Q: WHY SYMBOLISM?
A: Why do we teach in symbols? Why can't we put things into plain words instead of using one thing to stand for another? Well, the answer is a bit complicated, so let's talk about it. First, we must understand that man is a complex character. He has a body and brain which help him understand the physical world around him and help him to reason things out. And, he also has a heart and a spirit and a soul which help him comprehend a language which his brain cannot. As an example, it isn't with your brain or your body that you love your God, your family and your country; it is with your heart and soul. Another way of putting it is that the language of love is not the same as the language of the tongue.
That same principle is present in Masonry. If everything in Masonry was written, there would be no spirit in it. Masonry expresses truths that are universal and can be understood without the use of words. This is symbolic language and is the means we use to communicate with the spirits, souls and hearts of other Masons. If you met with a Mason in a foreign land and couldn't speak his language, you could use signs and grips, draw a square and compasses, or draw a trowel, and he would understand. When a Mason sees the square and compasses, he knows immediately that it always stands for good and never stands for evil. And, when he sees the trowel symbol he knows that it not only is used to spread regular cement; it is also used to spread the cement of brotherly love.
To sum up, the reason we use symbolism is because only by symbols can we speak the language of the spirit, and because symbols form an elastic language which each man reads for himself according to his ability. symbolism is the only language by which the heart, spirit and soul can be touched. To suggest that Masonry use any other language would be just as revolutionary as removing our altars or meeting in public square instead of a Lodge room. Masonry without symbols would not be Masonry.
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Q: Is Masonry "guilty" of teaching toleration?
A: Yes. And proud of it! It seems a strange accusation, but anti-Masonic writers often charge that we accept people with many different religious viewpoints as Brothers. They are correct.
Jesus did not say to us, "A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another - as long as he goes to the same church you do, or if he belongs to the same political party."
In Romans 13: 8 -10 Jesus said "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fullfilled the law
In John 13: 34, 35 Jesus said "A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
Does “love one another” mean we should only love Baptists, or Methodists or some self appointed splinter preacher who makes a living by selling hatred literature.
Yet one anti-Masonic writer claims that this toleration is the blackest sin of Masonry. Toleration, he says, "springs from the pits of hell and from the father of lies, Lucifer."
When you consider what intolerance has produced in this world, the Inquisition, the massacre of the inhabitants of Jerusalem by the Crusaders, the burning of Protestants at the stake, the horrors of Hitler, the mass murders of Stalin, the "killing fields" of Cambodia -- it is hard to believe that toleration springs from the devil.