Q: What is the main reason our Synod objects to members belonging to the Masonic Lodge? Is membership in the Animal Lodges (i.e., Elks, Moose, Eagles, etc.) to be viewed the same way?”
A: It is the firm teaching of Scripture that everything we do as Christians—including the organizations we join—not destroy our profession of faith. We are called to acknowledge Christ alone as the one true God and Savior of the world (Matt. 10: 32,33). Those who do not worship the Trinity but claim to be followers of “God” on the basis of their morality and ritualistic sincerity are actually heathen (John 14:6). There is only one way of salvation: belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. His righteousness credited to the sinner’s account by the pure mercy of God is what makes one acceptable for the eternal abode of heaven (Rom. 3: 21-24). If membership in an organization compromises that confession, such as to insist on salvation by works (Gal. 2:16, 21), or the view that all who are “religious” in some way will make it to the celestial mansion, then a Christian must refuse to join (II Cor. 6:14, 15; Rom. 16:17).
Does the Masonic Lodge fall into this category? One of Freemasonry’s esteemed leaders has written: “The religion of Masonry is not sectarian. It admits men from every creed. . . Its religion is that general one of nature and primitive revelation—handed down to us from some ancient and patriarchal priesthood—in which all men may agree and in which no men can differ” (Albert Mackay in An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry).
Other evidence for the Masonic Lodge being a generalized RELIGION and not just a social club or a community-involvement society can be seen by the following: the “Sacred Book” symbol (this is to represent not just the Bible, but all the “sacred books” of various religions); the name for God in the York Rite is “Jah-Bul-On,” a conglomeration of Jehovah (Jah), the Assyrian Baal (Bul), and the Egyptian sun god “On”; the giving of the lambskin (or white apron) is given to symbolize the “purity of life and conduct” by which a member is said to gain admission into the “Celestial Lodge” above; burial rites which teach immortality and resurrection to bliss apart from faith in Christ; prayers offered, but not exclusively “in Jesus’ name”; and their oath of secrecy which speaks of grotesque dismemberment and yet is unnecessary and morally wrong.
Many other objectionable elements of Masonry could be enumerated. At the same time, one would not wish to disparage the many fine humanitarian gestures made by this organization, like the operating of the Shriner hospitals and clinics. Suffice it to say, though, a Christian who wishes to take his profession of faith seriously will not attempt to join the Masons, since it jeopardizes the teaching of the Trinity and the central Biblical doctrine of justification. If one cares to join organizations for purely social reasons and for helping the community, there are plenty of others available that can be recommended: Rotary, Kiwanis, Lion’s Club, etc.
The Animal Lodges are not as overt in displaying a religious feature as do the Masons, yet membership in these needs to be forbidden as well. These are just offshoots of Freemasonry and have a number of things in common with it. For example, they do have unchristian rituals, initiation rites and burial rites which are contrary to Scripture. Keeping with the “generalized religion” of Deism, the Animal Lodges frequently employ prayers which omit references specifically to Jesus Christ, in spite of how the term “Lord” may readily appear. Remember, many false doctrines have crept into religious circles not so much because of what was said, but because of what was not said.