Tough Questions About God – Program 1
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Jack Harris, John Warwick Montgomery, Dr. Norman Geisler, Dr. Paul Kurtz, Dr. Walter Martin, Dr. D. James Kennedy, Dr. R. C. Sproul, and Dr. John MacArthur; ©1998|
|What does Masonry teach about how a man can get to heaven? What does Masonry teach about Jesus? What does Masonry teach about the Bible?|
Are the Teachings of the Masonic Lodge Compatible with the Christian Faith?
Besides the major religions in our world, there are thousands and thousands of religious groups all claiming different ways to God. But Jesus taught that He is the only way to God; there is no other way. Who is right? Logically, Jesus or one other religious leader could be right; but they both can’t be right at the same time if they are saying contradictory things. What evidence will help us decide and come to a conclusion?
If you are a Christian, do you know how to answer the tough questions about God that people are asking? The Bible says, “Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” [1 Pet. 3:15] Can you do that?
On this edition of The John Ankerberg Show, we’ll present the evidence that will strengthen your own faith and help you assist those who are sincerely searching for the truth. Join us today as we examine some of the tough questions about God.
- Dr. John Ankerberg: Welcome. You know, many times people who are seeking for the truth about God can ask some pretty tough questions. We’re examining some of those questions in this series. And today, if someone asked you, “Are the teachings of the Masonic Lodge compatible with the Christian faith? Is it okay for a Christian to join the Lodge?” What would you say?
- When I started researching the answers to these questions, I first secured the different Lodge manuals for all 50 states—that’s the Masonic Lodge ritual book—so that I could compare the ceremonies of the Lodge for different states. They are about word-for-word the same.
- Then, second, I wrote a letter to the 50 Grand Lodges in the country and asked them to give us a list of the books they would recommend to Masons in their state which most accurately describe the meaning and symbols of Masonry. Third, after receiving their answer, I bought over 110 Masonic books and encyclopedias. Fourth, I then invited Mr. Jack Harris, a former Worshipful Master from the state of Maryland, to reenact parts of the Masonic ritual from the First, Second and Third Degrees of Masonry so you could actually see and hear what he taught to more than 600 men in his Lodge in Maryland.
- Now, in answering the question, “Is the Masonic Lodge compatible with the Christian faith?” today we will look at three areas: What does Masonry teach about how a man can get to Heaven? What does Masonry teach about Jesus? What does Masonry teach about the Bible? I’ll give you my conclusion right at the top, then present the evidence that brought me to this conclusion.
- I think the evidence shows that the Masonic Lodge teaches a different gospel than Christians believe; that is, the Lodge, in its ceremonies and ritual books, teaches there is a different way for a Mason to get to Heaven than what the Bible teaches. And also, the Lodge teaches Masons a different view of Jesus, and a different view of the Bible than what Christians hold. As a result, I do not think it is loyal to Christ for a Christian to join or be a member of the Lodge. If a Christian has been mistaken in his assumptions about the Lodge, then when he understands the truth, I think he should leave the Lodge. A Christian should not join or support any organization which is not compatible with his faith. He certainly should not swear oaths of allegiance to the Lodge’s false teachings which contradict the Bible.
- But that’s the conclusion. Let’s look at the evidence. Does Masonry have a different gospel—teach Masons a different way for men to get to Heaven than what the Bible teaches? In order to find out, I’d like you to listen to Mr. Jack Harris, a former Worshipful Master from the state of Maryland. He will reenact part of the First Degree of the Masonic ritual. Part of this degree talks about the Masonry’s white leather apron, also called the lambskin. What is the meaning of the white leather apron? When Masons wear it, what is it supposed to mean, what does it signify? I’d like you to listen:
- [Excerpt from The Masonic Lodge: What Goes on Behind Closed Doors?]
- Mr. Jack Harris: I’d now like to continue with the ritual and explain what the meaning of the apron is, another symbol of Freemasonry.
- Worshipful Master (to Candidate): I’d like to present you, Brother Smith, with this lambskin, or white leather apron, which is an emblem of innocence and a badge of a Mason, more ancient than the golden fleece or Roman eagle, or any other order that could be conferred upon you with this or any future date by king, prince or potentate, or any other person, except to be a Mason, and which I hope you will wear with pleasure to yourself and honor to the Fraternity. The lambskin has always been deemed an emblem of innocence. He therefore who wears a lambskin as a badge of a Mason is continually reminded of that purity of life and conduct which is so essentially necessary to his gaining admission into the Celestial Lodge Above.
