Where Do Masonry and Christianity Conflict?-Part 1 | John Ankerberg Show

Where Do Masonry and Christianity Conflict?-Part 1

By: The John Ankerberg Show
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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?

Where Do Masonry and Christianity Conflict?

Masonry (also known as Freemasonry or “the Lodge”) is a powerful, centuries-old fraternal order that, according to Masonic authorities, began in the early eigh­teenth century. According to most Masonic authorities, modern Masonry (also called “speculative” Masonry) can be traced to the founding of the first Grand Lodge in London in A. D. 1717.[1]

The Lodge is also a secret society. To maintain its secrets, Masonry uses sym­bolism, secret oaths, and secret rituals to instruct new members, called “initiates.” Each new member swears during these secret ceremonies to remain loyal to the Lodge and its teachings. The teachings instruct each new candidate how he is to serve and the rewards he can expect.

Is Freemasonry another religion?

There are approximately four million Masons in the United States. Many Masons are Christians and many are from other religious faiths. The question is, “Are those members of the Masonic Lodge willingly or unwillingly participating in another religion—the religion of Freemasonry?”

Most Masons are adamant in stating that Freemasonry is not a religion. Alphonse Cerza, Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of Illinois, argues that Free­masonry is not a religion because of the following: 1) It does not meet the definition of a religion; 2) it offers no system or teaching of salvation; 3) it has no creed, no confession of faith, no theology, and no ritual of worship; and 4) it has no symbols that are religious, like the symbols that are found in a church.[2]

To quote Bill Mankin: “All we are saying is that if you as an individual adopt the principles represented [in Freemasonry] … that you will be a better person. Not that you are going to go to heaven.”[3]

Is Freemasonry a religion? Masonic author Alphonse Cerza in his book Let There Be Light—A Study in Anti-Masonry quoted Dr. M. W. Thomas S. Roy, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge in Massachusetts, in his address to that Lodge. Dr. Roy stated: “By any definition of religion accepted by our critics, we cannot qualify as a religion….”[4]

To see if Cerza and Roy are correct, let us begin with the definition of religion from Webster’s New World Dictionary which defines religion as: 1) “[a] belief in a divine or superhuman power… to be obeyed and worshipped as the Creator and ruler of the universe; 2) expression of… [this] belief in conduct and ritual.”[5]

Now, would any Mason deny that Freemasonry fits this definition of religion as given by Webster? Is it not true that Masonry demands belief in a Supreme Being? Would any Mason deny that their authoritative Ritual describes exactly how they are to express this belief in conduct and ceremony? In brief, can any Freemason say Masonry is not a religion? The answer is obviously “No.”

But Masons do not need to take our word for it. They only need to listen to their respected Masonic authorities. In his Masonic Encyclopedia, Henry Wilson Coil quotes the definition of religion given by Funk and Wagnalls’ New Standard Dictio­nary (1941), and then asserts that Freemasonry fits not only this definition, but also fits the dictionary definition of what constitutes a “church.” Coil states:

Freemasonry certainly requires a belief in the existence of, and man’s dependence upon, a Supreme Being to whom he is responsible. What can a church add to that, except to bring into one fellowship those who have like feelings?… That is exactly what the Lodge does.[6]

In other words, Coil is saying that not only is Freemasonry a religion, but Freema­sonry also functions as a religion as much as a church does.

Albert Mackey in Mackey’s Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, quotes Webster’s definition of religion and then comments, “Freemasonry may rightfully claim to be called a religious institution.”[7]

So is Freemasonry a religion? According to Webster’s Dictionary, according to Funk and Wagnalls’, and according to leading Masonic authorities Coil and Mackey, Freemasonry is a religion.

Does the Masonic Lodge teach its own plan of salvation?

Another reason Masons give as to why Freemasonry cannot be considered a religion is because “It offers no system of salvation.”[8] In other words, they say Free­masonry has no teachings about how a man can go to heaven. But is this true?

