Masonry or Christ?
(Including the position of Orthodox Christianity regarding Freemasonry)
The Reverend Father Vladimir S. Borichevsky
The Reverend Father Stephan N. Jula
The Masonic Fraternity had its origins in the Middle Ages, about the year 800 A.D. It began with the builders of the Middle Ages and was called "Operative Masonry". The workers formed gilds or associations of their own, which had laws, rules, regulations, and officers. Certain religious and philosophical symbols and principles, which had formerly belonged to the ancient secret sun-worshippers, were adopted by some of the gilds. Eventually, the industrial feature of true Masonry was lost, and since then, it has become speculative Freemasonry with emphasis placed exclusively upon the religious aspect.
The claims of Masonry being ancient -- going back to Solomon's Temple or even to an earlier period, have no basis in historical fact. The claims that Jesus, John the Baptist, and John the Evangelist, were Masons, deserve no attention and are nothing short of being blasphemous.
Masonry has become highly spiritualistic and as such, has always been competitive to the Church. Teaching religiously, with the aim of becoming The Sole Religion of the Human Race, Masonry is in direct opposition to Christ and His Church.
Adopted by the upper classes, Masonry became a key to personal promotion and to the satisfaction of vanity. More important are the appeals to the love of mystery in its myths, symbols, ceremonies, and oaths; its secrecy and the obscurity of its phraseology. Speculative Masonry arose with the beginnings of rationalism and free thought, when deism and 'natural' as opposed to revealed religion were winning adherents.
Because of these various religious implications within Freemasonry and the fact that many Christians are Masons, we feel it necessary to make a study of the issue.
May the power and Glory of God be made known through our humble efforts.
Can a True Christian Become a Mason?
The Orthodox Catholic Church is convinced and has always taught that Masonry is an unchristian, indeed an Antichristian organization, and as such, cannot he tolerated within the Orthodox Catholic Church.
It has become increasingly evident, that there are Orthodox Christians who have joined, are joining, or are about to join, the organization of Freemasonry. Most of these Christians have not studied the organization of Freemasonry, and in their innocence, are not aware that Freemasonry is incompatible with the Orthodox Catholic Faith. A true Christian will not join Masonry, or having joined it, but afterwards learning of its true nature, will leave it.
We must warn all good Christians that Masonry in reality is a religion. It is a false religion which is both pagan and antichristian. This can very easily be verified if one but studies some of the statements and writings of authoritative Masons. Masonry claims to reveal to its initiates a spiritual and esoteric light. Masonry believes in immortality, but not immortality in Christ. The True God in Masonry is rejected for the lowest-common denominator god -- so as not to be offensive to Jew, Christian, Mohammedan, Hindu, etc. Masonry accepts men of any religion as long as the person believes in a deity. However, even the devil believes in God and trembles before Him.
The Christian Faith is an exclusive Faith. Christianity was revealed by God to man and is not a system worked out by man himself. God came into the world in Christ Jesus in order to lift man up to Him. For a true Christian, Christ means everything! A true Christian will never deny Christ! A Christian is saved through the Blood of Christ, There is no salvation except in the name of Christ. Any worship which excludes Christ is unchristian.
These are some of the differences of the Masonic religion and the Christian Faith.
Some claim that Masonry is not a religion but the ethical and charitable handmaid to the Church. Masonry itself accepts no such subordinate position. Masonry teaches salvation by works and not through the Blood of Christ. This is false salvation and will only lead to perdition. Salvation is within the Church and not in Masonry.
The Church does not worship the god that is worshipped in the Masonic temples. A Christian who worships in a Masonic temple defies the authority of the Church and does it in secret. How can a true believer in the Holy Trinity claim to have found a true worship of God in Masonry? The god of Masonry excludes Christ, our Divine Redeemer. A Christian has "put on Christ" in Holy Baptism. How can he become a Mason where he must deny and take off Christ, his Redeemer?
In the first degree, God is referred to as a "Great Architect". This is derogatory to the True Gods creative omnipotence. An architect only puts together from materials already at hand. God creates from nothing! This Masonic conception is frankly deistic, that is-based upon reason only, disbelieving in revelation and the supernatural Truths of Christianity. "Grand Geometrician" is even worse, because it implies some of the outmoded symbolical mathematics of the Kabbala, the mystic theosophy of the Hebrews. But it is in the Royal Arch degree that very grave difficulties arise. The word Jah-bul-on is made up of the Hebrew Jahweh coupled with the Assyrian Baal and the Egyptian On or Osiris. This is the name that Masons claim to be the "sacred and mysterious name of the true and living God. Most High". It is a most terrible mixture which certainly does not spell God. Masonry is a prechristian religion, a mystery religion quite different, separate and alien to the Christian Faith. The Christian religion exalts faith above all and is dependent on Supernatural Grace. Masonry has only natural truths and does not depend upon faith. It brings knowledge to its initiates through reason alone.
