these symbols, you can find it in the mystery religions. And he has a whole book that goes through describing the gods of Egypt, the gods of Babylon, and talking about the mystery religions as being the one that they’re really talking about when they talk about this belief in the one Supreme Architect of the Universe. Which makes a lot of sense, Bill, because that god of the mystery religions, it was okay for the Jews, and the Hindus, and the Christians, and the Muslims, all to get together underneath their altars and to worship him. What would you say to this? This is not our literature, now; this is the literature out of the lodge in New York City in our country saying, “That’s the meaning of the symbols.”
Mankin: It is hard for me to believe that a square that is used to square a stone, and a plumb that is used to make straight walls, and a level that is used to try a horizontal plane, can be symbols that came out of the ancient mysteries. Those are instruments that builders have used for countless centuries to erect walls. And Masonry says, “Erect your spiritual [and “spirit” meaning personal] life by using those tools as measurements. Walk uprightly.” The poem admonishes us, “to walk uprightly in our several stations before God and man, squaring our actions by the square of virtue and ever remembering that we are walking upon the level of time to that undiscovered country where no traveler ever returns.” See, we use a little Shakespeare too. That part of the ritual is… when you get into all of this other stuff – and that’s all I can call it is “stuff” – you are dealing here again with opinion. You’re dealing with what somebody says. There’s none of that in any Masonic ritual.
Ankerberg: Well, it’s in the lodge in New York, because they published it.
Mankin: That book was published by the lodge, but it does not…
Ankerberg: They must have published it because they believe it.
Mankin: You won’t hear that if you go into a lodge room. You won’t hear any of that.
Ankerberg: That’s why they said they published it. That’s the Foreword of the book and it was the Grand Master who said that. Walter, you are a Professor of Comparative Religions. Does this ring a bell of what this man is saying in this book over here that we just quoted?
Martin: Yeah, it rings a perfect bell in the mystery religions and the ancient religions, because that is derived directly from the Kabbala and from their concept of the Sephiroth. You could get yourself involved in discussions of this metaphysical satanism for an awful long time, because that’s exactly what it is.
What interests me, however, is, if I may use Shakespeare again, “This above all, to thine own self be true and thou canst not be false to any man.” You are a Scottish Rite Mason and you can answer this one. In the Scottish Rite 17th degree where Knights of the East and West, having completed the initiation after revealing the password (Ja-bul-on) and the sacred word (Abaddon), the “Senior Warden conducts the Candidate to an elevated vacant canopy at the right of the All-Puissant.” This is supposed to represent the end of the world and so forth and so on. “The fourth seal is represented by a skull or a death’s head. The fifth seal by a cloth stained with blood. The All-Puissant identifies this as a symbol that we should not hesitate to spill ours for the good of Masonry.” It’s all from the Scottish Rite and so forth.
What interests me is that sacred word you’ve got there. The sacred word of this ritual which you went through as a Christian, “Abaddon.” That sacred word is found in Revelation 9:11. He is the angel of the bottomless pit. He is a demon. And when you went through that rite…
Mankin: I didn’t go through that rite. That was another one that was not exemplified.
Martin: Well, I’m glad you didn’t, but when a Mason of the Scottish Rite to which you belong goes through it, he is invoking Beelzebub, prince of demons. That is evil!
Mankin: Well, I would have to look into that a little bit more because I’m not….
Martin: Well, I suggest you do. May I give you the reference? Scottish Rite Masonry Illustrated, “Ritual,” Volume 1, pages 453, 456, 457, E. Cook Publishing, 1974.
Ankerberg: I’ve got one more for you here and that is the fact of, on all the Masonic seals and so on, I think you have the all-seeing eye. What is the source of that symbol and its meaning?
Mankin: That is, in fact, another symbol that…
Ankerberg: What’s the meaning?
Mankin: It came out of Egypt, but the meaning is the deity.
Ankerberg: I’m glad you said that, because I have the Masonic Bible and here it says – which knocks me out, Walter, here is a King James Bible with this preface in the front – “What is the all-seeing eye? It’s an important symbol borrowed by the Freemasons from the nations of antiquity. Among the Egyptians, Osiris, their chief deity, was symbolized by an open eye.”
Mankin: That doesn’t mean to say that that holds true today.
Ankerberg: That’s what it says right here. It was borrowed by the Freemasons.
Mankin: To assume that Masons are praying to Osiris is ridiculous. That is, there again, patently ridiculous. It’s not the case. The all-seeing eye represents the deity. It represents God.
Ankerberg: It fits, doesn’t it?
Mankin: It represents the same. If you look on the dollar bill, you’ll see it on every dollar bill that you ever have. It’s there at the top of the pyramid. It represents God, the same God, in God we trust.
Ankerberg: Walter?
Martin: I agree that symbols can change their meaning. Christmas, December 25, was a pagan feast day taken over by the Christian church. So was Easter: the goddess Eastre. Your objection is valid on that basis. I wouldn’t make my objection on that basis.
If I were going to make my objection, following John through, I think I would make my objection quite the opposite. I would object strenuously to the paganism that is in there in, for instance, the temple in Los Angeles, which I took the trouble to visit, where there is a statue of Moses, and then there is a statue of Zoroaster, and then there is a statue of Osiris, and then there is on of Thoth, and then there are statues of Egyptian gods and goddesses.
Now, my objection would be based on this: that when you put the representative of the God of the Bible in the midst of the pagan world which God judged for its evil, condemned them as vile, depraved, and wicked, then I think that you have gone over the borderline of just symbol. You’re playing with very dangerous spiritual fire.
For instance, in the book of Exodus, with which you’re familiar as a Christian, you know that when God finally wrapped up the whole plague bit with Moses, the last one was the execution of His judgment upon the firstborn of the house of Egypt. If you read that in the Hebrew, it’s quite significant. He said, “I will pass through the land of Egypt tonight and I will execute judgment [ vengeance, it’s quite significant] on the gods of Egypt, for I am the eternal God.” [Ex. 12:12] Now here in Masonry you’ve got all of this pagan gobbledygook, which was condemned by our God, and by His Son, and by His Spirit – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – sitting up there, and you are in the midst of it. As a Christian, that to me is totally incongruent with 2 Corinthians: “Come out from among them [the idols] and be separate, saith the Lord, and I will be your God and you will be my people.” [2 Cor. 6:17]
Ankerberg: The other thing, going right with that, would be the fact that as a Christian in the Masonic Lodge if you have brothers that are teaching this statement that I’m going to read to you, you ought to advocate that, number one, as a Mason you don’t have to hold that and that they should quit saying that and burn this book. For example, this is a quote out of probably the book that is in every Masonic home from here to Timbuktu. It’s in a quote on page 226 and I’ll give you the book in a moment.
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 each of its initiates to look for the foundation of his faith and hope to the written scriptures of his own religion.
Professor, let me ask you a question about a word there that throws everybody off. What in the world is this word Baalim doing in there when it says, “…unite in prayer to the one god who is above all the Baalim”? What does that mean in comparative religion?
Martin: Simply, in their context, it refers to gods.
Ankerberg: Okay, the false gods is what it means?
Martin: Yeah.
Ankerberg: And, at that point, it is saying that the false gods are those of the Christian, the Hebrew, the Muslim, the Brahmin, the followers of Confucius and Zoroaster, and there’s one above all of them that we’re really praying to?
Martin: That’s the Kabbala.
Ankerberg: That’s the Kabbala, which is advocated in the next paragraph. This is found in Albert Pike’s book [Morals and Dogma], page 226, which I think is in probably more homes in our country – even in our Christian homes, Dr. Martin, I believe that book sits there – and it’s advocating a view that is diametrically opposed to what they believe as Christians.
Martin: I think it was republished in 1948, too.
Mankin: Yeah.
Ankerberg: We have a question, gentlemen.
Audience: Mr. Mankin, I was listening to what you said in one of the earlier shows about how you all help widows and orphans and stuff like that. How come, as the Bible teaches explicitly for us as Christians through the local church to help widows and keep up the orphans, how come you need to go through another organization to do this?
Mankin: The widow’s and orphan’s fund is internal and is a very, very small part of Masonry. What I was talking about earlier was the charities that the Shrine does. For example, the 18 Shrine orthopedic hospitals, the three Shrine burn clinics. The Scottish Rite has the aphasia clinic. The York Rite has a charity. Each of the bodies has a separate charity. The Royal Arch has a separate charity. The Cryptic Masons have a separate charity. The Knights Templar have a separate charity. I can’t give them to you right off hand what they are, but we do sponsor these things. What I’m saying is that if you eliminate us, that nobody is going to take care of it. I don’t see anybody running forth willing to take over the operation of the Shrine hospital. The budget was $162 million this year.
Ankerberg: Is that the only way you can do it, though, that if the Christians that are in all those lodges dropped out, would they have to stop giving to those charities?
Mankin: In the United States they would.
Ankerberg: Well, couldn’t they form their own?
Mankin: Sure, but who’s going to do it.
Ankerberg: Couldn’t we do something through the churches?
Mankin: Who is going to do it, John? Who is going to do it?
Ankerberg: How about the churches?
Mankin: The churches haven’t done that well in the past two or three years with it. We’ve got a larger poverty problem now than we’ve had in heaven knows how long.
Martin: But you see, the motivation…
Mankin: We’re getting afield of this. That’s not really the issue. The issue is, I have to say, since you’re unwilling to look at the concepts of Freemasonry in terms of what it really is, the square, the compasses…
Ankerberg: I’m not afraid to look at it. I’m just afraid that we can’t agree that there’s any authority to define those symbols. I’ve defined the symbols; I’m saying that you say you won’t accept those authorities that come right out of your main lodge in New York.
Mankin: All I’m saying is that the all-seeing eye is not necessarily the one symbol for you should judge Masonry by.
Ankerberg: But you know it is interesting that you came up with the idea that that came out of Egypt before I ever said anything.
