Is Freemasonry a beneficial and benign society only, a place for self-improvement and good deeds? Or does the Craft transmit a religiously-oriented meaning?
Two views are before us. On one hand, the Lodge is said to “make good men better,” wherein the member is participating in a grand morality play.
On the other, it is presented as a universal school for spiritual enlightenment – a divine journey, the mystical quest for perfection.
Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God…. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any. (Isaiah 44:6,8)
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. — Jesus (Revelation 22:13)
Warning bells sounded in my head. What have you been accused of? The setting was simple; a near-empty restaurant in a sleepy prairie town with two respected community members across the table.
I knew what they wanted: my involvement in a local organization, for I had been approached numerous times about joining. As an energetic young man in my mid-20s and very involved in the community, I was a perfect candidate … so I was told.
Similar to other conversations, it was evident my dinner hosts were trying to explain something without actually telling me anything.
Nudge-nudge, wink-wink, but never getting to the point; it was a sales pitch cloaked in ambiguity.
It would be beneficial for you to join, I was told. We make good men better, I was promised.
They waxed on about a legacy, doing good work, and having a sense of camaraderie, and the importance of regular meetings. And it all took place in the “building-with-no-windows.”
More meetings? Between family, church, and a host of activities attached to my workplace, my life was busy enough without adding more.
Yet these men believed it would be important for me to become a Freemason. So I listened to repetitious non-explanations and interjected where I could.
“Is your group political?” I asked, knowing the answer from previous chats. No.
“Ok, then what are you about?” My query was an open door.
Chairs shifted as they glanced at each other and then back to me. The silence was palpable. And then the hammer dropped.
“We’re not Satanists.” It was said so matter-of-factually, as if it were a normal response when at a loss for something to say. But for me, it was as if a lightening bolt had been shot through a dense fog.
Where did this come from?
The thought had never entered my mind, and there was nothing I could correlate this statement to. I was stunned.
Were my dinner colleagues trying to dispel rumors or alleviate fears — but of what? Why say something so outrageous?
In retrospect, they were probably acting preemptively. The year was 1991, before the public had access to the Internet, and television documentaries on the subject were unheard of.
If fears of rumors existed, it didn’t stem from the information battleground we experience today.
Rather, my board members would have likely viewed it as emanating from a church context. This was what they were probably trying to dispel.
Compelled by the Satan-bomb to find out what the Lodge was about, but not wanting to join, I determined to obtain their rituals and philosophical texts.
Books examining and critiquing the Lodge had already been published, but I didn’t know this at the time. What I did know was that a body of internal literature existed.
Thus began a quest to collect the texts and materials of the Lodge.
Along the way, I talked with current Masons, probed into community archives, and studied the subject.
Freemasonry has long been called a secret society. But this is a misnomer. Properly defined, a secret society is an organization that intentionally remains unknown to all outside of the closed group.
Not so with the Lodge. Its existence and the location of its buildings are public knowledge.
Moreover, the Craft’s internal secrets of recognition — its grips, signs, and symbols — have long been publicly circulated.
Likewise with its ritualistic texts, constitutions and monitors, handbooks and memorization aids, commentaries, encyclopedias, works of history and jurisprudence, and the writings of its scholars and philosophers.
Foster Bailey, who was a Masonic lecturer and the National Secretary of the Theosophical Society, made this statement:
There is little that is not known today about the Masonic work, and nothing that cannot be discovered by anyone who diligently seeks it. 
Others have said similar things.
However, hints of a deeper reality — a spiritual interest — cannot be overlooked. Bernard E. Jones’ Freemasons’ Guide and Compendium points to religious underpinnings. 
And Bailey’s book, The Spirit of Masonry, is devoted to the spiritual endeavor pulsing within the Craft. Others have asserted similar connections between religious philosophy and Freemasonry.
This spiritual association is a point of contention within the Lodge itself. Is it essentially religious and spiritual in nature, or is it something else?