Although Masonry does in a sense represent religion at a pre-Christian level, it also claims to impart a light, spiritual and moral, which shines nowhere else. It claims to have secrets which add to a man's sense of spiritual value and improve his character. It claims the exclusive possession of certain truths, one of which is the sacred and mysterious name of God. It claims to have found the worship of God!
In other words, Masonry claims to be a "super-religion" and its great mission is to embrace within itself all religions. To do this, the unique message of Christ the Redeemer and his Church must be neutralized in order to be compatible with Masonic teachings.
Freemasonry is not compatible with Christianity inasmuch as it is a secret organization, acting and teaching in secret and deifying rationalism. It is not lawful to belong to Christ and at the same time, to search for redemption and moral perfection outside of Him.
Masonry has been condemned by the Orthodox Catholic Church. Indeed, no Christian church which has seriously investigated the religious teachings of Freemasonry has failed to condemn it.
It is shameful and illogical for a Christian to admit that he is in a state of darkness and is seeking light through Masonry. To bind oneself by oath to secrets which will not be revealed until afterwards, is also foolish and dangerous, and it is contrary to moral law, The Orthodox Christian who is a Mason must consider the sin that he commits when he denies Christ. He must come to realize that Masonry is in opposition to the Christian Faith even though superficially it may seem to be a Christian organization.
Some join the ranks of Masonry because of its religiousness. Others join for the advantages it offers in business and certain professions, or for the fellowship it offers. Still others join for the secrecy with which Masonry clouds its true self.
None of these reasons can justify a Christian becoming a Mason. In fact, they are reasons for not joining!
Masonry is a syncretic religion which tries to unite within itself the conflicting beliefs of many religions. It is a natural religion which has no authority except natural theology in which man is a law to himself. This, in addition to the indifferentism within Freemasonry, are the deadly enemies of the Church today, just as they were in the Early Church.
Every clergyman should study Masonry in order that he might understand the effects it has upon the souls of those contaminated with this disastrous cancer, It must be fought arid destroyed within the Church.
Masonry is a spiritual disease and is a rival of the Church as a moral guide. It declares that it is not a religion and yet it claims to be religious. If church members are receiving moral instruction and precepts from an outside source, the Church has both the right and duty to investigate.
"But even if we, or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1,8).
Masonry Speaks for Itself
In our past chapter, we discussed the idea of Freemasonry as a religion. In order to clarify the position of Masonry to religion in general, let us examine a few statements by Masons of authority.
Mackey says: "As Masons we are taught never to commence any great or important undertaking without first invoking the blessing and protection of Deity, and this is because Masonry is a religious institution." (Masonic Ritualist, p. 44)
"Masonry is a religious institution, its ceremonies are part of a really religious worship." (Encyclopedia, p. 60)
Pierson says: "The system of Masonry, as in its original inception, still claims to be a system of religion in which all men can unite." (Pierson: Traditions, p. 372)
Albert Pike says Masonry is a religion, for every man before becoming a Mason, must express his belief in deity, and in the continued existence of the intellectual portion after death. The trouble with ministers of religion is that they want us to believe too much, while the Ingersolls want us to believe too little". (Address at Harpers Ferry, Sept. 11, 1879)
Grand Inspector Cunningham says: "Masonry is a pure religion".
Clymer says: "Masonry is the universal religion only because and only so long, as it embraces all religions. For this reason, and this alone, it is universal and eternal". (Ancient Mystic Oriental Masonry, p. 59)- "Masonry is not only a universal science, but a World Wide Religion, and owes allegiance to no one creed, and can adopt no sectarian dogma, as such without ceasing thereby to be Masonic . .. . Many degrees have been Christianized only to perish: as every degree eventually will if circumscribed by narrow creeds, and dwarfed. to the apprehension, so as to exclude good men of any other communion". (p. 58)-"Without any reference to forms and modes of faith, it furnishes a series of indirect evidences which silently operate to establish the great and general principles of religion, and points to that triumphant system which was the object of all preceding dispensations, arid must ultimately Be The Sole Religion of the Human Race". (p. 118).
