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Why the Church and the Lodge Disagree

A Lutheran Perspective

by Pastor Walter P. Snyder (XRYSOSTOM)

The Church and the Lodge* disagree because of a very fundamental Scriptural truth: "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. (Ephesians 2:8-9)" The disagreement of the Church with the Lodge is because of the religion of the Lodge, which is a false religion. Matthew 15:9 says, In vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."

The Lodge is deceptive, false, and a tool of the devil. In dealing with the Lodge we haven't time to treat of all the teachings of all lodges, or even of all the teachings and practices of one lodge. But we will deal with the main points of difference between the Word of God and religious Lodgery as outlined above. And because Freemasonry is admittedly the father of the lodge system, to prove our points we will quote from accepted Masonic sources such as the Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, written by Albert G. Mackey, past General Grand High Priest, and once Secretary General of the Supreme Council, 33rd Degree, for Southern Jurisdiction of U.S. Mackey spent 30 years in study and research in behalf of Masonry, and then labored 10 years to write his Encyclopedia. Other Masonic sources will be listed after each quotation. Note that in disagreements with many Masons, when any of these sources are cited, they will disavow the author, saying, in effect, "What he says may be what another lodge in another place says, but that doesn't hold true with us." Yet the bottom line holds true: The Lodge teaches falsely, since it claims salvation through human effort.

  1. The claims of the Lodge:
    1. It is religious.
      1. All its applicants must believe in God.
      2. It believes in Jesus.
      3. It is based on the Word of God.
      4. It encourages prayer to God.
      5. It promises salvation to its members.
      6. It claims to impart divine truth.
    2. It is broadminded.
      1. It is non-sectarian.
      2. Its religion is not limited to creeds.
    3. It is uplifting.
      1. It upholds a high type of ethics.
      2. It encourages good morals.
    4. It is a social organization.
  2. The objections of God's Word:
    1. It is religious, but not Christian.
      1. It worships God, but not the Triune God.
      2. It believes in Jesus, but not Jesus as the only Savior.
      3. It is based upon the words of many gods, but not upon the Word of God.
      4. It encourages prayer, but not true prayer which God answers.
      5. It promises salvation, but it promises this on the basis of man's works.
      6. It claims to impart divine truth, but its popular teachings are contrary to the Word of God.
    2. It is broadminded, but not Christ-minded.
      1. It is non-sectarian, and thus non-Christian.
      2. Its religion is not limited to creeds, for creeds pin one down to definite beliefs about a definite God, and thus set boundaries to one's faith and actions.
    3. It is uplifting, but its uplifting effect is emotional only, and is far below that of the Church of God.
      1. It upholds a high type of ethics, but they are selective, and none comes as high as those set by the Church.
      2. It encourages good morals, but it lacks the ability to empower a man to keep them. Further, its morals are below those set by God as a standard.
    4. It is a social organization, but it is a religious social organization whose religion is false. The Church is also a social organization which is religious. The Church is a better social organization than the Lodge.
      1. The Church is more uplifting in society than the Lodge.
      2. The Church is less discriminatory than the Lodge.
      3. The Church is more lastingly satisfying than the Lodge.

One might ask how it is possible for anyone who is not a member of the lodges to study them, since only members are supposed to be able to know what the lodges teach. Every year there are many people, including those of high degree, who leave the various lodges for conscience' sake. Many of these, in order to warn others, make available the information they have received through their membership in the Lodge.

For example, ever since the exposure of the first three degrees of Masonry by Captain William Morgan--and his subsequent abduction and murder in 1826 by Mason Richard Howard--men have been steadily leaving this lodge. Immediately after the murder was exposed, over 1500 lodges surrendered their charters, and forty-five thousand Masons of the fifty thousand then in the northern jurisdiction seceded from the Order. Colonel William L. Stone, Knight Templar and Editor of the New York Commercial Advertiser, claimed that Howard confessed himself the executioner of Morgan, making this confession at an encampment of Knights Templar at St. John's Hall in New York, under the "sealed obligation," and that then Howard was provided with money and put on board ship for Liverpool, England.

