What to ask if you are thinking about becoming a Mason
Masonic Initiation Checklist :: by T. N. Sampson of Cornerstone
This checklist is written for the Christian who is considering
petitioning for Masonic membership or will shortly enter Masonry as
an Entered Apprentice. It is intended to provide some food for
thought prior to your initiation, and to help you make an informed
decision. If the reader is not a Christian, this checklist
will still be a useful source of information; however it may be less
useful as you will not have the indwelling Spirit to help you with
the issues raised. In any event, checking off the following
actions will help you to better understand the significance of that
which you are preparing to do.
Things to Discuss with your Wife:
- Make sure she knows that the Lodge will want
to take up quite a bit of your time (memory work at home,
meetings, volunteer work). These time demands are expected to
take priority over other commitments.
- She should also understand the cost of
membership, both in the Symbolic Lodge and in any
"higher" degrees you pursue, so that it's clear how
much will have to be budgeted for the privilege of being a
- Tell her early on that you cannot share your
Lodge experiences with her; therefore, she should avoid
questioning you on the subject.
- Ask her permission to remove your wedding
band, the symbol of your marital commitment, the night of your
Entered Apprentice initiation, as you will be asked (or
required) to do so before you can enter the Lodge room.
Things to Discuss with your Masonic Sponsor:
- To avoid later surprises, ask how Masons view
your entrance into the Lodge. Mason Allen E. Roberts
describes this event as a "spiritual rebirth" in his
book The Craft and its Symbols (you
may even be given that book after being raised a Master
Mason). He further notes that the Mason is to use the
teachings of the Craft "to build a Spiritual
Temple." As a Christian, already endowed with the
Holy Spirit, you may want to ask just what kind of
"spiritual rebirth" Masonry is talking about here and
how that relates to your being reborn in Christ. As well,
you should compare the Masonic "Spiritual Temple" with
- Understand what the "Holy of Holies"
means in the Bible, then ask how Masonry uses the term.
(He may or may not tell you that in the Master Mason's degree,
the Lodge becomes a representation of the Holy of Holies, that
place where God resides. In this degree you are
"symbolically brought into the presence of God to learn the
lessons which it is intended to teach." (Virginia &
Florida Mentor Manuals))
- Ask how you should prepare for your
initiation. In some states, you will be asked to bath
first and arrive well-dressed, and that you spend some time in
prayer prior to coming to the Lodge. These things should
be performed "in the same spirit that would actuate you if
you were being baptised (sic) in your church" (Taking
the First Step, Virginia Grand Lodge). You may wish
to ask your sponsor why Masons would equate Lodge initiation
with Christian baptism, especially since they've already told
you Masonry is not a religion.
- Since the Bible is on the "sacred
altar" of the Lodge, you may wish to ask if Jesus Christ is
also taught there, since he is such a large part of that book.
- You may also ask what the "Volume of
Sacred Law" is and how the Bible fits into that
Volume. You might inquire if a Mormon can insist that the
Book of Mormon be on the altar instead of, or side by side with,
the Bible, and if so, why? (To avoid keeping you in
suspense, Masonry views the Koran, Book of Mormon and Bible
(among others) to be equal representations of God's will as
given to man; therefore, each may be on the altar.
Interesting company to put the Bible in with; does that bother
you? Your wife? Your pastor?)
- You will surely want to ask about the Masonic
lesson called the "Fatherhood of God." As
Masonic literature explains, it holds that all people are
children of God, regardless of their beliefs. Since the
Bible teaches that one becomes a child of God only via faith in
Jesus Christ (John 1:12), you may want to decide which of these
contradictory teachings you are going to support before someone
asks. You might also ask a Scottish Rite (Southern
Jurisdiction) Mason why the 18th degree claims that Jesus came
to teach the Masonic view.
- You may wish to ask why American Masonry
continues to be split along racial lines, and why both sides are
only now granting full recognition to each other. Given
that Masonry claims to support the "Brotherhood of
Man," you might well ask why segregation has been such a
large part of the Lodge since its landing in the United States.
- You should inquire as to how oaths and
obligations are taken. Since they involve you being in a
lodge "erected to God," in a semi-dressed condition,
blindfolded, a rope around your neck, on your knees in front of
Masonry's "sacred altar," Bible in hand with Square
and Compasses upon it, and "in the presence of Almighty
God," you will want to first think about how proper this
really is. Finding this out before your initiation may be
important as it may be difficult to ask about this once the
initiation is underway.
- Speaking of Masonry's "sacred
altar," you may want to ask why Masonry claims it
represents the Ark of the Covenant. (As you already know
from reading this article that the Lodge is considered the Holy
of Holies, you can probably figure out the rest of this
yourself. It would be very illuminating to find out by
what authority the Lodge claims to be the symbolic home of God,
so to speak).