Albert G. Mackey is considered by many to be the greatest authority in America. In his Encyclopedia, (p. 617 - 1916 ed.) he writes: "There has been a needless expenditure of ingenuity and talent by a large number of Masonic orators and essayists in the needless endeavor to prove that Masonry is not a religion." Further on he writes: "But the religion of Masonry is not sectarian. It admits men of every religious creed within its hospitable bosom, rejecting none and approving none for his particular faith. It is not Judaism, though there is nothing in it to offend a Jew. It is not Christianity, but there is nothing in it repugnant to the faith of a Christian. (p.619)
One of the most authoritative publications of the order is the Quarterly Bulletin of the Masonic Library at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In an article which protests against "Christianizing" the order, we read "When a man becomes a Mason and takes upon himself the solemn vow that binds us all in bonds of fraternal love, it does not in any way interfere with his belief in God or his religion, no matter what his belief may be. He need not cease to be Mohammedan, Buddhist, Hindu, Jew, Christian, or (a member) of any other denomination. If he will but earnestly study the esoteric teachings of ancient Masonry as taught in our beloved fraternity, he will gain a far deeper insight into his own faith and a far clearer conception of his own creed which will enable him better to understand its sublime teachings and spiritual truths. He will recognize the fact that all religions must have emanated from a common source; that everyone originated from the same great fountain, whose eternal verities are to be found in all teachings in all religions". (January, 1917 issue)
These are the fundamental teachings of Masonry on religion. Every distinction between true and false religion is wiped out. The claim of Christianity, that it is the only true Faith possessing the Saving Truth ii denied. But Jesus says He is the only Way and Truth and Life!. Freemasonry says that all religions have that Truth, and all have the same origin. Its position is plainly opposed to that of Christianity.
There is little wonder that an Orthodox Christian is told by a Mason that one will learn of true Orthodoxy through Masonry. To say this is to show one's total ignorance of Orthodoxy or to be deliberately false. The True Faith is to be found in its fullness only in the Orthodox Catholic Faith. Only the Orthodox Catholic Church is ordained to teach the Truth in all purity and fullness. The Holy Scripture declares that the Church is the pillar and ground of truth". The Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, is the only institution free from error for in it the Holy Ghost abides and witnesses to the Truth. Outside the Church there is darkness. It is only in the Church that we can find the fellowship necessary for true happiness. It is only through the Passion, Suffering, Death and the Glorious Resurrection of Jesus Christ that we can be saved. It is only through Christ and in His Church that we can find the Truth.
Does Holy Scripture teach the Masonic idea of placing all religions on an equal basis?
Listen to Our Lord Jesus Christ Who says: "I am the door. By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved." (John, 10:9) "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John, 14:6) "He that hath not the Son of God hath not Life." (I John, 5:12) "He that believeth not the Son shall not see Life". (John, 3:36)
Without Christ we have no God! We have no salvation! For a Christian there can be no agreement or compromise between Christ and Masonry.
Masonry ignores the Truth that Christ suffered for all. It was not in vain that St. Paul said, "The word of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God." (I Cor. 1:18)
The Christian makes a total sacrifice of the True Faith when he becomes a Mason. When he puts on his little Masonic apron, he abandons Christ implicitly and explicitly.
Since Masonry rejects the Divinity of Jesus Christ and places Him on an equal level with founders of other religions, every Christian should stop and realize the implications of Masonry to his Christian Faith. Masonry eliminates the name of Christ from Bible passages read in the lodge and omits His Name in the prayers of the lodge. This should make a Christian realize that he is guilty of participation in heretical proceedings. The Christian has but one alternative. If he has already joined a lodge he is to "come out and be separate". (2 Cor. 6:17)
"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame to speak of those things which are done of them in secret." (Ephesians 5:11-12)
The Masonic Oath
If someone were to ask you to sign a document without first permitting you to read it, you would object I And no one would say that you acted unwisely. When joining a Masonic organization this is precisely what you are asked to do. For example, the first oath, the Entered Apprentice Obligation, reads as follows:
"I (name), of my own free will and accord, in the presence of Almighty God and this Worshipful Lodge, erected to Him and dedicated to the Holy Saints John, do hereby and hereon most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear: that I will always hail, ever conceal and never reveal any of the secret arts, parts, or points of the hidden mysteries of Ancient Freemasonry which have been heretofore, may at this time or shall at any future period be communicated to me as such, to any person or persons whomsoever, except it be to a true and lawful brother Mason, or within a regularly constituted lodge of Masons: and neither unto him nor them until by strict trial due examination or legal information, I shall have found him or them as lawfully entitled to the same as I myself."
The italicized words indicate clearly that one swears to keep secret not only that which has been revealed, but -even that which is yet to be revealed. No person in his right mind would agree to this in any other phase of life, yet this is the normal procedure in all Masonic ritual. Jesus, however, said: "I have spoken openly to the world - I have said nothing secretly." (John 18:20) He expects all who follow Him in Truth to do likewise.
