From the Short Talk Bulletin of the Masonic Service Association of the
This Short Talk Bulletin has been extracted from a chapter in Dr.
Leazer's new book of the same title. (M.S.A. will prepare a notice of
availability when it is in print.) The attacks on our Fraternity have
not stopped and we must be prepared as Freemasons to respond to these
vicious and false accusations. We thank Dr. Leazer for allowing us to
reprint from the "conclusion" of his book.
Fundamentalism and Freemasonry
By: Dr. Gary Leazer
Dr. James L. Holly in his new book entitled "Southern Baptist
Convention & Freemasonry Vol. III" asks the question of Southern
Baptists "Are we now allied with the Masonic Lodge?"
The answer is "No!" Although Holly and some Masons may believe we have,
the Southern Baptist Convention has not aligned itself with Freemasonry.
That was never the design or intent of the Study. In its conclusion, the
original manuscript submitted to Larry Lewis stated, "The Interfaith
Witness Department reaffirms its position taken in 1986; Freemasonry is
NOT a religion."
The final sentence in the original manuscript was, "We, therefore, with
no hesitation, recommend the following: that the Southern Baptist
Convention take a position neither for nor against Freemasonry and its
related branches, and that membership in Freemasonry be left with the
judgment of the individual."
Part of this recommendation came from the decision by Charleston, South
Carolina Baptists in 1798 who recommended that membership in Freemasonry
"be left with the judgment of the individual." Nowhere in "A Report on
Freemasonry" is found any hint that the Southern Baptist Convention has
allied itself with Freemasonry. The vote at the 1993 Southern Baptist
Convention did not align the Convention with Freemasonry, rather,
messengers voted not to condemn the fraternity.
Holly asks, "Have Southern Baptists abandoned the Word of God and
made 'individual conscience' the supreme rule of faith?"
The answer is again, "No!" The Preface to "The Baptist Faith and
Message," a statement of faith adopted by the Southern Baptist
Convention in 1963, states:
Baptists emphasize the soul's competence before God, freedom in
religion, and the priesthood of the believer. However, this emphasis
should not be interpreted to mean that there is an absence of certain
definite doctrines that Baptists believe, cherish, and with which they
have been and are now closely identified.
"The Baptist Faith and Message" also states that "God alone is Lord of
the conscience." Any freedom carries with it responsibility. Freedom of
religion or conscience is no different. Ultimately, each person is
responsible to God for what he believes and does, not to his fellow
Holly asks, "Can we allow the assertion that Southern Baptists have
blessed the Masonic Lodge to go unchallenged?"
The Southern Baptist Convention has not blessed the Masonic Lodge.
Anyone who believes the Convention has blessed Freemasonry is wrong and
doesn't understand the polity of the Convention.
Holly asks, "Have we instead given Masons a loaded gun with which
to press their attack against pastors who wish to see their churches
unfettered from the shackles of the occult?"
First, I reject Holly's identification of Freemasonry with the occult.
That is simply not true. A few Masons may be occultists, but not all or
even most, just as a few Southern Baptists may be universalists, but not
all or even most. Every church is still free to determine who may be
members; they can refuse membership or leadership roles to Masons if
they wish. Masons, who are refused membership or leadership roles,
should find a church where they can serve God as He leads.
The Future of the Southern Baptist Convention
The Southern Baptist Convention faces an uncertain future. The
Freemasonry issue has taken on a life of its own; it will continue to
haunt the Southern Baptist Convention for years. Many Southern Baptists
are demoralized after fifteen years of constant infighting. Moderate
Southern Baptists have lost the struggle to regain any leadership role
in the convention. Moderate Southern Baptists cannot expect to be named
to positions of influence within the convention for many years.
Perhaps the greatest threat to the Southern Baptist Convention is
financial. Offerings to the convention through the Cooperative Program
have plateaued or declined. There are a number of reasons. Certainly,
many moderate Southern Baptists have begun sending their missions
offerings, normally sent through the Cooperative Program, to the
moderate-supported Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, headquartered in
Atlanta, Georgia. Moderate churches have traditionally been the
strongest supporters of the Cooperative Program and other mission
offerings. Some Southern Baptists, disgusted with the feud of the past
fifteen years, have reduced or stopped contributing to the Cooperative
Program. Fundamentalist churches, often megachurches with huge,
expensive programs of their own, have failed to make up the loss of
revenue from other churches.
