Lutherans Informed about Lodges (LIL)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
1. Why bother with the subject of lodges at all? They've been declining in membership for years.
2. What's your personal "beef" against lodges? Why did you start this web site?
3. "Judge not lest ye be judged!" Why are you going around judging and criticizing the good people of the lodge?
4. A piece of your information about lodges is outdated. That isn't what's happening in my lodge at all. Why aren't you providing current information?
5. What about groups such as the Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary, and Exchange Club? Are they universalistic lodges also?
As you drive through the country you see various lodges listed among the community organizations on the signposts at the city limits. No matter how small the town, the Masons are always listed. You see the Masonic emblem on the license plates and bumper stickers on many cars. You see the prominent promotions for the Shrine Circus presentations. Lodge membership may be reduced, but the lodge is still alive and influential. I believe that many Lutheran pastors and laypeople are like I used to be—unaware of the influence of lodges in their own congregations. That’s why I’m trying to bring the issue to light again.
In addition, lodges are now vigorously striving to boost their membership. As an example, the Masonic Grand Lodge of New York State is actively promoting Masonic membership. Previously, Masonic tradition discouraged recruitment “campaigns.” Now, there is not only campaigning, but advertising in movie theaters and elsewhere trying to reach the young, male demographic which Masonry so desperately needs now.
As an additional incentive, the Grand Lodge of New York is offering a candidate the ability to become a Master Mason in just one day! In one Saturday session, a candidate can progress through the three basic degrees of Masonry and reach Master Mason “status.” The first two degrees are Entered Apprentice and Fellowcraft. This “Freemasonry Lite” version is requiring no memorization and no waiting time between degrees. What is still included are the standard Masonic beliefs that all religions are of equal validity, that all “good” Masons will have an eternal home with the Great Architect of the Universe, and that orthodox Christianity is bigoted for saying that faith in Jesus Christ is the only path to salvation.
The number of Masons in Texas has actually increased in recent years. The Moose lodge has recently billed itself as "The Family Fraternity" in an effort to attract new members. So, no, the lodges aren't dead and Lutherans still need to be warned about them.
I was the pastor of a congregation and was unaware of any lodge problem until I mentioned the topic of lodges in a sermon. I was soon informed by the congregational leadership that a majority of the male members of the congregation were lodge members and they weren't happy with my attitude toward lodges. Over a period of many months myself and others tried to teach the truth about the lodges. However, the lodge attitude had so permeated the congregation that the instruction was largely to no avail. The hostility of "the good people of the lodge" increased to such a point that I felt it was necessary to leave the congregation.
I want both Lutheran laypeople and pastors to be informed about this subject. We need to know that the lodges aren't just harmless social clubs. We need to deal with the present problem of lodge membership and we want to prevent lodge membership from becoming a problem in the future.
The lodges take many Bible passages out of context, including this one. "Judge not, lest ye be judged," (Matthew 7:1ff) refers to hypocritical judging--judging others without seeing your own faults. The passage in its context is:
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5, NIV)
Compare that with St. Paul's admonition in 1 Corinthians 5:
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth. I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you." (1 Corinthians 5:1-13, NIV)
We see that judging is not only proper, it is commanded. We are to be concerned about our fellow Christians and also about those inside our congregations who call themselves Christians. If someone in our congregation is a member of an organization (such as the lodges) which says that there is salvation apart from Jesus Christ then that person, through the membership and participation, is encouraging and promoting that false belief. It is certainly a case for concern and judgment--the judgment of declaring that such membership is wrong.
If any information is incorrect and/or outdated please send the current, documented information which would correct it. Documented information means an official, dated copy of the ritual cited which you would like to see corrected. Just saying that the ritual is "secret" is not sufficient.
The above groups are true service organizations. They have no religious rituals or teachings. These are the groups that a Christian should consider joining if he/she feels the need to belong to a community service organization.
However, some chapters of these groups may have a religious element such as an opening prayer prior to a meeting. If a Christian is called upon to lead such a prayer he/she should not give in to any pressure to have a non-sectarian prayer. Jesus said, "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven" (Matthew 10:32, NIV). And, St. Paul said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile" (Romans 1:16, NIV). And, an angel of the Lord said, "Go, stand in the temple courts, and tell the people the full message of this new life" (Acts 5:20, NIV).