"OUR TRUST IS IN GOD"
This Short Talk Bulletin has been adapted
from a paper prepared by the Committee on
Masonic Resarch and Education of thc Grand
Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Minnesota.
The Church and Masonry are two subjects
with great similarity, but also striking differences. When one considers them together,
there are certain basic truths that should be
recognized. To review these truths is to
recognize the true relationship between them.
In Masonic terms and for this paper "God,"
"Deity," "Grand Architect," "Supremc Being," and other similar rcferences to the Holy
Father are varying ways to refer to the "One
and Only,'' according to individual
preferences, without infringing on the
preference of his particular church. Similarly,
all individual churches are, in Masonic terms,
considered as the Church. George Bernard
Shaw said, "There is only one religion, though
there are a hundred versions of it." Yes, each
denomination has its own belief in what the
Church should be. Masonry takes no
preference in this separation of thought about
the Church, but accepts the universality and the
individual member's preference.
Two principal truths should be recognized
about the Church and Masonry. First, Masonry
does not replace the Church in worship of God;
and secondly, a spirit of cooperation and
understanding is to be encouraged in both the
Church and in the Masonic Temple. Since any
misunderstanding is more likely to be on the
part of church people looking at Masonry,
rather than Masons looking at the Church, it
becomes the responsibility of Masons to take
positive and affirmative steps to ward off any
To avoid misunderstanding, it is essential
that no Masonic activities be scheduled at a
time or place that would interfere with activities
of the Church. Scheduling rehearsals, for example, or scheduling any program is restricted
by the Codes of many Grand Lodges.
In Minnesota, for example, the Grand
Lodge Constitution states: "No Lodge shall
hold any communication upon the Sabbath or
first day of the week, except to conduct the
Masonic funeral services of a deceased
Brother." In 1978, this was amended to permit
an afternoon or early evening ceremony on the
Sabbath for public installation of Lodge Officers. But the well-meaning intent of Masonry
is to avoid Lodge activity that would in any way
conflict with customary Church activity.
Masonry is not a religion, and does nothing
to interpret or effect various persuasions or
faiths of its members. Masonry teaches, and
has preserved in ancient purity, the cardinal
tenet of the old primitive faith, which underlies,
and indeed is the foundation of religion, which
is that God is One, and that every member must
have a firm and abiding faith in that fact.
Masons are encouraged to be active
members of a church. It is generally recognized,
and many churches have discovered, that the
outstanding leaders and officers of a church are
often active Masons in their Lodges. Masonry
and the Church do not compete as far as their
basic teachings are concerned. They seek to
strengthen and support each other.
Masonry insists that every member have a
firm belief in God, but does not interpret what
the God is like. This is the purpose of the
Church, and is clearly the distinct and separate
reason why Masonry and the Church can and
do work together. They have different purposes.
Historically, during periods of the rise to
power by dictators and other forms of government that demand individual minds to cease to
think, and to turn allegiance to demands of the
central government, Masonry has been among
the first organizations to be persecuted. Churches more often have been allowed to function
under controlled patterns of influence, using
directed church leadership as the forum for new
Masonry is one of thc most powerful influences and forces for maintaining in the
citizens, principles of freedom of thought,
freedom of conscience, thc right to learn, the
desire to follow truth, understanding, and what
we symbolically call Light. This is what the
Church does also, but in a diffcrent way. Both
are working toward a common end.
Masonry in America, since the inception of
the American Constitution, has supportcd the
theme of a public educational system. Education existed since early ages of mankind, later
was undertaken by the Church as one of the
fundamental elements. Many schools and
universities all over thc United States were
started as an outgrowth of religious men and
women concerned about education of youth.
A member of any Masonic body can never
be "saved," religiously speaking, by being in
Masonry. Both Masonry and the Church,
however, use the Bible as the source of Light,
the source of inspiration. Thc Mason will be a
better churchman, and have a strongcr faith by
having received Light in Masonry and the Light
of the Holy Bible, and will find in it the way for
the soul's welfare and salvation. The Holy Bible has sometimes been referred to by such
terms as "book of life," or "the operating
manual for living," or "trestle board of life,"
because of its complete and all-encompassing
nature of providing a solution to every problem. For example, when the missionary, John
Eliot, completed a huge undertaking to
translate the complete Bible into the Algonquin
Indian language in the mid-seventeenth cen-
tury, he is quoted as saying, "The word of life
is now your own," as he gave the first copies of
this first American Bible to his people.
Therefore, the Light that is found upon the
Altar in a Masonic Temple is the basis of our
faith, and of our life. Spiritually, mentally and
morally, a member finds source for strength in
both the Church and in the Masonic Temple.
But, because of his understanding, he never lets
one take the place of the other. Knowing the
respective places of each, one can be a better
Mason because of being a faithful member of
the Church, and likewise be a better member of
the Church because of being a Mason.
Masonry and the Church, like the pillars
Jachin and Boaz, provide two very strong foundations on which one builds a life. From these
foundations rise landmarks of humanity which
have called upon the skill of writers throughout
the ages, and incite meanings, construct
allegories, invite continuing study, and incite
the imagination into what one can become.
Masonry is not a religion, but both Masonry
and the Church invite men of all religions to
war against wrong, uphold truth, and covet
charity, or love. This universality of the Church
is recognized by Masonry and, as noted earlier,
Masonry takes no preference in individual
denominations but accepts each member with
whatever denominational relationship he may
have. In so doing, every Mason is reminded of
duty and obligation. His lips should be sealed
against vulgarity and falsehood. His life will attract good men to follow the same road.
In the end, the good Mason will be that person who can look upon death, and see in its
face the same countenance with which he hears
its story. He will endure all the labors of his life
with his soul supporting his body, and amply
returning to the world the fruits of his gifts
from God. His crowning glory then, will be that
his Church will mourn his passing with the
knowledge that one of their greatest supporters
has passed the test of time. To reach this
height, Masonry invites its members to be
equally familiar with both the landmarks and
instruction of Masonry, as well as with landmarks and instruction of the Holy Bible. Dr.
Henry H. Halley, recipient of the Gutenberg
Award and author of a noted "Bible Handbook," noted the widespread neglect of the Bible ". . . we talk about the Bible, and defend
the Bible, and praise the Bible, and exalt the
Bible. Yes indeed! But many church members
SELDOM EVER EVEN LOOK INTO A
BIBLE . . . indeed would be ASHAMED to be
seen READING the Bible." Masonry will share
the burden of such neglect if it does not continue to share encouragement for reading and
studying the Bible as well as Masonic literature.
In summation of these thoughts concerning
a Masonic relationship with the Church, the
words of an unknown poet are most appropriate:
THE LODGE ON HIGH
When you've passed on to that Far Land
Beyond the skies and take your stand
Before Jehovah's Great White Throne,
Clad only in a gown - alone;
A pilgrim tired, without one cent
To show for all the time you've spent,
The work you've done down here below
In this old strife-torn vale of woe--
My son, I'm sure the Lord won't care
If you were poor or millionaire.
And when we've ceased our daily grind,
Left all our wordly goods behind
And landed safe above the clouds,
We'll look alike in snowy shrouds;
With feathered wings and hand in hand
We'll both enroll in Heaven's Band.
And, son, I know that we won't need
To fuss about our race or creed
Or if we took some high degree
As Mason, Moose or K. of C.
If you've believed in one true God,
The straight and narrow path have trod,
No matter what your lodge may be,
Your politics or pedigree,
You'll need no word or paid-up card
To pass you by the outer guard.
There's just one Order I surmise
The Lord of Hosts will recognize,
The biggest Lodge since time began--
And that's the Brotherhood of Man.