FREEMASONRY—Q&A

1. John's dialogue with a Masonic brother (when John was still a Mason!)

2. I am curious about Freemasonry

3. Can women join Masonic auxiliary groups? John responds to Fr. Dietzen

4. A challenge from a "Catholic" Mason

5. My fiance wants to be a Mason

6. A dialogue with a "Christian" Freemason

7. Masonic oaths and the Knights of Columbus

8. What does canon law say about Freemasonry?

9. A message from an inquiring Freemason

10. A dialogue with an angry Freemason

11. Didn't you break your Masonic oath?

12. Isn't Freemasonry about being "ecumenical"?

13. Shriners, excommunication and copyrights

14. A dialogue with a young Freemason

15. The "Great Architect of the Universe" came from John Calvin?

16. Masonic Grand Master's message on resurrection

17. Intense dialogue between John and Masonic apologist Ake Eldburg

18. David Julianís review of Masonry Unmasked and Johnís rebuttal

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1. John's dialogue with a Masonic brother (when John was still a Mason!)

Following is a dialogue that John Salza had with a Mason who was also a Protestant clergyman. This dialogue took place back in 1999, when John was still a Freemason. John entered into this dialogue when he began to have concerns about his Masonic membership and was seeking resolution to his dilemma. John left Freemasonry shortly after this dialogue (and began his Catholic apologetics apostolate).

J. Salza: Dear Brother Jim. How do you, as a clergyman, reconcile the following with your Christian faith?

- Masons do not pray in Jesus’ name. Jesus said that if we do not confess him before men, He will not confess us before His Father in heaven. If we do not honor the Son, we do not honor the Father who sent Him. We are deliberately failing to confess Him before men in our Masonic prayers. If we are not praying to the Son, we are not praying to the Father. If we are not praying to the Father, we are not praying to the God of Christianity.

- Freemasonry believes that all faiths are well-founded. When the EA candidate is brought into the lodge, he is asked by the WM in whom he puts his trust. So long as he professes a belief in deity, whether or not that belief rejects Jesus Christ, the WM is required to profess that the candidate’s faith is well-founded. How can a Christian Mason ever profess that another non-Christian’s faith is well-founded?

- Freemasonry believes that all religions lead to one God. This belief is obviously not true. If one is not praying to the Triune God of Christianity, he is praying to a false god.  Jesus made this so clear, and nothing more needs to be said about this.

- Freemasonry teaches about a resurrection to an afterlife whether or not the Mason accepts Jesus Christ. This seems clear. Freemasonry teaches a doctrine of resurrection based upon morality and good works (the imitation of Hiram Abif). Once can be a Mason and reject Christ as his Savior, but is still taught that he will be raised to the celestial lodge above. This doctrine is incompatible with Christianity. No one comes to the Father but through the Son. Only through the saving grace of Jesus Christ will we all be saved. Freemasonry is either lying to non-Christian Masons, or is teaching a “higher” doctrine that is not compatible with the Christian faith.

I look forward to your thoughts. Peace.

John Salza

Bro. Jim: Brother John, thank you for your letter. I have done some research on how the concept of the soul crept into Masonic teaching but am not ready to say much other than the writers of the ritual were acquainted with the teachings of the great philosophers and included their thoughts on the soul in the ritual. I do not think they were trying to contradict the teaching of the Faith re the resurrection, but were using the common language of the people. More on that when I have spent more time in the Scottish Rite library perusing the books which belonged to the renowned Harry Carr of Quartor etc. London who donated his library to the Scottish Rite Library here in Dallas.

Your question today is even more profound and perplexing than thinking about the soul. Everything you state can be considered as the truth according to Scripture. But, John, I think you are making a religious denomination out of Masonry and I know you know that such is not true. Also, I wonder if as you raise your points on: prayer and Jesus’ name, faith being well-founded, all religions lead to one God and resurrection based on morality – are you being too literalistic?

When my wife and I were married in 1956 an employee of her parents could not attend the wedding because it was in a Presbyterian church. He was a Roman Catholic and his priest said no. He defied the priest and then went to confession and did penance. This gentleman had two daughters who were nuns. He loved and respected my wife and me and wanted to share our happy moment. Such was the law of the Church back then. This has been changed, thank God!

I know some Protestants that don’t think of Roman Catholics as Christians – most who think like this are literalist fundamentalists who deal more with the letter than the spirit of the Scripture. When the Master says “your faith is well-founded. Arise, follow your conductor, and fear no danger,” he is not referring to faith as a doctrinal statement. The Greek word for faith and trust is the same for both – pistis. My faith and your faith is in Christ, God’s Son, but more than that – as a Roman Catholic and as a Presbyterian when I say Christ I am saying God – the Creed says “very God, very man, begotten, not made.” He was in the beginning with God – all things were made through Him and without Him was not anything made that was made. I think it was Tertullian or maybe Athanasius who said “There never was a time when the Son was not!” This applies equally to the Spirit from whom proceedeth, etc. All of this to say, when you and I responded: “In God,” we did not feel we had to explain in detail who God is or what he is like. We, as those not of faith, are saying “in God as I understand him.”

As a Christian, I live by grace the Christian life. I can and do accomplish this without being literalistic or condemning. I seek not to give them hell, but give them heaven. I let God be the Judge believing that Christmas – the Incarnation – was God’s judgment on the world. The above is the middle of the road theology drawn from the tradition and creeds and confessions of the Church through the ages.

Again I state, I do not in any sense think of the Craft or Masonic teaching as a way of salvation. If some Masons want to make of it such that is their problem and as long as they leave the Christian free to think of Masonry as a fraternity period! then that is okay. But, and I know there are those who don’t want to do this – it creeps into some of the postings on GFN which makes me wonder if some of the brethren forget what Masonry is – a system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols – and nothing more!

Brother John, I hope I have not confused you. I am proud that you are raising the questions that you have brought up. It tells me you are serious about the Faith and about the Craft. An informed Christian or Mason is much easier to live and converse with. In ended the sentence with a preposition! And as Brother Winston Churchhill said to Lady Astor: “ Madam! That is pedantry up with which I will not put!”

Thank you for your correspondence. I leave for Scotland next Wednesday and will return August 11. Regards to you and yours. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jim XXXX

J. Salza: Brother Jim. Thank you very much for your response. As you may sense, I am having serious questions about Freemasonry and my faith. Please do not be offended by my inquiries. I want your opinions as an ordained clergyman. Anything that talks about God and resurrection should be investigated by any Christian to see if it is compatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am beginning to think that Freemasonry, when the veil is lifted, is attempting to teach a “higher” or more liberal doctrine about the existence of God, man and salvation that is not based on the revelation given to humanity by Jesus Christ.

In regard to my Catholic faith, please remember that many other Christian churches oppose Masonry for its teachings like many branches of Lutheranism, Pentecostalism, Methodism, Baptists and the like. You have suggested that my readings of Scripture may be too literalistic. Listen to Jesus’ words, and tell me how else you read them.

-Prayer in Jesus’ name. The importance that Jesus placed on prayers in His name is very evident in Sacred Scripture. Jesus said “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:11,13). Saint Paul taught “Giving thanks always for all things unto God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20). “And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:11). “And whatsoever ye do in word and deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by Him” (Col. 3:17).

Jim, we are not only required to pray to Jesus in our hearts, but to also confess him before men! Jesus said “Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God. But he that denieth me before men, shall be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8-9). In Masonic prayers, we are required to deliberately omit Jesus’ name from our prayers. If we are not honoring the Son, can we be honoring the Father? Who are we honoring? We are not confessing Jesus before men. How else do you read these words?

In addition, the Masonic prayers seem to show how important it is for Freemasonry to distinguish “its god” from all others. “Supreme Architect, in thy name we have assembled, and in thy name we desire to proceed in all our doings.” Jim, have you ever considered that Freemasonry is attempting to teach a “higher” or more liberal doctrine about God, man and salvation? I know it is difficult for men who have been in the fraternity for a very long time to even consider this. But for a man who is only 31 years old and a Mason for three years, I feel that I have an open mind on this matter. I am comparing Masonic doctrine to the doctrine Christ has given us through the Scriptures, Tradition, and the Catholic Church.

Jesus makes it clear that no one can come to God but through Him. If we deliberately omit His name out of respect for others, aren’t we deliberately omitting His name out of disrespect for Him? Jim, aren’t you being too optimistic or liberal about not praying in Jesus’ name? Isn’t this enough authority? Please give me your educated opinion.

It appears that the religion of Masonry teaches that all sectarian religions lead to one God which is deduced by reason and not by any divinely revealed truth. For example, Islam denies that Jesus Christ is the unique Son of God. Rather, it declares (quite irrationally) that Jesus was only a prophet. Since the God of Christianity has a Son, and Allah, the god of Islam, does not, we are talking about two radically different understandings of God, both of which Freemasonry holds to be “well-founded.”

Freemasonry teaches about the existence of God called “the Grand Architect of the Universe,” and about eternal life “in the celestial lodge above,” whether or not a Mason accepts Jesus Christ. Jim, this seems to me that Freemasonry is teaching a “higher” truth which is incompatible with Christianity. Is this view really radical? Are not we required to have a radical commitment to Christ? Masons cannot be worshiping the God of Christianity, can they? You know what is said about worshiping idols. See 1 Cor. 6:9-10 and 1 John 5:20-21. Jim, you recall that the worshipers of Baal thought they were worshiping the true God, but they learned that it was not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and judgment came swift on Mount Carmel. See 1 Kings 18:20-40. Why should we be so presumptuous that judgment won’t be swift on us if we don’t confess Jesus Christ before men?

- Freemasonry and religion. You said that Freemasonry is a system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols, and nothing more. Jim, don’t you think that teaching about a bodily resurrection to the celestial lodge above by imitating Hiram Abif is more than a course in morality? Freemasonry, you won’t deny, is replete with teachings of eternal life and salvation, but there is NO mention of Jesus Christ. Jim, we are both Masons, but open your mind to the possibility that Freemasonry is truly a religion, premised on the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, which is deduced by reason and intellect, and not by the divine revelation of Jesus Christ. I never accepted this, but am beginning to think it is. Freemasonry teaches that it will only reveal its truths to the “candid and industrious inquirer.”

In addition, the highest Masonic authorities say that Freemasonry is a religion. The Heirloom Masonic Bible says “while the religion of Masonry is cosmopolitan, nonsectarian and universal, belief in God is fundamental and also universal” (p. 43). Mackey provides the same definition: “The religion of Freemasonry is not sectarian…it is NOT Christianity” (p. 619). Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia provides: “Some attempt to avoid the issue by saying that Freemasonry is not a religion but is religious, seeming to believe that the substitution of an adjective for a noun makes a fundamental difference. It would be as sensible to say that a man had no intellect but was intellectual, or that he had no honor but was honorable. The oft repeated aphorism: Freemasonry is not a religion, but is most emphatically religion’s handmaid, has been challenged as meaningless, which it seems to be” (p. 512). Pike, in Morals and Dogma, states: “Freemasonry is the universal, eternal, immutable religion” (p. 219).

“Every Masonic lodge is a temple of religion, and its teachings are instruction in religion.” Manly Hall writes, “Despite these statements to the contrary, Masonry is a religion seeking to unite God and man…” The Secret Teaching of All Ages (p. 80). Pike stated, “Each was a gospel preached by a Reformer, and if any men are so little fortunate as to remain content therewith, when others have attained the higher truth, of course this higher truth is Masonry, it is their misfortune and not their fault. They are to be pitied for it and not persecuted.”

Jim, the highest Masonic authorities have declared Masonry a religion (albeit generic). These works are also recommended by most U.S. Grand Lodges. Why aren’t these works renounced? It is easy to say that these works don’t speak for Freemasonry. But then who does? Jim, isn’t anything that talks about the existence of God and the resurrection of the body with solemn ritual religion? It appears that the Masonic ritual itself, notwithstanding these other works, is teaching a liberal doctrine that is not Christianity. Jim, I truly want to remain a Mason, but I am seriously questioning its teachings.

Resurrection to an afterlife. Freemasonry teaches about a resurrection to the celestial lodge above which has nothing to do with a belief in Jesus Christ. The Heirloom Masonic Bible, given to Master Masons, provides: “The doctrine of the resurrection of the body to a future and eternal life constitutes an essential dogma of the religious faith of Freemasonry” (p. 55). Does that sound like a fraternity to you? The same source defines “raised” as: “literally, this refers to a portion of the ceremony, but more significantly, it refers symbolically to the resurrection, which is exemplified as the object of the degree” (p. 56). Mackey’s definition is almost identical.

As you know, just before the raising, a prayer is said that ends with: “Oh Lord, have compassion on thy children, administer them comfort in time of trouble, and save them with an everlasting salvation.” In the lecture that follows, it states: “a legend whose symbolic interpretation testifies to our faith in the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul.” Here, Masonry is not just talking about the philosophical doctrine of the soul’s immortality. This is a Masonic doctrine, not a Christian doctrine. Its “our” (Masonry’s) faith in the resurrection. The lecture goes on to state: “then let us imitate the good man in his virtuous and amiable conduct; in his unfeigned piety to God; in his inflexible duty to his trust, that we may welcome the grim tyrant Death, and receive him as a kind messenger sent from our Supreme Grand Master, to translate us from this imperfect to that all perfect, glorious and celestial lodge above where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides.”

Jim, isn’t it evident that Jesus Christ has nothing to do with this resurrection? He is never mentioned in the ritual. His propitiatory atonement of death on the cross for our sins is irrelevant to the “higher” Masonic doctrine of resurrection. You and I know that God opened the door to salvation only through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. Not through works of righteousness, honor or virtue, which is what Hiram Abif represents. It seems to me to be a resurrection that all good Masons may attain, irrespective of the grace of Jesus Christ which He won for us by His propitiatory sacrifice. The ritual is replete with teachings about merit and salvation, but there is no mention of Christ. Don’t you find this odd?

If you accept that Freemasonry is a religion, the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God, deduced by reason and nature, you would not find it so odd. No where in Masonic ritual is Jesus recognized as the Son of God. This is evident not only in the Masonic prayers and rituals, but has also been expressly stated by Masonic authorities. Pike, in Morals and Dogma, stated: “[Freemasonry] reverences all the great reformers. It sees in Moses the Lawgiver of the Jews, in Confucius and Zoroaster, in Jesus of Nazareth, and in the Arabian Iconoclast, Great Teachers of Morality, and Eminent Reformers, if nothing more” (p. 525). How can we not renounce such blasphemy?

This apparent Masonic doctrine of resurrection based on works is also in other parts of the ritual. The lambskin apron reminds us “of that purity of life and conduct which essentially necessary to his gaining admission into the celestial lodge above where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides.” The common gavel “divests our minds and consciences of the vices and superfluities of life, thereby fitting us as living stones for that spiritual building, that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” “As Master Masons, we may enjoy the happy reflections consequent on a well-spent life, and die in the hope of a glorious immortality.” “Yet that All-seeing Eye,…pervades the inmost recesses of the human heart and will reward us according to our merit.” All these references to salvation and merit, but not one word about Jesus Christ, through whose grace only will we have salvation.

The Heirloom Masonic Bible that you and I received as Masons suggests that the Masonic resurrection is different than the Christian resurrection. It provides that “the doctrine…is exemplified in the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (p. 55). In other words, Jesus Christ is only an example of the resurrection? Jesus disagrees, for He claimed to be the very source of resurrection for all of humanity: “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet he shall live” (John 11:25-26).

Jim, Freemasonry concerns me. I agree that all will face the judgment of Christ, and then they will realize who He is. But hasn’t Jesus been clear in the Gospels about obeying all that He commanded us, and hasn’t He laid down the rules and consequences of disregarding His Word during this life? It seems to me that you may be taking a very liberal and universalistic approach to the Gospel message. I truly want to remain a Mason. But its teachings seem to be incompatible with God’s revelation in His Son, Jesus Christ. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). Jim, the Church has always taught that Paul is referring to baptism here. Does the lodge require all Masons to be baptized, as Jesus commanded? No.Jim, once we behold Jesus at death, isn’t it too late, if we haven’t believed and bore witness to the truth?

Also, take a look at the Apocalypse 20:4-6, which discusses the “first” resurrection, and Apocalypse 20:11-14, which addresses the “second” resurrection. Jesus also teaches about the resurrection of the just and the damned in John 5:28-29. To summarize, the “first” resurrection will be at the judgment seat of Christ where the believers in Jesus will be raised to eternal life. The “second” resurrection will be at the White Throne were the nonbelievers will be cast into the lake of fire. Could the Masonic resurrection really be the resurrection of the damned at the Great White Throne? Yes, I know John uses symbolic language in the Apocalypse, but there is an eerie connection with Masonic ritual. In the apron address, it states: “And when at last your trembling soul stands naked and alone before the Great White Throne, may it be your portion, oh, my brother, to hear from Him who sitteth as the Judge Supreme the welcome words, Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter, thou, into the joy of the Lord.”

The connection of this “Masonic” resurrection to the White Throne of judgment is chilling and compelling. I am not sure whether this is a simple oversight by the drafter of the ritual, but I think that is irrelevant. Any resurrection without the belief in Jesus Christ is a resurrection to eternal judgment.

-Taking oaths. I am also thinking about the oaths I took, and all those oaths I administered as the Worshipful Master. The Masonic oath is clearly distinguishable from other oaths. A public oath binds us to Christ (which is the root meaning of sacramentum). By means of a public oath, we enter into marriage, lawyers promise to uphold the Constitution, a witness promises to tell the truth about serious matters before a court, etc. In the Masonic oath, we swear to keep things secret that have not even been revealed to us, under symbolic, blood-curdling penalties. If the oaths mean what they say, then God is being called to witness subject matter that He has sanctioned. If they don’t mean what they say, then God is being called to witness a joke. This seems to be a violation of the Second Commandment about taking the Lord’s name in vain.

Listen to Jesus’ words regarding oaths: “Swear not at all, neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne, nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king” (Matt. 5:34-35). Hear also St. James’ words: “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by earth, neither by any other oath; but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay, lest ye fall into condemnation” (James 5:12). Listen to St. Paul’s words on secrecy: “For it is a shame to speak of those things which are done of them in secret” (Eph. 5:12). Jim, what have we done by taking these oaths?

Jim, I have listened to many moral theologians discuss the deception of certain organizations, many of which camouflage themselves in Christianity, but have a “higher” order to convey. Freemasonry does weave itself in and out of religion, particularly Christianity in the U.S. lodges. Given the presence of the Bible and the solemnity of the rituals, it appears that we are doing something righteous before God and man. But the fact is, even though the Bible is displayed on the altar, no Mason is required to believe one word contained in it. The Bible is just a symbol to Freemasonry, and not the divinely revealed Word of God. U.S. lodges are dedicated to the Holy Saints John, but no indication is every made of their connection with the one for whom they died. Selected Scripture readings from the Bible are read during the rituals, but all references to Jesus have been carefully excised. The stories about Moses and King Solomon are part of the ritual, but nothing about the Son of God whom they prefigured. Is this because Freemasonry is only using elements of Christianity to reveal a “higher” truth?

Also take a look at the Heirloom Masonic Bible’s descriptions of the Holy Saints John. The Evangelist is venerated due to “his mystic visions,” which are said to be “sometimes similar to” (but evidently distinguishable from) the mystic communications of Freemasonry. The Baptist is somehow found to be “a fit patron” of the Masonic Institution. A “fit patron”? Somehow St. John the Baptist is the one deserving of Masonic honor? Notice also how St. John wouldn’t betray “his” Master. Is this the same Master of Freemasonry?

If Freemasonry were really a fraternity, why does it teach about God and the resurrection of the body to an afterlife? What other fraternity provides a Bible to its initiates with an addendum explaining its own special definitions and doctrines? Masons are not even required to believe in the Bible. Mackey states: “The Bible is used among Masons as a symbol of the will of God, however it may be expressed. And, therefore, whatever to any people expresses that will may be used as a substitute for the Bible in a Masonic Lodge” (p. 114). A substitute for the Bible? A substitute for divine revelation?

Does this shed light on the assertion that, in the religion of Freemasonry, all religions lead to one God, even though this is not what our Lord taught us? See Coil as well: “The prevailing Masonic opinion is that the Bible is only a symbol of Divine Will, Law, or Revelation, and not that its contents are Divine Law, inspired, or revealed. So far, no responsible authority has held that a Freemason must believe the Bible or any part of it” (p. 520). Jim, could it be any more clear? Masonry treats the Bible onlyl as a symbol, just like the square and compasses which rest on top of it.

What fraternity has the audacity to proclaim that one cannot renounce its principles? The Heirloom Masonic Bible states: “…but it is utterly impossible for any Mason who has been honest and understanding in accepting the Rites of Freemasonry to repudiate his Masonic Obligations” (p. 29). It is utterly impossible to repudiate Masonic obligations? This assertion is incredulous until one contemplates that Freemasonry may be claiming to be the one true religion. Doesn’t Freemasonry regard a man’s “sectarian” ability to achieve reconciliation with God (e.g., renouncing Freemasonry through the sacrament of penance)? Jim, it seems like Freemasonry takes this position because it believes itself to be the one true and irrefutable religion.

Jim, please listen to me. I want to remain a Mason and have an open mind. I think I am writing you in the hope that you, an educated man, can help or convince me that I am wrong. But these are the issues I face. Jim, I would like to share some of the most common Masonic rebuttals that I have been receiving about my feelings from other lodge brothers.

-“It’s a fraternity, not a religion.” This argument, of course, begs the question. Even the recommended Masonic authorities declare that Freemasonry is a religion. Any institution that worships God in solemn ritual is practicing religion. Certainly, Freemasonry is a generic religion, but it is a more formal religion than many others that claim to be religion (Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, etc.).

-“You are reading too far into it.” Jim, I have been getting this argument a lot lately, and it is a cop-out. The fact is, I am actually reading it. I am reading the Masonic rituals. As you know, most of the lodges brothers don’t have a clue about what the secret, ciphered rituals really teach.

-“You can interpret the symbolism how you want to.” This, of course, affirms my concerns, namely, that Freemasonry is promoting indifferentism. In fact, Freemasonry seems to go beyond indifferentism by advancing its own theology about God and eternal life. Does this mean that Hiram Abif is a symbol of Jesus Christ? Maybe that is the whole point of Freemasonry. Whatever you believe is okay, because there is no single revealed truth beyond “The Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man.”

-“Look at all the good works Masonry does.” I think many of the works that Freemasonry does are fantastic. The problem is that Masons seem to use these works to glorify and defend Freemasonry. These works do not redound to the glory of Jesus Christ. If Masons are so willing to go public about their works, why won’t we go public about our doctrines? Imagine coming out and saying “We are Masons. We believe in deity, we pray in the name of the Great Architect of the Universe, we believe in the resurrection of the body to an afterlife, but we are not a Christian organization.” How would that be perceived? Like a fraternity?

We both know that faith without works is dead. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesized in thy name? …And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:23-24). “For by grace ye are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:7-9). Isn’t Masonry teaching us that virtue and morality make us fit before God, without the saving grace of Jesus Christ?

Of course, Jim, I am not saying that only Christians will be saved (I dare judge anyone lest I judge myself). But Jesus teaches that only those who believe in Him will be saved. Of course, belief in Jesus presupposes knowledge of who Jesus is. The Church does not say that those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Jesus, will not be saved by Him. Our Pope Pius IX referred to this as “invincible ignorance,” and the Second Vatican Council affirmed the same. But doesn’t Jesus say that those who willfully reject Him and His teachings will not be saved? Isn’t when we all meet Him at His throne of Judgment too late, lest all people have salvation? Doesn’t Masonry provide hope of eternal life for those who willfully reject Jesus Christ? Think about it, my brother.

I believe that we must respect a person’s freewill to practice their own religion. The Catholic Church has even said that this is a civil right that should not be infringed upon. But I also believe that, as Christians, we should also defend the Gospel’s every word as the absolute truth. There is a difference between being tolerant of a person’s freewill to practice their own religion, and being tolerant of error. Moreover, no one has a moral right to practice a false religion, yet Freemasonry would disagree, since there is no such thing in the lodge as a “false” religion. I think about Paul’s warning: “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess 1:8). There is only one Truth.

Even if I want to remain in Freemasonry for the social reasons, don’t the oaths that I took bind me to the underlying theology of the lodge – the Fatherhood of God without the Brotherhood of Jesus Christ? Jesus said: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor dust corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matt. 6: 19-21). “No man can serve two Masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24). “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 17:24). “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35).

Jim, my dear brother, these are the difficult issues with which I am struggling. I truly respect your opinions as an educated Christian and an educated brother in the Craft. Can you be both? I am unsure. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

In Christ,

John Salza

Bro. Jim: Dear Brother John. I read studiously your last email which was in response to mine. As I read your Scripture quotations I am reminded of the material printed by several groups opposed to the Masonic Fraternity. Your legal skill in debating is very evident. I am not a debater. I conclude from your point to point responses that we do indeed approach the faith from a different position. I do not hold to the plenary inspiration approach. I believe the Bible is the Word of God, that it becomes the Word and through the Revealed Word, which is Jesus Christ. It is in this way that God is revealed.

I am not a universalist. To hold such a position is contrary to the vows I assumed at ordination. From your choice of texts – to which I have no argument – it seems obvious to me that you conflict with Masonry is such that it may be best for your spiritual growth to back off a bit.

Your supporting statements from Masonic writings in contrast to your Scriptural texts make the point rather clearly that you are quite dubious about the Craft. To me it is still a fraternity regardless of some of the language of the ritual and commentaries. The United States is a nation regardless of the references on the coins and in the constitution to God. But to say such is to be defensive. It is though not my intent to be an apologist for Masonry. Your first loyalty must be to the Church. The conflict you express and elucidate, you take steps to remove any obstacle that comes between you and God and His Christ and God’s will for your life. I know that I can be a Christian and a Mason with a clear conscience. I do not have what it takes to articulate my position however.

Brother John: do what you feel is right for you. May God bless you as you seek to follow in His will the light He sends your way.

In Christian love and with fraternal greetings, Jim.

J. Salza: Brother Jim. As always, I thank you for your reply. However, I am disappointed with your response. I wrote to you, as one educated in both the faith and the craft, in the hope that you could defend Freemasonry in light of Christian revelation. You said that you do not have what it takes to articulate your position. Because you have a Master of Divinity degree, your inability to articulate your position causes me even more concern about Freemasonry. In fact, it has contributed to my serious consideration of resigning from the Masonic organization.

Jim, I am not looking to debate you. Please understand my intentions. I am looking to you for guidance. As such an educated leader as yourself, you should be able to address each of the concerns that I have raised and defend Freemasonry. You stated that you can be a Christian and a Mason with a clear conscience. Jim, what you believe in your conscience may be wrong. Consciences must be informed in the light of the truth that God has given us. St. Peter touches upon this a bit when he wrote: “No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21). “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar” (Proverbs 30:5-6).

I challenge you, as an ordained clergyman and a Mason, to reconsider my previous questions regarding Freemasonry and squarely address them in light of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ.

God bless you.

John

Bro. Jim: John, I have just returned from a wonderful vacation in Scotland and found your email awaiting me. You state that you are disappointed with my response. What troubles me even more is your statement that I have “contributed to my serious consideration of resigning from the Masonic organization.”

I apologize for being a stumbling block in our Masonic life and in your Christian pilgrimage. I think I know where the problem lies in my response to your Scriptural quotations. We have a common love for the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church. Also, we have a tie through the Masonic fraternity that bonds us in a fraternal brotherhood. Where we differ is in our relating our Christian faith to Freemasonry. I am able to live the Christian life and enjoy the fraternity of the Craft.

My conscience, you state, could be wrong! You then cite 2 Peter 1:20-21 which focuses in on where we differ. Formally it is referred to as the Doctrine of Inspiration. This is often referred to as plenary inspiration, the infallibility of the Scriptures. I take the position of Karl Barth which in essence says: the Bible is the Word of God because it is the Word of God. I cannot in faith as I understand it subscribe to the “every jot and tittle” interpretation of Scripture. Perhaps Shakespeare states it clearly in the Merchant of Venice: “What damned error but some sober brow will bless it and approve it with a text.” I do not feel the need to defend my understanding of TRUTH by quoting verse by verse my position.

In response to: “I challenge you, as an ordained clergyman and a Mason, to reconsider my previous questions regarding Freemasonry and squarely address them in light of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ,” I will simply state that God’s revelation is revelation, but how we interpret it is personal. I stand with the historic confessions of the Church – all the way back to the Apostles Creed through the Brief Statement of Faith of the Presbyterian Church USA. In these documents I find myself at odds with some statements. This does not mean I throw out the Creeds nor does it mean I am taking a non-Christian approach. I love the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart and soul and strength and mind and seek, by the example of the Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the love of God the Father to be a faithful Christian and minister of the Word and sacraments. In my feebleness, I fail at times to live as a Christian is called to live and in my obedience to the Gospel call.

