Free Masonry is something about which not many people know. The ambiguity and secrecy of the group has lent some to ridicule it as paganism. I think that, for the same reasons, some have been lured into seeing no harm in it. However, Free Masonry is rightly considered a cult, due to the blasphemous writ involved in ceremonies, touching on Christological and atonement matters. Free Masonry is easy to get along with, because the group is founded on general religious principles and an ambition to “do good” in the world. Even so, morals don’t redeem, only Christ redeems, and Christ is not the recognized Lord of the Mason’s Temple.
With that in mind, I am intrigued by Benjamin Franklin’s plan to start a Mason-like group. “There seems to me at present to be great occasion for raising a United Party for Virtue by forming the virtuous and good men of all nations into a regular body to be governed by suitable good and wise rules” (p.145; Classics Club, 1941). I half expected the next paragraph to explain that Franklin chartered a Lodge in British America, because that is a succinct explanation of Free Masonry. Even more so, when we couple this with part of Franklin’s creed for the group:
That there is one God, who made all things. That He governs the world by His providence. That He ought to be worshiped by adoration, prayer, and thanksgiving. But that the most acceptable service of God is doing good to man. That the soul is immortal. And that God will certainly reward virtue and punish vice, either here or hereafter.p.146
These are, in Franklin’s words, “the essentials of every known religion” (Ibid.). If that isn’t Free Masonry, then I’ll eat my right shoe. From this report, two things become clear. First, Franklin was not a Christian, which is clearer elsewhere. He was a man of morals who lived in the wafting, waning days of the first Christendom, but he does not appear to have been regenerate. Second, Franklin was not an agnostic. He speaks often and openly of the existence, providence, and benevolence of God. Benjamin Franklin was more Christian than theological liberals today, who cast studious shadows upon the concept of a sovereign, impassible divine. Neither does Franklin seem to have been a deist, from what I have read thus far in his autobiography, for he clearly gives intellectual preference to the God of Scripture.