The Maze of Masonry
Should a Christian be a Mason?
by Dr. David R. Reagan
In the mid-1980's I was holding a meeting at a large church in Lexington, Kentucky, when I received a phone call at my motel from one of the church members. The caller identified himself as one of our radio listeners. He said he had heard a broadcast of mine about Masonry, and he wanted to talk with me about it. He asked if he could come to my room for a visit, and I agreed.
When he arrived, he shared with me an incident that had happened at his church. One of the assistant pastors had been teaching a course on the cults. One Sunday morning as he concluded his lesson, he announced, "Next week we will conclude our study of the cults by taking a look at the Masons."
My visitor said he was dumbfounded by this announcement. "I immediately protested," he said. "I told him I was a Mason, and I did not consider the organization to be cultic in nature."
"Well," the teacher responded, "I really don't know that much about it. I'm just presenting the material in my teacher's manual."
After discussing the matter back and forth for a few minutes, the teacher made an offer: "I'll tell you what," he said, "next week I'll present my material and then I will give you half the class time to present your rebuttal."
My visitor said he accepted the offer and went to work immediately studying Masonry.
I asked what he meant by "studying Masonry."
He replied that although he had been a Mason many years, he knew almost nothing about the fundamental beliefs of the organization.
When I asked how that could be, he explained that he had simply bought each of his Masonic degrees without doing any study.
"What happened next?" I asked.
He said he started his research by reading the Kentucky Masonic handbook. "When I got to page 95, I put the book down, repented before God for ever becoming a Mason, took a hammer and beat my Masonic ring to a pulp, and then sent a letter of resignation to my lodge."
"Wow!" I replied. "What in the world was on page 95?"
At that point, he handed me the handbook and told me I could keep it. I immediately turned to page 95 and found the following paragraph:1
"Masonry makes no profession of Christianity... but looks forward to the time when the labor of our ancient brethren shall be symbolized by the erection of a spiritual temple... in which there shall be but one altar and one worship; one common altar of Masonry on which the Veda [Hinduism], Shastras [Buddhism], Sade [Astrology], Zend-Avesta [Zoroastrianism], Koran [Islam], and Holy Bible shall lie untouched by sacrilegious hands, and at whose shrine the Hindoo (sic), the Persian, the Assyrian, the Chaldean, the Egyptian, the Chinese, the Mohammedan, the Jew, and the Christian may kneel and with one united voice celebrate the praises of the Supreme Architect of the Universe."
Notice how this paragraph equates the Bible with the pagan scriptures and then asserts it is possible to obtain salvation through any religion. In short, this paragraph refutes the Gospel which maintains that "there is salvation in no other name under heaven except the name of Jesus" (Acts 4:12).
How could any Christian give his allegiance to an organization whose beliefs make a mockery of the Gospel? And yet, thousands of professing Christians, even many pastors and elders, have done so by becoming Masons.
The Nature of Masonry: Fraternal Order or Religion?
Masonry is a fraternal, social, and service organization. But it is more. It is also a religious organization.
The Masons nearly always deny this in their public statements, but their official literature and their actions make it clear that Masonry is a religion. They require a belief in God - any god - as a condition of membership. They have published a Masonic Bible that contains special study guides. They conduct funerals for their members. Most important (as we shall see later), their official, non-public literature is filled with religious doctrine.
Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, considered to be the most authoritative and influential Masonic book today,2 states point blank that "Freemasonry is undoubtedly a religion."3 In Albert G. Mackey's Manual of the Lodge he says: "As Masons we are taught never to begin any great or important undertaking without first invoking the blessing and protection of deity, and this is because Masonry is a religious institution."4 In another of his books, Mackey (considered the third most influential Masonic writer5) declares that "the religion of Masonry is cosmopolitan and universal."6
The greatest Masonic writer of all times, Albert Pike, argued that "every Masonic Lodge is a temple of religion; and its teachings are instruction in religion."7 He further stated, "Masonry is... the universal, eternal, immutable religion, such as God planted in the heart of universal humanity."8
Some personal experiences have convinced me that many Masons look upon the Masonic Order as their church, or perhaps more appropriately, as their ticket to Heaven.