Further more, a Mason solemnly swears to allow the Masonic Order to punish and even destroy him if he reveals any of its secrets. This is what he swears:
"To all of this, I most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, with a firm and steadfast resolution to keep and perform the same, without any equivocation, mental reservation, or secret evasion o mind whatever, "binding myself under no less a penalty than that of having my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by its roots, and buried in the rough sands of the sea at low-water mark, where the tide ebbs and flows twice in twenty-four hours, should I even knowingly or willingly violate this my solemn oath and obligation as an Entered Apprentice Mason. So help me God, and keep me steadfast in the due performance of the same."
Here a Mason asks the help of God to violate God's own commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." This is not Christian ethics! Indeed there are many pagan religions whose ethical standards are far superior. Some will say that this is but a meaningless ritual or symbolism; but in the oath we read that this promise is made solemnly and without any "mental reservation or secret evasion of mind whatever." In short, a Mason signs away his judgement and free will by taking this oath. He promises to take it literally and seriously. And for what reason?
Now let us consider what some of the Presidents of the United States had to say about tins blasphemous and unethical oath.
The sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, said, "I am prepared to complete the demonstration before God and man that the Masonic oath, obligations, and penalties cannot by any possibility be reconciled to the laws of morality, of Christianity, or of the land."
President Ulysses S. Grant said, "All secret oath-bound political parties arc dangerous to any nation, no matter how pure or how patriotic the motives and principles which first bring them together."
We would remind those who say that the oaths and obligations of a Mason are not taken seriously or literally, of one incident in the history of American Masonry which reveals its ever-present danger. After Captain William Morgan abandoned Masonry and exposed the first three degrees he was abducted and murdered by Masons who took their oaths literally and seriously to the sorrow and regret of those who did not. When this occurred in 1826, 1500 lodges surrendered their charters and 45,000 out of 50,000 Masons in the northern jurisdiction seceded from the order. The circumstances which were then present in Masonry have not changed in substance, and are present today with all their potential danger.
Many Masons will deny, that they ever took the oath which we have quoted in part, but the reason for their denial is self evident-the oath itself forbids. The authenticity of the oath which we have quoted has never been disproven. There are undoub1edly many Masons who were and are unaware of the full impact and implications of this oath and their Masonic, obligations. But when they are exposed to the Light and Truth of Christ, their evil becomes clearly visible to all but the spiritual1y blind or callously indifferent.
Masonic oath is, in fact, an extra-judicial oath! The lodges have no authority from God or the State to administer oaths. Since this oath cannot be binding upon a Christian, it should be rejected and repented of, if it has been taken. No Christian can take an oath which obligates him to break the Law of God. Either the oath means exactly what it says or it does not! Either the initiate is consenting to murder or he is blaspheming God and using His Name in vain!
The Bible tells us what to do if we have unwittingly committed this sin: "If a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these. And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin." (Leviticus 5:4-6)
It is evident from even this brief analysis of the Masonic oath of the first degree-and this is even more true of the other degrees - that Masonry cannot be a handmaid of the Church as some claim. The ethical ideals of Freemasonry are directly opposed to those of Christianity.
It is also clear that no one can be a true Mason and at the same time a true Christian. We would remind those who say that Masonry is a charitable and good organization, that good actions are truly good only if they spring from good intent and a good heart. As Christians, we are required to be charitable to all people and to be impartial in all things. Masonic oaths require partial benevolence. Strictly speaking, Masonic charity is not Christian charity.
"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful even as your Father is merciful." (Luke 6:-32-36.) In Christian charity everything is given "in the name of Christ."
In the words of St. John, the Church calls to all Christians, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God; every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming and now it is in the world already. Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for He Who is in you is greater than he who is in the world, and the world listens to them. We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error." (1 John 4:1-6)
Why Join a Secret Society?
Is there a good reason in the world for joining a secret society? Why must there be secretive organizations? Do secret societies benefit or hinder the Christian Church?
These are questions which should interest every God-loving person.
In John 3:19-21 we read, "And this is the condemnation that light is come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light that his deeds may be made manifest that they were wrought in God.
We believe sincerely that there is no reason under the name of God that would justify the membership of a true Christian in any secret society.
Secretism is an enemy of liberty and was the most unpopular thing in America between the years 1826-1840.
There is no need for secret organizations in a country blessed with liberty and justice for all. A secret society will always be tempted toward evil and to become lawless and disrespectful towards the rights of other people.
A secret organization can be useful and commendable while it is engaged in necessary work of a temporary nature. An example of this is the Early Church which was persecuted under despotic and tyrannical governments and for its salvation and continuance a certain secrecy was required. However, in a free and democratic land, a secret organization is not only unnecessary, but harmful.
