All to often I have seen Masonic brothers get into trouble within the Craft because they don’t truly understand this most important and fundamental issue – that being the topic of Theology within Freemasonry. Let me explain further.
Like many men today who were raised in a particular faith, they had been taught to defend their religion. In fact, about two years ago I was at a very important religious event; in short, a prominent Masonic Brother had become a priest. At the celebration gathering afterwards, I was seated next to a religious scholar of the faith who wanted to know more about Freemasonry. After a few pleasantries, he wanted my phone number, so as he stated, we could have a religious debate. I quietly told him that as a Freemason, I should not be debating another person; especially about religion. He was, of course, taken back, and continued to press the issue. Essentially, he did not understand that another knowledgeable person would not want to debate. I learned afterward, from my Masonic Brother, that within his faith they are taught to defend their faith. He explained that it sharpened their convictions and religious beliefs.
So why is this story important? Well, it clearly demonstrates the differences between religion and Freemasonry, and the associated lessons taught by each organization. As I have stated numerous times in my YouTube videos and in my lectures, Freemasonry leaves theology to the churches. I know this is hard for some people to comprehend this important distinction. Again and again, I see good intentioned men come into the Craft, only to become disenfranchised after a year or two because they can’t grasp the difference.
In truth, I have a family member who is a devout Christian and a Freemason who continues to get into trouble with people, both to Masons and non-Masons, only because in his zeal for his faith, he continues to press his views on others. Nevertheless, he forgot his most important Masonic lesson about debating or pressing your religious views on others – that it is generally not well received. People don’t like being lectured to. Personally, I have found faith to be something that should always be made available, but not before the person is ready for it.
Now to the point at hand. Catholic Freemason Eliphas Levi wrote in his 1860 book, The History of Magic, that from a religious or dogmatic standpoint, the Holy Scriptures form no part of what we do; that we surrender theology to the church,
To explain Holy Scripture from the religious and dogmatic standpoint forms no part of our warrant. Subject above all things to the hierarchic order, we surrender theology to the doctors of the Church and we render to human science whatsoever is included in the domain of experience and reason (Eliphas Levi, The History of Magic, 1860, p. 115).
You see, we are taught not to attack any religion; although, to be honest, many of these faiths have no problem attacking the Craft. Countless Brothers within Freemasonry also seem to have a problem understanding this point as well. We often learn this when we are young; we are taught to think our team, family, school and even country are the best. There is no doubt that this “us against them” mentality is taught at an early age, a habit not easily broken. Many Freemasons even walk around with their favorite team cap or t-shirt, just to remind everyone of their team support. This mentality is no different than the religious zealot, who thinks his faith is better than any other. Yet, the lessons of Freemasonry do not support such a viewpoint. No, we are taught to love all of humanity, regardless of one’s viewpoints and positions.
Furthermore, Albert Pike supported this belief when he wrote the following in his 1872 book, Morals and Dogma, that the esoteric doctrines were the teachings of philosophy, and that the religious world interprets the scripture much different than that of Freemasonry, which considers these sacred books to be attributes of man himself. The following quote clearly supports the view that Freemasonry takes a different view of religious writings, like that of the Holy Scriptures,
The esoteric doctrines of the Qabbalah are in alignment with the secret teachings of all the schools of philosophy, but the method by which its secrets are revealed to the wise and concealed from the ignorant is most unusual. As the religious world interprets its scriptures with twentieth-century educational facilities, it becomes ever more apparent that the sacred books were not historical documents, but that the kings, sages, prophets, and saviors whom Bible students have revered for ages as once-existing personalities are in reality only personified attributes of man himself (Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, 1872, p. 114).
Nevertheless, Pike considered Freemasonry to be a religion; but not in the traditional sense. He clearly stated numerous times that Masonry was a religion; that Masonic books need not include sermons, or pious exercises, or even prayers to prove this point. Yet the “religion of Masonry… inculcates pure, noble and even patriotic sentiments,” and includes the “Gospel of literature and art,”
Books, to be of religious tendency in the Masonic sense, need not be books of sermons, of pious exercises, or of prayers. What ever inculcates pure, noble, and patriotic sentiments, or touches the heart with the beauty of virtue, and the excellence of an up right life, accords with the religion of Masonry, and is the Gospel of literature and art (Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, 1872, p. 212).
More specifically, and in support of Pike’s position, the word religion has several different meanings (not all are needed to be considered), including,
- the state of a religious.
- a nun in her 20th year of religion.
- the service and worship of God or the supernatural.
- commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance.
- a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.
- archaic: scrupulous conformity: conscientiousness.
- a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.
Therefore, using the above highlighted definitions, it can be clearly seen that Freemasonry adheres to a “devotion,” or a “commitment to an observance;” “a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices;” “conscientiousness” or “scrupulous conformity;” and a “cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.” You see – all to often – most people think religion has the singular definition, like – worship within religion; when it fact, there are many more meanings. In truth, the best definition seen to date is, Freemasonry is simply a religion because of its beliefs; indeed, the philosophy of God is included, but we have no centralized worship like those of contemporary churches. Instead, the religion of Freemasonry is an individual path, like the ancients once upheld, before the centralization of religion.
In fact, Manly P. Hall wrote in his 1929 book, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, that the ancients did not make any distinction between science, philosophy and religion, “Among the ancients, philosophy, science, and religion were never considered as separate units: each was regarded as an integral part of the whole” (Manly P. Hall, Secret Teachings of All Ages, 1929, p. 109).
You see, Freemasonry teaches the values of virtue, honor, truth; and the obligation to direct one’s life toward those ends. Though each degree may have a general theme, no degree teaches only a single lesson; just as no symbol has only a single meaning. No, Freemasonry is a great tapestry of knowledge, where various threads of moral, ethical, philosophical, religious, political, and mythical thought and symbolism are interwoven to create an organization of teachings and lessons. These lessons have their application, both for the individual and for society. In fact, many of the lessons are easily apparent; although, others reveal themselves only to the determined and worthy seeker of spiritual truths.
I know this is hard for most people to understand, but Freemasonry, although not always going by that name, predates all contemporary religions. This belief is confirmed by Manly P. Hall, who wrote, “Freemasonry is more ancient than any of the world’s living religions” (Manly P. Hall, Secret Teachings of All Ages, 1929, p. 176).
Therefore, there is no other organization in the world that calls itself the original religion, unlike those of virtually every religion today. That is why we can comfortably state that “Freemasonry Leaves Theology to the Churches.”
So Mote It Be!
Blue Lodge Master Mason – Scottish Rite Mason – York Rite Mason – Knight Mason – Allied Mason – York Rite College – Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priest – Red Cross of Constantine – Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis.