by Aphonse Cerza
The following comes from:
Alphonse Cerza, Anti-Masonry: Light on the Past and Present Opponents of Freemasonry (Fulton, MO: Ovid Bell Press, 1962; 410p.), appendix K, 357-362. The page number references the page above the number below.
Cerza was a law teacher and past master of a lodge. By a lawyer, it is well written and to the point.
for more and the book—
Character Counts: Freemasonry U.S.A.’s National Treasure and
Source of Our Founding Fathers’ Original Intent
In discussing the subject of Christianity and Freemasonry it is important at the outset to understand the meaning of both terms.
Christianity may be defined as “the total body of persons believing in the life, the example, and the precepts of Jesus Christ.” As used in this general sense there is only one Christian Church; the various denominations are merely branches of this one universal Church. While these many branches agree on most fundamentals, they differ in some respects in their rituals, their dogmas, and church organizations. One branch has an elaborate ceremony and has a totalitarian form of government; the other branches vary in these regards. The Presbyterian Church has a minimum of ceremony and dogma; its church government is best described as a democracy. No branch of the Christian Church has a monopoly on Christian doctrine. In the tolerant spirit of the Gentle Carpenter we can say that all branches are entitled to their points of view. And all these branches are part of the Christian Church because the associations are founded upon the life and lessons of the Son of God who was crucified nineteen hundred and fifty-nine years ago. So that in our comparison here today we must return to the fundamental principles of Christianity rather than to the detailed appendages added by certain denominations.
Freemasonry may be defined as an old organization of men based on the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, using builders’ tools as symbols to teach basic moral truths, thereby impressing upon the minds of the members the cardinal virtues of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. Since you are less familiar with
this great association of men, I will spend a few minutes describing it before comparing it with Christianity.
Freemasonry consists of three degrees which are conferred in a lodge of Freemasons. There are a number of organizations which restrict their membership to Masons; each of these appendant bodies, as they are sometimes called, take a lesson from one of the three degrees and elaborate on it. One of these organizations is called the York Rite; it consists of certain ceremonies based on the Crusades and which have special meaning to Masons who are Christians. Another appendant Order is the Scottish Rite, which confers the fourth to the 32nd degree with a series of wonderfully dramatic ceremonies portraying many basic moral truths, such as “Life with-out friends is worthless,” “Whom Virtue unites death cannot separate,” “Great is Truth, and mighty above all things.” These degrees are impressive and deliver the lessons forcefully, effectively, and with clear meaning. There is also a 33rd degree which is honorary. Of course, you all know about the Shrine with its colorful parades and its great charity, the Crippled Children’s Hospitals.
There is a misconception that Freemasonry is a secret society. It is not such an organization. A “secret society” is one that hides its existence; has secret aims; and its members keep their membership a secret to the world. The Masonic Order does not hide its existence; it meets in public buildings; its meetings are announced in magazines and newspapers; the members readily admit their membership; many wear pins to declare to all that they belong to this great organization; and many functions are open to the public.
There is also a misconception, created by certain churches which are opposed to Freemasonry that the organization is a religion. This is not so. A religion may be defined as a group with beliefs and practices designed to worship God. Freemasonry is based on a belief in God; it teaches its members to respect God; its ceremonies are solemn and prayers are an integral part of every Masonic meeting. But there are no ceremonies of worship, no dogma, no religious beliefs, as that term is commonly understood. Most members belong to a church; clergymen of various denominations are members of this fraternity; if Freemasonry were a religion, or if religious dogma were a part of the association, or if there were a ceremony of worship these men could hardly remain as members and take a part in the ceremonies. A few years ago a prominent Episcopal clergyman, writing in a London paper said of Freemasonry, “It exhorts its members to discharge faithfully the duties of the particular
religion to which they belong…. If I believed that Freemasonry compromised either my allegiance to my Saviour, or my loyalty to His Church, I would drop it.... But I know that it does not and I know what I am talking about....” In short, Freemasonry is not a religion, but it is religious. As a matter of fact, Freemasonry is the only world-wide organization based on the Fatherhood of God where men of every creed can meet in peace and harmony. This is so because in a Masonic lodge there is complete respect for the religious beliefs of all men. Masons believe there is only one God; what does it matter what name is given to Him by the other members? The Masonic lodge instills a love of God; but the lodge does not teach the member how to worship Him. Thus every Mason recognizes a real need for the churches. If a Mason is not a church-goer he will eventually seek church affiliation for the lodge creates a need for religion in the life of the individual Mason. I am re-minded of when Rudyard Kipling became a Mason. This was in Lahore, India where he resided at the time. The lodge had three predominant religious groups; the Holy book of each group was placed upon the lodge altar as he took his degrees. In the ceremony there was an Englishman, a Hindu, and a Mohammedan. Yet there was complete harmony.
Freemasonry is in every sense of the word a Fraternity. Its methods, however, differ in one respect from most fraternities. There are no membership drives, no one is invited to join, and never is there a solicitation that one become a member. Such things are forbidden in Masonic law. The rule is so strict that sometimes a son has wondered for years why his own father has not asked him to join the lodge that means so much to him. One who desires to become a Mason must ask a member for a petition and voluntarily seek information on how to become a Mason.
Now let us make some comparisons between Christianity and Freemasonry.