I do not feel the need to defend Masonic teaching in the light of the Gospel because I personally do not consider Masonry a religion or even a way of life. To me it is a place to enjoy my fellows in Masonic fraternity.

Again, I apologize for my failure to answer your questions as you expected. In humbly ask that you do not judge other clergy or the Craft by my ineptness to fulfill your need.

I will be taking a temporary assignment in Kearney, Nebraska next week which could last nine months so I may not have access to a personal computer. I will be here in  Dallas until next Sunday. I pray God’s rich grace in blessing upon you aqs you seek to be faithful to His call to you.

James XXXX

P.S. I tuned in the Global Fraternal Network on the internet and read with interest your ongoing discussion with a Past Master – I forget his name. John, he completely misunderstood your intention. In fact, you deserve an apology from him for some of his statements. If I have time I will email a personal note to him and tell him so. You and I may not agree on the relationship of the Faith to the Craft – but please know I in no way doubt your integrity – your sincerity as you seek to be faithful to both. Jim.

J. Salza: Dear Brother Jim. Welcome back. I hope you had a wonderful time on your vacation. Thanks for getting back to me on my issues. I appreciate that you have not taken offense to my inquiries. Please understand that I don’t mean to condescend in any way. As an aside, isn’t it incredible how intolerant and defensive that Past Master became when I posed the simple question of who the Lion of Judah was? He sent me a private email saying that I was the snottiest and most condescending Mason he has ever come in contact with, and said God help my lodge if they ever put me in charge! Absolutely incredible. I told him that his comments were not only un-Masonic, but were entirely devoid of any accomplished research whatsoever, and unless he was willing to address my question, I no longer wanted to continue a dialogue. What offended him? The truth? Unfortunately for him, I have earned my Masonic stripes. I am a Proficiecny Ritualist, and probably know more about Masonic ritual than he or anyone in his state. Sorry for me.

Anyway, Jim, as I’ve stated before, I am considering terminating my Masonic membership. I do not want to leave Freemasonry. I am having an absolutely wonderful time with my family and friends. But the more research I do, and the more I pray and contemplate the ritual, the more I realize that Freemasonry is teaching a more liberal doctrine about God and eternal life than is Christianity. It seems to me that Freemasonry desires to unite men in spiritual (not just social) fellowship. Freemasonry seems to say that spiritual fellowship, by deliberately setting aside religious differences, is possible because all religions lead to one ever-merciful God.

Agreeably, setting aside religious differences, if for the sole purpose of having social relations, is a worthy endeavor. However, setting aside religious differences for the pursuit of spiritual fellowship is entirely another endeavor. Religious differences are important when it comes to solemn teachings and ceremonial rituals concerning God, group prayer, bodily resurrection and immortality! Otherwise, “sectarian” beliefs are irrelevant. This is the issue I have with Freemasonry. It seems to me that Freemasonry can only be successful in its attempt to achieve spiritual fellowship if religious indifferentism prevails (that is, the belief that all religions are equally valid).

I don’t think there is any doubt that Freemasonry puts all religions on equal footing. Any “scripture” that a Mason deems to be his “Volume of the Sacred Law” is required to lay side by side with the true revealed Word of God on the Masonic altar. These pagan writings take an equal place with Christ’s revelations in the New Testament. If this is not religious indifferentism, what is? This is alarming to me as a Christian. Jim, as Christians, don’t we have a unique and privileged responsibility to “draw the line” at this point? Otherwise, aren’t we condoning error?

Jim, you should page through the Heirloom Masonic Bible that they gave you when you became a Master Mason, and on which you probably took your third degree obligation. The definitions of certain Masonic terms make it clear that Freemasonry has its own doctrines about God and salvation apart from Christianity, and that it believes that all religions lead to one God. For example, the Masonic Bible says: “One of the most famous secrets of Masonic mysteries is the unity of the Godhead” (p. 63). To me, this clearly demonstrates Freemasonry’s indifference to the Christian understanding of God, and its belief in one unified God for all religions.

Freemasonry never instructs the Mason to contemplate his own religious beliefs during Masonic ritual. The Masonic Bible says, in regard to the letter G: “First, it represents the supreme Deity, the great Architect of the Universe, the great God of all Freemasons” (p. 42). The ritual never provides that the letter G represents the various gods of the various world religions, although that would be an equally syncretistic claim incompatible with the God of our baptism.

Jim, please look at that definition. “The great God of all Freemasons.” Freemasonry’ god. The Masonic god. It seems to be the same thing. Jim, as one who has studied theology, I don’t need to tell you that it is presumptuous to assume that there is only one God. There are many (false) gods, but only One True God. There are clearly Masonic doctrines about God. This frightens me.

As a Christian, I believe that I have a unique duty to proclaim Christ’s name at all times. I don’t believe this duty should be compromised under any circumstances, especially in the name of an institution that promotes the worship of God and teaches about a bodily resurrection to eternal life, but does not base its teachings on Jesus Christ. I believe that the Lord Jesus, who shed His blood for me, deserves more honor than the Lodge gives Him, even at the risk of offending nonbelievers. Would you agree with this?

We both know that Jesus is the only way to God. He is not just one of the ways. If Jesus had never come to earth to die for our sins we would never know how to come to God. We would be condemned in our sins. Freemasonry says that its objective is a search for religious truth. As Christians, we have already found the truth! The search is over! It seems to me that Freemasonry can add nothing more to my search, and can only take away from it. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men – the testimony given in its proper time” (1 Tim. 2:5-6). “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Jim, you mentioned that interpretation of Scriptural is personal. Of course, as a Catholic, I vehemently disagree with such a proposition, as do the Fathers and medievals of the Church for century after century. That is, in fact, why we had a “reformation.” But that aside, if you plainly read the truths that Jesus has revealed to us in the New Testament, without adding to His words, I can only come to the conclusion that Freemasonry teaches a more liberal, universalistic doctrine about God and eternal life than we find in Sacred Scripture. St. Paul certainly would agree with me. Please read Acts 17 about Paul’s reaction to those who were “sincerely” searching for God, but who were “sincerely wrong.” Paul didn’t sugar-coat his teaching about God being one for everyone. Paul specifically stated that God had overlooked this ignorance in the past, but now has fixed His judgment by Jesus Christ whom He has raised from the dead.

You also mentioned that Freemasonry is just a social club. I don’t think there is any doubt that Freemasonry is more than a social club. Certainly, Freemasonry offers many social activities, but these appear to be ancillary to the higher purpose of Freemasonry to which men bind themselves by solemn oaths. Clearly, the purpose of the ritual, where men are taught about the resurrections and swear the blood oaths,  is not to entertain or have some kind of social hour. The ritual is not fun and games. It is solemn and serious. The institution is one “by no means of a light and trifling nature, but of high importance and deep solemnity.”

Jim, I think you may be judging Freemasonry solely by its members, and not by its rituals. There definitely are wonderful men in Masonry (you being one of them). But I think in light of Jesus Christ’s revelation to humanity, we, as Christians, need to judge Freemasonry by its doctrines, dogmas, and ritualistic practices, and not by the goodness of its membership (which even begs the question what “goodness” is according to Freemasonry, since it reject revealed truth which is the only thing that can really tell us what is truly “good”).

Jim, I am not criticizing you for your convictions. Do not feel obligated to respond to my inquiries. These are issues that I need to resolve on my own. I share these with you because of your background and the fact that you have taken an interest in me.

I am glad that you had a safe and fulfilling vacation and hope to maintain our friendship.

God bless.

John Salza

NB: Brother Jim no longer responded to John.

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2. I am curious about Freemasonry

Patron: John, I was referred to you by someone from ewtn.com.  I am curious about free masons because they seem to be a very powerful clique politically here in Philadelphia.  I have come across Shriners and Blue Lodge members who seem to get the plum, powerful and connected positions, despite the fact that some of them haven't earned them (by, for instance, going door to door for candidates and really doing the footwork.)  I see them in ruling positions in government (City Council, the Mayor and State Representatives) and especially in the building trade unions (I am a journeyman).  It's frustrating because they seem to stick together and will exclude a guy like me because, though I work hard, I'm not "in the light".  I have not really been approached to join, but I've read about freemasons a little bit, so I was curious.  I have no desire to swear any oaths inconsistent with my faith, but can I join and still be a good Catholic?  What's going on in the lodges that is so appealing to so many men?  I don't know you, but I'm directing my questions to you at the behest of ewtn.com.  Let me know, thanks.

J. Salza:  Thanks for your note.  I am a former 32nd degree Mason and Shriner who left the Lodge because I could not reconcile Freemasonry's teachings with my Catholic faith.  I assist EWTN with these questions because I was an "insider," and can thus provide practical answers to men who have inquiries such as yours. 

First, the Church prohibits Catholic membership in Freemasonry, so you cannot be a good Catholic and a Mason at the same time. 

Please see http://www.cin.org/vatcong/masonas.html.  This declaration confirms what the Church has taught for over three centuries. Please also note that it is not just the Catholic Church, but just about every other Christian church (and also much of Judaism and Islam) that has also condemned Masonry.

The primary reason for the Church's opposition to Freemasonry is that Freemasonry promotes indifferentism. Indifferentism is the heretical belief that all religions are equally legitimate paths to God.  Freemasonry promotes indifferentism in many ways, such as by inviting all religious writings to take an equal place on the Masonic altar with the Sacred Scriptures, and promoting a common religious worship through esoteric ritual. The other reason why Masonry is incompatible with the Christian faith concerns Masonry's requirement that its members swear oaths of self-donation to the organization and its principles under symbolic, blood-curdling penalties of self-mutilation and death.  I can elaborate on these reasons of indifferentism and false oaths if you would like.

From my perspective, Masonry is appealing to some men because of what is lacking in their own lives.  Masonry provides them with a new family of men who have sworn the same oaths and have gone through the same secret rituals that they have gone through.  It provides them with respect and esteem that they do not otherwise enjoy in their jobs or families.  It also fills a spiritual void that is so prevalent among the men of Masonry.  In my experience, most Masons were not practicing any religious faith; Masonry was all the religion they needed. 

However, there is no "light" in the lodge room. Masonry teaches about an eternal life for all men based on virtue and good works, but deliberately omits Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, from its teachings and rituals.  This leaves the Masonic lodge and its members in darkness. 

Further, Masonic membership continues to decline.  In my experience, the overwhelming majority of Masons do not attend their lodge meetings.  These men continue their membership in name only, perhaps because of the doors it can open, and perhaps because of the backlash they would receive if they ever left the lodge.  Also, most of what Freemasons say about Masonry (the number of members, famous Masons, charitable works, etc.), is, at best, misleading, if not outright misrepresentations. It is likely that you have not been approached to join Masonry because the Masonic motto is "to be 1, ask 1."  Masonry typically requires candidates to ask to be a Mason, although many men are often solicited, directly or indirectly, to join Freemasonry. 

So, my counsel to you is to remain a faithful Catholic and avoid any affiliation with Freemasonry.  If I can be of further assistance, please contact me. 

John Salza

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3. Can women join Masonic auxiliary groups? John responds to Fr. Dietzen

Father Dietzen says “yes” in an article he wrote for the Catholic Herald of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in May, 2000.  John shows that the correct answer is actually “no” in a rebuttal article he wrote for the Catholic Herald. John contacted Father Dietzen by email out of respect before he wrote the article. 

J. Salza:  Hi Father, I read your comments regarding Catholic women joining Masonic auxiliary groups.  I am a former 32nd degree Mason who has come back into the fullness of the Church.  I am writing a book regarding the incompatibility of Freemasonry with Christianity, with an emphasis on Catholic teaching (Papal documents, canon law, Catechism, scriptures, etc.)

I must tell you that Catholic women are not allowed to join these groups.  These groups are considered Masonic, and all Masonic associations have been condemned by the Church.  These groups still espouse the general principles of Freemasonry, including religious indifferentism, and eternal life with or without Christ.

Fr. Dietzen:  It would be helpful to be sure you consult a good canon lawyer.  A couple of the statements you make are not valid canonically.

J. Salza:  Please explain specifically what you mean, because none of the statements I have made are “canonically invalid.”  The statements that I made, summarily, that Catholic women cannot join Masonic auxiliary groups, are based on the Magisterial teachings of the Church (with which canon law is certainly not at odds).  The Church has condemned all Masonic associations.  Further, the condemnations are not only limited to Masons, but those who participate in Masonic associations.  Jobs Daughters, Order of the Eastern Star, etc. are Masonic associations.  Hence, Catholic women are forbidden from joining them.  This information needs to be properly presented to the public.  Please let me know if I can assist.

Fr. Dietzen:  John, the church has not "condemned all masonic organizations".   Canon 36, among others, is critical here. 

J. Salza:  Actually, Father, the Church has condemned all Masonic associations.   This was clearly provided by Pope Clement XII in the Papacy’s first written condemnation of Masonry, In Enimenti, when he stated "We have resolved and decreed to condemn and forbid such societies, assemblies, reunions, conventions, aggregations or meetings called either Freemasonic or known under some other denomination.  We condemn and forbid them by this, our present constitution, which is to be considered valid forever."

The Church's position was reiterated for nearly the next 300 years, more recently by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1983 when it provided: "Therefore, the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic associations remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden.  The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion."  (There are also about 27 papal letters in between these two condemnations)

Women's auxiliary groups are Masonic associations.  Therefore, they fall within the foregoing condemnations.  To say that the Church has not condemned all Masonic associations, then, is to either say that Eastern Star, Jobs Daughters, etc are not Masonic associations (wrong), or that these condemnations are no longer valid (wrong).

The point that you must understand is that these auxiliary groups espouse the same Masonic philosophy that has been condemned by the Church (apostasy concerning the nature of God, religious indifferentism, eternal life so long as morality is maintained, etc.)  So this is not a stringent legalistic interpretation. This is a fact.  You must know about what these groups teach in order to understand the Church's teaching.  I know Masonic ritual as well as anyone.  I held a proficiency ritualist card for the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin when I was a Mason. This is a unique Masonic credential given to so-called experts in Masonic ritual.  We need to get this out to the public.

Father Dietzen no longer responded. 

The full text of John Salza’s article is below:

Catholic Herald, 29 July 2000

Dietzen Mistaken in Column on Masonic Groups

This letter is in response to columnist Fr. John Dietzen’s conclusion in the May 4 Catholic Herald that Catholic women may join Masonic auxiliary groups. He bases his conclusion on Canon 36 which mandates a strict interpretation of singular administrative acts. I believe this conclusion is erroneous.

The Church’s many condemnations (about 28) of Freemasonry and Masonic principles are considered authentic Magisterial teaching on faith and morals and would therefore not be considered “singular administrative acts” to which Canon 36 would apply.

More importantly, the Church has condemned all Masonic associations, which would include auxiliary Masonic groups such as Order of the Eastern Star, Job’s Daughters for girls and DeMolay for boys. This was clearly provided by Pope Clement XII in the papacy’s first written condemnation of Masonry, In Enimenti, when he stated:

“We have resolved and decreed to condemn and forbid such societies, assemblies, reunions, conventions, aggregations or meetings called either Freemasonic or know other some other denomination. We condemn and forbid them by this, our present constitution, which is to be considered valid forever.”

The Church’s position was reiterated by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1983:

“Therefore, the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic associations remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.”

The above-mentioned auxiliary groups are Masonic associations. Therefore, they fall within the foregoing condemnations. To say that the Church has not condemned all Masonic associations, then, is to either say that the Eastern Star, Job’s Daughters, DeMolay, etc. are not Masonic associations (wrong), or that these condemnations are no longer valid (wrong).

To understand the Church’s teaching, the faithful must understand that these auxiliary groups espouse the same Masonic philosophy that has always been condemned by the Church (apostasy concerning the nature of God, religious indifferentism, eternal life based on works and morality, etc.). These principles are considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church. Therefore, the Catholic Church’s prohibition against Masonic associations does include Order of the Eastern Star, Job’s Daughters, DeMolay and any other society or assembly that is considered Masonic.

John Salza

(Salza is a former 32nd degree Mason.)

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4. A challenge from a "Catholic" Mason

Joe: John, as both a catholic and a freemason I will not provide you with my name because my church does mean a great deal to me and I have no desire to be excommunicated from it.

J. Salza: Does this mean that if you provided your name, you would risk excommunication? Since we both know the answer to that question is ‘yes,’ then why do you continue to be a Mason if “your church means such a great deal to you”?

Joe: With this said I have a few responses to some of your claims about masonry's supposed incompatability with christianity.

First, I would like to address masonry's indifferent nature and the reason for it. We are a group whose doors are open to men from any walk of life, rich or poor, old or young. Our sole requirement is that you be unanimously accepted into the lodge and that you believe in a supreme being. We do not require that men believe in a supreme being so that we can impress more beliefs upon them, but rather because we feel that no athiest can be held to his word. We COULD be a strictly catholic orginization, but then no protestants would join. We COULD be a strictly Christian orginization, but then the jewish would be left out. We could require members to profess their faith in Yahweh, but then hindu and muslem countries would not be able to practice masonry. My point here is that we do not combine everyone's beliefs, we give them the right to practice whatever religion they choose. There is a rule in masonry, you are not allowed to discuss politics or religion when in lodge. This rule is in place so that brothers do not discriminate against each other for their political or religious views.

Masonry has a unique challenge, we NEED our members to profess faith in a supreme being, but we want to be open to any man who is interested and worthy. When we invoke the blessing of deity at our meetings each man is expected to be giving silent prayer to whomever he believes in not to some composite god of masonry. When I bow my head at our short prayers I am praying to Yahweh, it is irrelevant who my brothers are praying to.

Indifferentism is heretical, I will not contest that. Masons practice TOLERANCE and it is interpreted as indifferentism by those who do not have the wisdom to seek both sides of the story.

J. Salza: Joe, the issue is not tolerance as you suggest, but indifferentism toward
God's revealed truth. The problem that Freemasonry has is that it has decided to cross the line and propose its belief in certain religious truths such as the resurrection of the body. If the organization only required a belief in God to get in the door, and then never mentioned God once you were inside, there would be little problem.

But Freemasonry does not do that. Freemasonry's whole focus is on God, the Great Architect of the Universe, and the good works it believes is necessary to get into the celestial lodge above. Like it or not, these are religious ideas that Freemasonry is advancing, and if it chooses to do so, then it better advance the supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ. But Freemasonry doesn't mention Christ because it is indifferent to Him. If you want to believe in Jesus, fine. But if you reject Him, that is okay to, since Freemasonry will tell you just the same that you will get into the celestial lodge above. This is incompatible with Christianity.

You said that when you pray to Yahweh, it is irrelevant to you who the other Masons are praying to. If only God felt that way, you would have an argument. Your comment evinces precisely the point that I am making. You and everyone else in the lodge room are indifferent to the truth about God as He has revealed in Jesus Christ. It makes no difference to you who is praying to whom, whether it be the true God or the great thumb. The most important thing to you is that you are all brothers.

I always found it odd that Masonry precludes “religious discussion” in the lodge room. However, Freemasonry’s rituals focus entirely upon “religion,” that is, its own views of God and eternal life. Masonry wants to exclude “sectarian” religious discussion in the lodge room because it doesn’t want any view to compete with its own universalistic view of salvation. That is why it precludes other religious views from being expressed in the lodge.

Joe: Let me give you an outside example. Does the catholic church renounce
the United States? They should by your reasoning! Does the phrase "One nation, under GOD..." ring a bell? How do you know that the god they are talking about is Yahweh and not a pagan god like zeus???? The USA allows citizens to be pagan if they choose, masons don't even allow members to be pagan yet all catholics in this country are members of it!

J. Salza: Does the United States have its own names for God and heaven, its own symbols for God and heaven, its own rituals, its own prayers, its own altar, its own feast days, its own calendar, and so on and so on? For you to compare the religion of Freemasonry to our government shows just how desperate you are in attempting to defend the indefensible. I can assure you that the Catholic Church condemns anything that the United States does that is contrary to the religion of Jesus Christ. In addition, your comment that Freemasonry does not allow pagans to be Masons is simply wrong. Any person who professes a belief in “deity” is welcomed into the bosom of Masonic fellowship. If you disagree, then please articulate for me the religious requirements for joining a lodge.

Joe: Since you claim to be an expert on christianity's incompatibility with masonry, I challenge you to suggest a solution by which masonry can be acceptable to the catholic church without sacrificing our requirement that members believe in God. If you can solve this, I PROMISE YOU that I will make it my life's work to see that the change is made or else renounce masonry.

J. Salza: I will be happy to answer your "challenge." If Freemasonry limited its teachings about God to only recognizing a belief in God as an admission requirement, and then said nothing about God in the lodge room, and did not require oaths, then there would be no problem. But this will never happen because Freemasonry is built upon these religious ideas. If you have studied anything about Masonry, you know that Freemasonry's most sublime degree, the third degree, is the culmination of Freemasonry's belief in resurrection of the body. Yet, Masonry requires no belief in Jesus Christ. Joe, this is a significant problem, and the main problem that caused me to leave the lodge. If you are going to advance a revealed truth (resurrection), then you have to tell the lodge brothers the whole truth (that resurrection only comes from Jesus Christ and His saving grace). Eliminating Christ from this teaching is heretical, because it distorts the truth and turns it into a half-truth, really a lie.

Joe: On to another comment of yours: "and place all religious writings along side the Bible on the Masonic altar. This is also demonstrated by the Lodge's prayers and its unique names and symbols for God and heaven"

I have never sat in a lodge where there was any book other than the Holy Bible opened. Other religious writings would be used in other countries where there are predominant religion is not christianity. The lodge's prayers and unique names and symbols are again so that no man will feel that he does not belong because of his different religion.

J. Salza: Joe, I hate to break the news to you, but Freemasonry’s invitation to have any religious writing on its altar is one of the most basic tenets of the craft. Moreover, I HAVE been in lodge rooms where other false books where placed side by side with God’s revealed Word in Sacred Scripture. The fact that you haven’t seen this doesn’t prove anything for you, other than you have not been around Freemasonry like I have.

Joe: Finally, you say: "These oaths require a Christian to swear on the Holy Bible that he will uphold a code of moral conduct that prefers Masons over non-Masons, and to preserve secret passwords and handshakes."

I will admit that this one is a little harder to defend but I will defend it. This is how. Tell me if you have ever known a catholic who has done any of the following to another catholic.

-Struck or did physical harm to a catholic
-Had ilicit carnal intercourse with a catholic's wife, mother, sister or daughter
-Knowingly cheat, wrong or defraud another catholic
-Revealed a secret told to a catholic in confidence
-Not immediately helped a catholic in danger

I ask you this because I have never known a mason who has violated any of the above which are taken from the master mason's obligation which I am aware that you have access to. I can however think of AT LEAST one catholic to fit into each category who has done one of the above against me personally. If any of these catholics had been masons, they would be no longer. We hold each other to a higher moral standard than any orginization does.

J. Salza: Joe, once again, you are trying to defend Freemasonry based upon your limited, personal experiences with fellow Masons. This proves nothing for you, nor does it demonstrate anything about what Freemasonry officially teaches. The fact that I know Masons who HAVE contravened these moral edicts neutralizes your argumentation. It is not about personal experiences, but about truth. Your argument also shows that you hold Freemasonry’s moral standards higher than those given by Jesus Christ to His Holy Church. This shows where your true allegiance is. You cannot serve both God and mammon. You are separating yourself from Christ and His Church more profoundly than you realize.

Regarding the oaths, they are immoral because their subject matter is trivial (preserving secret pass words and handshakes). When you invoke God's name in an oath, the subject matter must be grave; otherwise, the oath is trivial. This is basic moral theology. When you invoke God's name to witness the trivialities of Freemasonry, you are using God's name in vain. This amounts to blasphemy, which is a serious sin. If you want to argue that the subject matter of the oaths are serious, then you will have to still explain why Freemasonry requires oaths, when Jesus Christ never did. The Lord never required His disciples to swear trivial oaths promising to avoid sins such as fornication and adultery. The Scriptures warn against swearing such oaths. So if Jesus and the apostles warned against these oaths, then Freemasonry has no good reason to impose them.

Joe: You also say: Masons conspicuously avoid using their rituals to defend the Lodge against Christian opposition. This is because the rituals' teachings concerning God, salvation by works alone, resurrection and eternal life in the celestial lodge above are indefensible from a Christian perspective. The Mason's avoidance of using Masonic ritual to defend his craft becomes evident very quickly when one views the many Masonic web sites that have been created by Masons to defend Freemasonry.

I think I just gave a pretty good explanation using nothing but our ritual, values and goals. I would love to hear your response to the comments I have made because I sincerely believe that masonry has made me a better catholic and an overall better person. I am also positive that catholics could learn the same from masonry if they were allowed to participate in it. It breaks my heart that I cannot go back to the catholic school I graduated from and offer the faculty an absolutely free training seminar on the troubled teen recognition and intervention techniques paid for and conducted by masons that would have made a huge difference in the most difficult and painful hours of my life. I regret that many catholic teenagers will be depressed, alienated and prone to drug and alcohol abuse because the teachers are not informed on how and when to act against it. I would seriously consider accepting the penalty of excommunication to get this training to them if I was not sure that they would refuse it because it is offered by masons.

Would the elimination of masonry (which is what you would like to see done, correct me if I am wrong) and its acceptance of members with a wide range of beliefs be worth the loss of the nearly two million dollars contributed to charities (mostly schools and hospitals) DAILY by masons?

Please think this over and reconsider your shameful slander of our orginization and the mockery of our rituals and morals you have propagated.

When you are done with your considering, research Jaques DeMolay and the Knight's Templar and their connection to the Papacy of their time. What you will find is the source of the ancient grudge catholicism has against masonry.

God bless and please respond
-Joe

J. Salza: Joe, thanks for your email. Please allow me to respond. First, you stated that you “gave a pretty good explanation using nothing but our ritual,” but you did no such thing. You did not explain, using your rituals, why Freemasonry is able to teach about Masonic morality as bringing about eternal life without Christ. The only thing you have done is acknowledged the heretical teachings of Freemasonry. The only “mockery” of your rituals that I have exposed is the mockery they make of the teachings of Jesus Christ. And neither you nor any one of your Masonic brothers will be able to defend them.

Second, the “two million dollar a day” figure that Freemasonry claims to donate to charities on a daily basis is just that – an unsubstantiated claim. Why doesn’t Freemasonry open up its financial records to the public? The organization has been publicly exposed by several reporters who have investigated the craft’s financial dealings, most especially the Shriners (who reportedly had a track record of giving less than one percent of its revenues to charity, while the remaining revenues were spent on food, alcohol, Temple refurbishment, and costumes for Masonic rituals).

Even if Freemasonry did give substantial sums to charities, this does not mitigate the religious errors the organization advances. The Mormons and Jehovah’s Witness do a lot for charity as well, but you wouldn’t run off and join them, would you? To the extent Freemasonry does good works, those works should not be criticized. But if Freemasonry is so willing to go public with their good works, then why don’t they go public with their religious doctrines as well?

The only “grudge” that the Catholic Church has against Masonry is that Masonry teaches heresy about God and eternal life. I suppose this is the same grudge the Church has against Islam, Judaism and Protestantism. As a baptized Catholic, you are accountable before God by your obedience to the popes of Christ’s Church. I implore you to study the Church’s teachings on this issue and reconsider your position.

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5. My fiance wants to be a Mason

Christie: Hello there Mr. Salza.

This is is Christie again, I hope you remember me. I emailed you a while back about my fiance wanting to be a mason. I know that you two have been emailing each other and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for emailing him back. He told me about your email and I'm afraid that it's not enough. I'm asking that you can help me make him realize that masonry is not good. About the whole topic that masonry is a "religion" he doesn't agree and believe that. That's one of the things we argue about. As for me, I see what he sees. I don't understand much about this masonry either even after reading your article and other articles. I also still don't believe that it's a religion. If you could help me understand, maybe I can help my fiance understand as well. My fiance and I really haven't been talking about it because it just makes us get into an argument and it destroys us. We decided to not talk about it until he's ready to decide. If he decides to join, we will not get married and I'm afraid for that. We could really use your expertise as a great help. Please let me know when your book gets out so I can read it. Thank you again for your help. May God continue to bless you and your family.

In Christ,

Christie

J. Salza: Dear Christie.

I can understand what you are going through. There are many good men in Freemasonry. But we don't judge whether an organization's teachings are true based upon the conduct of its members. I am sure that there are many good men in Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons too, but we don't go around sanctioning what they teach.

The difficulty that you will have is that you don't know what Freemasonry teaches. That is because most of the teachings are secret, and the Masons swear under covenant oaths never to reveal what they have learned, even to their wives. Thus, there is necessarily a division between Masonic husbands and their wives, and this competes with the one-flesh union that God desires to bring about in a valid, sacramental marriage.

