Freemasonry and Idolatry


Can a Christian participate in Freemasonry without committing idolatry?


Thanks for your question. This is a topic very close to my heart as my own father was a Mason. When he died he didn’t go to Heaven. Though a devote Freemason, he never knew Christ as his Lord and Savior. The rituals, secret handgrips, secret obligations, symbolic teachings, and his works for freemasonry couldn’t save him.

Freemasonry is a Religion

Though many may deny it, Freemasonry is a religion. In some ways it’s similar to Christianity as it incorporates a redeemer, a resurrection, and a new birth. It even promises a salvation in Grand Lodge in the sky above. More on this later.

Albert Pike, a 33 degree Mason and before his death a leader of Freemasonry,[1] wrote, "The religious faith thus taught by Masonry is indispensable to the attainments of the great ends of life."[2] He states that "Every Masonic Lodge is a temple of religion; and its teachings are instruction in religion."[3] He declared, "Masonry is a worship."[4] Clearly, a man who other Freemasons revere considers Freemasonry as a religion.

Likewise, Dr. Albert Mackey, another 33 degree Mason and former high ranking member in the Masons, [5] insists in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry that a Masonic Body, should be both opened and closed with prayer.[6] He states, "The doctrine of a resurrection to a future and eternal life constitutes an indispensable portion of the religious faith of Freemasonry."[7]

In addition, Pike emphatically states that Freemasonry is built upon pagan religions. He says, "our ancient brethren . . . took their philosophy from the Old Theology of the Egyptians, as Moses and Solomon had done."[8] So, Pike believed that even Moses and Solomon took the theology and philosophies of ancient Egypt and agreed with them. Pike adds that men sought "the wisdom of the Egyptian Initiates" for what purpose - "to seek the admission into the mysteries of Osiris and Isis" and that "from Egypt afterward these mysteries were introduced successively into Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Sicily, and Italy."[9]

Clearly, according to some of the highest and most esteemed members of Freemasonry, this largest of fraternal organizations is a religion. It not only calls itself one, but also operates like one with prayers and doctrines, even offering eternal life to its adherents. And it goes further and describes itself as having originated from the pagan religions.

Freemasonry and the Bible

The Bible is the inspired Word of God. Paul states in 2 Tim. 3:16, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” Peter adds that “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The Bible is very clear that Scripture is God breathed, that is breathed out by the Spirit of God. The Bible alone is exclusively God’s Word (John 1:1).

Albert Pike disagrees. He writes:

The great Apostle Saint John did not borrow from the philosophy of Plato the opening of his Gospel. Plato, on the contrary, drank at the same springs with Saint John and Philo; and John in the opening verse of his paraphrase, states the first principles of a dogma common to many schools, but in language especially belonging to Philo, whom it is evident he had read."[10]

So, the Apostle John and Philo both drank from the same spiritual cup, though Philo never knew Christ? But Pike goes even further and states, "The doctrines of the Bible are often not clothed in the language of strict truth, but in that which was fittest to convey to a rude and ignorant people the practice essentials of the doctrine."[11] So, Pike, the author of Morals and Dogmas in Freemasonry, doesn’t believe that the doctrines in the Bible are “strict truth.”

Albert Mackey is not silent on this issue either. He states:

The Bible is used among Freemasons as a symbol of the will of God, however it may be expressed. Therefore, whatever to any people express that will may be used as a substitute for the Bible in a Masonic Lodge. Thus, in a Lodge consisting entirely of Jews, the Old Testament alone may be placed upon the altar, and Turkish Freemasons may use the Koran. Whether it be the Gospel to the Christian, the Pentateuch to the Israelite, the Koran to the Mussulman, or the Vedas to the Brahman, it everywhere Masonically conveys the same idea-that of the symbolism of the Divine Will revealed to man.[12]

With these words, Mackey places the Bible, the Koran, and the Vedas on a level playing field saying all are equally the scripture of God. Freemasonry teaches that the Bible, Koran and the Vedas each express the same will of God. By doing so those who worship with Freemasonry are declaring by their very actions that the Bible is not God’s exclusive Word. They raise up the teaching of other gods to be equal with the one and true God.

Freemasonry and GAOTU, their god

God says of himself, “I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God” (Isa. 45:5).

To join Freemasons one must believe in a god, that is a Supreme Being. It can be most any god. Freemasonry accepts a Christian, or a Jew, or a Buddhist, or a Muslim, or a Hindu, etc. Even Aleister Crowley, the Father of Modern Satanism, was a 33 degree Mason.[13]

Freemasonry correctly teaches that there is one God. However, they assert that men of all religions worship that one same God using a variety of different names. Masons use an umbrella title for the many gods attached to its members called GAOTU, which refers to the “Great Architect of the Universe.”