Upfront, it must be noted that Masonry does not have an authoritative text to offer clarification in the way many religions and some ideologies do.
Using religion as a comparison, Christianity has the Old and New Testament, Judaism the Torah and Talmud, Islam the Quran, and Hinduism builds on the Vedas. But a Masonic scriptural authority does not exist.
Grand Lodge constitutions and monitors offer an official look into the workings of the Lodge, including duties and principles and explanations — with references to the “Great Architect of the Universe” and the Bible — but they lack deeper analysis.
Where does the Mason receive knowledge of the Craft’s meaning? Primarily from three sources: Grand Lodge constitutions and monitors, the writings of Masonic philosophers, and the individual’s experiences within the Lodge. Personally gleaning from his own observations and study, the Mason legitimately asserts that every man interprets Freemasonry in his own way.
Herein we have a dilemma: The claims of Freemasonry are many and diverse from within the Brotherhood itself.
Regarding spirituality, two conflicting positions are often encountered:
A. The Craft is only a beneficial and benign society, a place for good deeds and self-improvement. It is a moral society.
B. Good deeds and moral lessons are part of the experience, but the Craft carries a deeper spiritual and religiously-oriented meaning.
How will we know what the Craft is about if, after hearing opposing sides from the Brotherhood, we discover everything is subjective?
This leads to an observation I’ve made when discussing this religious-spiritual identity problem with Freemasons: Local Masons and the visible voice of the Lodge, public announcements and openly distributed literature, inevitably proclaim the first position — it is a moral and benevolent body with no religious or spiritual meaning.
Conversely, men who have achieved significant stature within the organization, such as a Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council, or who are recognized as noted philosophers or historians within the Craft, are quicker to admit the second position.
Returning to the subjective nature of interpretation, that it rests upon individual observations and study, I was compelled to accept this ruling.
I chose, therefore, to interpret the Craft through the second group and not the local Mason whose experience has been narrower.
While experience plays an important role in shaping that person’s understanding of the Lodge as an individual, it has little bearing on deciphering the broader meaning and purpose of the Craft.
Manly P. Hall, arguably one of the most important Masonic thinkers of the last century, recognized the divide within Freemasonry:
In fact, there are actually blocs among the brethren who would divorce Masonry from both philosophy and religion at all cost.
If, however, we search the writings of eminent Masons, we find a unanimity of viewpoint, namely, that Masonry is a religious and philosophical body. 
To discover the philosophical and spiritual fabric of Freemasonry, we must turn to the voices that have shaped it and who have invested their lives in its application.
— In Their Own Words —
Henry C. Clausen, Clausen’s Commentaries on Morals and Dogma (The Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, USA, 1974) —
[T]he One Supreme God has been known by many names to many races of men. The Sumerians, the Egyptians, the Medes and Persians, the Hebrew Kabalists, the Druids and Norsemen, the Brahmans, the Moslems, the Buddhists and the North American Indians all believed in God as the One Supreme Ruler and Creator of the Universe.
This belief, held by the earliest guilds of operative masonry nearly six thousand years ago, is the same belief held by modern Freemasonry today. (p. 161)
Melvin M. Johnson, Universality of Freemasonry (The Masonic Service Association, 1957) —
Masonry is not Christian; nor is it Mohammedan nor Jewish nor to be classified by the name of any other sect.
The power which has held it together, the chemical which has caused its growth, the central doctrine which makes it unique, is the opportunity it affords men of every faith, happily to kneel together at the same Altar, each in worship of the God he reveres, under the universal name of Great Architect of the Universe. (Forward)
[Regarding religious universalism] Thus, and thus nly, can we furnish to the world at large a common base upon which all civilized mankind may unite. (p. 10)
Joseph Fort Newton, The Builders: A Story and Study of Masonry (The Torch Press, 1914/1916) —
It is true that Masonry is not a religion, but it is Religion, a worship in which all good men may unite, that each may share the faith of all. (p. 250-251)
Albert G. Mackey, A Text Book of Masonic Jurisprudence (Redding and Company, 1859) —
Masonry requires only a belief in the Supreme Architect of the universe… Masons are only expected to be of that religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular opinions to themselves… the Christian and the Jew, the Mohammedan and the Brahmin, are permitted to unite around our common altar, and Masonry becomes, in practice as well as in theory, universal.
