|Forward by Allan Large|
|Questions on Religion and Freemasonry|
|Is Masonry a religion?|
|Why are Masonic buildings called "Temples"; Doesn't that suggest a religious building?|
|Have some Masonic writers said that Masonry is a religion?|
|Can a man be a Christian and a Mason at the same time?|
|Does Masonry have a hidden religious agenda or practice, known only to "higher" Masons?|
|Why is it so hard to find an official statement of Masonic dogma?|
|Is there such a thing as a Masonic Bible?|
|Is Freemasonry a secret society?|
|Can a Christian take the vows or obligations of a Mason?|
|Does Masonry use symbols which are diabolical in nature?|
|Does Freemasonry teach that man can be saved by good works?|
|Is a Masonic service a worship service?|
|Did the Masonic Scholar Albert Pike really say that all Masons were secret followers of Lucifer?|
|Can one learn more about Freemasonry without joining the Fraternity?|
Few things are sadder in human affairs than unnecessary conflict, caused by misunderstanding or the unwillingness of men and women to discuss, calmly and factually, the differences they perceive to separate them. In recent years, Freemasons have felt especially victimized by this problem. Some people make themselves adversaries of Masonry without first finding out if conflicts really exist. Often, rather than asking a knowledgeable Mason for clarification or information, they simply read books written by other anti-masons and find their answers there.
I have asked Dr. Tresner to write this pamphlet because I know that most conflicts people see with Masonry-especially in the area of religion-are the result of misunderstanding rather than actual differences.
Each man seeks in Masonry for himself, and each man finds for himself. Each Mason has an absolute right to interpret Masonry for himself as he sees fit. With our long tradition of prizing intellectual liberty and individual thought, it could not be otherwise.
But if no interpretation of Masonry is officially "right, " there are some which are clearly wrong. When someone ascribes words to a person which that person never wrote, or when someone insists that Masons believe something which has never been a part of Masonry, it is the duty of every thinking Mason to say, "That is not what Masonry teaches! "
It is my prayer that every thoughtful Christian who wants to know more about Freemasonry will read this information and review again in his heart the lessons of Him Who taught that it is better to love than to hate and fear, and that it is our duty to cherish all mankind, to strive to be better tomorrow than we were yesterday, and to strive to emulate the compassion and caring of the Good Shepherd.
Jim Tresner is the Director of the Masonic Leadership Institute. He holds the 33° of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, is Director of the, 33 ° Conferral Team at his Temple, and is Director of the Work at the Guthrie Scottish Rite Temple in Guthrie. Oklahoma. He holds a B.A. with majors in communications, Theatre, English and Psychology, an M.A. in Communication Theory, an M.B.A., and a Ph.D. in Business Communications. He has served on the editorial Board of "The "Scottish Rite Journal," is on the staff of "The Oklahoma Scottish Rite Mason," serves as a video script consultant to the National Masonic Renewal Committee, and is editor of "The Oklahoma Mason." He is considered a scholar in the interpretation of Masonic symbols and Ritual and has authored numerous articles, video scripts, and booklets on Masonic subjects. - A.L.
CONSCIENCE AND THE CRAFT
Questions on Religion and Freemasonry
by Jim Tresner, Ph.D., 33°
I undertake this task with considerable diffidence. Indeed, were it not for a belief that it is sinful to be silent when misunderstandings create pain and confusion, I would probably decline. The world of Masonry is vast, complex and rich, but it is as nothing compared to the immense sweep and scope of thought, faith, history and culture contained in the word Christianity.
As a professed and professing member of the Christian (Disciples
of Christ) Church, I have never found any conflict between the
lodge room and the sanctuary. And indeed, as the Reverend Doctor
Norman Vincent Peale, one of the best known Christian and Masonic
authors of today has remarked, there can never be conflict between
Christianity and any organization which constantly urges its
members to live a moral life.
No, not by the definitions most people use. Religion, as the term is commonly used, implies several things: a plan of salvation or path by which one reaches the after-life; a theology which attempts to describe the nature of God; and the description of ways or practices by which a man or woman may seek to communicate with God.
Masonry does none of those things. We offer no plan of
salvation. With the exception of saying that He is a loving Father
who desires only good for his children, we make no effort to
describe the nature of God. And while we open and close our meetings
with prayer, and we teach that no man should ever begin any important
undertaking without seeking the guidance of God, we never tell
a man how he should pray or for what he should pray.
Webster' s New Twentieth Century Dictionary provides a definition for the word "temple" which is as good an explanation as any: "a building, usually of imposing size, serving the public or an organization in some special way; as, a temple of art, a Masonic temple."
Yes, and again, it's a matter of definition. If, as some writers have, you define religion as "man's urge to venerate the beautiful, serve the good and see God in everything," you can say that Masonry subscribes to a religion. But, that surely is not a conflict with Christianity or any other faith.
