Apophenia: Illusory correlation (behavioral sciences). "Spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of unrelated phenomena." Skeptics Dictionary, Robert Todd Carroll.
Anti-masonry Frequently Asked Questions
Section 8, version 2.9
1. Is Freemasonry a religion?
Freemasonry seeks no converts. Freemasonry has no dogma, cosmology, eschatology or theology. Freemasonry offers no sacraments or ritual of worship, nor does it claim to lead to salvation by any definition. Freemasonry is not a religion. [RETURN TO INDEX]
2. Are freemasons really Gnostics?
Gnosticism is a religion. Freemasonry is not a religion. There have been those masonic writers who have filtered their personal understanding of Freemasonry through their personal Gnostic beliefs. The same can be said of masonic writers of any religious belief. [RETURN TO INDEX]
3. What is Gnosticism?
Gnosis "is not taught but when God wills it is brought to remembrance." (from "Corpus Hermeticum")
"Gnostic" is often erroneously used as a pejorative for any belief or faith that excludes Jesus and has become almost synonymous with "pagan". It is also often equated with secret writings and concealed knowledge. Gnosticism, under its own name and at least eight others, was declared heretical within the first three centuries of the Roman Catholic Church. Gnosticism, though, is not only an old Catholic heresy, it is also a living religion.
Gnosticism may be considered a Perso-Babylonian syncretion with three definable schools, Essenic, Samaritan (Simon Magus), and Alexandrian (Philo), with the Judaic "Qabala" as an arguable fourth.
Gnostic thought contains four main threads, first; that God is unknowable, or ineffable, mankind being rude matter cannot comprehend God. Second; that knowledge, not through intellect, but through special revelation, is an aspect or emanation from God and therefore superior to faith. Third; that mankinds goal is redemption of the soul from the material world. And fourth; that knowledge could only be revealed as the petitioner was trained to understand it.
With rare exception Gnostic writing had no place for a personal Redeemer or Savior God. With the knowledge of personal revelation and the proper passwords, a Gnostic believed that his soul would find its way back to its creator. The cosmology encompassed a wide range of complex and hotly-debated explanations for the spiritual mechanics of a dualistic universe composed of a world of sense-appearance and a realm of real being: matter and God, with matter being essentially evil.
Gnostic practices ranged from the rigorous ascetism of Saturninus to the unbridled libertinism of the Ophites. The Gnostic tradition flourished in such communities as the Essenes and the Ebionites and Carinthus. The ritual was defined by two extreme schools, one rejecting all sacraments and the other, mainly Marcosians, developing an extreme symbolism and mystic pomp in worship, with many sacraments and varied rites.
The only surviving Gnostic community is the Mandaeans, found near the lower reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates.
Gnosticism is a religion, teaching beliefs about God. Freemasonry is not a religion and does not teach its members what to believe about God. [RETURN TO INDEX]
A History of Christian Thought. Arthur C. McGiffert, Charles Scribners Sons, New York London: 1933.
A History of Western Philosophy. Bertrand Russell. New York : Simon and Schuster, 1945. (pp. 324-326, 291-293).
Dictionary of the Apostolic Church. ed. James Hastings. Vol I. New York : Charles Scribners Sons, 1916. (pp. 453-456).
Gnostic Gospels, The. E Pagels. New York and London: 1979.
Harper Dictionary of Modern Thought, The. Alan Bullock, et al, New York : Harper & Row, Publishers, 1988 (p. 362).
Jew and Greek: Tutors unto Christ. G.H.C. MacGregor. London : Ivor Nicholson and Watson Limited, 1936 (pp. 309-329).
4. Isn't Lucifer another name for Satan?
The name Lucifer was applied to Satan by St. Jerome and then to the demon of sinful pride by Milton in Paradise Lost. This was a fanciful development of an original reference confused in translation. The single reference to Lucifer in the Christian Bible is found in Isaiah 14:12. It was not, in context, a reference to Satan.
"Lucifer" is the term originally used by the Romans to refer to the planet Venus when that planet was west of the sun and hence rose before the sun in the morning, thereby being the morning star.
The word "Satan" is from a Hebrew word, "Saithan", meaning adversary or enemy.
In literature and poetry, Lucifer, as a reference to a light-bringer, is often used as a metaphor for knowledge, wisdom, or learning.
A more complete explanation can be found at:
http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/texts/luciferandsatan.html [RETURN TO INDEX]
5. Isn't Freemasonry deist?
Deism is a belief in the existence of a god, without accepting revelation; it is also sometimes termed natural religion or the religion of nature. The father of English Deism, Lord Herbert of Cherbury (d. 1648), endeavoured to explain religion in terms of reason, evoking little or no controversy in his lifetime. John Locke only partly accepted his views: "...reason must be our last judge and guide in everything." (Essay 14, 9 & 14). John Tillotson, Archbishop of Canterbury 1691-94, championed the use of reason in religion, claiming "Natural religion is the foundation of all revealed religion, and revelation is designed simply to establish its duties. [Works, vol. ii. p. 336. 1857 ed.]
The first Book of Constitutions, written by the Rev. John Anderson (1679-1739), a Scottish Presbyterian Minister, refers to "...that Religion in which all Men agree... that is, to be good Men... by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguish'd...." This has been accused of being deist but a review of Andersons other published works and private correspondence demonstrates that he was a strong Trinitarian Christian and the promotion of deism was not his intention. [Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, vol. 80, pp. 36-57.]
