"A Bridge to Light": AN EXAMINATION OF THE RELIGIOUS TEACHINGS OF THE
By Bill Gordon
During the 1993 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Houston, Texas, the SBC
received a report from the then Home Mission Board (HMB) on Freemasonry. The
report from the HMB identified A Bridge to Light, by Rex Hutchens, as
one of the Masonic writings that is "undeniably pagan and/or occultic" [Annual
of the Southern Baptist Convention Nineteen Hundred and Ninety-Three, p. 226].
The North American Mission Board (NAMB) Interfaith Evangelism Team, in this
booklet, takes a closer look at A Bridge to Light. There are several
reasons for this critique. First, A Bridge to Light is an official
publication of The Supreme Council, 33rd degree Ancient and Accepted Scottish
Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, United States of America. Second,
it is a contemporary publication. Third, the book is strongly recommended by C.
Fred Kleinknecht, 33rd degree, Sovereign Grand Commander, Scottish Rite
Freemasonry. Kleinknecht writes in the Foreword of the 1988 edition: "I believe
that the publication of this work could truly be the dawning of a new day in
our Jurisdiction" [p. vii]. Fourth, the book was unanimously approved by the
Scottish Rite Committee on Rituals and Ceremonial Forms [p. ii]. And last, the
book is now given to all candidates for Scottish Rite degrees [Jim Tresner,
"Perspectives, Responses & Reflections" (Unpublished article, n.d.), p.
A Bridge to Light presents the rituals and religious teachings
of the Scottish Rite. In the second edition of A Bridge to Light, the
following disclaimer was added to the Foreword of the book: "Every one is
entirely free to reject and dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to him to
be untrue or unsound. It is only required of him that he shall weigh what is
taught, and give it fair hearing and unprejudiced judgment" [p. vii]. This
disclaimer means that Scottish Rite Masons do not have to believe the teachings
found in A Bridge to Light. However, the disclaimer does not change
the fact that the leaders of the Scottish Rite (Southern Jurisdiction) publish,
endorse, and present for the consideration of its members the interpretations
found in A Bridge to Light.
Scottish Rite Freemasonry claims to teach religious truth [pp. vii, 3]. It
is a legitimate question to ask whether its teachings are compatible with
"A Bridge to Light" Denies Certainty in Religious Truth
A Bridge to Light denies the certainty of religious truth
claims [p. 9]. A Bridge to Light also endorses the idea that religious
truth is relative [p. 69]. In addition, Scottish Rite Freemasonry teaches that
dogmatic certainty is impossible [p. 103]. According to A Bridge to
Light, "perfect truth is not attainable anywhere" [p. 107].
Response: While Scottish Rite Freemasonry claims that
certainty in matters of truth is impossible, the Bible teaches otherwise.
Jesus, for example, taught that while the Samaritans worshiped a false
religion, God's salvation would come from the Jews (see John 4:22). Likewise,
Peter and Paul warned their readers of the errors of the pagans and taught the
possibility of religious certainty (see Rom. 1:18,25; 2 Thess. 2:10-11; 2 Tim.
3:8; 1 Pet. 4:3). The apostles not only taught the possibility of religious
certainty, but they also claimed to have found truth in the Person of Jesus
Christ. But Jesus claimed to be both "the way, and the truth" (John 14:6).
"A Bridge to Light" Argues Against Fearing God
"A Bridge to Light" teaches that God is a God of love who should
not be feared. "'I put my trust in God,' is the protest of Masonry against the
belief in a cruel, angry, and revengeful God, to be feared and not reverenced
by His creatures" [Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and
Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, p. 196, quoted in A Bridge to
Light(BTL), p. 85]. According to A Bridge to Light, the
belief that God should be feared belonged to a primitive time. In these
enlightened times, Scottish Rite Masons are taught that a God of love should
not be feared [p. 92].
Response: There is no incompatibility between the biblical
teaching that we are to fear God and the biblical teaching that God is loving.
