Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Freemasonry and Religion

I'm currently reading a book which is one of the hardest I've had to force myself to read.  Not because I find the work itself challenging, but because there is so much I simply don't agree with.  While I'll reserve my review for when I've finished the book (anything else would be unfair to the author), I will expand on how it is making me think about religion and Freemasonry.

The central tenant of Masonry is this:  Good men believe in God and try to do good as a result.  There is no requirement as to who or what that God is; just that one believe in a higher power.  I happen to be an evangelical Christian.  I believe in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and that one must repent and be born again.... Yadda yadda, you've seen it on a yard sign somewhere, I'm sure.

By sitting in Lodge with those whose faith I don't share, am I viewing their faith as equal to my own?  No - I am simply respecting their right to believe whatever they want.  By working together with a Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist, I am not saying that I see Mohamed, Vishnu, or Buddha as equal with Christ.  Do do so would be a violation of my faith - just as them seeing Christ as equal with their deity/prophet may be a violation of theirs.

This also does not mean I see all faiths as equally relevant.  The fact that I choose to be a Christan demonstrates that I see Christianity as the faith superior to all others.  If I didn't, why would I continue to worship as such?  If I felt that Islam or Hinduism had something more to offer than Christianity, it would be pointless to remain Christian.

This doesn't mean I don't see positives in other faith traditions and religions.  Any belief system which encourages its adherents to do good in the world has positive aspects.  According to my religion, however, this doesn't grant it the same same salvation and redemption benefits.  In John chapter 14, Christ states that he is the only way to receive salvation:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus answered: Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."
Quite honestly, I believe if one isn't a Christian (in the sense that they believe Christ is God incarnate and trust him to save them from sin, not in a "well I go to services each week" sense), they aren't going to heaven.  Is that a bigoted opinion?  Perhaps in the eyes of some.  Does that mean I look down on others who don't share my belief?  Not at all.  We all have the free will to choose what to believe.  We all arrive at our opinions and views through our own circumstances. 

If someone is angered by this sentiment, why?  In the words of Thomas Jefferson, "it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."  If someone doesn't believe they're going to hell for not following Christ and I do, what difference does it make to them?  I am not forcing my faith on others, so leave me be and allow me to worship and believe as I choose.  Let's focus on the good which we all have in common and leave the rest to personal opinion.

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