Saturday 24 July 2021

Freemasonry and the Christian Faith - Father Ashley Beck - CTS Explanations

Freemasonry and the Christian Faith
Fr. Ashley Beck
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860823428
eISBN 9781784694548
CTS Booklet EX16

This is the first volume from Father Beck that I have read, but it will not be the last. This is the fifth volume that I have read in the CTS Explanations series. In the last few years I have read over 200 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. Based on the CTS number EX21 and the list at the back of the book there are at least 21 books in this series. Some have eBooks, some are out of print, and a few are still available both in print and digitally. This is a fascinating series, it tackles some hard questions. And they give clear and concise summary of Catholic Teachings on those topics. The description on the back of this book is:

“Freemasons celebrate 300 years since their foundation in England in 1717. Today still, despite the Catholic Church’s prohibition, some Catholics in apparent good faith become masons, even on the advice of senior clergy. Evidence suggests freemasonry remains strong in some Anglican churches and cathedrals. This updated edition looks at what Freemasonry is and what the Catholic Church teaches about it. It examines the place of freemasonry within contemporary British society.

The convincing theological arguments against becoming a freemason are set out in a measured and balanced manner, supported by excellent research and extensive endnotes.”

The chapters in this volume are:

What is Freemasonry?
Catholic Teaching about Freemasonry
Freemasonry and Catholic Social Teaching
Freemasonry, History and Society
Freemasonry and other Christian Churches
What to do if you are a Catholic and a Freemason

The beginning of the introduction states:

“Some years ago I was approached by a man who had been invited to become a Freemason. He wanted to know whether as a Catholic he was permitted to do so. I had not been a priest for very long and was not sure of the answer, although I found it out quickly; this booklet is an attempt to give a clear answer to the question and to explain some of the reasons for that answer.”

And further on:

“Many Catholics, including the present writer, have good friends and family members who are Masons and it is not the purpose of this booklet to impugn the individual moral character of the majority of Masons. Rather, it is an examination of the system of Freemasonry: what it claims to believe, and how it operates.”

This book focuses on Freemasonry specifically in England, Scotland and Wales. Part of the reason for that is it is Father Beck’s intended audience. He tells us:

“God is referred to in Masonic literature, rituals and prayers as ‘The Great Architect Of The Universe’ (traditionally abbreviated in Masonic rituals to ‘T.G.A.O.T.U’), or (in the ‘Second degree’) the ‘Grand Geometrician’, or ‘The Most High’. … non-English Freemasonry has often been characterised by militant atheism and opposition to Christianity and to the Catholic Church in particular.”

As someone in North America much of the specifics of this book are not as relevant. But one of the passages that struck me most is:

“This makes Freemasonry rather like Pelagianism, the 5th century heresy which taught that humanity could achieve perfection through good works; it is also a form of the earlier 2nd century heresy of Gnosticism, in which people were taught that they could attain salvation through acquiring secret knowledge, gnosis.”

This was an excellent book to read. It provides a clear and concise summary of Freemasonry specifically in the British Isles. And it provides the overview of Catholic teachings on secret societies and specifically the Free Masons. It provides sound advice. It is written with care and concern for those who might already be members but unaware that it is not allowed. 

A great read in a wonderful series. I love the succinct summaries and teachings in this book and the series. Another excellent read from the Catholic Truth Society. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Ashley Beck:
Europe's Soul and Her Patron Saints
Ronald Knox
Thomas Merton: Contemplative and Peace-maker

Books in the CTS Explanations Series:
Marriage Annulment in the Catholic Church
Jehovah’s Witnesses
Does the Church oppress Women?
Organ Transplant – and the definition of Death
Be Yourself An Explanation of Humility - William Lawson SJ
Gene Therapy – and Human Genetic Engineering
Prenatal tests
Gift of life and Love
Cloning and Stem Cell Research
Contraception and Chastity
Freemasonry and the Christian Faith
Intelligent Life in the Universe
Spirits, Mediums & The Afterlife

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