Where Do Masonry and Christianity Conflict?-Part 2
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2006|
|Freemasonry is a key player in Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons. Many of America’s Founding Fathers and Presidents have been members of the Masonic Lodge. Do these factors lend Masonry a legitimacy beyond questions—or are there areas where the teachings of the Lodge are in direct conflict with what the Bible teaches?|
- 1 Where Do Masonry and Christianity Conflict? – Part 2
- 1.1 Can any Mason honestly claim that the Lodge has no theology of its own
- 1.2 Does the Masonic Lodge have religious symbols just like those found in a church or synagogue?
- 1.3 Should the Masonic Lodge be identified as a religion if it does not choose to identify itself as a religion?
- 1.4 Does Freemasonry conflict with other religions such as Christianity?
- 2 Notes
Where Do Masonry and Christianity Conflict? – Part 2
Can any Mason honestly claim that the Lodge has no theology of its own
One reason Masons give for believing Freemasonry is not a religion is their claim that Freemasonry has no theology. But is this true? A definition of theology (theos [God] + “legein to speak]) is “to speak of God.” Masonry speaks of God, demands belief in God, instructs each candidate how to worship God, informs each candidate that the true name of God has been lost, and then in a later degree reveals that lost name.
For example, Masonry clearly teaches theology during the Royal Arch degree (York Rite), when it tells each candidate that the lost name for God will now be revealed to them. The name that is given is Jahbulon. This is a composite term joining Jehovah with two pagan gods—the evil Canaanite deity Baal (Jer. 19:5; Jdg. 3:7; 10:6), and the Egyptian god Osiris. This equating of God with false gods is something the God of the Bible strictly forbids: “You shall have no other gods before me… You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…” (Ex. 20:3,5); “You shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations” (Deut. 18:9); “Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (Ex. 15:11 NIV).
The Oxford American Dictionary defines theology as “a system of religion” Webster defines theology as “the study of God and the relations between God and the universe…. A specific form or system… as expounded by a particular religion or denomination.” Masonry fulfills these definitions of theology. It has its own specific system and form of belief which clearly spells out how the Masonic candidate is to perform his ceremonies before God. In the Lodge, this theological instruction is known as the Masonic Ritual.
As Joseph Fort Newton said, “Everything in Masonry has reference to God, implies God, speaks of God, points and leads to God. Not a degree, not a symbol, not an obligation, not a lecture, not a charge but finds its meaning and derives its beauty from God, the Great Architect, in whose temple all Masons are workmen.” Anyone who says the Masonic Lodge does not teach theology is uninformed or just plain lying.
Does the Masonic Lodge have religious symbols just like those found in a church or synagogue?
Another reason Masons give in claiming Freemasonry is not a religion is because it has no symbols that are religious like those symbols found in a church or a synagogue. But is this true? How can Masons say this when the building they meet in is called a “temple”? In the temple, which they believe is “sacred,” they offer “prayers” to a “deity.” No man can join the Masonic Lodge unless he swears belief in Masonry’s “Supreme Being.” The deity they pray to is called “the Great Architect of the Universe.” Masons must kneel at their “sacred altar” to make their “sacred vows.” Masons swear to be obedient and do the bidding of their “Worshipful Master.” In the Lodge the “Worshipful Master” has hanging over his head a symbol—a big letter “G”—which they are specifically instructed signifies “deity.”
On the Masonic “sacred altar” is placed a Bible, a Qur’an, or another holy book called the “Volume of Sacred Law.” In the third degree, every Masonic candidate is taught to accept the Masonic doctrine of the immortality of his soul, and further taught that if he is found worthy enough while on earth, his good works will earn him a place in the “Celestial Lodge Above.”
How can any Mason say their symbols are not religious? What else would anyone call the big “G,” hanging over the head of the “Worshipful Master,” other than a religious symbol? After all, Masonry instructs each candidate that the big “G” represents the sacred name of “deity.” If Masons do not want to have religious symbols, why don’t they change the name of their meeting place from a “temple” to a “building”? Why do Masons swear their secret oaths at the “sacred altar” rather than at a desk? After all, Webster’s Dictionary defines “altar” as “a raised platform where sacrifices or offerings are made to a god…. a table, stand, etc. used for sacred purposes in a place of worship….”
If Masons do not practice religion and are not surrounded by religious symbols, what are they doing saying prayers in the Lodge? What about the funeral services the Lodge performs committing the departed Mason to the “Grand Lodge in the Sky”? Why are the secret oaths called “sacred vows”? Why call the leader of the Lodge “Worshipful Master”? Why is the Bible kissed? What is meant when the Bible, the Qur’an, or the Vedas are called the “Volume of Sacred Law” and placed on the altar in different Lodges in the world? Why talk about the immortality of the soul? The reason they do all of this is because Masonry is a religion and uses many religious symbols.
Should the Masonic Lodge be identified as a religion if it does not choose to identify itself as a religion?
Masonry claims it is not a religion. But because Masonry claims it is not a religion, does that change the fact that it is a religion? One example should be enough to show that claiming something is true when it is not is ridiculous. Christian Science, via Mary Baker Eddy, teaches that when a man’s heart stops beating and he dies, it is not really death, but only an illusion. Christian Science boldly claims there is no such thing as pain, evil, sickness, or death; there is only good. But calling pain and death an illusion (changing the labels) does not alter the feelings involved in these experiences. And if I experience the same feelings, what good does it do me to call these experiences something different?
