Documents of Synod:
Study Papers of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (1965 to 1982)


147th GS MINUTES, MAY 20, 1969, pp. 41-42, 79-82

Rev. Nelson K. Malkus presented the report of the Committee on Freemasonry.

REPORT OF THE "SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO STUDY OVERTURE 1d ON FREEMASONRY"

Overture 1d may be found in the printed minutes of the 146th General Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, pages 66-68.

The committee would also refer commissioners to a report of a "Committee to Study Secret Orders" received by and the recommendations adopted by the 18th General Synod of the Bible Presbyterian Church, pages 80-82.

The present committee finds a very glaring difference between, on the one hand, certain elementary documents of the secret orders and statements of "authoritative" writers which are available to the uninitiated, and, on the other hand, the personal opinions of Christian men who are members of a secret society, some of them in the ministry or eldership, as well as in the laity, of our church, as to whether or not the secret societies constitute or espouse and teach a non-Christian religion. These men, some of whom have been highly honored by us, contend that these authors do not speak for them and that, as far as they are concerned, there is nothing of religion in the secret orders that conflicts with their own personal faith in Jesus Christ nor militates against their adherence to the Christian faith. The committee has no reason to doubt the sincerity of these men nor their desire to do the will of God in all things.

It is the opinion of the committee that to take such action as requested by Overture 1d is tantamount to imposing a mass disciplinary action against those who are now members of a secret society, as well as of our church, or requiring more for membership in the Reformed Presbyterian Church than has been the case for approximately two hundred years. The Book of Discipline sets forth procedures for moving against those who are believed to be living in sinful relationships. These may be used in cases relating to individuals, but there is no provision for bringing groups of individuals to trial. There is serious doubt as to whether mere membership in secret orders constitutes sin, but it may be discovered if this is so, in the case of the individual, by due process, wherein one may have access to a fair and impartial trial when confronted by specific charges.

Therefore, the committee recommends to the General Synod that no action be taken on Overture 1d or on the matter with which it deals, until such time as it comes, first, to the lower judicatories of the church, according to the procedures of the Book of Discipline, and is appealed to this court.

  Respectfully submitted,
Nelson K. Malkus, Chairman
Robert B. Brown
Max V. Belz

It was moved and seconded to adopt the committee's recommendation. A substitute motion was made and seconded as follows:

1. That Freemasonry be recognized by Synod as incorporating tenets and practices contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ;

2. That this Synod express its strongest recommendation therefore

a. Against the election of any further elders into this denomination who elect to enter or continue in Freemasonry;

b. for the resignation of such elders as elect to become Freemasons subsequent to their election as elders; and c. for Pastors to warn and instruct all intending church members concerning the deviationist doctrines of Freemasonry. It was moved and seconded that Synod consider the four points of the substitute motion seriatim. It was moved, seconded, and carried to recess and continue the present business at a later time in the Docket. Synod recessed at 12:15 p.m. and was led in prayer by McGregor Scott.

Freemasonry: The subject of Freemasonry was again brought to the floor. (See Third Sederunt.) It was moved and seconded to consider the substitute motion seriatim, this was lost. A substitute was moved and seconded, that we re-pass the 1955 statement of the Bible Presbyterian Synod, with necessary changes to bring it up to date. It was moved and seconded to refer the matter back to the committee for further study and report to the 148th Synod, motion lost. It was moved and seconded to postpone action on the substitute to the substitute until 9 a.m. Friday and that the 1955 statement be duplicated and distributed, motion lost. It was moved and seconded that the matter be tabled, motion lost. Dr. Peter Stam read the 1955 action. The substitute to the substitute motion was carried. The vote on whether the substitute became the main motion was carried. The previous question was moved and seconded, but lost. Additional discussion was held. An amendment was moved and seconded to add to the 1955 statement a Recommendation No. 4 that Synod construes that the matter of Freemasonry properly comes before Synod by way of appeal from the lower judicatories. By show of hands, this motion was carried. The main motion, as amended, carried. George Miladin and Max Belz requested that their negative votes be recorded.

(Recapitulation: Synod adopted the 1955 statement, with necessary changes to bring it up to date and the addition of Recommendation No. 4, as follows:)

This study of Oath-bound Secret Societies includes such popular Orders as the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Knights of Pythias, the Loyal Order of Moose, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Improved Order of Red Men, the Woodmen of the World, and the Order of the Eastern Star. Their rituals, secrets, objects and purposes are all patterned after the Order of Free Masonry. If objections to Masonry are taken, then the same objections apply also in the main to the other Orders mentioned.

