The Masonic Lodge — A False Religion

January/February, 1988
Volume 23, Number 1

Freemasons (as members of the Masonic Lodge are sometimes called) erroneously claim that their lodge goes back thousands of years, and that Solomon, the Apostle John, and other Bible characters were Masons. Actually, the “cult” cannot be traced farther back than the early eighteenth century, according to the World Book Encyclopedia. What began as a labor union of stone masons in Europe, later grew into an international lodge which included fifteen USA presidents. It is estimated that today one out of twelve males in our country is a Mason.

There are a number of reasons why a Christian should not be a member of a lodge, and the article featured in this issue of the WITNESS spells out some of the reasons. When we speak about the Masonic Lodge (or any similar organization) we are expressing facts about lodges, not opinions about lodge members. There are hundreds of men, with good motives, who are members of lodges, but most believe that a person is saved by his own good character, and frown upon simple faith in Jesus Christ.

The lodge demands organized secrecy, which is contrary to the very spirit of the Gospel. Jesus says, “I spoke openly in the world…in secret have I said nothing” (John 18:20). The principle of organized secrecy is contrary to the mood of the Gospel. The Christian life should be simple, direct, straightforward– entirely open and above board. But one who seeks membership with the Masons binds himself to have his tongue torn out by the roots, if he ever breaks the secrecy surrounding the Order.

Masons, in some circumstances, are sworn to oppose justice. The Royal Arch Mason, for example, swears: “I will aid and assist a companion Royal Arch Mason when engaged in any difficulty; and espouse his cause so far as to extricate him from the same if in my power, whether he be right or wrong. ” Surely it can never be right for a disciple of Christ to swear that he will lie, if necessary, to get his fellow Mason cleared of the crime for which he is being tried (Ephesians 4:25). Furthermore, Jesus plainly teaches that Christians should not swear oaths such as those required by the secret societies (Matthew 5:33-37).

Freemasonry is a religion that preaches another gospel–a gospel of good works–which is condemned in Galatians 1:6-8. It is a spiritual counterfeit that endorses and practices beliefs which have nothing to do with Christianity, and are in direct violation of the teachings of Christ. Larry Graybill gives plenty of evidence to support this conclusion, in his article, “The Masonic Lodge: A False Religion.” Brethren have historically (and rightly) believed that Freemasonry is incompatible with Christian faith and practice, and that it rests under the condemnation of God as a sacrilegious system which needs to be exposed and refuted. See pages 76-77, The Brethren in Industrial America, Roger Sappington.


The Masonic Lodge–A False Religion

By Larry Graybill

Religious cults are growing as never before. Our country alone has more than 350 sects and cults, and most of them claim to base their doctrines on the Word of God. Many of us have had Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on the door. Perhaps we have seen the Plain Truth Magazine, which is published by the Armstrong cult of the “Worldwide Church of God.” [editor’s note: The Worldwide Church of God is no longer considered a cult, as it now affirms the doctrines of orthodox Christianity.]

We must continually be vigilant. Jesus and Paul both stated clearly that deception will increase in the last days. And in 1 John 4:1, we read, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit (literally, ‘stop believing every spirit’), but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Every teacher is inspired by one spirit or the other-either by the spirit of truth or the spirit of error–the Holy Spirit or a deceiving spirit from Satan.

We are to “test the spirits.” But how should we test what we hear and read? 1 John 4:2-3a says, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God.” The word “confess” is the word “homologeo,” and it means literally “to speak the same thing” about Jesus Christ as the Scripture teaches. For example, any teaching which denies that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh; any philosophy which will not teach that He died to atone for sin and rose again with a physical body; any doctrine which does not proclaim that Jesus is the only way to salvation–is not from God.


The Church of the Brethren traditionally forbade any of its members to join the Masonic Lodge or any other secret oath-bound society. The church frequently quoted 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, which begins, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” Today, however, there are Brethren who are Masons. Many of these have received Jesus as Saviour and are men of fine character. I am aware that there are pastors who are members of the Lodge. But the more I have studied about the teachings and rituals of the Masonic Lodge, the more I am convinced that these men are being deceived. Freemasonry is actually a religion which is opposed to Christianity.