Freemasonry does not deny revelationFreemasonry simply does not define revelation. Freemasonry, not being a religion, does not consider itself qualified to put forward a definition of revelation. [RETURN TO INDEX]
6. Doesn't Freemasonry promote natural religion?
As can be seen above, no. It also does not promote naturalism.
Naturalism is a philosophical standpoint which claims that nothing exists outside nature. In other words, if God exists, he is part of nature and subject to its laws. Freemasonry, not being a religion, does not consider itself qualified to put forward any definition of Deity. [RETURN TO INDEX]
7. Doesn't Freemasonry promise a path to salvation?
Freemasonry is not a religion and promotes no doctrine or dogma. The "search for light" found in Freemasonry is a reference to a quest for knowledge, not salvation. Freemasonry promotes a hope in resurrection, but it does not teach a belief about resurrection. The first is faith, the second is religion.
Although the Master Mason, or Third Degree ritual includes references to the immortality of the soul, Freemasonry makes no impositions on the individual candidates personal beliefs, nor requires its members to accept any specific teachings regarding resurrection. The ritual makes reference to "a vital and immortal principle" found within the perishable frame, and a hope that we will ascend to "those ethereal mansions above." But these are poetical allusions and do not constitute a doctrine of belief imposed on candidates. If anything, Freemasonry teaches that death is a "mysterious veil which the eye of human reason cannot penetrate," and only supports the hope, not the promise, of resurrection.
There have been both masons and non-masons who have misunderstood the Hiramic legend to represent a resurrection or raising from the dead. The key lesson though, is the steadfastness and fidelity of Hiram Abif before his untimely death. The story of his body being taken from its indecent interment and reburied in an appropriate sepulchre is not a depiction of any rebirth mythos but is simply the backdrop to an explanation of the various signs, grips and tokens by which a Master Mason identifies himself. Although a particularly impressive part of the ceremony, it was not a part of the original ritual. There have been those writers who have interpreted the Hiramic legend as an allegory for resurrection; some viewing this interpretation with either reassurance or repugnance, depending on their personal opinion of Freemasonry. But the Hiramic legend is not interpreted within masonic teachings as representing the story of Christ or of resurrection. [RETURN TO INDEX]
8. Are freemasons really Noahides?
Noahides, or those who refer to themselves as such, follow the Noahide laws, generally within the Judaic tradition. These laws comprise prohibitions of idolatry, blasphemy, forbidden sexual relations, murder, theft, consuming the limb of a living animal (an expression of cruelty to animals) and lawlessness (that is to say, requiring the setting up of courts and processes of justice). 1
There are rival philosophies concerning the Noahide laws. The classical orthodox Jewish tradition, as found in Maimonides, the Maharal of Prague and the writings of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, views the source of the authority of the Noahide laws as being the giving of the Torah at Sinai to Moses and therefore of concern only to the Jews.
Elijah Benamozegh (1823-1900), author of Israel and Humanity, and Aime Palliere, author of The Unknown Sanctuary, promoted the idea of an "independent" tradition which goes back to Adam and Noah, and thereby to be transmitted to the Gentiles. The growth of late twentieth century Noahide movements has been a source of concern to some Christians who view the ramifications of this philosophy as an anti-Christian attack.
These are religious discussions and therefore not of concern to Freemasonry. Freemasonry is not a religion.
Masonic author, Albert G. Mackey, defined Noachidae as the descendents of Noah; and Noachite as a reference to the legend "that Noah was the father and founder of the masonic system of theology."2 Mackey neglected to define or detail that theology. Regular Freemasonry has never had a theology and Mackey was simply expressing his own opinion.
Mackey also wrote that the seven Precepts of Noah are preserved "as the Constitutions of our ancient Brethren"3 but neither the oldest extant manuscript, the Regius Poem, nor the Cooke manuscript mention any such precepts. He can only have been referring to Andersons second edition of his Constitutions, published in 1738.
Non-masons, especially those hostile to Freemasonry, have been known to confuse references in masonic ritual to "the Moral Law," or "that religion in which all men agree" with the Precepts of Noah. Albert G. Mackey, in his History of Freemasonry, presented an historical background to the legends of Freemasonry but, in context, is clearly not ascribing the beliefs or practices of Judaism to those of Freemasonry.4
A legend of two pillars that survive the Deluge, containing the knowledge of the seven liberal arts and sciences, is contained in the "traditional history" of Freemasonry. The legend that Noah received seven commandments when God made His Covenant after the Flood is not a part of any extant pre-1717 manuscript. The sentiment that "all masons are true Noachidae" was part of "Brother Euclids Letter to the Author" included, with no historical authority, with the Rev. John Andersons 1738 Constitutions. The 1723 Constitutions contained the passage: "A Mason is obliged by his tenure to obey the moral law." In the 1736 edition Anderson completed the sentence with "as a true Noachida. 5 These references were dropped in the 1756 and subsequent editions, and have never played a role in the ritual or teachings of regular Freemasonry. Dermotts unauthorized Ahiman Rezon copied Andersons 1736 edition and also used the term "Noachida."
Anderson may have taken this idea from the Stonehouse MS., also titled the Krause MS., reproduced in Dr. Krauses Three Oldest Documents. Probably written by a contemporary of Anderson and now accepted as spurious, it was first alleged to be a copy of the 926 York Constitutions.