This conclusion is based upon the letters I received from the wives of Masons during the 22 years I had a nationwide radio program (1980-2002). Every time I would broadcast a series of radio programs about Masonry, I would receive a flood of letters from wives expressing deep concern about their husbands' involvement in the organization.
The letters read like a broken record. Over and over the same sentiment was expressed: "My husband is a Mason. He claims to be a Christian. Yet he never studies his Bible, rarely prays, and attends church with me only two or three times a year. But he never misses a Masonic meeting."
Another experience that I vividly remember occurred at a church in Indiana in the late 1980's. When I arrived to conduct a prophecy conference for them, I noticed a large chart in the foyer. A number of people were standing around studying the chart.
When I asked what it was all about, a man who introduced himself as one of the elders, explained that the pastor had called for a 24 hour prayer vigil at the church in behalf of the conference. On the chart were the names of dozens of people who had signed up to come to the church to pray for 30 minutes, day and night. I was impressed.
I turned to the elder and asked, "Where is your name on the chart?"
"Oh, it's not there," he said. "You see, last night was my Masonic lodge meeting, so I couldn't be here to pray."
The Nature of Masonry: Is it a Cult?
As we shall see, the Masonic Order has definite cultic characteristics, but it is not a classic cult because it does not require membership in it only, to the exclusion of all other groups or churches. In fact, Masons are encouraged to be an active member of a local church.
This distinctive feature of Masonry has given the organization far more influence within Christendom than all the recognized cults put together.
Rather than labeling Masonry a cult, I prefer to call it a false religion, and I think I can prove that assertion.
Many Christian denominations have recognized the cultic nature of Masonry and have taken decisive steps to retard its influence among their members. For example, the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church prohibits Masons from becoming members of their church. Likewise, the Nazarene Church has banned from its membership any person who is a member of a secret organization like the Masons.
The Catholic Church has also taken a strong stand against Masonry. Ever since 1728 Catholics have been prohibited from joining the Masons. That stance was reaffirmed by the Vatican in 1984 with a pronouncement that any Catholic who joins the Masons is "in a state of grave sin and cannot partake in Holy Communion."9
The British Methodist Church also condemned Masonry at its General Assembly in 1985. The Assembly acted on a report of its Faith and Order Committee. That report, entitled "Freemasonry & Methodism," outlined the occultic nature of Masonry in detail. The report concluded with these words: "There is a great danger that the Christian who becomes a Freemason will find himself compromising his Christian beliefs or his allegiance to Christ, perhaps without realizing what he is doing."10
Many other denominations, both in the United States and abroad, have passed resolutions condemning Masonry as un-Christian in nature. Groups here in America include the Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Assemblies of God, the Evangelical Mennonite Church, the Christian Reformed Church, the General Association of Regular Baptists, the Greek Orthodox Church, and the Presbyterian Church in America - among others.11
The glaring omission, of course, is the Southern Baptists, and this is a very serious matter because many Southern Baptists, including pastors and deacons, are also Masons.
Many Southern Baptists who strongly oppose Masonry were able to get a resolution passed at their 1992 convention which asked their membership to avoid association with organizations that operate in secret and which espouse doctrines that conflict with clear biblical teaching.12
Even though Masonry was not specifically mentioned in this resolution, its wording infuriated Masons, and they went to work to override it. Thousands of Christian Masons were encouraged to attend the 1993 convention. A special publication was issued that showed Baylor University officials on the cover wearing their Masonic regalia. The publication declared that "Masonry is perfectly compatible with the classic Protestant belief in justification by faith."13
During the interim leading up to the 1993 convention, a special committee studied the issue and released an incredible report in which it admitted that there were things about Masonry that were pagan, unscriptural, and in conflict with basic Christian beliefs, but recommended nonetheless that membership in the Masonic Order "be a matter of personal conscience." The convention adopted this recommendation.14
A Personal Observation
In light of the strong bans against Masonic membership that have been pronounced by many Christian denominations, I want to make one thing very clear before I proceed. I am not advocating that Masons be kicked out of their local churches. I know many fine Christian men who are Masons. Most of them are in the Masonic Order for business contacts or social purposes or because it is a family heritage. Most of them do not pay any attention to the organization's religious teachings. In fact, most are probably ignorant of what Masonry teaches about God.
