Minute to Pin It: Freemasonry

In order to (somehow, in their minds) justify their membership in lodges, Freemasons sometimes call upon the fact that more than a dozen U.S. presidents were Freemasons. But what does this prove? It proves that more than a dozen Freemasons were U.S. presidents! It does not prove that Freemasonry is therefore Christian. After examining the teachings of Freemasonry, one thing it demonstrates is that if any of these presidents saw Freemasonry as compatible with Christianity, they were wrong.

Consider, as one example among many, the teaching concerning the Masonic Lambskin Apron: “[The Lambskin Apron] reminds us of that purity of life and conduct so essentially necessary to gaining admission into the Celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides.” (Masonic Trestle-Board, Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, 1979, p. 125)

What is the problem here? Well, place this quote / teaching in the Masonic context: In order to become a Mason, the candidate must believe in the existence of a Supreme Being. As far as Masonry is concerned, individually, candidates for membership can believe in the deity of their choice. Thus, Masons are Hindus, Muslims, etc. Is the Masonic Lambskin Apron teaching biblical?

For more, see my brief article on this page of our web site.

For those who want to read much, much more, see my article at http://www.pfo.org/masonldg.htm

–Steven Tsoukalas

FREEMASONRY IS UNBIBLICAL: MASONIC RITES AND WRONGS

Larry Wessels, director of Christian Answers of Austin, Texas (YouTube channel CANSWERSTV; websites BIBLEQUERY ORG, HISTORYCART COM & MUSLIMHOPE COM) presents his ministry’s radio broadcast entitled, “Christian Answers Live!” (Lee Meckley is the usual radio host). This particular episode features Christian apologist & writer Steven Tsoukalas, author of the book, “Masonic Rites and Wrongs: An Examination of Freemasonry.” Steven Tsoukalas (M.Div., Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is executive director of Sound Doctrine Ministries in Exeter, New Hampshire (SDMIN ORG) & has written & lectured on a wide variety of cult movements.

The Jesus and The Christ of Christian Science

About ten years ago I attended a Christian Science public lecture in a town in Massachusetts. After playing “Amazing Grace” (no lyrics, just music), the lecturer began his lecture and finished about one hour later. After calling for testimonies (I gave my testimony geared to reach out to Christian Scientists) the lecturer called for questions.

I immediately raised my hand and he, in turn, called on me. “Does Christian Science,” I asked, “separate Jesus from the Christ?” It became obvious to me, after two minutes into his answer, that he wasn’t really answering my question. I raised my hand in respectful interruption; he immediately stopped and allowed me to clarify. I then stated, “Mary Baker Eddy once wrote that ‘Jesus, as material manhood, was not Christ’ [Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings, 84]. Do you believe this?” “Yes,” the lecturer replied, “Jesus is not Christ.”

I then asked, “Would you please read, for everyone here, First John 2:22?” He then read 2:23, at which point I politely told him that that was the wrong verse. He then read 2:22: “Who is the liar, but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ; such a one is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.”

There was looming silence over the crowd of two-hundred people, and the lecturer then asked me, “Would you like me to interpret that?” I said, “That’s not necessary, but if you must.” He then interpreted the verse as follows: Anyone denying that Jesus displayed the Christ Principle in his life is an antichrist. Afterward I and the lecturer had a stimulating one-on-one conversation!

Of course, the verse cited above says nothing like the lecturer’s interpretation; it, rather, reveals something quite unbiblical concerning Christian Science’s teaching about Jesus and the Christ.

Christian Science separates Jesus from the Christ. The former is “the name of a man,” while the latter is an “ideal Truth” (Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 473), which in part, it seems to me, is an impersonal body of teachings collectively known as “ideal Truth.”

My question to the lecturer, then, got right to the heart of the matter; and for those who had ears to hear the scripture cited was in actuality a stern warning against, if not condemnation of, such heresy.

There is, absolutely, no biblical ground upon which to state that Jesus is not Christ. Further, with such teaching one runs squarely against the biblical doctrine of the atonement of Jesus. Let me explain the first, and then the second.

Technically, “Jesus” (of Nazareth), which, by the way, means “the Lord saves,” is the name of the God-man who once dwelled among His people. “Christ” means “anointed one.” The first is his name, the second his office. Yet, in many places scripture uses the two synonymously (and together, such as “Jesus Christ”), and this brings us to the second point. Not only does scripture utilize the two synonymously, it uses them in this way to refute Christian Science’s view of the death and atonement of Jesus. I’ll illustrate with a story from the mission field.

