And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Vol 13, Num 20, 06/20/2010
In this issue:
Much can be learned about an institution by looking at its organizational structure. This can be said of divine and human organizations. We can learn many valuable truths about the Lord’s church through a careful study of its organization and structure. Time is certainly not wasted on studies about the headship of the church, the qualifications and work of elders, the deacons of the New Testament church, the role of evangelists, etc. The Lord gave His church a particular organization to accomplish its divine purposes. Similar value exists in studying the organization of Freemasonry.
To understand something about what goes on in Masonry, one needs to have some knowledge of its organizational structure. Once this is understood, we can have a better perception of the different rites conferred upon the initiate of Freemasonry, its degrees and symbolism. The membership requirements to become a Freemason give us a great deal of insight into the nature and intent of Masonry.
A look at the organization of lodges naturally breaks down into two basic areas. First, the local Lodges found in practically every city and town across America. These Lodges consist of and practice the first three degrees of Freemasonry: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason. They are sometimes called the Blue Lodge or the Symbolic Lodge. The second area of organization is the Grand Lodge, which exercises authority over the Blue Lodges of a particular region.
When Masons meet in regular session, their place of meeting is called a Lodge. This term is also used to refer to those Masons who have thus assembled. Why do such Lodges exist? What is their purpose? The meetings in Mason Lodges are for purposes much more involved than simply “getting together” to socialize and “have a good time.” Edmund Ronayne, himself a Late Past Master of Keystone Lodge, No. 639, Chicago, Ill., tells us the reason that a Lodge exists at a particular location is “...for the purpose of practicing the mysteries and inculcating the doctrines and principles of Freemasonry” (Ronayne’s Handbook of Freemasonry, p. 1, emp., jrp). Duncan has said, “A Lodge is defined to be an assembly of Masons, just, perfect and regular, who together meet to expatiate (“to speak or write at length”-Webster, jrp) on the beauties and mysteries of the Order, and to add new material to the sacred work” (Duncan’s Masonic Ritual and Monitor, insert at close of Part 1). Let it be clearly understood at this point that every local Lodge of Freemasonry participates in the doctrines of Freemasonry, and therefore every Mason who is a member of a local Lodge affiliates himself with these doctrines.
Consider some things which occur during the opening of a Lodge, so that it may “practice the mysteries and inculcate the doctrines and principles of Freemasonry.” Lightfoot sets forth the following:
“7. It is a lesson, which every Mason is taught at one of the earliest points of his initiation, that he should commence no important undertaking without first invoking the blessings of Deity -- hence the next step in the progress of the opening ceremonies is to address a prayer to the Supreme Architect of the Universe. This prayer, although offered by the Master, is to be participated in by every brother, and, at its conclusion, the audible response of “So mote it be” should be made by all present.
“8. The Lodge is then declared, in the name of God and the Holy Saints John, duly opened.
“A Lodge is said to be opened in the name of God and the Holy Saints John as a declaration of the sacred purpose of our meeting; of our profound reverence for that Divine Being whose name and attributes should be the constant theme of our contemplation, and of our respect for those ancient patrons whom the traditions of Masonry have so intimately connected with the history of the Institution” (Lightfoot’s Manual of the Lodge, p. 2, emp., jrp).
Without a shadow of a doubt, the things which occur in the Lodge claim to have the endorsement of God. In their opening prayer, they declare the Lodge to be opened “in the name of God and the Holy Saints John.” They claim authority from God for the existence of and the things taught and practiced in the Lodge. Where is this authority? God’s authority is revealed in His word, the Bible, and nowhere is any authority ever given in God’s word to practice the doctrines and principles of human philosophies which are in opposition to His will! And yet, Masonry claims heavenly authority for its principles and teachings, and attempt to reverence God through them. The Bible says glory is shown to God “in the church,” not in the lodge (Eph. 3:21). They even dedicate their Lodges to the “Holy Saints John” (“St. John the Baptist” and “St. John the Evangelist”). Surely, ”this people honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men” (Matt. 15:8-9). How could a Christian, a child of God, participate in such vain things which are totally without the authority of God?
Let us now consider the Grand Lodges. A Grand Lodge is defined as “the dogmatic and administrative authority of Ancient Craft Masonry, or the three Symbolic Degrees” (Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, 3 vol. ed., vol.1, p. 416). It is a ruling body over Masonry. There is a Grand Lodge in each of the 50 states in the United States. These Grand Lodges are independent of one another so far as their exact methods of government and other expediencies which do not violate the “ancient landmarks” of Freemasonry. In this respect, then, Grand Lodges are autonomous of one another.
