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Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Freemansons-Laying a Foundation for Opposition-Baggy-Slims pointed out that I used some "Christian conspiracy theorist sites" in my piece on the Masons on Monday. That's the result of some quick-and-dirty Googling; my intent was to quickly grab what I had learned about the Masons over the years, not give free cyber-time to some whack-jobs. For instance, I've not heard anything bad about the Grange, who aren't much more than a farmer's collective society. The sinisterness of the Grange rounds to zero to six significant digits. Today, I'm going to try to keep to more august sources. Let's try the Southern Baptists for starters; not everyone's cup of tea, but not a bunch watching for the black helicopters. Their take on the Masons is here, they had eight incompatibilities with Freemasonry. Some are rather minor, but I'll point out the ones that seem to be important. Number 2 was the "bloody oaths" that run counter to Jesus’ command in Matthew 5:33-37
33 "Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.' 34 "But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. 36 "Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 "But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes' or 'No, no'; anything beyond these is of evil.
The SBC document states "The oaths required by Freemasonry are far worse than the examples the New Testament warns its readers against making." In their third item, they mention that various recommended readings of Freemasonry are "undeniable pagan and/or occultic." Rituals at one of the higher orders call upon Egyptian gods, according to the article. The sixth item points out that salvation comes through works rather than via Jesus, while the seventh points out a universalist streak in Freemasonry. The eighth points to racism in some lodges (but the same could easily be said of some Baptist churches). So, the Southern Baptists don't like them. The Assemblies of God has a policy against membership in secret societies; here's their rationale
1- The activities of secret orders demand time and energy that divert the servant of the Lord from efforts to fulfill the Great Commission. 2- The binding loyalty to fellow members of the secret society—many of whom are not fellow believers in Jesus Christ and His saving work—is an unworthy joining together of believers with unbelievers. 3- The spirit, philosophy, and general influence of secret orders channel activities toward improving only the natural part of humankind instead of changing the heart of the spiritual being. 4- Commitment to secret orders and their teachings leads one to a wrong emphasis on salvation through good works and improving society.
Note that they don't limit this to Freemasonry. Here's a Missouri Synod Lutheran take on Freemasonry that somewhat parallels the Southern Baptist piece, laying out the theological problems with Freemasonry. Here's a good synopsis of their critique
Masonry denies that regeneration is only by the Spirit of God working through the Means of Grace. It denies the distinctive character of the Bible as God’s Word. It ignores the depravity of man and denies the consequences of sin, making irrelevant the deity of Christ and His substitutionary suffering the death. It repudiates as narrow intolerance salvation by grace alone, through faith in the blood of Christ. It binds men with oaths more sacred than allegiance to church, family, nation. It buries every one of its members in good standing with the expressed confidence in reunion in the Grand Lodge Above.
This isn't a total overview of evangelical thought towards Freemasonry, but when Baptists, Pentecostals and Lutherans are in agreement that this is bad theology and bad practice, I think that it would take the conversation out of the conspiracy-theory camp and into a less-flaky theological framework. [Update 8:40AM-I'll give the Catholics their say as well-here's the Catholic Encylcopedia's take-it's got more history than you can shake a stick at. The Popes haven't like them one bit.]

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