Freemasonry and the Christian Conscience
On what day of the week to hold church services, going to see rated R-movies, eating or abstaining from pork and shellfish, drinking alcoholic beverages, shopping at Target, getting circumcised, boycotting Disney, dressing casually at church…these are matters of Christian liberty…these are matters of Christian conscience. What about membership and participation in the Masonic Lodge, though? Is Freemasonry a matter of Christian liberty? No; not at all. Calling it a matter of Christian conscience is error. It should be called what it really is: sin.
The seminal biblical example of Christian liberty is found in Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians. This epistle was written during a time when pagan temple worship was a very visible and common way of life. Judeo-Christian values were obscure and certainly did not influence the prevailing culture and governance of the Roman Empire. Pagan mythologies explained how the world worked and ordered religious exercise. Sacrifices to the gods were a part of everyday life. Out of this darkness, the Lord began drawing people to Himself in the city of Corinth. These early Christians were being drawn from paganism to Christianity. They were being drawn from the pagan temple to the Christian Church.
“Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat.” 1 Corinthians 8:1-8
Today’s Christians, especially in the Bible belt, are often drawn to the Lord from one part of the church building to another. Kids who have grown up in Sunday School and been taught the Bible from birth come of age in Christian environments and make professions of faith. Nothing about their religious environment changes. They repent of their sins on one Sunday and return to the same place of worship that they were raised in on the next. Since ~54 AD, when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, Christendom has greatly expanded. The Judeo-Christian worldview is no longer obscure and has exerted great influence over the governments of Western society. Science explains how the world works; pagan mythologies have been relegated to the translations exercises of 10th grade Latin classes. Sacrificing animals for religious purposes is completely foreign to today’s Western Christians. They have never seen such practices.
But they have seen a meat market. Every week, Western Christians peruse fresh, USDA-certified beef in their local supermarkets. Friendly butchers provide eye-pleasing, safe, and affordable cuts of meat as often as their customers desire it and in whatever amounts are demanded. Customers know exactly where the meat comes from: farms. Modern industrial farming has made protein-rich meat more affordable than it has ever been. For today’s Western Christians, eating meat is a daily expectation. In the Bible-belt, meat with three vegetables and a cup of sweet tea is a lunchtime staple. It’s such a popular meal that an entire category of eateries known as “meat and three restaurants” have sprung up. Meat is relatively cheap (and vegetables are even easier to come by). Even if today’s society was permeated with pagan practice, few people would sacrifice beef. It’s not costly enough. Sacrifices are supposed to be costly. Meat has become a very affordable commodity.
Meat and three was unheard of in ancient Corinth. The ancients were lucky to have clean water, sweetened drinks were a luxury. So, too, was meat. That’s why animals were a source of sacrifice. The gods were to be provided with something of great value. Once an animal’s blood was spilled and the gods were satiated, there was a valuable by-product of the religious enterprise: meat. Ancients were just an enterprising as moderns are; they weren’t going to let this item of value go to waste. So, the meat that had been sacrificed to pagan idols was placed for sale in the meat market. From there, consumers would buy it. Today, Ingles, Kroger, and Publix sell meat from big corporate farms. The ancient Corinthian meat market sold meat from both farms and pagan temples. Pagan temples, unlike farms, are inherently sinful.
Certain gentile Christians, who came from pagan backgrounds, were aghast that their fellow Christians would purchase or consume meat that had been used as an essential component of a pagan religious ceremony. The meat had been sacrificed to false gods. In their minds, it was tainted by pagan worship. Having come out of pagan idolatry, this meat reminded them of their old selves. As new creatures in Christ, they wanted nothing to do with anything remotely connected to paganism. Other Christians, especially those of Jewish background, were not as concerned. They understood that these pagan idols weren’t real gods. To them, buying or being served meat that could have been used in a pagan ceremony wasn’t an issue. They understood that earth and everything in it belonged to the Lord. They harbored no painful memories of being involved in pagan worship. It was nearly as foreign to them as it is for a modern young boy raised in a Southern Baptist Sunday School program. They knew who God was and they knew who God wasn’t. Meat sacrificed to idols became a source of controversy in an already contentious Corinthian church. The Apostle Paul had to address it. He determined that it was a matter of Christian liberty, but not one to be enjoyed at the expense of wounding the conscience of those brothers who were abhorred by it.