After sitting through a Wednesday Night Testimony Meeting at a local Christian Science church, a man engaged me in conversation. After asking me a few questions about myself, I had opportunity to ask him some questions, such as “What do you do?”, “Where are you from?”, etc. (It’s good always to do this in order to establish some kind of personal relationship with your hearer.) I then asked, “You know, I read a statement from Mary Baker Eddy that ‘Christ never died’ [Eddy, Unity of Good, 62; this because “Christ” is not Jesus, as explained]. Do you believe this?” He answered yes. I then asked, “Well, would you please read for me a verse in Romans? Romans 5:8.” He read, I prayed for him; the end of the verse read “Christ died for us.”

I then asked him, “What do you think of this?” He stated, “Paul was wrong.” I continued to talk with him about his answer, and part of my reply to him was that according to Christian Science, the Bible is his “pastor.” How then, could he say that his pastor was wrong?

All the above illustrates a general rule of thumb that we find among various cults: If you’ve got the wrong Jesus, there will be heresy in other areas of doctrine. Among the many blatantly heretical statements by Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy is this one, found in Science and Health, page 361: “Jesus Christ is not God.” What a wonderful opportunity we have as witnesses of the biblical Jesus (who is the Christ [Matthew 16:16]) to ask Christian Scientists if they would, in faith, affirm John 20:28, which reads in address to Jesus, “My Lord and my God.”

The Da Vinci Code: “FACTS”?

The Da Vinci Code (DVC), “A Novel” written by Dan Brown, is a work of fiction published in March 2003. The book has sparked a tremendous amount of interest. There was at least one prime time TV news special on the book, the book has been on The New York Times “Best Seller” list for 50-plus weeks, and as of May 2004 over 7 million copies have been sold in more than 40 languages. Sony Pictures is making a movie based on the book, directed by Ron Howard. The novel is about the quest for the Holy Grail, which is NOT the “Cup of the Last Supper” of Christ, but rather “The Royal Bloodline of Jesus Christ,” who was married to Mary Magdalene. This “fact” is not new with DVC, for it can be found in the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, by Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh (1983). Nor is it true, for it lacks the solid evidence needed to substantiate it.

Unfortunately, DVC utilizes half-truths, falsities and liberal scholarship to support its fictional tale, and many readers, Christian and non-Christian alike, have been misled by many of its “FACTS.”

There are a few fictional characters worth mentioning: Robert Langdon—Harvard Symbologist, Teabing—Historian who is considered a reputable historian, and Sophie—a female character to whom Langdon and Teabing reveal the mystery and real meaning of the Holy Grail.

The book starts with assertions under the heading “FACT.” One of them reads, “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.” This, in my opinion, shapes the mind of the reader to believe that “FACT” underlies the fictional tale.

Of key interest is chapter 55, wherein Christianity as we know it is a product of power figures of the past who suppressed the truth of the Holy Grail in part by making Jesus divine, inventing the story of his resurrection, and propagating the divine inspiration of the Bible. As Teabing and Langdon enlighten Sophie to the mystery of the Grail, certain “FACTS” are stated. I shall document a few of these “FACTS” and answer with “TRUTH.”

DVC “FACT”: “The Bible did not arrive by fax from Heaven. . . . The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds . . . and it has evolved through countless translations, additions and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book” (231).

TRUTH: (1) The above starts with a “straw man” statement; that is, it accuses Christians of believing something they in fact do not (or should not) believe. We do not believe that the Bible dropped out of heaven. Rather, writers moved / inspired by the Spirit of God wrote the scriptures in real-life situations. The Bible, then, is a product of both God and man. (2) The Bible has NOT “evolved through countless translations, additions and revisions.” For example, when comparing the New Testament we have today to the writings of early church theologians of the first several centuries, we find that the whole New Testament, with the exception of 11 verses, could be collected from their writings. Hardly evidence that the New Testament “evolved,” for if it evolved we would find an abundance of evidence of transition after the early church theologians’ writings up to our current versions of the New Testament. Such evidence does not exist. Further, the earliest copies (from 125 – 450 AD) of the New Testament we possess largely coincide with what we have in today’s translations. If it “evolved,” certainly there would be transitional manuscripts reflecting evolving to the degree that DVC implies, but there aren’t any. Thus, we DO have a definitive version of the book.

DVC “FACT”: “The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great” (231).

TRUTH: Constantine was NOT involved in the formation of the Bible. Further, he had no absolute or sole authority at all when it came to church matters. Constantine convened the Council of Nicea (325 AD), which, by the way, did not decide on a collation of books that should make up the Bible, but rather debated the issue of whether or not Christ shared in the same nature as his Father.

