Is Freemasonry Compatible with Christianity, or its Own Religion?
1.1. Your argument must be well-informed regarding Freemasonry and Christian Theology sufficiently enough to defend the Freemason point of view.
1.2. Your argument will defend the merits of the Freemason position, (Apologetic, not Polemic).
1.3. The issue here is Freemasonry - and whether it is compatible with Christianity, and a reasonable Christian belief, (as below) - regardless of the validity of Christianity.
1.4. Premises and Arguments will be Outline Numbered, (Each side will either take Outlined Numbers, or Roman Numerals, 188.8.131.52, or I.II ... etc), and clarify what they are responding to using the other's system.
1.5. Because "Just Ask a Masonic Lodge" can be submitted as evidence, (below), Time to Argue is 72 hours and Rounds is 5. When/if it becomes necessary to ask/write a Masonic Lodge in person. - Don't forfeit - just explain, "Looking into this" ... and the response for the round will be limited to "Okay" (or whatever).
2.1. Religion: Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world, (James 1:27). Another topic, preferably.
2.2. Christianity: The nullification of death under the law, (that is: the removal of the authority to impute death - through the law; not the removal of the requirement to act justly). And also, the authority and requirement to pronounce mercy following the appeal of one person for another, (Is. Job, Ez. Jer., the New Testament, etc. Another topic, preferably.
2.3. Hell / Eternal Punishment: At the very least - reserved for the devil and his angels, and those who are injust, (those being judged in that manner, as a result of the manner in which they judged). Another topic, preferably.
3.1. Concede/d - Freemasonry claims to be a non-religion, requires belief in "the Transcendent", and these are compatible beliefs.
3.2. Concede/d - Freemasonry has the capacity, and has responded publicly, and in video, regarding well-rumored liturgical rites: http://www.ugle.org.uk..., et. al.
3.3. Consequently, Authoritative-Ish Rumors of Freemason practices suffice: Within reason, (for example: http://www.sacred-texts.com...).
3.4. Alternatively, "Just Ask a Masonic Lodge" can suffice as evidence, and should be pursued in good faith. Where results conflict, this is simply moot/unknowable; and, that ambiguity itself may lend to an argument.
4. Immediate Concession by Con, (me) - Making this a Non-Issue:
4.1. Conceded If: Freemasonry has formally and explicitly published, that there is not place for death penalties or torture - regardless if it is real or symbolic; that there are no oaths, nor possible future oaths - in any capacity, for any degree or rank, nor for membership of any affiliated organization, nor penalizes those those who refrain - which bind a person under a curse, (specifically, the curse of death or torture, i.e., Gal. 3:10), such as: "binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my throat cut across ..." .
5. Con - Introduction Argument:
Many, many objections have been made against Freemasonry in view of Christianity - none more egregious than binding oneself under a death sentence - let alone acting to execute that sentence.
Having written to "Authoritative Lodges", and having inquired myself at different lodges - I have been assured that:
5.1. They must refuse to affirm or deny that any oath is required by them, or any sibling organizations, (Scottish Rite, etc) - that require one to bind themselves under a death penalty, such as: " binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my throat cut across," (http://www.sacred-texts.com..., p.35-36).
5.2. It must be accepted on faith: "You must trust that we would never bind you to do anything against your faith, or penalize you; and, this should be evident to you because we have members who share your faith".
5.3. I suggest that these two premises alone, (5.1 and 5.2), are antithetical to Christianity, even to Jesus himself who affirmed: 5.4. the power of unconditionally advocating for another supersedes condemnation under the law - especially advocacy that is self-sacrificial, (Luke 23:34, Job 42:7-10); 5.5. Tradition is non-authoratative, (Matt 15:3, Mark 7:9, etc), and requiring one to place their faith in others is self-refuting, even hypocritical; 5.6. Christianity's emphatic assertion that God desires life, not death, (Eze. 18:32, et. al.) - and 5.7. The removal of the law's power to impute death, (1 Cor. 15:56, Heb. 2:14, etc.), and the public exposure that such a premise is utter foolishness, (Col. 2:15).
5.8. Granted - Paul's following judgment in Galatians was towards slavery and obligation under Jewish Law - under the penalty of death; but even so - how much more so would his condemnation apply to what he considered lesser traditions? "Galatians 5:1-4: It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Behold I, Paul, say to you ... Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 ... 4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace."
5.9. Because of these conflicts with the core tenents of Christianity - it appears that Freemasonry is fundamentally incompatible with Christianity. And because Freemasonry shares the same qualities as other religions, both the good - and also extremist consequences - it also appears as Freemasonry is a religion itself.