The other issue is that most Masons don't really know what the lodge teaches. That is because the rituals are generally written in secret ciphered text, and only those who spend a lot of time researching these things actually figure it out. I was one of those people. I became an expert in Masonic ritual and was authorized by my Grand Lodge to teach the rituals.

When my book is completed (Fall, 2006), it will reveal to the public exactly why Freemasonry is incompatible with Christianity. But even though this will be obvious, it is only by God's grace that men will see the light and leave the lodge. There are many men, no matter how obvious it is, who will not leave the lodge. My father is such a man. I have presented all the incompatibilities between the lodge and the Church using his own Masonic rituals, and he refuses to see it. He is blinded by Freemasonry. That is the power of the lodge. It brainwashes its members through its secrecy and oaths. Keep up the prayers. I will as well.

Christie: Mr. Salza, again, thank you for the enlightenment. I believe that freemasonry doesn't believe in Jesus Christ as Lord, unfortunately, I'm having a hard to really convince myself and my fiance that that's what freemasonry thinks. Because we are catholics, my future father-in-law is in freemasonry, and yet he believes that Jesus Christ is Lord and God. He practices Catholicism but also a master mason. He's a good man and so is his brother, who is also a mason. My future father-in-law is a devout catholic, the only thing he does not agree on is what they think about freemasonry and he has passed it down to my fiance. For myself, I am also having a hard time to believe that freemasonry is wrong. I know that the church is against it and so I am too because I know that I have to. I don't know all the details and would like to know more. I am anxious for your book to come out. I keep telling myself that freemasonry is wrong and is against our teaching but I still don't see things clearly. I just pray that things will be ok. Again, thank you for everything. Christie

J. Salza: Christie, another thing. This will be part of a chapter that I have in my book about Freemasonry. You stated that you question whether Freemasonry is a religion (even though the Church says it is). Please consider the following characteristics of Freemasonry. It has:

-its own names for God

-its own symbols for God

-its own names for heaven

-its own symbols for heaven

-its own altar

-its own soteriology (how to get to heaven)

-its own religious doctrines

-its own worship place (Temple)

-its own religious writings (book of the law)

-its own liturgical texts

-its own feast days

-its own calendar (6005 versus 2005)

-its own covenant oaths

-its own vestments for rituals

-its own organist, soloist, deacon, etc.

-its own benedictions and prayers

-its own funeral rites

-its own cosmology

-etc, etc.

I could think of more, but this should suffice. Needless to say, Freemasonry is much more than a fraternity. It is a religion, and a very formal one at that. When you look at these characteristics, ask yourself. What else would Freemasonry need to make it a religion? What is it lacking that doesn't make it one? Most religions have less formality than Freemasonry, and proudly call itself a religion. The only reason that Freemasonry doesn't publicly say it is a religion is because it would never recruit new members if it did. It only reveals to them what it is really about after they are consecrated to secrecy.

Grace be with you.

John Salza

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6. A dialogue with a "Christian" Freemason

Mason: Dear Brother John:

I truly understand your rejection of freemasonry, believe me when I say I do, for I myself was a staunch anti mason after 13 years in a Catholic school. I personally thought of masons as anti-christian, indecent persons who got together secretly to plot against the government and/or the Church.

J. Salza: My rejection of Freemasonry is not based on the decency or indecency of its members - many Masons are good men.  My rejection of Freemasonry is based upon the teaching of Jesus Christ's Church.  The Church's teaching is not primarily based on "plotting against the Church" (although that is the case with much of European, and particularly Italian Freemasonry) but because of the theological differences between Christianity and the lodge.  As Catholics, we have an authority to answer to, and it is not us; it is Christ and His Holy Catholic Church.  God will judge us accordingly.  The Catholic Church has unequivocally condemned Freemasonry beginning in 1738, with the latest condemnation being issued in 1983.  There is simply no way a Catholic can rationalize disobedience to the Vicar of Christ on this matter without putting himself in grave sin, which the 1983 declaration against Masonic Associations clearly sets forth.

Mason: That perspective changed, however, since I met father Alberto, who although is not a freemason himself, always attends our open tenures and even blesses the Lodge before opening. When I asked him if he considered an oxymoron to be a priest and a supporter of freemasonry, he said that freemasonry has brought him even closer to God and the teachings of Christ since freemasonry is an institution that preaches the gospel not by words but by deeds.

J. Salza: First, Father Alberto is not the pope or the Magisterium, so it does not matter what he says about the matter.  The Church has spoken.  Moreover, since he is a cleric, there is no excuse for his ignorance, assuming he is. I invite you to have Father Alberto contact me directly.  I will explain to him the Church's nearly 300 years of condemnations and their theological basis.  The fact is, Father Alberto only sees what is on the outside of the lodge, which looks good (fraternity, fellowship, good works, etc.).  Father does not see the rituals of the lodge (the oath swearing, the teachings of eternal life, the regeneration ceremony of Hiram Abiff, etc.).  I trust that if he did, he would be stunned. 

That is the deception of the lodge; it convinces people of its goodness by showing the externals, while it keeps its teachings secret.  This is how sinister Freemasonry is. It likes to cloak itself in Christian appearance, even inviting a priest to offer invocations to begin its meetings. But the lodge would never let the priest be present at its solemn and secret rituals which teach about resurrection and eternal life with no mention of Jesus Christ. Not unless the priest were to renounce his Catholicism and take the false oaths of Freemasonry. This is why the Shriners push to have “interfaith” gatherings with the Knights of Columbus. Masonry wants to appear acceptable to Catholic and Christian men. But you can’t mix the sacred with the profane. This is scandalous.

Why don't you give Father Alberto a copy of your lodge's ritual book, translated into English, especially the part about the bodily resurrection in the third degree?  Then let's see what Father Alberto thinks about Freemasonry. If you are really genuine about your search for the truth, share this with Fr. Alberto.  Or have him visit my website, since I have all the Masonic rituals available there as well. Then let us see if Fr. Alberto still thinks that Freemasonry is “preaching the gospel.” I can assure, whatever gospel it is preaching, it is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Mason: The words that convinced me that freemasonry is truly a fraternity blessed by God were "When Jesus said love thy neighbor, he didn't mean your christian neighbor, he meant everyone, including non-Christian believers.

J. Salza: You are creating a big problem for yourself here, by quoting our Lord Jesus, since the lodge deliberately removes all references to Jesus from its rituals. Why?  Because it does not regard Christ as the unique Savior of the world.  It seeks fellowship over truth.  As St. Paul says, what do Christ and Belial have in common?  What fellowship does light have with darkness? The Lord says, "come out and be separate from them." You can’t “love thy neighbor” without telling him the truth. You can’t truly love your lodge brothers while allowing them to remain in darkness.

Mason: After that tenure I went to read the gospel and I stumbled upon the part when an angry mob was about to maim jesus for him saying that God was not only the God of Israel but the God of all humanity, indifferentism??, I don't think so.

J. Salza: No one is saying that God is not the God of all humanity.  What we are
saying is that the God of humanity decided to reveal Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, is eternally begotten Son, through whom (and only through whom) is salvation.  Christianity holds Christ to be the exclusive means of salvation for all of humanity.  Freemasonry says, "take Christ or leave Christ, but you can still attain the celestial lodge above by being a good Mason."  This is heretical by the standards of any Christian church.

Mason: Jesus was only saying that God loves all humanity not only the ones that follow his Church and that my brother is the pillar of freemasonry.

J. Salza: Again, you are confusing the issue. No one is saying God does not love all people.  The Church is saying that because God loves all people, He has sent His Son to save us from eternal damnation, which you and I were born into and would be subject to without the infinite merits of Jesus Christ.  By telling all Masons that they will gain eternal life in the celestial lodge above, no matter what religion they profess (no matter how evil or erroneous), Freemasonry disregards the truth of Christ, and turns the truth of salvation into a lie. It actually shows a LACK of love for your fellow Masonic brethren.

Moreover, Masonic ritual never says that “God loves all humanity.” You say that this is the “pillar of Freemasonry,” but the rituals say no such thing. Freemasonry doesn’t say God loves humanity because the god of the lodge is an impersonal, deistic, Grand Architect of the Universe who has no interaction with human beings, much less any love for them. I have performed every role in all three Masonic degrees, and no where does the ritual say anything about God loving anyone or anything. If you want to tap into God’s love for humanity, then the answer is Jesus Christ (the name that is deliberately excised from the Masonic rituals that, according to you, teach about “God’s love for humanity”).

Mason: As for the fact that you said that freemasonry accepts people that aren't Christians I suppose you also quit your job because someday you might have to represent someone in court who isn't christian and also your citizenship because the government is indifferent to religion and gives equal status to Christians and non-Christian.

J. Salza: Once again, representing someone in court has nothing to do with participating in religious rituals that speak of eternal life without Christ. Neither the government nor my employer require me to swear oaths with self-curses to uphold principles that are indifferent to the Christian religion, so your analogy makes absolutely no sense.

Regarding Father Alberto's quote: "This means, it is true that one religious sect is as good as any other." Fr. Alberto claims that the Second Vatican Council taught this, and he couldn't be any more wrong.  No where in any of the 16 documents of Vatican II, nor any other council, or teaching of any pope in 2,000 years, does the Church say that "one religious sect is as good as any other."  In fact, I could provide you encyclical after encyclical from pope after pope that expressly condemns this statement.  This statement is the exact definition of "indifferentism" - one religion is as good as any other. Evidently, Fr. Alberto believes that Masonry is practicing it. Of course, Fr. Alberto is correct, since indifferentism is the basis for the Church’s condemnation of Freemasonry. 

Again, I invite you to have Fr. Alberto contact me.  If you provide me a phone number, I will be glad to contact him at my expense.  I will also be happy to share all the rituals with him, so that he can understand the Church's position on the matter.  Please let me know.

Grace be with you.

John Salza

Mason: I think you have misunderstood my e-mails. Fr. Alberto is a Jesuit priest, he actually read the ritual book and said that many rituals are very similar to the Jesuit degree system. He also tols several brothers that the Jesuits actually helped form the 32 degrees of the Scottish Rite! Moving on, I can see clearly how you pulled away from the lodge. You probably read the letter that Cardinal Ratzinger wrote to the sacred congregation of the faith, maybe I'm wrong but many of your accusations are similar to this letter. You must remember that Ratzinger is also an Opus Dei member and has a personal vendetta against freemasons for killing John Paul I, which is true but as you mentioned earlier Italian freemasonry is not regular freemasonry. Now let take a few minutes to take a look at your accusations one by one.

J. Salza: First, we as Catholics are accountable to God on the basis of our obedience to the Church, not to particular Cardinals or bishops or priests.  It really doesn't matter what they say.  The Church has condemned Freemasonry, just as every other Christian church who has investigated her teachings.  The Ratzinger "letter" that you refer to was not a "letter," but an official declaration from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith who has the God-given charism to teach, guard and protect the Church's deposit of faith.  Cardinal Ratzinger wrote the condemnation, and Pope John Paul II approved its publication. You are bound in conscience to obey the declaration; if you don't, you are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.  You can rationalize all you want that you don't have to follow it, but the Church's Magisterium, as well as her canon law, say you do, and you will be judged by God accordingly.

Regarding the Jesuits, Fr. Mitch Pacwa is a renowned Jesuit priest who offered to write the Foreward to my book on Freemasonry. Fr. Pacwa fully endorses my position on Freemasonry and would laugh at your claims about the Jesuits and the Scottish Rite. If you are really going to advance such incredulous argumentation, please provide me with the authorities from whence you are getting your information.

Mason: Taking oaths: First of all is ironic that you being a catholic you condemn oaths since catholicism is the one religion which demands most oaths. Isn't marriage an oath, isn't confirmation an oath, isn't the ordination of priests, bishops and cardinals oaths? Now for the penalties you obviously know they are simbolic since Christian influence on freemasonry was such that symbolism was incorporated, since as you know jesus always spoke in metaphors and allegories, most of which were not to be taken literally for I know for sure you are not writing to me without a heart, without a throat and definitely not without the bottom part of your body.

J. Salza:  You should read a book on the moral theology of oath-taking.  Freemasonry's oaths are illicit because they concern trivial matters (keeping secret words and handshakes), which do not give rise to the necessity of an oath. This is why other organizations like the KofC do not require its members to swear oaths to God; they only require them to take fraternal pledges, which is much different.  Moreover, Freemasonry attaches self-curses to the oaths, which makes them even more sinful, since either the oath-taker is worthy of suffering such dire consequences for his breach, or the self-curse and the oath itself, is just a sham.  This puts Masons into the proverbial catch-22.  To declare that the oaths are not to be taken seriously must then mean that the Godliness and morality that Freemasonry seeks cannot be taken seriously either.

Mason: The ever present third degree: I have heard the same accusation over and over again, the third degree is the allegorical representation of the death of hiram habiff. He was maimed and killed by three fellow craftsmen and taken to a mountain where he was buried, the next day king solomon asked nine master masons to look for him and only found his decaying body. THAT ALL!!! After that the candidate is lifted not representing resurrection but the welcoming into a brotherhood after a rite of passage. The candidate is in no way resurrected, the other brothers just can't leave him on the floor.

J. Salza: You obviously don't know Masonic ritual as well as you think you do. I do. I was a Proficiency Cardholder for my Grand Lodge, receiving the credential faster than anyone in my state.  Take a look at the third degree (even on my website).  Literally, H.A. was reinterred, but symbolically he was raised to the celestial lodge above. That is the essence of the third degree. You obviously have not even taken a look at the Landmarks from Mackey et. al, or read the Masonic Bible that they presumably gave you, all of which attest to the third degree's symbolic representation of the resurrection of the body.  In fact, just start by reading your jurisdiction's manual of Masonic ritual.  For most Masons, admitting that the third degree teaches about the lodge's faith in the resurrection of the body is just to painful.  They thus avoid it like the plague.  But it is in black and white.

If this weren't true, then you would be arguing that the highest and most sublime degree of Freemasonry is nothing more than a story about a murder and a funeral.  Tell me, what would be the point?

Why don’t you go to the third degree ritual I have on my website and read the section on the resurrection ceremony? After you read it, tell me if there are any inaccuracies in my presentation (I will warn you, the ritual is approved by all the Grand Lodges in the United States). Your problem won’t be with the ritual, but with the fact that you won’t be able to defend your position in light of it.

Mason: Catholic history 101: Like you said the Vatican has condemned freemasonry for over 300 years. Let take a look back shall we? The Grand Lodge of England was founded in 1717, the vatican remained silent; anderson's constitution was made public in 1723, silence again. It wasn't until 1738 when pope clement XII began the excommunication of freemasonry. Why? even the most brilliant of canonical doctors can't seem to find an answer, the vatican only said for "reasons known to us", they didn't mentioned any accusation like yours, again in the 1917 and 1983 the excommunication was based on plotting against the Church not fo our rituals or our practices.

J. Salza: This is fallacious reasoning. Are you really arguing that since there were 21 years between the creation of the Grand Lodge of England and Pope Clement’s condemnation, the condemnation is not authoritative? Tell me, how quickly should Clement have issued the condemnation for it to be valid? Within ten years, one year, immediately? Does this mean that the Immaculate Conception is not true, since Pope Pius IX didn’t dogmatize until 1900 years after it actually occurred?

This argument actually reveals that you know the Church has condemned Freemasonry, but are trying to sneak out from under the condemnation. This makes you culpable for your ongoing disobedience of the condemnations you know are authoritative. “Procedure” can’t get you out of this one.

Another thing.  I would bet that you have not read one word of any of the 20-some papal condemnations of Freemasonry on the grounds that the lodge's theological teachings are incompatible with the Catholic faith, and not because Masonry plots against the Church. Here is some “Catholic History 101” for you:  READ the documents before you carelessly form your biased conclusions.  It is obvious that you haven't.  If you want to be a Masonic apologist, then fight your fight by at least reading the documents. Don't be deliberately ignorant, which is part and parcel of the Masonic approach. It is easier to be ignorant and do what you want, than to meet the Church's teachings head-on, for that may require you to change your life.

Finally, the Church’s condemnations are principally for indifferentism, syncretism and false oaths, not “plotting against the Church,” so this won’t save you. There are multiple canons under the 1983 code that sanction Catholic Masons, irrespective of whether or not they deliberately plot against the Church. Nevertheless, any organization that denies the unique and exclusive claims of Christianity would surely be considered “against the Church,” especially one that requires its members to swear binding oaths and keep its doctrines secret.

Grace be with you.

Mason: Leaving Jesus out of it: To begin let's just say that G.A.O.T.U is something different for every brother, to some is allah, to others is budda, for me is Jesus Christ, the one who died for my sins, even though I can't speak of religion in the Lodge (just like I can't in a public school, government building, local business) nothing prevents me from praying to Jesus silently in my mind which is what I do every time someone names GAOTU.

P.S.: Please write me on your reply to cardinal mahoney's (not just padre
alberto) opinion on freemasonry

God bless you brother (in Christ) john.

J. Salza: Thank you for affirming that the GAOTU represents the gods of the world’s religions. Thank you for affirming that the GAOTU does not exclusively represent the Triune God of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. You have just articulated the problem better than I could have. Jesus said that we must confess Him before men, or He will not confess us before His heavenly Father. If you aren’t confessing Christ in the lodge room out of respect for your Masonic brothers, you are doing so out of disrespect for Him. I pray that God gives you the wisdom to embrace the only “way, truth and life,” Jesus our Lord.

Grace be with you.

John Salza

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7. Masonic oaths and the Knights of Columbus

Michelle: I'm highly interested in obtaining your book.  My husband is convinced that the Masonic lodge is nothing more than a benevolent, charitable "club". He swears that "once a Mason, always a Mason".  He made it to the third degree but is now a Catholic.  While he has no dealings with a lodge nor pays dues, he still swears allegiance because he took the "oaths".  I don't know what to say in response other than you can't be a Catholic and a Mason.  Can you help if you have the time?  Thank you in advance, - Michelle

J. Salza: Dear Michelle:

Thank you for your email.  This book will be very helpful to you and your husband (it should be out in 2006).  Your husband will find it credible because it was written by me, a former 32nd degree Mason.  I disclose all the secret rituals that your husband will not reveal, which demonstrates that Freemasonry is incompatible with the Catholic faith.

Freemasonry promotes indifferentism, which is the belief that all religions are equally valuable and profitable for gaining eternal life.  Of course, if this were true, then God would not have sent His Son to die on a cross to save us.  Freemasonry, in its third degree, teaches its belief in the resurrection of the body (through a symbolic, allegorical drama where they murder and then raise from the dead a fictitious character called Hiram Abif).  But you don't have to be a Christian to be a Mason.  Therefore, Freemasonry believes that Jesus Christ is not necessary to its belief in resurrection.  It says take Jesus or leave Jesus, but you can still be a good Mason, and can still be raised to eternal life.  This is heretical.

The oaths your husband took are also gravely sinful, because they are administered under self-curses, and require men to swear about trivial matters (such as not having sex with another Master Mason's wife, mother, sister or daughter).  Such oaths are never proper; invoking God to witness such triviality is blasphemous, especially when they are taken under symbolic penalties like having your throat cut across and your tongue torn out by its roots.

Your husband should also know that the Church has declared Catholics who join Masonry to be in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.  If your husband receives communion, he is committing the serious sin of sacrilege.  The only way he can reconcile himself with the Church is to go to confession and renounce his Masonic membership.

I would be pleased to talk to you sometime.  I am leaving for vacation but will be back the week of December 7, if you care to leave me another email, I will call you.

God bless.

Michelle: One more quick question please!

How does Mason's oaths differ from the secret oaths of the Knights of Columbus?  This is also another  question frequently thrown in my face. Your answer to this question will be VERY greatly appreciated.  Thank you in advance and may God bless you in abundance for your work in this area!  I am very grateful! - Michelle

J. Salza: Michelle, I can speak first hand to your question because I took both of them.

Freemasonry imposes an oath, and the Kof C requires a fraternal pledge. There is a big difference.

1.  An oath requires the oath-taker to invoke God to witness the promise being made, and subjects the oath-taker to God's divine promise.  This is evidenced by the phrase "I solemnly swear" and "so help me God."  The KofC does not have this language.  Freemasonry does, because Masonry uses oaths, not pledges.

2.  The Masonic oaths are not read to the candidate in advance, so he really doesn't know what he will be required to promise.  The KofC pledge is read to the candidate in advance.

3.  Freemasonry's oaths are also imposed with self-curses (having my throat cut across, and my tongue torn out, etc.)  These self-curses mean that the candidate is worthy of the mutilation and death that the penalties symbolize if he ever fails to keep his oath.  This also means that Freemasonry takes its business very seriously - they can't just call their organization a social club, otherwise they wouldn't require oaths with self-curses.  If they say its all a joke, then they are calling God to witness a lie, which is blasphemous.  This also makes their search for godliness and morality also a joke.

These oaths are gravely sinful, and can only be absolved in a sacramental confession.  I will talk about these oaths in depth in my book.

I will try to call you soon.  I am busy traveling the next two weeks but will try my best.

God bless.

John Salza

NOTE: The Christian religion says we cannot bear false witness, which includes swearing illicit and immoral oaths to God, such as Freemasonry requires of its members, especially when such oaths include a self-curse.

For those who accuse ex-Masons of bearing false witness, the burden is on them to show where we are lying about Freemasonry's rituals.  The fact is, Masons cannot demonstrate we are lying, and thus by attacking the credibility of former Masons (instead of their arguments), they expose themselves even more.  We are presenting Freemasonry's rituals just as they are, and letting the world decide whether the pan-religion of Freemasonry is compatible with the true religion of Jesus Christ.

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8. What does canon law say about Freemasonry?

Gino: John, I heard that canon law no longer prohibits membership in Freemasonry. Is this true?

J. Salza: Gino, I will cut and paste from the FAQ on my website to answer your question:

The Church, through its Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has formally declared that Catholics who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.  This , which is the most recent teaching of the Church, has affirmed nearly 300 years of papal pronouncements against Freemasonry on the grounds that the teachings of the Lodge are contrary to Catholic faith and morals.

The Church’s declaration on Freemasonry exposes Catholic Masons to a number of penalties under canon law. For example, a Catholic who is aware that the Church authoritatively judges membership in Freemasonry to be gravely sinful must not approach Holy Communion (c. 916). The Church imposes the duty upon all grave sinners not to make a sacrilegious communion. Such a Catholic Mason who is aware of the grave sin must receive absolution in a sacramental confession before being able to receive communion again, unless there is a grave reason and no opportunity to confess (c. 916). This confession, in order to be valid, also requires the Catholic Mason to renounce his Masonic membership.

Further, because membership in Freemasonry is an external or public condition, the Catholic Mason can be refused Holy Communion by the pastors of the Church for obstinately persevering in his Masonic membership (c. 915). Such a Catholic Mason would also be forbidden from receiving the Anointing of the Sick (c. 1007) as well as ecclesiastical funeral rites if public scandal were to result (c. 1184, §1, °3).

Canon 1364 also imposes an automatic excommunication upon apostates, heretics, or schismatics. This canon could also apply to Catholic Masons. If, for example, a Catholic Mason embraced the theological teachings of Freemasonry that the Church has condemned (indifferentism, syncretism), he would be in heresy by virtue of his belief in these teachings. Further, if a Catholic Mason knew the Church opposes membership in Freemasonry, and yet adamantly and persistently refused to submit to the pope’s authority in precluding his membership in the Lodge, he may also find himself in schism. Catholic Masons could also be subject to canon 1374 which imposes an interdict or just penalty upon those who join associations that plot against the Church.

For the canonical penalties to apply, the Catholic Mason would have to act in a gravely imputable way (that is, the Catholic would have to be aware of the Church’s teaching on Freemasonry and, after being warned about it, choose to disregard it). In my personal experience, a fair number of Catholic Masons do act in a gravely imputable way in regard to their Masonic membership. In these cases, the canonical penalties, including excommunication, apply. The Church's penalties are not meant to alienate the person on whom the penalty is levied. Instead, the penalties are meant to communicate to the person the gravity of his conduct, encourage his repentance and reconciliation with the Church, and bring him back into the one fold of Christ. After all, the mission of the Church is the salvation of souls.

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9. A message from an inquiring Freemason

Craig: Mr. Salza:

I have been looking into the Catholicism as opposed to being a Lutheran and considering what you said in your reply. I am also a Freemason, after joining a lodge I began to look into joining a Church which I did.

I have never heard of a plan for salvation from anyone, most of the members belong to Churches and are active in them. I have never heard of any universal religion either. 

Craig

J. Salza: Dear Craig

Thanks for your email.  I don't know how involved you are with Freemasonry, or how much you have studied its rituals.  I spent over three years in Freemasonry, and became an expert in Masonic ritual (performing all the degrees, lectures, etc. of the Worshipful Master and other officers).  As I became more educated about Freemasonry, I realized that the Catholic Church, as well as the Lutheran, and every other Christian church condemns it.  This was a big surprise to me at first, but I really wanted to know the truth about Masonry, and why there was so much opposition to it.  I also found out that thousands of Christian men like you and me left the lodge for Jesus Christ.

I will have a book about this topic out by the end of next year.  It will explain everything.  If you send me your phone number, I will also be happy to call you and speak to you about it.  Freemasonry promotes indifferentism which is the heretical belief that all religions are good, okay to be in, and that they all lead to God.  This is not true.  God has revealed to us one religion through His only begotten Son, who died for us to save us from our sins.  For example, Masonry will put any pagan writing side by side with the Holy Bible on its Masonic altar.  If a Hindu, or Buddhist, or Shintoist Mason is present, there pagan writings take center stage in the lodge room, along with God's revealed written word.  To place false pagan writings on par with the Sacred Scriptures is sacrilegious, and a terrible insult to God. 

When you were presented with the apron in the first degree, they told you the apron exemplified "the purity of life and conduct necessary to get to the celestial lodge above."  So Masonry teaches that good conduct gets you to heaven.  But it fails to mention anything about Jesus Christ, who is the "Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by me." (John 14:6).  We are able to go to heaven, to be in union with the Blessed Trinity forever, only by the grace of God, not by our conduct.  But Masonry says nothing about grace which was won for us by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. 

In the third degree, the whole ceremony is centered on the Masonic faith in the resurrection of the body.  But, again, nothing about Jesus, who is the one who revealed the Resurrection to humanity.  This is heresy.  Masonry embodies a religious system of false teachings.  When you mix truth with error, you only get error.  Masonry gives its members the impression that they are okay where they are, that if they live a life of Masonic virtue, they will go to heaven.  This is not true, and contrary to Jesus Christ's commission to us to preach His word to all creation.  The oaths you swore in the lodge are also false and blasphemous, and warrant God's condemnation, because they take God's name in vain over trivial matters, over subject matter that should not be part of an oath, or over immoral matters (swearing not to have sex with a Master Mason's wife, mother sister or daughter; what about non-Masonically affiliated women?) Freemasonry is therefore contrary to the Christian faith.

I hope you prayerfully consider your continued union with Freemasonry.  If I can be of further assistance, please let me know.

God bless.

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10. A dialogue with an angry Freemason

Paul: Came across some of your writings on a web site.  What crap! You must be doing to get some attention on radio or something.  Do you think you understant the teachings. You know it is not a Religion!  Why say it is?   Just goes to show how some people are.  But, to use the catholic religion to preach ?? I am suprised they let you? Maybe they don't know?

Keep up the stupidy

J. Salza: If you choose to defend Freemasonry, than please do it by using the rituals.  Just as I have criticized Freemasonry using its rituals.  Otherwise, that just tells me that you can't defend Freemasonry. That, to me, is “stupidy” (sic).

Thanks and God bless.

John Salza

Paul: Thanks for responding. Do you really think the group is all that bad?  You had such problems- you have to go do things you are doing to prove what?  Why after your time spent, are you so upset with it. Seems a little strange.  I think you may be looking for a little notority by doing what you are doing. I do not need to defend fremasonry, it takes care of its self, and has for many years.  It just bothers me to see someone so down on it when I know it does a lot of good for a lot of people.  I think, if someone was to look at any organization, including the catholic groups, methodist,  jewish, and such,  one could surely find something to complain about.  Don't you think?

Regards,

Paul

J. Salza: Dear Paul.

I am not criticizing Freemasonry for the good it does.  Many groups do good for the community.  The issue is not what good it does, but what it teaches.  Freemasonry has been condemned by every Christian church who has investigated its teachings, and this should alarm you.  The problem with Freemasonry is that it promotes indifferentism - the erroneous belief that all religions are good.  Masonry also espouses the belief that all Masons can get to the celestial lodge above, irrespective of their belief in Jesus Christ.