Perhaps the best answer is that most of us are, at least
in the United States. The ranks of Masonry have been and are
distinguished by many of the outstanding religious leaders of
America. A quick scan through the book 10,000 Famous Freemasons,
gives us these names from history, among many others.
It is useful, on this question, to let some of America's most honored clergy speak for themselves.
Carl I. Sanders, Bishop of the United Methodist Church and holder of e highest honor conferred by the Scottish Rite of Masonry, writes: "My Masonic activities have never interfered with my loyalty to and my love for y Church. Quite to the contrary, my loyalty to my Church has been strengthened by my Masonic ties. Good Masons are good Churchmen. "
Dr. James P. Wesberry, Executive Director and Editor of the Baptist publication Sunday writes: "It is no secret that Masons love and revere the Bible nor is it a secret that Masonry helped to preserve it in the darkest ages of the church when infidelity sought to destroy it. The Bible meets Masons with its sacred message at every step of progress in its various degrees. "
Masonry have a hidden religious agenda or practice, known only
Because there isn't such a thing. We've already mentioned everything Masonry has to say officially on the topic. To go further, as an official position, would be to deny a man his right to think for himself and his right to follow the dictates of his own faith. Each Mason has a right to seek in Masonry for what he wants to find, and to write about it if he chooses. But no Mason's expression of opinion is binding on other Masons or on the Fraternity itself. It is his right to believe as he wishes, it is not his right to force that belief on others.
No. The Bibles sometimes called "Masonic Bibles" are just Bibles (usually the King James Version) to which a concordance, giving the Biblical citations on which the Masonic Ritual is based, has been added. Anyone is welcome to read one.
Freemasonry a secret society?
Yes, with the exception of a very few denominations. If a Christian belongs to a denomination which forbids all vows, such as the Oath of Office of the President of the United States or the common oath of the law courts, "I solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God, " then he probably could not take the obligation. Any Christian whose denomination does not forbid the Presidential or the court oath, or the oath taken when entering the Armed Forces could take the Masonic obligations. Some anti-Masonic writers have complained about the so-called "penalties" in the Masonic obligations. Those penalties are purely symbolic and refer to the pain, despair and horror which any honest man should feel at the thought that he had violated his sworn word.
Masonry use symbols which are diabolical in nature?
That charge is sometimes leveled against us by anti-Masons who mistake both the nature of Masonry and the meanings of its Ritual. Salvation is not a topic on which Masonry can or does pronounce. As the Reverend Christopher Haffner points out in his book, Workman Unashamed: The Testimony of a Christian Freemason, "Within their Lodges, Freemasons are not concerned with salvation and conversion, but with taking men as they are and pointing them in the direction of, brotherhood and moral improvement. Insofar as the Order is successful in this aim, it is content, and leaves the member to devote himself in his own religious faith to receive the grace of salvation."
No. Except, perhaps, in the sense that, for a Christian, EVERY act is an act of worship. Our meetings open and close with prayer, Masons are encouraged to remember that God sees and knows everything that we do, and the Bible is always open during a Masonic meeting. But it is not a worship service in the sense that a service in a church is.
And that brings up one of the most ridiculous charges sometimes made against us - that our members are "really" worshiping a demon, only they don't know it! But you cannot worship something without knowing it. The act of worship is an act of full concentration, knowledge, and devotion- "with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind." We honor and venerate GOD, not the Adversary.
No. In many anti-Masonic books you'll see what is supposed to be a quotation from Pike, saying that all Masons of the "Higher Degrees" are secret worshipers of Lucifer. The historical fact is that those words were written in 1894, three years after Pike's death. They were written by a notorious atheist and pornographer named Gabriel Jogand-Pages, but better known by his pen name, Leo Taxil. Taxil was engaged in an elaborate hoax to discredit the Church of Rome and made up the Pike quotation out of thin air. His purpose was to show that the Church had failed to recognize the "threat" posed by Freemasonry and was, therefore, headed by fools and incompetents. Taxil publicly admitted the hoax in 1897, but it had already been published by a man named Abel Clarin de la Rive, who took Taxil's hoax at face value.
Rive's book, La Femme et l'Enfant dans la Franc-Maconnerie
Universselle, (Woman and Child in Universal Freemasonry) was
quoted by Edith Starr Miller in 1933, in her book Occult Theocrasy.
She translated the "quotation" into English.
Yes. The Grand Lodge of Florida can provide information and lists of books which explain Freemasonry in detail. They are the same books that Freemasons read and study to learn about the Fraternity. And I hope that this short discussion may help resolve some doubts. We have neither horns and tails nor halos. Masons are simply your neighbors, joined together in a Fraternity which tries to help men become better people as it tries to help the world become a better place through its charities. It is, so to speak, a " support group" for men who are trying to practice ethics and morality in a world which does not always encourage those ideals.