- You should ask your sponsor for a copy of the
oaths and obligations you will have to make during your
initiations. Since Jesus taught that the Christian is
expected to fully carry out everything he gives his word to, you
will want to know exactly what they expect you to swear to so
that you can work within Jesus' injunctions. The
appropriate Bible verse is Matthew 5:33-37:
"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people
long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have
made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all:
either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for
it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the
Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make
even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,'
and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil
Keep those words in mind, for example, when they ask you to
never reveal any of Masonry's secrets. When they do, you
should make sure you know which ones they are referring to so you
don't inadvertently break your oath should your wife pester you
about what happens in the Lodge. Similarly, before you swear
that you will never reveal a fellow Mason's secrets (generally
murder and treason are excepted), you should consider whether or
not you would go to the police if another Lodge member confided to
you that he was abusing his daughter. If you say
"yes" to the obligation, you will have to keep this
secret (hopefully your conscience won't bother you much after a
- Ask about the penalties you will be required
to swear to. As these involve having your throat cut, your
tongue and heart torn out, being disemboweled and so forth, you
may want to determine if they are consistent with the above
verses. Continue to bear in mind that you will be swearing
to those penalties while still on your knees "in the
presence of Almighty God," as they will have asserted.
- Being a Christian, you may want to ask if it
is permitted to use Jesus' name in prayers in the Lodge.
The answer will be "no," so you may want to think
about what you are going to say if you are called on to
pray. You will have to find a prayer that will not offend
any brother Masons, and end up having to choose between
declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ by using his name in Lodge
prayers or placing the requirements of Masonry over that gospel.
Either way, it's your decision, but you may want to think about
it before you enter the Lodge. A good Bible verse to
consider is Matt 10:32-33, where Jesus states:
"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also
acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever
disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in
- You will most definitely want to have the
Masonic view of "tolerance" explained to you so you
can avoid trouble with your Christian witness later on. In
Masonry, "tolerance" is not merely putting up with
another's point of view; rather, it is learning to accept and
even welcome those views. In action, this view means that
you should accept and welcome other men's faiths even if you
know they conflict with the Bible. You can follow Jesus'
injunction to make disciples or the Masonic injunction to be
'tolerant,' but you can't do both.
- Another topic of fascinating discussion with
your Masonic sponsor is the symbolism of Jacob's ladder.
In Masonry, the rounds of the ladder are Temperance, Fortitude,
Prudence and Justice; Faith, Hope and Charity, which, to the
Mason, symbolize perfection. Essentially, Masonry teaches
that one uses that ladder, with its rounds, to get to
heaven. Obviously, Jesus isn't one of those rounds, the
implications of which you may wish to consider.
- Since you may decide to pursue the
"higher degrees" in the York Rite, ask what 'Jahbulon'
refers to. Ask as well if it's true that in the Knights
Templar degree, that 'Christian' part of the York Rite, you will
be drinking wine from a skull with swords pointed at your
throat. Would that be something you would boast about to
your wife, children and non-Mason friends?
- Since you may instead decide to pursue the
"higher degrees" of the Scottish Rite, ask to read the
book A Bridge to Light by Rex
Hutchens. This describes the Southern Jurisdiction rituals
and shows the lessons of the degrees. Ask why the order in
the 25th degree features the names of Osiris and Isis, two pagan
deities. Ask your pastor, or wife for that matter, what he
thinks of your wearing such devices. You may also want to
ask why one of the lessons in that degree is "Do not weary
God with petitions." You may also want to ask where
faith in Jesus Christ fits into this lesson from the 16th
degree: "Build Temples of the Living God in our Hearts by
following Masonic Truth – justice, equity, morality, wisdom,
labor, fidelity, brotherhood – to achieve
immortality." Finally, ask what Masonry means by this
statement in the 14th degree: "All the world's messiahs
have sought to unify the spiritual and earthly qualities of man,
providing a model of perfection." Note the plural
here: 'messiahs.' The degree goes on to equate Jesus with
other 'messiahs' such as Osiris and the Greek god of wine,
Dionysus. Interesting comparison, don't you think?
- Finally, should you aspire to the Shrine, ask
about the bathroom humor used in that degree, if wine is drunk
there and how it is obtained, and why you will have to petition
Allah, the false god of Islam, for aid in this rite. Ask
yourself if Jesus would do such a thing and, if not, why it
would be okay for one of his disciples.
Things to Ask Yourself:
- When you are blindfolded and escorted into the
Lodge for the first time, you will hear your escort describe you
as one "...who has long been in darkness, and now seeks to
be brought to light..." Before you get to that point,
you may want to ask yourself if that's a fair description of
your spiritual condition, especially since Masons, as we've seen
above, view your initiation as a "spiritual
rebirth." Jesus noted in John 8:12: "I am the
light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in
darkness, but will have the light of life." Unless
Jesus is the 'light' of Masonry (he isn't), Masonic 'light' must
refer to something else (it does). You may wish to ask
just what that "something else" is.
- You may hear the following verses discussed in
one of the degree lessons:
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will
find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For
everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who
knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8)
These verses will be applied to your entering Masonry (i.e.,
you asked the recommendation of a friend, you sought admission,
and you knocked on the door of the Lodge and Masonry opened its
doors for you). You may wish to look these verses up and see
what Jesus had in mind when he made these statements so you can
discuss them factually, should anyone ask. Perhaps other
Masons would be interested to find out that Jesus uses them in
reference to himself, not Masonry. It might lead to an
interesting discussion of why the Craft feels it can reinterpret
Jesus' words for its own reasons.
Given the above, is this really something you should be doing?
Questions or comments?
Contact T. N. Sampson at 73073,3006 on Compuserve
Mail may be sent to P.O. Box 2413, Valrico, FL 33595-2413