[Square & Compasses]

Letter of the month: July 2001

Message-ID: <20010716233123.41449.qmail@web12903.mail.yahoo.com>
Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2001 16:31:23 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Kyle A." <kyle_autry@yahoo.com>
Subject: Who I am
To: dryfoo@mit.edu

Hello,

I'am Kyle Autry. I'am not a religious nut. I'am just trying to find out what God the Masons believe in. A lot of people tell me that your God is not the same God that all true Christians believe in. I have been reading up on it and can't find the answer to my questions.

I want to know who "The Great Architect of the Universe" is. Is he the same God that has a son who's name is Jesus? also do you believe that Lucifer is not really the fallen angel but a force?

I sent a picture of myself along with this email so that you can see who I'am and maybe realize from my picture that I'am not some "Crazy Religious freak" trying to cause you or anyone else in the Masons Problems. I am just a person seeking some knowledge about the Masons.

Kyle Autry


To: "Kyle A." <kyle_autry@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: Who I am
In-Reply-To: Your message of "Mon, 16 Jul 2001 16:31:23 PDT."
             <20010716233123.41449.qmail@web12903.mail.yahoo.com> 

Dear Kyle,

Thanks for the nice letter. I'll try to give answers to your questions, and to help explain those answers.

First of all, since Masonry is NOT a religion, there isn't really any one single answer to your question. Masons believe in God in all kinds of ways.

OFFICIAL MASONIC ANSWER: All candidates who wish to join Masonry are required "to profess belief in A Supreme Being". That's true in every country, everywhere that Masonry exists. If any lodge ever stopped having that requirement, all other Masonic lodges around the world would immediately end "recognition" of that lodge -- that is, the members of that lodge would no longer be considered "regular Masons" by all the other Masons of the world.


PERSONAL ANSWER: Now I don't know how YOU figure it, but I have thought about it for many years, and first of all there either IS or there ISN'T a Supreme Being. (Personally, I believe there is.)

But if you believe there IS "A Supreme Being", then there can be ONLY ONE. That's what the word "supreme" means. It means "greater than any other" "highest" "ultimate". Right? So that means, to me, that when:

  • a Christian prays to God the Father, and
  • a Muslim prays to Allah the Merciful the Compassionate, and
  • a Hindu prays to the Brahma the Godhead, font and ground of all Existence, and
  • a Jew prays to Lord Our God, Melekh ha'Olam,

that they are addressing their prayers to the Absolute Highest Holiest in (or outside of) Existence, and that there can be Only Such One Being, however we small humans of limited understanding may choose to address Him/It/One.

Remember, all of this part is just MY opinion. On that, I don't speak for any other Masons. But I don't think I can see any other way to understand the idea of what "Supreme Being" means.


As Masons, we recognize that different men have different faiths and different paths to God, so we use a Masonic metaphor, and refer to the Creator of All as "Great Architect of the Universe" or "Grand Geometer of the Universe".

ABOUT METAPHORS: A metaphor is a poetic comparison, like "the ship plowed through the rough seas" compares a ship to a plow-blade and the ocean to tough farm-land. Metaphors are used to make descriptions more meaningful by using comparisons from one thing to another.

Metaphors are used in relgious hymns and prayers all the time, to help people get closer to an understand of God. The most famous metaphor in the western world is a religious one: "The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want..." This doesn't mean that the person praying is walking around on four legs and growing a thick coat of wool every year, or that after a few years, God will turn the person into lambchops and eat them. Of course not. It is a poetic comparison to say that God looks after people as carefully as a shepherd looks after his sheep.

So, Masons don't really believe that God works in an Architect's office and designs buildings all day long -- it's a metaphor. Just as when the old hymn books call God a King: in olden times a king was the highest most powerful person, so by a poetic metaphor God was called a King, even though most people don't think that God collects taxes and lives in a giant castle and makes war on other countries or whatever kings used to do. Another example of metaphor: many people refer to God as "He" but they really don't believe God is a male with a giant penis -- it's a metaphor.

There are many many devout and observant Christians in Masonry, including ministers of nearly every denomination, and there have been since Masonry was started. The Mason who is Christian, when he prays to "The Great Architect" is praying to the One he understands as Jesus's Father.

But of course to a Mason who isn't a Christian, his belief is different, as he prays to that same Supreme Being.

You also ask about Lucifer. There is no Lucifer in my religion, so I can't speak with authority about that. But to my best understanding, Lucifer, or "the devil" was an invention of the early Christian fathers, so is strictly a part of Christian belief. You'll have to ask a Christian scholar for more about "Lucifer".

There is in the Holy Scriptures that Christians call "Old Testament" a figure called "Adversary" (Heb. "Shaitan") a being whose purpose was to take the side opposite of God in heavenly disputes, in order to make sure that all sides of a question were discussed. He appears in the Book of Job, of course, and I'm not sure where else. I think that in Christian belief, the Serpent in the Eden stories is identified with 'the devil' but in the actual words of the stories, it's called 'the serpent'.

Anyway, there's no "Lucifer" in Masonry. "Lucifer" appears in a couple of huge books by Albert Pike, but Pike was essentially writing an encyclpoedia of all religions of the world, and trying to say where IN HIS PERSONAL OPINION all the ancient and modern religions had beliefs that were similar or different to something in Masonry. For various foolish reasons there are people who have never actually read much of Pike who claim that he tried to say that Lucifer was God. He didn't and Masons don't believe anything like that.

Finally, I can tell from the letter you sent that you aren't a nut. It's all in how you present yourself.

I hope my answer was a help to you. Sometimes it can be hard to understand that different people of different faiths can all give a prayer together and can work together in harmony, as brothers. But that's what Masons do.

If you have any other questions about this, please feel free to write back.


+---------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Gary L. Dryfoos <dryfoo@mit.edu>| PM: Ocean Lodge AF&AM, Saugus, MA
| P.O.Box 425400, Camb, MA 02142  | PM: Mt. Scopus Lodge AF&AM, Malden, MA
| http://web.mit.edu/dryfoo/Masonry/  | Richard C. Maclaurin Lodge, MIT, MA
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|  whom no contention should ever exist, save that noble contention,
|  or rather emulation, of who best can work and best agree."
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