In other words, I believe it is possible for a person who is ignorant of Masonry's religious teachings to be both a Mason and a Christian. But I do not believe a person can be an informed Mason and a committed Christian at the same time.
I have concluded that because of Masonry's cultic characteristics and its totally false religious doctrines, a Christian who is a Mason can never grow to his full potential in Christ. For this reason, I believe that no Mason should be put in a position of leadership in a local church. How can any person serve effectively as a Christian spiritual leader when he has compromised his commitment to Christ by participating in a cult-like organization that promotes a false religion?
What are the cultic characteristics of Masonry? Two which cannot be denied by any Mason are the requirement of secrecy and the taking of oaths.
Masonry is a secret organization. Ask any Mason what goes on at his meetings, and he will start evading your questions. He is sworn to secrecy. This is a classic characteristic of cultic groups, and it is an attitude that stands in opposition to Scripture. The Bible says: "Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God" (John 3:20-21).
The irony in all this is that, in actuality, the Masonic Order really does not have any secrets because thousands of men have come out of Masonry and have exposed all its "secrets" in many publications. These revelations have shed light on a second cultic feature.
Every Mason is required to take three blood oaths.15 For example, in the first degree of Masonry, as an Entered Apprentice, the person is required to place a curse on himself by swearing an oath that he will bind himself "under no less penalty than to have my throat cut across and my tongue torn out by the roots... so help me God."
It is incredible that the name of God would be invoked in such a demonic oath, particularly when the Bible commands us not to take any oaths at all: "Do not swear at all... simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No' be 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one" (Matthew 5:34-37).
At the second degree, the Fellow Craft level, the Mason swears "to have my left breast torn open and my heart and vitals taken from thence and thrown over my left shoulder... if ever I should prove willfully guilty of violating any part of this my solemn oath or obligation... so help me God."
The third degree Master Mason swears "to have my body severed in two in the midst, and divided to the north and south, and my bowels burnt to ashes in the center, and the ashes scattered before the four winds of heaven... were I ever to prove willfully guilty of violating any part of this solemn oath... so help me God."
No Christian has any business putting himself under such oaths, even if they are not taken seriously. God takes them seriously, and so does Satan.
Further, in the case of married men, these oaths create a barrier to the marriage relationship because they put the Mason under an obligation to refrain from revealing his Masonic activities to his wife.
Also, in these oaths, absolute allegiance is pledged to all fellow Masons, many of whom do not even confess Jesus as Christ. This violates Scripture, for we are commanded not to yoke ourselves with unbelievers, "for what fellowship does darkness have with light?" (2 Corinthians 6:14).
The Different Levels of Masonry
In addition to the three oaths above that are required of all Masons, there are many other demonic oaths that are required should a person desire to go further in Masonry.
Most Masons are content to remain a third degree, Master Mason. Few venture beyond that point because each degree thereafter is expensive to obtain. But those who desire to go further have two choices. They can either pursue the Scottish Rite which advances by numerical degrees, beginning with the fourth and ending with the 32nd (the 33rd degree is honorary). Or they can seek to achieve the degree of Knights Templar by following the York Rite and its named degrees.
Both a 32nd degree Mason and a Knights Templar are eligible to become a Shriner. The Shriners are the most conspicuous part of Masonry. They wear red fez hats and ride motorcycles in parades. They are commonly referred to by other Masons as "the party animals of Freemasonry." Tom McKenney, who became one of the top leaders of Masonry before he found the Lord, states that the initiation ceremonies for Shriners are particularly childish, rowdy, and often vulgar and degrading.16
Most people are not aware of the fact that the Shrine is the Islamic expression of Freemasonry, making it clearly anti-Christian. The full name is "Ancient Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine," and everything about the Shrine is based on the Muslim faith and Arabic symbolism.