Every candidate who enters the Blue Lodge is told again and again during the first three degrees of Masonry that God will reward those who do good deeds.

This can be documented by examining any Masonic manual that contains the Ritual of the first three degrees. In the manual under the explanation of the symbol of the “All-Seeing Eye”—one of the symbols for God—you will find these words: The “All-Seeing Eye [God]… beholds [or “pervades”[9]] the inmost recesses of the human heart, and will reward us according to our works.[10]

What is the reward Masonry teaches man will get because of his good works? Masonry teaches that God will reward man with eternal life in the “Celestial Lodge Above.” This can be documented in the Masonic Ritual and Monitor under the explanation concerning the lambskin, or white linen apron. There it says, “He who wears the lambskin as a badge of a Mason is thereby continually reminded of purity of life and conduct which is essentially necessary to his gaining admission into that celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the universe presides.”[11]

Now does this sound to you like Freemasonry is teaching a way of salvation? If you were to hear this taught in the Lodge, wouldn’t you think that Freemasonry is saying that you can go to the “Celestial Lodge Above” if you live a pure and honest life? Isn’t that religion?

If you are a Christian, when the Lodge teaches a man that by his good life and by his good deeds God will admit him into heaven, isn’t that contrary to biblical teach­ing? Doesn’t the Bible clearly teach that salvation is not by a man’s work—salvation is only by God’s gracious provision through Jesus Christ? Ephesians 2:8,9 (NIV) very plainly says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”

But if you are still not persuaded that Masonry is presenting a way to heaven, you should listen to Masonic authority Henry Wilson Coil, who writes the following about one of Freemasonry’s religious services. In his encyclopedia he argues:

Freemasonry has a religious service to commit the body of a deceased brother to the dust whence it came, and to speed the liberated spirit back to the Great Source of Light. Many Freemasons make this flight with no other guarantee of a safe landing than their belief in the religion of Freemasonry.”[12]

Notice he says, “religion of Freemasonry.” From this evidence, all must conclude that Freemasonry is a religion because it does offer religious instruction and prom­ises of how a man may get to heaven. In brief, Freemasonry is a religion because it presents its own plan of salvation.

So we have now seen that Freemasonry fits the definition of religion as given by Webster, and we’ve seen that it does offer its own plan of salvation—how a man can go to heaven.

Does the creed of the Masonic Lodge prove that it is a religion?

Some Masons say, along with Masonic apologist Alfonse Cerza, “Freemasonry cannot be a religion because it has no creed; it has no confession of faith; it has no theology, no ritual of worship.”[13] Let us now examine the claim that Freemasonry cannot be a religion because it has no creed.

Webster defines “creed” as: “a statement of belief, principles, or opinions on any subject.”[14] Now, according to Webster, how can any Mason really say that he has no creed? No man can become a Mason without confessing his faith in a Supreme Being. Every Mason must believe in the immortality of the soul, give honorable service to God by practicing the secret arts of Masonry, say prayers to deity, and swear oaths of secrecy in God’s name. These practices prove Masons have a definite creed.

In Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia we find:

Does Freemasonry have a creed… or tenet … or dogma…to which all members must adhere? Does Freemasonry continually teach and insist upon a creed, tenet and dogma? Does it have meetings characterized by the practice of rites and ceremonies in, and by which, its creed, tenet and dogma are illustrated, by myth, symbols and allegories? If Freemasonry were not religion, what would have to be done to make it such? Nothing would be necessary, or at least nothing but to add more of the same.[15]

Coil goes on to point out that not only does Freemasonry have a creed, but that the Masonic Ledge actually functions in practice as a church. For example, he writes:

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. Some think because it [the Lodge] is not a strong or highly formalized or highly dogmatized religion, such as the Roman Catholic Church… it can be no religion at all. But a church of friends (Quakers) exhibits even less formality and ritual than does a Masonic Lodge.”[16]

In conclusion, Coil writes, “The fact that Freemasonry is a mild religion does not mean that it is no religion.”[17]Every Mason should listen to Henry Wilson Coil and stop asserting that they have no creed in the Lodge. If they do have their own creed, they should also admit as Coil does that they are practicing religion.