This committee would like to point out that these Secret Societies are unmistakenly religious in their nature propagating teachings that man can approach God by good works, as in any religion of man where the Bible is not the center. We would further point out, that these Societies being religious are not Christian in their concept, and that no Christian has the Scriptural right to bind himself to the penalties assumed by the oaths taken in these Societies.

Oath bound secret societies are religious because they talk about God, and their rituals are professedly rituals of worship. They have public prayer. Their meeting places are called temples. They have chaplains, priests, and worshipful masters. They talk about immortality, the resurrection and Heaven. Sacred books, including the Bible are part of their furniture, and frequently Scriptures are quoted. In the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FREE MASONRY (Page 152 of the edition published by Mose and Company of Philadelphia in 1879): we read, "If Masonry were simply a Christian Institution the Brahmin, the Moslem and the Buddhist could not conscientiously partake of its illumination, but its universality is its boast; in its language citizens of every nation may converse; at its altars all religious may kneel, and to its creed every faith may subscribe." According to this, the god worshipped by any savage can be worshipped by the Masons.

The Odd Fellows' Manual, written by A.B. Grosh, says on page 297, "Judaism, Christianity, Mohammedanism recognize the only true and living God who is Father of all; followers of different teachers ye are worshippers of one God who is Father of all, and therefore ye are brethren." The Word of God says, "He (Christ) came unto His own and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." (John 1;11,12).

Clymer, a Masonic authority, in his ANCIENT MYSTIC ORIENTAL MASONRY declares on pages 10, 11, "Masonry does not teach salvation by faith, nor by the vicarious atonement. Go through its degrees, study its history as taught by its great masters; you cannot find that it teaches this doctrine (vicarious atonement.)" The Bible teaches, "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) and that we "were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot."'(I Peter 1:18, 19).

Masons regard the Bible as one of many sacred bocks. "The Bible is properly called a greater light of masonry, for from the center of the lodge it pours forth upon the East, the West, and the South its refulgent rays of Divine truth. The Bible is used among Masons as a symbol of the will of God, however it may be expressed, and therefore, whatever to any people expresses that will, may be used as substitute for the Bible in the Masonic lodge. Thus in a lodge consisting entirely of Jews, the Old Testament alone may be placed upon the altar, and Turkish Masons make use of the Koran. Whether it be the Gospels to the Christian, the Pentateuch to the Israelite, the Koran to the Mussulman, the Vedas to the Brahmin, it everywhere masonically conveys the same idea--that of symbolism of the Divine will revealed to man." ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MASONRY.

The Bible teaches that every believer's body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and their body is not their own. We are to glorify God in our bodies presenting them as living sacrifices (I Corinthians 6:19, 20; Romans 12:1). Every man who takes the Entered Apprentice oath binds himself for the following body penalties.

"Binding myself under no less 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 ever knowingly or willingly violate this my solemn oath and obligation as an Entered Apprentice Mason. So help me God, and keep steadfast in due performance of the same.

The second degree obligation has the following penalty: "Binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my left breast torn open, my heart plucked out, and given as a prey to the wild beasts of the field and the fowls of the air..."

The third Master Mason obligation has this penalty: "Binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my body severed in twain, my bowl's taken from thence and burned to ashes, the ashes scattered to the four winds of Heaven, so that no more trace or remembrance may be had of so vile and perjured a wretch as I, should I ever knowingly or willingly violate this my solemn obligation as a Master Mason. So help me God, and keep me steadfast in due performance of the same." We do not believe any Christian should offer himself and bind himself for any such penalties on the body which is indwelt with the Holy Spirit of God. Further still, has any Christian the Scriptural right to take any lodge oath whatsoever? The answer comes from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself: "Again ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shall perform unto the Lord thine oaths; But I say unto you, SWEAR NOT AT ALL; neither by Heaven, for it is God's throne; Nor by earth; for it is His footstool; neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by the head, for thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." (Matthew 5:33-37).

The Reformed Presbyterian position as set forth in I I Corinthians 6:14-18 and other Scriptures on separation of believers with unbelievers serve as a basis to advise all Reformed Presbyterians to separate themselves from any unholy alliance with oath-bound societies.

We offer the following recommendations:

1. That the Publications Committee make available to Ministers and laymen materials on this subject.

2. That Ministers and Elders give study to the whole matter, so they may speak intelligently to those who come before them.

3. That Ministers with discretion see that the congregations are informed concerning oath-bound secret societies; and that they do it firmly and kindly, maintaining the Scriptural position on separation.

4. That Synod construes that this matter comes before Synod as an appeal from the lower judicatories.