Excerpted from The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge by John Ankerberg & John Weldon, published by Moody Publishers, used with permission.
According to most Masonic authorities, modern Freemasonry (also called “speculative” Masonry) can be traced to the founding of the first Grand Lodge in London in 1717.
The Lodge is also a secret society. In fact, the Encyclopaedia Britannica classifies it as the largest secret society in the world. To maintain its secrets, Masonry uses symbolism, secret oaths, and secret rituals to instruct new members called “Initiates.” Each new member swears during these secret ceremonies to remain loyal to the Lodge and its teachings. The teachings instruct each new candidate how he is to serve and the rewards he can expect. In addition, Masonry views its mission in life as helping to bring the beliefs of all men into harmony—a harmony based primarily on Masonic teachings. Two of these teachings form the foundation of all Masonry.
First is their belief in the universal fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man. By this, Masons teach that all men—Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Mormons, Buddhists, and Christians—regardless of their personal religious views, are the spiritual sons of God. Masonry’s second foundational belief is that reforming personal character and practicing good works will secure God’s favor...[and] will earn him a place in the “Celestial Lodge Above” (i.e., heaven).
Several leading Masons have defined Masonry. According to Albert G. Mackey in Revised Encylopedia of Freemasonry, “All [Masons] unite in declaring it to be a system of morality, by the practice of which its members may advance their spiritual interest, and mount by the theological ladder from the Lodge on earth to the Lodge in heaven.” [Italics added—see Jn:10:1] Other respected Masonic authorities define Masonry in the following ways:
Masonry: The Same Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow?
Through its history Masonry has changed, and even today Masonry worldwide is not uniform. This characteristic of Masonry presents an important issue that needs to be resolved at the outset: Does Masonry’s lack of a central authority make it incapable of being subject to legitimate criticism? The answer is no....Masonry may not have a single human authority, but few Masons will dispute that Masonry itself provides the authority. In The Newly-Made Mason, H. L. Haywood refers to the obligations placed upon the new Mason:
I hereby solemnly and sincerely promise and swear that as a beginning Craftsman in the Masonry of the mind and as a Newly-Made Mason I will not permit myself to be led into making hasty conclusions. I promise and swear that I will not listen to those who are not competent to teach me. There will be nothing binding on me except the truth. If there be those who say one thing and if there be others who say the opposite thing, I will consider that it is Freemasonry itself which finally is to decide between them. [Italics added]
Regardless of the fluid and sometimes historically contradictory nature of Masonry, there remains a solid core of belief that is central to the majority of Masonry and to which almost all Masonic writers appeal. Mr. Bill Mankin, a 32d Degree Mason, admitted on national television that “The authoritative source for Masonry is The Ritual. The Ritual—what happens in the Lodge, what goes on.” State by state the rituals may vary slightly, but the doctrines they are intended to convey are everywhere uniform. For example, Mackey states in his encyclopedia on Masonry that
The Ritual is only the external and extrinsic form. The doctrine of Freemasonry is everywhere the same. It is the Body which is unchangeable—remaining always and everywhere the same. The Ritual is but the outer garment which covers this Body, which is subject to continual variation. It is right and desirable that the Ritual should be made perfect, and everywhere alike. But if this be impossible, as it is, this at least will console us, that while the ceremonies, or Ritual, have varied at different periods, and still vary in different countries, the science and philosophy, the symbolism and the religion, of Freemasonry continue, and will continue, to be the same wherever true Freemasonry is practised.
A vast amount of Masonic literature is available to the researcher. This includes at least 100,000 volumes, among which are a minimum of 600 analytical works....Also in print are numerous exposés of Masonry by former members who have revealed virtually all the secrets of the Craft. Thus, Masonry is a “secret society” only to those who have not read this literature.