Freemasons were called Noachidae by some authors, generally in reference to the Allied Masonic degrees, specifically the Royal Ark Mariner, in a poetical allusion to the preservation and transmission of great truths. But these truths are not defined as the "Precepts of Noah".
There is no connection between Noahides and Noachidae. One is a philosophy within Judaism, while the other is a poetical reference to Freemasonry and an eighteenth century attempt to create an older lineage.
The question only has meaning if one assumes that Freemasonry is a religion. Freemasonry is not a religion and has no doctrine. [RETURN TO INDEX]
1. The Noah Institute of the Root & Branch Association promotes the study and practice of the Noahide Covenant and Laws. <www.rb.org.il/noahide/noahcom15.htm>.
2. Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. Albert G. Mackey. p. 714.
3. Ibid. p. 716.
4. The History of Freemasonry, Its Legends and Traditions, Its Chronological History, by Albert Gallatin MacKey, was first published in seven volumes in 1898 by the Masonic History Company, New York and London. A truncated one-volume edition published by Gramercy Books, New York in 1996 [ISBN: 0-517-14982-6], is the edition generally quoted by anti-masons.
5. The History of Freemasonry, Its Legends and Traditions, Its Chronological History. Albert Gallatin MacKey. Masonic History Company, New York and London: 1906. p. 408. [pp. 406-411.]
9. Doesn't Freemasonry promote ecumenism or syncreticism?
Ecumenism is defined as a perspective representing the whole Christian world or seeking world-wide Christian unity. Syncretism is an attempt to unify or reconcile differing schools of thought or theology.
Freemasonry does not view itself as qualified to hold or promote any opinion on the beliefs of Christianity or any religion. Freemasonry requires its members to respect different religious views, not necessarily to accept them. It makes no attempt to reconcile differences of religion and belief, only to promote an understanding of similarities. [RETURN TO INDEX]
10. Is Freemasonry a form of Hermetism?
Hermetism is a belief in Hermetica or Hermetic writings a collection of works of revelation ascribed to the Egyptian god Thoth, also styled in the Greek as Hermes Trismegistos (or Trismegistis). Hermes was once considered to be the inventor of writing.
The theological writings, written in Greek and Latin, date from the middle of the 1st to the end of the 3rd century CE. The collection is represented chiefly by the 17 treatises of the Corpus Hermeticum, extensive fragments in the the writings of Stobaeus, and a Latin translation of the Asclepius, preserved among the works of Apuleius. The collection reflected a growing distrust with traditional Greek rationalism. Divided into two main classes, "popular" Hermetism received little attention until the end of the 19th century while "learned" Hermetism was a favorite resource for mediaeval astrologers and alchemists. Although the setting of the writings is Egypt, the philosophy is Greek and it was later extensively cultivated in Arab writings and European Renaissance literature.
The aim of Hermetism was the deification or rebirth of man through a knowledge of the one transcendent God, the world and mankind.
By the early Christian period, Hermes Trismegistos was believed to have been a celebrated Egyptian legislator, priest and philosopher. The old manuscripts which contain the Legend of the Craft ascribe to Hermes Trismegistos the invention of everything known to the human intellect. This belief is widely found in mediaeval writings such as the Polycronycon, written by the monk Ranulf Higden (1280-1364), and is not unique. Alchemy, reputed to have been invented by Hermes Trismegistos, was titled the Hermetic Science.
In a literary or poetical sense Freemasonry has been termed Hermetic insofar as it promotes the study and knowledge of the liberal arts and sciences. In a religious sense, Freemasonry cannot be termed Hermetic since Freemasonry is not a religion. Fringe freemasons, who either see the "traditional history" as rooted in fact, or want to fuse Freemasonry with Hermetism, will also promote the idea that Freemasonry is Hermetic.
Those who would criticize Freemasonry for being Hermetic generally use the term as a synonym for non-Christian, which becomes a synonym for un-Christian, and by extension, a synonym for anti-Christian. [RETURN TO INDEX]
But aren't freemasons really pagans?
The question hinges on the definition of the term. Pagan can mean unenlightened or irreligious. Augustine Tertullian uses the term "heathen" in much the same sense to refer to one who is not a Christian, Jew or Muslim. The majority of freemasons are practicing Christians, Jews and Muslims and are therefore not pagan in this sense. By this definition though, Buddhists, Hindus and adherents of many other faiths and beliefs would be termed pagan. The term pagan has been used as a blanket condemnation of those who are not Christian or not a member of the particular church of the person using the term. No discussion is possible with those who define their terms to suit their own purposes.
Pagan can also simply refer to pre-Christian. This reflects an historical fact and no criticism should be leveled against the intellectual development and literary qualities of, for instance, the early Greeks, simply because they weren't Christian.
But all these definitions turn on religious beliefs. Freemasonry is neither a religion nor does it promote any particular religious beliefs. Individual freemasons may be termed pagan by narrow-minded sectarians, but Freemasonry can be no more pagan than a town council because it practices a democratic process developed by ancient Greeks, or the medical profession because doctors swear an Hippocratic oath.
Those who would accuse Freemasonry of being pagan generally use the term as a synonym for non-Christian, which becomes a synonym for un-Christian, and by extension, a synonym for anti-Christian. [RETURN TO INDEX]
Is Freemasonry a mystery cult?
