By Dr. David R. Reagan The Masonic Order has definite cultic characteristics, but it is not a classic cult because it does not require membership in it only, to the exclusion of all other groups or churches. In fact, Masons are encouraged to be an active member of a local church.
This distinctive feature of Masonry has given the organization far more influence within Christendom than all the recognized cults put together.
Rather than labeling Masonry a cult, I prefer to call it a false religion, and I think I can prove that assertion.
Many Christian denominations have recognized the cultic nature of Masonry and have taken decisive steps to retard its influence among their members. For example, the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church prohibits Masons from becoming members of their church. Likewise, the Nazarene Church has banned from its membership any person who is a member of a secret organization like the Masons.
The Catholic Church has also taken a strong stand against Masonry. Ever since 1728 Catholics have been prohibited from joining the Masons. That stance was reaffirmed by the Vatican in 1984 with a pronouncement that any Catholic who joins the Masons is "in a state of grave sin and cannot partake in Holy Communion."1
The British Methodist Church also condemned Masonry at its General Assembly in 1985. The Assembly acted on a report of its Faith and Order Committee. That report, entitled "Freemasonry & Methodism," outlined the occultic nature of Masonry in detail. The report concluded with these words: "There is a great danger that the Christian who becomes a Freemason will find himself compromising his Christian beliefs or his allegiance to Christ, perhaps without realizing what he is doing."2
Many other denominations, both in the United States and abroad, have passed resolutions condemning Masonry as un-Christian in nature. Groups here in America include the Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Assemblies of God, the Evangelical Mennonite Church, the Christian Reformed Church, the General Association of Regular Baptists, the Greek Orthodox Church, and the Presbyterian Church in America - among others.3
The glaring omission, of course, is the Southern Baptists, and this is a very serious matter because many Southern Baptists, including pastors and deacons, are also Masons.
Many Southern Baptists who strongly oppose Masonry were able to get a resolution passed at their 1992 convention which asked their membership to avoid association with organizations that operate in secret and which espouse doctrines that conflict with clear biblical teaching.4
Even though Masonry was not specifically mentioned in this resolution, its wording infuriated Masons, and they went to work to override it. Thousands of Christian Masons were encouraged to attend the 1993 convention. A special publication was issued that showed Baylor University officials on the cover wearing their Masonic regalia. The publication declared that "Masonry is perfectly compatible with the classic Protestant belief in justification by faith."5
During the interim leading up to the 1993 convention, a special committee studied the issue and released an incredible report in which it admitted that there were things about Masonry that were pagan, unscriptural, and in conflict with basic Christian beliefs, but recommended nonetheless that membership in the Masonic Order "be a matter of personal conscience." The convention adopted this recommendation.6
A Personal Observation
In light of the strong bans against Masonic membership that have been pronounced by many Christian denominations, I want to make one thing very clear. I am not advocating that Masons be kicked out of their local churches. I know many fine Christian men who are Masons. Most of them are in the Masonic Order for business contacts or social purposes or because it is a family heritage. Most of them do not pay any attention to the organization's religious teachings. In fact, most are probably ignorant of what Masonry teaches about God.
In other words, I believe it is possible for a person who is ignorant of Masonry's religious teachings to be both a Mason and a Christian. But I do not believe a person can be an informed Mason and a committed Christian at the same time.
I have concluded that because of Masonry's cultic characteristics and its totally false religious doctrines, a Christian who is a Mason can never grow to his full potential in Christ. For this reason, I believe that no Mason should be put in a position of leadership in a local church. How can any person serve effectively as a Christian spiritual leader when he has compromised his commitment to Christ by participating in a cult-like organization that promotes a false religion?