DVC “FACT”: “’Originally,’ Langdon said, ‘Christianity honored the Jewish Sabbath of Saturday, but Constantine shifted it to coincide with the pagan’s veneration day of the sun [Sunday]” (232-33).

TRUTH: Among several early writings that predate Constantine, Sunday is prescribed as the day of worship. For example, “On the Lord’s very own day [Sunday], gather together, break bread, give thanks” (Didache, c. 100 AD), “If, then, those walking in the ancient practices attain to newness of hope, not observing the Sabbath, but fitting their lives after the Lord’s Day, on which our life arose as well” (Ignatius, 110 AD). See also Acts 20:7.

DVC “FACT”: “‘At this gathering [the Council of Nicea in 325 AD],’ Teabing said, ‘many aspects of Christianity were voted upon . . . [including] the divinity of Jesus. . . . My dear, until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet . . . a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal'” (233).

TRUTH: The evidence is overwhelming that Jesus’ earlier followers (not even counting the New Testament writings!) viewed him as God the Son. See the writings of early church theologians such as Ignatius (c. 110 AD), Justin Martyr (c. 150 AD), Irenaeus (c. 180 AD), and Tertullian (c. 200 AD), to name but a few. These predate the date of the Council of Nicea.

DVC “FACT”: “The Jewish tetragrammaton YHWH—the sacred name of God—in fact derived from Jehovah, an androgynous physical union between the masculine Jah and the pre-Hebraic name for Eve, Havah” (309, chap. 74).

TRUTH: (1) YHWH cannot derive from “Jehovah,” for the spelling of “Jehovah” comes from the sixteenth century AD when the vowels for adonai (Lord) where inserted in the Hebrew tetragrammaton, YHWH, which is found in Hebrew manuscripts several centuries before the spelling of “Jehovah.” (2) The tetragrammaton YHWH derives NOT from Jah and Havah, as DVC would lead us to think, but from the Hebrew verb “to be,” which communicates God’s eternal existence.

DVC “FACT”: “The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the 1950s” (234).

TRUTH: 1947

To conclude, DVC, though a work of fiction, can mislead people to believe that the “FACTS” that underlie the novel are indeed true. I have experienced, in conversation, how this book can be taken as “The Truth about Christianity.” And I have heard reports about how the book has led unbelievers further away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Moreover, it has weakened or threatened the faith of many who profess the biblical Christ as Savior and Lord. Now, chances are this book will be mentioned to you in casual conversation. When this happens, it will be good to have a few of the “FACTS” of DVC in your mind and answer them with TRUTH.

Transcendental Meditation

The Scene:
Exeter, New Hampshire
Public Library

The Event: Public Lecture

The Title: “All about TM”

I remember sitting in that public library praying about what I should say and how I should say it. There were, along with myself, about twenty-five people in the room when the lecturer began by stating, “The purpose of Transcendental Meditation is to get you in touch with the source of all thought.” I raised my hand and asked, “Is Source with an upper-case ‘S,’ and is it defined the same as the atman-Brahman [God-soul] in Hinduism?” “Um, yes, that’s correct,” replied the woman behind the podium.

Not a Religion?

Many representatives of Transcendental Meditation (TM), founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, claim that TM is not a religion. But the fact is that it certainly is a religion with a definite theology and spiritual practice (meditation).

Part of the problem associated with the claim that TM is not a religion is that it is often presented to the common, everyday westerner in non-religious-sounding terminology (like our example above). When the right questions are asked, though, it can be shown to be nothing else than eastern spirituality.

Another part of the puzzle concerns the actual books written by the Maharishi and TM practitioners. When examined they betray the oft-paraded public image of TM.

Mantras, Meditation, and Worship

TM espouses a meditative technique using mantras. Though sometimes described as a meaningless sound, the mantra is to be recited over and over again, aiding the practitioner in reaching “God Realization,” that is, realizing that one is, in fact, God. “This is the state described in the words: Be still and know that I am God” (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, The Science of Being and Art of Living, p. 302).

In order to become a practitioner of TM, one must first be initiated into the movement. What does this involve? The initiation itself is called a Puja Ceremony. Puja is a Sanskrit word meaning “worship” or “religious ceremony.” The initiate is asked to bring flowers, fresh fruit and a white handkerchief to the ceremony. These are then placed on an altar in front of a picture of the Maharishi. The initiate kneels before the picture and the Puja is sung and recited, wherein occur invocations to the Lord Narayana, to lotus-born Brahma the creator, and to other deities. A series of offerings are then given to the Maharishi, each recited in single turn, and each ending with the phrase “I bow down.”

Of the mantra the Maharishi states, “We do something here according to Vedic rites, particular, specific chanting [of mantras] to produce an effect in some other world, draw the attention of those higher beings or gods living there” (Meditations of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, p. 17).