Notwithstanding, we live in an age of secret organizations. Secretism is the chain that binds these organizations into a unity. Masonry is the root of secretism. Secret Societies are certainly not the work of Our Living Truth, the Light and the Life. On the other hand, secret societies acknowledge the god of falsehood, darkness and death.
That Masonry is a threat to the Christian Church is evident beyond doubt. If Masonry should ever become universal, as it claims it will, Christ The Son of God will no longer be heard of. Masonry is indeed the Antichrist in sheep's clothing and can have no place in the Church of Christ. "Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered."
Jesus spoke out against organized secrecy and also commanded His disciples to speak openly.
He said: "What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in the light; and what ye hear in the ear, that preach. ye upon the housetops." (Mart. 10:27)
It is clear that a Christian should reveal whatever is good and profitable for the human race and should not keep his light under a bushel, but on a candlestick so that it "may give light unto all that are in the house." (Matt. 5:15)
Any organization that claims to have secrets that could benefit mankind and does not reveal them to the world is certainly immoral and cannot be classified as a good institution. If it has no secrets, it should not pretend!
All the secrets of Masonry have been revealed and they have not benefited mankind. The only secret in Masonry is that there is no secret!
Masonry is nothing but a counterfeit of the Church. It antagonizes Christian life and growth. Men are fooled by the camouflage of Christianity permitted to a certain extent in this un-Christian society. These Christians are doing Satan's work and don't know it! Once they are caught in the snares of the wicked one they become weak Christians and will bear no fruit.
If all Christians within the lodge would "come out and be separate", the lodges would cease to exist! Isn't this a pitiful situation?
Pronouncements of the Orthodox Catholic Church Against Masonry
The Orthodox Catholic Church has made clear Her attitude towards Masonry on many occasions, and every time She has declared that it is incompatible with the Christian Faith.
In recent times, the late and prominent Metropolitan Anthony of Kiev and Galicia, warned all Orthodox Catholics in no uncertain, terms of the dangers of Masonry to the Christian Faith.
He said in his stand against Masonry, ". . . It is forbidden to all Orthodox Christians to become Freemasons. All Clergy are duty bound to question those who come to Confession whether they are members of Masonic Orders, and in case it will appear that they are Masons and believe and share Masonic teachings, they should be informed that membership in the Masonic organization is incompatible with Orthodox Christianity, and that such should immediately resign from Masonry, other wise they will be deemed unworthy to receive the Holy Communion and their further impenitency will bring them excommunication from the Orthodox Church.
The Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in North America, during a Great Council of Bishops held from the 19th to the 27th of October, 1949, in New York City, passed a resolution condemning Masonry in response to a special report made by the then Archbishop of Chicago, Leonty. The resolution reads:
"After a lengthy discussion of the question of Masonry, the Sobor of Bishops decreed: (a) To warn the members of the Russian Orthodox Church of America, in particular Her pastors concerning the incompatibility of being in the bosom of the Saving Church of Christ, and simultaneously continuing within the falsehoods of Masonry. Masonry is in fact a mixture of paganism and other religions containing certain secret "initiations" as established in the ritual of the order; (b) To explain to the Faithful that our Church agrees with the teachings of the Greek Orthodox Church. She accepts the testament as expressed by Chrysostom, the Metropolitan of Athens, and the 66 members of the Hellenic Church which was formulated during a Council in Athens, on the 12th of October, 1933, in the following declarations:
First: That the Faithful Sons of the Church must avoid Masonry, staunchly believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. Possessing the Truth which was revealed through Him and His Apostles, and in the partaking of Holy Communion by which we are sanctified, they must not fall away from the Grace of Christ by becoming participants in strange mysteries. It is absolutely impossible for one to belong to Christ and at the same time and seek salvation and moral perfection outside of Him;
Secondly; Whoever has perchance become involved in the initiations of the Masonic mysteries, must immediately leave this organization. In the future he must refrain from all association with the Masonic lodges and their workings. In this way he may have full assurance that he will renew his bond with the Lord and Saviour, which was broken either through ignorance or an incorrect understanding of the things involved.
(c) To explain the undeniable fact, that Divine judgment has touched those who have broken their bond with Christ, especially in the case of the priesthood--for they have already been punished from On High with their dismissal by higher authority from performing their priestly functions in our churches. They have lost integrity of life and in the midst of disease they have inherited death.