The Blue Lodge, the Scottish Rite, and the York Rite
The Blue Lodge is the parent, or mother, Lodge of Freemasonry. In the Blue Lodge are conferred the first three degrees: (1) the Entered Apprentice, where a man is initiated into the beginning mysteries of the fraternity of Freemasonry; (2) the degree of Fellow Craft; and (3) the Master Mason Degree. Many, and probably most, Masons do stop with the first three degrees. But the candidate may choose to proceed higher along one or both of two branches in Masonry. One branch is known as the Scottish Rite, which advances by numerical degrees, beginning with the Fourth and ending with the 32d, the 33d Degree being either active or honorary. The other major branch is the York Rite...ending with the degree of Knights Templar.
Although the Blue Lodge is Masonry, and although it is the Masonry of most Masons, it is not all that Masonry constitutes. Sovereign Grand Commander Henry C. Clausen admits, “An initiate may imagine he understands the ethics, symbols and enigmas, whereas a true explanation of these is reserved for the more adept.” Masonic author Albert Pike wrote in Morals and Dogma:
If you have been disappointed in the first three Degrees, as you have received them,...remember...that these antique and simple Degrees now stand like the broken columns of a roofless Druidic temple, in their rude and mutilated greatness; in many parts, also, corrupted by time, and disfigured by modern additions and absurd interpretations. They are but the entrance to the great Masonic Temple—Imagine not that you will become indeed a Mason by learning what is commonly called the “work,” or even by becoming familiar with our traditions....The streams of learning that now flow full and broad must be followed to their heads in the springs that well up in the remote past, and you will there find the origin and meaning of Masonry.
The first three degrees of Masonry, then, are merely a stepping-stone to the higher “truths” of the Lodge. In fact...many Masons will admit that the Blue Lodge teachings are purposely deceptive. Under his discussion of the Third Degree of the Blue Lodge in Morals and Dogma, Albert Pike observes that “Masonry, like all the Religions, all the Mysteries, Hermeticism and Alchemy, conceals its secrets from all except the Adepts and Sages, or the Elect [the worthy], and uses false explanations and misinterpretations of its symbols to mislead...to conceal the Truth, which it calls Light, from them, and to draw them away from it. Truth is not for those who are unworthy.”
Congress: Freemasonry Is “Bedrock” to the United States
In 1948, The New Age [magazine of Freemasonry] estimated that “between one in five and one in 10 of the adult thinking population come directly within the circle of Masonic influence.” Even in 1912, scholar Martin Wagner could observe in his critical treatment on Masonry that “Masonry, with its numerous offsprings, is a powerful factor....It is influencing our civic, our social, our family, and our moral and religious life far more than is generally realized.”
Wagner’s assessment remains true. Critic Paul A. Fisher, who has had considerable experience in military intelligence and has been active in political life, refers to Masonry’s “enormous influence in the world media....” In the US, according to the leading Masonic magazine, The New Age, many members of the National Press Club are Masons. Fisher observes that Masons have dominated the US Supreme Court from 1941-1971....He concludes that such influence may have contributed to the high court’s “determination to move the nation away from an emphasis on Judeo-Christian values in public life,” helping to further secularize society and sustain “an epoch of revolutionary liberalism” with far reaching consequences.
If Fisher’s claims contain any substance, then addressing the religious views, content, and goals of Freemasonry is not an idle task but is relevant to each of us. In the 13th Degree of the Scottish Rite the oath reads, “I furthermore promise and swear to use every means in my power...to contribute with all my might to the...propagation of liberal ideas wheresoever I may be.” [Italics added]
According to Masonic and Congressional records, as many as fourteen US Presidents have been Masons...[while] an additional fourteen Masons have been Vice Presidents. The influence of Masonry in contemporary government was revealed by the Senate Congressional record of September 9, 1987. Objections from...Congressional members were raised against questioning Masonry because “Masonry in this country is the bedrock....” [Italics added]
Secrecy: Its Power and Purpose
Masonry stresses the importance of secrecy for at least two principal reasons. The first is that the element of secrecy itself is something that attracts men and makes them feel important. They have access to what they believe are vital secrets and truths that other men do not share. The second reason is because it offers the Craft a stabilizing influence. Men who swear extremely solemn oaths of secrecy to the Lodge not only conclude that the information received is important but that it must be protected at all costs.