If Freemasonry is a religion opposed to the Christian faith, how can sincere Christians be a part of it? First of all, the Masonic Lodge is a secret society. When a person joins a lodge, he has very little idea of what he is becoming involved in. There are 33 levels (or degrees) of Freemasonry. The great majority of Masons only go through the first three degrees, or “The Blue Lodge.” In the first three degrees, the conflict between Masonry and Christianity is rather subtle. In the higher degrees of Masonry, the paganism and idolatry of the Lodge become more and more evident. Many Masons of course would say, “But the Masonic Lodge is not a religion.” They would say that the Lodge is simply a source of fellowship, and that the Lodge stresses the building of character and doing good deeds.


Is Freemasonry a religion or not? The building in which the Masons meet is called a “temple,” where they offer prayers to God, whom they call “The Architect of the Universe.” Over the head of the “Worshipful Master” hangs a big letter “G” which signifies deity. On their “sacred altar” is placed a Bible, or a Koran, or the Vedas, or another holy book, depending on the country in which the lodge is functioning. A man cannot join the lodge unless he swears that he believes in a Supreme Being. In the third degree the Mason is taught that his soul is immortal, and that if he is found worthy enough while on earth, his good works will earn him a place in “the celestial lodge above.”

Traditional Masonic authorities (those who are Masons themselves) claim that Freemasonry is a religion. For example, Albert G. Mackey in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, writes, “The religion of Freemasonry is not sectarian. It admits men of every creed within its hospitable bosom, rejecting none and approving none for his particular faith. It is not Judaism…it is not Christianity. It does not meddle with sectarian creeds or doctrines, but teaches fundamental truth…At its altar, men of all religions may kneel; to its creed, disciples of every Faith may subscribe.”

Notice that, according to this Masonic authority, Christianity is a sectarian religion. Freemasonry is supposedly superior to Christianity because it claims to be a universal religion which unites all faiths. But that is going to be one of the aims of the Antichrist in the last times–an attempt to unite all faiths under himself.


Christians who are Masons assume that the God to whom they are praying in the Lodge ritual is the God of the Bible. But in his book, Morals and Dogma, Mason Albert Pike states that Masons of all faiths pray to the one God who is above all “lesser gods”–including the God of Christianity! The secret name for God is not given to most Masons because they do not go beyond the third degree. But those who go on to the seventh degree (the Royal Arch Degree) are told that the secret name of the deity of Masonry is JAOBULON — JAO — BUL — ON. “JAO” is the Greek word for Jehovah. “BUL” is the name for Baal. “ON” was the name used in ancient Egyptian religion to call upon their god, Osiris. Each Royal Arch Mason is told that the true name for the God he has been praying to in the Lodge, is JEHOVAH joined with BAAL and OSIRIS. Baal was the God of Babylon whom the Canaanites worshiped. Time and time again the Lord’s prophets were told to destroy the idols of Baal. The pagan god “ON” (or Osiris) was among the gods of Egypt upon whom Jehovah executed judgment during the Exodus.

1 Corinthians 10:19-20 says that the gods to whom pagans offer sacrifices, are not the one true God, but demons! Masonry seeks to join the Lord God Jehovah with the demons of Baal and Osiris, saying this is the one true God. That is blasphemy! It does make a difference what name one uses to call upon God. In Acts 4:12, Peter was speaking about the name of the Lord Jesus Christ when he said, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”


Freemasonry is a false religion which in its higher degrees teaches a blasphemous name for God. Because it claims to be a universal religion, the Masonic ritual considers Jesus as only one great teacher among many. Masonic authority Albert Pike, in his book, Morals and Dogma, states: “it (Masonry) reverences all the great reformers. It sees in Moses, Confucius, Zoroaster,…Jesus of Nazareth…great teachers of morality and eminent reformers, if no more, and allows every brother of the order to assign to such higher and even divine character as his creed and truth require.”That sounds as if Masonry were tolerant and open-minded, but in reality, Jesus Christ is excluded from worship in the Lodge. Because Masonry seeks to offend no one, Masons are strictly forbidden to discuss their own religious beliefs within the Masonic temple. Albert Pike writes, “No one Mason has the right to measure for another within the walls of a Masonic temple, the degree of veneration which he shall feel for any reformer, or the Founder of any religion.” In other words, during a Lodge meeting, no Christian Mason is allowed to give testimony for Jesus Christ.

