Christianity and Craft Freemasonry
A Pastoral Guide for Christian Ministers
Latimer Trust, 2021 (ISBN: 9781906327705, 70pp)
By 1964 a national commission of enquiry estimated the existence of 50,000 books and pamphlets on freemasonry. This literature has, inevitably, only mushroomed with the advent of the internet. Given the wildly diverging quality and conclusions of this corpus, it is important to find reliable sources from trusted authors and publishers. This book is one such guide through the much-speculated upon maze of freemasonry.
The book does not attempt to be an exhaustive account of the society, but does provide direction to suitable volumes covering such ground. Instead, Moate’s booklet aims to give Christians, and particularly those engaged in regular ministry, a brief overview, a defence against many of the myths and conspiracy theories, and a toolkit of how to deal with masonry as it appears on the ministry radar.
The reassurance that, though masons are secretive, there are in fact no secrets left to it, is repeated throughout. This transparency is amusingly attributed to the nonchalant widows of deceased masons disposing of assorted manuals, constitutions, and regalia at charity shops or second-hand bookstores.
The picture that Moate assembles of freemasonry is a sad one of a body which became officially deist in 1815 and which bars its members from discussing religion, thus effectively excluding Christ entirely. Thankfully, the account of the Church of England’s relationship with masonry is mostly an encouraging one of transition from a largely-masonic episcopate in the 1940s to an exclusively non-masonic one now. The roles of Christina Baxter and John Sentamu in General Synod’s 1987 condemnation of masonry, particularly in focussing minds on the theological nature of the issue, are to be treasured. Masonry is irredeemably syncretistic and thus perilous to the salvation both of those directly involved and those affected by it.
Pastorally, the most significant note sounded seems to be the priority for the church to provide meaningful fellowship for men. This is an itch that has all too often only been scratched by the false fellowship of masons.
Edward Keene, Little Shelford