(d) To repeat the call of the entire Eastern Greek Catholic Church to those who have thoughtlessly joined the Masonic Fraternity not realizing that they passed into another religion similar to the ancient Gnostic sectrs of Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, Persia, and Greece; To assure them that the Church awaits with great love their repentance in their unwillful abandonment of Christ. She calls all the Faithful to pray, that our Lord Jesus Christ -"The Way, The Truth, and The Life"---will enlighten them, returning them to the Truth of the Gospel and will re-establish them in faithfulness to the Holy Catholic Apostolic Faith and Church.
(e) To give warning to all the Faithful and especially to the growing youth to take to heart the instructions of our Episcopate concerning Masonry, in order that the Blessings of God may constantly abide with their parents, their relations and all their church organizations, which are now benefiting from the mercies from above for their faithfulness to the Orthodox Faith of their forefathers.
Finally: To bring this decision immediately to the attention of all individuals involved and, in general, to inform and give guidance to all the Faithful by publishing it in the official organ of the Metropolitanate and, if possible, in separate brochures."
Humble Theophilus, Metropolitan of All America
(Translated from The Russian American Orthodox Messenger, March, 1950, pages 33-34.) ffl
The conclusions of the Council of the Greek Orthodox Church to which these resolutions refer, is given here in full for the edification of all. It is clear from what is said in this statement that not only the Greek Church, but indeed all the autocephalous Orthodox Churches are in agreement concerning Masonry. The Statement-pp. 70-74, "Darkness Visible"
The Bishops of the Church of Greece in their session , concerned themselves with the study and examinion of the secret international organization, Freemasonry. They heard with attention the introductory exposition of the Commission of four Bishops appointed by the Holy Synod at its last session; also the opinion of the Theological Faculty of the University of Athens, and the particular opinion of Prof. Panag Bratsiotis which was appended thereto. They also took into consideration publications on this question in Greece and abroad. After a discussion they arrived at the following conclusions, accepted unanimously by all the Bishops.
"Freemasonry is not simply a philanthropic union or a philosophical school, but constitutes a mystagogical system which reminds us of the ancient heathen mystery-religions and cults - from which it descends and is their continuation and regeneration. This is not only admitted by prominent teachers in the lodges, but they declare it with pride, affirming literally:-'Freemasonry is the only survival of the ancient mysteries and can be called the guardian of them' Freemasonry is a direct offspring of the Egyptian mysteries; 'the humble workshop of the Masonic Lodge is nothing else than the eaves and the darkness of the cedars of India and the unknown depths of the Pyramids and the crypts of the magnificent temples of Isis'; 'the Greek mysteries of Freemasonry, having passed along the luminous roads of knowledge under the mysteriarchs Prometheus, Dionysus and Orpheus, formulated the eternal laws of the Universe!
"Such a link between Freemasonry and the ancient idoaltrous mysteries is also manifested by all that is enacted and performed at the initiations. As in the rites of the ancient idolatrous mysteries the drama of the labours and death of the mystery god was repeated, and in the imitative repetition of this drama the initiate dies together with the patron of the mystery religion, who was always a mythical person symbolising the Sun of nature which dies in winter and is regenerated in spring, so it is also, in the initiation of the third degree of the patron of Freemasonry Hiram and a kind of repetition of his death, in which the initiate suffers with him, struck by the same instruments and on the same parts of the body as Hiram. According to the confession of a prominent teacher of Freemasonry Hiram is 'as Osiris, as Mithra and as Bacchus, one of the personifications of the Sun'.
"Thus Freemasonry is, as granted, a mystery religion, quite different, separate, and alien to the Christian faith. This is shown without any doubt by the fact that it possesses its own temples with altars, which are characterised by prominent teachers as 'workshops which cannot have less history and holiness than the Church' and as temples of virtue and wisdom where the Supreme Being is worshipped and the truth is taught. It possesses its own religious ceremonies, such as the ceremony of adoption or the masonic baptism, the ceremony of conjugal acknowledgement or the masonic marriage, the masonic memorial service, the consecration Of the masonic temple, and so on. It possesses its own initiations, its own ceremonial ritual, it sown hierarchical order and a definite discipline. As may be concluded from the masonic agapes and from the feasting of the winter and summer solstices with religious meals and general rejoicings, it is a physiolatric religion.
"It is true that it may seem at first that Freemasonry can be reconciled with every other religion, because it is not interested directly in the religion to which its initiates belong. This is, however, explained by its syncretistjc character and proves that in this point also it is an offspring and a continuation of ancient idolatrous mysteries which accepted for initiation worshippers of all gods. But as the mystery religions, in spite of the apparent spirit of tolerance and acceptance of foreign gods, lead to a syncretism which undermined and gradually shook confidence in other religions, thus Freemasonry today, which seeks to embrace in itself gradually all mankind and which promises to give moral perfection and knowledge of truth, is, lifting itself to the position of a kind of super-religion, looking on all religions (without excepting Christianity) as inferior to itself. Thus it develops in its initiates the idea that only in masonic lodges is performed the shaping and the smoothing of the unsmoothed and unhewn stone. And the fact alone that Freemasonry creates a brotherhood excluding all other brotherhoods outside it (which are considered by Freemasonry as 'uninstructcd' even when they are Christian) proves clearly its pretentions to be a super-religion. This means that by masonic initiation a Christian becomes a brother of the Muslim, the Buddhist, or any kind of rationalist, while the Christian not initiated in Freemasonry becomes to him an outsider.
