In chapel today, Peter Adam preached against Freemasonry. He does not see it as a club or a community group or a situation you just sort of drift into. It’s a belief system (though some may not call it that) with deliberate vows and curses. He preached that they have misunderstood God, that they ignore Jesus Christ and that they offer no path to salvation, for the path the offer is works based. There are different versions of freemasonry that believe slightly different things, but Peter preached that they are incompatible with the gospel message.
The most striking thing for me was the proliferation of freemasonry in generations past. Edmund Barton, Robert Menzies, Charles Kingsford-Smith and Don Bradman were all freemasons. But so too have leaders in Anglican and Presbyterian churches, whether ordained or lay or even bishops, been freemasons. Peter told of a church he was at many years ago where the entire vestry (church council) were masons. Someone asked Peter how this was even possible, if being a mason is incompatible with the gospel. Peter’s response was that often, people are poorly taught so they either don’t see the inconsistency or are not challenged to root it out from their lives.
Chatting with some of the guys over morning tea, we were noting how much less pervasive freemasonry seems in our own generation. It may just be due to the Gen Y refusal to sign up to anything, let alone something you tie yourself to with vows and curses! Or it might just be that it doesn’t seem relevant, or it’s had its day. I don’t know any freemasons in my own age group and certainly I haven’t met any at Ridley, whereas I know plenty in my grandparents’ demographic. But lest we should rest easy or think that we are somehow better, one of the guys asked, what are the blindspots for our generation? Who are the people we put into positions of power and authority, while ignoring their massive inconsistencies with the gospel?
What is our blind spot?
Someone else suggested that our emphasis on business and the corporate world may be the equivalent. It’s not a direct parallel – business itself is not incompatible with the gospel message. But where in the corporate realm is there room for the weak or the foolish things of this world? If we run a church as a business, could be not become outcomes driven rather than gospel driven? I realise I’m opening a can of worms here, and let me affirm what one of the guys said – that efficiency is often a form of love. But I was interested because it added to my current thought processes about weakness in ministry.
In particular, where would there be room for someone like Moses in a professional, corporate type church? After all, he’s not a good public speaker! But then, I think we could excuse that, make up for his inadequacies. But what about someone like Samson? I reckon we’re OK with Moses – after all, he was just a poor public speaker! But Samson, now that’s a different story! (This follows on from my recent discussion about weakness.)With his lack of anger management and sexual self-control, hew would be at the bottom of the list of leadership candidates in our churches. Of course, God does ultimately bring him low, but in the end, he also raises him up, for his final act is a great victory over the Philistines.
What is our blind spot? I have no idea! On one hand, I wonder whether it’s our love of “competence”, that we have little room for the incompetent like Moses. But might it also be that we have no room for chronic sinners like Samson? Perhaps, but on the other hand, if the stories of freemasonry in the church have taught us anything, it is not to seek competence over morality. Peter Adam told of the repentance he has recently led the Ridley board in, for their former acceptance of one freemason who made incredibly positive contributions to Ridley serving on the board for a number of years at the end of the last century. I wonder what it is my generation is overlooking, what we need repent for. And I’d love to work out what stories like Samson’s offer us in that.
Categories: Written by Tamie
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.