In the prayers used in the Masonic ritual, only general terms for God are used–such as Grand Architect of the Universe, Grand Warden of Heaven, etc. Jack Harris used to be a Worshipful Master of a Masonic Lodge in Baltimore before he renounced Masonry. Now a born-again Christian, he has written a book entitled, Free-Masonry: The Invisible Cult in Our Midst. He writes that normally the Lodge chaplain began and ended his prayers with a general reference to God from the Masonic Manual. But one evening following a meeting, the chaplain closed his prayers with the phrase, “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” An objection was given to this closing, because a Mason is not supposed to pray in the name of Jesus while in the Masonic temple! That alone should cause Christians to want nothing to do with the organization .


Christians who are Masons point out that the Bible is on the altar in their Masonic temples, and that Scripture is quoted as a part of their ritual. But the Masonic authorities make it clear that they consider the Bible to be only one symbol of God’s will revealed to man. Lodges in Moslem countries use the Koran; in India, Lodges place the Hindu Vedas on the altar. When New Testament Scriptures are quoted in the Lodge ritual, phrases referring to Jesus Christ by name are cut out! For example, the charge to be read at the opening of the Lodge includes part of 1 Peter 2:5: “Ye also as living stones, be ye built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood to offer up sacrifices acceptable to God.” PERIOD. But if you look at 1 Peter 2:5, you will see that it reads, “Offer up sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. The words “By Jesus Christ” are deliberately excluded.

The Masonic religious system claims to worship the one true God, but it excludes Jesus Christ as God. Test for yourself. Is this true religion or false religion? 1 John 4:3 says, “Every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God.” And 1 John 2:22-23 says, “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. He who confesses the Son has the Father also.” The fact is, no one can know and worship the living God apart from faith in Jesus Christ.


According to the Masonic Ritual, the way to salvation is not faith in Jesus Christ and His blood shed on Calvary, hut rather living a life of good character and being a good Mason. Those who saw the TV series on Masonry (The John Ankerberg Show) have seen and heard Jack Harris, a former worshipful Master in the Masonic Lodge. At one point, he reenacted parts of the Masonic funeral service. Wearing the white apron, which is the badge of a Mason, he said, “As a worshipful Master, I taught this man (in the casket) that by the purity of his life and conduct, of which this apron represents, he WILL (not MAY or COULD), he WILL gain admission into the celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides.” Harris concluded, “But the Word of God does not give me that prerogative. The Word of God lets me know that it is only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ (through His sacrifice at Calvary) that this man can possibly gain heaven. Yet he may have believed these things in Freemasonry. I may have sent him to hell through what I taught him.” The Lodge teaches its members that they can be saved through good works and good character.


We have seen that Freemasonry claims to be a universal religion (an attempt to unite all religions), but what is the source of the teachings, rituals, and symbols of Freemasonry? Masonic authority Albert Pike, in his book Morals and Dogma, states that Masonry is identical with the “ancient mysteries,” and the ancient mystery religions involved sacred worship rites of the pagan gods, such as Isis, Orpheus, Ceres, and Mithras. Remember that God’s Word calls all pagan gods “demons” (1 Corinthians 10:19-20). In other words, the sacred symbols and names and rituals of the Masonic Lodge go back to some of the same pagan religions and occult practices which Paul had to battle in his day.

Idolatry, witchcraft, and all forms of the occult are strictly forbidden in God’s Word. With this background, it is not surprising that in the 19th level (or degree) of Freemasonry, the degree of Grand Pontiff, the Mason is taught that Lucifer (Satan) is not evil, but good! Lucifer (which means “light-bearer”) supposedly brings the light of knowledge to human beings. Remember that the average Mason in the Blue Lodge has never been exposed to the teachings just mentioned, but the higher degrees of Masonry reveal more and more clearly who is the source of the Lodge’s teachings. In fact, Albert Pike states that Masons in the first three degrees are deliberately deceived as to the true meaning of the Masonic symbols. Every Mason is acquainted with symbols such as the point within the circle, the letter G, the fivepointed star, the two-sided square, the lamb-skin apron, and the sprig of evergreen which is thrown into the grave of a deceased Mason.