- Harris: I would like to explain to you what the Word of God has to say about this apron. We read in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, lest any man should boast.”
- Also in 1 Corinthians 6:11 we read: “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.”
- In Freemasonry, if you notice, with the white apron, they said, “by your purity of life and conduct you will [not that you may or that you could] you will gain admission into the Celestial Lodge Above where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides.” But as a child of God, I know that the Word of God says it is only through the Person of Jesus Christ that I can possibly obtain admission into the Celestial Lodge Above. I find that this is in direct conflict with the teachings of Freemasonry which teach that it’s by purity of my life, not through the blood of Jesus Christ.
- Why am I dressed the way that I am, with my high-hat, my apron, and my gavel? As a Worshipful Master of a Masonic Lodge, this hat represents a symbol of authority. Also, in a court of law the judge has a gavel, symbolizing his position of authority. As a Worshipful Master, I have total autocratic rule over my Lodge. The hat and the gavel symbolize authority that I have in the Masonic Lodge. My apron, as was just explained to you, is a badge of a Mason. It is very important to all Masonic people that they wear aprons. The apron represents a symbol of my purity, and it tells me that by my purity of life and conduct I will gain admission into the Celestial Lodge Above. No Mason can be buried or have a Masonic memorial service without that apron being on his body. No one can attend a Masonic church service without an apron on. And no Lodge member may attend his Lodge unless he first has his apron on, a symbol of purity of life and conduct.
- [end excerpt]
- Ankerberg: It’s important to remember this instruction that you just heard concerning the lambskin or white apron can be found in the Masonic ritual books of all the Lodges in all 50 states. None exclude this instruction and Mr. Harris is correct in telling you Christianity differs with the Lodge in how a man can get to Heaven.
- Jesus Christ is the only One that can provide a sinner salvation. According to the Bible, all men and women stand guilty before a holy and just God because of their sinful behavior. So God sent Christ into the world to do something for us. The Bible teaches that when Christ died on the cross a transfer took place. Christ became our substitute. God placed our sin on Christ and He was punished for us so all of our sins have been righteously and justly dealt with. We don’t automatically have this forgiveness. We must believe on Jesus to receive it. The moment we trust in Christ, God takes our sins away and transfers to us the very righteous life that Jesus lived. As a result, we stand before God pure and clean in Christ’s righteousness. That transaction that God makes is called justification in the Bible.
- This salvation that God provides has nothing to do with our works, our behavior, our accomplishments, our good deeds; rather, it depends completely on our trusting in Christ’s substitutionary death for us and His righteousness being given to us. When we believe God’s promises about what He has done for us through Christ, the moment a person trusts himself to Christ, that person is made a Christian by God.
- Then, in addition to God graciously giving us this status and position before Him, He also puts the Holy Spirit into our lives to help us live out what God has given us. We don’t live for God to gain His acceptance and eternal life; rather, we live with God and enjoy Him because we have already been given full acceptance, forgiveness and eternal life. That’s why the Bible says God saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. [Titus 3:5]
- The apostle Paul stated, “To the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.” [Rom. 4:5] So the moment you believe in Christ, God sees your faith and makes the transfer and credits to you Christ’s righteousness and takes away your sin.
- Masonry teaches something completely different. The Lodge says God evaluates the good works of your life, and if you have done enough, then God will let you into Heaven. This is why the Lodge is teaching beliefs contrary to the Bible and Christians shouldn’t join the Lodge.
- But then, second, what is Masonry’s view of Jesus? Masonry never anywhere in its ritual instructs Masons that Jesus is the unique Savior of the world. Rather, it teaches its candidates that Jesus is just one of many religious leaders and not God.
- In addition, the Lodge does not allow Christians to end their prayers “in Jesus’ name” and the Lodge prohibits Christian Masons from talking about Jesus during Lodge ceremonies or in their fellowship time after. Former Worshipful Master Jack Harris tells what happened when he became a Christian and wanted to close his prayers in his Lodge “in Jesus’ name.” Listen:
- [Excerpt from Christianity and the Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge]
- Ankerberg: You actually had 600 men in your lodge that you presided over. Is that correct?