When Masons engage in corporate Masonic prayer one person offers a prayer to the GAOTU for the entire in Lodge. Many gods are prayed to in the same breath. Here’s an example of a Masonic prayer:

Most Holy and Glorious Lord God! The Great Architect of the Universe, the giver of all good gifts and graces…. In Thy name we assemble…. And we beseech thee, O Lord God, to bless our present assembling, and to illuminate our minds, that we may walk in the light of thy countenance; and when the trials of our probationary state are over, be admitted into THE TEMPLE “not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”[14]

Here the GAOTU assumes the role of an umbrella deity, incorporating all individual deities (including the Trinity) into himself in syncretistic fashion. The GAOTU – not the biblical God – is seen as the “the giver of all good gifts and graces.” This is contrary to Scripture. Jas. 1:17 states, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” The phrase “Father of lights” refers to the Christian God (Jas. 1:1), not the Patheon of false gods in GAOTU.

What does the Bible say about such combined worship of numerous deities? Paul states in 1 Cor. 10:20-22:

No I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you [Christians] to be participants with demons. You [Christians] cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You [Christians] cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we [Christians] provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we [Christians] stronger than he?

The Apostle Paul is adamant about not mixing pagan worship with Christian worship. While it is true that there is one God, not all men worship the same God. For instance, Muslims worship Allah. They also believe that Jesus was a prophet. However, Allah never had a son. So, the Jesus that Muslims revere isn’t the same Jesus that Christians worship.

The worshippers of Baal learned that their god wasn’t the same as the God of the Bible either. Their judgment came quickly (1 Kings 18:20-40.) The GAOTU, the god of Freemasonry, is also not the God of the Bible!

John states in 2 John 1:9-11:

Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

Freemasonry and the Afterlife

Freemasonry has a redeemer, a resurrection, and a new birth. We observe this in a ritual based upon Masonic hero Hiram Abif. Some in Masons teach that Hiram Abif is the Huram-abi of 2 Chron. 4:16 which states, “The pots, the shovels, the forks, and all the equipment for these Huram-abi made of burnished bronze for King Solomon for the house of the Lord.” But the student of Scripture quickly observes that the spellings of the two names are different (Hiram Abif vs. Huram-abi).

As explained by my now deceased father, the legend goes briefly like this. A candidate for Master Mason, a 3rd degree Mason, reenacts the legend of Hiram Abif.[15] Though there may be some slight variations in the overall ritual from Lodge to Lodge, the candidate always plays the part of Hiram Abif. It is explained to the candidate that that Grand Master Hiram Abif assisted King Solomon in building the temple (1 Kings 7:13-45). It is taught that he was the Grand Architect of the building of King Solomon’s temple.

In the legend, Hiram knows some sort of a secret. Mere possession of this secret would allow a person to pass himself off as a Master Mason. This would allow him to travel, work, and receive a Masters’ wages. Three other workers (Fellow Crafts) on Solomon’s temple entered into a pact to extort this secret from Hiram. One day Hiram was confronted by these three and when he didn’t divulge the secret they killed him.

The candidate reenacting the role of Hiram plays like he’s dead. The three murders planned to flee the country. However they are found by three other Fellow Crafts who were sent out to search for them. They are returned to the temple. They bring him before King Solomon, who is portrayed by the Worshipful Master in this Masonic ritual. They confess their guilt. Then they are executed.

Hiram Abif is searched for. The Fellow Crafts discover him near where they found the three murderers. They discover a fresh grave. The Fellow Crafts don’t recognize the body of Hiram in the grave. So, they remove the jewel from around its neck. They carry this jewel back King Solomon who identified it as being the jewel of the Grand Master Hiram Abif. King Solomon then leads a procession of craftsmen to the gravesite apparently for the purpose of removing the body and returning it to the temple for a decent burial.

