The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge: A Christian Perspective. By John Ankerberg and John Weldon. Chicago: Moody Press, 1990. 333 pp. Paper, $7.95.
This is a lengthy book designed to show that Masonry “is more than simply a fraternal organization” but “is a religion” whose “rites are incompatible with Christian belief” (p. 7). As a result the authors insist that Christians should not be Masons and that Masons should not be allowed to be local-church leaders. This is also a tedious book, filled with lengthy quotations from both Masonic proponents and critics. It also has considerable repetition. The nub of the discussion is part 1, composed of four chapters covering “Masonic Nature and Influence,” “Masonic Religion,” “Masonic World View,” and “Masonic Morality.” This material is expanded in parts 2–4.
Much is made of the secrecy involved in Masonry, which is true; Masonry presents itself as a secret society. This book, however, is entitled “The Secret Teaching of the Masonic Lodge,” and the authors insist, “We have documented each statement from the authoritative rituals of each state and from the Masonic authorities recommended to us by at least half the Grand Lodges in the fifty states” (p. 76). In light of these revelations, how can Masonry be so secret? All its secrets have been told.
This reviewer has difficulty viewing Masonry as having the secret agenda of becoming the world religion, as the authors suggest. True, some Masons make the lodge their religion. It is also true that Christians should not be involved in Masonry; they have more important things to do. And many of the teachings of Masonry do conflict with those of Christianity, as the authors point out. The evidence that Masons are seeking to make Masonry the world religion, however, is tenuous at best.
A Biblical Appraisal of Masonic Membership
In light of the foregoing, a Christian’s participation in the Lodge is a significant issue. Masons consider themselves “one sacred band or society of friends and brothers.”39 In the First, Second, and Third Degrees, a Mason swears oaths to God, under penalty of death, to fulfill certain obligations.40 He swears to this oath on a book considered by his Grand Lodge to be sacred. Thus, the book varies depending on the dominant religion of the area. So, it may be the Bible, the Koran, or the Bhagavad Gita, depending on where it occurs. Also, candidates take their oaths at the altar of the Masonic god, the same altar at which they all kneel, regardless of their religious persuasions.
At the end of each oath, the Worshipful Master (the local Lodge head) informs the Mason that he is bound to all Masons. After the First Degree, the Worshipful Master says, “Brother Senior Warden, release the candidate from the cable-tow, his being now bound to us by a stronger tie.”41 After the Second Degree, the Worshipful Master says, “Brother Senior Warden, release the candidate from the cable-tow, it being twice around his naked right arm, is to signify to him that he is now bound to the fraternity by a two fold tie.”42 After the Third Degree, the Worshipful Master says, “Brother Senior Warden, release the candidate from the cable-tow, it being thrice around his naked body, is to signify to him that he is now bound to the fraternity by a threefold tie.”43 These three statements illustrate the serious bond between Masons. As a further example of the extent of this bond, in the Third Degree each Mason swears to keep secret, if asked, the crimes committed by a fellow-Mason. Murder and treason are the only exceptions. The oath reads, “Furthermore, that I will keep the secrets of a Master Mason as my own, when given to me in charge as such, murder and treason excepted.”44 Thus, by solemn oath the Mason binds himself as a brother to every other Mason, regardless of his god or religion.
Beyond this, though, in the Second Degree the candidate bows in reverence to the god of Freemasonry, called G.A.O.T.U.45 He does this after the Worshipful Master utters the following call:
I will again call your attention to the letter G for a more important purpose: *** (Right hand, uncovers.) It is the initial of the name of the Supreme Being, before whom all Masons, from the youngest Entered Apprentice in the north-east corner of the Lodge to the Worshipful Master in the east, should with reverence bow. (All bow.) *46
After this, all present bow toward the letter “G” suspended above theWorshipful Master in the East. Masons thereby pay homage to the false god of the Masonic Lodge. For a Christian to conceive that he is bowing to the true God does not mitigate this act of homage to a false god, because he is bowing to god as defined by the Lodge. One scholar has written the following to soften the offense of such worship:
The uninstructed layman may in all good faith be unable to draw this distinction; to him God is God, whether addressed as the Great Architect or Grand Geometrician of the Universe, or as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. But the position of the Masonic priest or bishop appears to be far less defensible.47
He means that a Christian Mason uninstructed in Freemasonry may not realize he is bowing to a false god. Yet an informed Christian Mason has no excuse. The only explanation is that a Mason bows before and pays homage to the Masonic idol.
In 2 Cor 6:14–18, Paul discussed the relationship of believers to unbelievers.48 In 6:14–16a he wrote, Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?