On Christ

TM also has a view of Christ. When asked why it is that such emphasis is laid upon Christ’s suffering, the Maharishi answers, “Due to not understanding the life of Christ and not understanding the message of Christ. I don’t think Christ ever suffered or Christ could suffer” (ibid., 123). Further, according to the Maharishi, Jesus is one of many saviors who gave “The message of liberation” (ibid., 124-25).

I purposefully left out one important element from my experience at the Exeter Public Library. There were people of all persuasions attending, including people who claimed to be Christians. Not only does TM offer its solutions to life’s problems in, at first, non-religious language, it does so to people who claim to follow Christ. The mission, then, not only includes sharing the Gospel with people who wholly embrace TM, and with those who have no anchor in any religious waters, but to inform Christians concerning the religious and anti-Christian nature of TM.

Mormonism and Eternal Progression

The Mormon Doctrine of Eternal Progression (EP) is in some important senses the foundation of Mormon doctrine. For example, if one understands EP, one will understand the Mormon doctrines of God the Father, Jesus, and the ultimate goal for humanity.

EP itself exists in four basic stages: Intelligence, Spirit-Child, Take a Body, and Becoming Gods and Goddesses (ideally). Intelligence has been called “spirit element” by one Mormon apostle. This spirit element is eternal. Next, spirit-children are formed from this eternal spirit element. Next, these spirit-children take bodies on earth. Finally, if faithful, persons may become gods or goddesses.

Let us now move to the Mormon doctrine of the heavenly Father. His name is Elohim. He was first formed as a spirit-child through his heavenly Father and goddess Mother (who, by the way, had a heavenly Father and Mother, who had a heavenly Father and Mother, and so on). In other words, Elohim’s heavenly Mother gave birth to him in the Spirit-Child stage. Then, Elohim was born on a planet as a mere man, died, and became a god. Today Elohim is an exalted man-god, with body parts just like a man, and lives in the heavens with his goddess wife (name unknown).

How about the Mormon Jesus? Jesus was the first spirit-child born to Elohim and his goddess wife. Mormon doctrine deviates from the EP order of things by stating that Jesus became a god in the Spirit-Child stage. Then, this spirit-child Jesus took a body on earth through the “sireship” of Elohim, the heavenly Father, who came to Mary and impregnated her. In this way, say the Mormons, Jesus is the “only begotten of the Father,” while all the rest of humanity was begotten through earthly fathers.

As for Mormons themselves, we follow EP and learn that Mormons (and all other human beings) are sprit-children of heavenly Father and Mother, came to earth and were clothed with flesh through the procreative process with earthly parents, and if faithful they too can become gods and goddesses.

Mormons believe that at the first resurrection they will be raised up as gods and goddesses to live here on earth, procreate their own spirit-children, and send them off to populate their respective planets.

EP will continue on forever.

Joseph Fielding Smith, tenth Prophet of the Mormon Church, once wrote that “a man and his wife when glorified will have spirit children who eventually will go on an earth like this one we are on and pass through the same kind of experiences, being subject to mortal conditions, and if faithful, then they also will receive the fulness of exaltation and partake of the same blessings. There is no end to this development; it will go on forever. We will become gods and have jurisdiction over worlds, and these worlds will be peopled by our own offspring. We will have an endless eternity for this” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:48; emphases original).

Christians can respond to the above Mormon doctrines as follows. God the Father was not once a man who became a god. Psalm 90:2 in the King James Version (use the KJV when witnessing to Mormons) reads, “from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” God was always—from all eternity past to all eternity future—God. Jesus did not become a god in the Spirit-Child stage. Jesus was always God the Son, as John 1:1 attests: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Before the creation of all things the Word (preincarnate Jesus) eternally “was”! The Word eternally was with the Father, and the Word himself eternally was God by nature. As for humans becoming gods and goddesses, Isaiah 43:10 is quite to the point: “Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” The old and often-quoted Mormon couplet—“As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become”—is simply a lie.

As Christians we must pray to possess the attitude of Christ when sharing with Mormons. This is first and foremost. Further, use a KJV when sharing with Mormons. Also, teach them, witness to them, by asking questions. For example, you might say, “Do you believe that if you are faithful enough you can become a god some day?” The Mormon should answer “yes.” Then you might respond, “Would you please read Isaiah 43:10 in your King James Bible and tell me what you think?” As the Mormon is reading the verse, pray for him that the Holy Spirit will open his ears and eyes, so that he may hear and see the truth.
It has often been stated that with pseudo- and non-Christian religions we have a mission field right here on our doorsteps. Are we ready?