Joining the Freemasons

I grew up going to a WELS school and church. I have always been told that we are not to join the Freemasons. I have a friend now that has joined. I don't know what to tell him because whatever I say to him he comes back that our church is against everything. Could I get some references and some information on why this is against the church? Thank you.

Our synod’s position toward Freemasonry is long standing and consistent.  You can read papers at the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Essay File from the 1930s and 1940s that express our concern about the Masons.  While those papers are decades-old, the content is still applicable because Freemasonry has not changed.  I would call your attention to another paper in a different section of the Essay File that shows a side-by-side contrast between lodges and biblical teaching.

The Masonic Lodge and its affiliates are essentially deistic religious organizations.  They strongly maintain that there is a Creator God who rewards good and punishes evil but do not formally acknowledge God as a gracious giver of salvation through the work of Jesus Christ.  Nor do they acknowledge the Triune God as the only true God, but allow that most any “Supreme Being” embraced by any Mason may be seen as a legitimate deity.  To them salvation is not by grace alone through faith in Christ alone, but based on good works.  They also maintain that the supreme deity (“Architect of the Universe”) may be and is worshiped in many forms and under many names by many religions aside from Christianity.  Additionally, the oaths and rituals of the lodge have many features that consistent and conservative Bible students have long found incompatible with Christianity…This negative appraisal of the Masonic Lodge is shared by a number of church bodies, and is not the conclusion of only a few like the WELS.

So although the Masons somewhat promote civic righteousness and undertake certain praiseworthy projects in society, we maintain that a Christian would compromise clear Bible teachings by becoming a member of that lodge.  We are aware that people have joined such groups for the sake of business connections as well as a sense of social responsibility and say they really don’t care for or think of the religious aspects of the organization.  But we maintain that to do so is still a compromise of truth, easily or inevitably causes others to stumble spiritually, and links the person to a false religious group.  The Bible often testifies against such an attitude and action.

Bottom line: to be a WELS member with the public confession involved with that membership and to be a Mason with that public confession are incompatible.  We owe members of masonry a loving and courteous reply that will not compromise truth.  Refraining from membership in that network of organizations and providing patient but consistent testimony to the falsehood the Masons embrace or tolerate would be right and fitting.

As far as the perception that WELS is “against everything,” I would respond this way:  we are “for” everything that is scriptural; we are “for” everything that is godly.  Taking a stand for God and the Bible will naturally mean that we are “against” whatever is unscriptural and ungodly.  It is unfortunate if some people associate WELS as only being “against” things in life.  You can help dispel that inaccurate picture by explaining what we are “for.”  God help you to do just that.