DISCLAIMER: This debate is an exercise in debating and not necessarily an exposition of my own actual beliefs.
5. Accusations have been made against Freemasonry far more egregious than binding oneself under a death sentence. Examples include, but are not limited to:
Instituting the bloody Reign of Terror in 18th Century France; betraying than decapitating their own King, the Freemason Louis XVI; murdering countless other political leaders, including the Emperor of Russia, his wife, daughters and handicapped son; assassinating the ARCHDUKE and sparking the first World War, plotting the destruction of civilization, conspiracy for global domination, and generally provoking terror and mayhem to innocent people around the globe.
If Paul thought the law had no power over his life, he would not be speaking in this manner.
Thanks for the Response!
Con.2.1. Re. Comments outside of Debate:
Which Said, "I am a freemason, and am thinking about taking this debate. I can assure you it's not only compatible but also that the memorization of catholic catechisms is actually a necessity for being raised in Blue lodge Masonry. "
That reply is a perfect representation of what I have heard in personal inquiries regarding Freemasonry - and the only answer I was permitted to hear, arguing that faith should be put in people, a bandwagon fallacy, and hearsay.
Con.2.2. Re. Pro 5.1. You Said, "Actually many are required to flat-out deny it even if it's true."
The requirement to lie to one another - is considered contrary to Christianity, (Colossians 3:8).
C.2.3. Re. P.5.5. You Said, "Actually 2 Thessalonians 2:15 affirms that tradition is indeed authoritative."
This is a false analogy: Freemasonry is a fabricated tradition of men; whereas, Paul's comment, as an Apostle, was to reinforce the Divine tradition which was passed on through the Apostles - Freemasons do not have this Apostolic authority.
In no way was Paul endorsing Traditions of Men:
Again, in Isaiah 29:13, NASB - Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote -
Freemasonry explicitly acknowledges God; and although Freemasonry's acts of service is "Godly", and their traditions in view of "divine symobology" - whatever the true revelation of God was in Spiritual Symbology - is completely indistinguishable from the indoctrinations and interpretations of FreeMason "tradition learned by rote".
C.2.4. Re. P.5.6. You Said, "... it is perfectly fine and indeed praiseworthy to unconditionally advocate for His veracity":
Absolutely, Christians are commanded to advocate for the Truth:
2 Corinthians 13:8, NASB - For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth.
BUT - It is a false anaology to assert that "imputing death for betraying a secret" is the same as "standing up for the truth".
"Standing Up for the Truth" - does not include killing for someone for revelaing a secret, (such as: "having my tongue torn out, and throat slit across") ...
But in no way are Christians possibly empowered to impute death - especially if the alleged offense was that someone betrayed a secret of their traditions.
And Certainly, God issued commands to Seal up Mysteries, but not under the threat of death:
Revelation 10:4 - “Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them.”
Arguably God entrusted Secrets to John, because John was trustworthy. But, even if John had compromised those Secrets - the authority to impute death would have been God's.
Analogously, "Betraying a State Secret" is an act of Treason - and there are laws that make this punishable by death.
Christians are taught to walk in the light: that those who practice truth, walk in Light - so to their works are known to be of God":
John 3:19-21 - This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested [to the world] as having been wrought in God.”
Note: [to the world] is implied by the text, evidently: because, the verse would be meaningless if it meant to "manifest" the works of God .. to God - who already knows the works of Men.
C.2.5. Re. P.5.7. You Said, "The law has not been denied the power to impute physical death; the Bible's reference to victory over death is alluding to the victory over spiritual death".
Paul's command to submit to governmental authorities that can impute death, DOES NOT represent a certification that those laws are "Just".
My Contention Is: It is reasonable for a Christian to interpret the texts as God repudiating the authority to impute death - by Earthly authorities:
Paul is not JUST talking "Spiritual Death" - but also Mosaic law. And "Death" itself was literal, and even metaphorical: for negative effects under the law.
Colossians 2:13-15 - When you were dead in your transgressions ... He made you alive together with Him ... having forgiven us ..., 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.
Note: It is reasonable to interpret this passage as: God made a public display, proving the absurdity of laws that impute death, because: A. Those same laws cannot give life; and B. those same laws can impute death to an innocent man - even after being declared innocent by two courts, (Herod's, and Pilate's);
Colossians 2:16-22 - Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to ... the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men?
Now - one might argue that "elementary principles such as, "do not eat or drink ... etc", are not analogous to "binding oneself to secrecy - under the penalty of death and torture".
But my response is: "Keeping secret traditions, such as: rolling up your pant-leg to show you are not a slave", is just as pathetic.
Moreover - arguing that any traditions or commands is in contradiction of Paul's conclusion:
Colossians 2:23 - These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.