Scottish Rite Freemasonry has set up a false dichotomy. The Bible clearly
teaches that we are to fear the Lord God (see 2 Chron. 19:7; Pss. 19:9; 34:11;
111:10; Prov. 14:27; 15:16). The biblical principle of "the fear of the Lord"
is also found in the New Testament. Jesus taught that we are to fear God (see
Luke 12:4-5). The denial of this biblical principle by Scottish Rite
Freemasonry is contrary to the teachings of Christ.
A Bridge to Light Falsely Claims that Christianity Affirms
A Bridge to Light misrepresents Christian doctrine in several
areas. For example, it claims that Christianity accepts the principle of
dualism as taught by Zoroaster [p. 311]. Zoroaster was an ancient Iranian false
prophet who founded the religion called Zoroastrianism. He taught that there
are two equal and mutually hostile forces in the world. One is the source of
all good, while the other is the source of all evil. [Walter A. Elwell, ed.
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, (Grand Rapids:
Baker Book House Co., 1984), p. 334]. Scottish Rite Freemasonry embraces belief
in this type of dualism. According to A Bridge to Light, dualism is found in
both the teachings and symbols of the Scottish Rite [pp. 18, 81, 133].
Response: The concept of the universe as a duality is
incompatible with biblical Christianity. Christian theologian Millard J.
Erickson writes that "the biblical teaching on creation disallows any type of
dualism" [Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, Grand Rapids: Baker Book
House, 1983), p. 371]. Dualism is incompatible with Christianity because it
rejects the Christian belief that God is all-powerful (omnipotent). The
religion of Zoroastrianism rejects the omnipotence of God because of its belief
in dualism [Christian Theology, p. 414]. A Bridge to Light's claim that
Christianity derived its belief in dualism from Zoroastrianism is untrue both
historically and theologically.
A Bridge to Light Claims It Is Impossible to Have Knowledge
In its commentary on the 24th degree, A Bridge to Light claims that
it is impossible to form any conception of God. It rules out any descriptive
knowledge of God [p. 218]. A Bridge to Light claims: "This knowledge
defied expression in ordinary language; even to attempt it was dangerous
because the use of adjectives ordinarily describing men when used to describe
the Deity tended to lessen Him" [p. 248].
Response: While finite human beings will never fully
comprehend the infinite God, it is not true that we are "utterly powerless to
form any conception of what He is" [p. 218]. The Bible not only indicates that
we can form accurate conceptions about God, but it also teaches that we can
know God to the point of having a personal relationship with Him. The Bible
uses many adjectives to describe God. God is portrayed as light (see 1 John
1:5), love (see 1 John 4:8,16), eternal (see Deut. 33:27; Rev. 4:8-10),
immortal (see Rom. 1:23; 1 Tim. 6:16), almighty (see Gen. 17:1; Ex. 6:3),
all-knowing (see Ps. 139:1-6; Prov. 5:21), unchanging (see Ps. 102:26-27; Jas.
1:17), wise (see Rom. 16:27), perfect (see Deut. 32:4; Matt. 5:48), holy (see
Ps. 99:9), just (see Deut. 32:4; Isa. 45:21), true (see Jer. 10:10; John 17:3),
good (see Pss. 25:8; 92:15), righteous (see Ezra 9:15; Pss. 119:68; 145:17),
gracious and compassionate (see Ex. 34:6; Ps. 116:5), and faithful (see 1 Cor.
10:13; 1 Pet. 4:19). The Bible regularly uses adjectives that A Bridge to
Light calls dangerous "even to attempt."
A Bridge to Light Teaches a False Trinity
Scottish Rite Freemasonry claims to believe in the doctrine of the Trinity
[pp. 227-28, 230, 234, 236-37, 255, 316]. A Bridge to Light even
refers to the "Masonic Trinity." However, when it describes the Trinity, it
becomes clear that it is not referring to the same Trinity believed by
Christians [p. 227]. "They may also be seen as symbols of Faith, Hope and
Charity, which are the virtues of man. These three virtues are expanded into
what Pike calls the Masonic Creed, a concept of Trinity which brings to mind
the Nicene Creed of Christianity discussed in the ceremony section" [p.