Now, to back up the statements of the outline:


    Mackey's Masonic Jurisprudence, page 95: "The truth is, that Masonry is undoubtedly a religious institution." Mackey's Encyclopedia, page 648: "Masonry is in every sense of the word--and that its least philosophical--an eminently religious institution ... that it is indebted solely to the religious element which it contains for its origin, and for its continued existency, and that without this religious element it would scarcely be worthy of cultivation by the wise and good."

    The Lodges are religious, and that is why they have their temples, altars, holy books, prayers, religious terms, burial rites, and references to the Great Master or Supreme Architect of the Universe, etc.

    However, THE RELIGION OF THE LODGES IS NOT THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, for the Christian religion claims that there is salvation only for the person who believes in Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. The Word of God claims that Jesus Christ, God's only-begotten Son, is the only Savior. Acts 4:12 says: "For there is none other Name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." No lodge that admits other than Christian members could say this. They all must deny this, for to confess the need of Christ as Savior would be to make them "sectarian"--in other words, Christian.

    In the Proceedings of New Jersey (Masonry), Vol. 23, Part 2, p. 97, under Penn., we read, "It [Masonry] directs us to divest ourselves of confined and bigoted notions and it teaches us that humanity is the soul of religion. We are members of a universal religion, not narrowed to a sect. Whilst as Christians we worship God through Jesus Christ, as Parsees, through Zoroaster, as Mohammedans through Mohammed, as Jews through Moses, we believe that in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted by Him . . . . We mean to travel to the same place. We know that the end of the journey is the same, and we all affectionately hope to meet in the paradisiacal lodge of the just made perfect." [Emphasis added]

    In other words, Masonry would ask its members to get rid of their narrow and bigoted notions about salvation, such as, for example, our teaching that Christ is the only Savior. To them, He isn't the only Savior, as the Word of God teaches. The Word must tell a lie here--so it can hardly be inspired. Christ is only one of the many saviors, like Mohammed, Zoroaster, or Moses. So He can hardly be the Only-Begotten Son of God, or the Savior. He must just be another great teacher. Any Christian belonging to a lodge can see that in denying Christ, it is also denying the Father; for in John 2:22-23, we read, "Who is a liar but he that denieth the Father and the Son? Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father; he that confesseth the Son hath the Father also." And if a man, or an organization, thus denies the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is also denied, for the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. WHAT DO YOU HAVE LEFT OF CHRISTIANITY IF YOU DENY THAT JESUS IS THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD, THE ONLY SAVIOR OF MANKIND? Such denial is what the lodge has to do in order to avoid becoming a sect--that is, a Christian organization.

    According to the passage quoted above, and there are many like it from Masonic sources, everyone "that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted by Him." [Emphasis added] That isn't what the Word of God says. In Ephesians 2:8-9, we read, "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." God does not accept man because man fears God. Even the Devil does that. Nor does God accept man because he works righteousness. The Bible teaches in Romans 3:10, "There is none righteous, no, not one." So salvation does not come as the result of our works, but it is a gift of God to us undeserving sinners, coming to us through faith in Jesus as our Savior. Thus the Lodge is religious, but not Christian.

    1. IT WORSHIPS GOD, that is, it doesn't encourage the admission of open blasphemers to membership.

      The sixth obligation in the 3rd (or Master Mason's) Degree reads: "Furthermore, that I will not assist in, or be present at the initiating, passing, or raising of a woman, an old man in dotage, a young man under age, an atheist, a madman or a fool; I knowing them to be such." So it desires that its member believe in god, but not in Jesus Christ as true God, or in God the Father as the Father of Jesus Christ, the only Savior, or in the Holy Spirit as true God proceeding from the Father and the Son. It indeed worships god, but not the Triune God.

    2. IT BELIEVES IN JESUS, but in Jesus as only one of the revealers of the truth about God. It does not believe in Jesus as the only Savior. But Jesus never Himself laid claim to being a Great Teacher. He always claimed to be the Son of God, the Savior of the world. If He is not the Savior, He is a liar. "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)" And we are plainly told, God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. (2 Corinthians 5:19)" You can clearly see Who the Word of God teaches that Jesus is in Acts 16:31; 2 Timothy 3:15; etc. He is either the Savior, or both He and God's Word are liars.

