And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Vol 13, Num 21, 06/27/2010
In this issue:
Freemasonry purports to be the bearer of ancient truths dealing with man’s relationship to deity and immortality. It persuades its members of their need to embark upon a search for the greater light (knowledge) which Masonry provides. To do this, the Mason is encouraged to advance in the organization through a series of degrees, each intended to provide the initiate with more of the “Masonic Light.” So, we now turn our attention to the rites and degrees of Freemasonry.
A “rite” is defined as: “1. a solemn, ceremonial act or observance in accordance with prescribed rule, as in a religion. 2. any formal, customary observance or procedure” (Webster’s New World Dictionary). The “Rites” of Freemasonry consist of degrees, in which the ceremonies and formal observances are taught and conducted. There are two major Rites which classify the degrees of Freemasonry, the York Rite and the Scottish Rite.
The York Rite is said to be “the oldest of all the Rites, and consisted originally of only three Degrees: 1. Entered Apprentice; 2. Fellow Craft; 3. Master Mason” (Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, 3 vol. ed., Vol. 2, p. 1132). Of this classification of Degrees, Mackey said, “The York Rite was that Rite which was most probably organized or modified at the Revival in 1717, and practiced for fifty years by the Constitutional Grand Lodge of England. It consisted of only the three Symbolic Degrees, the last one, or the Master’s, containing within itself the secrets now transferred to the Royal Arch” (Ibid.).
When these “secrets” of the Royal Arch were transferred out of the third degree and made a separate degree in the latter part of the eighteenth century, the York Rite lost its identity. This Rite is still named among Masons, being described by some as the American Rite, due to the Americanized form the Rite took in the 18th and 19th centuries. It seems, however, that the identity of the York Rite has been swallowed up by the more prevalent Rite of Masonry, the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.
The Scottish Rite is one of the youngest Masonic Rites, having been established no earlier than 1801 (Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, 3 vol. ed., Vol. 2, p. 916). For the past 150 years it has been the “most popular and the most extensively diffused” of all the Masonic Rites. I am sure that most who read this article have heard of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. Under this name, Masons maintains a system of children’s hospitals. Perhaps you have seen this name used in other connections as well.
The Scottish Rite consists of thirty-three degrees which are divided into various sections. These sections are under the control of their appropriate Jurisdiction. There are two Jurisdictions in the United States, the Northern and Southern. While some of the names of the degrees are slightly different, depending upon which Jurisdiction is being referenced, both are basically the same and contain the same symbols and teachings. Here is a list of the degrees of the Scottish Rite as they are arranged in the Southern Jurisdiction. (My sources for this list are Blue Lodge And Chapter Masonry, Ronayne, p. iii; Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, 3 vol. ed., Vol. 2, p. 916; Duncan’s Masonic Ritual and Monitor.)
I. SYMBOLIC LODGE
1. Entered Apprentice
II. LODGE OF PERFECTION
4. Secret Master or Mark Master
III. CHAPTER OF ROSE CROIX
15. Knight of the East
IV. COUNCIL OF KADOSH
19. Grand Pontiff
V. CONSISTORY OF SUBLIME PRINCES OR MASTERS, OF THE ROYAL SECRET
31. Inspector Inquisitor
VI. SUPREME COUNCIL
33. Sovereign Grand Inspector-General
These degrees have been organized so as to bring the neophyte of the Order through a progression of grades in his quest for “light.” Yet, many Masons who have had these higher degrees conferred upon them are ignorant of what Masonry stands for and teaches! Men who are 32nd degree Masons have admitted to this author they did not study the material given to them by the Lodge in order to receive this “greater light of Masonry!” This is not much different from the people who are members of religious denominations, having no concept of what their denomination believes and practices. An association with error will not be justified in the day of judgment by an appeal to ignorance (“But, I didn’t know...!”). The information is available -- use it and find out what Masonry is really all about!
Every candidate wishing to enter the Masonic Lodge must meet certain qualifications. These requirements are of two kinds according to Mackey in his Encyclopedia, Internal and External. One must also have two religious beliefs before he can be initiated into the Masonic Lodge. These two beliefs constitute the religious doctrines of Masonry, and without them, a man cannot become a Mason.