However, it is only by virtue of Christ's death and resurrection that we can get to heaven, and Freemasonry denies, or at a minimum, ignores this truth.  Freemasonry is indifferent to truth.  It believes that all truths are relative.  But God cannot be happy with this, because He has chosen to definitively reveal Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, the only "way, truth and life."  Freemasonry does not require its members to believe in Jesus as it teaches about how living a life of Masonic virtue can bring them to heaven.  This is why Freemasonry and Christianity are irreconcilable.

God bless.

John

Paul: OK, I see where you are going. You are taught to believe one way, and like many people, it's the only way you know.  If it's not about Jesus, it can't be right.  Your religion is the only one that is possible to be correct.

As you know, Masonry is not a Religion, although you say it is, which is another sore spot with me. You should not say things that are not true-should you?  Has anyone in lodge tried to preach to you or change your beliefs or religion?  I think not.  They respected you for you thoughts Why don't you just go about your religous beliefs and forget about Masonry and putting it down ??  What is it you are attemting to do?

You are a hopeless case.

Good Luck !

Paul

J. Salza: Paul, first let's not even discuss the Catholic faith, because ALL Christian religions have condemned Freemasonry, not just the Catholic Church.  This should be alarming to you if you are a Christian. 

Second, you say that Freemasonry is not a religion.  Then please explain to me why Masonry teaches its belief in the resurrection of the body in its third degree.  Paul, bodily resurrection is a religious teaching.  Moreover, not all religions even believe in bodily resurrection, yet Masonry invites all religions into its membership.  This proves that Masonry has a religious teaching that is independent of the religious faiths of its members.  This is called religion.  You can't get around this by trying to label Masonry something else.  In fact, your own Masonic authors have called Masonry the universal religion.  This is why every Christian church that has investigated the teachings of the lodge have not yet failed to condemn it. 

I, like many hundreds of Christian men who have left the lodge, are trying to bring this truth to others, just as all the Christian churches have done.  I have had literally hundreds of dialogues with Masons, and not one of them could successfully defend the lodge against the Christian arguments we pose.  Freemasonry can call itself religious, but not religion, but that is like saying that Paul is intellectual, but has no intellect.  That is just a play on words.  Any organization that worships God according to a ritual system and has religious teachings (which are not even universal) is a religion.

God bless.

John Salza

Paul: Dear John,

Like a lawyer, you twist things to justify yourself. Actually, it's really quite simple; it has nothing to do with Oaths or Penalties:  You made a promise to someone; you broke that promise.  No one forced you to make that promise; you VOLUNTARILY made the promise.  YOU LIED. YOU BROKE GOD'S COMMANDMENT.

It's simple:  Someone took you into their confidence; another Child of God; they asked you to keep a secret, nothing harmful or illegal, and you agreed; and then, unilaterally, you reveal the secret.  It doesn't matter that it is considered, now, by you to be unworthy of your confidence; YOU PROMISED; YOU LIED. You didn't NEED to reveal that which you had; to keep silent would not have harmed you or anyone else. YOU PROMISED; YOU LIED.  You are not a man of honor; you are not a true Christian; you are not worthy of ANY TRUST.

As a lawyer, I could not trust you to keep a confidence; for what I tell you today in confidence, you may very well reveal to someone else tomorrow because you may see the world differently than you did when you promise me to keep my secret.  NO ONE CAN TRUST YOU.  The vow you made to your wife is WORTHLESS; the oath you took as an officer of the court is of NO VALUE. YOU ARE A LIAR, plain and simple.

Forget that BS you wrote to J L Mason: YOU PROMISED; YOU LIED. I feel sorry for your clients; I feel sorry for any bank that lends you money; I feel sorry for the Knights of Columbus, should you join them; I feel sorry for your wife; I feel sorry for any children you have or may have. YOU PROMISE; YOU LIE.

You have no honor.  You have no sense of decency.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation will do you no good whatsoever.  You must open your heart to God and confess your transgressions against your fellow man. But YOU LIE - to yourself, to others and to God. 

And you wonder why few have confidence in Lawyers and the Legal System. You have selected the right profession for a two-faced, double-talking, self-justifying LIAR.  You are perfectly suited for destroying a profession which once was honorable but now is held in contempt; a profession, and a world, which needs men whose word is good.  But, instead, it gets a man like you; another taker instead of a giver. And saddest and most ironic aspect is that the person you lie most frequently to is: YOURSELF.

I shall pray for you.

J. Salza: I've heard this all before.  Dishonor, lies, etc. etc.  This is just smoke and mirrors that Masons put up while they avoid addressing the real issue - the morality of their oaths.  You, like your Masonic brothers, have failed to provide a defense of the illict and immoral oaths the Lodge requires of its members.  You have failed to do this because the Masonic oaths are indefensible from a Christian perspective.  You can't defend them against the charges of blasphemy and sacrilege. In fact, “you choose not to defend them.”

Instead, you present your case by using ad hominem arguments (that is, attacking the messenger, and not the message).  You want to make those who left Freemasonry for Jesus Christ guilty for doing so. Unfortunately for you, not only is this not going to work, but the only guilt that you should be concerned about is your own, for God will impose upon you the full punishment for your guilt on judgment day if you continue to deny His Son in the lodge room.

It really is obvious that you have no defense for Freemasonry; that is why you attack me and my credibility. You can't address the substance of the errors of Freemasonry because if you faced them head-on, you would be forced to make a choice - Freemasonry or Jesus Christ.  I chose Jesus.  He is the one who is dishonored in your lodge room.  He is the one who is offended as your lodge offers prayers to the GAOTU around an altar that welcomes any pagan religious writing to take an equal place with His written revealed Word.  He is the one who will judge those who freely bind themselves by immoral oaths to an organization that teaches its members can get to heaven by living a life of Masonic virtue, irrespective of God's grace which has been made available to us only through the death and Resurrection of Christ.  But you have a different savior, Hiram Abif.

Spare me your judgments about lying and dishonor. I am only concerned about how God sees me, not you. Instead, take a look at your Masonic rituals and what your Masonic brothers have written about Freemasonry.  As Christ said, you cannot serve God and mammon.  I have chosen to follow Jesus Christ, just like the many hundreds of Christian men who leave the lodge each year.  That is also why every other Christian church has condemned Freemasonry.

Grace be with you.

John Salza

Paul:  No, Sir, it is I who am wasting MY time.  I will NOT quote Masonic Ritual to or with you. And YOU will not answer my questions about a religion that has sewn death, destruction, animosity and hatred for centuries - all in the name of CHRIST! A religion that teaches you that to LIE to another is acceptable if that person or group doesn't fit your standards. We do not teach Faith in the way which you use it and you seem to use it as an expletive when you relate it to Masonry.  Because we invite those whose religious beliefs do not include bodily resurrection into our Lodge Room we are now a religion?  Interesting but illogical.  That conclusion, in itself, requires a great leap of Faith.  As you, an educated man, no doubt understand, but are unwilling to admit, any initiatory rite, even the Boy Scouts, requires choices and these choices were made by men who shared a common cultural and religious (Judeo-Christian) background.  It should not be a complete surprise that such a significant aspect would be chosen.  If I'm not mistaken, even college fraternities have such lessons, including Resurrection, in their rituals.

J. Salza: Paul, the Boy Scouts don’t have a death-and-resurrection rite. The boy scouts don’t have their own names and symbols for God and heaven. The boy scouts don’t claim that its members will get to heaven by being good scouts. I am also not aware of any fraternity that has these characteristics. It’s too bad that you can’t drawn any kind of analogy to your Masonic organization; it stands on its own, naked to the world, and will be judged accordingly.

Paul: You may be offended because you consider that the exclusive province of your church (or Christian churches) but it elemental to those in a Judeo-Christian culture. Remember the source: the Old Testament. An Old Testament that is rife with foreshadowing of a Death and Resurrection of the Saviour. (A Saviour whose actions did not meet those anticipated by the Jews, especially the Jews of the  "Establishment".) Masonry thrived and still thrives in a Judeo-Christian culture. You admit that we DO bring together men of varied countries, religions and opinions. Something that YOU do NOT do, nor your religion.

J. Salza: Are you arguing that Freemasonry is really a Jewish organization? I doubt it, since it also welcomes Christians as members. But remember, Christians believe that the OT allusions to resurrection have been fully revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, who is the resurrection and the life. So appealing to the OT to defend Masonry’s teaching on resurrection can’t help you, since Freemasonry denies that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the resurrection foreshadowed in the OT.

Paul: But Masonry, since its re-organization in the early 1700's in Christian Europe, reflects the commonality of belief of the men who restored it. Men who were Christians; men whose past included the building of the great Cathedrals of Europe. Yet they were inclusive enough to allow others who did not share that cultural background to enter. You, in contrast, want the world narrowly defined to a "Christ-based" system. A Christ-based system like your's, not another Christ-based system. You are still unable to fully "accept" other Christians as "True" Christians, a fact you so conveniently ignored from my last message. And like the Jews who failed to comprehend the Lessons of Christ, you fail to realize the Lessons of Masonry.

J. Salza: What do you mean, “my Christ-based system,” and not “another Christ-based system”? Are there two “Christ-based systems”? Unfortunately for you, not only is there only one “Christ-based system” (it’s called being baptized into and remaining in the Catholic Church until death), but even if there were multiple “Christ-based systems,” Masonry eliminates any and all references to Christ from its rituals! So it’s not me who is trying to interpret a certain Christian perspective in the rituals of Freemasonry. Masonry has already eliminated that possibility.

Paul: Symbolically Aeneas and Odysseus were brought back bodily from Death; both pre-date Christ.

J. Salza: Are you now saying that Freemasonry is really practicing a version of the pagan mystery religions? If you are, I would agree with you. This is most evidenced in the Hiramic legend of the third degree.

Paul: And just because we believe in a bodily resurrection, it is not through membership in our organization that such will be achieved or realized. Can you state that Masons taught you that Salvation flows from Masonry?  You cannot because we do not.  We leave each man to find Salvation in the way he chooses.  And that, largely, bothers you because we do not endorse Christianity; but which form of Christianity should we embrace or endorse?  Yours or mine? Or your neighbor's or my neighbor's? It is people like you who are so committed to Christ that they forget His "real" teaching.  You also need to hide behind your religion to absolve yourself from your LIE to your fellow man. You seek to connect us to being teachers of Christianity so that you may attack us; and you attack us if we are not. It is a no-win situation for us.  If we teach Christianity, we are a religion; if we do not, we are a group of pagans. It's like how people like you would determine if a person were a "witch": if she drowned, she was not guilty; if she did not, she was guilty and was burned at the stake!  Nice choice – but you wind up dead either way.  Just like with your thinking - damned if you are a religion and damned if you're not!  How convenient for you. You are clever but disingenuous.

J. Salza: Let me try to untangle this mess. First, Freemasonry DOES claim that through the practice of Masonic virtue, eternal life will be realized. Every Mason is taught this in the Entered Apprentice apron address. Second, Jesus never left “each man to find salvation the way he chooses.” Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). So you have just admitted that Freemasonry’s teaching is contrary to Jesus’ teaching. Third, I never accused Masons of “being teachers of Christianity.” I am arguing just the opposite. Freemasonry’s teachings are contrary to Christianity. You are setting up a straw man so you can knock it down. My point has always been this: if you are going to teach about bodily resurrection, then you must teach about Jesus Christ, who is the resurrection and the life. If you deliberately omit Christ from the teaching, you are teaching only a partial truth, which, in this case, is the same thing as a lie.

Paul: I also note an absence of comment re: the murderous past of the Christian religion, all of which stems from men who do not understand Christ and who too narrowly define a God whom they do not, nor will ever, understand.  Men who do not understand the meaning of the word "Charity".  Men who are looking so closely at the splinter in their Brother's eye to notice the log in their own. Men who act more like Pharisees and Saducees than like Christ, who rebuked them.

J. Salza: I was waiting for the “murderous past of the Christian religion” argument to come out. You guys always get around to that one. As if that somehow is a defense of Freemasonry. It adds absolutely nothing to your argument, but shows your true colors, that is, someone who, deep down, has anti-Christian sentiments. Most people that raise this argument don’t have the faintest idea about what really took place historically, but suffice it to say, the fact that Protestants killed Catholics and vice versa only proves that we are sinners. I see that you decided to quote from Jesus Christ. If you choose to do this in the lodge room, you would be sanctioned.

Paul: I do NOT and never will trust men like you who have all the answers, or think they do.

J. Salza: I never said I have “all the answers,” but I evidently have them with respect to Freemasonry, since you have been unable to muster any kind of Christian defense of its teachings.

Paul: Men who think for others and whose interpretation of the Scriptures is the only valid interpretation.

J. Salza: This, by the way, is why I am Catholic. I look to the Church, “the pinnacle and foundation of the truth” to interpret God’s revelation in Scripture and Tradition (cf. 1 Tim. 3:15). The Church, of course, can only be the pinnacle and foundation of the truth if she is able to protect it against error. Otherwise, she would be no foundation for the truth at all.

Paul: And if we are a religion, which we are not, why do you bother us? And if we are pagans, why do you pursue us?  We did NOTHING to you but welcome you among us.  Is that our crime?  What motivates you?  It is NOT Christ; is it something more worldly?

J. Salza: Now you are attempting to create another straw man to knock down. This time it is my “motivations.” Do you think I get some kind of pleasure receiving emails and phone calls from people who berate me for my views? I can assure you, nothing “wordly” motivates me in my positions against Freemasonry. I will be the first to tell you I enjoyed my time in the lodge. But when I could no longer reconcile what the lodge taught with the faith of my baptism, I left. So, contrary to what you are now trying to argue, my “motivation” in revealing the errors of Freemasonry is nothing less than my love for Jesus Christ and His truth. Period. End of story.

Paul: And you still do not tell me how a MAN can make a promise and then violate it without having violated a Commandment; without having been dishonest; without having been duplicitous?  That, Sir, IS a valid issue regardless of how much it bothers you.  I'm not convinced that you are even convinced.  It seems to be a "convenience" to excuse your actions.  Actions which you have not explained; motives which remain a mystery.

J. Salza: Already addressed the “credibility” argument above. Another example of a Mason who avoids his rituals and attacks the character of former Masons instead.

Paul: Again, I say, you attack us because we do not fight.  Not because we cannot but because we will not.  We do make an easy target, eh? And because I don't provide my name does not mean that I am hiding. You are untrustworthy, as I noted previously.  You are an assassin of Truth.  You distort and convolute what is pure and simple and easily understandable. You call them indefensible and illicit. 

J. Salza: Boy, you guys are martyrs. You “choose” not to fight. Yet that is why you are “fighting” with me? If Freemasonry is so unimportant to you, then why have you engaged in this bitter dialogue, with ongoing attacks on my character, barely able to restrain yourself? And yet you won’t reveal your name to me? You are nothing but a milquetoast and a demagogue, and I can see right through you.

Paul: Calling them so does not make them so. So, what purpose will it serve to know my name?  I do not want to be your friend. As I said, and pardon me if it seems like I "attack the man", but it WAS YOU who did make a promise and LIED. And you now uses "Church-sanctioned" logic to absolve yourself. (When is a lie not a lie? When the Church says so.) Great logic.  All you need to say is that swearing an oath in secret makes it invalid; so if you give me your word in private and I ask you to do so using a Bible, it doesn't count?  But it does in public? So, your word is only good if publicly witnessed? Very interesting. I'm really glad you're not MY father.

J. Salza: It is obvious that you don’t understand the problems with the oaths, even though I have articulated them to you. The oaths are not necessarily immoral because they are secret. The oaths are immoral because they regard trivial matters. You cannot invoke the Holy Name of God to witness trivial subject matter, like keeping the passwords of Boaz, Jachin, Shibboleth, Tubal-Cain and Ma-Ha-Bone secret. Get it?

Paul: Or is it because "symbolic" penalties are associated? (Did you really believe that such would be administered?  How interesting.  But you didn't, did you?)  But if you make the promise in public as when you join the military, and you violate the oath and are subject to execution ( a very real and unpleasant penalty) it's valid? With that mentality, I would NOT like to be your client and have you "promise" to defend me while in the privacy of your office. I guess I'd need others (how many makes it official?) to witness it. If you can violate a promise made on a Bible, how are you bound when you make one without one?

J. Salza: Since you acknowledge that the Masonic oaths have self-curses attached to them, the burden is on you to explain why the self-curses are needed. But since the oaths concern trivial subject matter, not even the oath itself is licit, much less the blood-curdling profanities you swear on the Bible to seal them. Paul, nothing can justify the self-curses attached to the Masonic oaths. They are blasphemous. These are the types of practices that Satanists and the KKK use when they swear their secret oaths. They can never be a part of a Christian rite. If you wish to argue that the penalties are just symbolic, this just underscores how trivial the whole thing is. If the penalties are just symbolic, this means that the oaths are just a sham. This also means that God is being called to witness a lie.

Paul: I do not seek publicity like you. I only seek to know why you harbor such malice toward us?  Why not spend your time taking on a real enemy – like the Islamic Jihadists and Terrorists?  Oh, yes, they fight back.

J. Salza: I can assure you that I am not in this for publicity. I can also tell you that I don’t have any “malice” toward the men of Freemasonry. I am simply revealing the errors of its teachings, which you conspicuously avoid discussing. As a Catholic, I am bound in conscience to follow Christ and the teachings of His Church. This is solely about what Freemasonry teaches in its lodge rooms. I was hoping we could keep the discussion on the rituals, but you won’t do that. And I understand why.

Paul: I choose to no longer correspond with you; I choose to remain anonymous. You do not answer MY questions.  You choose to attack us but are unwilling, and unable, to defend the actions of your own religion.  Actions that have killed and maimed uncounted millions of men, women and children - all in the name of CHRIST.  Actions that have not made a better and more just world. Actions that have driven a wedge between your religion and men who share the name of Christian, let alone non-Christians  You can not and will not even accept each other!

J. Salza: What actions, Paul? Like so many of your kind, you make these broad, sweeping statements without any proof in an effort to convince me you know what you are talking about. But I can see right through it all. Regarding “killing” and “maiming,” you should acquaint yourself with the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. She is the loudest voice in the world when it comes to defending life. Is Masonry such a voice? No, it is not. If a Mason took the life of another (in an abortion, for example), you would still be a Mason in good standing. But you would be excommunicated from the Catholic Church. However, if you had intercourse with another Mason’s wife, mother, sister or daughter, you would be excommunicated from the lodge! Is this your system of morality, Paul? Your organization must be exposed for what it is, and I will do everything in my power to make sure it happens.

Paul: And where have we, Masons, done the same?  We have not; we have sought and promoted harmony and peace among men, men who could have been bitter enemies but are not.  We have promoted understanding and acceptance of differences -differences that will not be resolve through strident words and harsh accusations such as yours. Your heart is not filled with Christ but, rather, with anger and malice. I truly would like to know what we have done to deserve your animosity. With all the trouble, death, poverty and hatred in this world, why don't you spend your time alleviating these ills?  Why do you choose to harass those who do you, and no one, any harm? Is it just that it is easier to tear down than to build?  Or is Christianity, to you, a religion of inaction?  I thought that "To labor is to pray."

J. Salza: Ah, now you are arguing that Freemasonry is a more noble religion than the religion of Jesus Christ. This doesn’t surprise me. This is the sentiment of many, many Masons. You have just shown where your real allegiance lies. I have news for you, Paul. Your Masonic brothers are not going to be at the throne of judgment to help you when you pass from this life to the next. They won’t be able to help you get into the “celestial lodge above.” The only way is Jesus Christ. I pray that you come to Him before it is too late.

Paul: I will pray for you as I labor for a better world - one with understanding and love. May you may find Peace and Joy. But, please, keep your image of Christ as far from me as possible. It is a frightening image. No wonder you serve from fear rather than from love.

J. Salza: You can choose to discontinue the dialogue with me if you wish.  That might be best.  I will agree to that.  I will only state the following in closing:

1.  Christianity has been involved in terrible crimes over the years. Catholics killed Protestants, and Protestants killed Catholics.  This is because we are sinners.  Christ never promised that the Church would be perfect.  To the contrary, He warned us that there would be evil done in the name of God, and this all good Christians reject.  I would never impugn the teachings of the Church based on the conduct of her members. Just like I would never criticize Freemasonry because some of her members were evil men (Alister Crowley, Timothy McVeigh, John Wilkes Booth, etc.)  I instead focus on what the Church teaches, just like I focus on what Freemasonry teaches. This is about the truth, not about people's sins.  Bringing up this argument is irrelevant to your defense of Freemasonry. It also must be troubling to you that every Christian church that has studied Freemasonry has condemned it.  It ain't just me.

2.  I am glad that you at least acknowledged that Freemasonry teaches about resurrection.  Most Masons I have dialogued with deny this obvious fact.  As a Christian, here is the problem.  The Resurrection has been definitively revealed by Jesus Christ.  It is a Christian truth.  In fact, not all religions believe in resurrection.  So if Freemasonry is going to teach about resurrection and it is going to be truthful, it must teach about Jesus Christ.  To teach about the resurrection and not Christ is disingenuous.  In fact, it is erroneous. It is heretical.  When you have truth mixed with error, you only have error.  And when this is about a religious truth, this gives rise to heresy.

Freemasonry teaches error when it teaches its belief in the resurrection, without requiring its members to profess a concomitant belief in Jesus Christ, who is the only cause and source of our future resurrection.  The fact that other religions don't believe in resurrection further demonstrates that Freemasonry has its own religious system, independent of the religious faiths of its members. You also failed to specifically identify one single other fraternity that teaches a belief in bodily resurrection.  There is none, because this is a religious teaching.

3.  Moral theology requires a person to denounce a false oath.  That is what
the many thousands of Christian Masons who have left the lodge have done. Freemasonry's oaths are false because they either are about trivial matters (to keep secret handshakes), or matters that are immoral (swearing not to have sex with a Master Mason's wife; but what about non-Masonically affiliated women?), or are not the proper subject matter of an oath.  The self-curse is also contrary to the good use of God's name who is the source of all truth. Nothing could be worthy of such self-curses except to blaspheme Jesus Christ and His Church, which you do with these oaths. If you want to learn more about this, pick up a book on Moral Theology.  The Bible also talks about false oaths.  So we as Christians are bound to denounce these oaths and instead bind ourselves to Jesus Christ.

In short, you have reduced this dialogue to criticizing my credibility as opposed to answer the theological problems alleged against the lodge.  You wont' because you can't.  I will continue to keep you and all Masons in my prayers, hoping that God open up your eyes to His definitive revelation in His only Son, Jesus Christ.

Grace be with you.

John Salza

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11. Didn't you break your Masonic oath?

James: John, I accessed your web site and respect your position.  Just wondered how you justified breaking your oath before God on the Holy Bible.  Perhaps that oath doesn't count.  Makes me wonder what other oaths you've taken that don't count too.  But don't worry, your God is my God and he is a forgiving God.

Bless you in all your endeavors.
James

J. Salza: Dear James. Thank you for your email.  I did not break an oath before God because the oath I took in the lodge was not binding on me.  It was administered under misleading pretenses and is considered, in Christian moral theology, a false oath.  It is a false oath because:

(1) it is about trivial matters (preserving secret passwords and handshakes which can never be the proper subject matter of an oath);

(2)  it is also about immoral matters (swearing to be partial to a particular class of people and swearing not to have intercourse with a particular class of people, as if they were distinguishable from other people); and,

(3) it required a self-curse, which is never permissible in oath-taking from a Christian point of view.

I also renounced these false oaths in the sacrament of reconciliation.  You don't have to wonder about other oaths that I have taken that don't count. Only false oaths, like the Masonic oaths, don't count. The oath I took as an attorney counted, and the most beautiful oath I took in the sacrament of marriage also counted, for life.

Grace be with you.

John Salza

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12. Isn't Freemasonry about being "ecumenical"

Patron: Hello.  I'm a person from Florida who stumbled on to your Catholic website via a google search on the Masons.  If you'd like, you can help me with a question: The Church rejects Freemasonry because it espouses ecumenism, syncretism, and indifference to one True Faith.  However, the Pope himself calls for solidarity with all faiths, most recently with Muslims, and has even kissed the Koran.  Isn't it inconsistent for the Church to spurn the Masons on grounds that they cause syncretism, while the Pope gathers all faiths in St. Peter's Square to pray together and kisses the Koran?

J. Salza: I hope I can help you out.  First, the Church does not condemn Masonry because it espouses ecumenism. This is because Freemasonry does NOT espouse ecumenism.  Ecumenism deals with Christian unity, and since Freemasonry accepts any non-Christian faith into her bosom, the lodge has nothing to do with ecumenism.  The goal of ecumenism, by the way, is the understanding of religious faiths, but not agreeing with them. 

Moreover, the purpose of ecumenism is to prepare a person to receive the fullness of the gospel which exists only within the Catholic Church. Freemasonry does not promote understanding or a genuine foundation for the gospel because she precludes any sort of religious dialogue in her lodge room.  Instead, Freemasonry promotes agreement (which is where indifferentism and syncretism come into the picture).  It does this in a variety of ways, such as having its own names and symbols for God and heaven (which are unique to the lodge), and its own religious teachings about God and salvation (which are also unique to the lodge and incompatible with the Christian faith). 

As far as the pope gathering people together to pray, you are probably referring to the 1986 and 2002 prayer meetings for world peace held in Assisi.  These gatherings, while viewed by many as problematic, are nothing like the gatherings of Freemasonry. These were two public meetings, over 16 years apart, for the objectives of praying for world peace.  Freemasonry is a permanently established secret institution that gathers its members on a weekly basis to pray to the Grand Architect of the Universe for salvation.  While I am not defending the Assisi prayer gatherings, they can hardly be compared to the religious rituals of the Masonic lodge. 

As far as the pope kissing the Koran, if the pope really did this, I do not agree with such an action (but I am just a lay apologist so my opinion means little).  While I don't doubt the Holy Father's commitment to Christ and the truth, this I think sends a confusing message. After all, the Koran denies the divinity of Christ. I wish the pope would have clarified his intentions. But such a private action has nothing to do with the official teachings of the Church.  Indeed, popes can err in their private actions and opinions. Moreover, you can bet that the pope does not say Mass every day with the Koran, the Upanishads, the Book of Mormon, etc. on his altar, which is they way that the Masons worship.

God bless.

John Salza

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13. Shriners, excommunication and copyright

Alexander: With all due respect, it was actually my endeavors in masonry that brought me back to the Catholic Church.  It made me develop a respect for ritual as something that changes a man, not simply a series of symbols and ceremonies for entertainment.  The Transubstantiation and the effect of internalizing the actual body of Christ, and thereby purging my body of venial sin and with contemplation energizing me to emulate Christ as best as my feeble human attempts may muster is something I hold near and dear to my heart...largely because of my Masonic Education.

J. Salza: Alexander, the best way to continue your spiritual growth within the Catholic Church is to study the Catholic faith, not the religious faith of Freemasonry. God may have used Freemasonry to bring you back into the fold (as He did with me), but I can assure you that he doesn’t want you to remain where you are. When you begin to study your new-found faith, you will see the Church articulating this quite clearly.

Alexander: I do not believe that you remained with the fraternity long enough nor inquired deeply enough to know it's true meanings. 

J. Salza: Actually, Alexander, when I was a Mason, other Freemasons told me I was one of the most knowledgeable Masons that they ever met. I knew Masonic ritual, philosophy and history more deeply than my senior brothers. But if you don’t think that I really knew Masonry’s “true meanings,” then, please, enlighten me as to what they are. I am all ears.

Alexander: The inaccuracy of your site befuddles me.  As just one example: "The Shriners are an organization of 32nd degree or York Rite Masons who are best known for their red fezzes.”  Shriners are of the Scottish Rite, and the York Rite has only 14 degrees.

J. Salza: No, my statement is correct. Shriners are composed of either 32 degree Scottish Rite Masons, or York Rite (14 degrees) Masons.  In fact, your statement is erroneous (at least in the Northern Jurisdiction).  Shriners MAY be of the Scottish Rite, but they don't have to be.  Shriners may be York Rite Masons (and not Scottish Rite Masons).  I think I have addressed your comment adequate enough.  If you are in the Southern Jurisdiction, you may have subtle differences.

Alexander: You also fail to mention the fact that Masonry is no longer grounds for  excommunication nor is it considered in America to be a source of sin, because there is no longer, nor was their ever in America, an effort by Masons to overthrow the Church.  I have spoken with Cardinals about this, and they concur completely.  Most have parishners who are masons.  I happen to know of two priests who are masons.

J. Salza: Your statement regarding Masonry as not being grounds for excommunication and not sinful is also inaccurate.  You have not consulted with people who have studied the question.  First of all, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith addressed Masonry in their 1983 letter by declaring that "anyone who enrolls in Masonry is in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion."  John Paul II ratified and confirmed this document.  So where are you getting your information?  I have a link to this document on my website, which is the most recent teaching of the Church on the matter of Freemasonry.

