The Masonic Lodge (Freemasonry)
| September 30, 2001 |
INFO AT A GLANCE
- Name: The Masonic Lodge (Masonry, Freemasonry, or sometimes “Speculative” or “Symbolic” Masonry)
- Purpose: The uniting of men in fellowship under the principal themes of the Fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, and the immortality of the soul. For many Masons Masonry is a religious quest for spiritual enlightenment; however, ultimately, in the higher degrees the purpose is to conform the world to Masonic beliefs.
- Founder: No single individual. Masonry gradually evolved into its present form, known as “speculative” Masonry. This distinguishes it from the “operative” or “working” Masonry of the medieval stone masons. Operative Masonry slowly assimilated the mysticism and occultism of numerous religions and philosophies of the Middle Ages to become what is known as modern speculative Masonry. Most scholars trace modern Masonry to the time when four lodges merged in London in 1717 to form the first Grand Lodge.
- Theology: Polytheistic, syncretistic.
- Practice: Secret ritual, individual spiritual quest.
- Historic antecedents: Ancient pagan mystery religion, medieval trade unions and occult practices.
- Spheres of influence: Church, education, business, politics, charitable agency.
- Ethics: Subjective, relative, amoral.
- Levels of initiation: Social, religious, mystical.
- Worldview: Humanistic, eclectic, mystical.
- Source of authority: Masonic ritual, “landmarks” (principles or doctrines), Grand Lodges and prominent Masonic authorities and writers.
- Revealed teachings: Technically, yes, even though Masonry has deistic tendencies. The ritual of the Scottish Rite teaches, “Masonry is of divine origin.” The Iowa Quarterly Bulletin teaches, “Masonry is a divinely appointed institution….” The charge to the candidate for the second degree (Fellowcraft) tells him, “Masonry [is] of a divine and moral nature….”
- Attitude to other religions: Condescending.
- Key literature: Masonic Monitors (texts of ritual) and writings of prominent Masons such as Mackey, Coil and Pike.
- Occult dynamics: Masonry has a number of similarities to ancient pagan mystery religion.
- In addition, for many, Masonry provides an introduction to mysticism, paganism and the occult, which may culminate with involvement in occult philosophy and practices. False claims: Masonry is not a religion or a substitute for religion. The following is either implied or stated in Masonic literature:
- Masonry is not occultic.
- Masonry does not offer a system of salvation.
- To be merely a fraternal brotherhood.
- To constitute the one true religion.
- To support the church.
- To be tolerant of all religions; further, to unite all religions.
- To honor the Bible and all Scriptures.
- To not interfere with one’s religion or politics.
- “Hear us with indulgence, O infinite Deity…. Help us to perform all our Masonic duties, to ourselves, to other men, and to Thee. Let the great flood of Masonic light flow in a perpetual current over the whole world and make Masonry the creed of all mankind.” -J. Blanchard, Scottish Rite Masonry illustrated
- God: Unitarian, deistic, pantheistic; The Grand Architect of the Universe (GAOTU); variously defined and incorporated with pagan elements.
- Jesus Christ: A supremely good man who understood divine [Masonic] truth. Salvation: By personal character: good works and individual merit.
- Sin: Character flaws, ignorance of spiritual [Masonic] reality, i.e., a flaw in human nature which men are able to correct through Masonic enlightenment.
- Man: Flawed but not sinful in a biblical sense; potentially divine, however all non-Masons exist in spiritual darkness.
- The Bible: A symbol of the divine will, not to be taken literally.
- Afterlife: Universalistic.
- J. Blanchard, Scottish Rite Masonry Illustrated: The Complete Ritual of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Vol. I (Chicago, IL: Charles T. Powner, Co., 1979), p. 455.
- Iowa Quarterly Bulletin, April 1917, p. 54.
- Grand Lodge of Texas, A .F. and A. M., Monitor of the Lodge: Monitorial Instructions in the Three Degrees of Symbolic Masonry (Grand Lodge of Texas, 1982), p. 63.
- Blanchard, Scottish Rite Masonry Illustrated, Vol. II, p. 320.
- (from Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions, Harvest House, 1999)
Written for The John Ankerberg Show, ©2001.