Do our oaths matter?

I am a big proponent of convergence, things coming together in obscure and un-for-seen ways. This convergence experience came to me in the form of a question about how to initiate a Islamist candidate into Freemasonry with the Koran as the Holy Book, and suitable passages to correlate with the three degree.

After talking to some brothers, and thinking on the situation, I was finally aided by a very intelligent brother who is himself a Muslim, and wise in the ways of the fraternity.

But the line of convergence came to me in the form of an op-ed article by Dennis Prager, published on the web site The op-ed was essentially a rant on why the Holy Bible should be the ONLY Holy Book elected leaders should swear their oaths of affirmation on. His argument is that American civilization was founded on the ideals from the Christian Bible, and that oaths of office should affirm that foundational belief and should not allow any other text.

The convergence came to me in making that same claim within in Freemasonry. Do some within the membership see the fraternity as a strictly Judeo Christian institution, closed to recognizing the wealth of other faiths that exist within the world?

I can attest that in earlier times, including the era of America’s foundation, the obvious external influence was Christianity, lacking the diversity it does today. Different faiths were looked at as more different denominations. Even in breaking away from a sovereign monarchy, kingdoms were affirmed by divine edict. It was God who made kingdoms, not men. But were the ideas inherent in the Constitution really echo’s of the Judeo-Christian Bible, or affirmations in the divine nature of man to rule himself. These ideas were more of the Hermetic slant, that I talked about a short while back.

So Mr. Prager’s blog post said “…America, not you (Congressman Ellison), decides on what book its public servants take their oath” which made me wonder, is this the zeitgeist of the nation? In our country of religious freedoms do we only see the Holy Bible as the foundng testament upon which to proclaim our honesty?

I found one blog, though there may be others, whose reaction to Prager found resonance with the ideas of the founding fathers and their Freemasonry. Over at BC magazine, blogger Tom Bux went so far as to tie in the original swearing in ceremony of President George Washington, as an institution borrowed from Freemasonry even insofar as to use the bible from Saint John’s Lodge #1 in New York for the ceremony. But was this act a cornerstone of tradition, or just the representation of binding ones faith?

This convergence made me start to wonder about our Masonic oaths. The question that came to mind was “is the holy book dependant upon the oath takers faith, or will any sacred text do”? By making someone swear an oath on something they may not see as the sacred to what they believe, does their allegiance becomes less binding? In many ways, I say it does.

Even in a deist, with an open conception of God, still has a belief. Freemasonry, I feel, can really illuminate the way here in actively engaging a petitioners belief system, and fashioning our initiations accordingly. Not so the candidate is comfortable, but to impress upon them that their oath is backed up by their faith. This act, internally, will resonate subconsciously as Freemasonry continues to influence this country.

Understanding this creates a wider more and more diverse understanding of that realm of the sacred. God does not just reside in one conception, it instead resides in all of us and all of our faiths. With that said, is any one greater than the other?

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~ by Greg on December 7, 2006.

5 Responses to “Do our oaths matter?”

  1. I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you!

  2. In my opinion and as a Master Mason who is not a member for a Monotheist faith, I believe that the VSL is first and foremost a symbol of the Divine truth on Earth. It is a sign from Divinity of its presence and guidance.

    So, from my point of view, it doesn’t really matter what book it is, as long as it can inspire us.

    Plus, the Koran today is closer to the original edition of the Bible then the King James version which is used in most lodges…


  3. Personally I detest the so called ‘holy’ bible. I accept it in lodge in the name of tolerance and with a sigh of resignation that it is too embedded within our culture for me to get upset about it any more.

    I could have taken a decidedly more Eastern path but instead I chose the Western Mysteries who’s myths and archetypes are drawn upon from those ancient documents. I certainly find more of a Freemason feel in those Gnostic Gospels that were thrown out of the Bible as opposed to the ones tainted by Pauline Christianity that were kept in.

    Nevertheless, I find within much of the Freemason ritual elements that resonate closely with my own beliefs. None more so than in a lecture that includes the phrase, “There is a divine spark in man that bears a close resemblence to the supreme intelligence of the Universe”


  4. Forgive my intrustion, but I would like to make my own shameless self promotion, if you will fogive me, Gregg and friends.

    I have written a novel based on the life of Johannes Kelpius, the 17th century transylvanian mystics, whom it is claimed established the first Masonic lodge in America.

    This is a claim that is disputed and, as a non-Mason, I have no way of verifying if he appears in initiatory material.

    I touch only briefly on this in the book, concentrating more on the psychological aspects of the man and his spiritual quest.

    Anyway, I wanted to call it to your attention–not simply as self promotion–but also because I thought you might be interested in learning more about the strange life of this historical figure.

    Jonathan Scott

  5. Blessings of Yule to you:
    Thanks for adding substance to my blogging year.

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