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The Great Architect

by Bro. Wallace McLeod. December, 2000
Published in The Tracing Board, GRS, March, 2001

This discussion piece was taken from a ‘Short Talk Bulletin’, Vol. 78, No. 12 of the Masonic Service Assn. Of North America, December, 2000, written by Bro. Wallace McLeod, Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of Canada in Ontario.

In the Masonic Ritual, God is called “The Great Architect of the Universe.” For me, this is a simple metaphor; the universe is like an immense mansion or temple, and the Creator of the universe is compared to the builder. Nothing secret or disrespectful about that! But in 1986, a Canadian religious magazine called The Presbyterian Record published an attack on Freemasonry, saying that the Great Architect of the Universe was the name of the false god “that the Masons worship at their altar.” And eight years ago, Dr. James Larry Holly, the man who orchestrated the Southern Baptist Convention campaign against the Masons, said that to call God a “Great Architect” is derogatory to the True God’s creative omnipotence. An architect only puts together from the materials already at hand. God creates from nothing.” Actually a bit of research discloses that the term “Great Architect” was introduced into Freemasonry in 1723 by a Presbyterian Minister, Rev. James Anderson, and that he got it from the works of John Calvin, one of the founders of Presbyterianism. The modern dogmatists are attacking an expression that was used by one of the great theologians of all time!

Another anti-Mason, Ed Decker, tells us that when the new Masons say he wants “Light” and it is given to him at the command of the Worshipful Master, this is wrong, because Light is salvation, and comes only through Jesus. See John 8:12 “I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” The evangelist Pat Robertson says that the Masonic All-Seeing Eye is found in the Great Seal of the United States on the back of the dollar bill. This, he tells us, is “the eye of an ancient Egyptian Deity, Osiris, who is revered in … the sacred rites of the Masonic Order. It follows that Masonry still preserves the pagan mysteries, and is incompatible with Christianity or Judaism, because the All-Seeing Eye belongs to an Egyptian god.” These interpretations are every bit as plausible as the others, but they are all contrary to the spirit of Masonry as it is reflected in the symbols that are explained in the ritual, and they are all anti-Masonic.

There is a real problem here. If a symbol in one part of the world resembles another in a different part of the world, does that mean they are related, or that they mean the same thing? If we look at an ancient Greek statue and see that its pose resembles a modern masonic gesture, does that mean that it portrays a Mason? If we find that the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen was buried wearing an apron, does that mean he was a Mason? I could refer you to written texts that say he was. To me, this is obvious preposterous.

But in the very same way, the anti-Masons confuse similarity with identity, and accept only one interpretation for any symbol.