“But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.” 1 Corinthians 9:-13
Eating meat sacrificed to idols was not equivalent to pagan worship and eating it was okay as long as it didn’t offend other Christians. Going further, Paul was clear that no one was under obligation for making sure that the meat he obtained did not come from a pagan temple.
“Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; for the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains. If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks? Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.” 1 Corinthians 10:25-32
Looking at Paul’s example, some Christians have determined that membership in the Lodge is an equivalent issue of Christian liberty. It may sear the conscience of some Christians to go the Masonic Lodge, swear secret blood oaths, and pray to “The Grand Architect of the Universe.” So, they could never bring themselves to be a Mason. Yes, the Masonic lodge is a temple, with a Chaplain, Deacons, and a Worshipful Master. Yes, some people at the Lodge may treat it as their religion. Yes, Freemasonry teaches a works-based salvation. But the Christian members of the Lodge understand who God really is. They don’t really believe the religious tenets of Freemasonry. They believe salvation comes by the grace of God, not works. They agree with the Baptist Faith and Message. So, it’s a matter of Christian liberty for them to participate in the ceremonies of the Lodge even if their fellow church members couldn’t’ do the same.
Wrong. Dead Wrong.
Paul never said it was acceptable to participate in a pagan worship service. Paul said it was okay to accept the by-product of that worship service. There is a major difference between participating in a pagan ceremony where an animal is sacrificed to a false god and eating meat that went from the pagan temple to the meat market to the dinner table. A modern example is helpful for understanding this difference.
Imagine a soup kitchen that serves hot meals to the local homeless population. It receives food donations from local churches, local businesses, and the local Masonic lodge. Is a Christian who eats at the soup kitchen obligated to ask if his particular bowl of soup was provided by the Lodge before he eats it? No. Furthermore, a fellow church member who chastises the poor brother for eating soup that could have come from the lodge legalistically denies the Christian liberty of his brother in Christ. There may be some homeless Christians, former Masons, who choose to go hungry rather than possibly eat Masonic soup. That would be a matter of their conscience, just like it would be a matter of liberty for any homeless Christians who choose not to accept meals from the soup kitchen. Eating the soup is not participating in Masonic practices.
But Christian liberty stops at the front door of the Masonic Temple. A Corinthian Christian committed no sin to consume meat that had been sacrificed at a pagan temple. However, a Corinthian who participated in the ceremony that slaughtered the animal committed idolatry. When a pagan Corinthian became a Christian, his days practicing religion at the pagan temple had to end. About this Paul was exceedingly clear.
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
To draw a parallel from ancient Corinth to modern times, Freemasons aren’t eating meat which was sacrificed to idols; they are sacrificing the bull to the false god. Christians who participate in Masonic religious ceremonies commit sin. Numerous examples could be provided to demonstrate this but only one is required. Consider the practice of Masonic funeral rites.
