By George A. Mather and Larry A. Nichols
: Zondervan Publishing House
7.2 (Fall 1996) : 278-280
This book is an entry in the new series, Zondervan Guide to Cults and Religious Movements, edited by Alan W. Gomes. Its format is unique: it is an outline designed to achieve concision. The outline has five points: (I) Introduction, including history and organization, (II) Theology, (III) Witnessing Tips, (IV) Selected Bibliography, and (V) Parallel Comparison Chart. This format is helpful as a quick reference guide, enabling the authors to include much helpful information in a few pages.
Part I is a very helpful introduction to Freemasonry, detailing its origin, structure, and related organizations. Also included in this section is a look at the important connection between Masonry and Mormonism, and an exploration of the response to Masonry by the Southern Baptist Convention.
In Part II, the authors argue that Masonry is a religion that is at odds with Christianity, and they compare the major Christian doctrines with what some Masonic scholars have written. Yet their failure to refer to the "Masonic View" of certain doctrines flaws their methodology. For "Arguments used by Masons," they refer primarily to writings of non-authoritative Masonic scholars and not to the Masonic rituals and monitors themselves. A Mason may express disagreement with those scholars and cite other Masonic scholars with a different view. The authors also neglect the most difficult problem in discussions with Christian Masons: relativism in interpreting Masonic ritual. Also, in their discussion of various doctrines, the authors make a serious mistake in ignoring Masonry's teaching of salvation by works. They omit mention of salvific rituals such as the Lambskin Apron, the Common Gavel, and the Perfect Ashlars. This omission leaves the Christian virtually hamstrung in responding to a Mason about the heart of the gospel. Naturally, this weakness carries over to Part III, Witnessing Tips, and Part V, Comparison Chart.
Part IV, Bibliography, has a list of sources on Masonry, both sympathetic and critical, that will aid in research. It does not include a number of important works, though, including those by Jim Shaw, John Ankerberg and John Weldon, and John Robinson.
Masonic Lodge provides a useful, concise outline of the history and structure of Masonry. However, its methodology is unsound and it omits information crucial to understanding Masonry and to dealing with Masons.