"On the other hand, Freemasonry in prominently exalting knowledge and in helping free research as 'putting no limit in the search of truth' (according to its rituals and constitution), and more than this by adopting the so-called natural ethic, shows itself in this sense to be in sharp contradiction with the Christian religion. For the Christian religion exalts faith above all, confining human reason to the limits traced by Divine Revelation and leading to holiness through the supernatural action of grace. In other words, while Christianity, as a religion of Revelation, possessing its rational and superrational dogmas and truths, asks for faith first, and grounds its moral structure on the super-natural Divine Grace, Freemasonry has only natural truth and brings to the knowledge of its initiates free thinking and investigation through reason only. It bases its moral structure only on the natural forces of man, and has only natural aims.
"Thus, the incompatible contradiction between Christianity and Freemasonry is quite clear. It is natural that various Churches of other denominations have taken a stand against Freemasonry. Not only has the Western Church branded for its own reasons the masonic movement by numerous Papal encyclicals, but Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian communities have also declared it to be incompatible with Christianity. Much more has the Orthodox Catholic Church, maintaining in its integrity the treasure of Christian faith proclaimed against it every time that the question of Freemasonry has been raised. Recently, the Interorthodox Commission which met on Mount Athos and in which the representatives of all the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches took part, has characterised Freemasonry as a 'false and anti-Christian system'."
The assembly of the Bishops of the Church of Greece in the above mentioned session heard with relief and accepted the following conclusions which were drawn from the investigations and discussions by its President His Grace Archbishop Chrysostom of Athens:
"Freemasonry cannot be at all compatible with Christianity as far as it is a secret organization, acting and teaching in mystery and secret and deifying rationalism. Freemasonry accepts as its members not only Christians, but also Jews and Muslims. Consequently clergymen cannot be permitted to take part in this association. I consider as worthy of degradation every clergyman who does so. It is necessary to urge upon all who entered it without due thought and without examining what Freemasonry is, to sever all connections with it, for Christianity alone is the religion which teaches absolute truth and fulfils the religious and moral needs of men. Unanimously and with one voice all the Bishops of the Church of Greece have approved what was said, and we declare that all the faithful children of the Church must stand apart from Freemasonry. With unshaken faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ 'in whom we have our redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of His Grace, whereby He abounds to us in all wisdom and prudence' (Ephes. 1, 7-9) possessing the truth revealed by Him and preached by the Apostles, 'not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in the manifestation of the Spirit of power' (1 Cor. 2, 4); partaking in the Divine Sacraments through which we are sanctified and saved by eternal life, we must not fall from the grace of Christ by becoming partakers of other mysteries. It is not lawful to belong at the same time to Christ and to search for redemption and moral perfection outside Him. For these reasons true Christianity is incompatible with Freemasonry.
“Therefore, all who have become involved in the initiations of masonic mysteries must from this moment sever all relations with masonic lodges and activities, being sure that they are thereby of a certainty renewing their links with our one Lord and Saviour which were weakened by ignorance and by a wrong sense of values. The Assembly of the Bishops of the Church of Greece expects this particularly and with love from the initiates of the lodges, being convinced that most of them have received masonic initiation not realizing that by it they were passing into another religion, but on the contrary from ignorance, thinking that they had done nothing contrary to the faith of their fathers. Recommending them to the sympathy, and in no wise to the hostility or hatred of the faithful children of the Church, the Assembly of the Bishops calls them to pray with her from the heart in Christian love, that the one Lord Jesus Christ ‘the way, the truth and the life’ may illumine and return to the truth those who in ignorance have gone astray”.
(We are indebted to Father Krivoshein, an Orthodox priest at Oxford and also Walton Hannah, the author of “Darkness Visible” for this statement of the Greek Orthodox Church).
