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Gramps

I’ve been a member of the Church over 13 years now.   I’ve had some spiritual experiences happen that have had a profound effect on me.  Today i was reading about the freemasons handshake.which is exactly the same as the Mormon handshake.  It has caused great doubt of my faith in the church..i don’t know what to believe now gramps  This has knocked my faith big time.as I know Joseph smith had dealings with the Masons.who are more like a sect.

Joe

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Joe,

This is a fairly well-known piece of our history.  I’m not certain why you find this to be the source of a faith crisis.  I’m afraid you’ve got a lot of misconceptions going on here that need to be addressed.  First, if you would like to know more about the history of Joseph’s involvement with the Masons, you can read the entire story here:

Masonry

As you can see, the Church offers this right on its own website to fully explain the entire history.  There really is not much of a mystery here.  Nor is it any sinister secret.  We’re well aware of Joseph’s involvement with the Freemasonry.  And we probably have a better idea of who and what the Masons are than does the public at large.

The first thing I need to clear up is about Masons.  It is interesting that you call them a “sect.”  It has been fashionable lately to call them a cult (even a satanic one) atheists, deists, and a variety of other religious or a-religious terms.  None of these is accurate.

The truth is that they are a fraternal brotherhood made up of people of various faiths.  It would be an accurate characterization to call them “Boy Scouts for Adults.”  You can find Latter-day Saints, Jews, Lutherans (some sects), Methodists, Presbyterians, and any variety of other faiths as members of various Masonic lodges around the world.  Many mainline sects (most famously Catholics, and a few Lutheran sects) forbid membership in the fraternity due to woeful ignorance about what Freemasonry is about.  Truly, it is very similar to the Boy Scouts of yesteryear.  The fact is that the only religious requirement of Freemasonry is that a Mason must believe in some form of a Supreme Being.

Freemasonry is not meant in any way to interfere with an individual’s commitment to his faith, family or occupation. Freemasonry is not and never can be a replacement for these important institutions; rather, it is a positive environment that reminds every Mason of himself, his family, community and the Supreme Architect (an individual’s own definition of a Supreme Being.)    — Freemason website

If anything, Freemasonry is an excellent forum for people of differing faiths to be able to find common ground and come together to accomplish common worthy community goals based on our common values from all our varied faiths.  As such, it is completely compatible with the tenets of our faith as well as many other faiths.

The second thing I’d like to point out is that the “handshakes” in each ceremony are not entirely similar.  Most are quite different.  Those men who are both endowed Latter-day Saints AND Masons aren’t bothered by the similarities exist.  The subtle differences of even the most similar handshakes are found to be quite different within the context of the different ceremonies.

Remember that their ceremonies are not religious in nature.  It is simply philosophical.  The brotherhood exists for man to acknowledge his brotherhood with man.  God is “in the background” as it is in Scouting.  But the purpose is not religious.  It’s purpose is to promote earthly learning and earthly goals of helping the poor (as evidenced by the Shriners Hospitals) and supporting each other in their earthly endeavors.

The endowment is an entirely religious service that is all about our relationship with God.  The only temporal parts of the ceremony are those spiritual lessons we may apply to our mortal lives for our benefit.  But the primary purpose (as is evidenced by the entire ceremony) is to prepare us to meet our Maker.

So, why are there any parts of the ceremony similar?  Keep in mind that there are only so many things you can do with a handshake.  You have fingers (including a thumb) knuckles, the palm, the back, and the wrist.  With all the handshakes from all the various societies around the entire world, it only stands to reason that there will be some overlap among them.  These two organizations are not the only ones in the world with handshakes that are similar.  And there is also the question of the origins which I will address in a moment.

The real question that most people tend to ask is: Did Joseph steal or co-opt the handshakes from the Freemasons? Or did the Masons get it from the temple?  Their folklore states that their ceremony originated from Solomon’s Temple.  Is it true?  If so, that would explain some similarities.  In the first article I linked to, it states:

[Latter-day Saints] in Nauvoo who experienced both Masonic rites and the endowment acknowledged similarities between some elements of the two ceremoniesbut they also testified that the endowment was the result of revelation. Willard Richards, writing Joseph’s Smith’s history, taught that the introduction of the endowment in Nauvoo was “governed by the principle of Revelation.”

 

Joseph and his associates understood Masonry as an institution that preserved vestiges of ancient truth. They acknowledged parallels between Masonic rituals and the endowment but concluded, based on their experience with both, that the ordinance was divinely RESTORED.     — (emphasis added).

In other words, the endowment was had in the ancient world.  And some of that ceremony had survived by various means which were transferred ultimately to the Freemasons.  But it had obviously become corrupted to the point where the original ceremony was completely lost. Joseph received the “real deal” directly via revelation, thus restoring the ancient ceremony in it’s pure form.  This makes sense since the endowment was authored by the Lord in both ancient and modern dispensations.

The Masonry of today is received from the apostasy which took place in the days of Solomon, and David. They have now and then a thing that is correct, but we have the real thing.

 

Heber C. Kimball

 

From a practical perspective, I’ve read a bit about the history of Joseph’s work in Nauvoo.  And it appears that Joseph had already prepared much of the ceremony prior to ever entering a Masonic Lodge.  Joseph then only had a about a month and a half between his exposure to the Masonic rites and his first public introduction of the endowment. And from looking at his personal records, those days were quite full.  And none of his earlier preparations changed after he was “raised” as a Mason (Introduced to their rites).  While some elements may be similar, the overall ceremony obviously took a much longer time to put together than he had available.

So if they were similar, how did the Freemasons get this knowledge anyway?  I’ll have to go into its history a bit to answer that question.  The first acknowledgement I make is: It is difficult to say since the Freemasons themselves say that their symbols and rituals were collected from a “variety of sources”.  What were those sources?

Its origins are lost in the unrecorded history of medieval times…  Freemasons website

This basically means that we don’t know.  But it also means, neither do our critics.  No one knows.

Historians vary in their estimation of Masonic origins between 1425 to the 18th century somewhere in Europe.  It would appear that the tale of Solomon’s Temple was just folklore. But was it?

Some say that the Catholic Church had originally kept the endowment since they were actually heirs of the original saints of Christ and his apostles.  While I don’t agree with the term “heirs”, it stands to reason that the early Saints did maintain their knowledge of the endowment.  And it also stands to reason that it was corrupted over the centuries.  By the time the Freemasons of Europe (largely Catholic at the time) got the brotherhood together, they used some of the vestiges of the old symbols and incorporated them into their ceremonies.

That is my best guess.  That explains why some similarities exist and why there are also so many differences.  It also supports the need for a restoration of these ancient ceremonies through revelation.  I have a testimony of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And I have a testimony of the revealed word of God.  In the end, this hub-bub about Masonry is just a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is still the only true and living church on the face of the earth because it is the only one led by revelation through a Prophet of God.  This I know.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

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