The same is true of Freemasonry. The Lodge does not call itself a religion. But because certain people call Masonry a “fraternal organization” instead of a religion, this does not change what it is in experience. That’s why two of Masonry’s leading scholars, Henry Wilson Coil and Albert G. Mackey, have both concluded that Masonry is a religion.
Here is what is at stake. All Christians believe that there is only one true religion—biblical Christianity. Therefore, all other religions must be false. After all, the Bible declares, “Salvation is found in no one else [other than Jesus Christ], for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time” (1 Tim. 2:5, 6).
If the words in these verses are true, and if Masonry is another religion—and according to Mackey and Coil it meets the requirements of Webster’s primary definitions of religion—then Christianity is the true religion and Freemasonry must be considered another religion and therefore a false religion.
Some people attempt to avoid this conclusion by saying that Freemasonry is not a religion—it is just “religious.” But it would be just as sensible to say that a man has no power but is powerful; or he has no courage, but is courageous; or he has no wealth, but is wealthy; or he has no patience, but is patient; or he has no intellect, but is intellectual; or that he has no honor, but is honorable.
Others say, “But the Lodge is not a church so it is not really a religion.” Henry Wilson Coil responds to this by saying, “If Freemasonry were not a religion, such as you find in a church, what would have to be done to make it so?” He says, “Nothing would be necessary, or at least nothing but to add more of the same.” Coil reminds Masons that, “The fact that Freemasonry is a mild religion does not mean that it is no religion.”
If anyone still doubts that Freemasonry is a religion, we can think of no one better to quote than Albert Mackey, who in Mackey’s Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry writes:
- We open and close our Lodges with prayer; we invoke the blessing of the Most High upon all our labors; we demand of our neophytes a profession of trusting belief in the existence and superintending care of God; and we teach them to bow with humility and reverence at his sacred name, while his holy law is widely opened upon our altars…. It is impossible that a Freemason can be “true and trusty” to his order unless he is a respecter of religion and an observer of religious principle.
If you are a Christian involved in the Lodge, how can you in good conscience continue to practice false religion? As God’s Word emphasizes:
- For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they will be my people. Therefore come out from them and be separate,” says the Lord. (2 Cor. 6:14-17 NIV)
Does Freemasonry conflict with other religions such as Christianity?
As we have noted, though many Masonic authors state categorically that Freemasonry is a religion, they go on to claim that Masonry in no way conflicts with other religions. For example, Mackey in his Encyclopedia has written:
- The religion of Freemasonry is not sectarian. It admits men of every creed within its hospitable bosom, rejecting none and approving none for his peculiar faith. It is not Judaism, though there is nothing in it to offend the Jew; it is not Christianity, but there is nothing in it repugnant to the faith of a Christian. Its religion is that general one of nature and primitive revelation handed down to us from some ancient and patriarchal priesthood—in which all men may agree and in which no men can differ.
This statement reveals that Masonry does have a problem with biblical Christianity. The reason is because the Bible says, “And there is salvation in no one else other than Jesus Christ]; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
It is nonsense to say a Christian can hold to two different religious beliefs at the same time, especially when they conflict. The Masonic Lodge says it is acceptable for men to worship God outside of Christianity. Jesus disagrees. He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Jesus Christ teaches that He is the way to God—not Masonry; that He is the truth—not Masonic religion; and that spiritual life is found only in Him—not in Masonic doctrine and Ritual (John 14:6). In John 15:4, 5, Jesus teaches, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
If a person agrees with the teaching of the Masonic ledge, he logically must deny Christ. A person is forced to choose between the Lodge and Jesus. He cannot hold both at the same time.
In conclusion, we have clearly documented that Masonic authorities themselves say Freemasonry must be considered a religion because it fits any standard dictionary definition of “religion.” We’ve also seen that Freemasonry does teach, through its emblems, its working tools, and its Ritual, how a man may go to heaven—which means Masonry has its own plan of salvation. We have noted Masonry has a distinct creed, its own confession of faith, a definite theology, and a specific Ritual of worship. Its symbols are comparable to those symbols found in any church.
Henry Wilson Coil in his 15,000-word article proving Freemasonry is a religion correctly concludes: “Nothing herein is intended to be an argument that Freemasonry ought to be religion. Our purpose is simply to determine what it has become, and is.”
Freemasonry obviously is a religion. Whether you are a Christian, a Jew, or of another religious persuasion, if you are also a member of the Lodge, do you realize that you are actively participating in a conflicting religion? If so, then how can you also participate in the religion of Freemasonry?
- Henry Wilson Coil, Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia (New York: Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply, 1961), p. 516; Malcolm C. Duncan, Masonic Ritual and Monitor (New York: David Mckay Co., nd), p. 226.
- Oxford American Dictionary (New York, Avon, 1982).
- Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary, Second Edition Unabridged (Collins-World, 1978).
- See our The Facts on the Masonic Lodge (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers), passim.
- Joseph Fort Newton, The Religion of Masonry: An Interpretation (Richmond, VA, Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co., Inc., 1969), pp. 58-59.
- Coil, Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia, p. 513.
- Webster’s New World Dictionary, Second Collegiate Edition (New York, Simon & Schuster, 1984).
- Coil, Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia, p. 512.
- Albert Mackey, Mackeys Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Vol. II, revised and enlarged by Robert I. Clegg (Richmond, VA, Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply, 1966), p. 847, emphasis added.
- Ibid., pp. 847-848.
- Coil, Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia, p. 513.