As with many accusations leveled against Freemasonry, the first step in formulating a response is defining terms. The term mystery religion, or school, is a label often applied as a pejorative to any non-Christian group, regardless of its actual beliefs or practices. Strictly speaking, the term refers to a specific range of Greco-Roman cults which reached their peak of popularity in the first three centuries CE. They ranged from the ecstatic cult of the grain goddess, Demeter, at Eleusis, to the ascetic Orphic cult based on sacred writings attributed to Orpheus, and culminating in the syncratic mysteries of the god Serapis in Alexandria.
The term "mysteries" is also used to refer to the Christian belief in the Trinity, Original Sin and the Incarnation. Until the time of the Reformation, the word "mystery" was inscribed on the Popes mitre. Mystery plays, during the European Middle Ages, were depictions of Biblical subjects, translated from the Latin and produced in the vernacular.
Authors who have accused Freemasonry of being a cult or a mystery cult make two major errors in their argument. First, whether stated or not, is the premise that Freemasonry has to be some form of a religion; and second, that modern Freemasonry either accepts or includes in its beliefs and teachings the "traditional history" and other legends of its origins.
Mysteries, in a mediaeval sense, simply referred to trade secrets. The ancient mysteries referred to secret practices in honour of certain gods. The rituals of Freemasonry are concerned only with initiation and have no aspect of worship in them. Although many masonic authors have drawn parallels between the practices of Freemasonry and what little is known of the ancient mystery schools, and many theories have been proposed linking Freemasonry to these mystery schools, Freemasonry no more satisfies the definition of a mystery cult than it does that of a religion. And, Freemasonry is not a religion.
Those who would accuse Freemasonry of being a mystery cult generally use the term as a synonym for non-Christian, which becomes a synonym for un-Christian, and by extension, a synonym for anti-Christian and satanic. [RETURN TO INDEX]
Is Freemasonry a form of Templarism?
Like many accusations against Freemasonry, terms are often loosely defined to magnify the emotional attack. What all does "Templarism" encompass? If it refers to a historical link to the Knights Templar dissolved in 1307 then, contrary to the wishful thinking of many freemasons and non-masons, there is no proof of a link and regular Freemasonry makes no claim of a link. If it refers to the accusations made against the Templars that they worshipped a Baphomet, than it must be stressed that the Baphomet plays no role in the practices, beliefs or ritual of Freemasonry. It should also be noted that the only reference to a Baphomet occurrs in 12 out of 231 confessions extracted from the Templars under torture by the Inquisition.
If the term is used to describe a group planning to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, then it can apply neither to the historical Knights Templar nor the freemasons. Contrary to the accusations of such anti-masons as Lyndon LaRouche, there is nothing to link the Fremasons with any purported plan to rebuild the Temple.
Several forms of Freemasonry in Europe which attempt to trace their histories to the Knights Templar are said to practice Templarism, as can be said of the North American concordant body, the York Rite. But "Templarism" in this sense is a promotion of an idealized history of chivalry.
Regardless, none of this has anything to do with regular Freemasonry; neither its history or beliefs and practices.
Those who would accuse Freemasonry of promoting Templarism generally use the term as a synonym for non-Christian, which becomes a synonym for un-Christian, and by extension, a synonym for anti-Christian. [RETURN TO INDEX]
Isn't Freemasonry cabalistic?
Rooted in the ancient Egyptian Mysteries, three different versions of essentially the same teachings can be identified by three different spellings: Kabbalah, Cabala and Qabalah.
The Kabbalah is an essentially Jewish mystical or esoteric school. Although the Christian Church Fathers of the first century were demonstratably Kabbalists, mystical or gnostic elements within the Church largely disappeared within the first three centuries, only to reappear as a Christian Cabala during the Renaissance. A third, often hidden, stream of mystical Western philosophy has absorbed many of these Egyptian, Jewish and Christian mystical elements and termed them the Qabalah.
In the final phase in the development of the Christian Cabala in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it became permeated with alchemical symbolism and conjoined with the emerging doctrines of theosophy and rosicrucianism.
Those who believe Freemasonrys roots are found in rosicrucian and hermetic teachings will therefore see the influence of the Kabbalah in its development. Those who claim Kabbalistic roots for Freemasonry are of two, widely different, perspectives. The first group are generally religious fundamentalists who, a priori, condemn Freemasonry, Judaism, and the Kabbalah as being anti-Christian and often equate the whole with satanism.
The second group is composed of freemasons and kabbalists who promote the theory of Freemasonrys link to the Kabbalah. They are entitled to their opinions, but it must be stressed that they do not speak for Freemasonry. They are only expressing their opinions. They view the study of both as enhancing their relationship with God and have come to some personal conclusions about what they perceive as similarities. Whatever intellectual or spiritual similarities there may be between Freemasonry and the Kabbalah, any historical links are strictly conjectural and unsupported by the historical record.
Regardless, none of this has anything to do with regular Freemasonry; neither its history or beliefs and practices.
Those who would accuse Freemasonry of being cabalistic generally use the term as a synonym for non-Christian, which becomes a synonym for un-Christian, and by extension, a synonym for anti-Christian. [RETURN TO INDEX]
Is the heretical belief that Jacques de Molay was the Second Messiah the lost secret of Freemasonry?
Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, authors of The Second Messiah (London: The Arrow Books Limited, 1997), are entitled to their opinions. But they do not represent Freemasonry. Jacques de Molay plays no role in regular Craft Freemasonry. A messiah plays no part in the teachings or beliefs of Freemasonry. Neither Freemasonry nor the concordant bodies, where the historical character of Jacques de Molay plays a minor role in the lectures, is a religion.
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Has Freemasonry become part of the New Age movement?
As always, a clear distinction must be made between Freemasonry as a body and its individual members. Fundamental to most accusations against Freemasonry is an inability or unwillingness to accept Freemasonrys claim that it does not dictate belief to its members but rather encourages them to use their intellectual and spiritual faculties and draw their own conclusions.
Terms must also be clearly defined. The term, "New Age movement" is a misnomer, generally used by fundamentalists as a catch-all rubric for any idea, belief, activity or group that is not Trinitarian Christian. By their lights, anything that is not Christian is by definition actively and willfully anti-Christian. The implication is that these independent and sometimes contradictory schools of philosophy and belief are all part of a monolithic whole. This is logically and empirically false, and rationally simplistic.
Freemasonry is not party to the New Age Movement. Although freemasons, such as Westcott, Gardner, Hall, and Case were instrumental in the growth of various ideas or societies that are identified with what is now termed the New Age movement, their involvement was personal and not part of their association with Freemasonry.
Many freemasons and non-masons have used their understanding or interpretation of Freemasonry as a starting point for further research into religions, philosophies and other esoteric studies. Freemasonry encourages its members to study and enlarge their knowledge. Freemasonry encourages its members to use their intellectual and spiritual faculties to arrive at their own personal beliefs and opinions. Freemasonry as a body has declared itself unwilling and unqualified to hold opinions or to pass judgement on these questions of religious belief. [RETURN TO INDEX]
Isn't Freemasonry Enochian?
"Enochian" is yet another one of those terms which seems to mean whatever the user wants it to mean.
The Enochian literature of early Judaism has no relevence to Freemasonry. The Enochian magick of John Dee has nothing to do with either the Enochian literature or Freemasonry. The Pillars of Enochwhich has nothing to do with the Enochian literature or Enochian Magickare only of historical interest to freemasons due to their confusion with the pillars at the entrance to King Solomons Temple.
Enochian literature: Of undetermined date or authorship, the Enochian literature was the only stream of Judaic teachings that claimed an ancient, secret, history. It is noteworthy for its historical determinism and sometimes apocalyptic character. "As late as the end of the first century CE, the followers of Enochic Judaism who wrote the book of 4 Ezra would attribute to the scribe Ezra not only the copying of the "twenty-four books" of the Zadokite (Sadducean and Pharisaic) tradition but also of "seventy" secret books." 1
Gabriele Boccaccinis book, Beyond the Essene Hypothesis describes two main stream of belief, the Zadokite and Enochic, and posits a conflict between them. Other historians question this interpretation. Boccaccinis conclusions are controversial in that he distinguishes and contrasts between Enochian Judaism (authors of the Enoch literature) and Zadokite Judaism (the Zadokite high priesthood of the second temple down to Onias III) while acknowledging that
the Enoch literature was not associated with a separate Jewish sect. Theres no evidence Enochian Judaism rejected Mosaic traditions or literature.
While Boccaccini believes that the authors of the Enochic literature were antecedent to the Essene group, who followed a priestly anti-Zadokite tradition in the Second Temple period (516 BCE -70 CE), his dating scheme is suspect and there is no demonstrated identification of the Enochian literature with the Essenes (or proto-Essenes). 2 The Enochian literature represents a stream of Judaic religious thought and has no relevence to Freemasonry.
Enochian Magick: Enochian Magick also plays no part in Freemasonry. Enochian Magick has its roots in Elizabethan England with the work of astronomer and English court advisor Dr. John Dee (1527-1608) and his associate Sir Edward Kelley. Dee wanted to recover the wisdom he believed to be in the lost books of earlier times, including the then-fabled Book of Enoch, which he believed described a system of magic. During the years from 1581 to 1585, Dee, and later Kelley, performed "magical operations" involving fervent prayers to God and the archangels, and the use of a scrying stone. Kelly described what appeared on the stone while Dee made extensive notes.
A portion of these papers, concerning the Angelic Calls, Tablets and Liber Scientiae, were acquired with Dees library by Robert Cotton. This part was published in Casaubons A True and Faithful Relation. The earlier portions concerning the Heptarchy and Liber Loagaeth found their way into the hands of Elias Ashmole in 1672. Ashmoles collection eventually passed to the British Library (Sloane MS 3188. 3677; Ashmole MS. 422, art. 2. &c.). These texts have nothing to do with the beliefs or practices of Freemasonry, nor with the original Enochian literature.
Pillars of Enoch: The only link to Enoch in masonic tradition has to do with a legend concerning two pillars which Lamechs children made to contain all the knowledge of mankind. These pillars are often confused in early masonic writings with the pillars at the entrance to King Solomons Temple.
Enoch, seventh in descent from Adam in the line of Seth, is noted in Genesis: "Enoch walked with God." His name, in the Hebrew, signifies to initiate and to instruct. Jewish tradition ascribes to him the invention of letters, arithmetic and astronomy. The Book of Enoch, written in Ethiopic in the first and second centuries BCE, influenced New Testament writers and entire parts are reproduced without acknowledgement. The Book of the Secrets of Enoch written by Hellenistic Jews in Egypt, also reflected its influence. Rejected by the Jews in the first century CE because it supported Christian claims, it was banned by Christian teachers by the third century because, among other reasons, it contradicted other apocalyptic writings. The Book of the Secrets of Enoch refers to Enochs authorship of 366 books which he entrusted to his sons. The Greek Christians supposed Enoch to be Hermes; Eupolemus makes him the same as Atlas; Bar Hebracus asserts that he invented books, writing, the building of cities and astronomy.
While Enoch refers to an allegory told of Hermes or Thoth, the Father of Wisdom in ancient Egypt, who it is said concealed his books of wisdom under a pillar, and then found that the wisdom had become transferred onto two pillars of stone, Josephus, in Antiquities of the Jews, Book I, chapter ii, Section 3, tells a similar story about Enoch, saying that the pillars of Enoch were still in existence in his day, and that they were built by the children of Seth. If these particular pillars existed, what they were and who built them are topics of some controversy. The number of pillars, one or two, varies in different legends, leading to some further controversy over their symbolism.
The masonic concordant body, the Royal Arch does allude to the pillars of Enoch as containing writings on the seven liberal arts. The Royal Ark Mariner degree also refers to the two pillars of Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah, as containing all the knowledge of mankind. These legends are derived from the Legend of the Craft in the Old Constitutions of Freemasonry but are not accepted within Freemasonry as being either a real history, nor are they considered to refer to any religious instruction. A metaphorical reference to these pillars has no relationship to either the teachings and beliefs of the Enochian Literature nor to Dees Enochian magick.
Generally the claim that Freemasonry is Enochian is made by those who believe that there is a link, through the Knights Templar, with the Essene community in Qumran; or that Freemasons accept the Legend of the Craft as historical. The first is only theory, the second is not supported by any contemporary masonic literature.
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1.C. D. Osburn, "The Christological Use of 1 Enoch 1:9 in Jude 14-15," NTS 23 (1977) 331-41; J. H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the New Testament, SNTSMS 54. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
2.James, Geoffrey, The Enochian evocation of Dr. John Dee. Gillette, N.J.: Heptangle Books, 1984, xxvii, 204, bibliography: p. 198-204. ISBN: 0-935214-06-2.
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Isn't Freemasonry the outgrowth of some Second Temple Jewish sect?
Again, the accusation is that Freemasonry is a religion, in this case an outgrowth or continuation of some movement in Hellenistic Judaism. There were three especially important movements during the Hellenistic period, which stretches roughly from the conquest of Alexander through the destruction of the Second Temple. They are Zadokite, Enochic and Sapiential Judaism. Each had its own literature and its own views.
Zadokite Judaism was the religion of the priesthood. Priesthood was, according to Leviticus, hereditary. All Levites had duty in the Temple. Only those who were descendants of Aaron were actually priests.
The descendants of one of his grandsons, Phineas, were the High Priests. At the time of the return from exile a family known as the Zadokites, supposedly the descendants of Davids High Priest, Zadok, controlled the High Priesthood. Their holy writings consisted of the Torah, together with the books of Chronicles and the works of Ezra and Nehemiah. Their version of the creation story is the one in Genesis I. In it, God is the organizer who creates boundaries through order, stability and separation. The Zadokites believed that the covenant of Moses was the establishment of the priesthood, and that the major responsibility of humans was to keep the boundaries. They had no notion of an end for the universe; God had created a flawless creation, so there would never be any reason for it to end.
Thus, where the Zadokites saw a world that was created in perfection, so that the source of evil could only be bad choices by individuals, the Enochites believes that the source of evil was outside the human being, and that a second creation would be needed to cleanse the world. Enochites thought of Enoch as their great prophet, who in Genesis 5:24 ascends bodily to Heaven. They did not consider Moses to be particularly important.
A lay group, Sapiential Judaism took as its main literature Proverbs, Jonah, Job and Qohelet (Ecclesiastes). They agreed with the Zadokites that the universe was a perfect order, and rejected the Enochian notions of an end of time and an afterlife.
The Essenes were the main branch from the Enochites, and the Zadokites lead to the Sadducees and the Pharisees. The Sadducees were the High Priests, no longer Zadokites. while the Pharisees were a lay group, opposed to the Hasmoneans (the Maccabees and their descendants).
Generally it has been those inclined to dispensational fundamentalism who have misguidedly accepted the "traditional history": an historically unsupported myth linking Freemasonrys origins to the historical construction of King Solmons Temple. Believing this story of Freemasonrys origins, they see the Zadokite priesthood as the first step towards modern Freemasonry by way of a "Rex Deus" family. Judaic iconography or symbolism in masonic concordant bodies can traced to an eighteenth-century interest in biblical Israel, and not to the influence of the Rex Deus dynasty or the Knights Templar as claimed in such books as The Second Messiah.
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1.Gabriele Boccaccini, Beyond the Essene Hypothesis: The Parting of the Ways between Qumran and Enochic Judaism. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1998.
Cf.: James H. Charlesworth (ed.), The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1, Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments vol.
2, Expansions of the "Old Testament" and Legends, Wisdom and Philosophical Literature, Prayers, Psalms, and Odes, Fragments of Lost Judeo-Hellenistic Works Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1983, 1985. John J. Collins, The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature (2nd ed.; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1998. John C. Reeves (ed.), Tracing the Threads: Studies in the Vitality of Jewish Pseudepigrapha. SBLEJL 6; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1994.
Aren't the freemasons parodying Judaism?
While Christian fundamentalists and antisemites have their own reasons for condemning masonic ritual or beliefs as being Enochian or Zadokite, Jewish fundamentalists will make similar accusations for different reasons.
The accusation is not that Freemasonry is a religion, but that it is a pseudo-religion; that it is a parody of Judaism. While, superficially, aspects of the rituals of masonic concordant bodies may possibly be viewed as aping Judaism, within regular Craft Freemasonry there is nothing in the ritual or practices that would support this accusation. In the defence of the concordant bodies, it should be stressed that the intent is certainly not to belittle Judaism, nor do they consider the use of Judaic or Hebrew titles to mean that they are engaged in religious practices. The ritual pertains to the history of King Solomons Temple and the second Temple of Herod. It would not be possible to represent or re-enact this history without reference to the historical and legendary personages, many of whom were priests. [RETURN TO INDEX]
Is Freemasonry a revival of Essenism?
A common vehicle for attacking Freemasonry is to identify it with some "ism," no matter that the "ism" may never have existed as a discrete, definable belief structure.
Essenism is a term that means whatever the user wants. It can refer to the Essenes who flourished near the west shore of the Dead Sea from about 150 BCE to the end of the first century CE and who some authors such as Thomas de Quincey defined, without solid proof, as the first Christians.
Or it can refer to the mystical beliefs of something termed Essene Nazorean Christianity, as practiced by such contemporary group as the Essene Church of Christ, the Essene Nazorean Church of Mt. Carmel, the New Covenant Church of God (B'rit Chadashah Assembly of Yahweh) and the Restored Essene Church. It could be said that many, calling themselves Essenes, have no real claim to the name other than an interest in either history or health.
The term essenism can also refer to a denial of the divinity of Jesus. The "essene theory" was an early eighteenth century attempt to invent "natural" explanations for scripture. Authors such as Karl Friedrich Bahrdt (1784-1792), Karl Heinrich Venturini (1800), August Friedrich Gfrorer (1831-38), Charles Christian Hennell (1840), and Richard von der Alm [pseudonym of Friedrich Wilhelm Ghillany] (1863) promoted the idea that Jesus had been controlled by the Essenes. 1
The "Essene Epistle" first appeared in German, printed in Leipzig 1849 and financed by an unidentified "German Brotherhood". The Dead Sea Scrolls clearly demonstrate that this epistle was a hoax. Its influence has nonetheless been enormous, with several new editions in print. It is used by the half-islamic Ahmadiyya movement as evidence for some of their beliefs. Several later books, such as Jeshoua the Nazir and The Gospel of Peace were clearly dependent on the "Essene Epistle" for their ideas and style. 2
The beliefs and practices of "Essenism" range from extreme vegetarianism to channelling spirits. Both the spiritualism of Edger Cayce and such books by Dr. Edmond B. Szekely as the Gospel of Peace of Jesus Christ play a role in these beliefs.3
Current Essenism utilizes a number of texts. The Gospel of the Holy Twelve, allegedly discovered in a Buddhist monastery in Tibet in the late 1800s by a Catholic priest, is claimed by some, without proof, to be the source of the four Gospels although much of it appears to be a direct plagiarisation of the 1611 King James Version.4 As with The Life of St. Issa by Notovitch, no hard evidence for the existence of source manuscripts exist.
Unrelated to current claimants to the Essene mantle, the Mandaeans are a small remnant of the ancient Nazoreans who live mostly in Iran and Iraq. Well documented by academics, they believe Jesus was a Nazorean but their texts, edited by Ramuia around 640 CE, contain "a number of negative interpolations against the Romanized version of Christ, Christianity and Islam." 5 They do not accept converts. It has been postulated that there were different kinds of Essenism. At Qumran, there was a group of Pharisees and Essenes, and another group of Sadducees with Essenes. The Pharisee-Essene group eventually became Mandaean, and the Sadducee-Essene group became Christian. This is only an hypotheses.
None of this has anything to do with Freemasonry. The belief held by some freemasons and non-masons that there is a link between Freemasonry, through the Knights Templar, to the Essene community in Qumran is the product of several recently published popular books such as The Hiram Key, reinforced by wishful thinking. [RETURN TO INDEX]
1."They Shall Not Hurt or Destroy," Vasu Murti <jesusveg.com/murticomplete.pdf.>.
p. 34. Oakland, CA
2."The Inauthenticity of the Essene Epistle sent from Jerusalem to Alexandria", Nikos Kokkinos Ainigmata 38/9. 19-21, 26 (in Greek): 1978.
3.The gospel of peace of Jesus Christ by the disciple John; The true (unknown) gospel of John. Edmond Bordeaux Székely. London, C. W. Daniel company, limited: 1937. 87,  p. 18 cm. Also see: The Essene Way : Biogenic Living, Edmond Szekely. IBS Intl.: June 1981 ISBN: 0895640198.
4.The Gospel of the Holy Twelve: known also as the Gospel of the Perfect Life. Edited by a Disciple of the Master [i.e. Rev. Gideon Jasper Richard Ouseley], from eastern and western sources. Paris : The Order of At-one-ment, & United Templars' Society: 1901. pp. viii. 181. ; 8o.
5."The Mandaeans & The Dead Sea Scrolls" Dr. Barbara Thiering. Sydney University: 1995. <essenes.crosswinds.net/theiring.html>.
Does Freemasonry promote indifferentism?
As always one must carefully define terms. The American Heritage Dictionary defines indifferentism as the belief that all religions are of equal validity. Religious Indifferentism, as used by the Roman Catholic Church, refers to any belief denying that it is the duty of man to worship God by believing and practicing the one true religion, i.e.: Roman Catholicism. They also define political indifferentism as the policy of a state that treats all the religions within its borders as being on an equal footing before the law of the country.
Absolute indifferentism refers to those philosophic systems which reject the ultimate foundation of all religion, that is, mans acknowledgment of his dependence on a personal creator, whom, in consequence of this dependence, he is bound to reverence, obey, and love. Restricted indifferentism admits the necessity of religion on account, chiefly, of its salutary influence on human life. But it holds that all religions are equally worthy and profitable to man, and equally pleasing to God. "The classic advocate of this theory is Rousseau, who maintains, in his Emile, that God looks only to the sincerity of intention, and that everybody can serve Him by remaining in the religion in which he has been brought up, or by changing it at will for any other that pleases him more (Emile, III)."1
The fear is that a belief that all religions are equally good comes to mean, at bottom, that religion is good for nothing. Accusations of indifferentism are founded on a belief that there can only be one truth, that the particular religion of the accuser by definition holds the truth, and by extension every other religion must be in error.
Liberal or latitudinarian indifferentism is claimed to spring from rationalism and incorporates the theory of evolution applied to the origin of man, Biblical criticism, the comparative study of religions, archaeology, and ethnology. It also includes any perceived hostility to the Catholic Church.
When critics of Freemasonry use the term "indifferentism", they are defining not only the term, but the terms of the argument. Masonic writers, with varying degrees of authority, have claimed that Freemasonry is indifferent to religion. This is not the same as indifferentism. Freemasonry holds no opinion on any religion or the relative worth of different religions. The discussion of religion is not within Freemasonrys province or mandate. There may be those freemasons who subscribe to some form of indifferentism, there will be many who do not Freemasonry holds no opinion on the subject.
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1.The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. vii, Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
Are freemasons anti-atheists?
Regular freemasons are, by definition of membership requirement, non-atheists, but this does not mean that they are anti-atheists.
On the other hand, Freemasonry has on occasion been accused of being atheistic simply because the accusers have defined any belief other than their own as such. In fact, regular Freemasonry has always restricted its membership to men who express a belief in Deity. But does this make Freemasonry anti-atheistic?
Dr. James Anderson, in The Charges of a Freemason, wrote in 1723: "A Mason is obliged by his Tenure, to obey the moral Law; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist nor an irreligious Libertine." This phrasing was carried forward unchanged for many years although at this time, in many jurisdictions, the term "stupid" has been dropped as gratuitous and insulting. While individual freemasons may consider atheists to be stupid, or ignorant, or unfortunate, many other freemasons will simply consider atheists as individuals who hold a differing belief.
Can an atheist become a regular freemason? No; not unless he lies when asked to express a belief in a Supreme Being. There are several irregular jurisdictions that will initiate atheists but they are not recognized by regular Freemasonry.
Freemasonry as a body is not supposed to involve itself in questions of religion or politics, although it could be argued that by restricting its membership to those who believe in God Freemasonry has involved itself in the debate. In the USA, the masonic concordant body, the Scottish Rite, has actively promoted the separation of church and state, raising the accusation that it is anti-religion or anti-Catholic, and sympathetic to, if not promoting, atheism.
Freemasonry does not solicit members, nor does it promote its teachings to the public at large, other than through example. While Freemasonry extends membership only to those believing in God, the secular humanist community only considers as members those who do not. For atheists to accuse freemasons of being anti-atheists would make as much sense as freemasons accusing atheists of being anti-masons. It is logical nonsense. This does not mean that there are not individual freemasons who are anti-atheists or that there are not atheists who are anti-masons. But individual belief does not imply or prove group belief. Where both groups do appear to meet is in the promotion of self-development, personal responsibility and freedom of individual belief.
Freemasonry does not tell anybody that they have to believe in God, only that, if they do, they meet one of the qualifications for being a freemason. The teachings expressed in the initiatory rituals and lectures of Freemasonry refer to a higher purpose and destiny in a fashion that assumes a belief in God on the part of the candidate. But nowhere is atheism condemned or belittled. [RETURN TO INDEX]
Then Freemasonry must be Sabaeanism.
The doctrine of the Sabians, termed Sabaeanism or Sabianism, is a form of idolatry which consists in worshiping the sun, moon, and stars, in other words, heliolatry. Although the rituals of Freemasonry refer to the sun, moon, and stars, and their images are incorporated on masonic regalia, this is symbolism, not a form of worship.
As has been stressed throughout this FAQ, Freemasonry is not a religion... in any form. There is no part of worship in the rituals of Freemasonry, although a careless reading might suggest otherwise. Within Freemasonry, metaphor, simile, allegory and symbolism are the tools used to teach certain lessons. They are not instructions in worship, Sabaean or otherwise. [RETURN TO INDEX]