Saturday, March 24, 2007

Lambskin Apron and Salvation

A brother at Excelsior Lodge website has posted an excellent response to the Five Common Accusations leveled against the fraternity by certain Evangelical groups.

I chimed in with my response, because due to differences between Jurisdictions I believe his answer would have been inadequate to answer for the ritual here in Oregon.

Please read the original post, but I also include my comment here for my readers to likewise ponder:

Brother, well done on this response. I do have a different perspective on some of this, however. First, to keep the secrets of a Brother Master Mason. In my case I have seen this used more akin to clergy-parishioner confidentiality than for seeking financial help, but it is still used for seeking help. For example, Brother A. could approach Brother B. for counsel on a difficult life situation, and request Brother B.'s confidentiality, thereby trusting Brother B to give good counsel or aid in the situation while keeping the personal details secret. It is not for use in covering crimes, as, at least in my jurisdiction, breaking the law especially when it involves moral turpitude would be grounds for expulsion from the Fraternity, at which point one would no longer be required to extend the courtesy of treating the individual as a Brother Master Mason, in my opinion.

Second, and something that I have given thought to, is the allegation that Masonry teaches salvation. While in your jurisdiction it may only be hinted at in the portion of the apron lecture which you shared, in my Jurisdiction the language of the ritual does go a little further. I will share what is applicable, omitting portions for brevity:

"... And when at last ... from your nerveless grasp shall drop forever the working tools of life ... may the record of your life ... be as pure and spotless as this fair emblem [referring to the apron] ... And when your trembling soul shall stand ... before the Great White Throne, may it be your portion to hear ... 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'"

More than this, the lecture given at the end of the Entered Apprentice degree contains the following:

"He, therefore, who wears the lamb skin as the badge of a Mason, is continually reminded of that purity of life and rectitude of conduct so essentially necessary to his gaining admission to the celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the Universe Presides."

This, in my opinion, is probably the most controversial part of our regular Masonic work, but I have not ever heard it directly criticized. I personally make no apology for this section, however. I would hope that "Heaven" (or the CLA) is viewed by all good men as a place where purity is to be found. While some religions will take no objection to this type of language, certain Christians often do, and so to them I would suggest that this passage may be applicable in the following way (and excuse the specific Christian language, but they are the ones to whom I am proposing this solution) - We, each and all of us, will get symbolic "spots" and blemishes on our aprons, making us impure (Every man has sinned and falls short...) and perhaps it is actually Jesus who has provided that "purity of life and rectitude of conduct so essentially necessary" on your behalf, since you are yourself incapable of it? The lambskin in this case becomes a symbol of Jesus, who is, after all, referred to by John the Baptist, one of the claimed Patron Saints of Freemasonry, as The Lamb of God. This interpretation turns the apron into a beautiful Christian symbol, for the Christian. Of course, others may view it as they see fit, and no Mason has the right to expect his particular interpretation to be accepted by any other.

Lest my above comment scare anyone, as it is only a sampling of the lectures, let me assure you that this is the closest our ritual gets to being guilty of this particular accusation. I have shared the worst of it, so to speak, and its all smooth sailing from there, so far as this point is concerned.

I hope this was helpful to some.

1 comment:

The Griot said...

Picture corrected. I apologize if you may have been offended in any form or fashion. Travel well and Light.