Severe treatment of the Body, is certainly not a "Spiritual Death" ... but penalties imposed by believers themselves - upon other believers: again, in contradiction of the Christian command to show mercy, as you would want to be shown mercy, (James 2:13);
C.2.6. Re. P.5.8. You Said, "My opponent is confusing St. Paul's command, [Galatians 5:1-4] to no longer be slaves TO SIN with a command to rise up and defy their earthly masters."
It is absolutely reasonable for A Christian to believe that Paul is talking about freedom from legal obligations that result in death, or severe treatment - and not just "as a metaphorical Freedom from Sin" ...
Galatians 1:3 - And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. ... 11 But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? ... 12 I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.
C.2.7. Re. P.5.9. You said, "At this point I must point out my opponent has tried to force an awfully restrictive definition of Christianity that assumes his case is correct."
The issue here, from the beginning has been:
"1.3. whether [Freemasonry] is compatible with Christianity, and a reasonable Christian belief, (as below) - regardless of the validity of Christianity."
I agree with my opponent, that: it is a valid counter-argument to show that this particular Christian belief is not reasonable. And consequently, an argument that the belief is either unreasonable, or awfully restrictive - could have merit.
I contend that my oppoent has yet to show how it is "awfully restrictive", or "unreasonable" - to assert that Christianity repudiates torture and the death penalty.
This position is represented in many contexts within Scripture, and compatible with the belief that God desires life, and not death, (Ezekiel 18:32) - and that judgment will be merciless to those who show no mercy, (James 2:13).
2.1. That's absurd. Catholicism and Freemasonry are not compatible, they are complete opposites and mortal enemies. Since the 1700s, 8 popes have condemned it (1) and catholic.com, in its article entitled, "What is the Catholic Church's official position on Freemasonry? Are Catholics free to become Freemasons?" begins with the clear statement that, "Freemasonry is incompatible with the Catholic faith." (2)
It is true that Freemasonry teaches its members to learn the Catholic catechism but this is only in order to better understand and thus, destroy the mortal enemy of Freemasonry: THOSE PAPISTS.
2.2. Okay, it is true that Freemasons are required to lie, and they do so very liberally. Darn it! I give up. How can I defend a madhouse composed of dupes and run by murderers?
You win, Pro.
Round 3. Con. 1: Regarding Catholicism:
To clarify Point 2.1: Compatibility with the Catholic Institution is not the topic of this debate - nor was the comment about it my own argument; I was merely citing that comment as evidence, that was posted - by another person ...
So, I am unwilling to accept Pro's concession - which seems to wrongfully rely on an invalid argument: historical incompatibility is proof of present-day incompatibility.
I contend that: compatibility with the "Papal Institution" is largely irrelevant - to this debate; though tenents of faith shared by Catholics with all other Christians would would be relevant.
So, I hope for Pro to respond regarding Catholic or Christian Faith, in general, rather than institutions.
Round 3. Con. 2: - Regarding Lying:
Regarding Con.2.2 - Althgouh I did point out that "lying" was a contradiction - it was not my intention - at all - to appeal to "lying" as any sort of proof.
But, my sense from experience is that Freemason's would likely endeavor to maintain their integrity, and not lie; in fact, the answers I have received from Masons, so far, seem to side-step the question entirely: exemplified in the referenced comment which I have heard other Masons say.
Further, Pro's argument seems to devolve into ad-hominem - which also cannot be accepted as merit for either argument.
Since Pro's concession on these grounds is without merit - I hope that Pro will put forward a more reasonable argument.
Round 3. Con. 3 - The Actual Topic: "Freemason Comaptibility with the Core Tenets of Christianity":
1. Therefore, since the question put forward by this debate was not about: A.) "Compatibility with the Catholic Church", nor B.) "whether lying is compatibile with Christianity" - .... Then - the question still has not been answered.
2. Is Freemasonry compatible with the core precepts of Christianity? A.) The unconditional advocay for life, (Luke 23:34); B.) The repudiation of the authority to impute death and torture - by self-made religions, traditions, and even governments, (Colossians 2:15); C.) The assertion that neither can bring life, (Galatians 3:21); and, D.) Both judgments can be wrongfully enacted against the innocent, (Colossians 2:14, etc).
3. Is it possible for Freemasons to Reconcile Core Christian Tenets of Faith and also: A.) Bind themselves under an oath, under the penalty of "... having my tongue torn out, and my throat slit across ...", etc. and/or B.) Enforce the penalties of such oaths.
4. Or alternatively - Does Freemasonry outright repudiate the place for any torture, or death penalty - in its observance, and affilitated organizations - making this entire topic a "non-issue"?
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