In regard to excommunication, you obviously have not consulted with a canon lawyer.  There are two grounds for excommunication as regards Masonry. First, under canon 1374, one is subject to a just penalty for participating in an organization that subverts the Church, and one is subject to an interdict if one becomes an officer in such an organization.  Agreeably, it is debatable whether American Freemasonry directly subverts the Church.  It does not the way its European and Latin American counterparts do.  However, I would argue that its religious teachings do subvert the mission of the Church because they are indifferent to the truth of Jesus Christ.

But there is another canon that excommunicates Catholic Masons.  Canon 1364. This deals with those who refuse to follow the Pope's declaration on Freemasonry.  For those who are aware of the Church's teachings (and, in particular, the 1983 condemnation), they are in schism.  Schismatics incur latae sententiae excommunication.  Hence, your conclusions regarding both the sinful nature of Masonry and the penalty of excommunication are incorrect. You might want to share this information with the two “priests” you say are Masons.

Also, why don’t you spare us the mystery and disclose what “Cardinals” you have spoken to about Freemasonry? We all know that there are liberal, modernist Cardinals in the college who would say just about anything. Thank God that it doesn’t matter what any of them say. Peter has already spoken through ten of his successors on the issue of Freemasonry.

Alexander:  As far as teaching the equality of all gods or religions...it is simply false.  Masonry simply does not distiguish this for membership, but instead seeks to find those truths that are common to all faiths.  It cannot be denied that there are such common truths that we all seek... man has sought it in art, science, theology, philosophy, politics...and this has been a quest of man irespective of his religion.  The Pope himself has stated on numerous occasions that there truths and rights by which all men are bound that may be known regardless of their faith.  One may indeed believe his faith to be superior and be a Mason.  Most masons are deeply reuted in their respective religious traditions.  I believe Catholicism to be the fullness of this truth.  My brothers are well aware of this, as outside the confines of the lodge it is a topic of much discussions, they being of very diverse persuasions.

J. Salza: Your analysis of Freemasonry in light of Christianity certainly is not consonant with the teachings of the Church.  Freemasonry does not seek to find those truths which are common to all faiths.  Freemasonry doesn't even mention in its rituals that there are other faiths.  Instead, it seeks to present one single Masonic faith (but virtue of its unique names for God and heaven, and its unique symbols for God and heaven, etc.)  Freemasonry even teaches its faith in the resurrection of the body, but does not require its members to believe in Jesus Christ.  A - Masonry believes in bodily resurrection, but B - Masonry does not believe in the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ.  A + B = incompatibility with Christianity. 

You mention the Pope and your belief that Catholicism is the fullness of God's truth.  If you really believe what you profess, you would take the time to investigate what the Popes have said about Masonry since 1738 and what the Church currently says now.  The Church's condemnations have been levied on the grounds that Freemasonry is indifferent to revealed truth that every Christian should hold superior to anything else.  Masonry, on the other hand, puts Christ along side other gods, and not above them.

Alexander: At the very least, I'm afraid it is my duty to inform you that you are required by law to remove the rituals from your site.  You will note, in further demonstration of the mootness of your assertions, that I do not intend to, nor have any of the many masons who have doubtless seen your site attempted to, cut your throat, remove your entrails, or any other such nonsense.  This would be in violation of the law, and I am a law student. You, however, are in violation of the law.  Besides your oaths that you swore not to reveal what you were given, you have also violated Federal Copyright laws and have with further indignation assigned your own copyrite claim to the Ritual pages and so have converted the intellectual property of the Craft.  Unlike the other ruffians, Jubelaw has a great deal of power over your current state of affairs.  I trust that you will at least have some dignity and respect for law, and for a fraternity who tries as best it can and is legally entitled to keep its ritual esoteric to itself.  I intend to check your website periodically over the next few weeks as I consult attorneys.  I respectfully request that you comply with the law.

Alexander H. De Marco

J. Salza: Alexander, if you were one of my law students, you would be looking for the exit right about now. Regarding your claims that I am required to remove the Masonic ritual from my site for legal reasons, you are, once again, wrong.

You see, you may be a law student, but I actually am a lawyer (of eleven years).  The material that I posted had no copyright attached to it. Now, let me give you some advice that you will need to employ if you ever do become an attorney: Make sure you get all the facts before you give advice or come to legal conclusions. Otherwise, your legal career will be over before you can say “Entered Apprentice.”

John Salza

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14. A dialogue with a young Freemason

George: What is Freemasonry? Freemasonry is the world’s largest and oldest fraternity. It is not a religion. The definition of religion from Merriam- Webster’s dictionary is “a personal set of institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.” Another definition used is “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to ardor and faith”.  The definition of religious is “related to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity”.

I would like to know what definition of religion is being used to define Masonry as a religion. The only definition that comes close would be “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith”.

J. Salza: George, Masonry’s immemorial definition of itself poses problems for you. Masonry says it is a “regular system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols.” This, like Merriam-Webster’s dictionary says, is a “system of religious attitudes, beliefs and practices” or a “system of beliefs held to ardor and faith.” When you couple these secular definitions of religion with Freemasonry’s teachings about God, immortality, resurrection and eternal life, you meet the definition of religion. Moreover, why don’t you look at your own Masonic authorities recommended by your Grand Lodges, like Mackey, Coil and Pike? They were friends of Freemasonry, and they all claim that Freemasonry is a religion. If Freemasonry claims it is a religion, and it meets even the secular definition of religion, then why does George Spaeth III say Freemasonry is not a religion?

George: Masonry is about brotherly love, relief and truth. Brotherly love is the practice of the Golden Rule. Relief in Masonry is done through charity work and donations. Masonry donates 2 million dollars a day to charities, founded and pays for the Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children as well as the Shriners Burns Institute which gives care to children for free. Truth in Masonry is honesty and fairness. These three principles are what Masonry is founded on and these three principles are the “moral codes” that are taught in the degree work. All three of those same principles are Christian principles, taught in the Bible and preached in services.

J. Salza: If Masonry is about “truth,” tell me what “truth” this is? Is it the Christian truth? The Hindi truth? The New Age truth? What is the truth, George? You see, truth by its very nature is exclusionary, which means that if one belief in the lodge is true, then a belief contrary to it must necessarily be false. When you are in the lodge room, and one Mason believes in the divinity of Jesus Christ, and another Mason denies it, which belief is true, according to Freemasonry? I will tell you the answer. BOTH of them. When both candidates became Masons, the Worshipful Master told both of them that their “faith was well-founded.” George, that isn’t truth. That is a lie.

George: It is said that Masonry promotes indifferentism. Again referring to Merriam-Webster, indifferentism is “belief that all religions are equally valid”. Masonry does not promote indifferentism. A Bible will be present on the alter if you are Christian, a Koran if you are Muslim and so on. This is because one of the requirements for membership is the belief in a Supreme Being. Without this belief, there can be no bases for the lessons of brother love, relief and truth, and there can be no bases for the oaths in which a candidate must take.

J. Salza: George, listen carefully to yourself. You properly defined indifferentism as the belief that “all religions are equally valid.” You say that Freemasonry does not promote indifferentism. But in the next sentence, you said that Freemasonry puts any religious writing on the Masonic altar, and no one writing is held to be unique. They are on par with each other. Even though the Bible says Jesus is God, and the Koran says Jesus is not God, BOTH are revered in the Masonic lodge. Even though the Bible is God’s revelation, and the Koran is not, they are given equal footing in the lodge. George, you have just given us an example of indifferentism. In fact, Freemasonry’s practice of putting all religious writings on its altar is a glorification of indifferentism. I don’t know how rational men could believe otherwise.

George: Masonry does not promote syncretism, which, according to our friends at Merriam-Webster, is “the combination of different forms of belief or practice”. Masonry does not take teachings from one religion here, one religion there and throws them in a big pot and preaches it.

J. Salza: Again, George, this shows that you do not have a very deep understanding of Freemasonry. Masonic ritual borrows from many different religions. For example, some practices are borrowed from Christianity (like dedicated the lodge to the Sts. John); some from Judaism (like reciting the Psalms; teaching about Pharaoh and Moses; about the Sanctum Sanctorum or Holy of Holies, etc.); and Islam (particularly in the Shriners, where the oaths are sworn to Allah on the Koran; Islamic vestments are worn; the passwords are Mecca and Medina). Freemasonry also borrows from deism (with its references to the GAOTU), rationalism (with its references to the five human senses as a basis for discerning truth), and even from Wicca and occultism (through its blood-oaths, stripping down and intimidating the candidate, etc.).

George: Masons except human beings, people, no matter where they came from, what color they are, what God they pray to. Masonry is tolerance. To hate is not Christian, to not like someone because of their religious beliefs is not Christian.

J. Salza: Masons always throw out the “hate” ploy, but it proves nothing for them. No one is advocating hate, George. People use this ploy to make Christians feel guilty for condemning Freemasonry for its errors. In fact, the Christian position is really one of love, not hate, since if we hated Freemasons, we would say nothing to them, and allow them to remain in their sins.

George: It is said that Masonry teaches the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body. It is only an uninformed person and ill-educated Brother who would say that.

J. Salza: Actually, only an ill-educated brother would deny that. George, I have Masonic rituals and monitors from all over the country. I also have the Masonic Bible, as well as the recommended Masonic encyclopedias by Coil and Mackey. EVERY ONE of these authorities confirms that the third degree teaches the Masonic belief in the resurrection of the body. I can quote you page after page and verse after verse. This demonstrates that you do not know what Freemasonry really teaches, and what Freemasonry’s authorities really say.

George: First, the soul is immortal. When one dies, the soul ascends to heaven to stand for judgment before God. The body is to be left to the earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Second, Masonry does not teach resurrection of the body. The ceremony in which this refers to can be confusing, however. It is meant to show the rising of a body that was murdered to be reburied with proper honors.

J. Salza: Tell me, why does your organization teach about the immortality of the soul if it is just a fraternity? In fact, not all religions believe in the immortality of the soul, and yet you invite these religions into your hospitable bosom. That means that Freemasonry has its own ideas about immortality that are independent of its members. Regarding your contention that Hiram’s body was raised so that it could receive “proper honors,” if only your ritual said the same, then you would have an argument. But your ritual doesn’t say that. Your ritual says that, while Hiram was actually raised to be reinterred, the object of the degree is to teach, symbolically, Freemasonry’s “faith in the resurrection of the body.” Please read the rituals, George.

George: Feel free to ask me any further questions, for I would like to be the one Mason who is able to help defend Masonry and its teachings of brotherly love, relief and truth with the teachings of God and Christianity by using the rituals and knowledge of the Lodge.

J. Salza: George, I don't know how long you have been in Masonry, but your explanations do not evince a credible understanding of the Lodge.  For example, you say that Masonry does not promote indifferentism.  Tell me, what do you call an institution that invites all religious writings on its altar (even those that contradict Monotheism) and then promotes the recitation of a generic prayer around the same altar?  That is indifferentism to revealed truth.  As Christians, we know that the Bible contains the revealed word of God.  How could any Christian pray corporately around an altar which contains writings that are not only not revealed, but directly contradictory to the truths found in the Bible (i.e., those writings that deny that Jesus is the Son of God)?  This is at a minimum, a terrible insult to our Savior who shed His blood for you and me.  It is also uncharitable, for it promotes the suppression of the truth that we, as Christians, have been given.  Masonry promotes indifferentism to the revealed truth of God.

You also say that Freemasonry does not teach about bodily resurrection (you have to say this because if you didn't, then you would be forced to admit that Masonry has a religious teaching which, by the way, is entirely incompatible with Christianity).  Tell me, how come all your Masonic friends (authorities that your own Grand Lodge recognizes) have written that the third degree symbolizes the Masonic belief in the resurrection?  I bet if you read your third degree ritual carefully, you would even find the express statement that the degree symbolizes the resurrection.  If it were just the exemplification of a murder and a funeral, tell me, what would be the point?  I have been through these debates time and time again, and every Mason I have debated avoids the Masonic doctrine of resurrection like the plague.  The reasons are obvious.  So is Masonic ritual.  Please be honest with me and with yourself if you wish to continue our dialogue.

God bless.

John Salz

George: In the Lodge I attend, all the members are Christians and the Bible is the only Holy Book that is placed on the alter. The Fraternity itself is open to all religious believes. I do not have to pray at the alter if the Bible is not present, but in Lodges where there are mixed religious that use other Holy Books, they will have both books on the alter and they would be treated as equals. That is because all brothers are equals.

J. Salza: But all religions are not, and that is where the problem is, and where your argument breaks down. You do not need to put opposing religious writings on an altar to affirm the equality of mankind.  By putting the Bible along side the Koran, the Vedas, and the Zend Avesta, the Lodge is promoting the heresy of indifferentism.  How can the Christian, who knows that God has finally and completely revealed His saving truth in Jesus Christ, pray around an altar which includes books that expressly reject Jesus Christ? It does not make any sense, and is terribly offensive to God. This is called indifferentism.

George: I would be using my own faith and believes and would be directing my thoughts and prayers to God.

J. Salza: Maybe so, but the issue is not what you believe.  The issue is what Freemasonry believes.  Freemasonry has its own religious faith which, while it believes in God and eternal life, has no need for faith in Jesus Christ.  The lodge is indifferent to the Savior of the world. 

George: I have never once heard a member of my Lodge or any other that say the believe in resurrection, other than the resurrection of Jesus.

J. Salza: Again, the issue is not what the members believe, or what the members say about Masonic ritual.  The issue is what Freemasonry teaches.  The issue is what Masonic ritual expressly states.  Also, you mention the resurrection of Jesus.  Freemasonry explicitly teaches about the resurrection of the body, but never mentions Jesus Christ.  Moreover, while the Lodge believes in the resurrection, you don't have to be a Christian to be a Mason.  This indisputable fact proves that the Masonic religion, philosophy, or whatever you want to call it, is incompatible with Christian faith which believes that Jesus Christ is the sole cause of our future resurrection.  The lodge, however, has no need for Christ.

George: Like I said before, the supposed "resurrection" in the third degree is NOT a resurrection, nor do any of the ritual, lectures or charges say that it is. You are gravely misunderstanding the point of that degree, which is probably the fault of your Lodge's L.E.O., officers and brothers, and maybe it is for the best that you are no longer a member.

J. Salza: Your statements here demonstrate a profound ignorance about Masonic ritual which, incidentally, is very common in Masonic lodges, because most of the ritual work is esoteric and takes some time and investigation to really learn its teachings.  Why don't you thoroughly read through your Hiramic legend and tell me whether or not the ritual expressly mentions that the object of the degree is to teach the Masonic faith in the resurrection of the body.  This is something I could hardly make up.  This is also the main reason that thousands of Christian men each year are leaving the lodge. 

Do you have the Masonic Bible? (most lodges give them to newly made Master Masons as gifts).  If you don't, ask your Grand Lodge for one.  Then look up in the Masonic definitions and Q&A the words, "raised," and "resurrection."   The book expressly teaches that the third degree teaches the Masonic faith in the resurrection (if you would like me to provide you citations and quotes, let me know and I will do so).  Also, ask your Grand Lodge for recommended reading materials.  The will likely recommend Mackey and Coil.  Read what they have to say about the Masonic doctrine of bodily resurrection and how it is exemplified in the third degree.  You might also wish to tell me why the third degree of Freemasonry is the highest and most sublime, and yet, in your opinion, is just the exemplification of a murder and a funeral.  What is the point of that?

George: Our supposed penalties that are in the obligations are not carried out (if they were, you would not be around today) but are in there none the less for the sake of tradition. Catholics have for thousands of years have been the cause of death to many thousands of people all in the name of God. 

J. Salza: This statement does not make much sense to me, but shows one not conversant with moral theology.  The Masonic obligation is a false oath because the material about which you are swearing does not invoke the necessity of an oath and is, for the most part, about trivial matters.  For example, swearing not to have sex with a MM's wife, mother, sister, or daughter is not only terribly offensive (for it appears to put Masons in a special class; what about sex with non-Masonically affiliated women-is that okay?), but does not require an oath.  Christians have already been taught by Christ to love our neighbors as ourselves, and not to commit adultery or fornication.  Christ did not require His members to swear blood-curdling oaths promising not to commit these sins.  Freemasonry, thus, has no good reason to do so.  The oath with the self-curse is also insulting to the Holy Name of God, and is blasphemy. 

Also, yes, Catholics have been great sinners, but so have Protestants, who killed thousands of Catholics during the Reformation. This is why Jesus came to save us, the same Jesus that is denied in your lodge room. The past sins of Christians are irrelevant to the question of Masonry. Let’s stay focused on your organizations rituals.

George: You say you are Christian, and that you are Catholic. Do you not agree that Judaism is a form of Christianity? It is different than Catholicism.

J. Salza: Judaism is not a form of Christianity. Judaism is an obsolete religion that has been superseded by the New Covenant of Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church. Not sure what your point is.  

George: What about Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, or any other Christian religion? They are all different, worship God a different way, use different Holy Scriptures. Would you be guilty of indifferentism for believing that all of those different forms of worship are valid? It's the same when you relate it to Masonry and it's open policy on religion.

J. Salza: You are wrong here as well.  These Protestant denominations all worship the Blessed Trinity, and they all use the same Scriptures. They also condemn any worship that is not directed toward the Trinity, as well as any writing that is incompatible with the Bible.  Masonry does not worship the Blessed Trinity and acknowledges any scripture as an equally competitive attempt to explain the truth about God.  So you can never compare a body of different Christian traditions to the un-Christian religion of Freemasonry.

George: It is sad, however, that someone who was in Masonry for so long and became a 32nd degree Mason would go against his promise to keep the rituals and "secrets" of Masonry secret.

J. Salza: What is so sad about it?  Was it sad when Saint Paul realized that Judaism was no longer teaching the truth and converted to Christianity?  It is not sad, but a blessing, when people discover the errors of their ways, are humble enough to admit them, and then seek to make reparation and change their lives for Christ.  To me, it is sad that many Christian men continue to give Jesus Christ lip service while worshiping in the pre-Christian pagan religion of the lodge.

George: Masonry is not a secret society, it is a society with secrets. So it is with any other Fraternity.

J. Salza: George, this is Masonic double-talk. It is like saying, “you are intellectual, but have no intellect.” But in another sense, I do agree with you. The biggest secret in Freemasonry is that there are no secrets.  That is why anyone can learn about the errors of the lodge by simply going to a local bookstore, or reviewing the many Christian websites that illumine the faithful about the lodge.  It doesn't matter what your lodge buddies say Masonry is.  Masonry speaks for itself.  Just read its rituals, and the many books that explain the rituals.  This is also why Christians have no good reason to remain in ignorance regarding Masonry. You have a long way to go in this regard.

George: Go to a college campus and I will bet that you will not have a Greek organization that will reveled their own secret handshakes and initiation rituals, and believe they do have them.

J. Salza: But do they have their own names for God and heaven, their own symbols for God and heaven, their own prayers, and their own rituals which exemplify a faith in life eternal with or without Christ?  I don't think so.  That is why Freemasonry has been condemned by just about every Christian church, and these fraternities have not.

George: I'm going to have to think about all of this some more it seems. I'll get with you after I do go through my Masonic Bible (which, ironically, I have not yet read) and through the rituals again. I will pose one question, though: Is a Mason a bad (Christian) person for being a Mason? Let me give you some more background on me. I have not been to a church in a very long time. I'm 21 years old and my family is a very Christian family and have been members and elders in the Presbyterian church for as long as I can remember. I am also the third generation and the 7th member of my family to be a Mason.

I stopped going to church because one of the ministers told my parents that my sister was born the way she was because of their sins. My sister has cerebral palsy and was born prematurely. I completely disagree with that statement and have not been to church since. I made that decision when I was only 10 years old. My faith in God is great. My faith is all I need. I also highly doubt that when the time for me to depart this Earth and stand before God that I will be punished for being a Mason. God knows what is in my heart, He knows what my intentions are.

J. Salza: Thank you for giving me some more background about yourself.  I really appreciate it.

My answer to your question is the same as how you finished your letter.  God judges what is in the heart and mind.  For those who really are ignorant about the teachings of the lodge (and there are many), God will only judge them for their ignorance.  If their ignorance is due to no fault of their own, they will not be harshly judged. However, for those who have been presented the truth about the lodge (i.e., its erroneous teachings about eternal life with no apparent need for Jesus Christ), God is going to judge them based on how they respond. I believe the Holy Spirit is working in your life to open up your eyes to this truth.  While God does not harshly judge those who are ignorant from no fault of their own, God will harshly judge those who remain deliberately ignorant about His truth.  It is incumbent upon you to investigate the teachings of the Lodge, and to embrace the truth of Jesus Christ.

I can assure you of one thing.  If you carefully read your Masonic Bible (the inserts of the Masonic definitions and Q&A), you are going to be shocked. The inserts are replete with a formal catechesis of Masonic doctrines on God, eternal life, and bodily resurrection.  This is called "religion." Since the Masonic faith is not a faith based on Jesus Christ, it is a false faith, and all Christian men have been called to expose it for what it really is.

Also, most men who have left the lodge have also left a family tradition.  My father is still a Mason and our relationship has become very difficult.  I understand what you are going through, but do not let the praise of men come before the praise of God.  Christ promised us that if we follow Him, even if it means leaving father or brother, we will gain a hundred times more.

In regard to what that Protestant pastor said about your sister, it is absolutely ridiculous.  He is wrong.  We don't know why the Lord permits us to suffer with disabilities and handicaps, but He does, and we have faith that He allows it for our own sanctification and salvation.  The Catholic Church will welcome you, your sister and your whole family into her arms anytime.  But please do not let a stupid statement from a wayward Protestant minister keep you away from God and the worship we owe Him.  Come back.  You are still a very young man and it sounds like you have a good heart and are seeking the truth.  I am convinced, based on my own experience, that if you really want to know the truth, you will find it.  Your first step is to study about Freemasonry.  I will pray for you and your sister in a special way.  Let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

Grace be with you.

John Salza

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15. The "Great Architect of the Universe" came from John Calvin

Patron: John, you are wrong about the “Grand Architect of the Universe” being a deistic title for God. The title came from a Christian, John Calvin, out of his Institutes. Please correct your errors.

J. Salza: I have searched John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion cover to cover, and I cannot find any reference to the GAOTU. But even if Calvin did use this appellation, this proves too much for you. First, it highlights that the appellation is not part of the Apostolic Tradition. It can’t be traced to divine revelation. For me, as a Catholic, using Calvin to defend Freemasonry is ineffectual since he was a heretic who opposed the 1600 year-old teaching tradition of the Catholic Church. Third, Freemasonry’s own documents claim no connection to Calvin or his writings. Fourth, this argument fails to account for the other names that Masonry has created for God (Grand Artificer, Supreme Grand Master), and heaven (celestial lodge above, Grand Lodge on High), as well as its symbols for God (Letter G, All-seeing Eye), its covenant oaths, and its doctrine and ritualistic exemplification of bodily resurrection.

To which “Grand Architect” would Calvin be referring, anyway? To the Triune God of Christianity, or the god of Freemasonry? If Calvin ever did use this appellation to describe God (for which there is an absence of evidence), it is irrefutable that his belief in God as “Grand Architect” was necessarily Trinitarian. Freemasonry can make no such claim. In fact, contrary to the Masonic position, Calvin emphatically recognized the necessity of praying in the name of Jesus when he wrote “Hence, it is incontrovertibly clear that those who pray to God in any other name than that of Christ contumaciously falsify His orders, and regard His will as nothing, while they have no promise that they shall obtain.” [16.01] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Of Prayer, Book III, Chapter XX, Section 17.

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16. Masonic Grand Master's message on resurrection

Richard Black, Former Grand Master of Masons in Wisconsin, publicly reveals that Freemasonry’s third degree symbolizes bodily resurrection.  John dialogues with a Masonic apologist who says it can’t be so.

J. Salza:  In case my extensive citations from the Wisconsin Multiple Letter Cipher of Masonic ritual and the Masonic Bible were not enough for you to prove that the third degree symbolizes a resurrection to life eternal, please also refer to the Wisconsin Grand Master's interpretation of the third degree at www.wisc-freemasonry.org\grandmaster.htm. 

Richard Black, Grand Master of Masons in Wisconsin, in his May 2000 message, publicly describes the third degree as follows:

"Beyond the Obvious"

Being raised to the Sublime Degree, many men see the degree only as a literal three part drama of living, dying and being raised to life eternal." (Emphasis added.)

According to Richard Black, then, death, burial and resurrection is "beyond the obvious" in good old Wisconsin.  I wonder why so many of the flock deny their Master's message?

Black also says that the third degree is the "glory" of Freemasonry and that Masons should read "all the books, journals and articles" they can about the "fraternity."

P.S.  Your brother Richard Black is correct.  Because that is exactly what the ritual provides.

Mason:  I'm afraid that this time you have misread the message. Black is actually criticizing this interpretation of the legend. He continues: "They see the virtues and tenets being taught but misunderstand the subtle messages woven throughout the works. They hear the melody but miss the harmony of all the valuable supporting notes of music that are there for us to hear. They see the painting but fail to distinguish the changes in color, tone and density of the beautiful picture that our eyes are supposed to see."

J. Salza: Please read what Black says again. First, the Grand Master provides a caption that says "Beyond the Obvious."  Then the Grand Master writes:

"Being raised to the Sublime Degree, many men see the degree ONLY as a literal three part drama of living, dying and being raised to life eternal."

By using the word "ONLY," Black is saying that the degree is in fact being raised to life eternal, but also MORE than that (not a denial of that). The "raised to life eternal" is THE OBVIOUS part! (Hence, the caption.)  Black then goes on to say that Masons should go BEYOND this obvious part (of the resurrection drama), to actually putting into action the Masonic virtues (i.e., five points of fellowship). 

Of course, if Black would have been criticizing this interpretation, he would have omitted the word ONLY from the above-cited passage.  Then he would have explained why the degree does NOT represent a raising to life eternal.  He doesn't do this because he would be contradicting the ritual. This is as clear as it gets.

Again, I can't believe I am being forced to this level of explaining English to you, but I am doing so out of charity.  But all I get is denial of reality.  But at least I know where you stand. 

Note also how Black recommends reading all the books on the "fraternity."  You don't see any disclaimers for the occultic writings of Pike, Mackey, Coil and Hall, do you?  All of whom affirm the resurrection interpretation of the third degree?  No, because they are on the recommended reading list of the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin.

Mason:  In that case, he is wrong. The 3rd degree contains the idea that the soul is immortal, but it does not teach a bodily resurrection. Any ritual which makes such an interpretation deviates from regular Freemasonry, and the same applies to individual Masons who propagate such as part of Masonic doctrine.

J. Salza:  I know, I know.  The Wisconsin Grand Master is wrong.  The Wisconsin Multiple Letter Cipher of Masonic ritual is wrong.  The Wisconsin monitorial teachings are wrong.  The Masonic Bible handed out to all newly-made Master Masons is wrong.  Wisconsin's inclusion of Mackey's Landmarks as part of the Wisconsin Masonic Handbook is wrong.  The books of Mackey, Coil, Pike, Hall, et. al., which are recommended by the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin are wrong.  Wisconsin's 200 years of Masonic history is wrong.  It is all wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong. 

You know what?  You are right.  It is all wrong.

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17. Intense dialogue between John and Masonic apologist Ake Eldburg

J. Salza: Ake, you claim that Swedish Freemasonry requires its members to be Christian, prays in the name of Jesus, and does not allow any other religious writings to be placed on the Masonic altar. If that is the case, then Swedish Freemasonry is unlike American Freemasonry, and I will no longer pursue evaluating it (although if Swedish Freemasonry employs the same kind of oath-taking that is required in American lodges, then there is certainly a moral problem with the oaths).

I would also say that “Swedish Freemasonry” isn’t Freemasonry at all. Freemasonry, since at least 1717, is rooted in the belief of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, irrespective of religious differences. It is not the bond of Christ, but the bond of brotherhood and a belief in any “supreme” being that holds together the men of Freemasonry. This is the case throughout the world, most especially in the United States and Europe, which account for the overwhelming percentage of Masons (at least 80 percent). Your organization is clearly distinguishable from Freemasonry.

On your web page you suggest that the Catholic Church’s position against Freemasonry is not entirely clear, and that there may be exceptions.

Ake: Hmmm? I don’t think that I’ve written anything about the unclarity or exceptions, only that I believe the Catholic criticism to be flawed and in some respects uninformed.

J. Salza: Well, first read my comments below regarding Freemasonry’s teaching of bodily resurrection without Christ. Then I would like you to articulate just how the Church’s position is “flawed and uninformed.” In your educated opinion, explain to me why (American) Masonry’s teaching of bodily resurrection is not heresy. Provide me with a theological basis for your position.