However the body is too badly decomposed. After multiple attempts they can’t remove the body. So, the Senior Grand Warden (Hiram, king of Tyre) suggests prayer. According to the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Indiana who publishes the “Indiana Monitor and Freemason’s Guide” the prayer over the candidate is:

Yet, O Lord! have compassion on the children of Thy creation, administer them comfort in time of trouble, and save them with an everlasting salvation. Amen.[16]

After praying for the salvation of Hiram, King Solomon declares that the body will be raised. The Worshipful Master (playing the part of King Solomon) then reaches down and grasps the hand of the candidate (playing the part of Hiram Abif) with the grip of a Master Mason, or lion’s paw.[17] According to the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin applying the “lion’s paw” grip has symbolic meaning:

Applying this symbolism to the candidate, it means that he entered the Lodge as a natural man, lost in sin and spiritually buried. By the strong Grip of the Lion's Paw, he is raised again to a new life, or born again to spiritual righteousness, standing, again in a living perpendicular with a purified inner self accomplished through the direct action of the Redeemer, who was the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.[18]

This symbolism closely mimics what a true Christian experiences in water baptism. Rom. 7:4 says, “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.” Satan is seen as the Great Houdini of trying to mimic Christ in Scripture. Paul says in 2 Cor. 11:14, “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”

At the close of the ritual, the Senior Warden speaks these words:

Then, finally my brethren, let us imitate our Grand Master, Hiram Abiff, in his virtuous conduct, his unfeigned piety to God, and his inflexible fidelity to his trust; that, like him, we may welcome the grim tyrant, Death, and receive him as a kind messenger sent by our Supreme Grand Master to translate us from this imperfect to that all-perfect, glorious and celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides.[19]

The phrase, “our Grand Master, Hiram Abiff, in his virtuous conduct,” represents a works righteousness religion. This is contrary to what Scripture states. Paul told Titus, “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit“ (Tit. 3:5; cf. Eph. 2:8-10). Believers identify with Christ in his death, burial, and raising from the dead (1 Cor.15:1-4). They also believe that Christ is in fact the only Savior (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Additionally, a genuine Christian at the last day isn’t risen up to a “celestial Lodge above” to meet the “Supreme Architect of the Universe.” Rather as Scripture states they dwell in the new heavens and new earth forever (2 Pet. 3:13). John states in Rev. 21:3, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”

While the designers of the Hiram Abif ritual did their best to make their legend align with some of the Scriptures found in the Bible, in actuality the story greatly resembles one from pagan history, specifically one involving Osiris from Egypt. This is especially relevant seeing we learned earlier from 33 degree Mason Albert Pike, that men sought "the wisdom of the Egyptian Initiates" for the purpose of "to seek the admission into the mysteries of Osiris and Isis."

A famous Greek named Plutarch from the second century tells a myth. The allegory is best told by Masons themselves. The Virginia Royal Arch Research Chapter No. 1753 states:

Seth, the evil brother of Osiris, tricked him into a chest. The chest was sealed with lead, thrown into the Nile, and floated downstream to the Mediterranean. It eventually washed-up on the shore of Lebanon, at Byblos, and a tree grew around it. The king of Byblos had the tree cut down and turned into the central column of his palace. Isis the sister/wife of Osiris, found the column, recognized that her husband/brother lay within, and brought it back to Egypt. Seth discovered the chest, stole it, cuts Osiris’ body into fourteen parts, and scattered the parts along the Nile shore. Isis searched for the parts, found them, reassembled the body of Osiris, and attempted to raise it. She failed, and her sister Nephthys tried. Nephthys failed, and their brother Thoth tried, using a special grip. The third attempt worked, and Osiris rose up to heaven.[20]

The Encyclopedia Britannica relates a similar story as above.[21] The similarities are too great to ignore. “Osiris was not only ruler of the dead but also the power that granted all life from the underworld.”[22] Osiris was symbolically destroyed in God’s first plague upon Egypt. The first plague was the turning of the Nile to blood. He was believed to be the bloodstream of Osiris, who was reborn each year when the river flooded.

Freemasonry and Idolatry

Freemasonry is a false religion, a cult. Among other things, it is a place of worship and prayer to false gods and / or goddesses. It contains rituals based upon mere legend and most likely developed from pagan worship of other gods. No matter, as the said legend isn’t scriptural.

Freemasonry is idolatrous. Idolatry is throughout Scripture. Jacob commanded members of his extended family to get rid of their foreign gods just before he arrived in Bethel. Gen. 35:1-4 states:

God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem.

I wonder if today, if Jacob’s family were Masonic lodge members if he’d say, “Put away [your Masonic working tools, including the compass, level, plumb, trowel, skirret, 24-inch gauge, pencil, and square, etc.] that are among you and purify yourselves and [destroy your Lodge apron].”