Resolution Regarding Freemaronry to be Presented to the Ninth All-American Church Sobor on Behalf of the Chicago Deanery
The Great Sobor of Bishops held in October of 1949 after hearing a report by Archbishop Leonty, resolved that Freemasonry cannot be tolerated in any of its many forms within the Body of Christ, His Church. In times past, Freemasonry has been rejected and condemned by the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church as an esoteric, syncretic, and secretive organization or cult. Such cults claim for themselves the right to impart and teach to their initiates spiritual, dogmatic, and moral “truths” which contradict, annul, or supersede the Truths of the “Faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 3.) The Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church affirms that She alone “is the Church of the Living God, the pillar and bulwark of the Truth.” (Timothy iii, 14.)
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED
(1) That this, the Ninth All-American Sobor of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of North America, gathered under the guidance and protection of the Holy Saint in the Pro-Cathedral of the Holy Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God in the city of New York on this the 10th day of November in the Year of our Lord 1955, accepts, approves, and fully supports the. Resolutions on Freemasonry of the Great Sobor of Bishops of October 1949.
(2) That these resolutions shall be effected with the greatcst possible vigor and zeal in the Church by all its true members whether they be Bishops, Clergy, or Laity; each according to the rights, duties, and responsibilities of his office at all levels and in all phases of the life of the Church.
(3) That all Orthodox Catholic Christians are reminded that loyalty to Christ and unity with the Life of His Body, the Church, obligates each and every one of them to avoid all esoteric, syncretic, or secretive cults which like Freemasonry claim that they are custodians of certain esoteric, spiritual, dogmatic, and ethical “truths” which they alone possess and impart to their initiates. When an Orthodox Catholic Christian becomes a member of such an organization knowingly or unknowingly, through ignorance or indifference, he in fact acknowledges that the Truth and the Light of Christ the Son of God is not sufficient for salvation. Thus he denies the Savior who said, “All things have been de-livered to me by My Father,” (Luke x, 22) for “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one can come to the Father, but by. me.” (John xiv, 6.) The Church has always affirmed that the Fullness of the Truth is . only within the Body of Christ The Church alone teaches and imparts spiritual, dogmatic, and ethical Truths to her members under the guidance of the Holy - Spirit. She neither concedes, nor shares, nor gives this Her God-given right and duty to any organization, institution, or individual outside the Lifegiving Body of Christ.
(4) That any Orthodox Catholic Christian who because of ignorance of the facts or for any other reason, may have joined any esoteric, syncretic, or secretive organization must repent of his sin before the Church. He must immediately break all ties that bind him to that organization if he is to be reconciled to the Fullness of the Truth that is within the Lifegiving Body of Christ.
(5) That any Orthodox Catholic Christian whether he be a Bishop, Priest, Deacon, or Layman loses all the rights, honors, and privileges of his membership and of his office in the Church when he joins any esoteric, syncretic, or secretive organization. If he keeps his membership secret, the simple fact of such membership whether it is known to the Church or not, is sufficient to cut him off from the Lifegiving Vine of Christ. If he partakes of the Mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ while keeping secret in his heart the fact of this membership, he “eats and drinks without discerning the Body and eats and drinks judgement upon himself’ (1 Cor. xi, 29 .) not unto salvation but unto condemnation.
(6) That it is the duty and obligation of every member of the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church to expose and combat the evil darkness and the secret “truths” of all esoteric, syncretic, and secretive cults with the Light and Truth of Christ. Our Lord said, “I have spoken openly to the world . . . I have said nothing secretly.” (John xviii, 20.) The Church of Christ demands and expects from each and every member full and unqualified love, loyalty, and devotion to Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the World. Therefore, no man can swear secret love, loyalty, and devotion to the false god of Masonry, and at the same time confess and serve the “Father, and the Son and Holy Spirit, the Trinity, One in Essence and Undivided.” (From the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom).
Glory be to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
RESOLUTION ON MASONRY
The Ninth all-American Church Sobor of the Russian Orthodox Church of North America held in New York City, New York from the 8th to the 11th of November 1955 heard with great interest the decision of the Great Sobor of Bishops~ held in October of 1949. It contained the following statements:
“Freemasonry, in any of its forms, can not be tolerated within the Body of Christ, His Church. In times past, Freemasonry. has been rejected and condemned by the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church as an esoteric, syncretic and secretive organization or cult.
Such cults claim for themselves the right to impart and teach to their initiates spiritual, dogmatic and moral “truths” which contradict, annul or supersede the Truths of the Faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 1,9)
The Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church affirms that She alone “is the Church of the Living God, the pillar and bulwark of the Truth.” (Tim. 3, 14)
“After hearing this decision of the Great Sobor of Bishops, the All-American Sober resolved: To consider this action of the Bishops’ Sobor obligatory for the Metropolia and to accept It into practice with unfailing fulfillment”.
The above statements have been reprinted from the Russian text as it appeared in the official organ of the Church, “The Russian American Orthodox Messenger,” in December, 1955.