The truth is, that Masonry is undoubtedly a religious institution — its religion being of that universal kind in which all men agree, and which, handed down through a long succession of ages, from that ancient priesthood who first taught it, embraced the great tenets of the existence of God and the immortality of the soul. (pp. 95-96)
Allen E. Roberts, The Craft and Its Symbols: Opening the Door to Masonic Symbolism (Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, 1974) —
Freemasonry calls God “The Great Architect of the Universe.” This is the Freemason’s special name for God, because He is universal. He belongs to all men regardless of their religious persuasion. All wise men acknowledge His authority.
In his private devotions a Mason will pray to Jehovah, Mohammed, Allah, Jesus, or the Deity of his choice.
In a Masonic Lodge, however, the Mason will find the name of his Deity within the Great Architect of the Universe. (p. 6)
Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (The Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction, A.A.S.R. USA, 1871/1944) —
The Holy Bible, Square, and Compasses, are not only styled the Great Lights of Masonry, but they are also technically called the Furniture of the Lodge…
The Bible is an indispensable part of the furniture of a Christian Lodge, only because it is the sacred book of the Christian religion.
The Hebrew Pentateuch in a Hebrew Lodge, and the Koran in a Mohammedan one, belong on the Altar; and one of these, and the Square and Compass, properly understood, are the Great Lights by which a Mason must walk and work. (p. 11)
Masonry, around whose altars the Christian, the Hebrew, the Moslem, the Brahmin, the followers of Confucius and Zoroaster, can assemble as brethren and unite in prayer to the one God who is above all the Baalim. (p. 226)
[Masonry] reverences all the great reformers.
It sees in Moses, the Lawgiver of the Jews, in Confucius and Zoroaster, in Jesus of Nazareth, and in the Arabian Iconoclast, Great Teachers of Morality, and Eminent Reformers, if no more: and allows every brother of the Order to assign to each such higher and even Divine Character as his Creed and Truth require.
Thus Masonry disbelieves no truth, and teaches unbelief in no creed, except so far as such creed may lower its lofty estimate of the Deity. (p. 525)
Manly P. Hall, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry (Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, 1923/1954). Note: Hall wrote this before becoming a Mason. After joining, Hall ascended to become a recognized authority within the Craft —
No true Mason is creed-bound. He realizes with the divine illumination of his lodge that as a Mason his religion must be universal: Christ, Buddha or Mohammed, the name means little, for he recognizes only the light and not the bearer.
He worships at every shrine, bows before every altar, whether in temple, mosque or cathedral, realizing with his truer understanding the oneness of all spiritual truth… No true Mason can be narrow, for his Lodge is the divine expression of all broadness. (p. 65)
Foster Bailey, The Spirit of Freemasonry (Lucis Trust, 1957/1996) —
“Is it not possible from a contemplation of this side of Masonic teaching that it may provide all that is necessary for the formulation of a universal religion?
“May it not be true, as has been said, that if all religions and Scriptures were blotted out and only Masonry were left in the world we could still recover the great plan of salvation? Most earnestly should all true Masons consider the point…
“The study of this position will reveal to any earnest Mason that if Masonry is ever to achieve this ideal it will be impossible for him to be against any man or any religion. He will be for all true seekers and light, no matter what their race or creed.” (p. 109)
Allen E. Roberts, The Craft and Its Symbols: Opening the Door to Masonic Symbolism (Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, 1974)
[Regarding the Entered Apprentice Degree] You have entered a new world. Symbolically and spiritually you have been reborn. This started the moment you were prepared to become a Freemason. (p. 3)
W.L. Wilmshurst, The Meaning of Masonry (Gramercy Books, 1980) —
The Ceremony of our first degree, then, is a swift and comprehensive portrayal of the entrance of all men into, first, physical life, and second, into spiritual life; and as we extend congratulations when a child is born into the world, so also we receive with acclamation the candidate for Masonry who, symbolically, is seeking his spiritual rebirth. (p. 35)
Henry C. Clausen, Emergence of the Mystical (Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, 1981) —
[S]cience and religion will be welded into a unified exponent of an overriding spiritual power… The theme in essence is that the revelations of Eastern mysticism and the discoveries of modern science support the Masonic and Scottish Rite beliefs and teachings. (p. xi)
Science and philosophy, especially when linked through mysticism, have yet to conquer ignorance and superstition. Victory, however, appears on the horizon.