Ake: I would be interested in learning what the heretical teachings consist in, why the oaths are false, and what is meant by religious indifferentism as practiced in Freemasonry.

J. Salza: I cover the heretical teaching of bodily resurrection below. If you disagree, then please provide me a theological basis for your disagreement. In regard to false oaths, American Freemasonry requires its candidates to take a solemn oath with symbolic, blood-curdling penalties, formally calling God to witness the same, in which the candidate promises to keep inviolable the secrets of Masonry, not to have sex with a MM’s wife, mother, sister or daughter, to answer Masonic summonses, to be loyal to brother Masons, etc. Hence, the subject matter of these oaths is trivial and does not require the use of an oath.

If the oaths mean what they say, then God is being called to witness the swearing to things He has already sanctions in the natural, moral law (no adultery, no breach of duty, etc.). This is an idle and disrespectful use of the Lord’s name. If the oath does not mean what it says, then God is being called to witness a joke, which is equally egregious, even more so. Our Lord’s teaching shows the gravity that He accords to the swearing of oaths (Matt. 5:34; James 5:12). This is, theologically, so well-settled as to not warrant any further discussion unless you wish to pursue it.

Ake: I have tried to find and read as many as possible of the papal writings on Freemasonry because I was curious about why they were negative. As outlined on my home page, the points of criticism I have found are not those you list but several others. For instance, Benedict XIV listed as his reasons:

  1. Masonic interconfessionalism,
  2. that Masonry has secrets,
  3. that oaths are taken,
  4. that masons are in opposition to Church and state,
  5. that they have been banned by several heads of state, and
  6. that they are immoral.

I have not been able to find out in detail what he really meant with these accusations, and it would be interesting to know if the Pope thought that it is wrong for a Christian to be a part of ANY organization open to non-Christians.

J. Salza: First, Pope Benedict did touch upon some of the points I have already made concerning Masonic interconfessionalism (which is indifferentism) and oath-taking, so the pope backs me up, not you. Second, you are over-simplifying and trivializing the Church’s position. The Church has not condemned any other “fraternity.” Just Masonry. You and I both know that the Church doesn’t preclude us from joining organizations that are open to non-Christians, so why do you raise this as a legitimate question? It’s disingenuous. I can assure you, if any organization teaches about bodily resurrection without a belief in Christ, the Church will condemn it as well.

Ake: That there is something wrong with Masonic oaths and secrets in particular, or if he disapproved of all oaths and secrets.

J. Salza: Not all oaths invoke God’s condemnation. For example, by means of a public oath, we enter into sacramental marriage, we promise to tell the truth before a court where lives are at stake, attorneys promise to uphold the constitution, etc. (The root of “oath” is sacramentum – a binding). Masonry is distinguishable from these oaths because their oaths regard trivial matters (don’t scribble the secrets or show a profane the handshakes). Moreover, the Masonic oath attaches to it a self-curse by the nature of the symbolic penalties (throat cut, heart plucked out, body severed in twain).

There is only one oath with a self-curse that is acceptable and pleasing to God the Father. That is the oath He swore to us when He promised to us salvation. And He gave us His Word, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and the Word took on the curse of our sins by being hung on a tree. This, my brother, is the only oath with a self-curse that is acceptable to God.

Ake: I must admit that I am not too familiar with American masonry. The only English-language ritual I have here is the “Emulation” which is a standard in the United Grand Lodge of England. It certainly speaks of a hope of eternal life, but does not make a direct connection between the “raising” in the 3rd degree and the resurrection of the body. As far as I know, Masons do not claim that the legendary figure Hiram Abif was raised from the dead.

J. Salza: First, Ake, you on your website hold yourself out to be a Masonic apologist for Freemasonry in general, but you are “not too familiar with American Freemasnry”? American Freemasonry takes up most of the world’s Freemasonry (about 4 out of 6 million Masons world wide are American). Second, American Masonic ritual makes explicit this connection of Hiram and resurrection, expressly stating that the Hiramic drama “testifies to Masonry’s faith in the resurrection of the body.” This comes right out of my jurisdictions ritual book. I just cited it verbatim. Remember, the candidates are not required to believe in Jesus Christ to experience this resurrection. Now that you know what American Freemasonry teaches in the third degree, do you agree that such teachings are heretical?

Ake: If American Freemasons are indeed teaching that there is a bodily resurrection which has nothing to do with Jesus Christ, then that is clearly heresy.

J. Salza: Finally, a Mason who agrees with me! Ake, you have levied quite an indictment against American Freemasonry, and I commend you for your honesty.

Ake: However, I doubt that your interpretation of their writings is correct.

J. Salza: Let’s remove your doubt. Wisconsin Multiple Letter Cipher, page 136, lines 4-8 (1998) says that the third degree “recites a legend or historical tradition on which the degree is founded – a legend whose symbolic interpretation testifies to our faith in the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul.”

In the same book: “may he be raised to the life eternal, be found worthy of fellowship with the good, and in the Grand Lodge be permitted to see Thee face to face, to worship Thee there in the beauty of holiness forever and ever. Amen.”

Lodge Manual – North Carolina, page 52 (1997): “The important part of the degree is to symbolize the great doctrines of the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul; and hence it has been remarked  by a learned writer of our Order that the Master Mason represents a man saved from the grave of iniquity and raised to the faith of salvation.”

Lodge System of Masonic Education – Nevada Q. “Why is it said that a candidate is raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason? A. This expression refers MATERIALLY to a portion of the ceremony of the Third Degree, but SYMBOLICALLY it represents a resurrection after death and a Mason’s faith in immortality.”

Mackey, one of the greatest Masonic authorities and recommended by the U.S. Grand Lodges, says in his 20th Landmark: “Subsidiary to this belief in God, as Landmark of the Craft, is the belief in a resurrection to a future life…To believe in Masonry, and not to believe in a resurrection, would be an absurd anomaly…” Mackey’s Landmarks have been adopted by a majority of the Grand Lodges in the United States.

This is just a small sampling of what U.S. lodges teach. So, Ake, we are not dealing with “interpretations,” but what the rituals actually say. I assume you now agree that Wisconsin, North Carolina and Nevada Masonic ritual (among the rest of the states) are teaching heresy.

Ake: Your analysis reveals many misunderstandings.

J. Salza: Tell me how I am misunderstanding the phrase “resurrection of the body”? This is the phrase that is in Masonic ritual, the Masonic Bible and the recommended Masonic authorities. Ake, I will only continue this dialogue if you start being honest about what the ritual says. It is not a misunderstanding. It is a fact. I can read English. Please squarely address why the “fraternity” teaches about “the resurrection of the body to the celestial lodge above.”

Ake: I really think you should discuss this with Mason from those lodges which use the rituals and manuals you quote. I am very surprised by those quotes.

J. Salza: Ake, I have. The brethren don’t wish to discuss it with me. It is too painful for them. If they acknowledged what the ritual actually teaches, they would have to make a decision either for Freemasonry or Christianity, but not both. In one instance, when I opened up the ritual and showed the Mason the language, he looked at me and denied it was there. He actually said he didn’t see what I saw! In a moment, he forgot how to read.

Nevertheless, I am not talking about discussing this with individual Masons. I am dialoguing with you, who holds himself out as a Masonic apologist with his own website to boot. Don’t pass the buck. I want YOU to defend Freemasonry as the apologist you claim you are. Why is it okay for Freemasonry to teach its members about the resurrection of the body, but not about Jesus Christ?

Ake: I have discussed the interpretation of the 3rd degree with British and Irish Masons and taken part in a Scottish 3rd degree, and read the complete Emulation ritual without finding a trace of those teachings.

J. Salza: The “interpretation” of the third degree? What is your “interpretation” of bodily resurrection? Something other than bodily resurrection? This just means that you either missed what your degrees were teaching, or those degrees are different than the degrees in the United States. Please stay focused on American Freemasonry, or put a caveat on your website that says your apologetic does not include American Freemasonry because you know nothing about it.

Ake: I was referring to the legend of Hiram. It is used everywhere, but not even Masons are totally agreed on its meaning. The story is simple: the chief architect of the Temple is killed by apprentices in an attempt to extract from him the secret word. He is buried in secret by the murderers, but the body is found and returned to the temple for proper burial, and the criminals are caught and punished.

J. Salza: Ake, are you telling me that the most sublime degree in all of Freemasonry is nothing more than a story about a murder and a funeral? C’mon. Read the ritual. While Hiram was literally reburied, the ritual expressly states that the raising of Hiram (as is done to the candidate) symbolizes Freemasonry’s faith “in the resurrection of the body.”

But don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at what the Heirloom Masonic Bible says about the Hiramic legend of the third degree:

“Literally, this refers to a portion of the ceremony; but more significantly, it refers symbolically to the resurrection, which is exemplified as the object of the degree.”

“In Masonic philosophy death is a symbol of initiation completed, in which the resurrection of the body will be its final consummation.”

“A distinctive tenet of Masonry is that there remains a heaven of rest and of rewards for the good and faithful, a place of perfect happiness beyond the grave and the resurrection of the body.”

“The doctrine of eternal life permeates all the Mysteries of Freemasonry; it is the fundamental basis of the Third Degree in a very special emphasis. Co-equal with emphasis on this tenet of Masonic Faith is belief in the future resurrection of the body.”

“The doctrine of the resurrection of the body to a future and eternal life constitutes an essential dogma of the religious faith of Freemasonry. It is more authoritatively inculcated in the symbolism of the Third Degree than is possible by any dogmatic creed.”

“Of greatest importance is the sprig of acacia, to teach symbolically the great Masonic doctrine of a resurrection and future life.”

Are you reading this? Please address these teachings, which are at the heart of the Third Degree of American Freemasonry, from a Christian perspective.

Ake: On an elementary level, it can bee seen as a morality about keeping secrets and making the ultimate sacrifice rather than betray trust. That would be almost trivial.

J. Salza: No one is debating WHY Hiram was murdered. The issue is what did Hiram GAIN because he was faithful and then murdered. Masonry’s answer: Eternal life. Resurrection. Salvation based on works, and not the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Do you see the problem?

Ake: On another level, the ritual where the candidate takes the part of Hiram can be seen as a reminder of death.

J. Salza: Yes, but the ritual doesn’t stop there. What would be the point? The most sublime teaching of Freemasonry is about the attainment of eternal life by being a faithful Mason. Hiram was raised to the celestial lodge above. Again, read the rituals, the Masonic Bible, and any other Masonic authority.

Ake: I have never encountered a ritual outside of those you quoted, which interprets the Hiram legend as being directly about bodily resurrection.

J. Salza: If not “directly,” then what about “indirectly”? Ake, ALL the American jurisdictions that I have studied (which is almost every single state in the U.S.), says the same thing: the third degree exemplifies Freemasonry’s faith in the resurrection of the body. There is a lot of ignorance about American Masonic ritual. It is sad to see men like you who profess to be Christian but at the same time defend American Freemasonry, especially when you do so publicly and haven’t even studied it.

Ake: Well, I think that it is a big mistake from a Masonic point of view to have this in the ritual.

J. Salza: But who are you to say that American Freemasonry is “a big mistake”? I am glad that you are admitting serious problems with American Freemasonry, but you must respect the sovereignty of each Grand Lodge in the U.S. to write their own rituals as they see fit. Moreover, your own Grand Lodge recognizes 49 of the 50 states as practicing valid Freemasonry, otherwise you wouldn’t be allowed to visit them and participate in their rituals.

Ake: Hiram is dead. The fact that the candidate is “raised” does not depict a resurrection, it’s merely the end of the symbolic drama. The candidate has experienced what happened to Hiram, and we can hardly just leave him lying there.

J. Salza: It is truly amazing how you guys deny what the rituals say in black and white. At least when I deal with Protestants about biblical exegesis, they don’t deny what the Scriptures say, only what the Scriptures mean. You guys deny what the rituals actually say. If Hiram just died and that was it, then why should we follow his example? Is Masonry saying that there is no life after death? No, Masonry says just the opposite, and that is the object of the third degree.

As you have even remarked, “Masonry is veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.” An allegory is a complicated story with an underlying meaning hidden from its surface meaning. Of course you can’t just leave him lying there. But why then not stop the degree after he is killed? Why gather around the body and say a prayer “for everlasting salvation,” asking the Grand Architect to “raise him to the life eternal,” then raise him up, and give him a lecture that says the degree represents bodily resurrection? And why have more than a half-dozen quotes in the Masonic Bible confirming the belief in the resurrection? How did all that stuff after the murder get in there? Let’s not insult each other’s intelligence! As the Master says: “Hiram translated himself from that imperfect to that all-perfect, glorious and celestial lodge above, where the supreme architect of the universe presides.”

If you are going to teach about bodily resurrection, which was obtained for us only by virtue of the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ, then you must also teach about Jesus. To not make Jesus, who is the one and only essence of the truth being taught, part of the teaching is to be, at a minimum, indifferent to Him (which ultimately rejects Him and His uniqueness). It is a novel teaching. To say that, there is a “bodily resurrection,” but, no, you don’t have to believe in Jesus, is repugnant to the faith of any Christian. It is heretical. It is frightening. And it is exactly what American Freemasonry teaches.

Ake: My American Masonic friends have this to say: “There are a number of lodges which have drifted towards a deviation from standard American Freemasonry in that they have become almost decidedly Christian.”

J. Salza: This comment poses addition problems for you. First, this proves that the “Christian” ideology is not Masonic. Freemasonry doesn’t want to drift off into Christianity, or it wouldn’t be Freemasonry. Second, ALL of the Grand Lodges teach about bodily resurrection, and NONE of the Grand Lodges require its members to be Christians. So your American friends’ comments are completely bogus. They are trying to protect their turf by saying that there are some renegade lodges out there, but there lodge is different. Have them produce their rituals to see just how “different” they are.

Moreover, by saying that there are some irregular lodges out there means that they are indicting their own Grand Lodges for not cleaning up the mess! What an indictment! What are they going to do about this? Have the Grand Lodges actually said that “there are a number of lodges which have drifted towards a deviation from standard American Freemasonry…”? What lodges are they? Can you identify them for me, please?

Ake: It could be said that the rituals you quoted are at odds with Freemasonry’s self-image and could even be considered “heretical” from a Masonic point of view.

J. Salza: First, to say that American Freemasonry’s doctrines are “heretical” is to admit that Freemasonry has its own body of “doctrinal truths,” which elevates Masonry to a sort of pseudo-religion. Are you prepared to declare on your Masonic website that American Freemasonry is teaching heresy?

Second, the rituals I am quoting from ALL have the imprimatur of their respective Grand Lodges! This means you are indicting American Freemasonry as a whole, for the Grand Lodges in the U.S. are the supreme and final authorities on Freemasonry in their particular state. This puts you in quite a bind.

Ake: A 32nd degree Mason answered my questions with yes, there is a Masonic religious doctrine, namely:

-There is a supreme being

-who created the universe

-and who has revealed the Moral Law

-to whom we must give account for our actions on earth

-in a life after this.

J. Salza: Good. You have now conceded that Freemasonry has a religious doctrine. (NB: you forget the “resurrection of the body” as one of the major tenets, since it is the principle dogma of American Freemasonry.) Tell me, what other “fraternity” has a religious doctrine? Freemasonry indeed has a religious doctrine. Even if you argue it is a generic one, this does not mitigate its errors or make it compatible with Christianity. To the contrary, there are many religions that have even LESS formal doctrines and practices than Freemasonry (Unitarians, Buddhists, etc.) and those religions are equally condemned from a Christian perspective.

Ake: In his opinion, this is not heresy because it does not contradict church dogma.

J. Salza: What “church”? What “dogma”? Please articulate exactly what you mean. Let’s be specific in our terminology. Heresy is the post-baptismal denial of a dogma that must be believed with divine and catholic faith. The Trinity is such a dogma. If your Christian friend is saying that the “supreme being” of the Masonic lodge is not the Trinity, then Freemasonry is denying the most fundamental dogma of the Christian faith. For your friend to embrace this view of God makes him a heretic.

When your friend gave you his “opinion,” he also forgot to throw in the Masonic doctrine of “bodily resurrection.” Pretty convenient, since this is what his lodge teaches. I will continue to ask you this question until you answer it: If the lodge teaches a bodily resurrection which has nothing to do with Jesus Christ (which I have already proved to you by citing the ritual and the Masonic Bible), then is that teaching heretical?

You have previously indicated that it would be heretical theoretically, but thought my “interpretation” of American ritual was inaccurate. If that is still your position, then please articulate why you think my “interpretation” is inaccurate. Let’s dig in and expose the weaknesses of my exegesis. Let’s do this so we can get a definitive answer from you, with no qualifications. Then let’s change your website.

Ake: Like all other Masonic teachings, symbols and ideas, it is open to interpretation by adherents of different religions. A Christian will of course understand it according to his religion, a Jew according to his.

J. Salza: I am glad you brought this up. Your point actually proves that Masonry is incompatible with Christianity. First of all, American Freemasonry does not instruct a Mason to practice his own religion. There is NEVER any instruction, anywhere, in any part of the ritual, which instructs the Mason to contemplate the ritual in light of his religious beliefs. This is because individual “sectarian” beliefs are irrelevant in Masonry. Masonry has its own religious doctrines that, for the most part, you have acknowledged.

Second, Freemasonry’s religious teachings are not even compatible with all religions! So how can you say that Masonic teachings can be embraced by all? Not all religions believe in bodily resurrection. Yet the men of those religions can still be Masons, correct? Correct. This proves that Masonry has its OWN belief system independent of “sectarian” beliefs.

Ake: That is indeed a problem as I see it.

J. Salza: Indeed it is. Finally, the statement that one “should view Masonic ritual in light of his own beliefs” is the philosophy of indifferentism, par excellence. No one particular faith is unique. The lodge puts them all on an equal plane. Christianity does not teach its doctrine of bodily resurrection with the directive of believing whatever faith you want. Christianity teaches the inseparability of bodily resurrection and Jesus Christ, without whom bodily resurrection would not exist! So, you see, this argument of “following your own beliefs” breaks down real quickly. It underscores that Jesus is not unique and can be disregarded in the Masonic system.

Ake: Regarding praying in Jesus’ name, I understand the question. Is it right for a Christian to deliberately omit the name of Jesus from a prayer, out of respect for others, in a group where people belong to different religions? The question does not pertain to what goes on in the heart of the praying person. A Christian will always be praying through Christ. So the question has to do with what is said aloud. One could rephrase it: “Is it our duty to always mention the name of Jesus aloud when we pray?” If this is an obligation, there must be a reason for it. I can think of three such:

  1. Mentioning Jesus is part of our missionary duties, to proclaim Christ.
  2. It’s necessary in order to avoid any misunderstanding about who is our Lord.
  3. Jesus himself commanded us to pray in His name.

The first I see as a too rigid interpretation of what it means to proclaim Christ. In the lodge, everyone will know whom I am praying to.

J. Salza: If you are deliberately omitting Christ from prayers, then tell me how you are proclaiming Him? There is a disconnect there, wouldn’t you say? And since the brothers know that Freemasonry deliberately omits Christ from the prayers, what does that tell them about you and your fidelity to Christ? Where did the Lord say, “pray to me in your heart, but don’t confess me before men out of respect for others”? As I already pointed out, Scripture teaches something quite different. Show me where is this “Masonic fellowship exception,” that we can omit Jesus’ name from prayers. Do you think that Masonic fellowship is so important that God looks favorably upon such a practice? This type of thinking is from men, not God. Whoever does not honor the Son, does not honor the Father.

Ake: I cannot understand why it is necessary to confess Jesus aloud in a particular setting of the Masonic lodge ritual. Why would it be necessary to do it especially there? Virtually no Christians have ever gone around shouting out their faith in Jesus in the streets, or interrupted a play in a theatre or a film in a cinema to proclaim Christ.

J. Salza: Are you really comparing these social activities with the secret, oath-bound activities of the Masonic lodge? Let’s not waste each others’ time with such nonsense. Freemasonry is a permanently established institution that has its own prayers, its own rituals, its own blood oaths, and its own religious teachings. Of course, we don’t go jamming our beliefs down other people’s throats. But you are just attempting to make the Christian apologist feel embarrassed for trying to preserve the honor of the Lord’s name in the face of an organization that denies Him.

Ake: In fact, the only people who do such offensive things are fanatical fundamentalists, and the only thing they achieve is to give Christianity a bad name.

J. Salza: Actually, it is Masons who profess a belief in Jesus who give Christianity a bad name. I would rather be radically committed to Christ who died for my sins than to an organization that has no use for Him as it teaches about eternal life.

I often think of this hypothetical. What if, at the opening of the lodge, the chaplain said a prayer in Jesus’ name. Then, when it was time for visitors to be introduced, a visiting brother stood up, saluted the Worshipful Master (with the symbolism of having his body severed in twain), and said, “Worshipful Master, your opening prayer offended me. I am a practicing Buddhist. I don’t believe in Jesus Christ and would like the closing prayer to exclude the name of Jesus.” When it came time for the closing prayer, who would be left outside the lodge, Jesus or the Buddhist?

Ake: Jesus can never be left outside the lodge as long as there are believing and confessing Christians in it.

J. Salza: Only so long as “two or three are gathered” in His name. In American Freemasonry, Masons do NOT gather in the name of Jesus. They gather “in the name of the Supreme Architect of the Universe.” The Masonic prayer goes out of its way to make it clear that Masons are gathered and will offer worship in the name of the GAOTU.

Ake: I accept that everyone will not convert to Christianity. When adherents of other faiths have made clear their decision to remain in their religion, this does not mean that I must regard them as my enemies and have no dealings with them.

J. Salza: The American lodge would never give you a chance to discuss Jesus with them. Also, no one ever said that you should regard them as enemies. You should love them. But first and foremost, you should love your God and not be indifferent to the revelation He has given us. You have stated that Freemasonry can teach by implication, and not necessarily by express statements. Tell me, what is Freemasonry teaching when it allows any type of pagan writing to take an equal place on the Masonic altar with the Holy Bible?

Ake: If there are Jews and Moslems in the lodge, insisting on prayer in the name of Jesus is not a working way to convert them, only to alienate them – and if I do this then how can I win them for Christ? My missionary duties toward non-Christian brethren are better performed by setting a good example in my general life, and treating them with love.

J. Salza: Unfortunately for you, St. Paul did just the opposite to the pagans on Mars Hill. Instead of leaving them in their ignorance, he showed them “love” by proclaiming that the God they were seeking became flesh in Jesus Christ (see Acts 17). Paul was clear that, in former times, God overlooked their ignorance. But now God has fixed a time when He will judge the world through Jesus Christ, the one Freemasonry excludes from its gatherings. Masonry chooses to leave their members in darkness. Paul, me, and the rest of the Church do not.

Our Lord commands us to proclaim Christ to all peoples (Matt 28:29-30). If the early Christians took the tepid view that you have, Christianity would have died in the womb. We are required to proclaim Christ even at the risk of being rejected. If we are rejected, we are to shake the dust off our feet and move on (Matt. 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5; Acts 13:51). In fact, proclaiming Christ is not only necessary for evangelization, but for our salvation as well.

Masonry, on the other hand, puts Masonic fellowship before evangelization. All “truths” become relative for the greater glory of Masonic fellowship. In Masonry, its fellowship first, and maybe Jesus later on, outside the lodge, if appropriate. St. Paul taught us to avoid being mismated with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14). He also taught us to reject any philosophies that are based on the traditions of men, and not Christ (Col. 2:8). St. John teaches that spiritual fellowship only exists in Christ (1 John 1:6-7), and warned us that those who run ahead and teach about eternal life without Christ do not have the Father (2 John 9-11). Could this sound any more like Freemasonry?

Freemasonry condemned itself the moment it focused its entire philosophy on God and eternal life (without which, of course, it would no longer be Masonry). If Masonry were truly a social organization, and had nothing to do with spirituality (much less formal group prayers, oaths, bodily resurrection and eternal life), the duty to evangelize, although still absolutely necessary, would not be so “compelling,” if you will. The doctrines and practices of Freemasonry, which purport to teach religious truths, actually deceive its members and lead them into perdition. This compels all Christians to evangelize the lodge, stand up for the truth of Jesus Christ, and to bring all Masons into the only fellowship which is pleasing to God the Father.

When you think of Christ’s precious blood, how can you sit in a lodge that is teaching about eternal life, with no reference to that precious blood? When you contemplate the flogging, the mockery, the spitting upon, the crowning of thorns, the carrying of the cross, the crucifixion and death, how can you bear to hear teachings about resurrection but no Christ? This sends a chill down my spine.

Ake: The second point would be valid in a situation where the Christian faith is new and largely unknown to people. In the lodge, it is not. We live here in a situation where Jews, Moslems and Christians are aware of their differences. There is no risk that anyone will imagine that the participants are praying to a different god than the one they worship in their regular religious congregations.

J. Salza: To argue for a common religious practice, other than an occasional gesture of good will (and then when there are no generic prayers or oaths or secrecy) would indeed require considerable syncretism. Such a position becomes even more untenable when the institution accepts those whose idea of “god” is impersonal, naturalistic, pantheistic, panentheistic, and so on. Does American Masonry exclude all but those who have a strict belief in a personal deity? Absolutely not. Hence, Masonry’s practice results in membership in a new, common-denominator religion, one even lower in theological standards than would be in the blasphemous union of Judiams, Islam and Christianity.

Ake: New Age religion usually leans toward pantheism. Clearly, those religions are not in accordance with Masonic doctrine, which contains a creator and is thus incompatible with the Hindu belief that the universe is eternal and not created.

J. Salza: What “Masonic doctrine”? What fraternity has religious “doctrines”? Also, American Freemasonry DOES invite Hindi, Buddhists and other pantheistic believers into the craft as equal members of the order. The Christian worships with him before the Letter G with the same prayers and incantations. Don’t you see a serious problem with such an amalgamation?

Please contemplate these passages. “God is a spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and truth” (John 4:24). “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). For Christians, God cannot be worshiped in any other way, but through Jesus Christ.

Ake: The third reason is a too rigid and legalistic interpretation of what Jesus said. The foremost prayer (Our Father) which he himself taught us, does not contain his name.

J. Salza: Your rebuttals are growing more desperate. Jesus was the AUTHOR of the Our Father. This is precisely why the Our Father can never be said in a Masonic lodge! Your rebuttal only hurts your position.

Ake: British-American Freemasonry historically has been open to all those who believe in an almighty, allseeing god. This used to mean Jews, Moslems and Christians. All three religions share a hope of resurrection and eternal life. Rituals are designed so as to be acceptable to all, meaning that if there is a point on which these religions disagree, it will not be part of ritual, and vice versa.

J. Salza: This is not true, and this is what is forever problematic from a Christian perspective. Not all faiths (including some believers in Judaism, Buddhism, Shintoism, etc.) believe in bodily resurrection. By our God-given intellect, we all may believe that there is a supreme being who created all things. We don’t necessarily need revelation for that. By our reason, we may also believe that some things are moral and other things are immoral. To an extreme, we may even believe that we have an immortal soul (many of the ancient philosophers did).

However, we cannot reason that we will be subject to a bodily resurrection upon our death, especially when we know that our bodies decay at death. Our knowledge of bodily resurrection comes only from the divinely revealed truth of Jesus Chris, who IS the resurrection and the life. It is the cornerstone of Christianity. If Christ has not been raised, then our faith is in vain (1 Cor. 15:14,17). If Freemasonry is going to teach revealed truth (which it has no authority or charism to do), then it must teach the full truth, which, for bodily resurrection, includes the redemptive death of Christ Jesus, who is the source of the resurrection. If not, such teachings are heretical. We do not light a lam and put it under a bushel. We put it on a lamp so it can fill the whole house with light (Matt. 5:14).

Ake: To speak of “Masonic doctrine” sounds strange to me.

J. Salza: It is strange that you say it’s strange, since you have stated more than once that there IS a “Masonic doctrine.” To me to, it sounds strange as well, since it supposedly comes from a “fraternity.” But that is how Masonry characterizes its teachings. Labels are unimportant, anyway. Call it a doctrine, a teaching, a philosophy, it does not matter. It is an empty and seductive philosophy based on the traditions of men and not Christ.

Ake: British-American Freemasonry is not a religion or a church or a sect, but a fraternity of men from different religions.

J. Salza: Another example of putting a label on something to define it. Putting a chicken soup label on a can does not make the contents inside the can chicken soup. You have to actually open up the can to see what is inside.

Ake: As such, Masonry should not have a doctrine in religious matters.

J. Salza: I agree with you. That is a problem, isn’t it? You would certainly agree that a solemn ceremony exemplifying a “bodily resurrection to the celestial lodge above where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides” is a religious matter.

Ake: Imagine a circle, representing the religious doctrine of British-American Freemasonry. This circle is placed inside an area where all faiths intersect. Freemasonry only points to those beliefs on which all its members are agreed, that which they have in common.