Mankin: Well, because, you know, there’s no question that it came out of Egypt.
Martin: John, I think there’s a motivation in Masonry, as there is in the entire cultic structure that we study in the Kingdom of the Cults: “Human nature is perfectible by an intensive process of purification and initiation.” That’s the Masonic initiation. “Good works is the pathway to salvation in all pagan religions and the pathway to justification.” Now, not for Christians; maybe not for a Christian lodge. But very definitely the Masonic order holds that the works which one performs, and the things that one does, are part of balancing the books before the Great Architect of nature.
Mankin: That’s not true.
Martin: Well, that’s in all the books.
Mankin: What we’re saying is if you have to judge us on something, judge us on the basis of what we do and not what you think we are or what somebody has written about us.
Martin: Okay, let’s put it this way. The Mormon Church is bigger than you are, more powerful than you are, has more money than you do, has more missionaries, has a fantastic income. The people are moral, ethical, kind, gracious, thrifty. They are hardworking. They care about their neighbors and all the rest of it, right? Why shouldn’t we turn around and say, “Look at all those good works. Don’t judge them by their theology. Judge them by their works.” You won’t do that. You’ve just called them polytheists. Well, I’m not going to judge Masonry by that either. I’m going to judge it by its theology as well as by its works.
Mankin: We have no theology.
Martin: Oh yes, you do, a very developed theology.
Ankerberg: Here’s another thing, is if we had Albert Pike resurrected and had him sitting in a chair saying what he wrote in his book, or if we took the five men that have come out with encyclopedias on Freemasonry, promoted by some your main lodges in this country, sitting here, they would say absolutely every one of those things is what they believe as Masons. And they would say that you out there in Idaho, you just haven’t caught up. You’re provincial. You’ve got a long ways to go. And you have not learned the real symbols of the Masonic Lodge. And probably it’s because your Christian faith is cutting in on that.
Mankin: That may very well be.
Ankerberg: Or, if you were to come back and you take a look at Albert Pike who says, “The blue degrees [which is what you wanted to discuss] are but the outer court or portico of the temple [that’s the lodge]. Part of the symbols are displayed there to the initiate, but he is intentionally misled by false interpretations. It is not intended that he shall understand them; but it is intended that he shall imagine he understands them.” Is that you, Bill?
Mankin: No. What he’s describing there is the legend of the first, second, and third degrees where this all takes place in King Solomon’s temple. You are told that, but it is a Masonic legend. We can’t really suppose that there were really Masons at the building of King Solomon’s temple. King Solomon’s temple was built largely by conscripts.
Ankerberg: It says, “You’re intentionally misled by false interpretations.”
Mankin: But that’s an oversimplification. The fact is, what you’re saying is that we have an allegory here.
Ankerberg: And the real allegory has not been told them at those degrees. “It’s not intended that he shall understand them… it is intended that he shall imagine he understands them.”
Mankin: There again, that’s what he says. That’s not what I would say. What I would say is you go into the deeper meanings of the degrees, and you read, and you put into it, and you will get out of it. You will find it.
Martin: I’m reminded of the words of Scripture which says, “The stone which the masons rejected has become the head of the corner.” [Matt. 21:42] And Masonry rejects, except for Christian lodges, the claims of Jesus Christ and the absolute authority of the Scriptures. It talks about the light of the Bible. They’re in the dark because they don’t use the Bible. It’s not binding upon them to live by biblical authority.
What we are dealing with is a non-Christian cult with a lot of very nice people in it who are very sincere and very dedicated, but very mistaken. In the words of Scripture, “There is a way that seems right unto a man but the end thereof are the ways of death.” [Prov. 14:12] I had a fabulous quotation about thirty seconds long, if I could read it, to close my remarks on this particular point. It comes from a non-denominational evangelist, the greatest of the 19th century; therefore, it can’t be prejudiced as far as denominational views are concerned. He said,
I do not see how any Christian, most of all a Christian minister, can go into these secret lodges with unbelievers. They say they can have more influence for good, but I say they can have more influence for good by staying out of them and then reproving their evil deeds. You can never reform anything by unequally yoking yourself with ungodly men. True reformers separate themselves from the world.
But, some say to me, if you talk that way you will drive all the members of secret societies out of your meetings and out of your churches. But what if I did? Better men will take their places. Give them the truth anyway and if they would rather leave their churches than their lodges, the sooner they get out of the churches the better. I would rather have ten members who are separated from the world than a thousand such members. Come out from the lodge. Better one with God than a thousand without Him. We must walk with God and if only one or two go with us, it is all right. Do not let down the standard to suit men who love their secret lodges or have some darling sin they will not give up.” – Dwight Lyman Moody.
The defense rests.
Ankerberg: Listen, I want to say thank you to both of you and especially to you, Bill, for coming from Boise and being on the hot-seat with us. I know that it’s been rugged. And also, Walter, for you to speak out on this. I’m sure that it stirred some controversy in television land. Thank you for at least considering the evidence from both sides.

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