Laboratory and library, science and philosophy… outstanding technicians and theologians are now uniting as advocates of man’s unique quality, his immortal soul and ever expanding soul.” (p. 92)
Manly P. Hall, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry (Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, 1923/1954) —
Yet if the so-called secrets of Freemasonry were shouted from the housetops, the Fraternity would be absolutely safe; for certain spiritual qualities are necessary before the real Masonic secrets can be understood by the brethren themselves. (p. 69)
Foster Bailey, The Spirit of Freemasonry (Lucis Trust, 1957/1996) —
Masonry is a quest. Not a material quest, but a spiritual quest, a mystic quest. Not only an individual quest, although as individuals we strive to learn and achieve, but basically a group quest. (p. 122)
George H. Steinmetz, The Royal Arch: Its Hidden Meaning (Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, 1946) —
“Here is the PRINCIPAL SECRET of Royal Arch Masonry, or for that mater, ALL MASONRY. The supreme fact concerning man’s being.
That the physical and mental are but passing phases of his evolution toward perfection, that basically and intrinsically he is inherently and OF NECESSITY, if he actually be in the image and likeness of his Creator, ESSENTIALLY A SPIRITUAL BEING!” (p. 73, capitals in original)
The Secret of Human Ascension
W. L. Wilmshurst, The Meaning of Masonry (Gramercy Books, 1980) —
[I]t is clear, therefore, that from grade to grade the candidate is being led from an old to an entirely new quality of life.
He begins his Masonic career as the natural man; he ends it by becoming through its discipline, a regenerated perfected man.
To attain this transmutation, this metamorphosis of himself, he is taught first to purify and subdue his sensual nature; then to purify and develop his mental nature; and finally, by utter surrender of his old life and losing his soul to save it, he rises from the dead a Master, a just man made perfect. (p. 46)
This — the evolution of man into superman — was always the purpose of the ancient Mysteries, and the real purpose behind modern Masonry is, not the social and charitable purpose to which so much attention is paid, but the expediting of the spiritual evolution of those who aspire to perfect their own nature and transform it into a more god-like quality.
And this is a definite science, a royal art. (p. 47)
George H. Steinmetz, The Royal Arch: Its Hidden Meaning (Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, 1946) —
[W]hen the Master of the Lodge has completed his term of office, the square, emblematic of the COMPLETE MAN is taken from him and he is presented the jewel of a Past Master, a compass open to sixty degrees, symbol of the PERFECT MAN.
This is placed upon a quadrant to emphasize the thirty degrees which he has progressed from the ninety degree right angle of the square to the sixty degree angle of the equilateral triangle, of which the compasses are but a substitute.
It is symbolic of his ‘REBIRTH’ on the spiritual plane. (pp. 54-55, capitals in original)
MAN IS IMPELLED TOWARD PERFECTION! There is that within man — his inner-most divinity — which informs him of the possibility of attaining completeness of being and urges him on to strive for that attainment. (p. 84, capitals in original)
[Regarding the Royal Arch symbolism] Constant, repetitious reminder that man is divine and that the place to seek that divinity is WITHIN HIMSELF! (p. 123, capitals in original)
Foster Bailey, The Spirit of Masonry (Lucis Trust, 1957/1996) —
Masonry, therefore, is not only a system of morality, inculcating the highest ethics through which result, if followed, the conscious unfolding of divinity, but it is also a great dramatic presentation of regeneration.