Most of Israel engaged in idol worship as is recounted in the incident of the golden calf while Moses was on Mount Sinai (Exod. 32:1-6). God’s judgment was great, about 3,000 men perished (Exod. 32:25-29). “Then the Lord sent a plague on the people” (Exod. 32:35). During the time of the judges, Israel engaged in idolatry and they were judged accordingly.

Even what otherwise seems to be godly men can be deceived into idol worship. Near the end of King Solomon’s reign there was pattern of idolatry in Israel (1 Kings 11:1-8). Solomon, the builder of God’s temple, himself “went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites” (1 Kings 11:5). He built a “high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem” (1 Kings 11:7). Scripture recounts that “Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (1 Kings 11:6). God judged the King that built his temple (1 Kings 11:11). At the finish of Solomon’s reign, Israel became divided. Even after the division of Israel, the rulers of the northern kingdom of Israel engaged in idolatry. So did many of the southern kings of Judah. They were all sent into exile.

Paul states in 1 Cor. 10:20-22:

No I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you [Christians] to be participants with demons. You [Christians] cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You [Christians] cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we [Christians] provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we [Christians] stronger than he?

Behind all idolatry are demons. No matter the cult, demons are somewhere in the background drawing men and women to Satan and his kingdom. Satan as “the god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4) exercises great power in the world (1 John 5:19; cf. Luke 13:16; Gal. 1:4; Eph. 6:12; Heb. 2:14). He comes but to try to deceive others (John 8:44) and to destroy them (John 10:10). And this is his goal in idolatry.

The Ten Commandments speaks against idolatry (Exod. 20:3-4). So, do many other texts of Scripture (Exod. 23:13, 24; 34:14-17; Deut. 4:23-24; 6:14; Josh. 23:7; Judg. 6:10; 2 Kings 17:35-38). Not only are Christians not supposed to worship idols, but they should also destroy them out of their lives. Israel was commanded to break down such images (Exod. 23:24; 34:13; Deut. 7:4-5; 12:2-3).

In Closing

My heart goes out to those caught up in this cult. Most join at only the Master Mason level (3rd Degree) not understanding the true origins of Freemasons or what is included in the upper level degrees (4-33) of this cult. It’s all shrouded in mystery and secrets.

Only by the grace of God will they find a way out of it. The results of not finding their way out only ends one way. Rev. 21:8 states, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (cf. Rev. 21:17; 22:15).

My prayer is that this brief article may help open the eyes of some.

End Notes:

[1] He served as the Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council, Scottish Rite (Southern Jurisdiction, USA) from 1859 to 1889. DC Scottish Rite. “History of the Scottish Rite in the District of Columbia.” ( ). Last Accessed 27 Jan. 2023.

[2] Albert Pike. Morals and Dogma (1932). p. 196.

[3] Ibid, p. 213.

[4] Ibid, 526.

[5] Before his death Mackey was the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States. Albert Mackey; William J. Hughan; Edward L. Hawkins. Encyclopedia of freemasonry and its kindred sciences, comprising the whole range of arts, sciences and literature as connected with the institution. Vol. II. New York; London: The Masonic History Company (1916).

[6] Albert Mackey. Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. The Masonic History Company (1929). p. 792.

[7] Ibid, p. 851.

[8] Pike. Morals and Dogma, p. 289.

[9] Ibid. p. 363. [10] Albert Pike. Morals and Dogma, pp. 99-100.

[11] Ibid, p. 224.

[12] Mackey. Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. p. 133.

[13] Martin P. Starr. Aleister Crowley—Freemason? Oxford Academic. ( ). Last Accessed 26 Jan. 2023.

[14] Henry Pirtle. Kentucky Monitor, 13th ed. (Louisville: The Standard Printing Co., 1990), pp. 214-15.

[15] A first degree Mason is called Entered Apprentice; a second degree is Fellow Craft; and the third degree is Master Mason.

[16] Ephesians 5:11. ( ). Last Accessed 27 Jan. 2023.

[17] This grip is made by pressing the top of the thumb hard on a fellow Manson's second knuckle.

[18] Masonic Study Series. “The Lion’s Paw.” Volume 2, issue 8 February 2017. ( ). Last Accessed 27 Jan. 2023.

[19] Ephesians 5:11.

[20] Virginia Royal Arch Research Chapter No. 1753. “Allegories of Hiram Abiff: Exoteric and esoteric philosophies from Christianity, Rosicrucianism, and the ancient Egyptian mystery schools.” ( ). Last Accessed 27 Jan. 2023.

[21] Britannica. “Osiris Egyptian god.” ( ). Last Accessed 27 Jan. 2023.

[22] Ibid.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).