The beginnings of Masonry are uncertain. It probably began with the stonecutters and masons who worked on the Medieval cathedrals. They organized themselves into guilds and lodges. To preserve guild secrets and tricks of the trade, they developed a closed institution with passwords and identifying signs. They also developed a number of legends regarding the antiquity of their craft. These are known as operative masons, that is, masons who actually work in stone. With the demise of cathedral building, the lodges began to die off. To preserve their identity some began to allow non-operative masons into their fellowship. Some of these masons began to see masonry as an opportunity for spiritual and moral truths to be taught. These were called Speculative Masons. They were heavily influenced from a variety of traditions, including the Kabbalah, Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism and Templarism. By the end of the 17th century most lodges in England were wholly speculative in membership. In 1717, four of these lodges united to form the Grand Lodge of England. Soon, speculative masonry enjoyed a time of great growth. It spread from England to the Continent and to America. Beginning the mid-1700’s there began to develop various systems of higher degrees.
Masonry is based on three degrees of initiation, foundational to all Masonic institutions. These three degrees are often called the Blue Lodge. The three degrees are Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. In addition, there are other Masonic systems that involve higher degrees. In America, there basically two such systems that are followed. The most popular is the Scottish, which consists of thirty-three degrees total, including the Blue Lodge degrees. There is also a system called the York Rite, which has 10 degrees added to the Blue Lodge. There are also a number of organizations that are affiliated with Freemasonry, although not Masonry proper. These include the Order of the Eastern Star (for women), Job’s Daughters, the Order of Rainbow (both for girls), and the Order of DeMolay (for boys). Masons also may join the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (or the Shrine), the Tall Cedars of Lebanon, the Mystic Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm (or the Grotto), or similar groups.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH MASONRY? Is there really anything all that wrong with Freemasonry? Yes, indeed! Masonry believes that all gods are the same, that all religions are the same. In the Masonic world, Jesus is basically irrelevant. And you cannot even mention His name in the Lodge, lest you offend a non-Christian “brother.” Masonry teaches that man can achieve his own moral perfection through good works. These basic teachings of the Masonic fraternity are in direct contradiction to the truths of the Christian faith. However, Masonry is not only erroneous and heretical in its theology and beliefs—it is also a system whose beliefs and practices can only be described as demonic in origin. Many of the rituals, passwords and secret teachings of the Craft are derived directly from pagan and occult religious systems. Many Masonic sources note that to truly understand Freemasonry you must study magic and the occult. It is often asserted that many of the rituals and doctrines of the Lodge originated in occult traditions, such as Rosicrucianism and Hermeticism. And it is interesting to note that the initiation ceremonies of the Lodge have much in common with both the ancient Mystery religions and modern witchcraft.
Masonry is a belief system in its own right. It has a particular view of God, Christ and salvation. Although it is ambivalent about doctrine, and tolerant of all religions and beliefs, this very fact makes the issue of a Christian being in the Lodge problematic. The Bible is clear that there is only one true God, that Jesus is the only Savior, and that salvation is only through the grace and saving work of Christ. These are ideas rejected by the Freemasonic fraternity.
Summary of Beliefs
God: A generic concept of God; whatever one chooses to believe. Usually called the Great
Architect of the Universe (G.A.O.T.U.).
Jesus: Mostly disregarded. May have been a good man and moral teacher. Basically no
different than Osiris, Krishna, Tammuz, Mithras, or other “god-heroes.”
Salvation: Based on doing good works.
Human nature: Man is basically good.
Sin: Sin is dealt with through human effort, good works, moral development.
Afterlife: Belief in the immortality of the soul is a basic tenet of Masonry.
Scripture: All Scriptures are valid. The holy book of a particular culture or region is normally
what is used in the lodge.
Truth: No absolute truth.