And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Vol 13, Num 19, 06/13/2010
In this issue:
This series of articles is intended to provide information on a subject that has been shrouded in mystery, secrecy, speculation and assertions for many years. Freemasonry has held a kind of mysterious intrigue for many. To others, it is nothing more than a social fraternity designed to offer and extend benevolence to mankind. If this were the complete extent of Freemasonry, these articles would not be written. If the Masonic Lodge is only a social organization, there would no more harm come from being a Mason than would come from being in the Lion’s Club, Rotary Club or any other civic or social organization. However, it is our sincere and studied conclusion that Freemasonry is both religious and a religion, carrying serious consequences for those involved therein.
Everybody loves a secret! For many, the attraction of Masonry is its secrecy. Masons are taught to believe that the non-Mason cannot know the true meaning of Masonry. Many Masons will tell us that one cannot know about Masonry until he becomes a member of the Masonic Lodge. The Mason who tells you this is either ignorant of the facts or deliberately deceptive. We prefer to choose the former.
“Freemasonry alone has no secret doctrine. Its philosophy is open to the world. Its modes of recognition by which it secures identification, and its rites and ceremonies which are its method of instruction, alone are secret. All men may know the tenets of the Masonic creed.” (Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Mackey, One Volume edition, p. 799)
You can learn about Masonry by obtaining and studying the books and publications which have the approval of Freemasonry. Lightfoot’s Manual of the Lodge is the “official manual or monitor of the Grand Lodge of Texas, A. A. & A. M., and its subordinate Lodges...,” (p. v) and will be quoted in this work. Morals And Dogma of the Ancient And Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry was written by Albert Pike, a thirty-third degree Mason. It was “prepared for the Supreme Council of the Thirty-Third Degree for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States and published by its authority.” It too will be used to prove the official positions of Freemasonry. Albert G, Mackey, also a thirty-third degree Mason, and probably the greatest Freemason scholar, authored the Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. Lightfoot freely quotes from Mackey’s Encyclopedia, showing its credibility as an authoritative voice of Masonry. Indeed, its “modes or recognition by which it secures identifications and its rites and ceremonies, which are its method of instruction” are also in print and available to the non-Mason. Duncan’s Masonic Ritual and Monitor contains the rites and ceremonies of the first seven degrees of the York Rite of Freemasonry. Although Masons are told their secret works are not in print and available to the non-Mason, such simply is not the case!
Correct conclusions about Freemasonry can be drawn from investigating these and other sources. We have no desire to misrepresent Masonry, and have nothing to gain by doing so. The conclusions drawn herein are available for all to see in the standard works of Freemasonry.
While a study of the history of Freemasonry may not seem to have much practical benefits at first glance, such a study will enhance one’s knowledge of certain assertions made by some Masons concerning its origin and antiquity. Knowledge of its history becomes invaluable in correcting the attempts which are made to historically connect Freemasonry with king Solomon, Moses, or even more ancient times.
The historical material available on Freemasonry reveals that its documented, historically factual existence in its present form cannot be traced beyond the late 17th or early 18th centuries. To begin considering this material, we must begin with the year 1717. In London, England, in February of 1717, four struggling Lodges met to form the Grand Lodge of England. This formation is termed by Masonic scholars and historians as a “revival of Freemasonry” (Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, 3 vol. ed., vol. 2, p. 854). This claim of revival was itself attacked by some Masonic writers of the 19th century. W. P. Buchan, a frequent writer in the London Freemason (1871-1872), attacked the antiquity of Freemasonry by refusing to extend its existence prior to 1717. He stated that “our system of degrees, words, grips, signs, etc., was not in existence until about 1717 A.D.” (Ibid.). While we cannot conclusively say that Freemasonry began in 1717, we may say that it underwent a renaissance at that time which gave birth to modern Freemasonry.
When considering the history of Masonry, we can be sure that the organization of Freemasonry has been obtained from the building guilds of the Middle Ages. There were, at that time, “Operative Masons” -- men who used the tools and implements of Masonry as their livelihood. These men who operated in the realm of architecture and masonry formed themselves into gilds or orders, which included Apprentices, Fellows and Operative Masters.
From these operative masons was devised, through the course of time, what has come to be known as “Speculative Masonry,” which is Masonry in its present form. Speculative Masonry (which we will discuss in greater detail in future issues) uses the tools and implements of Operative Masonry in a symbolic way to speculate and theorize about deity, the universe, science, humanity, morality and the immortality of the soul. Speculative Masonry is devoted to “the construction of spiritual temples, and in this respect a development from the Operative Architects of the tenth and succeeding centuries” (Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, 3 vol. ed., vol. 1, p. 87). Albert Mackey, the prince of Masonic scholars, says that at one time he believed the place of the organization of Freemasonry was at the building of Solomon’s Temple.
However, he then says:
“Many years of subsequent research have led me greatly to modify the views I had previously held. Although I do not rank myself among those modern iconoclasts who refuse credence to every document whose authenticity, if admitted, would give to the order a birth anterior to the beginning of the last century, I confess that I cannot find any incontrovertible evidence that would trace Freemasonry, as now organized, beyond the Building Corporations of the Middle Ages” (Ibid.).
Concerning the antiquity of Freemasonry, E. R. Johnston has candidly presented his studied belief on the subject:
“The theory, then, that I advance upon the subject of the antiquity of Freemasonry is this: I maintain that, in its present peculiar organization, it is the successor, with certainty, of the Building Corporations of the Middle
Ages, and through them, with less certainty but with great probability, of the Roman College of Artificers. Its connection with the Temple of Solomon, as its birthplace, may have been accidental -- a mere arbitrary selection by its inventors -- and bears therefore, only an allegorical meaning...” (Masonry Defined, Johnston, p. 226, (emp., jrp).
Masonry is not the product of one man’s inventive planning and execution. It is a conglomeration of many human philosophies which have been gathered throughout the centuries and applied to the tools of operative Masonry through the use of symbolism. Its ancient rites, forms, symbols and ceremonies are freely admitted to have been borrowed from ancient systems of religion and philosophy.
“Masonry propagates no creed except its own most simple and Sublime One; that universal religion, taught by Nature and by Reason. Its Lodges are neither Jewish, Moslem, nor Christian Temples. It reiterates the Precepts of morality of all religions. It venerates the character and commends the teachings of the great and good of all ages and of all countries. It extracts the good and not the evil, the truth, and not the error, from all creeds and acknowledges that there is much which is good and true in all” (Morals and Dogma, Pike, p. 718, emp., jrp).
The apostle Paul said, ” Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8). Since Masonry has been conclusively shown to be an organization of human origin, which speculates on such things as deity, the universe, science, humanity, morality and immortality through the use of all the ancient religions and philosophies, surely it falls into the category of human philosophy which is ” according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (cf. 1 Cor. 1:19-21). To get caught up in practicing and defending Freemasonry amounts to letting others ”cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit.”
(Continued next week)
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Revealed at the Cross
Scripture Reading: Mark 15:27-32
The cross reveals magnificent truth – gospel truth – that is for our salvation. It is our glory, Gal 6:14.
I. THE CROSS REVEALS OUR SINS.
A. That Christ Died for
All Means All Are Dead in Sin, 2 Co 5:14-15, 21 (Rom 3:23; 6:23)
II. THE CROSS REVEALS GOD’S LOVE, 2 Cor 5:18-20; Rom 5:8; Jno 3:16.
A. Love takes the
Initiative, Jno 3:16.
III. CROSS REVEALS GOD’S APPEAL.
A. We Preach Christ
Crucified, 1 Cor 1:18, 23; 2:2; Acts 8:12; 2:47; Eph 5:23; Heb 2:9; 5:9
IV. CROSS REVEALS PERFECTION OF JESUS.
A. Life and Character, 1
Pet 2:21-24 (3:18).
V. THE CROSS REVEALS THE END OF THE LAW, Rom 10:4-5.
A. The Law Could not Make Sinners Perfect, Heb 7:19; 9:9; Gal 3:10-13, 22-25; Ro 3:19-20; Col 2:13-15; Heb 10:12-14.
VI. THE CROSS REVEALS INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY, Matt 16:24-25.
A. Bear Our Cross and Follow Jesus, Gal 2:20; 2 Cor 5:15-17; 2 Tim 4:7-8.
What does the cross reveal in you? (Matt 26:54, 39-44)
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
The Importance of a Healthy Marriage
Scripture Reading: Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
1. In 2007,
over half of U.S. marriages with 25+ yrs ended in divorce!
I. A HEALTHY MARRIAGE TEACHES AND PRACTICES LOVE, Ezek 16:8.
A. Healthy Marriages
Understand and Practice True Love, 1 Cor 13:4-7; Prov 19:13; 21:9, 19; 1 Pet
3:7; Col 3:19.
II. A HEALTHY MARRIAGE CONQUERS LONELINESS, Gen 2:18.
A. Drifting Apart, Eccl
III. A HEALTHY MARRIAGE NURTURES CHILDREN, Eph 6:1-4.
A. Nurturing Atmosphere
Prevails, 1 Cor 7:14; Deut 6:4-9; Psa 78:1-4; 2 Tim 1:5; Prov 6:20-24.
IV.HEALTHY MARRIAGE BUILDS CHARACTER
A. Character is developed
1. Unhealthy marriages not
only damage lives, but also souls, 1 Pet 3:7.
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 06/14/2010
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA