(Adapted from a recent bulletin article of Grace Ev. Lutheran Church, Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. Paul Fleischer is pastor.)
WHAT ABOUT THE ‘ORDER OF THE EASTERN STAR’?
Our local paper recently carried the story of the disbanding, after some 98 years, of the local chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star, the women’s branch of the Masonic Lodge. We’re told that the Masons, the male fraternity of the Lodge, disbanded last December, leaving the Eastern Star without a meeting place. It seems it was largely a declining membership which accounted for the demise of both branches.
Quoting a local Eastern Star member, the article gives some insights into the organization which, of course, continues to exist nationally. For example, this is said: “Eastern Star is an international philanthropic organization. It is not a religion but it does profess a belief in a supreme being and does have its values based on the bible (sic)….”
Our objections to the Masonic Lodge have long been in place and will not be new to any of us. Careful study of official Masonic literature over the years has led orthodox Lutheran Christians to see Masonry as a religious organization which, for conscience reasons, a disciple of Christ would want to avoid lest the Gospel of Jesus Christ be compromised in one’s own heart and undermined among us.
That Masonry–even as the other lodges, and scouting as well–practices “philanthropy” is hardly wrong in and of itself. Nevertheless, careful examination of their official literature leads to the conclusion that the “good deeds” in which lodge members are involved are intended to be a contributing cause to salvation–to future entrance into the “grand lodge above.”
Putting it another way, Masonry, as the grandfather of the lodges, teaches and encourages self-righteousness. It reinforces sinful man’s innate tendency to trust in self for salvation before God. Many a Mason carries about in his wallet a little card entitled WHAT IS A MASON? The card reads: “A Mason is a man and brother whose trust is in God. He will meet you on the level, and act upon the Square. Truth is his Compass and he is ever Plumb. He has a grip on all that is right. He is loyal to his order and whatever his degree. He is master of himself. In the lodge of life he wears unstained the white lambskin of innocence. From his initiation as Entered Apprentice he travels ever toward the East in search of light and wisdom until he receives the Final, the divine Password that admits him into the ineffable presence of the Eternal Supreme Grand Master of the Universe GOD.”
From such and similar self-testimony we beg to differ with the local Eastern Star member who is quoted in our paper as saying that Masonry is “not a religion.” Inasmuch as it does indeed “profess a belief in a supreme being” and does have (and teach!) “values based on the bible (sic),” conscientious Christians have no recourse but to ask: Who is the “Supeme Being” of Masonry? What are the “values” Masonry teaches? Is the God of Masonry the Triune God, the only true God as revealed by the very Bible they claim to use as their guide-book? Are Masonic “values” those based on the Ten commandments which include teaching that God’s Law convicts and condemns all men as sinners doomed to an eternity of separation from God? Furthermore, is the Masonic teaching of how one enters heaven consistent with what the Bible teaches? The answer is a clear “no” to all questions!
Holy Scripture teaches that “all our own righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Is. 64:6). It teaches that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:28). It teaches: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? and what communion has light with darkness? . . . And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. . . . Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.” (2 Cor. 6:14ff).
WHAT ABOUT THE AMERICAN LEGION?
Interestingly, the same issue of our local newpaper had a lead article on the American Legion (AL), inasmuch as the National Commander spent a day in our city visiting with local legionaires, talking “to the troops,” and finding out “how everybody’s doing.” According to the Commander “some of the concerns we have in the American Legion are those dealing with national defense. . . . Legionaires and Americans in general are concerned about the state of readiness in our military forces, the number of missions that we have troops deployed on….” According to the article, the AL is lobbying for VA hospitals and outpatient clinics through the GI Bill of Health, as well as for construction of a World War II Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.
Obviously the Legion is a veterans’ organization. However, looking at its literature–starting with its slogan: “For God and Country”–one finds obvious religious elements. This causes a conscientious Lutheran Christian to investigate how, when, or where his religious scruples–his orthodox confession of God’s Word of truth–might be compromised.
One troubling fact concerning the Legion is that, for example, its literature contains statements where, in effect, scouting is endorsed and/or promoted. How shall we react to such a fact, especially considering that we have long found scouting to be one of those organizations to be avoided for conscience reasons?
Careful scrutiny also needs to be given to a question such as: does membership in the Legion–or any other “semi-religious” organization–make one responsible for everything in that organization (including instances when our biblical stand against religious unionism is compromised)?
The CLC is currently studying questions related to semi-religious organizations in general, and the American Legion in particular. Pastoral conference studies done recently on the subject, as well as individual memorials on the matter, will be before this summer’s synod convention for consideration.
May the Lord of the church be with us as we study these things and as we take care to preserve the full truth of His Word and Gospel against the inroads of false teaching.