It portrays the recovery of man’s hidden divinity and it bringing forth into the light; it pictures the raising of man from his fallen estate to Heaven, and it demonstrates, through which is enacted in the work of the lodge, the power to achieve perfection latent in every man. (p. 105)
J.D. Buck, Mystic Masonry and the Greater Mysteries of Antiquity (Regan Publishing, 1925) —
It is far more important that men should strive to become Christs than that they should believe that Jesus was Christ.
If the Christ-state can be attained by but one human being during the whole evolution of the race, then the evolution of man is a farce and human perfection an impossibility… Jesus is no less Divine because all men may reach the same Divine perfection. (p. 62)
Manly P. Hall, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry (Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, 1923/1954) —
Man is a god in the making, and as in the mystic myths of Egypt, on the potter’s wheel he is being molded.
When his light shines out to lift and preserve all things, he receives the triple crown of godhood, and joins that throng of Master Masons who, in their robes of Blue and Gold, are seeking to dispel the darkness of night with the triple light of the Masonic Lodge. (p. 92)
Wrestling with the issue of Masonry, religion, and spirituality reveals two important points:
1] It demonstrates that the Lodge and its teachings represent much more than just “making good men better,” and that this statement is a type of window-dressing obscuring the bigger spiritual picture.
2] The Christian man, that is, the person who holds to the exclusivity of Jesus Christ and His grace and mercy — the gift of salvation by faith and not by works, “that any man should boast” — finds himself in contradiction to the secretive-spiritual teachings of the Craft; that man can attain perfection and obtain divinity through the works (rituals and degrees) of the Lodge.
Perfection in the Lodge
The use of the word “perfection” is found throughout Freemasonry. For example, in the Scottish Rite, the combined degrees of 4 to 14 are called the “Lodge of Perfection,” and Degree 5 is labeled “Perfect Master.”
Henry C. Clausen, the former Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council (1969-1985), Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite, provides commentary on the fifth degree.
Notice the connection between what we create — the works of our hands and what we do — and the subsequent attainment of immortality and our highest spiritual enlightenment:
“The setting and symbolic color for this Degree remind us that while we die in sin we may revive in virtue. We therefore always should act with regard to justice, equity, honesty and integrity and reaffirm our abiding belief in the immortality of the soul.
“Thus, we symbolically raise the departed from the coffin and place him at the holy altar as a Perfect Master… The universe is created continually. As we participate in the process we partake of the Creator — the Divine of God.
“This participation as co-Creator is itself a form of man’s immortality regardless of whether, as we believe, his spirit survives the body. We exist and create. Being greater than self is man’s true destiny, dignity and grandeur.
“Man’s will to believe in something greater than self is the springboard from which we can touch the Divine. Talk with men of faith. Read the books that tell of spiritual achievements.
“Meditate as you gaze at the stars of the first magnitude. Then you, too, may attain that conclusive spiritual revelation which is the highest human development.” 
When the Mason enters the 14th level of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, he has attained the degree of the Perfect Elu, or the Grand Elect Perfect and Sublime Mason in the Canadian division. Speaking to this degree, Clausen tells us:
We press on toward the unattainable, yet more nearly approaching perfect truth… Our future well-being depends on how we perform in this life. 
Albert Pike, who was Sovereign Grand Commander of the Southern Jurisdiction for 32 years starting in 1859 and had a hand in writing the Scottish Rite rituals, provides some philosophical background to the 14th degree:
[Masonry] is the universal, eternal, immutable religion, such as God planted it in the heart of universal humanity. No creed has ever been long-lived that was not built on this foundation.
It is the base, and they are the superstructure… The ministers of this religion are all Masons who comprehend it and are devoted to it; its sacrifices to God are good works, the sacrifices of the base and disorderly passions, the offering up of self-interest on the altar of humanity, and perpetual efforts to attain to all the moral perfection of which man is capable. 