- Harris: That is correct. Six hundred men. And at the time we had a Pentecostal Chaplain who always opened and closed his prayers in the name of Jesus Christ. Well, at the time I was Master he closed his prayers in the name of Jesus Christ at this one particular meeting, and a Past Master stood up and said, “We won’t have any of that here!” Well, in a Blue Lodge parliamentary procedure is normally always followed. So when the Lodge closed I approached this brother. “Why did you object to this?” He said, “Well, look in your Maryland Masonic Manual. It tells you how to close your prayers. And you’re supposed to use no additional endings, just ‘Amen’ or ‘So mote it be.’”
- So I approached the Grand Master in 1968 at the time, and I said to the Grand Master, “I’d like to have a Christian flag in the East, an Old and New Testament on the altar, and on top of all of this, I’d like to close my prayers in the name of Jesus Christ. I noticed there were some objections from the Past Masters.” He said, “Well, an Old and New Testament I have no problem with. Christian flag, that’s an impossibility!” I said, “Why?” He said, “Because we have Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, we have all religions of the world as a part of Freemasonry.” I said, “We do? I didn’t know that!” And then he said, “Close your prayers in the name of Jesus Christ? So long as no members object, I have no problem with that. But, if one member objects, I must insist that you don’t close your prayers in the name of Jesus Christ. If you do, I will insist on shutting your lodge down and it will cease to exist.”
- At this point I began to wonder, “Is there a difference between Freemasonry and the teachings of the Bible?” There seemed to be a conflict here from the way I was raised.
- Ankerberg: Because up to that point you didn’t think there was.
- Harris: I didn’t think there was any conflict. And I enjoyed doing what I was doing. But something was tugging inside that it was wrong.
- Ankerberg: Because you still weren’t a Christian at that time.
- Harris: I still was not a Christian at the time.
- Ankerberg: Even though you went to a church and you were the Worshipful Master of the Lodge.
- Harris: That’s right. I had a lot of head knowledge, John, but the heart wasn’t committed to any of the head knowledge.
- Ankerberg: So this started you thinking. Then what happened?
- Harris: Well, what happened at that time was that one night I was watching a Billy Graham Crusade; I remember, October of 1970. And he was preaching on Hebrews 4:12. Well, it convicted my heart so bad that I knew I was a sinner; I needed Jesus Christ as my Savior. I got on my knees and accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. At that time my first love, other than the Lord Jesus Christ, was His Word. I saturated my mind day and night with the Word of God. And then I said, the rituals that I had memorized word of mouth were coming back to me, and it’s a total conflict with what I’m reading in the Word of God. What do I do?
- Ankerberg: Give me an example of where you saw conflict when you read the Bible and you compared it to your Masonic teachings.
- Harris: When I first came into Masonry they told me that I was in darkness, seeking spiritual light. And when I read in John 8:12 where Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.” And as I saw many other passages that said I am a child of light. In Colossians he has called me out of darkness. [Col. 1:13-14] I thought, “Well, wait a minute! If I’m out of darkness and I’m in Jesus’ light, why am I still in darkness in every degree in Freemasonry until I come to their light?” So this kind of opened my eyes that something is wrong here with Freemasonry.
- I then contacted the Grand Lodge of the State of Maryland, debated with them on the issue, and their final word was: “We worship the Supreme Architect of the Universe here. If you want to worship Jesus Christ, you go to your church.” My point was, “Sir, in the light of the first chapter of John, Jesus Christ is the Architect of the Universe but He has a name: it’s Jesus Christ.” He said, “End of argument.” I then decided in order to be true to the Word of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, I must renounce Freemasonry.
- Ankerberg: Is there any problem with not mentioning Jesus Christ’s name in the Lodge?
- Harris: Well, the fact is that in all of their rituals, everything that they teach you, they exclude the Person of Jesus Christ. When they talk about how to gain eternal life in the Hiram Abiff legend, they only say “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.” They don’t say who this person is. Whenever they talk about the white apron…the white apron? The blood that dripped off of that white apron saved me by grace. They never say this. They tell me about “our purity of life and conduct.” So, all throughout the rituals, Jesus Christ is never mentioned. He is totally excluded. It’s not a matter of just omitting it at the prayers, it’s a matter of omitting Him totally.
- [end excerpt]
- Ankerberg: Now, the majority of Grand Lodges in the different states officially refuse to allow Christians to pray “in Jesus’ name” during their ritual. If you are a Mason, is the Lodge more important than your allegiance to Jesus Christ? Also, if you’re a Mason, take your Masonic ritual book and look at the first three degrees in your official Monitor. You’ll discover that not one prayer in the ritual of the first three degrees is opened or closed in Jesus’ name. Why? Because Masonry doesn’t honor Jesus as Christians do.