    3. THE LODGE CLAIMS TO MAKE USE OF GOD'S WORD. Asahol W. Gage, in The Builder, Vol. I, p. 235 says, God's Holy Book, His revelation to us, is the guide in our search for light." But what is God's Holy Book according to the Lodge? Gage continues, "To the Jew, the Holy Book is the history of Israel, substantially the Old Testament. To the Christian it is the Old and New Testaments. To the Mohammedan it is the Koran; to the Hindu, the Veda. But whatever book it is, it is the Holy Book of the seeker of light, and that which he believes to be the Word of God." Is this what the Christian Church holds? Can a Christian subscribe to this?

    4. THE LODGE URGES ITS MEMBERS TO PRAYER, but to prayer that can never be heard, for the Lodge thinks of the use of the Name of Jesus in prayer as "contrary to the spirit of freemasonry and is in derogation of its universality which would demand that no phrase or terms should be used in Masonic service that would arouse sectarian feelings or wound the religious sensibilities of a Freemason." This foregoing from Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Texas, 1907, p. 84, Decision of Jurisprudence Committee. So pray, but don't use the Name of Jesus. But a Christian knows that this is precisely the reason God hears him, not because he deserves to be heard, but because he comes in Jesus' Name. For reference, see John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-24, 26; Ephesians 2:18; Romans 5:2; 1 Timothy 2:5.

    5. Thus we see that when IT PROMISES SALVATION, its promises are deceptive. We see that it offers salvation to all who fear God and work righteousness, regardless of whether or not they may believe in Jesus as their Savior. If we are Christians, we know that this is absolutely false and contrary to Scripture.

    6. IT CLAIMS TO IMPART DIVINE TRUTH, but the "divine truth" we have found in the Lodge is contrary to the Word of God. And, if it actually has other divine truths, why doesn't it allow the world to benefit from them? It claims to be an uplifting organization. What if the Church felt that way about the Divine Truth of the Bible? Who would then hear the saving truths of the Gospel? Only a certain few initiated men, or, as in the course of some lodges, only a certain few initiated women? But, of course, no children or cripples!

  2. THE LODGE PRIDES ITSELF ON BEING BROADMINDED, but they are not Christ-minded; nor do they claim to be. If they were to claim to be Christ-minded, then they would confess to be a Christian organization. This is not their claim, for if they claimed this, how could they ask men from all religions to partake? Then, if they are not Christ-minded, we object to their offering salvation to all men who fear God and work righteousness--as though Christ were irrelevant--as though He had nothing to do with our being saved--as though any man can be saved without a firm trust in Him as Savior. It is a downright lie to say so. This is the doctrine that Satan most likes to have taught to men, as it lulls them to sleep until too late.

  3. THE LODGE CLAIMS TO BE UPLIFTING. But no one with all the facts in hand can say that there is any comparison with the uplifting effects of the Church of God.

    1. THE LODGE CLAIMS TO UPHOLD A HIGH TYPE OF ETHICS AND TO ENCOURAGE GOOD MORALS. But Mackey says on page 502 of his Masonic Jurisprudence, that "the Moral Law, obedience to which Masonry requires, is not the law of the Decalogue of Moses (the Ten Commandments), but rather Lex naturae, or natural law, discoverable by natural light. No law less universal could have been appropriately selected for the government of an institution whose prominent characteristic is its universality." The Lodge cannot bind its members by the Ten Commandments because these are Jewish and Christian, in other words, sectarian. They bind themselves only by the universal laws of nature.

      A Christian, however, knows what man is like by nature--an enemy of God. The laws, morals and ethics of nature are far below the laws, morals and ethics of God. And that is the reason that, for example, the vows of the 2nd and 3rd Degrees of Masonry are as narrow and limited as they are. The ethics of Masonry are far below the accepted ethics of God, but yet it claims salvation for the man who lives up to them.

      Masonry doesn't even claim to have a perfect ethic, for another Masonic authority, J. S. M. Ward, in Free Masonry, Its Aims and Ideals, pages 52-53 says, "... our moral teaching, though good, is neither so exalted, nor so all embracing as that of Christ."