Other Demonic Oaths
All Shriners are required to take an oath in which they make several promises. They conclude the oath by saying that if they should ever break any of their promises, "may I incur the fearful penalty of having my eyeballs pierced to the center with a three-edged blade, my feet flayed, and... may Allah, the god of Arab Moslem and Mohammedan, the god of our fathers, support me to the entire fulfillment of the same, Amen." This is said by the candidate while he is kneeling before a Muslim altar with his hand on the Koran!17
The Scottish Rite tenth degree oath is also particularly demonic in nature. Notice how it commits the oath taker to commit murder, if necessary:18
"I do promise and swear upon the Holy Bible never to reveal where I have received this degree... and in failure of this I consent to have my body opened perpendicularly and to be exposed for eight hours in the open air, so that the venomous flies may eat my entrails, my head to be cut off and put on the highest pinnacle of the world, and I will always be ready to inflict the same punishment on those who shall disclose this degree and break this obligation. So may God help and maintain me. Amen."
When Tom McKenney was awarded the honorary 33rd degree at a special ceremony at the Masonic headquarters in Washington, D.C., he was required to drink wine from a skull and say, "May this wine I now drink become a deadly poison to me, as the hemlock juice drunk by Socrates, should I ever knowingly or willfully violate the same [his oath]."19
One Christian writer expressed it well when he referred to Masonry's "horrid oaths" and observed that they contain penalties which would "shame a common cannibal."20
Unscriptural Doctrines: Many Roads to God
Several doctrines taught by the Masons are particularly repulsive to the Word of God. One is that there are many ways to God. Consider, for example, this quote from Carl Claudy's book, Introduction to Freemasonry: "In his private petitions a man may petition God or Jehovah, Allah or Buddha, Mohammed or Jesus; he may call upon the God of Israel or the Great First Cause. In the Masonic Lodge he hears petition to the Great Architect of the Universe, finding his own deity under that name. A hundred paths may wind upward around a mountain; at the top they meet."21 By contrast, Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me..." (John 14:6).
In other words, Masonry teaches salvation through all religions, whereas the Bible teaches there is salvation in only one name under heaven - the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12).
Salvation by Works
Another unscriptural Masonic doctrine is salvation by works. Masonic literature is replete with references to being justified before God through good works.
For example, in the Kentucky Masonic handbook, the lambskin apron worn by Masons is described as a reminder "of that purity of life and conduct which is essential to gaining admission to the Celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides."22 The Holman edition of the Masonic Bible contains a Masonic Creed that asserts that "character determines destiny."23 The former Masonic Grand Chaplain of Pennsylvania summed it up this way:24
"The philosophy of Freemasonry is to make man the master of his own destiny, to show him that there also is an immortality on earth brought by his actions; that he can, through his own efforts... inscribe his name in the 'Book of Life.'"
This is a different Gospel, and as such, it is condemned by Paul in Galatians 1:8-9. The true Gospel is that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, and not through works (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Jesus is One of Many Saviors
A third unbiblical doctrine of Masonry relates to their view of Jesus. He is portrayed in Masonic literature as one of many Saviors. Consider this quote from the Kentucky handbook:25
"All antiquity... believed in a future life... and in a Mediator or Redeemer... The belief was general that He was to be born of a virgin and suffer a painful death. The Hindus called him Krishna; the Chinese, Kioun-tse; the Persians, Sosiosch; the Chaldeans, Dhouvanai; the Egyptians, Horus; Plato, Love; the Scandinavians, Balder; the Christians, Jesus; the Masons, Hiram."
As this paragraph indicates, Jesus comes across in Masonic literature as nothing more than one of many enlightened men. He certainly is not viewed as divine. Former Masonic leader, Jim Shaw, has written that in official Masonic doctrine, "Jesus is just a man. He is one of the 'exemplars,' one of the great men of the past, but not divine and certainly not the only means of redemption of lost mankind."26
In sharp contrast, the Bible teaches that Jesus was the unique and only begotten Son of God - that He was, in fact, God in the flesh (Philippians 2:1-9 and John 1:1-14).
One other thing - Masons are not allowed to pray in their lodges in the name of Jesus. Yet the Word of God says that Christians are to offer all prayers in Jesus' name (Colossians 3:17).
