or the Lodge?
A Presbyterian Report on Freemasonry
At the ninth General
Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, meeting at Rochester, New York, June 25, 1942, the
Committee on Secret Societies presented its report. The Assembly instructed the Committee
to send this report to the ministers and sessions of the Church for their study. The
report dealt with a matter of such timely importance that the Committee on Christian
Education decided to publish it in its series of Tracts for Today."
We have excerpted
several sections of the report for this
publication. You may receive a full copy of the
report by writing to us or by going on our website and reading it in the Freemasonry
Section of our resource library.
Masonry a Religion? On this score the evidence is overwhelming.
There is no room for any reasonable doubt as to Masonrys being a religion. Not only
do the symbols, rites and temples of this order point unmistakably to it as a religion,
but also a great many Masonic authors of note emphatically declare it to be just that. Of
almost numberless quotations that could be given here the committee has selected a few.
J. S. M. Ward, the author of several
standard Masonic works, defines religion as a system of teaching moral truth
associated with a belief in God and then declares: I consider Freemasonry is a
sufficiently organized school of mysticism to be entitled to be called a religion.
He goes on to say: I boldly aver that Freemasonry is a religion, yet in no way
conflicts with any other religion, unless that religion holds that no one outside its
portals can be saved (Freemasonry: Its Aims and Ideals, pp. 182, 185, 187).
T. S. Webb says in his Masonic
Monitor: The meeting of a Masonic Lodge is strictly a religious ceremony. The
religious tenets of Masonry are few, simple, but fundamental. No lodge or Masonic assembly
can be regularly opened or closed without prayer (p. 284).
Albert G. Mackey, General High Priest
of the General Grand Chapter of the United States, and the author of numerous works on Masonry,
has this to say: Freemasonry is emphatically a religious institution; it teaches the
existence of God. It points to the celestial canopy above where is the Eternal Lodge and
where He presides. It instructs us in the way to reach the portals of that distant
temple The Mystic Tie, p. 32). And in his Lexicon of Freemasonry the
same celebrated authority asserts: The religion, then, of Masonry is pure
Theism (p. 404).
Extremely significant is the testimony
of Joseph Fort Newton, a zealous advocate of Masonic principles. He deplores the fact that
within the lodge there are many who regard it as a mere social order inculcating
ethical ideals and practicing philanthropy. He continues: As some of us prefer
to put it, Masonry is not a religion but Religionnot a church but a worship, in
which men of all religions may unite (The Religion of Masonry, pp. 10, 11).
With this agrees A. G. Mackeys declaration: The truth is that Masonry is
undoubtedly a religious institution, its religion being of that universal kind in which
all men agree (Textbook of Masonic Jurisdiction, p. 95).
To be sure, H. L. Haywood says
there is no such thing as a Masonic philosophy, just as there is no such thing as a
Masonic religion (The Great Teachings of Masonry, p. 18). But on careful
analysis it becomes clear that he means that Masonry is not to be put in a class with
other religions; in a word, that it is a super-religion. He asserts that Masonry has a
religious foundation all its own and that its religion is universal (Idem, p. 99). No
doubt, Haywood would agree with Newton that Masonry is not a religion, but
Such is the unmistakable testimony,
not of critics of Masonry, but of Masonic authors who are recognized by Masonry itself as
The Universalism of Masonry
There is a Christian universalism. God
has His elect in every age and every nation. Ever since the fall of man the Son of God has
been gathering the elect into His church by His Word and Spirit. In Christ Jesus there is
neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female, for all are one in Him (Galatians
3:28). John saw the four living creatures and the four and twenty elders fall down before
the Lamb and he heard them sing: Thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with
thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation (Revelation 5:9).
Masonry also lays claim to
universalism, but its universalism differs radically from that of Christianity in that it
denies Christian particularism and exclusivism.
Christianity claims to have the only
true book, the Bible. Masonry places this book on a par with the sacred books of other
Christianity lays claim to the only
true God, the God of the Bible, and denounces all other Gods as idols. Masonry recognizes
the Gods of all religions.
Christianity describes God as the
Father of Jesus Christ and of those who through faith in Him have received the right to be
called the sons of God. The God of Masonry is the universal father of all mankind.
Christianity holds that only the
worship of the God who has revealed Himself in Holy Scripture is true worship. Masonry
honors as true worship the worship of numerous other deities.
Christianity recognizes but one
Savior, Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and man. Masonry recognizes many
Christianity acknowledges but one-way
of salvation, that of grace through faith. Masonry rejects this way and substitutes for it
salvation by works and character.
Christianity teaches the brotherhood
of those who believe in Christ, the communion of saints, the church universal, the one
body of Christ. Masonry teaches the brotherhood of Masons and the universal brotherhood of
Christianity glories in being the one
truly universal religion. Masonry would rob Christianity of this glory and appropriate it
Christianity maintains that it is the
only true religion. Masonry denies this claim and boasts of being Religion itself.
The committee finds that the evidence
presented concerning the religion of Masonry permits but one conclusion. Although a number
of the objections commonly brought against Masonry seem to the committee not to be
weighty, yet it is driven to the conclusion that Masonry is a religious institution and as
such is definitely anti-Christian.
Far be it from the committee to assert
that there are no Christians among the members of the Masonic fraternity. Just as a great
many who trust for eternal life solely in the merits of Christ continue as members of
churches that have denied the faith, so undoubtedly many sincere Christians, uninformed,
or even misinformed, concerning the true character of Freemasonry, hold membership in it
without compunction of conscience. But that in no way alters the fact that membership in
the Masonic fraternity is inconsistent with Christianity.
Adopted from the Saints Alive
Newsletter Oct. 2002