A Personal Testimony

— Rev. William M. Pfautz, P.M.  
Huron Lodge #26, Huron, South Dakota  

Having been raised in the Presbyterian Church, it was logical that when discovering God’s call to me for the ministry I should pursue my education in a Presbyterian seminary. In due time in May of 1941, I was ordained as a minister of the Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church. Two months prior, in February 1941, I was raised as a Master Mason. From time to time, someone has asked me how could I, a Christian pastor, become, and remain, a member of the Freemasonry fraternity.
As a lad, I had wondered quite frequently about Freemasonry. Many of the men I admired and looked up to were Freemasons. My father, a Presbyterian pastor, had been a Freemason for many years. As I grew older, I wondered why he had not talked to me about Masonry. Finally, one day I asked him, and with a smile he said, “Bill, I have been waiting for you to ask about Masonry. You see, Masons have not been permitted to ask or invite a man to become a Mason. He must want to know about it, and if he wants to become a Mason, it must be ‘of his own free will and accord’.” He then proceeded to tell me something of what Masonry is all about. And in due time, at the age of 24, I became a Master Mason. I chose to do this because of my admiration of this dedicated Christian pastor, and the loyal Christian churchmen, all of whom were Masons, whose lives I had come to admire.
My own examination of the teachings of Freemasonry have found no incompatibility with my Christian beliefs. They are the same: loyalty to God through your faith congregation, religious liberty, equality, education for all, no taxation without representation, separation of church and state, tolerance and charity. These Christian beliefs are Masonic as well, and grow out of the twin convictions: the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man.
It is troubling to me that some Christians are critical of Freemasonry at this point. They hold to the exclusive belief that God is the Father only to those who have experienced Him exactly as they themselves, have done, and that the Brotherhood of Man consists only of those who believe exactly as they do. I believe these to be distortions of the true message of Scripture. Masonic membership has only one basic test—a belief in one God—the God of my faith and of yours. Nor does Masonry attempt to define God in any restrictive terms. Thus I can accept any man as my brother so long as he believes in the one God—no matter by what name he may call Him—no matter his color, national affiliation, culture nor custom. Masons take seriously the statement in Acts 17:26 that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” To have fraternal fellowship with men across all the dividing lines which humans try to place among us, the “Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God” is the Mason’s privilege.
It is further distressing to me that they accuse Freemasons of worshiping a different and strictly Masonic God. They name him Gaotu—evidence that Masons are in allegiance with the Devil. This is one of the greatest myths and distortions that anti-Masons have, and many cling to it with everything they have. They refuse to recognize that Masons honor the G.A.O.T.U. This simply stands for the “Great Architect Of The Universe”—a kindly recognition of His power in creating all that is in existence. If you examine Hebrews 11:9-10, the Apostle Paul said, “By faith (Abraham) stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
What an incredible image to see the founder and author of our Christian faith, the Lord our God, as the Great Architect of the Universe. The Universe was not a mistake—something that just happened randomly—no cosmic accident. G.A.O.T.U. is a term that we, as Masons, revere as being one of the many words we use to refer to God. Just as people call Him Jehovah, Yahweh, Lord, God, Father, etc., this is but another in a host of loving names that illustrate the Supremacy and Lordship of our Father God.
So, can a man be a Christian and a Freemason at the same time? I say a hearty “Yes!” Do the two traditions conflict? I say an emphatic “No!” Consider this counsel from George Oliver (1782-1867), in his volume The Book of the Lodge: “As you are a Christian Mason, you must on all occasions study to perform the duties of Christian morality, which are comprehended under the triple category of God, your neighbor and yourself.” In other words, as a Christian there must be a consistency of Christian expression in your life—not only in your faith congregation, but wherever you are. In the Lodge, every rite and ritual performed has its basis in scripture. In the degree work, the candidate is reminded of faithfulness, righteous living, morality, duty and honor. The Holy Bible—the same one you and I use in our churches—rests in the center of the Lodge with its pages open, and all meetings are opened and closed prayerfully, asking God’s guidance as we continue our faith walk. Far from being a separate “Masonic Religion,” as critics of Masonry like to accuse, Freemasonry stresses that a Mason be loyal and faithful in his own congregation, using the counsel of Masonic emphases to assist him in building on his commitment to God, “The Great Architect of the Universe.”
In summary, I, and all Freemasons, am encouraged to worship God and serve Him faithfully through my congregation, and become a better man through the aid of Masonic precepts and ideas.