All Master Masons are entitled to a Masonic funeral. Anyone who believes in a Supreme Being is eligible to become a Master Mason. There is no requirement to profess salvation in Christ by grace alone through faith alone. There is no requirement to be a church member. It is a historically and biblically demonstrable fact that there are Master Masons who die and spend an eternity in Hell because they have not received Christ. Despite this, they receive Masonic Funeral rites which proclaim that the reward of their virtuous living is spending an eternity with The Grand Architect of the Universe (God) in the Celestial Lodge (Heaven). The following is the funerary language from Akin’s Lodge Manual with the Georgia Masonic Lodge:
“Most Glorious God, Author of all good and Giver of all mercy, pour down thy blessings upon us and strengthen our solemn engagements with the ties of sincere affection. May the present instance of mortality remind us of our approaching fate; and by drawing our attention towards Thee, the only refuge in time of need, may we be induced so to regulate our conduct here that when the awful moment shall arrive that we are about to quit this transitory scene, the enlivening prospect of thy mercy may dispel the gloom of death; and after our departure hence in peace and in thy favor, may we be received into thine everlasting kingdom, and there enjoy, in union with the souls of our departed friends, the just rewards of a pious and virtuous life. Amen!”
This language is to be read by the Worshipful Master of the Lodge. (Sadly, it is not uncommon to come across Worshipful Masters who are progressing Christians.) According to this funeral language, which is proclaimed in front of the deceased grieving friends and family members, entering into Heaven is the “just rewards of a pious and virtuous life.” This contradicts the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-1
“For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” Isaiah 64:6
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:16
Furthermore, it gives false hope to non-Christians (and their grieving loved ones); non-Christians die without hope of ever seeing Heaven or being reconciled with God. Freemasonry teaches a works based gospel. If a Christian Freemason recites the Masonic funerary language, he proclaims a false gospel. If he doesn’t truly believe it, he sins further by telling a lie. If he does truly believe it, he denies the very words of Christ. How can his fellow church members countenance that?
“But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” Galatians 1:8
“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are His delight” Proverbs 12:22
Is the gospel a matter of Christian liberty? We can look to Paul’s words to the Romans for the answer.
“Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written,
‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall give praise to God.’
So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.” Romans 14
Paul is clearly talking about Christian liberty in this verse, but as in the case of 1 Corinthians 6, he is talking about matters of everyday living (what to eat, what to drink, etc…). Essentially, Paul is addressing the difference between living under grace and living under law. Forcing Christian brothers to adhere to Jewish ceremonial regulations keeps them under the law. Under the grace of Christ, they have liberty. There is absolutely no permission in the passage of scripture above for the Christian to participate in Freemasonry. That is what makes defenses of Freemasonry as a matter of Christian liberty using Romans Chapter 14 so insidious. Freemasonry proclaims a works-based gospel, essentially putting adherents under the law. This is antithetical to Christianity which proclaims a grace-based gospel. So, the question is answered. Participation in Freemasonry is not a matter of Christian liberty.
Is bearing false witness a matter of Christian liberty? No.
Is denying the claims of Christ a matter of Christian liberty? No.
Freemasonry does both.
Whether or not the Christian Mason truly believes the dogma of Freemasonry is immaterial. There is absolutely no room for Christian liberty where Masonry is concerned. Do the same Masons who go to church and tell their pastors that they don’t really believe in the religious claims of Masonry but just go as a social club to the Lodge and tell their Masonic brothers that they don’t really believe the religious claims of Christianity but just go as a social club? Maybe. But why does it really matter?
This case has been made. “Christian” Masons participate in idolatry, lying, proclaiming a false gospel, and denying the words of Christ. The Bible demands that their fellow church members hold them accountable.
“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves”. 1 Corinthians 5:9-13
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Matthew 18:15-17
“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.” Ephesians 5:11-12
“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2
Will you stand for the Holiness of your church and the love of your brothers no matter what the cost? Wake up, O’ Sleeper. Freemasonry in your local church must be addressed and excised. It may be a tough battle, perhaps even fraught with spiritual resistance from the demonic realm. It may cost you something to challenge Masonry and stand for the holiness of your church, but, remember, sacrifices are supposed to be costly.
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-13
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.
 I am speaking metaphorically here. I am not saying Freemasons sacrifice live animals at their temple.
 Akin, J. W. (1911). Akin’s Lodge Manual With the Georgia Masonic Code. Mrs. John Akin. (p. 137-138)