Scottish Rite Freemasonry views the three Persons of the Christian Trinity
as the first three emanations of a gnostic and occultic manifestation of Deity
[pp. 133, 139, 236, 255]. A Bridge to Light redefines the meaning of the
Trinity to the point where it claims to find the doctrine within all of the
world's major religions [p. 228]. Scottish Rite Freemasonry uses the assumed
existence of the Trinity in other religions to justify teaching its candidates
about several non-Christian faiths. The candidate is instructed that several
pagan deities are similar to the Christian Trinity. These include such pagan
deities as Agni, Indra, Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva, the Buddhas, Ahura Mazda, Spenta
Mainyu, Vohumano, Mithra, Odin, Frea, Thor, Kneph, Khem, Amun, Ainsoph, Kether,
Hakemah, and Binah [pp. 230-31]. This pagan understanding of the Trinity is
also seen in its discussion of the 32nd degree of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in
A Bridge to Light [p. 316].
Response: Christianity does not believe that the Father,
Son, and Holy Spirit are "emanations" of the Trinity. The three Persons of the
Holy Trinity are not the "first three" of 10 emanations as claimed by A
Bridge to Light. The concept of emanations proceeding from God is a pagan
and Gnostic concept that is not compatible with Christianity. Since Gnosticism
believed that the material world was evil, it taught that the Supreme Being
could not have created the material universe. Gnosticism, therefore, postulated
a series of emanations from the Supreme Being. It was one of these emanations,
not the Supreme Being, who created the evil material world [Baker's Evangelical
Dictionary of Biblical Theology, p. 181].
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is also not the belief that God has
three attributes. The "Masonic Trinity" is a complete misrepresentation of the
Christian belief. This teaching, found in the lessons of the 26th Degree, is
false. Christianity is the only religion that believes in the Holy Trinity
[Christian Theology, p. 321]. The only way Scottish Rite Freemasonry can claim
that the Trinity is not unique to Christianity is to redefine the doctrine so
that it becomes something Christians have never believed. This
misrepresentation of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is very
objectionable. To compare the Triune God of Christianity with the Hindu deities
Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva is not only blasphemous, but also completely
misrepresents Christian doctrine [pp. 230-31]. The Bible teaches that followers
of the true and living God are not to follow after the false gods of the pagans
(see Gen. 35:2; Ex. 23:13; Josh. 23:7; Ezek. 20:7; 1 Cor. 10:20).
Scottish Rite Freemasonry not only misrepresents Christian doctrine, but it
also distorts non-Christian religions when it falsely claims that they also
believe in the Trinity. A Bridge to Light is incorrect when it argues
that the doctrine of the Trinity is a universal truth of man [p. 236]. To
maintain this position, it has to misrepresent the beliefs of both Christianity
and the pagan religions. Its contention that the Trimurti of the Hindus is
similar to the Christian Trinity is again both simplistic and false [Geoffrey
Parrinder, "Triads," The Encyclopedia of Religion 15, ed., Mircea Eliade (New
York: Macmillian Publishing Co., 1987), p. 40]. The Trimurti of the Hindus has
nothing in common with the God of Christianity.
A Bridge to Light Denies the Uniqueness of
According to A Bridge to Light, Jesus of Nazareth was not unique. The book
teaches that Jesus was just one messiah among the many messiahs found in the
world's religions. Jesus is placed on the same level as the pagan deities
Dionysus, Sosiosch, Krishna, and Osiris. "We see references to Dionysius [sic]
of the Greeks, Sosiosch of the Persians, Krishna of the Hindus, Osiris of the
Egyptians, Jesus of the Christians. The purpose of these varying cultures'
messiahs was to find in human form a source of intercession with Deity; in
particular one who, as a human, had been tempted and suffered the daily pangs
of life and so could be expected to possess a particular sympathy and
understanding; in a word, the messiahs expressed hope" [pp. 112-13].