For example, the Guide to the Royal Arch Chapter observes, “Mystery has charms as well as power. ‘The entire fabric of the universe is founded on secrecy; and the great Life-force which vivifies, moves and beautifies the whole, is the deepest of all mysteries. The first obligation of a Mason—his supreme duty—his chief virtue—is that of silence and secrecy.’” Masonic historian Alphonse Cerza further believes: “The secrecy of our ceremonies of initiation are intended to meet a natural human characteristic. What is open is often overlooked, but what is hidden attracts attention. It is hoped that the new member, because of the element of secrecy and interest in discovering what it is all about, will come to the meeting with an alert mind....” [Italics added]
But there are other reasons for Masonry’s secrecy, both religious and, apparently, sometimes political. By maintaining secrecy, Masonry can hide its religious nature from the outside world and secure converts who would not otherwise join. In addition, some believe secret political goals of the Lodge exist. Paul A. Fisher, formerly active in both military intelligence and political life, claims that “Freemasonry in America and elsewhere is far more than a fraternal organization. It never hides its charitable endeavors. But its secret work is something else entirely.”
A New World Order “Coming into View”
Masons foresee the day when all religious division and sectarianism (i.e., what Masonry views as specific or exclusivistic, and therefore “divisive,” religious beliefs) will be wiped away, and a new era of universal peace, brotherhood, and religious faith will emerge. In this sense, Masonry is far more than a fraternal brotherhood. It seeks to remold the world after its own image. In other words, it wants to [“fundamentally transform”] the world.
Masonic author H. L. Haywood sets forth the objectives of Masonry. He asserts that Masonry will bring about a new world order: “It is a world law, destined to change the earth into conformity with itself, and as a world power it is something superb, awe inspiring, godlike.” Another Masonic writer declares that “the doctrines of Masonry will ultimately rule the intellectual world.”
The most widely read and influential book in Masonry is Joseph Fort Newton’s The Builders. Newton declares that as Masonry expands, all religious dogmas will “cease to be.” All individual creeds and doctrines will be done away with, and what remains will be what is termed “the one eternal religion—the Fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, the moral law, the golden rule, and the hope of a life everlasting!” Because of this, Newton defines Masonry as “a great order of men, selected, initiated, sworn, and trained to make sweet reason and the will of God [i.e., Masonry] prevail!” Newton claims that Masonry will not become “only one more factor in a world of factional feud” but that “it seeks to remove all hostility which may arise from social, national or religious differences.”
Why does Masonry seek to change the world? Because Masonry teaches that all non-Masons are living in spiritual darkness. The ritual of Masonry for the First Degree of Entered Apprentice teaches the candidate that he “has long been in darkness, and now seeks to be brought to light.” The Lodge teaches that only true Masons are enlightened and live in the Truth. Masonry claims that “each member is a living stone in this Holy House”—the Masonic temple.” It refers to itself as a “Holy Empire” whose mission is “to dispel darkness.” Thus, it is the mission and “duty of its initiates to diffuse among men its ideals, without which error, superstition, and spiritual subjugation must be eternal.” [Italics added]
The result of this premise is that, if true world brotherhood is ever to be achieved, it demands for its success a worldwide religion of Masonry. Thus, informed Masons partake in “the glorious privilege which belongs to Masonry as the precious jewel of its prerogative, to be the chiefest of human agencies used by God to bring forward the rosy dawn of this magnificent future.” [Italics added]
But if Masonry is to one day rule the world, then all non-Masonic beliefs must either be abandoned or absorbed into Masonry. “Sectarian” religions with exclusive teachings, such as the Christian faith (John:14:6; Acts:4:12), simply cannot be permitted if Masonry is to succeed. Masonry then, claims that the Lodge is the light of the world and that only “its ideals” can save the world from its errors and superstition. All of this is why Masonry is far more than simply a worldwide fraternal brotherhood. Masonry desires to change the world. As we have seen, one means by which it hopes to change the world is to influence and remold the church....In [this book] we will provide detailed documentation revealing how the religious world view of Masonry distorts, dismantles, and replaces the Christian faith with Masonic doctrine. [See page 12 to order]
“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” —Jude 4
“Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” —Acts:20:30