Blue Lodge Masons are given a so-called “Christian” interpretation of the symbols just named, but the symbols are really occult in nature. Albert Pike says, “The Blue degrees are but the outer court or portico of the temple. Some of the symbols are displayed there to initiate, but he is intentionally misled by false interpretations. It is not intended that he shall understand them. Their true explicator is reserved for the Adepts, the Princess of Masonry.” In other words, the vast majority of Masons, who go no farther than the third degree, are being deliberately deceived by their own organization as to what their symbols truly mean. For example, the Blue Lodge Mason is told that the five-pointed star (the pentagram) is a symbol of divine providence. In reality, the star goes back to ancient Egyptian religions. Satanists and occultists use the pentagram to call upon demons–to practice white magic and black magic. The lamb-skin apron, the two-sided Mason’s square, and the point within the circle, are all symbols taken from pagan religions and occultists.

Freemasonry is a false religion which does not confess Jesus as Lord and God; indeed, it intentionally forbids worship of Jesus in the Lodge or praying in His name, while at the same time in the higher degrees teaches blasphemous names for God, and even that Lucifer is God. It promises salvation through building up one’s moral character, doing good works, and going through the Masonic rituals; it assumes that the Bible is just one of many sacred books. The source of its rituals and symbols is from paganism and witchcraft. 2 Corinthians 6:14 soberly instructs us to “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers…what communion has light with darkness?” We are told further in verse 17, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, says the Lord.”

In 1 Kings 18:21, Elijah challenged the Israelites who were worshipping Baal: “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” We must, out of love, urge our friends who are Masons to renounce any association with the Lodge, and withdraw their membership. In some cases, their salvation may be at stake.

Stephen Merrit, an active layman in the church, at one time was the Master Mason of the biggest Lodge in New York. He eventually risked the loss of friends and job, and withdrew his membership, severing all connection with Masonry. He writes: “One incident helped to open my eyes. I have always preached that there is no other name but Christ by which we can be saved. But again and again I found Masons dying without God and without hope. I was called to the bedside of one member of my Lodge who was thought to be dying. He gave me the grip as I sat down by him. He said he was dying and was in great distress for his soul. I tried to have him look to Christ. But he reproached me, saying I had led him astray. I had told him in the Lodge, as Master, that a moral life was enough. He said, ‘You told me that it was alright if I was an upright man, and obeyed the precepts of the lodge, but I am leaning on a broken reed; and now I am dying without God. I lay this to your charge, Worshipful Master. I leaned on you and now I am dying.’ ”

We must conclude that the Christian who stays in the Lodge not only grieves the Lord, but also may be helping to deceive unsaved Masons into thinking they will be saved by being in the Lodge. Satan is the great Master of deception. May we cling to Christ alone for our salvation. May we diligently study God’s Word and wholeheartedly obey it, so that we can know the truth and not be deceived. May we trust and obey Jesus in everything, and be willing to do whatever He tells us to do, however difficult it may seem– because Jesus alone gives eternal life.

Larry Graybill is a graduate of Bethany Theological Seminary and is presently serving as pastor of the Woodbury Church of the Brethren in the Middle Pennsylvania District.
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Captivity… Dreams… Rulers… Fire… Lions… Prayers… Kingdoms. From a dedicated youth to a faithful sage, Daniel’s life stands as an example to follow.  Yet beyond his personal life, God gifted Daniel with a message of future events.  Though difficult to grasp, these events would shape the world for the coming Messiah and the Second Coming of Christ as King.


Luke presents a warmly personal and historically accurate account of Jesus as “the Son of Man.” This course will survey the Third Gospel, with emphasis on the unique events, miracles, and parables of Jesus found in it.


This class will provide a broad overview of general church history. We will then focus on the Anabaptist and Pietist movements, especially as they relate to the formation and development of the Brethren groups. This is a two-part class. Plan to take both parts.