Many other instances of perfection crop up in the family of Masonic societies. In the Egyptian Rite we find the Rite of Perfect Initiates, in the Irish branch we discover the Perfect Irish Master, and in the Order of Noachites we find the Perfect Prussian.
In Rennes, France, there existed a Lodge of Perfect Union, and in 1754, a Masonic oriented lodge was set up in the College of Jesuits of Clermont, in Paris, known as the Rite of Perfection.
In Germany, the degree of Perfection was the last in the now-defunct Rite of Fessler.
Moreover, when Adam Weishaupt formed his independent body — known as the Order of Illuminati at Bavaria — it was first called the Perfectionists. 
Today, a number of Masonic lodges have “perfection” in their name. In Calgary, Alberta, you can find Perfection Lodge #9.
Perfection Lodge #75 is in New Westminster, British Columbia. Jacksonville, Florida is home to Perfection Lodge #11, and Perfection Lodge can be found in Framingham, Massachusetts.
Going beyond the naming of lodges, Masonic symbolism speaks to something more ubiquitous within the Craft.
Here, symbols meant to convey perfection and perfectibility are found across the Masonic landscape.
One example is the rough and perfect Ashlar, a stone block which is first unfinished, and then, through the work of Freemasonry, emerges perfect and ready for use.
Historian Albert Mackey describes it this way:
The Rough Ashlar, or stone in its rude and unpolished condition, in emblematic of man in his natural state — ignorant, uncultivated, and vicious.
But when education has exerted its wholesome influence in expanding his intellect, restraining his passions, and purifying his life, he then is represented by the Perfect Ashlar, which, under the skillful hands of the workmen, has been smoothed, and squared, and fitted for its place in the building. 
The non-Mason is the Rough Ashlar, but once he enters the Lodge and is shaped by the rituals and educated in Masonic philosophy, this individual is made new and perfected in the task of what is called the “Great Work.”
Sometimes the ashlar is pictured as a single stone being hewn or chiseled, but more often it’s two stones side-by-side: the rough and the perfect.
The Masonic Trestle Board too is symbolic of perfection. Allen E. Roberts tells us in The Craft and Its Symbols:
The Trestle Board, used by the master workman to draw his designs upon, is a symbol of perfection.
It is symbolically a spiritual board on which a man should lay out his plans to build his ‘living stones’ into a Temple to the Great Architect of the Universe. 
Other symbols employed in Freemasonry have a meaning of perfection, including the square and compass, the jewel of the York Rite’s Past Master, the Equilateral Triangle, the level and the plumb, the ruler with 24 divisions, and the Lambskin Apron worn by all men of the Lodge. George H. Steinmetz reminds the Masonic traveler:
All the symbology of Freemasonry depicts man’s journey back to his lost perfection is intended to assist him to accelerate his progress by teaching him how to more quickly accomplish his purpose. 
So what is this “perfection” that the Craft speaks so much about? It is the attempt through good works, rituals and obligations, and Masonic education to be spiritually perfected through one’s own striving.
This is spiritual alchemy: the attempt to transform one’s spiritual imperfection through the science of mysticism and thus be re-forged as a new and perfected being.
Henry C. Clausen explains:
If you follow the true path of Scottish Rite perfection, with an unshakable faith in a Supreme power, you will go from the darkness of slavery into the dazzling, holy light of freedom. 
“The Scottish Rite teaches its members how to spell “God” with the right blocks. That truly is the great relevance of Scottish Rite Masonry in the modern world. We teach our initiates there are available for the mind of man vast spiritual forces, vital spiritual powers.
“Similarly, we in the Scottish Rite can find in our inner selves a refuge from external distractions and evils, just as peace and quiet are found at the eye of a hurricane. There the sun shines and birds fly. Put your trust in your own inherent capacities.
“Buddha attained his own enlightenment and said to his followers: “Be a lamp unto your own feet; do not seek outside yourself.” 
Chalmers I. Paton, in his book Freemasonry: Its Symbolism, Religious Nature and Law of Perfection, tells us that:
Freemasonry itself is symbolic of the highest possible perfection of mankind, and to this its great aim is to contribute; with a view to this object all its teachings are framed. 
J.D. Buck put it this way:
It is far more important that men should strive to become Christs than that they should believe that Jesus was Christ… Jesus is no less Divine because all men may reach the same Divine perfection. 
For the Christian, we know through God’s Word that we are incapable of saving or perfecting ourselves:
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Furthermore, Psalm 14 tells us that there is no one who does good, that all mankind is together corrupt, and that all have turned aside from God.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 tells us: “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, sinneth not.”
Scripture informs us that we must be perfect, yet that we are incapable of such a lofty goal.
In Matthew 5, we find the standard for perfection, Jesus Christ, telling us we too must be perfect, “even as your Father, which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). How is this possible?
Hebrews 10 informs us that Jesus Christ, as both the High Priest and sacrificial Lamb, completed this task of perfecting on our behalf — making us holy before God:
“For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14).
Consider the wonderful words of Ephesians 2:4-10:
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Also, consider how the apostle Paul relates perfection and Jesus Christ in his letter to the Philippians.
Here, Paul recognizes that his Savior is the one who perfects, and that Paul himself must continue the race as a believer, knowing that Christ Jesus is He who completes everything.
Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)
When we examine the Lodge and explore its mystical quest to achieve perfection, and contrast this to the saving grace of Jesus Christ, we realize that a fork in the road is before us: Either trust Jesus Christ as the one who perfects and finishes, or attempt to achieve the impossible — perfect ourselves. For the Mason, he must perfect himself.
The man, therefore, who joins Freemasonry under the pretense that “we make good men better” places himself in a most difficult position where man is ascribed to be God and thereby able to perfect himself through his own efforts.
We have, in effect, another gospel that excludes the Cross and leaves man to seek after his own devices. Hence, the souls of all involved may be imperiled by a human method that cannot save.
While this essay is just an introduction to the inner spiritual workings of Freemasonry, I believe it provides enough information to show that Scripture runs counter to the ideas of the Lodge and Freemasonry, which seeks mystical perfection through its own works, making it an avenue that delivers the antithesis of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.
Source: ForcingChange.org / Endnotes:
1. Foster Bailey, The Spirit of Masonry (London, UK: Lucis Press, 1957/1996), p. 77.
2. Bernard E. Jones, Freemason’s Guide and Compendium (Cumberland House), p. 282.
3. Manly P. Hall, Lectures on Ancient Philosophy (Philosophical Research Society, 1929/1984), p. 434.
4. Henry C. Clausen, Clausen’s Commentaries on Morals and Dogma (The Supreme Council, 33, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, USA, 1974), pp. 24-26. Note: page 25 is a full-page color picture, thus the text flows from pages 24 to 26.
5. Ibid., p. 71.
6. Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (The Supreme Council, 33, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, USA, 1871/1944), p. 219.
7. For the list of “perfect” rites and lodges, see Albert G. Mackey, An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Volume II (The Masonic History Company, 1925), pp. 554-555.
8. Albert Mackey, An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Volume I, p. 81.
9. Allen E. Roberts, The Craft and Its Symbols: Opening the Door to Masonic Symbols (Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, 1974), p. 35.
10. George H. Steinmetz, The Royal Arch: Its Hidden Meaning (Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, 1946), p. 53.
11. Henry C. Clausen, Emergence of the Mystical (The Supreme Council, 33, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, USA, 1981), p. 82.
12. Ibid., pp. 76-77.
13. Chalmers I. Paton, Freemasonry: Its Symbolism, Religious Nature and Law of Perfection (Reeves and Turner, 1873), p. 1.
14. J.D. Buck, Mystic Masonry and the Greater Mysteries of Antiquity (Regan Publishing, 1925), p. 62.
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