Once a Grand Lodge exists in a state, it has the authority to recognize the existence of Blue Lodges. “No Lodge is recognized at the present day unless it has emanated from a Grand Lodge, and works in obedience to the regulations of its parent” (Duncan’s Masonic Ritual and Monitor, insert at close of Part 1). It is further stated,
“A Grand Lodge is invested with power and authority over all the Craft within its Jurisdiction. It is the Supreme Court of Appeal in all Masonic cases, and to its decrees implicit obedience must be paid by every Lodge and every Freemason situated within its control. The government of Grand Lodges is, therefore, completely despotic, but of course a benevolent despotism. While a Grand Lodge exists, its edicts must be respected and obeyed without examination by its subordinate Lodges” (Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, 3 vol. ed., vol. 1, p. 416).
Consider with me for a moment the situation of a Christian who is a Mason. In the Blue Lodge, he is to render “implicit obedience” to the judgments and decisions of the Grand Lodge. If the Grand Lodge sanctions lying (or “mental reservation”) to mislead and conceal the doctrines of Masonry (and it does - see Morals and Dogma, pp. 104-105, 819), the Christian who is a Mason is to implicitly obey and submit to such deceptive conduct. The inspired apostles said, ”We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). But notice further, the edicts of the Grand Lodge are to be respected and obeyed “without examination by its subordinate Lodges.” Yet, the inspired apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22: ”Prove all things; hold fast that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” The Christian cannot do that if he is a member of the Masonic Lodge!
In fact, if a Christian who is a Mason should become the Master of a Blue Lodge, he is required, at the time of his installation, to make the following declaration:
“You agree to hold in veneration the original rules and patrons of the Order of Freemasonry, and their regular successors, supreme and subordinate, according to their stations; and to submit to the awards and resolutions of your Brethren in general Lodge convened, in every case consistent with the Constitution of the Order. You promise to pay homage to the Grand Master for the time being, and to his officers when duly installed, and strictly to conform to every edict of the Grand Lodge” (Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, 3 vol. ed., vol. 1, p. 416; emp., jrp).
So, regardless of the validity of their resolutions in reference to divine truth, or of the consequences they may have upon his influence, the initiate gives his word to “strictly” obey the Grand Lodge. If that were not enough, notice in the declaration the agreement to venerate the rules and patrons of Freemasonry, and to “pay homage” to the Grand Master! Such are blasphemous words to a Christian, and clearly show that Masonry approves the worship of men. If not, why does use such words?
(Continued next week)
and the Christian”
A Dilemma for the Denominations
The acceptance of homosexuality by mainstream Protestant denominations is now a steady drum beat. The Episcopal Church accepts openly gay and lesbian clergy for ordination. So do the United Church of Christ and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Many others are wrestling with the conflict between their denomination’s professed “inclusiveness” while simultaneously denying full inclusion to homosexuals.
So it is with the United Methodist Church, the third largest Protestant denomination in America. They do not ordain openly gay clergy, yet their slogan professes “Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.” (umc.org)
“The dilemma for Protestant churches is to stay relevant in a changing society without alienating those with more traditional interpretations of the Scriptures, said Bill Reese, chairman of the Religious Studies and Philosophy Department at Viterbo University and an ordained minister in the Lutheran Missouri Synod.” (“A difficult conversation: United Methodist conference delegates discuss homosexuality”)
This “dilemma” is a dichotomy that denies the gospel of Christ. Christ teaches disciples not to be of this world, but to be sanctified by the truth (God’s word, Jno 17:15-17). Society’s declaration of what is relevant (in this case, accepting homosexuality) is against the word of God (Rom 1:24-29; 1 Cor 6:9-10). You cannot have it both ways and be true to God’s word. Oh, you will be “relevant”, but it will be at the expense of truth.
One Methodist minister said, “Jesus told us to love each other, not to judge each other”. Jesus said judge what is right and to judge righteous judgment (Lk 12:57; Jno 7:24). It is a righteous judgment that homosexuality is sin; the Bible says so (1 Cor 6:9-10). It is also a righteous judgment not to have fellowship with sin (homosexuality); the Bible says so (Eph 5:11). God’s judgments are true (Psa 19:9). We will stand on His word even though many reject its relevancy. God’s word is living (relevant) and powerful to save (Heb 4:12).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 06/17/2010
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA