Ferris Thompson was sitting on a bench outside of the lodge building, enjoying a pipe full of Marlin Flake. One of the younger, more progressive members of the lodge, Sean, came out of the building and sat by him.
“I hear that Brian dimitted from the lodge,” he said, “he gave some reasons including the fact that he determined that since Masonry wasn’t solely Christian in nature, he didn’t feel he could belong.”
“Is that so?” asked Ferris. “Well, if that’s what he has decided then it is what is best for him.”
“Yup. I just don’t get guys like that. Christians—especially church goers—are just so ignorant. Don’t they know that the Jesus story has been told a million times before? Or that the origins of their religion are just as pagan as the origins of any other? I think that any Mason that still considers himself a devout Christian has no place in the organization.”
Ferris puffed on his pipe for a couple of moments, composing his thoughts.
“So who convinced you to come to that conclusion?”
“Well, I did. I studied Christianity and spirituality a lot and it didn’t take long for me to realize it was worthless.”
“Hmmm…that is interesting indeed. But did you ever consider the early Christians that closely examined their religion like Paul and John? What about Martin Luther or John Calvin? There certainly have been men that studied Christianity much more thoroughly than you have, so thoroughly that it consumed their entire lives and yet they still subscribed to the Christian religion. What do you do for a living?”
“I’m a computer programmer.”
“So would you say you have devoted the majority of your life to the study of Christianity?”
“So who are you to tell these men that they are wrong? Who are you to tell any man who has devoted the same amount of time that you have to such study that they have come to the wrong conclusion?”
Sean became defensive, “Well, do you believe that Christian stuff?”
“Some of it, yes. Some of it, no. But it is my decision and my faith. In a Masonic lodge, no dogma is greater than any other. Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, or even personal, independent worship are perfectly equal in the lodge. Our symbolism is applicable to every religion and no religion at the same time. No one can look at the faith of his Brother and say ‘Mine is better.’”
Sean thought for a second and then said, “You can if they have developed an incorrect image of God.” He had a smirk on his face, he thought he had fooled his senior Brother.
“Have you ever met God?”
The smirk left Sean’s face. Ferris emptied the contents of his pipe bowl.
“My Brother, you have taken great steps to find the destination of your personal spiritual journey and I commend you for that. But you cannot degrade those that have taken another path. Are they not still traveling toward the same destination? A Mason must be tolerant, he must accept that others may disagree with him. Do Christian Masons have the right to tell you that you are wrong and that Masonry is a Christian organization?”
Sean swallowed, as though he was digesting his pride. “No they don’t…I suppose I have been a little hard headed about this, huh?”
“Sure you have, but now you’ve learned. Now suppose you give me your interpretation of the symbolism of the Third Degree based on your religious views and later we can discuss it from my perspective.”