J. Salza: First, you are arguing for a common religious practice that must necessarily involve syncretism, since the practice requires oral, corporate worship of deity, with symbols and implements to facilitate that worship. Second, while Masonry teaches its faith in “the resurrection of the body,” not all religions believe in “resurrection of the body.” So your analogy breaks down. Masonry’s teachings exist independently of the faiths that are in or out of your circle.

Ake: Since my purpose is to defend the general fraternity of International Freemasonry as I know it, I am reluctant to comment on any specific ritual which I have not seen in its entirety and the meaning of which I have not discussed with any Masons in the lodge which use it.

J. Salza: First, American Freemasonry comprises the majority of the “International Freemasonry” you are defending. Second, as this dialogue demonstrates, you are defending American Freemasonry. It sure is surprising when you admit that you haven’t even studied American Masonic ritual. You cannot defend something you haven’t read about and don’t understand.

Third, don’t be reluctant to comment on the ritual. You are an educated man, a professing Christian, and one who is proudly championing the Masonic cause on a website. So don’t back off. Be bold and comment on the ritual. Comment on why Freemasonry teaches about bodily resurrection to the celestial lodge above, without Christ. Please form some conclusions about American Freemasonry for us, okay? Either you see a problem or you don’t. Fourth, please feel comfortable with discussing the ritual with me. I conferred countless Masonic degrees as Worshipful Master, so I have “used” these rituals personally.

Ake: I have forwarded part of your text to a couple of friends for more comments. Will get back to you on this.

J. Salza: Okay.

P.S. The Catholic Church does not recognize the Church of Sweden as having any apostolic succession. The Church of Sweden is a branch of Lutheranism, and as having followed Luther’s doctrine, would have defective orders in the eyes of God.

Ake: We may be talking about different things here. I understand that the RCC does not recognize anything as valid unless it is under the jurisdiction of the pope. But iI was not talking about RC approvals or recognition but about the fact that there is a succession of laying on of hands in ordinations, in the Church of Sweden, which is directly connected to the RC succession.

J. Salza: There may be the ceremonial “laying on of hands” in your ordinations (as there is in other Christian denominations), but no priest in your church can trace his lineage back to any of the original apostles. They can only be traced back to Luther, who had no authority to ordain anyone (he was not a bishop). That is what I meant by apostolic succession. In the Catholic Church, every single priest can trace his authority back to one of the apostles, to whom their authority was granted by our Lord.

Ake: Wrong. The Church of Sweden does indeed have such a lineage. That is an irrefutable historic fact.

J. Salza: This is not true. The church of Sweden was borne from Luther. Luther had no authority to ordain anyone because he was not a bishop. Moreover, Luther broke his ties with Rome when he began to teach heresy. Luther was a limb cut off from the body. The church of Sweden is Lutheranism. So you can only trace your heritage back to Luther. That is where it stops.

Ake: You forgot to add “in my personal opinion” to your comments. As to the opinion itself, I disagree. If I didn’t, I would hardly be a Lutheran.

J. Salza: Well, I will side with the “opinions” of all the great fathers and doctors of the Church, who claimed membership in the Catholic Church many centuries before Luther was even born. It’s funny. Many Lutheran “churches” in America no longer follow what Luther taught. That is what happens when you reject divinely instituted authority. You get chaos.

Ake: I just received this from an American Mason: “I am surprised that a Catholic raises this issue as it has been surprisingly the fundamentalist Protestants harping on it here. I have Duane Washum’s tape – and I just ‘howled’ when I heart I the first time. Again, it goes back to the issue of ‘weakness of mind’ in my opinion.

J. Salza: Would you, or this anonymous Mason, say that I cannot read English? I would ‘howl’ at that, Ake. The only “weakness of mind” we are dealing with is someone who has no desire to read what the rituals actually say.

Ake: I know that the Church had issue condemnations of Freemasonry centuries ago, but I am not aware of any recent, authoritative teaching on the matter.

J. Salza: The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1983 affirmed what the Church has always taught about Freemasonry since 1738. The Church’s teachings about the errors of Freemasonry, which have been promulgated always and everywhere, may be considered infallible by the ordinary Magisterium.

Ake: How can a teaching be infallible when it is not even clear what it refers to?

J. Salza: The Church’s teaching “is not even clear what it refers to”? Let’s take a look at a section of the Church’s most recent teaching:

“The Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic associations remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.

Actually, the Church’s teaching is crystal clear. The document refers to “Masonic associations.” This applies to ALL Masonic associations, without distinction.

Ake: With the same logic I could criticize the Roman Catholic Church and not make a difference between it and the Liberal catholic church, the pre-Vatican II (Lefevbre & Co), and the Old Catholics – because they are all called Catholics.

J. Salza: You are trying to create distinctions among Catholics to confuse the issue as regards Freemasonry. Since the Congregation’s letter is directed toward “Masonic associations” without distinction, this is not going to help you. Moreover, even using your logic, the aforementioned Catholic “groups” are all considered to be baptized Catholics, so you haven’t even provided a proper analogy to demonstrate the point that you were trying to make – that there are distinctions among Masonic groups.

Ake: As far as I have seen, the RCC makes no difference between atheist/rationalist Freemasonry and religious Freemasonry, nor between the British type which only requires belief in a supreme being and the Swedish system which is Christian. Nor does it differentiate between the often political masonry in Lain countries and the non-political lodges in Anglosaxon countries.

J. Salza: Again, you are trying to distinguish one Freemasonry from another to weaken the Church’s blanket condemnations. This is a common ploy among Masons. With the purported exception of Swedish Freemasonry (which you indicated admits only Christian men into the organization), all the other types of Masonry you mentioned are the same (and I am not condoning Swedish Freemasonry because I still believe there is a problem with their oaths). I don’t care what you call them (rationalist, religious, political, non-political); such organizations are teaching a false gospel.

Ake: Are you saying that there is no difference between a society which requires belief in God and one that thinks atheism is just as good? Are you saying that there is no difference between a society which makes the brotherhood and friendship of members, and their moral development, its chief concern – and one which mostly engages in politics and works to bring ruin on organized religion?

J. Salza: I believe what I am saying is obvious. There is a difference between a society that requires a belief in God to join, but then never discusses God again, versus a society who not only requires a belief in deity, but also exemplifies the deity’s presence in solemn, ritualistic ceremonies, has repeated references to eternal life throughout its rituals, and whose ritual culminates in a drama which symbolically testifies to the institution’s faith in the resurrection of the body. Wouldn’t you say there is a difference?

Ake: Your answer is evasive. You seem reluctant to admit that those associations which call themselves Freemasons are different in many important respects, both in their approach to religion and the nature of their activities toward the surrounding world.

J. Salza: There was nothing at all evasive about my response. You are still advancing anachronistic argumentation by trying to distinguish one Masonry from another. There are no such differences in the United States. If the institution requires oaths with self-curses, denies Christ in prayer, and teaches about the resurrection of the body without the Lord Jesus Christ, then it is Freemasonry and it is incompatible with the Christian faith. The specific customs, regalia, by-laws and other procedural elements may be different, but the doctrine is all the same. That is why Freemasonry has developed its “Landmarks.” To protect the universality of its doctrines, notwithstanding the differences in geography, custom or culture.

Moreover, I would also seriously question whether this thing you call “Swedish Freemasonry” is compatible with Christianity. If Swedish Freemasonry requires its members to swear symbolic, blood-curdling oaths on the Bible for membership, then I would submit to you that it is not compatible with Christian teachings on the taking of oaths. Please let me know what you do in regard to oaths.

Ake: This is a frequent objection to Masonic oaths. Matt. 5:34-47. The quote from Matthew should be read in context, where 5:33 summarizes the substance of Exodus 20:7, Lev. 19:12, Num. 30:2-3 and Deut. 23:21-14. All of those laws aim at safeguarding the sanctity of oaths against indiscriminate and frivolous use – a common thing among men and apparently especially so among Jews in those times.

J. Salza: I agree. That is exactly why the Masonic oath is a false oath – because it violates “the sanctity of oaths against indiscriminate and frivolous use.” It invokes God to witness things that He has already sanctioned (being loyal) or condemned (committing adultery).

Ake: In Jewish literature, this is a big deal; for example, the entire Mishnah tractate “Shebuoth” is devoted to casuistical discussion of the validity of oaths. Thus, we have here a situation where religious Jews are asking how an oath should be sworn in order to be legally binding – because there are so many oaths which on close inspection will have “ways out” or somehow not be binding. The question of how to tell the Truth and how to give binding assurances has become bogged down in legalese and sophistry.

J. Salza: Why are you, a clergyman, appealing to Jewish authorities about something that needs to be addressed in the context of Christian moral theology? Let’s move on.

Ake: Jesus goes beyond the current prescriptions against breaking oaths to establish the supreme righteousness which does not require any oaths to emphasize truthfulness and sincerity. Jesus is saying something like “Cut the crap! You are either speaking the truth or you are not, period.” From this interpretation, the Church has always accepted it as lawful for Christians to swear oaths when this has been required by secular authorities; Jesus is not making a law against oaths, but declaring that righteous does not need them. God knows what is true and untre, and oaths make no difference to him.

J. Salza: Oaths make no difference to God? Then why did God give us the Second Commandment, which forbids taking the Lord God’s name in vain? Because oaths “make no difference to him”? I can’t believe I am hearing such a thing from a Christian, especially a Protestant minister. You have been indoctrinated into the indifferentism of Freemasonry.

Ake: Since God knows what is true and what is not, a lie does not fool him no matter how solemnly it is worded. Oaths are for humans, not for God. A false oath may deceive men, but not God. That is what I think Jesus was pointing to.

J. Salza: Fooling God is not the issue. The subject matter of the oath is the issue. False oaths do not deceive God, they OFFEND God. That is why He commanded us never to take His name in vain. His name is holy, and His honor must be maintained. How do we know when we are taking His name in vain? We look at the subject matter of the oath. This is what you continue to fail to address. The oaths show a lack of respect for God and an idle us of His name by invoking Him as a witness in trivial matters.

Ake: This is a very subjective opinion. Many people would say that a solemn promise to friends is never a trivial matter.

J. Salza: Really? What if I swore to God that I would meet you for a cup of coffee? Is such a promise “to a friend” a trivial matter? Further, invoking the name of God in an oath is a promise to God, not just to men.

Ake: You are talking about a single instance of promising to behave in a certain way, which is not the comparable to a permanent obligation that one takes on in an instituted society.

J. Salza: But a witness swears an oath before the court “promising to behave in a certain way,” that is, to tell the truth during her testimony. That has nothing to do with swearing a “permanent obligation” to an “instituted society.” Yet there is nothing wrong with the oath sworn in court. Why? Because the subject matter of the oath is grave. This gets back to my original question which you didn’t answer. Why wouldn’t swearing to meet you for a cup of coffee be a licit oath? Because the subject matter is trivial. THAT is the issue.

Ake: A Christian certainly is free to promise anything he likes, as long as it does not go against the faith.

J. Salza: Ake, a false oath is something that goes against the faith (namely, the Second Commandment). The Christian is not free to swear to God any oath that he wishes. Further, the very nature of swearing to be worthy of defiling the body on the Holy Scriptures if one should violate the fraternity’s principles should be repugnant to any Christian. When I was baptized, my parents didn’t have to swear a blood oath. When I made my sacraments of penance, Holy Communion and confirmation, I did not have to swear a blood oath. Did you? Why is it required in Masonry? Are Masonic principles so much graver than the sacraments?

Ake: Masons don’t swear to God.

J. Salza: Wrong. They absolutely do. In each of the three degrees, the oaths commence with “I, Mr. A.B., in the presence of Almighty God, do hereby and hereon, most solemnly and sincerely, promise and swear…” The oaths conclude with “all this I most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear…” Masons swear to God, and they do it at an altar on the Scriptures while blindfolded (the altar, of course, is the symbol of sacrifice, since the Mason is sacrificing his former religious beliefs for the new religious faith of Freemasonry). These are the typical formulations of oaths.

Ake: As to not knowing the secrets in advance, before the Masonic oath is sworn, the Worshipful Master assures the candidate that there is in the vows nothing incompatible with his civil, moral or religious duties.

J. Salza: Is this assurance a sufficient guarantee? Of course not. Does the Worshipful Master even know what the man’s religious beliefs and duties even are? Probably not. Therefore, the Master cannot assure the candidate that the oath will not conflict with those beliefs or duties. He can make no such promise. This is state to put the candidate’s mind at ease, but it is a lie, just like everything else in the lodge room. If you are so willing to buy into this part of the ritual, why won’t you equally acknowledge the same rituals’ teachings about the resurrection of the body?

Ake: How can’t the Worshipful Master not know the candidates religion? Before anyone is admitted into Freemasonry, he is “examined” as to his religion, and the Master would probably know this.

J. Salza: Not in America. The candidate only has to profess a belief in “deity.” No other inquiries in his beliefs are made. He doesn’t even have to have a religion.

Ake: Thus, if there were secrets that went against God, the oath would be automatically invalidated.

J. Salza: Since the oaths require the candidate to swear to uphold religious principles that are incompatible with the Christian faith, they are false, and both the oath-taker and the oath-administrator will be accountable to God for this evil.

Ake: Thus, the truthfulness of my word as a Christian should be reliable without oaths. I should not engage in trying to wriggle out of promises or contracts by using “fine print” or other deceits.

J. Salza: This begs the question why Freemasonry requires oaths. The fact that Jesus counseled us not to swear oaths shows the gravity that Jesus accorded them. Of course, an oath may be licit, and an act of virtue, under certain conditions (e.g., in the sacrament of marriage; giving legal testimony). The Catholic Church from apostolic times to the present day has employed oaths, and canonical legislation and doctrinal decrees have affirmed their lawfulness in certain limited circumstances.

However, the lawfulness of the oath depends upon the necessity or utility of the oath. In the Masonic oaths, Masons swear to uphold secrets that have not even been revealed to them. They swear to converse upon the secrets of Masonry only with other regular Masons. They swear to be partial to their brother Masons. They swear not to have illict, carnal intercourse with a Master Mason’s wife, mother, sister or daughter. And these oaths are taken under symbolic, blood-curdling penalties. These oaths show a lack of respect for God and an idle use of His name by invoking Him as a witness in trivial matters. Either the Mason is swearing to perform duties that do not require the use of an oath, or he is swearing to keep secret things about which he knows nothing (in which case the oath cannot be binding). Consequently, the Masonic oaths are illict and immoral.

Ake: Masonic oaths are neither required nor taken in a legalese spirit.

J. Salza: In the United States, the oaths are required for membership in Masonry. And as far as I know, oaths are required around the world, since “secrecy” is a Landmark of the Order. In fact, it is the OATH that makes a man a Mason. At the opening and closing of the lodge, the Master asks the Senior Warden, “What makes you a Mason?” The Senior Warden responds “My obligation.” In addition, every time the Worshipful Master is addressed in open lodge, the addressor must make a sign of symbolic self-mutilation which refers to the symbolic penalty of the oath. So, not only are the oaths required, but they are taken very seriously.

Ake: In effect, the oaths are solemnly worded statements of what the lodge wants me to do or not to do. Their purpose is not to bind me in a web of interpretations or wordings, but to impart to me the importance of e.g. not revealing Masonic secrets (of which there are few nowadays).

J. Salza: Who is the Masonic lodge to tell a Christian what he should do or not do, or what is moral or immoral? This is exactly the kind of thing that invites the Church’s condemnation. Since when does Freemasonry have the authority to teach about morality? Further, why is it necessary to swear an oath to God, under a self-curse, to not reveal trivial Masonic secrets? Your explanation of the Masonic oath highlights the very problem with it – it concerns trivial matters that should not be the subject matter of an oath.

Ake: The lodge doesn’t tell a Christian what is moral and what isn’t. Masonry only uses what a man’s religion already teaches. It uses ritual to reinforce religious doctrine; it does not pretend to have its own dispensation from Deity separate from those religions.

J. Salza: What “religious doctrine” does Masonry use “ritual” to “reinforce”? I’ll give you just one: the resurrection of the body, without a concomitant belief in the necessity of having faith in Jesus Christ. I have already proved your argument to be invalid by showing that Masonry’s doctrines are not even compatible with all religions.

Ake: I see no harm with the oaths since the formulation of the oath is there to underscore its serious nature to the giver.

J. Salza: Again and again, why is the nature “serious”? Isn’t this a light-hearted fraternity? What is so serious about promising never to say “Tubal-cain” to a non-Mason?

Ake: In the Swedish ritual, it is expressly said that the blood-curdling aspects of the Masonic oaths are not to be taken literally, but remain as a witness of the harsh realities of the past (when brethren could actually face death as an alternative to betraying their promises).

J. Salza: Is there really a distinction, from a moral theological perspective, between the pain you should feel in your conscience versus the physical pain you would feel had the penalties been carried out? It once again begs the question why you have to swear to keep secret trivialities, and why you should be subject to such pain if you failed to do so.

Ake: The mention in God in Masonic oaths, as far as I am aware, is only there to remind the oath-giver that God is listening to the promise. Which of course he is. The oath mentions that God is present, and at the end it calls upon him to help the oath-taker keep his promise. I see nothing bad in that.

J. Salza: Of course God is listening to the promise. That is the point. Do you need to formally invoke God to witness these oaths, and attach to them the Masonic self-curses? This raises the bar. Again, you have avoided addressing the subject matter of the oath. The morality of such an oath depends entirely upon its subject matter. Is it moral and licit to solemnly swear not to have carnal intercourse with a Master Mason’s wife, mother, sister or daughter (I guess intercourse with anyone else is okay from a Masonic perspective)? Hasn’t God already condemned fornication and adultery? Why would you need to swear such a thing? And why do you put Masonically-affiliated women in a special class?

Ake: On this point I’m all with you. Assuming that such weird oaths really exist, they are wrong.

J. Salza: Ake, you and I both know that these oaths are universal. You have again acknowledged a serious problem with American Freemasonry. Are you still going to defend it? And don’t you find repugnant swearing to symbolically mutilate the temple of the Holy Ghost on the very Scriptures He wrote?

Ake: I have sworn no such thing. The Masonic oath only says that if the oath is broken, the Mason agrees that he deserves such a dire punishment.

J. Salza: Why, why, why does he deserve such a dire punishment for breaking a promise to a social club? Explain that to me. And are you really telling me that you did not “swear that you would have your body severed in twain, your bowels taken thence and burned to ashes, the ashes scattered to the four winds of heaven, should you knowingly violate your Masonic obligation”? This is the universal penalty of the Master Masonic oath. Will you be honest with me, please?

Ake: A false oaths is one which is sworn in order to deceive people, where the person giving the oath has no intention of upholding it.

J. Salza: A false oath also occurs when the subject matter of the oath does not require the use of an oath (over trivial matters). In both your example and my example, the oath-taker has called God to witness a lie. Didn’t you study this in moral theology? You repeatedly avoid explaining why the subject matter of the Masonic oath is not about trivial matters. You can’t have it both ways. If it is a light-hearted social club, no need for blood oaths. If it is not a light-hearted social club, then what is it? And why do you need the oaths? Please address.

Ake: Again, I may be misinformed but it is my impression that the British-American fraternity does not have any teachings on religion, only a religious requirement for membership.

J. Salza: Yes, Ake, you are misinformed. So are many American Masons who profess to be “Christians.” American Masonry teaches about a bodily resurrection to the celestial lodge above, without a belief in Jesus Christ. Bodily resurrection is a “teaching on religion,” and that religion is the Masonic religion. Being misinformed is not necessarily sinful until the ignorance becomes deliberate.

Ake: This begs the question if it is necessary for any institution of men to follow the dogma of the Church in order not to be condemned.

J. Salza: Yes, it is necessary to follow Jesus Christ to avoid condemnation. We were all born under the law, into the kingdom of Satan, and stand condemned to death and eternal punishment. Only through the merits of Jesus Christ can we be saved. Any institution that teaches about God and eternal life but denies the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world stands condemned in the eyes of Almighty God.

Ake: Masonic oaths use the penalties as a means of underscoring their serious nature. There is no self-cures of a magical or religious kind here.

J. Salza: But that is the point. You have just agreed that the subject matter of an oath must be serious in order for it to be morally licit. However, the subject matter of the Masonic oath is not serious. It is trivial. It regards secret passwords and handshakes. What is so serious about these things, that grown men must swear blood-curdling oaths on the Holy Bible avowing to be worthy of the death penalty if they every revealed these secrets, even to their wives?

Ake: What about football clubs? How are they different from Masonic fraternities in this respect?

J. Salza: Please tell me what football clubs secretly gather together on a regular basis to offer formal prayers up to a deity whose name has no theological basis, who exemplify this deity’s presence in secretly, ciphered and solemn rituals, require the players to swear oaths with symbolic penalties of self-mutilation, repeatedly teach about eternal life, who even has its own names for this eternal life (celestial lodge above, Grand Lodge on high), and who participate in a drama representing a bodily resurrection to this celestial lodge above? You are trying to stick a square peg into a round hole. You are trying to define something by labeling it. Football clubs? C’mon.

Ake: All of this is alien to me. As far as I know, the only thing one swears on Freemasonry above and in addition to the moral rule of Scripture, is not to reveal the inner workings of Freemasonry to anyone outside it. I have searched through the rituals available to me and found no evidence of anything else.

J. Salza: American Freemasonry’s oaths have absolutely nothing to do with swearing to uphold Scripture. And even if they did, where in all of Scripture or Tradition do you find a teaching where Christians are required to swear a blood-curdling oath to God on a book that tells them not to swear at all?! Where in any Christian practice is that necessary. If it is not necessary to swear such a vile oath to uphold the very Word of God, then why does Masonry make it necessary to uphold their secrets?

Let me ask you this. When you were ordained, did you swear a blood-curdling oath that you would be worthy of having your body severed in twain and your bowels taken out and burned to ashes when you promised to uphold the teachings of the church of Sweden?

Ake: No. I see your point.

J. Salza: I am glad you see my point here. If, at your ordination, it was unnecessary to formally invoke God to witness to uphold the tenets of the church of Sweden by means of a blood-curdling oath, then why is it necessary for Masonry? Are the Masonic obligations more serious than those vows you took at ordination?

Ake: Why can I not find any of those points in Canon law or other doctrinal pronunciations from the RCC?

J. Salza: I have found 28 separate papal condemnations in the form of bulls, encyclicals, and apostolic letters since 1738, spanning 14 separate pontificates, not including the declaration set forth by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1983, the arm of the Church responsible for teaching matters on faith and morals. I don’t know what you are looking at, but I am sure you are not intimating that the Church’s position is unclear. The Church has, in fact, rarely spoken about something more frequently than she has about Freemasonry.

Ake: That is not what I asked. I asked which document condemns Freemasonry for religious indifferentism, heretical teachings, and false oaths. I have read all the papal bulls and encyclicals and the canon law passages, that I could find. But those points were not the chief accusations in any of the documents I found. Rather, they accused Masons of “plotting against the Church,” of being hostile to the Church, of being immoral and propagating naturalistic religion, etc.

J. Salza: Based on your answer, I doubt you have read what you claim to have read. When you say that my points where not the “chief accusations” in the documents you read, does that mean that they were still “accusations”? And what makes some of the papal accusations “chief,” and others “not chief”?

Moreover, you admit in your last sentence that the popes have condemned Freemasonry for “naturalistic religion.” That is exactly what I have pointing out to you all along. Masonry practices naturalism because it denies divine revelation. This is why the Bible is treated as only a “symbol” of God’s divine will, rather than His written revelation. This is also why Freemasonry teaches very expressly about the five human senses in the Fellowcraft degree. Masonry holds that the five senses are what gives us knowledge about deity. But  no source beyond our senses and reason is held to be absolutely true. This is the religion of naturalism. Reason over revelation. The popes have said this in every one of their condemnations.

You asked for the documents. Here goes. The following condemned naturalism (Benedict XIV: Providas, March 16, 1751; Pius IX: Quanta cura, December 8, 1864; Leo XIII: Humanum Genus, April 20, 1884); heresy (Clement XII: In Eminenti, April 28, 1738; Benedict XIV: Providas, March 16, 1751; Pius IX: Qui pluribus, November 9, 1846); false oaths and secrecy (Clement XII: In Eminenti: April 28, 1738; Benedict XIV: Providas, March 16, 1751; Pius VII: Ecclesiam a Jesu Christo: September 14, 1820; Leo XII: Quo Graviora: March 13, 1826; Pius IX: Multiplices Inter, September 25, 1865), and indifferentism (Benedict XIV: Providas, March 16, 1751; Gregory XVI: Mirari vos, August 15, 1832; Pius IX: Qui pluribus, November 9, 1846).

Note also that the 1983 declaration provides that Masonry’s “principles” have always been considered irreconcilable with the “doctrine” of the Church. This declaration was issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the part of the Church responsible for teaching in matters of faith and morals. You can’t get much clearer than that.

Finally, the claims of being hostile toward the Church would apply to any organization that is teaching heresy, wouldn’t you agree? Any institution that is spreading errors about God and salvation is dangerous to the Church and the members of the body of Christ.

Ake: Even if we identify the RCC’s teaching now, how can criticism in 1738 be infallible today if Freemasonry demonstrably has changed its character on major points since then?

J. Salza: First, as we have seen, the Masonic condemnations aren’t limited to 1738, but span three centuries! Moreover, the burden is on you to show how Freemasonry has “demonstrably changed” since 1738. Please explain on what major points Freemasonry has changed. The encyclical, In Eminenti, issued by Clement XIII in 1738 condemned Freemasonry on the same grounds that Christian churches condemn Freemasonry today – heretical teachings, false oaths and indifferentism. Infallible teaching simply means the teaching is without error. The truth does not change. Neither have the doctrines and practices of Freemasonry.

Ake: Sure, and the sentence “the pope is a power-hungry worldly prince who has mistresses and is constantly violating his oaths of chastity and poverty” is true about some renaissance popes, but is not necessarily true about John Paul II.

J. Salza: Why do you continually attempt to denigrate the Church. I have not chosen to attack the church of Sweden, but can assure you that I am qualified to do so. Let’s stay focused on Freemasonry. I won’t dignify your statement with a long answer, other than to acknowledge that the Catholic Church (and every other Protestant sect that sprung forth from her) has had clerical abuses with her confines (about a half a dozen out of 264 popes have been real scoundrels). This has nothing whatsoever to do with the teachings of the Church or the topic at hand – the errors of Freemasonry.

Ake: Examine the history of the 18th century. You will find that after 1717 when the Grand Lodge of England made public its existence, the idea of “secret societies” became very fashionable in Europe. It is VERY OBVIOUS that the popes of the tijme did not manage to separate the sex clubs from true Masonic lodges. I do not blame the popes for being misinformed, but I do blame the modern Catholic church, in light of historic evidence, that they were.

J. Salza: This talk about “sex clubs” is bizarre. You are once again pretending to know more than the Catholic Church knows. You are “in the know,” but the astute theologians at the Vatican don’t have the faintest clue about Masonry. This is the spirit of your Protestantism. “Sex clubs,” whatever those are, would be condemned on the grounds that they are promoting fornication and adultery. Freemasonry has been condemned on the grounds of heretical teaching, false oaths and indifferentism. Let’s stay focused.

Ake: Not only was the word “freemasonry” misused in the 18th century (much like “Christianity” is misused today by Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, New Age cults and other pagans), but those fraternities which had real claim to being Freemasons also developed in different sections. Some became fraternities of Christian men seeking to improve their faith and morals, others stood up for human values in a time when religious sectarians were propagating eternal hellfire for anyone who did not submit to their peculiar dogma to the last iota (this includes the Roman Catholic Church).

J. Salza: Your anti-Catholic bias sure came out at the end of this post. More of the same spirit of Protestantism and Masonry. Do you really believe that your anachronisms exempt American Freemasonry from the Church’s condemnations? The burden is on you to prove your case, but you have not yet done so.

Ake: Several hundred years of development has occurred since the Grand Lodge of England was established. From the 18th century principles of CF Eckleff to the somewhat occult ides of Charles XIII, and to the present when we are seeking a way back to the origins and also want to clarify the Christian faith as the absolute and only ideological basis of our Order. It would surprise me if similar developments have not taken place in other Masonic fraternities around the globe. Much like the Roman Catholic church, Freemasonry tends to develop by shifting emphasis in its work rather than by repudiating past errors.

J. Salza: First of all, I am not concerned with the evolutionary stages of Freemasonry, whatever they are.

Ake: But it was you who asked me to explain how I could claim that Freemasonry has changed over time. That is what I did. You are hardly courteous in dismissing an answer as uninteresting when you yourself asked the question.

J. Salza: I do not mean to be discourteous. I meant that the stages of development are irrelevant insofar as they do not address why 21st century Freemasonry teaches about bodily resurrection. The fact remains, Freemasonry has a set of Landmarks which are considered universal and unalterable. They include a belief in the Grand Architect of the Universe, the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, covenant oaths, and the usage of symbolism to teach these truths. If Swedish Freemasonry does not adhere to these Landmarks (as do the rest of Europe, Latin America, and the United States), then it is not Freemasonry.

Second, the doctrines of the Holy Catholic Church have never changed. They develop as the Holy Ghost leads the Church into all truth as Christ promised, but they are unable to change, since they are the immutable teachings of Jesus Christ. We can discuss this in a separate exchange if you like. Let’s stay focused on the errors of Freemasonry.

Hypothetically speaking, if Freemasonry were to change its religious teachings (which begs the question why a “fraternity” even has religious teachings) to conform with Christianity, then the Church would have to issue a new position based on new facts. We know that the former is never going to happen.

Ake: You defend the Catholic condemnation of ALL Freemasonry, yet you only want to discuss American Freemasonry.

J. Salza: I choose to focus on American Freemasonry because I was an American Freemason. American Freemasonry is what I have studied, and American Freemasonry is what you are defending. You are defending American Freemasonry, correct? Even though you have conceded that a teaching about bodily resurrection without the requirement to believe in Jesus is heretical, correct? You are still defending it? Let’s not avoid that which you are defending. My focus has always been on American Masonry, and the Church’s condemnations have included Freemasonry, as the popes have stated.

Ake: My chief objection to the Roman Catholic condemnation is precisely this. If the RCC can find error in a Masonic lodge or system, by all means condemn that – but don’t expand the condemnation to other Masonic associations who do not make those errors.

J. Salza: What other “Masonic associations” in the United States “do not make those errors”? If you can find such a Masonic organization, then you have an argument. But since every single Grand Lodge in the United States teaches the same thing regarding the Hiramic legend, the argument fails. The fact that you advance such an argument without knowing whether such organizations exists shows the desperation of the argument. More anachronisms.

Ake: You wrote that the RCC makes no differences between such as “liberal” or “conservative” Catholics, because they are all Catholics. That is certainly true in an organization with a central governing authority. The same reasoning can’t be applied to Freemasonry where there is no absolute definition, only the mutual recognition (or absence thereof) between Grand Lodges.

J. Salza: I am glad you brought this up, that there is a concept of “mutual recognition.” Are you aware that your Grand Lodge of Sweden “recognizes” American Freemasonry as “valid” Masonry? The only American lodge that the Grand Lodge of Sweden does not recognize is Mississippi. Therefore, if you are saying that the U.S. lodges are not practicing valid Freemasonry, then you are in disagreement with your Grand Lodge. This means that you are in violation of your Masonic oath, for you swore to obey “all the laws and edicts” of your Grand Lodge! I bet you won’t advertise your unfounded disagreement with your Grand Lodge on your website, lest you be excommunicated from Freemasonry.

Ake: My American brother has this to say on this subject: “Anti-Mason Duane Washum here in the United States has been flogging this ‘resurrection in the lodge’ thing pretty heavily of late. He’s found a ‘hook’ and it gets him attention so he’s running heavily with it. I believe that a person with little or no religious grounding or a man whose mind might be easily swayed could THINK that the Lodge was ‘resurrecting Hiram,’ when, in fact, it was merely helping him up from a prone position and welcoming him into the fraternity.”

J. Salza: All the rituals, monitors and recommended Masonic authorities say that the third degree symbolizes the Masonic faith in the resurrection of the body. It is in black and white. Nothing more needs to be said. Why don’t you have your American brother reveal his identity, and see if he wants to debate me on this issue. Mr. Washum tells me that he has had a standing offer to debate any Mason that so desired for the last ten years, and no Mason has ever taken up his challenge. Why the chicken hearts?

Ake: He says: “I had no such illusions when I took my degrees over thirty years ago as a young sailor 6000 miles from home – and at a time when I COULD have been quite vulnerable to such a concept. I fail to see how anyone could think it so.

J. Salza: Well, this just proves that he didn’t get it then, and he doesn’t get it thirty years later. It only proves that he hasn’t read the rituals, the monitors and all the other Masonic authorities that prove him wrong. I often hear Masons say that “the people who least know about Masonry are the Masons themselves.” That is certainly the case with your anonymous brother.

Ake: He says: “The facts are the facts: Hiram was dead and buried. He was buried three times, in fact! When they attempted to remove his body from the grave to provide a more suitable burial, the flesh cleaved from the bone. The body was there, alright, in a putrefied state – hardly something one finds in a resurrection, it would seem.

J. Salza: Your American brother, then, is not only ignorant about Masonry, but also about the mystery of bodily resurrection. As St. Paul says, the fact that we are rotting corpses underscores the very mystery of the dogma! The fact that Hiram was rotting amplifies the mystery! How can you, as a minister of Christ, not pick up on this? If bodily decomposition would preclude bodily resurrection, then I guest no one (except for a few incorrupt, Catholic saints) would have no hope of resurrection. This is incompatible with the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, of course, your brother is preaching his own gospel.

Ake: I am surprised at all of this. It is not how American Freemasonry has been presented to me.

J. Salza: All you need to do is read the rituals. In fact, don’t even take my word for it. But then don’t listen to your American Masonic brothers either. Do the research yourself. American Freemasonry is incompatible with Christianity. I hope that this dialogue gives you pause with respect to your further championing the American Masonic cause.

Ake: Getting back to your claims on indifferentism, as far as I am aware, the British-American system has a deistic REQUIREMENT for candidates; you must believe in God (a Supreme Being). The reason for this requirement is NOT that the lodge teaches a deistic religion. It is rather the opinion that a godless person (atheist) cannot be trusted. Without an all-seeing and judging God, anything is permissible as long as you can get away with it; therefore, true morality is rare or nonexistent among the godless. Hence, the faith requirement.

J. Salza: But this requirement to believe in “deity,” and the deliberate omission of Jesus Christ from the prayers is entirely incompatible with Christianity, particularly when Freemasonry goes on to teach about a bodily resurrection to the celestial lodge above, with or without Christ. Jesus said, “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:11,13). St. Paul taught through the Holy Spirit, “Giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father” (Eph. 5:20). “And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:11). “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17). This shows the importance Jesus places on gathering and worshiping in His name. We are specifically instructed to worship and give thanks to God in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Notwithstanding these Scriptural injunctions, “Christian” Masons defend the Masonic prayers on the grounds that they allow all men to pray together without offending anyone. In other words, “Christian” Masons omit the glorious name of Jesus from these prayers out of love and respect for others. Such a position assumes that Jesus would be satisfied with sharing His glory with other deities in a syncretistic prayer from men who reject Him. The Lord, however, has revealed to us that He will share His glory with no one. “I am the Lord, this is my name; my glory I give to no other” (Isaiah 42:8).

Further, there is not any teaching, by Jesus or any apostle, any Father, any doctor, any medieval, any saint where Christians are taught that deliberately omitting Christ’s name from prayers is acceptable when it is done out of love and respect for others. There is no fraternity or fellowship exception. To the contrary, Christians are commanded by the one true God to put Him above everyone and everything. Wouldn’t you, as a minister of Christ, agree?

Ake: Just like the pope in “ecumenical” services with members of non-Christian religions then. Omitting the things that separate the participants. But not claiming that it is a regular Christian service.

J. Salza: At the pope’s ecumenical services, he confessed the divinity of Christ to the nonbelievers. This could never happen in a Masonic lodge. And although I am not defending all of the pope’s ecumenical activities, they simply cannot be compared to the activities of Freemasonry. Masonry is a permanently established institution that has its own names and symbols for God and heaven, its own religious rituals, and requires its members to swear oaths. The pope’s ecumenical activities are nothing more than very occasional gestures of goodwill. And guess what else. If you are going to use John Paul II as your benchmark to defend Freemasonry, it just backfired. John Paul II is the very pope that signed off on the Congregation’s condemnation of Freemasonry. Where does that leave you?

Ake: This does not mean that British-American lodges proclaim a religious system based on the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man – especially not to the point of claiming that faith in these two ideas is the core of all religions or sufficient for salvation.

J. Salza: Actually, Ake, this is EXACTLY what American Freemasonry proclaims. And American Freemasonry goes one step further by proclaiming a belief in a bodily resurrection to the celestial lodge above, without a belief in Jesus Christ. Why would a “fraternity” have any teaching, in any part of the ritual, any where, about the “resurrection of the body”? Why, Why, Why Ake?

Ake: On the contrary, I am told that they admonish their members to practice their respective religions diligently, each after his own faith.

J. Salza: You have been told that, but that is not what the ritual says. For example, in my state’s ritual book (which is substantially similar to every other state’s ritual), there is never any instruction that the Mason should be contemplating the ritual in light of his own religious beliefs. There is never even any instruction that the Mason should practice his own faith, or have any faith at all. This is because Freemasonry believes all religions are deficient, and the only real truth is Freemasonry. Masonry’s doctrines are independent of a man’s “sectarian” beliefs.

Ake: But the brotherhood does not make any statement on the veracity of the religions. It allows members of all god-professing faiths, but has no religion in itself.

J. Salza: What is a “god-professing faith”? The worship of the Great Thumb? New age occultism? Satanism? Agnosticism? This is nothing more than the promotion of error which endangers souls. But that is the “religion” of Freemasonry. The fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, and a resurrection of the body to the celestial lodge above, without the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Masonry makes a doctrinal statement of faith on the resurrection of the body, but then, as you admit, makes no statement on the veracity of its members’ religions, which would include Christianity.

Tell me, is this compatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Absolutely not. It is the promotion of indifferentism. Masonry decides for itself to teach a portion of God’s revealed truth (resurrection), but deliberately omits that which is essential to the very truth being taught (Jesus). This is unthinkable from a Christian perspective, and I can’t believe you, who took vows to the Lord Jesus, would even think of defending this. Are you ready to take your defense to the divine tribunal of God?

Ake: One can compare this to the interfaith services in which the pope has taken part, where “people of goodwill” from all different religions have been allowed to take part. These have manifested that beyond our differences of belief, there are things which all good men have in common, e.g., the struggle against war and injustice. Does this make the pope a heretic? Naah…

J. Salza: To compare Freemasonry with these occasional interfaith gatherings is, sorry to say, ridiculous. Masonry is not an occasional, interfaith session where members share their views against “war and injustice.” Masonry is a permanently established institution whereby Masons secretly gather together on a regular basis to offer formal prayers to the GAOTU and exemplify his (its?) presence in solemn ritual. The occasional gathering of people to seek out what is common among us is much different than the regular and secret gathering of oath-bound men for the purpose of prayer and worship. Professing a unity against “war and injustice” is much different than professing a “faith in the resurrection of the body and the immorality of the soul.” Wouldn’t you agree?

Moreover, as I stated, at these occasional interfaith services, the pope confessed the divinity of Christ to the world. Masonry, on the other hand, deliberately omits Jesus from its formal worship. It puts the lamp under the bushel. Do you really think you can muster a credible defense of Freemasonry by comparing it to the occasional, ecumenical gestures of the Church?

Ake: To only reaction on your questions that received so far is from a Swedish brother who points out that one should be very careful in quoting Pike as a source for Masonic ideas, since his works are by no means binding or correct from a Masonic point of view. Pike has been quoted out of context so many times, and his ideas have provoked so much controversy, that it is best treated with caution.

J. Salza: First of all, I don’t care about Pike. I am focusing solely on American Mason ritual, which is the sole, governing authority of Masonic belief and practice in a given jurisdiction. As you may know, Masonic ritual cannot be altered, embellished or modified in any way other than through Masonic legislative process. So let’s stay focused on the rituals.

But since you brought up Pike and claim that he is not normative, why are Pike’s works on the recommended reading lists of most United States Grand Lodges? Who are you to say that Pike is not authoritative when the U.S. Grand Lodges say he is? And if Mackey and Coil, two of the most prominent Masonic scholars that exist, have written the same things that Pike has regarding God, resurrection and eternal life, then are you going to throw them out as well? But if you do that, you are going to have to throw out American Masonic ritual out as well! They all teach the same thing. You are handcuffed once again.

If Pike, Mackey and Coil are so objectionable, then why aren’t there any Masonic works that REBUT them? Why aren’t there any Masonic authorities who say that the third degree DOES NOT symbolize bodily resurrection?

Ake: I will say that Pike is an important figure in Masonic history, all such are of interest to Masons. But that does not mean that Pike’s books are normative for Freemasonry.

J. Salza: Why is Pike “an important figure in Masonic history”? Is it because he was in the occult? Was it because he was the Grand Imperial Wizard for the Ku Klux Klan the same time he was the Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite? Was it because of his contempt for Jesus Christ? Why?

Ake: Also, the numerous “Masonic Bibles” which have been published are NOT normative in any way outside what is a common Bible.

J. Salza: It is amazing how far you have to back-peddle to defend American Freemasonry. Since all the Masonic authorities teach the same thing about God and resurrection, Ake will have to throw them all out. But then Ake will be left with nothing but his own ideas about Freemasonry, and Ake is no authority at all.

You are again wrong about the Masonic Bible. This book is handed out to newly-made Master Masons in the United States. It includes the Old Testament (except the inspired deuterocanonical books) and the New Testament, and it also has an extensive addendum defining Freemasonry’s formal “dogmas” and “doctrines” (“dogmas” and “doctrines” are not my words, but the words the Masonic Bible uses). Since when does Holy Writ need an addendum explaining a non-Christian organization’s own religious doctrines? What other “fraternity” passes out a Bible to its members explaining its own religious dogmas? Help me out here.

Ake: They usually contain the New Testament, which makes them heretical to all Jews.

J. Salza: Good point. Then how can American Freemasonry, which allows any pagan writings (book of Mormon, Veda, etc.) to take an equal place on the Masonic altar with the Holy Bible not be equally heretical to Christians?

Ake: Usually their purpose seems to be to emphasize those parts of the Old Testament that deal with the Temple and have some relation to Masonic rituals in the three Craft degrees.

J. Salza: First, why does a “fraternity” have a purpose of teaching Old Testament religious ideas? And why would this appeal to Christians when the “fraternity” says nothing about the New Testament?

Second, Freemasonry’s “purpose” is much more. As I have stated, these Bibles have a significant addendum which explains the “religious faith of Freemasonry.” It is also interesting to note that Jewish Masons swear their Masonic oaths on these Bibles which contain the New Testament. This is indifferentism in practice, both by the organization and its members.

Ake: This seems to be an exclusively American invention. Not every Mason is given a Bible. My 32nd degree friend doesn’t have one, so he is not too familiar with their content, but he believes that the “addendum” is merely a cross-reference between elements of ritual (e.g. the prohibition of iron tools in the building of the temple), and the sections of the Bible which contain those teachings.

J. Salza: Then you admit a problem with the American Freemasonic practice? In almost every jurisdiction in the United States, the Master Mason swears his oath on the Masonic Bible, which is then given to him by the lodge. The Bible includes an extensive addendum defining the doctrines of Freemasonry, including “bodily resurrection” (in fact, this teaching appears about 10 times) and the “unity of the Godhead.” Such material is utterly heretical. Is Freemasonry in the United States a Masonic aberration? As a man who professes his loyalty to Christ, will you declare that on your website?

Ake: I guess I can make no judgment on the Masonic Bibles until I see one. If, as I was told by my 32nd degree brother, the appendix is merely a cross-reference to passages mentioned in Masonic ritual, then I see nothing wrong. If on the other hand these Bibles contain some sort of pseudo-Christian theology, then they are in error.

J. Salza: The appendices expressly set forth the doctrines of “the religious faith of Freemasonry” including “bodily resurrection,” “unity of the godhead,” and the “inability to renounce Masonic oaths,” among many other things. But who are you to say that American jurisdictions are in error for writing and issuing these Bibles? Each U.S. Grand Lodge is a sovereign Masonic body that administers Masonic teaching the way it sees fit. Your own Grand Lodge of Sweden recognizes the same.

Ake: Regarding secrecy, Masons do not meet in “secret.” They meet in privacy. Their meeting places and times are not secret.

J. Salza: Now we are playing word games. None of this disproves that Freemasonry has its own religious doctrines. Whether it’s in privacy or in secrecy, it is what is actually GOING ON behind the Lodge door that is at issue. Moreover, Masonic rituals ARE secret. They are so secret that they are written in a special, ciphered text. The public only knows about them because many Christian men have left the lodge and exposed them for what they are. Masonry may be publishing its meeting places and times (exclusively, by the way, in Masonic publications), but it is not publishing its rituals.

Ake: The purpose of Masonic gatherings is not to offer prayers but to do Masonic work. Prayers are a very small part of what is done in ritual. Only at the start and the end of the ritual, there are prayers, much like saying grace at table. The ritual in itself is not a religious service.

J. Salza: And what is the “Masonic work”? In the United States, the ritual tells us. It says that “the principle duty of a lodge is to make men Masons.” How is a man made a Mason? By performing the rituals. What do the rituals consist of? The worship of GAOTU, oaths with self-curses, and an allegorical drama which teaches faith in the resurrection of the body. THAT is the “Masonic work” of the lodge.

As I look back on our dialogue, I would like to put forth some questions that you have refused to answer. You have also failed to offer your opinions on the Masonic ritual that I have presented you. But I can’t blame you. You are evidently shocked. You cannot defend the indefensible. No one can. Yes, you were ignorant about these teachings. But the question now is, are you going to remain deliberately ignorant?

I believe the following questions are relevant to exposing the heretical teachings of Freemasonry in the United States. If you don’t want to answer these questions, then I will quit the dialogue. It won’t be the first time a Mason has quit posting me because he was unable to defend his craft.

1. Is teaching about bodily resurrection without Jesus Christ heretical?

This is relevant because it is precisely what American Masonic lodges teach. I have already provided you with several quotations from the ritual books. Will you have the guts to answer this question truthfully? We will see.

Ake: Irrelevant since Freemasonry does not teach this.

J. Salza: Already proven wrong. No more wasting my time.

2.  What other “fraternity” teaches about bodily resurrection?

This is relevant to bring Freemasonry into its proper context. Can we compare Masonry to other fraternities in this regard? Or is Masonry more comparable to religion or religious philosophy? If not, what is it comparable to?

Ake: I don’t know of any fraternity that does.

J. Salza: I know of one organization that calls itself a “fraternity” that does.

3. Why do you think American Freemasonry teaches about a bodily resurrection?

A fair question to a man of the cloth who is defending Freemasonry on the internet. Give me your educated opinion.

Ake: As far as I know, they don’t.

J. Salza: Already proven wrong. No more wasting my time.

4. Can you provide any teaching from Christian tradition where Christians are taught to deliberately omit Christ’s name from regular prayers out of respect for others?

Another relevant question because Freemasonry intentionally omits Jesus’ name from prayers so as to welcome the worship of nonbelievers. We all know this to be true. So simply tell me were such a practice has ever been acceptable in the Christian tradition. Search the fathers, the doctors, the medievals, and see if this is ever justified.

Ake: An argument from silence, therefore not valid.

J. Salza: What? It is a question, not an “argument.” It is your defense of Freemasonry that is “from silence.” No more wasting my time.

5.  What other “fraternity” requires its members to swear oaths with self-curses symbolizing mutilation and death?

This is relevant because Masonry requires its members to swear that they are deserving of various forms of mutilation if they ever violated the oaths. By comparing the practice to other fraternities, we can begin to understand the Masonic oaths in their proper context. Let us see if other “fraternities” engage in such a practice. Then we can compare and contrast them.

Ake: The oaths do not pertain to self-mutilation.

J. Salza: What? “throat cut across, tongue torn out by its roots”; “left breast torn open, heart plucked out and placed on the highest pinnacle of the temple”; “body severed in twain, bowels taken thence and burned to ashes” - this is not self-mutilation? Is it just mutilation? We have already been through this. You have answered my question.

6. Can you find in the Christian tradition any teaching or practice where such oaths would be necessary?

This is relevant because most Christian churches claim that the Masonic oaths are false and warrant God’s condemnation. If you can find a Christian practice where such oaths are practiced licitly, you would have an argument on your side. Let’s see how you answer.

Ake: Nobody said they were necessary even in Freemasonry.

J. Salza: Wrong again. The oaths are required for membership. You know it and I know it. No more wasting my time.

7. Why didn’t you take an oath with a self-curse at your ordination?

The relevance here is obvious. You consider the vows you took at your ordination to be extremely serious, right? I hope so. And swearing that you would rather have your throat cut across than to violate your Masonic obligation increases the severity of the oath, right? I think any reasonable person would agree with that. Therefore, if you were not required to swear such an oath at ordination (which involved your promise to uphold grave religious principles), then why is such an oath necessary in Masonry? This question forces you to evaluate the subject matter of your Masonic oaths and why they are more serious than the vows you took at ordination. If you think they are less serious, then you still have to explain why the oaths and their self-curses are necessary.

Ake: Because they were not part of the ordination ritual. There is nothing in Christian doctrine that makes ordination rituals a binding model for all other initiations.

J. Salza: They are not part of Christian practice because they are offensive to God. Sure, Christian rituals are not a binding model for other initiations. But don’t they serve as a guide? Isn’t Jesus Christ and His religion the light of the world? It is also clear that Masonry has its own rituals, doctrines, oaths, agenda, none of which are compatible with Christianity.

Ake: It is not trivial to be faithful to ones’ friends, and to betray them is a serious thing.

J. Salza: To betray God is even more serious. Your comments have repeatedly evidenced the Masonic philosophy of elevating the Masonic brotherhood above the Christian brotherhood of Jesus Christ.

8. What other “fraternity” gives its members a Bible with an addendum of its own special doctrines and dogmas?

This is relevant because it is the common Masonic practice to do so in the United States. If you can find another “fraternity” that does this, you might be able to weaken the anti-Masonic argument. Let’s see what you find.

Ake: As far as I know, only some Masonic lodges give their members a Bible.

J. Salza: These are the same Masonic lodges that your Grand Lodge of Sweden recognizes as valid, as I have demonstrated.

Ake: As far as I know, the so-called Masonic Bibles contain an addendum which is merely a cross-reference guide to help the Masons find those passages referred to in Masonic ritual. But if such statements went against Christian doctrine, it would be heresy. If I find that you are right about their contents, I shall indeed criticize them on my website.

J. Salza: I will send you a separate email which includes all the quotes from the Masonic Bible that I am using to write my book on Freemasonry. I look forward to your criticisms of these quotes on your website.

9. What other “fraternity” gathers to pray and worship “deity” around an altar?

This is relevant because Freemasonry has been accused of being a religion. So if you can find another fraternity that gathers around an altar but is not a religion, you might have an argument. I can think of man religions that gather around an altar, but no “fraternities.” Let’s see what you find.

Ake: None that I know of.

J. Salza: I agree.

Ake: Note however that the “altar” in the Masonic lodge, like so many other things, is allegorical.

J. Salza: What? Our Masonic altar was made of wood and had carved etchings in it! What is it allegorical of? The world altar appears over 500 times in Scripture, and every time it refers to a place of sacrifice. What is the Mason sacrificing at the Masonic altar?

10. Finally, when you confirm the heretical teachings of American Freemasonry, are you, as a Christian, going to do something about it? If so, what?

Because you are a Christian and a Protestant clergyman, and because you have a website defending Freemasonry, I believe it is fair to ask you what you will do once you admit what I have proven in this dialogue. Where will your loyalty be? Will you publicize your findings? Or will you remain silent and continue to be a Masonic apologist? Are you more in love with Christ, or Masonry? Sadly, most “Christian” Masons love the praise of men more than God.

Ake: If I am able to find out more about American Freemasonry and if I find anything therein which is incompatible with Christianity, I certainly shall deal with that on the website.

J. Salza: I hope you do.

Ake: Your favourite heretic, Ake Eldburg.

J. Salza: Heresy is something I do not joke about. Anyone who, after becoming aware of these Masonic teachings that I have outlined, continues to adhere to Masonry is a heretic indeed, at least materially.

You are in my prayers.

John Salza

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18. David Julianís review of Masonry Unmasked and Johnís rebuttal

Mr. David Julian, a Freemason, wrote the following review of John's book Masonry Unmasked and posted it on Amazon.com. Below is Mr. Julian's review, unedited, and John's rebuttal.

David Julian: Salza claims to be an "expert" on Freemasonry after a nearly-miraculous, fast-track climb from Entered Apprentice all the way up to Shriner in just a little under six months...

Like most anti-Masons Salza is forced to admit "There is no authority that speaks for worldwide Freemasonry" and then he proceeds to quote from dozens of "authorities" is if the opinions they expressed were universally accepted by all Freemasons. And in his extensive footnootes, he is careful not to reveal the dates of origin for the quotes, most of them from the extensive writings of the late 19th-Century and Early 20th-Century Theosophists, all deceased, some more than half a century, most more than a whole century. And his claims of widespread syncretism (his faviorite word)and indifferentism (his second favorite word), turn out to be completely baseless in actual facts. Getting past the areas where opinions and interpretations may vary, he enters the domain of completely misrepresenting not only the allegorical nature of the degrees of Freemasonry (by claiming they are hidden worship services depicting bodily resurrection), but also the true character of Protestant Christianity.

And then to top it off, he uses references like Bill Schnoebelen, an obvious imposter who claims to be a 90th Degree Mason (there is no such thing) and "has seen over 100 UFO's... and will show physical evidence of the Sons of God... and their connection to black magic, fallen angels DNA...," well, you get the drift; and Stephen Knight, whose big claim to fame was a book contending that Jack-The-Ripper was a Freemason, who eventually rejected the Christian faith, became a Sannyasin, and changed his name to Swami Puja Deval before dying of a brain tumor in 1985.

The key to this whole controversy is the question that Salza fails to address: If the Church was doing what it was supposed to be doing, why was there and is there any need for Freemasonry? The answer of course, which is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, is: Freemasonry started when the major component of the Christian Church was a cesspool of hypocrisy, known for its cruelty, intolerance, immorality, and extravagance. Freemasonry continues to this day for much the same reason.

Freemasons recognize that when it comes to holding back the tidal wave of the real enemies of Christian salvation -- poverty, hunger, disease, and violence -- the dam is breaking. And we realize that right now, it is more important to pass the sandbags than to waste time and resources quibbling about whether the guy passing the sandbag to you has been circumcised or baptized properly.

J. Salza: Mr. Julian's review is a great example of the hollow, smoke-and-mirrors approach that Masons take when addressing their critics. Notice that Mr. Julian does not cite one single example in the book where I misrepresented Masonic ritual or teaching. That is because there are no such examples. The book is accurate and Mr. Julian knows it.

So what does Mr. Julian do? First, he suggests that the authorities I cite in the book are not "universally accepted by all Freemasons." Tell us, Mr. Julian, what rituals in the book are not recognized by YOUR OWN Grand Lodge? The fact is, and Mr. Julian knows this, all the American rituals that I cite in the book are recognized by all American Masonic lodges, including his own. Mr. Julian even swore an oath to God that he would abide by the edicts of his Grand Lodge, which recognizes all the rituals that I have cited in the book. For a thorough rebuttal of Mr. Julian's argument, see pages 27-31.

Second, Mr. Julian suggests that the cited rituals are out of date. If Mr. Julian actually read the book, he would see that most of the rituals were taken from the 1980s and 1990s and reflect current Masonic practice. Moreover, Mr. Julian fails to explain how the "older" authorities cited in the book do not reflect current Masonic practice. If Mr. Julian is going to make accusations, let him back them up with evidence and analysis.

Third, Mr. Julian says that my claims of indifferentism and syncretism "turn out to be completely baseless in actual facts," without providing any arguments or evidence to back up his claims. Once again, Mr. Julian makes broad, sweeping statements with no proof or analysis. Allow me to take him to task. Mr. Julian, are you saying that Freemasonry's rituals do not teach bodily resurrection? If you are, would you like to prove your position in a public debate? Please contact me to let me know.

Mr. Julian reveals his true religious stripes toward the end of his review when he tells us that Freemasonry is necessary because "the major component of the Christian Church" has failed. According to Mr. Julian, Christ has not kept His promise that the gates of hell would never prevail against His Church (Mt 16:18-19). This kind of commentary should be repugnant to any Christian.

Dear readers, Mr. Julian criticizes opponents of Freemasonry because Freemasonry is Mr. Julian's religion. In Mr. Julian's world, Christianity needs Freemasonry to thwart the real enemies of salvation. Even though Jesus said that one must be baptized to be saved (Mk 16:16), Mr. Julian tells us we need not worry about whether one is "baptized properly," because baptism, according to Mr. Julian, is not that important.

Mr. Julian, the real "enemies of salvation" are those who hold God's revealed truth to be superfluous and sectarian as you and Freemasonry do. That is why Freemasonry is the enemy of not only the Christian faith, but of any religion that claims to be true.

John Salza

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