Masonic Rites and Wrongs: An Examination of Freemasonry. By Steven Tsoukalas. (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1995), 241 pp. Paper, $12.99.
My father was a Mason and Shriner. He almost never took off his large Masonic ring.
My sister was a part of Job’s Daughters when she was growing up. My dad encouraged me to be a part of DeMolay when I was a youngster. When I became an adult he urged me to become a Mason. He really wanted me to follow the family tradition. My grandfather and many of my uncles had been Masons.
I never did join. I knew enough about Masons to know that their view of the gospel was not biblical. Regardless of what the group could do for me, I couldn’t in good conscience join a group that proclaimed a distorted view of the gospel.
This book has a number of very positive features. 1) It is irenic in spirit. While it points out “wrongs” in freemasonry, it does without malice. 2) It is very well documented (with over 800 footnotes!). 3) It covers the 3 degrees of Masonry and the additional 30 degrees of the Shrine and points out where each degree is inconsistent with Scripture. 4) It shows that Masonry is a religion (pp. 17-42). 5) It implies that the way to determine if a person is saved is to look at his beliefs, not his behavior (pp. 2, 11; see also p. 119). 6) It suggests that a person who is genuinely saved might be a Mason, though he shouldn’t be (pp. 225-26). 7) It shows that Masonry teaches salvation by works, that “purity of life and rectitude of conduct” are “necessary to gaining admission to the Celestial Lodge above” (p. 49). 8) It points out that most Masons don’t attend Lodge meetings, don’t read Masonic writings, are ignorant of most Masonic beliefs, and don’t advance beyond the first three degrees.
This book could be used to educate both Masons and non-Masons on Masonry. As the book points out, there are Christian Masons and many if not most of them do not understand what Masonry teaches. Of course, if a church used this book for a Sunday School or Bible study class, they might find that some Masons would be unwilling to attend and would even be offended to have Masonic views openly evaluated. On the other hand, some Masons would surely attend and hopefully would get a lot out of it.
I wish I’d had this book when my dad was still alive. I would have loved for him to read it. I’m confident he would have read it and would have wanted to discuss it with me. This would have led to many good discussions about the Bible and theology.
Those who read the book will find some weaknesses. It is fairly hard to read because it is so heavy in content. There are very few breaks for practical application. Finally, since the work is aimed both at Christians who are unaware of Masonry and as an apologetic to Masons (pp. ix-x), you may often have the feeling (which I had) that he is writing more for the Mason than for you. From my perspective it would have been better to write two separate book, one on a popular level for Christians, and one of a more technical nature for Masons.
JOTGES readers should be aware the Tsoukalas doesn’t actually present the Gospel clearly in the book. That is unfortunate since unsaved people will surely read it. However, he does reject the works-salvation of Masonry and he does point out the necessity of faith in Christ. It is a good book for pre-evangelism of Masons. I recommend it.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society