Response: The comparison of Jesus Christ to the pagan
deities Dionysus, Sosiosch, Krishna, and Osiris denigrates the deity of Christ.
The words of Hebrews 2:18 apply to Christ and Christ alone. The Bible teaches
that Jesus is unique. He is not just one messiah among many (see John 3:36;
Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:5). A Bridge to Light attempts to read into these pagan
religions Christian concepts that never existed.
A Bridge to Light Confuses Pagan Deities with the One True
A Bridge to Light does not distinguish between the true God of the Bible and
the deities of the pagan world. It indicates that the only distinction between
the God of the Bible and those of the pagans is a difference of terminology
[pp. 31, 120]. For example, A Bridge to Light calls Albar of the Druse "the
Most High, or the Deity" [p. 219]. In the 31st degree, Amun-ra is called "this
great God." A Bridge to Light quotes the following words in its discussion of
the 31st degree:
"they do not behold the great god Amun-ra their eyes do not imbibe the rays
that flow from his disktheir souls shall not be manifested or made illustrious
in the worldthey shall not hear the voice of this great God,who is exalted far
above their sphere" [p. 301].
Response: A Bridge to Light does not distinguish between
the deities of the pagans and the true God of the Bible. The gods and goddesses
of the pagans were not just different cultural representations of the one true
God. The gods and goddesses of the pagans, and their representative idols, are
false deities, which the Bible totally rejects (see Ex. 20:4-5). The Bible also
rejects the idea that the pagans simply worshiped the one true God but used
different names (see Ex. 32:4-8).
No idol or pagan deity is a representation of the true God. They are all
false deities and must be rejected by Christians. The differences between the
God of the Bible and the gods and goddesses of the pagans are far greater than
just a difference of terminology.
A Bridge to Light Teaches that Truth Is Found
A Bridge to Light teaches that the soul of man is part of God
[p. 220]. Therefore, it claims that religious truth can be found "by seeking
ever deeper within ourselves" [p. 90].
Since A Bridge to Light teaches that humanity is part of God, it
rejects the idea that human nature is evil or sinful. A Bridge to
Light quotes Pike as claiming, "The heart of man craves only justice and
love. Men are good. Evil institutions alone have made them bad" [Legenda
XIX-XXX, pp. 168-169, quoted in BTL, p. 292].
Response: The Bible warns us that "the heart is deceitful
above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jer. 17:9-see also Pss. 51:5;
53:2-3). Likewise, Jesus cautioned us that evil thoughts and deeds do not come
from outside a person but from within (see Matt. 15:19; Mark 7:21). The
assertion by Pike, that "the heart of man craves only justice and love"
directly contradicts the teachings of the Bible [p. 292]. Jesus taught that
human hearts have a tendency toward sin and evil. He also instructed His
disciples that this tendency toward evil is not only caused by outward
influences, but also by the evil desires of the human heart. The Bible warns us
that human beings are not good (see Rom. 3:23).
A Bridge to Light also errs when it claims that "the soul of
man is part of the Divine" [p. 220]. The Bible teaches us that humans were
created in the image of God (see Gen. 1:26-27). However, the Bible never
instructs us that humans are a part of God. The Bible instead stresses the
distinction between God and humanity (see Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29). When God
created human beings, He made something that was not Himself. This is the heart
of the Christian understanding of creation.
Influence of Pagan Religions on Scottish Rite Symbolism and Ritual
Admitted by A Bridge to Light
According to A Bridge to Light, the symbolism of Freemasonry has
been influenced by several pagan and occultic groups [p. 1]. The influence of
these pagan and occultic groups can be found in several Scottish Rite rituals.