    2. Now for the sake of argument, let us say that they do have a perfect ethic. To be perfect, a man would have to keep this standard of morals perfectly, wouldn't he? Can Masonry enable a man to keep a perfect standard perfectly? It cannot. Christ alone can empower a man so that he can little by little overcome sin in this life and more and more reach this goal; but even then, the Christian is never entirely above falling into sin in this life. The Christian's only hope of salvation lies in having his sins all forgiven by God because of Christ's payment for them on the Cross. The Christian knows he can never obtain a state of perfection by his own strength.

  4. THE LODGE CLAIMS TO BE A SOCIAL ORGANIZATION. It is one, but so is the Church. The Church is a better social organization, for it is one of God. It is used by God as His tool in accomplishing the eternal salvation of every man, woman and child whom He can convince of their need for it. Thus the Church claims to be more universal and less discriminatory than the Lodge, for women, children and the handicapped are not excluded from the Church. According to 1 Timothy 2:4, God would have all to be saved.

Masonry actually contains only Three Degrees. They are The Entered Apprentice, The Fellow-Craft, and The Master Mason. Various rites may be followed, such as the York Rite or the Scottish Rite. Within these various rites are then the side degrees which give rise to the terms such as 32nd Degree Mason. Some variants appear in the wording of the oaths, rituals and such, but essentially, they are all the same. Space limitations again prohibit going into detail on each oath, password and ritual, but that you may see why our Lutheran Church objects to the oath taken by Masons, here is the oath of the Entered Apprentice Degree:

I, _______________, of my own free will and accord, in the presence of Almighty God and this Worshipful Lodge, erected to Him and dedicated to the Holy Saints John, do hereby and hereon most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear:

  1. That I will always hail, ever conceal and never reveal any of the secret arts, parts or points of the hidden mysteries of ancient Freemasonry, which have been heretofore, may at this time or shall at any future period be communicated to me as such, to any person or persons whomsoever, except it be to a true and lawful brother Mason, or within a regularly constituted lodge of Masons; and neither unto him nor them until by strict trial, due examination or legal information, I shall have found him or them as lawfully entitled to the same as I am myself.

  2. I furthermore solemnly promise and swear that I will not write, print, paint, stamp, cut, carve, mark or engrave them, or cause the same to be done, upon anything movable or immovable capable of receiving the least impression or a word, syllable, letter or character, whereby the same may become legible or intelligible to myself or to any person under the whole canopy of heaven, and the secrets of Freemasonry be thereby unlawfully obtained through my unworthiness.

  3. To all this I most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, with a firm and steadfast resolution to keep and perform the same, without any equivocation, mental reservation, or secret evasion of mind whatever. BINDING MYSELF UNDER NO LESS A PENALTY THAN THAT OF HAVING MY THROAT CUT ACROSS, MY TONGUE TORN OUT BY ITS ROOTS, AND BURIED IN THE ROUGH SANDS OF THE SEA AT LOW-WATER MARK, WHERE THE TIDE EBBS AND FLOWS TWICE IN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS, should I ever knowingly or willingly violate this my solemn oath and obligation as an Entered Apprentice Mason. So help me God and keep me steadfast in the due performance of the same. [Emphasis added]

How may a Christian in good conscience make this oath not knowing what may be revealed to him, or having made it, keep it when he is informed fully of what the promise is? Or how may a Christian bind himself under such a penalty when Holy Scripture clearly states that the body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit?

The password for the Entered Apprentice Degree is BOAZ; for the Fellow-Craft it is JACHIN; for the Master Mason, it is MACHABEN and MACHBINNA. The knocks for admission to the Lodge are as follows: First Degree knocks are three, evenly spaced; Second Degree has one knock, followed by two; Third Degree has two, followed by one. The Masons also date their calendars differently, namely by A.L., meaning Anno Lucis, or Year of Light. This stands for the date of creation, which is 4000 B.C., by their reckoning. Thus 2001 A.D. became A.L. 6001.

If Masonry, or any of the other Lodges, have these wonderful secrets for better life both now and hereafter, and if it is as all-encompassing as it claims, why then does it force its members to swear that these secrets will never be revealed to anyone not a lodge member. Christianity, which has been directly entrusted by God with the mysteries of God, is not sworn to secrecy, by rather commanded to "Go ... tell ... preach the Gospel ... to every creature." No, friends--Lodgery, with all its vaunted claims, is a fraud. It lures men's souls to eternal destruction. It preaches a damnable doctrine of works, and it makes Christ's sacrifice of no effect.