A God Alien to the Bible
According to Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia all men involved in Masonry must decide between the inferior Christian God and the true God of Masonry:27
"Men have to decide whether they want a God like the ancient Hebrew Jahweh, a partisan, tribal God, with whom they can talk and argue and from whom they can hide if necessary, or a boundless, eternal, universal, undenominational, and international, Divine Spirit, so vastly removed from the speck called man, that He cannot be known, named, or approached."
This quotation makes it clear that the God of Masonry, called The Great Architect of the Universe and symbolized by the all-seeing eye, is not the true God of the Bible. The Bible reveals that the creator of this universe is a triune God consisting of one God in three persons. The Bible further reveals that He is a Father God who desires intimate fellowship with His creation. He is anything but a "tribal God" who is aloof and unapproachable (Isaiah 57:15).
Although Masons are taught that the real name of God cannot be known because it has been lost, those who pursue the higher levels of Masonry are ultimately told that the secret name of the Masonic deity is Jabulon.28 This is an acronym for Jehovah, Baal (the ancient Canaanite god), and Osiris (an Egyptian mystery god). Can there really be any doubt that Masonry is steeped in paganism?
The Masonic Defense
Many Masons respond to these criticisms by observing that George Washington was a Mason and that fourteen of our Presidents have been Masons. But these facts are irrelevant. No one denies that many good and great men have been and are Masons.
Others defend the Masons by pointing out that many ministers are Masons. This too does not prove anything. Many ministers are also members of the apostate National Council of Churches, and many ministers are unsaved.
Another defense of Masonry is that it honors the Bible as God's Word. The Standard Masonic Monitor maintains that the Bible is "the Great Light in Masonry" and even advises Masons to study it diligently.29 But this claim is highly misleading. In actuality, the Bible is officially designated as a piece of "lodge furniture."30 In Utah, Masons place the Book of Mormon on their lodge altars. In India, the Hindu Vedras are placed on the altar, and in Muslim lands, the altar features the Koran.
The Masonic attitude toward the Bible is best summed up by an article that appears in the Masonic Bible that is published by Holman:31
"Thus, by the very honor which Masonry pays to the Bible, it teaches us to revere every book of faith... joining hands with the man of Islam as he takes his oath on the Koran, and with the Hindu as he makes covenant with God upon the book that he loves best. For Masonry knows what so many forget, that religions are many, but Religion is one... Therefore, it invites to its altar men of all faiths knowing that, if they use different names for "the Nameless One of a hundred names," they are yet praying to the one God and Father of all; knowing also, that while they read different volumes, they are in fact reading the same vast Book of the Faith of Man."
What incredible blasphemy of God and His Holy Word!
Finally, Masons try to defend themselves by pointing to the good works of the Masonic Order. But again, no one denies that Masons do many good works. Their good works are just not relevant to the issue. Furthermore, the Bible tells us that we are to do our good works in the name of Jesus so that He will receive the honor and glory (Colossians 3:17).
The Real Issue
The real issue is Jesus Christ. He calls us to be open about our faith. The Masons operate in secret. Jesus calls us to refrain from taking oaths. The Masons require blood oaths. Jesus call us to do all things in His name, to His honor and glory. Masons do their good works in the name of Masonry and to the glory of "The Great Architect of the Universe." The Word says Jesus is "the blessed and only potentate" (1 Timothy 6:14-15). Masons exalt their temple leaders by calling them spiritual titles like "Worshipful Master." Jesus said He is the only way to God. Masons argue there are many roads to God.
If you are a Christian and a Mason, I believe you should repent of your involvement and denounce the Masonic oaths you have taken. You should ask God to forgive you for ever having taken the oaths. You should resign your Masonic membership and rededicate yourself to Jesus and Him only.
Then you should start spending the time you used to spend in Masonry in your local church working to expand the Kingdom of God.
Good News Concerning the Masons
Masonic membership within the United States has been diminishing rapidly.
In 1958 the number of Masons in the U.S. stood at 4.2 million, or 2.4% of the total population.
By the beginning of 2005 the American membership had dropped to less than 1.5 million, or 0.6% of the population.
Most Masons today are over the age of 50. The movement is obviously dying, and we can be thankful for that.