Does the Masonic Lodge have its own distinct doctrinal statement like a church does?

Another reason Masons give for claiming Freemasonry is not a religion is be­cause “we have no confession of faith in a doctrinal statement such as a church does.” But is this true?

How can any Mason honestly say he has no confession of faith when he must believe in the teachings of the Landmarks concerning the universal Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man, when he must believe in immortality of the soul, when he must believe in a Supreme Being, and when he must believe that as a good Mason he will reside in the “Celestial Lodge Above” for all eternity?

Not only do Masons have a confession of faith in their own doctrinal beliefs, but their Masonic beliefs are distinctive. It can be seen that Masonry teaches specific religious doctrines which are not accepted by many other religions. This means Masonry’s claim of not having distinctive religious doctrines is false.

This can easily be seen from Masonry’s religious teaching concerning the immor­tality of the soul. Just ask yourself, “Do all religions believe in the doctrine of the immortality of the soul like Masons do?” The answer is “No.” Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Armstrongites, and Buddhists, to name just a few, do not believe in the immortality of the soul as Masons do.

Do all religious people believe in a single Supreme Being as the Masons do? No. Hindus believe in millions of gods; so do Mormons. Many Buddhists do not believe in God at all.

At death, do all religious people believe as Masons do that they will reside in the “Celestial Lodge in the Sky” for all eternity? A quick examination of other people’s beliefs reveals that Hindus and Buddhists believe in the extinction of the person.

Mormons believe that they can become gods themselves. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that only 144,000 will get to reside in heaven and all the rest who aren’t annihilated will stay on planet Earth.

In conclusion, it is absolutely clear that the Masonic Lodge does have its own distinct religious doctrinal statement just like any other religion does. That’s why Masonry must be considered to be teaching religion.

Notes

  1. Henry Wilson Coil, Freemasonry Through Six Centuries, Vol. I (Richmond, VA: Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply, 1967), pp. 131,152; Transcript, “Christianity and the Masonic Lodge: Are They Compatible?” (Guests: William Mankin, Dr. Walter Martin) (Chattanooga, TN, The John Ankerberg Evangelistic Association, 1985), p. 3; Shildes Johnson, Is Masonry a Religion? (Oakland, NJ: Institute for Contemporary Christianity, 1978), p. 12.
  2. Transcript, “Christianity and the Masonic Lodge,” p. 2: cf. Alphonse Cerza, Let There Be Light: A Study in Anti Masonry (Silver Spring, MD, The Masonic Service Association, 1983), p. 41.
  3. Transcript, “Christianity and the Masonic Lodge,” p. 2.
  4. Cerza, Let There Be Light, p. 41.
  5. Webster’s New World Dictionary, Second Collegiate Edition (New York, Simon & Schuster, 1984).
  6. Henry Wilson Coil, Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia (New York, Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply, 1961), p. 512.
  7. Albert Mackey, Mackey’s Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, rev. and enlarged by Robert I. Clegg, Vol. II (Richmond, VA, Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply, 1966), p. 847.
  8. Transcript, “Christianity and the Masonic Lodge,” p. 2.
  9. 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. 83.
  10. Malcolm C. Duncan, Masonic Ritual and Monitor (New York, David Mckay Co., nd.), p. 129, emphasis added
  11. Ibid., p. 50, emphasis added; cf. Texas Monitor, p. 88.
  12. Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia, p. 512, emphasis added.
  13. Transcript, “Christianity and the Masonic Lodge,” p. 2; Alphonse Cerza, Let There Be Light: A Study in Anti Masonry, Silver Spring, MD, The Masonic Service Association, 1983.
  14. Webster’s New World Dictionary, Second Collegiate Edition (New York, Simon & Schuster, 1984).
  15. Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia, p. 512, emphasis added.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Ibid.

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