In its discussion of the 9th degree, A Bridge to Light claims that one of this
degree's symbols originated in the mystical and occult school of the Jewish
Kabalah [pp. 56-57]. Commenting on the 17th degree, A Bridge to Light
quotes Pike, who indicates that two of the colors used in the degree are
emblems of the sun and moon, which in turn are representations of the pagan
deities Osiris and Isis [Morals and Dogma, p. 202, quoted in BTL, p. 133]. A
Bridge to Light also claims that the 24th degree of Scottish Rite Freemasonry
focuses on the mystery religions of the ancient world. Candidates for this
degree are invited to compare the teachings of Masonry with these mystery
religions [pp. 206-07]. In the commentary on the 28th degree, we are informed
by A Bridge to Light that the eye of gold is a "symbol of the sun or
of the Deity" [p. 247]. The book also explains the symbol of the gnostic worm
as it is used in Scottish Rite Freemasonry [p. 251]. Of all the degrees of
Scottish Rite Freemasonry, the 31st degree probably has the greatest uses of
pagan symbolism. As A Bridge to Light explains, the ritual of the 31st degree
is derived from the Egyptian Book of the Dead [pp. 299-300]. According to A
Bridge to Light, Isis directs the Masonic candidate to "the altar of the great
god Khem, the source of life" [p. 302].
Response: Isis was the chief goddess in the ancient
pantheon of Egypt. Her worship was so popular that the cult of Isis was one of
the last mystery cults to survive [Leonard H. Lesko, "Isis," The Encyclopedia
of Religion 7, ed., Mircea Eliade (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1987),
p. 302]. Christians must reject the statement that the pagan god Khem is "the
source of life." The New Testament instructs us that it is Jesus, not "the
great god Khem," who is the true source of life (see John 6:35,48,51; 11:25;
The recognition and respect accorded these Egyptian deities in A Bridge
to Light is highly objectionable. Among these deities are gods and
goddesses that are condemned in the Bible. For example, the ninth plague in
which God brought darkness on the land of Egypt (see Ex. 10:21-29) was an
insult directed toward Thoth, one of the moon gods [John J. Davis, Moses and
the Gods of Egypt (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1971), p. 128].
It is highly objectionable to Christians that Scottish Rite Freemasonry
includes references to these deities in its rituals. The Bible warns its
readers that they are to have nothing to do with Egyptian deities. No Christian
should ever participate in any ceremony or ritual that involves pagan deities
(see Ex. 12:12; Deut. 32:16; Josh. 24:14; Jer. 43:12-13; 46:25).
Scottish Rite Uses the Occult as a Source of Religious
In addition to using pagan religions as a source for its teachings, Scottish
Rite Freemasonry also has employed several occult sources. For example,
astrology, which is a form of occult divination, is spoken highly of by A
Bridge to Light. The book even claims that the biblical character Enoch
was learned in astrology [pp. 88-89].
According to A Bridge to Light, the 28th degree of Scottish Rite
Freemasonry studies the occultic practices of numerology, astrology, and
alchemy [p. 158]. The book also claims that the signs of the occultic zodiac
are found in the 19th degree and associates them with the 12 tribes of Israel
[pp. 163, 165].
A Bridge to Light claims that the occultic symbol of the
pentagram is associated with the Greek characters "Alpha and Omega," a biblical
title for Jesus (see Rev. 1:8; 21:6; 22:12-13). Concerning this symbol, A
Bridge to Light states, "It is the symbol of the Divine in man" [pp.
Response: The Bible warns its readers that they are to have
nothing to do with the occult (see Ex. 7-8; Deut. 18:10-13; Lev. 19:31; 1 Sam
28; Jer. 27:9; Ezek. 13:23; Zech. 10:2; Acts 16:16-18; Col. 2:8). The claim
made by A Bridge to Light that the biblical character Enoch was learned in
astrology is not supported by the Christian Scriptures. The book is
disingenuous when it leaves its readers with this impression. It refers the
reader to Genesis 5:23-24, which states that "Enoch walked with God," and then
A Bridge to Light states, "We are told he . . . was learned in
astronomy and astrology" [p. 89]. The implication of this statement is that
astrology is compatible with walking with God. The Bible, however, indicates
that this in not true. Astrology is a form of divination, and the Bible warns
its readers that God considers divination an abomination (see Deut.
The statements made about Genesis 49 and astrology also falsely imply that
Jacob was a practitioner of astrology. A reading of Genesis 49 reveals that
astrology is not the subject matter of this biblical passage. The statement
found in A Bridge to Light that the 12 tribes of Israel are associated
with the 12 signs of the astrological zodiac is both false and offensive.
Even more offensive is the claim made by A Bridge to Light that the
Greek letters Alpha and Omega are representative of the divine in man.
According to the book of Revelation, the Greek letters Alpha and Omega do not
represent the divine in man but rather represent the God- Man Jesus Christ.
When Jesus claims to be the Alpha and Omega, He is making a unique claim for
personal divinity (see Rev. 1:8; 21:6; 22:12-13). He is not claiming that all
humans are divine, as claimed by A Bridge to Light [pp. 205-06]. It
should also be pointed out that the pentagram is one of the most common symbols
of the occult and is used in countless magick rituals. Masons may use it to
symbolize humanity, but other groups give this occultic symbol entirely
different meanings. Satanists, for example, use the upside-down pentagram to
represent Satan [Anton Szandor LaVey, The Satanic Bible (New York:
Avon Books, 1969), pp. 129-30].
A Bridge to Light Teaches a Works Salvation
One teaching of A Bridge to Light that is incompatible with
Christianity is "the implication that salvation may be attained by one's good
works" [SBC Annual, 1993, p. 227]. There are many examples of this teaching in
A Bridge to Light [p. 92]. For example, the book claims that immortality is
"won by suffering and sorrow" [p. 142]. Its discussion on the 19th degree
informs the reader that "a man's actions are a bridge to his own immortality
and to the future of mankind" [p. 165]. Likewise, in the material on the 24th
degree, the reader learns that "reformation and repentance wash away sin" [p.
204]. In the 27th degree, the reader is told that "honor and service to others"
is the "path of salvation" [p. 243].
The 31st degree recreates the ancient myth of the Egyptian Court of the
Dead, where it is determined whether the soul of a dead person will be allowed
"to enter into the kingdom of the gods" [p. 299]. In this degree, the Scottish
Rite candidate is told that the actions of the dead determine whether they
deserve to dwell with the gods in the afterlife [pp. 300-01]. According to the
31st degree, the hope of eternal life is to live a "most virtuous" life while
on the earth [p. 301]. The 31st degree also endorses the belief that one's
eternal destiny is determined by weighing one's good works and bad deeds to
determine whether one is worthy to go to heaven [p. 302].
Response: The belief that one can do something to make
oneself acceptable to God is a belief common to many false religions. Human
nature leads people to believe that there is something they can do to earn
eternal life. The Bible, however, informs us that this belief is wrong. The
Bible warns us that there is nothing that we can do to make ourselves
acceptable to God. Salvation is obtained on God's terms, not by what may appear
right to humans.
The Bible informs us that salvation is the result of the grace of God and
that this grace comes to us when we personally place our faith in the Lord
Jesus Christ. The Bible also warns us that the grace of God is incompatible
with any type of works salvation (see Rom. 3:27; 4:4; 11:6; Gal. 2:21; 5:4;
Eph. 2:8; Titus 3:5).
The teaching that salvation is the result of good works (which is found in
BTL) is highly objectionable to Christians. It is objectionable because it
contradicts the teaching of Scripture. It also gives people the false hope that
through their good actions they may be found acceptable in the eyes of God.
This teaching of Scottish Rite Freemasonry is incompatible with the Bible
because it does not point to faith in Christ as the only hope of salvation (see
The conclusion of this study is that many of the religious teachings
presented in A Bridge to Light are incompatible with biblical
Bill Gordon, Apologetics Evangelism