Question of the Attitude of the Church Toward the Lodge System


(From Disputed Doctrines [Burlington, Iowa: Lutheran Literary Board, 1933], pp. 76-79.)

This is a burning question at the present day. Different attitudes are assumed by various bodies of our Lutheran Church. Some forbid entrance into lodges by both pastors and laymen. Others forbid entrance into lodges to their ministers, but make no similar requirement of their laymen. Still others allow both pastors and laymen to become members of lodges. There is no unity of action or uniformity in this respect. But there should be. If the lodge is a good thing, it ought to be encouraged. If it is an evil thing, it ought to be unqualifiedly condemned. Lodges have been among us for many years, and have been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years. It ought to be easy to estimate their influence, and the Church should take a decisive stand.

We Christians have the Word of God for our guide. Let us examine the lodge in the light of God’s Word. If it is a good thing, let us recommend it to our people. If it is an evil thing, then let us condemn it, regardless of the consequences to our Church as an outward organization.

The first and most serious objection to the lodge from the standpoint of the Scriptures is, that it is a flagrant transgression of the First Commandment. That Commandment says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” The lodge sets up a god for its members to worship as false as any god of pagan or heathen worship. This god is not the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of our Christian faith, but an imaginary god who has no existence at all. In the lodge this god is called “the Great Architect of the Universe,” and “the Head of the Lodge Triumphant.” This is not the true God. The Triune God, whom we as Christians worship and to whom we pray when we say, “Our Father who art in heaven,” never introduced the lodge system. He never favored it or sanctioned it in His Word. He holds no position in it, and it is a blasphemous slander when the title, “Head of the Lodge Triumphant” is applied to Him. How men with no warrant from His Word should presume so to address Him passes comprehension. So far is he removed from all connection with the lodge system that the name of His well-beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our adorable Redeemer and the only Saviour of sinners, is excluded from all the major lodges. Just as there was no room for Him in the inn when He was born into this world, so there is no room for Him in the lodge. To transgress the First Commandment is the most deadly of all sins; and the Church is not performing its function or doing its duty when it fails to warn its members against such transgression.

A second objection to the lodge from the Scriptural standpoint is that the lodge institutes a false worship. The Lord Jesus Christ quotes the Scripture as saying, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve” [Matthew 4:10]. Now, it is true the lodge disclaims interfering with a man’s religion. But if this is true, why do the lodges have chaplains and priests and elaborate rituals and forms of worship? The only answer to this question is that they have a religion of their own and a worship that is false and deadly. This must be so, because they serve a false god and exclude from their worship Jesus Christ, whose name is “the only name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved” [Acts 4:12]. It is false also because it does not teach salvation by faith alone in Jesus Christ, but salvation by works. And even these words need not go beyond the payment of their regular dues to the lodge.

The writer of this article recalls a Masonic burial which he once witnessed. The man who died had been a Free Mason. Although he was a married man and had a family, he had been living for thirteen years, up to the time of his sudden accidental death, in adultery with another woman. He received no Christian burial; but his brother Masons buried him. They assembled around his grave with their little aprons and other paraphernalia on and went through their long ritualistic service; and the chaplain, who led the service, said among other things, that it had pleased the Great Architect of the Universe and Head of the Lodge Triumphant to translate our good, departed brother from the lodge on earth to the lodge above; and all the members present at the grave responded, “So mote it be.” And this man who had died impenitent in his sins was sent directly into heaven. He was a member of the lodge and had paid his dues, and naturally went where all good lodge men go. Is it right for the Church to keep silent and fail to enter its earnest protest against such deception, which is subversive of all the fundamental principles of Christianity?

Another objection against the whole lodge system is, that it introduces a false brotherhood. The only brotherhood recognized in the Scriptures is the brotherhood of true believers in Jesus Christ. The lodge has another and a totally different brotherhood. It admits into the membership Jews and Mohammedans and infidels of all kinds, and Christians. And they must recognize one another as brethren, and must worship together. Here all differences are submerged and the Christian is placed on a level with the unbeliever, contrary to the Scripture which says, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” [Amos 3:3] Surely there can be no greater opposition than this to the apostolic injunction, “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” [2 Corinthians 6:14]. If the Church fails to enter its protest against lodges which teach such things, it fails in this respect to bear witness to Jesus Christ, which is its chief function here upon earth.

Many other objections may be brought against the lodge; but surely those mentioned above are quite sufficient to show that no true intelligent Christian can participate in the lodge system. Every religion without the Christ and without the cross is not Divine, but is Satanic.

Carroll Herman Little (1872-1958) was the son of a Tennessee Synod minister and a native of Hickory, North Carolina. He graduated from the General Council’s Mount Airy (Philadelphia) Seminary in 1901, received the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from Lenoire-Rhyne College in 1914, and in 1928 received his Doctor of Sacred Theology degree from Chicago Lutheran Seminary. Little served pastorates in Nova Scotia and Ontario, and from 1917 to 1947 was professor of theology in the Evangelical Lutheran Seminary of Canada in Waterloo, Ontario, an institution of the United Lutheran Church in America.

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