Though it is not clear precisely what relationship to unbelievers Paul referred to in this context, it is apparently some intimate association with them and their false gods.49 Webb summarizes, In conclusion, 2 Corinthians 6:14 prohibits believers from joining in any activity that forms a covenantlike [sic] bond with pagans and their idols (either through literal-physical or metonymical idolatry) and seriously violates the believer’s covenant with God.50
Paul’s counsel in such a situation was to abandon the relationship. In 6:14, the command “do not be bound together” calls for the readers to cease initiating relationships.51 That such relationships already existed is confirmed by 2 Cor 6:17 where Paul counsels, “come out from their midst and be separate.” The injunction of 2 Cor 7:1 also proves the pre-existence of these relationships: “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”52 Paul taught that a believer must not join himself to any unbeliever so as to associate himself with the unbeliever’s idolatry. If he already had such a relationship, Paul insisted that he sever it. This has a direct application to Christian membership in the Lodge.53
Incompatibility of Christianity and Freemasonry
The Lodge teaches clearly that one may earn admittance into heaven on the basis of works, regardless of religion. This is a false gospel, which places those who advocate such a doctrine under Paul’s imprecation. If this is not enough to convince a Christian not to involve himself in Masonry, it should be enough that a Christian Mason binds himself by oath to all other Masons in a way that associates him with their idolatry. In 2 Cor 6:14 Paul forbids such a relationship. The activity of a Christian Mason is even more unbiblical, though, when he kneels at the altar of the false god of the Lodge and pays homage to its deity. These facts demonstrate that Christian participation in the Lodge is more than a matter of individual Christian conscience. It is imperative that Christians not participate in this organization.54
One writer summarizes the church’s appropriate response to Christian Masons:
[The church can] make painstaking efforts when dealing with lodge members to have them realize the incompatibility of membership in a society which ignores or even denies Jesus Christ and in a society which confesses and worships Him as the Savior of lost mankind and as the King of kings and Lord of lords.55
This entails telling Masons that they cannot be at once members of the Lodge—which denies Christ—and members of the church—which confesses him as Lord.56 The authors of this essay wish to communicate this message in the hope that Christian Masons will “come out from their midst and be separate.”
Bibliotheca Sacra. 1998 (electronic edition.). Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary.
39 39. Monitor 30–31.
40 40. King Solomon and His Followers, rev. Calif. ed. (Richmond, VA: Allen, 1989) 22-23, 81–83, 135–38, respectively. This book contains the current secret ritual of the Lodge in code. The statements in this paper result from a decoding of the code-book. The earlier edition of the code-book is King Solomon’s Temple. Those unable to use the code-book may consult Malcom C. Duncan, Duncan’s Masonic Ritual and Monitor, 3rd ed. with add. and corr. (New York: David McKay, n.d.). This work contains the complete secret Masonic ritual (the three Degrees) in English. Because it is an older version it is somewhat different from the current edition, but the differences do not alter the present discussion.
The older code-books and older English-language ritual manuals containing all the secrets for the Lodge and related organizations are obtainable from Ezra A. Cook Publishers, 6604 West Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL 60634.
41 41. Ibid., 23.
42 42. Ibid., 83.
43 43. Ibid., 138.
44 44. Ibid., 136.
45 45. This is an acronym for “Great Architect of the Universe.”
46 46. King Solomon 100–101. The asterisks represent raps of the gavel by the Worshipful Master. The first three raps instruct all present to rise, the last tells all to be seated.
47 47. Hannah, “Should a Christian” 5.
48 48. The interpretation of ἄπιστοι (apistoi) as “unbelievers” is debatable, but has the best support (see William J. Webb, “Who Are the Unbelievers [ἄπιστοι] in 2 Corinthians 6:14?” BSac 149 [January-March 1992]:27-44).
49 49. Webb offers three reasons why 2 Cor 6:16 refers to literal, rather than metaphorical, idolatry: “That Paul intended literal idols in 2 Corinthians 6:16 is more likely in light of the living God—idols contrast, his pattern of clarifying metaphorical intent when referring to idolatry, and the major problem at Corinth with literal idols. Any references related to metaphorical idolatry, therefore, should probably be rejected” (William J. Webb, “What is the Unequal Yoke [ἑτεροζυγου̂ντες] in 2 Corinthians 6:14?” BSac 149 [April-June 1992]:170-71).
50 50. Ibid., 179.
51 51. A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1931) 4:236.
52 52. Webb, “Unequal Yoke” 170–71.
53 53. Ankerberg, Secret Teachings 91–92, 191; Byers, I Left 81; Harris, Freemasonry 36; McClain, Freemasonry 36; R. A. Torrey, Practical and Perplexing Questions Answered (Chicago: Revell, 1908, 1909) 112.
54 54. Weldon, “Masonic Lodge” 39.
55 55. Bretscher, “Masonic Apostasy” 114.
56 56. R. A. Torrey said, “The name of Jesus Christ is cut out of passages in which it occurs in the Bible so as not to offend Jews and other non-Christians. How a Christian can retain membership in a society that thus handles deceitfully the Word of God, and above all cuts out the name of his Lord and Master, I cannot understand” (Perplexing Questions 112).