The Cooperative Missions Giving Study Committee of the Baptist General
Convention of Texas announced in April 1994 it is considering a
recommendation to focus on Texas Baptist causes and to allow individual
churches to decide how their mission funds would be distributed beyond
Texas. The new agreement, which would require approval at the annual
meeting of Texas Baptists, is seen as an effort to allow churches to
express their will and wishes conceming changes in the direction of the
Southern Baptist Convention.
If the Southern Baptist Convention takes an anti-Masonic stance, as a
number of leaders are committed to doing, individual Southern Baptist
Masons will have to make a tough decision. Some will resign from the
Masonic lodge to retain membership in their local churches. Some will
remain quiet and not draw attention to their fraternal membership.
Others will move their church memberships to Southern Baptist churches
which ignore the position of the Southern Baptist Convention. Some will
designate their mission offerings around the Cooperative Program to the
moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Some will join non-Southern
If the Southern Baptist Convention takes an anti-Masonic stance, several
possibilities are seen. Some churches will refuse to allow Masons to
hold leadership in the church, whether as Sunday School teacher, deacon
or pastor. Southern Baptist seminaries will be pressured to include
Freemasonry in their courses on heretical religious groups. The Southern
Baptist Convention mission boards will be pressured to reject for
missionary appointment any person who is a Mason. A motion to study
whether to appoint Masons as missionaries failed after the outgoing Home
Mission Board chairman broke the tie vote and voted against the motion
in April 1994. Convention literature will reflect an anti-Masonic
In the third volume, Holly says the "right choice is" to "urge all
Southern Baptists to refrain from participation or membership in 'the
Masonic Lodge'." That is the goal of his personal vendetta against the
fraternity. Southern Baptist New Testament theologian, Jack McGomman,
in a discussion of Galatians 5: 15, illustrated the danger of Christians
fighting one another with this ditty:
There was once two cats from Kilkenny.
Each thought there was one cat too many,
So they fought and they fit,
They scratched and they bit.
Until except for the nails
And the tips of their tails,
Instead of two cats
There weren't any."
Southern Baptists, whether Masons or not, can be certain that the
Freemasonry issue will continue to haunt the denomination for many
years. If the Southern Baptist Convention adopts an anti-Masonic
position, the issue will begin to tear apart local churches as they
debate how to respond to the decision of the Convention. The end result
would be devastating to churches, families, individuals and the Kingdom
of God. There are not enough Christians on the face of God's earth for
us to keep on "killing" each other.
Masonic Information Center
8120 Fenton St.
Silver Spring, MD 20910-4785
Dr. Gary Leazer uses the term "Fundamentalist" on many occasions. A
number of Masons and others have expressed concern over the use of this
term and the following letter written by Dr. Leazer was published in the
September 1994 issue of the "Scottish Rite Journal".
I hold to the fundamentals of the Christian faith: the doctrine of the
Trinity, the Deity of Christ, His physical resurrection and return, the
full inspiration and authority of the Bible. However, I refer to myself
as a conservative theologian, not a fundamentalist. The fundamentalist
mindset to which I referred in the article was a reference to those who
insist they alone have the truth; and if you are faithfully following
God, you must believe just as they do. These types of fundamentalists
fit Charles Swindoll's witty ditty:
Believe as I believe no more, no less;
That I am right (and no one else) confess.
Feel as I feel, think only as I think;
Eat what I eat, and drink what I drink
Look as I look, do always as I do;
And then and only then I'll fellowship with you.
The fundamentalist mindset which I was referring to in my article in
the July Scottish Rite Journal is the mindset that desires to condemn
Freemasonry as a Satanic religion and all Masons as having bowed their
knees to Satan. It is the mindset that desires to attack and force out
any person who doesn't accept their interpreation of religion. John
Ankerberg and James Holly believe no Mason can be a Christian.
Obviously you disagree with this mindset or you wouldn't be a Mason.
Perhaps you are like me, a conservative Christian who strongly holds to
the fundamentals of the faith, rather than a fundamentalist. They are
not the same.
Dr. Gary Leazer
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