The three Craft Degrees form the basis of the whole Masonic system; together with the Royal Arch, they form the whole of Masonry as officially recognized in England. The other degrees of Masonry are all of later origin, and it is only in America that these have an aura of "officialness." Of the "higher degrees," the most popular seem to be Mark Masonry, Knights Templar, and Rose Croix. The most common rite followed in this country is the so-called Scottish Rite, which consists of thirty-three degrees which now follow:

  1. Entered Apprentice
  2. Fellow Craft
  3. Master Mason
  4. Secret Master
  5. Perfect Master
  6. Intimate Secretary
  7. Provost and Judge
  8. Intendent of the Buildings
  9. Elect of the Nine
  10. Elect of the Fifteen
  11. Sublime Elect
  12. Grand Master Architect
  13. Royal Arch (of Enoch)
  14. Scotch Knight of Perfection
  15. Knight of the Sword
  16. Prince of Jerusalem
  17. Knight of the East and West
  18. Knight of the Pelican and Eagle, the Sovereign Prince Rose Croix of Heredom
  19. Grand Pontiff
  20. Venerable Grand Master
  21. Patriarch Noachite
  22. Prince of Libanus
  23. Chief of the Tabernacle
  24. Prince of the Tabernacle
  25. Knight of the Brazen Serpent
  26. Prince of Mercy
  27. Commander of the Temple
  28. Knight of the Sun
  29. Knight of St. Andrew
  30. Grand Elected Knight Kadosh, Knight of the Black and White Eagle
  31. Grand Inspector Inquisitor Commander
  32. Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret
  33. Grand Inspector General

Other ways of grouping Masonry in the United States are as follows:

  1. Symbolic Degrees
    1. Entered Apprentice
    2. Fellow-Craft
    3. Master Mason
  2. Chapter Masonry (Royal Arch)
    1. Mark Master
    2. Most Excellent Master
    3. Royal Arch
  3. Council Degrees (Cryptic Degrees)
    (This link is to the Missouri York Rite)
    1. Royal Master
    2. Select Master
    3. Super-Excellent Master
  4. The Commandery
    1. Knights of the Red Cross
    2. Knights Templar (there is also Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, a non-Masonic group)
    3. Knights of Malta
(These last three supposedly are open only to professing Christians.)

The Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (Shriners) is a purely American Degree which is noted chiefly for our purposes) for three things--a blasphemous oath sworn upon the Bible and the Koran at the same time, extreme vulgarity in the ritual, and a highly developed adolescence in nearly all it does. One must be either a Knight Templar or a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason to join.

Should you desire further information about the Masons, you are invited to read Darkness Visible and Christian By Degrees by Walton Hannah, Lodges Examined by the Bible, by John R. Rice, Standard Freemasonry Illustrated, by J. Blanchard, and the booklets What's Behind the Lodge Door? and How To Respond: The Lodge from Concordia Publishing House, House, St. Louis, Missouri. See also this Masonry Evaluation from The Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod.

See the note below for some of the other fraternals with which orthodox Christendom finds problems.

For a delightful spoof of lodges, check out The Loyal Order of the Water Buffalo.

*NOTE: "Lodge" can mean any fraternal organization. Included among the lodges are the Masons and their related organizations, including Shriners. See also that for all the lodge-talk about "equality," a separate organization, the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, exists primarily for people of African ancestry.

By "lodge," we also mean such groups as the Elks, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Moose International, and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Buffalo, the Sons of Herman, Modern Woodmen of America, Knights of Pythias, as well as others. For the purpose of this section, however, we deal mainly with the Masons since, in various forms, they constitute largest lodge, and are representative of almost all lodges in most aspects. Back to the top

Page designed by Walter Snyder as part of the Xrysostom family of Web pages. Text adapted from, "What Do Lutherans Believe? A Study Guide in Christian Teaching for Adults," which is published by Oshkosh Church Supply, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Copyright © 1992 by Walter W. Snyder and Walter P. Snyder. Available by calling 1-800-236-8724 or order online from Amazon. This page Copyright © 2001 by Walter P. Snyder.