The Internal Qualifications needed for the applicant to become a Mason are: 1. He must come of his own free will; 2. He must not be influenced by mercenary motives; 3. A favorable opinion of the Institution must have prompted him to become a Mason; 4. He must resolve to cheerfully conform to the established usages and customs of the Fraternity (Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, 3 vol. ed., Vol. 2, p. 825).
Consider the fourth qualification stated. One must commit himself to conform to “usages and customs” – ones of which he would, at the time of commitment, have no knowledge. Can you imagine a Christian resolving to conform to things which may or may not conflict with Christianity before he can personally investigate them? No Christian should ever put himself in such a compromising position (1 Thess. 5:21).
The External Qualifications, which deal with a man's outward and apparent fitness to be a Mason, are divided into five areas:
1. Moral - He must lead a virtuous life;
2. Physical - The candidate must be a man, not a woman; of mature age; must be in possession of all his limbs, not maimed or dismembered;
3. Mental - Able to comprehend the character of the Institution and partake in its responsibilities;
4. Political - This relates to the condition of the candidate in society -- he must be free born, not a slave;
5. Religious - Must believe in the existence of God as a superintending and protecting power, and he must believe in a future life -- the immortality of the soul (Ibid.).
These requirements are fairly self-explanatory, yet cause one to reflect on the implications of several of them. If Freemasonry possesses the “Light” which man needs to build spiritual temples fit for the future life, then why exclude women?
”There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28; cf. Acts 10:34-35). Why would any Christian want to be yoked to such a discriminatory organization?
But let us also consider the religious doctrines one must have to become a Mason: Belief in a superintending God and belief in the immortality of the soul. Notice they do not say you must believe in Jehovah, the God of the Bible, as the Creator of the heavens and the earth. You must simply believe in a superintending God, whatever or whoever one might believe he is.
This god is described by Masonry as the Great Architect of the Universe (G. A. O. T. U.). To the Hindu this superintending god is Brahman. To the Moslem, he is Allah. Whatever identity men’s religions place upon the Supreme Being is fine with Masonry, as long as one believes in the existence of such a god. In conjunction with this view of deity, one must believe in the immortality of the soul. The whole concept of Freemasonry is that of preparing man for a future life. Without believing in a future life, one cannot become a Mason. These two requirements should forever cease the quibbling over whether or not Masonry is religious. It most definitely is religious, else it would not require religious beliefs in order to become a member! A Christian may not be a member of two religious organizations. Jesus Christ has built His church, having shed His own blood to purchase it (Matt. 16:18; Acts 20:28). The church is the pillar and ground of the truth, not Freemasonry (1 Tim. 3:15). To seek divine truth, instruction and guidance in a human organization is vanity and in opposition to the divine will of God (Acts 4:12; 1 Cor. 3:11). ”Except Jehovah build the house, They labor in vain that build it...” (Psa. 127:1). My dear friend, the Lord God definitely did not build Freemasonry.
Why exclude a man simply because he might have an arm or a leg missing? The discriminatory nature of Masonry is apparent. On the other hand, Christ has provided a course of life dedicated to erecting “spiritual temples” unto God in which all can participate (1 Cor. 6:19-20; 1 Pet. 2:5). (To be continued…)
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:21-23
Misunderstandings about Jesus followed Him as he “went about doing good” and
preaching the gospel of the kingdom (Matt 4:23; 16:13-14)
I. GOD’S PURPOSES FOR THE CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD. Matt 16:21 (Acts 2:23)
A. He Must…
II. PETER REBUKES THE SON OF GOD, Matt 16:22.
Pronounced Mercy, not Murder, for the Son of God (“Merciful to you”).
III. THE WORK OF SATAN, Matt 16:23.
the Things of God, Rev 12:1-10.
IV. WE MUST MIND THE THINGS OF GOD AND NOT THE THINGS OF MEN, Prov 23:7; Col 3:1-4.
A. By Minding
the Word of God, 2 Tim 2:15; 2 Pet 3:18.
Concl. Sacrifice of Jesus is the greatest example of self denial (16:24). Will we be a stumbling block or a living stone in His house? 1 Pet 2:4-8
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 06/27/2010
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA