"What is the purpose of God in Freemasonry?"

Discussion in 'Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality' started by pointwithinacircle2, Sep 25, 2014.

  1. pointwithinacircle2

    pointwithinacircle2 Rapscallion Premium Member

    803
    841
    113
    Why is a man who does not believe in God unfit to become a Mason? How is a man who believes in God different from a man who does not? Why is this difference so important to Freemasonry?

    Having asked these questions we can sit back and watch the religious answers pour out. But by taking the stance that a man's personal religious beliefs are not important to Masonry, it has in effect stated that the answers to these questions are not a religious ones.

    The answer to these questions must in fact be a universal answer, one that would apply to all men regardless of their religion.

    So I pose the question "What is the purpose of God in Freemasonry?"
     
    dfreybur likes this.
  2. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

    3,935
    2,388
    133
    Boundaries keep our passions within due bounds. I like to imagine a picture of water. First I pour it onto a plate without boundaries and the water flows away. Next I pour it into a tumbler and the water builds up to the top of the glass. The difference between musical scales and songs in keys versus the twelve tome scaleless system imposes a similar pattern of limits and strength within them.

    It is a contradiction that by discriminating on religion we led and lead the world in religious freedom. I suggest we do this by establishing boundaries, limits, and by using those limits to become strong within those limits. It's not that a man without faith is different. It's that by setting a limit we can be stronger within that limit than we can by not setting limits in the first place. It's that we ourselves are different for having made the choice.

    As such it's the same principle for tiled meetings for members versus open meetings for anyone, admitting men but not women, admitting men of faith but not atheists.

    If God is light like the Sun (moving from metaphorical to literal is usually a bad idea), then Masonry is a lens for focusing God's light on ourselves. Not using God for a purpose, but using ourselves differently with God as a power source. Or some such image that moves back from literal to metaphorical again.

    As we all follow the divine in our own chosen way and we don't discuss how in our assemblies I don't think we give a purpose to God in that sense. Likely the better question is "Why do we exclude atheists?" Same set of circumstance, different line of thought. Language can express ideas that can't be answered and I think "What is the purpose of God in Freemasonry" is in that class. It's why I prefer "Why do we exclude atheists?" instead. It's a question I don't think leads down a hole.
     
    mrpierce17 and jjjjjggggg like this.
  3. Brother JC

    Brother JC Vigilant Staff Member

    3,202
    2,028
    183
    To have Faith, regardless of the brand, implies a moral compass. That might be considered the "good" in the old chestnut. Freemasonry's "system of morality" then has a firm foundation in making the good man "better," whereas an immoral man cannot be made better as there is nowhere for the system to take root.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2014
  4. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

    7,335
    3,329
    183
    Great answer!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 26, 2014
    Derek Harvey likes this.
  5. pointwithinacircle2

    pointwithinacircle2 Rapscallion Premium Member

    803
    841
    113
    Thank you to everyone who took the time to consider this question, and special thanks to everyone who took the time to answer it. I have enjoyed reading your answers to what I consider to be a most difficult question. My view on this question is in line with what has already been said. One way to express the idea is to say that when a man has accepted the concept of God he has undergone a fundamental change in his outlook on life. He has accepted that their is more to Truth than his own viewpoint (or his own ego), and more than the viewpoints of other men (or their collective egos). I believe it is the first step in accepting that an individual man is only a small part, and that it is by accepting this and working with others (other small parts) that together they can build something greater than themselves. I believe that one of the great lessons of architecture is that many small pieces come together to form something greater than themselves.

    I have an old book in which Pike says that Force, to be of value, must be directed. Each man is a force in the world. How will that force be directed? If I direct it in accordance with my own will, the good I can do is limited by what I know. By accepting the concept of God I begin a search for a concept of good that is greater than my own. I open the door to the possibility that I can be of service to a Knowledge and Wisdom that is greater than my own, even without completely understanding the nature of that Knowledge and Wisdom. In short, Faith allows me to call upon an internal source of power that the intellect cannot command.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2014
    Derek Harvey and dfreybur like this.
  6. BroBook

    BroBook Premium Member

    589
    236
    63
    The purpose of G.O.D. In freemasonry to me is He/They is/are the support; Gomer, Oz & Debar if my memory serves me correctly, without wisdom, strength & beauty there can be no masonry!!!
     
    coachn likes this.
  7. JohnnyFlotsam

    JohnnyFlotsam Premium Member

    485
    62
    28
    There isn't one, as your question frames the definition of "God". Freemasonry gives great importance to a belief in Deity, but offers no opinion (for lack of a better term) on the nature of that Deity, nor on any given collection of dogma purporting to reveal such nature.
    So the better question might be, "What is the purpose of the requirement that a Mason profess belief in Deity?"
    IMO, it speaks to the man's humility, in his recognizing that there are things far greater than himself. We (our fraternity) start from there and then spend a great deal of time instructing our new brothers on the importance of and various means to, gain what understanding we can of the GAoTU and Her work.
     
  8. Levelhead

    Levelhead Premium Member

    567
    305
    83
  9. pointwithinacircle2

    pointwithinacircle2 Rapscallion Premium Member

    803
    841
    113
    I find this response interesting. Especially since I specifically tried very hard not to offer any definition of God in my question. May I ask, What definition of God do you see in my question?
     
  10. BryanMaloney

    BryanMaloney Premium Member

    1,246
    232
    63
    The definition of "God" implicit in your question is, at very least an anthropomorphic spiritual entity distinct from humanity. However, it is possible for someone to acknowledge a "God" acceptable to Freemasonry that need not meet those requirements. I could see a philosophical deist whose "God" would be a "principle of creation and improvement". A "creator" in a sense but not necessarily an explicit "being". Prayer to this "God" would inspire the person praying. Studying this "God" would improve the student, but this "God" would not be a "being" independent of those who pray or those who study. Nevertheless, it could still be acceptable to Masonry. It is the "stupid atheist" who cannot be trusted, the one whose being is predicated on "none are higher than I". One who admits to a higher principle, even if only "in principle", has humility.
     
    JohnnyFlotsam likes this.
  11. pointwithinacircle2

    pointwithinacircle2 Rapscallion Premium Member

    803
    841
    113
    Bryan, while I agree with your analysis, I still fail to see how my question in any way references an anthropomorphic being. Unless of course people are assuming that in our society the word God itself is anthropomorphic.
     
  12. BryanMaloney

    BryanMaloney Premium Member

    1,246
    232
    63
    "Assuming" that in our society is like "assuming" that most people in the USA in 2014 speak English to at least some extent. In our society, God is an anthropomorphic being by default. One must note otherwise if not using "God" in this way. It would be like me using "competent" to mean "able to take up foreign DNA" and not explaining that. Such use of "competent", while valid in some professional contexts, is so far off the norm for the word that it behooves me to explain this as I use the word unless I am writing an appropriate professional communication in my field.
     
  13. JohnnyFlotsam

    JohnnyFlotsam Premium Member

    485
    62
    28
    Bryan's observation is most astute, but I was really looking at your implicit notion that any particular deity, especially one spelled with an upper case "G", has "a place" in Masonry, as if the fraternity itself recognized such a thing and that our labors are somehow liturgical in nature. If such was not your intent, my apologies, but asking about "the purpose" rather seems to assume a thing better defined than something we encourage each Brother to define for himself.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014
  14. pointwithinacircle2

    pointwithinacircle2 Rapscallion Premium Member

    803
    841
    113
    I find it interesting that everyone who has commented thinks that I am talking about "their" god (lower case "g"). Perhaps I should have used the word deity.
     
  15. Brother JC

    Brother JC Vigilant Staff Member

    3,202
    2,028
    183
    I specifically used Deity in an attempt to be all-inclusive. My "god" is no more important than any other Brother's "god."
     
  16. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

    1,687
    519
    113
    I had a candidate a couple of years ago who did not believe in God, but since idea of God is cultural (e.g Buddhists do not have God) I spent quite some time in discussion. Eventually I discovered that the candidate believed that there was a purpose to Life and was dedicated to serving that purpose.

    This seemed to me to be equivalent to a belief in God. So I instructed the candidate that the ritual spoke of God but that it was up to each brother to translate that term into his own belief system and that no one would question how that translation occurred.

    The candidate was admitted and proceeded well until returning to Chile.
     
  17. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

    1,687
    519
    113
    >What is the purpose of God in Freemasonry?

    Another way of looking at this is to ask: Did God create Freemasonry?


    If so, Grand Lodges do not own Freemasonry but are only custodians. Has any GL stated that it is only a custodian of Masonry?
     
  18. GKA

    GKA Premium Member

    271
    145
    63
    A man must recognize a higher authority than himself, it amounts to a line in the sand where somewhere there is a limit to what you can justify, The concept of God as the author of morality specifies that limit.
     
    JohnnyFlotsam likes this.
  19. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

    2,082
    2,075
    133
    If you mean by this, why is a man who does not have the faculty to imagine and believe in something that could be labeled "God", the answer should be obvious: He lacks the faculty and affinity necessary to do things that Freemasons need to do to do their work.

    As a reminder: Faith is the ability to imagine Possibility. Hope is the ability to commit to the smallest of Probabilities. Love is the ability to Invest in what is Possible, no matter how small the Probability. If a man lacks these abilities, participation in Freemasonry would not come easy; it's simply not a good fit.
    He is capable and engages in Faithful acts. (Faith being the choice to believe in something regardless of evidence for or against it.)
    Freemasonry is a Theatrical Society. For one to play along harmoniously with the other actors, one must suspend Disbelief, Engage and Play the Part regardless of any Evidence against what should be obvious to those who cannot.
    Marketing, administration, endorsement, common threads, and "the biggie"... allows one to engage in plays that one can easily assume supports one's beliefs, or at least is in harmony with one's beliefs.
     
  20. hanzosbm

    hanzosbm Premium Member

    780
    639
    113
    To me, Freemasonry gives a man the tools to better understand his place in the universe and his relation to God. What is the point if one does not believe in God to begin with?
     

Share My Freemasonry