This course is intended to lay down a measure in a world where truth is slippery and often subject to interpretation. Where “Christian Values” become a political slogan, and “good people” are our allies despite their faulty core beliefs. Where Facebook “friends” post memes about the power of God, despite a lifestyle that is anything but Godly. In the process we often fight among ourselves, doing Satan’s work for him. The purpose of this course is to lay the measure of Jesus Christ against the cults, religions, and worship in our contemporary world.


While Protestant translations of the Bible contain 66 books, the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches recognize additional canonical books as well.  Where did these books, collectively known as the Apocrypha, come from and why aren’t they part of our Bible?  How reliable are they, and what value is there in studying them?


The goal of this class is to acquire a firm grasp of the teachings and themes of these two general epistles. Peter covers topics from salvation and suffering to spiritual deception and the return of Christ. These letters are packed with warnings and encouragements for Christian living.


A detailed study of Jesus Christ and His relationship to the “I Am” metaphors in John’s gospel. Why did Jesus describe himself in these terms? How do they relate to each other? We will look at spiritual and practical applications to further our Christian growth.


Have you ever been visited by someone who said they wanted to study the Bible with you so that you might discover the truth together?  Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to have much in common with evangelical Christians, and they seem to be well versed in the scriptures.  But what do they really believe and how can we effectively witness to those who have been ensnared by this false religion?


While we may consider Hosea as one of the minor prophets, his message vividly illustrates the major doctrine in all Scriptures.  The theme of God’s unconditional love is magnified and extended beyond those deserving it.  God expresses tender words towards His erring people inviting them to turn from sin to reconciliation with Him.


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The Brethren Bible Institute believes in the discipline of the whole person (spirit, soul, and body). We will aim to train students not only about how to study the Bible in a systematic way (2 Timothy 2:15), but also how to live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world (Titus 2:12). God calls Christians to the highest of character when He commands us to be holy (1 Peter 1:15), and holiness requires discipline.

Indulgence in the use of tobacco, alcoholic beverages, drugs, profanity, and gambling are forbidden at BBI. Objectionable literature will be prohibited. Students are asked not to use the college pool during the Institute. Each student must be thoughtful, and respect the rights of others at all times, especially during study and rest periods.

A friendly social group intermingling of students between class periods, and at general school activities is encouraged. Each student should enjoy the friendship of the entire group. At all times, highest standards of social conduct between men and women must be maintained. This means that all forms of unbecoming behavior and unseemly familiarities will be forbidden.

Personal appearance and grooming tell much about one's character. Students are expected to be dressed in good taste. In an attempt to maintain Scriptural expressions of simplicity, modesty, and nonconformity, the following regulations shall be observed while attending BBI.

MEN should be neatly attired and groomed at all times. Fashion extremes and the wearing of jewelry should be avoided on campus. The hair should not fall over the shirt-collar when standing, nor should it cover the ears.

WOMEN should wear skirts cut full enough and of sufficient length to at least come to the knees when standing and sitting. Form-fitting, transparent, low-neckline, or sleeveless clothing will not be acceptable. Slacks and culottes are permitted only for recreation and then only when worn under a skirt of sufficient length. Wearing jewelry should be avoided on campus. Long hair for women is encouraged and all Church of the Brethren girls (and others with like convictions) shall be veiled on campus.

The Institute reserves the right to dismiss any student whose attitude and behavior is not in harmony with the ideals of the School, or whose presence undermines the general welfare of the School, even if there is no specific breach of conduct.

The Brethren Bible Institute is intended to provide sound Bible teaching and wholesome Christian fellowship for all who desire it. The Bible School Committee worked hard and long at the task of arriving at standards, which will be pleasing to the Lord. It is not always easy to know just where the line should be drawn and we do not claim perfection. No doubt certain standards seem too strict for some and too loose for others. If you are one who does not share all these convictions, we hope you will agree to adjust to them for the School period, for the sake of those who do. We are confident that the blessings received will far outweigh any sacrifice you may have to make. If you have a special problem or question, please write to us about it. To be accepted as a student at BBI, you will need to sign a statement indicating that you will cooperate with the standards of the School.