Christ spoke many of His eternal truths with parables. These are, in a sense, symbols in that a story is told to teach a lesson. Christianity has many symbols that are used effectively. First and fore-most, is the Cross; it tells the eloquent story of the crucifixion and the rising; it also symbolizes the Christian Church. We have the early symbol of the fish, designating members of the church, and having reference to the apostles who were fishermen. Frequent reference is made to sheep as a symbol of people needing help and guidance. The very soul of Freemasonry is symbolism. Eternal
truths are taught and illustrated by builders’ tools. The square symbolizes fair dealing with all men; the plumb is used to symbolize rectitude of life; and the level to symbolize the equality of all men.
So that, in symbolism Christianity and Freemasonry see eye to eye.
I have mentioned that Freemasonry is a fraternity. The members call each other “brothers.” This necessarily follows because one of the main requirements for membership is a belief in God. And if God is our Father, are not all men brothers? In the early Christian Church all Christians called themselves “brothers.” This was natural for was not our one God called Father? And did he not make us in his image?
Here again, we find Christianity and Freemasonry seeing eye to eye.
What is the position of the individual in the eyes of Christ? In the third chapter of First Corinthians Paul said: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you?” Paul is saying that people are the temples of God; or to state it in another way, each person constitutes part of the temple. This great Christian truth glorifies the individual; it makes him the most important thing in the scheme of things. Man, made in the image of God himself, is all-important; not the state, not the church organization, not wealth, not power. In another part of the epistle, Paul describes himself as a master-builder. How close that comes to the individual Mason, who uses the builders’ tools as symbols, and is taught that the individual is the most important item in this best of all possible worlds. The Mason, like Paul, seeks to be a master builder, erecting that spiritual temple, that structure not built with hands, eternal in the heavens.
A Christian feels at home in the Masonic organization, for here again Christianity and Freemasonry see eye to eye.
And now, how about the beliefs of the two groups?
The foundation of Christianity is love. Christ repeatedly said “Thou shalt love thy neighbor.” At one time He said, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another.” Paul’s moving letter is familiar to Masons when he says: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and under-stand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing…. So faith, hope, love, abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” These words of Paul are woven into the very fabric of Freemasonry.
Love and peace and sympathetic understanding are basic Christian beliefs; they occupy the same place in Freemasonry.
Here again, we find Christianity seeing eye to eye with Free-masonry.
Relief is another great principle of Christianity. It follows necessarily with the ideal of brotherhood and love. To relieve the needy and afflicted has always played an important part in the life of every Christian. Christ illustrated this rule of Christian living by the forceful and familiar story of the Good Samaritan. Freemasonry has relief as one of its foundation stones. The structure of the Craft is solidly founded on this strong rock. I need mention only a few illustrations close at hand. In La Grange there is a Masonic Children’s Home; in Sullivan, Illinois there is an Old Folks’ Home; on the North Side of Chicago there is the Illinois Masonic Hospital. All are open to all members of the community, with the exception of the Old Folks’ Home where there has been a long waiting list so that applications have been restricted. Matthew reports that Christ once said “the tree is known by its fruit” and on another occasion He said “every sound tree bears good fruit.” With this Christian test Freemasonry asks to be judged. You will find that Christianity and Freemasonry, here again, see eye to eye.
The Christian Church has always advocated truth as a guiding principle of Christian living. So strong is this principle that Christ Himself on several occasions was identified as “the way, the truth, and the life.” He also advocated telling the truth at all times. The pursuit of truth means the examination of all knowledge so that facts may be made to correspond with reality. It includes freedom of thought and expression, for only thus can the truth be ascertained. Did He not say “The truth will make you free”? Freemasonry has always advocated the search of truth. Its ceremonies encourage the study of the liberal arts and sciences. Its members are urged to improve themselves each day. Freemasonry has been a strong advocate of the public school system. In many places, notably in Texas, the first public schools were started in Masonic temples, under Ma-sonic auspices. When there were few colleges in the last century, Freemasonry established a number of colleges, notably in Kentucky and Missouri. Freedom of thought and expression are encouraged and promoted by Freemasonry. It too recognizes that the truth can make men free.
Here again, Christianity and Freemasonry see eye to eye.
One of the most consoling beliefs of the Christian Church is the
immortality of the soul. It is closely connected with the resurrection of Christ, and it forms an important part of the Christian creed. Freemasonry also has a fundamental belief in the immortality of the soul. There is no dogma, no doctrines or ceremonies of how or why, or when, or what one must do to gain admission to the celestial lodge; this is for the churches to do.
So that, here again, we find Christianity and Freemasonry seeing eye to eye.
We have thus seen the many elements of similarity between Christianity and Freemasonry. The question can rightfully be asked: Is there anything about Christianity or Freemasonry which makes them incompatible with one another? The answer is emphatically “No.” I am now talking about the basic beliefs of the Christian Church as presented by the Holy Bible. Certain Christian denominations have made rules for their members preventing them from joining any kind of lodges; a member of that denomination, of course, would be violating a man-made rule by joining a Masonic lodge. But most Christians who are Masons can attend lodge on a week night and then go to church on some other day and find both activities entirely consistent with one another. It has been truly said that a church member is made a better one by becoming a Mason; and also, that a Mason becomes a better one by joining a church. In short, both associations need one another for they both have a mission and a place in this world.
Freemasonry has contributed much to this great democracy of ours, and Masons everywhere each day are continuing to help make this God’s country. May Christianity and Freemasonry continue to work together in harmony as they travel over the road of years building that eternal structure which will glorify our Father who is in heaven.
for more and the book—
Character Counts: Freemasonry U.S.A.’s National Treasure and
Source of Our Founding Fathers’