- Now we’re going to take a break and when we come back, we will look at the third reason why I believe Christians should not join the Lodge.
- Ankerberg: We’re answering the question, “Are the teachings of the Masonic Lodge compatible with the Christian faith?” In answering this question, we are seeing that Masonry teaches a different view of the gospel, Jesus, and the Bible than what Christians believe. Now, third, what does the Lodge teach about the Holy Bible? The Lodge claims that the Bible is the Great Light of Masonry and the rule and guide for all Masonic faith and practice. But I think you will quickly realize that the Bible is not the supreme authority for Masons. I’d like you to listen to former Worshipful Master Jack Harris as he reenacts part of the Masonic ritual concerning the Bible and then tell us what he discovered to be the truth about the authority of the Bible in the Lodge. Listen:
- [Excerpt from The Masonic Lodge: What Goes on Behind Closed Doors?]
- Harris: What I will give you now is the actual ritual taught by every Masonic Lodge in the United States.
- The three great lights of Masonry are the Holy Bible, the square and the compass. The Holy Bible we take for the rule and guide of our faith, the square to square our actions, and the compass to circumscribe our desires and keep our passions within due bounds. The three lesser lights are the sun, the moon and the Master of the Lodge. As the sun rules the day and the moon governs the night, so should the Worshipful Master endeavor to rule and govern his Lodge with equal regularity.
- Many of you are probably wondering, “What does Freemasonry really believe about the Bible?” I would like to quote to you Albert Mackey, one the world’s greatest Masonic interpreters of ritual, he says this in his book, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, under the title of “Bible”:
- The Bible is used among Masons as a symbol of the will of God; however it may be expressed. And therefore, whatever, to any people expresses that will, may be used as a substitute for the Bible in a Masonic Lodge.
- Thus in a Lodge consisting of Jews, the Old Testament alone may be placed upon the altar. And the Turkish Masons can make use of the Koran. Whether it be the gospel to the Christian, the Old Testament to the Jew, or the Veda to the Brahman, it conveys the same idea, the will of God to man.
- I had trouble with this as a born again Christian, when the Word of God tells me that there is only one way, one light, and one truth. But Freemasonry says that is not true. Freemasonry says the Qur’an, the Veda, the Old Testament, the New Testament, or any Scripture from any religion in the world is sacred and reveals truth and light. In all of their teachings they talk about seeking light, but the Word of God tells me there is only one light, and that light is to be found in Jesus Christ. It also tells me in John 5:23 that anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father. Freemasonry, in their religious teachings, does not honor the Son. Second Corinthians 11:14 also tells us that there is an artificial light: Satan appearing as an angel of light. I find that the teachings of Freemasonry, accepting the sacred writings of all religions in the world, leads men to a false hope and away from the Person of Jesus Christ. That’s why, after eleven years serving as an officer in a Masonic Lodge, I left Freemasonry.
- [end excerpt]
- Ankerberg: Let’s summarize what we’ve heard. First, the Masonic Lodge teaches there is a different way for men to get to Heaven than what the Bible teaches. Second, the Lodge does not point men to Jesus Christ alone, nor teach that He is the one and only unique Savior of the world. Third, Masonry does not hold that the Bible is the literal Word of God to be believed and obeyed, but accepts all other religious books as being equally authoritative. Therefore, wouldn’t you agree that no Christian should join the Lodge or swear oaths of allegiance to these false beliefs of Masonry? Christians are loyal to Jesus and live for Him, not to get saved but because Jesus has already accepted us, forgiven us, and saved us. When a person puts his total faith in Jesus, he belongs to Jesus and it would be contradictory not to live in such a way as to please Him.
- If a Christian participates in the Lodge, then I think he is giving credibility to the false teachings of the Lodge, which is wrong. Therefore, I think that it’s proper for Christians who are in the Lodge to leave, to demit. When you do, clearly state your reason for doing so. Say that it’s because of your faith in Jesus and that the teachings of the Masonic Lodge are not compatible with your Christian faith.
- Now next week we will look at another one of the tough questions people ask who are seeking for the truth about God. What solid proof is there that Jesus really rose from the dead? I hope that you’ll join me.