“We should present sound arguments, that will not only silence our opponents, but will bear the closest and most searching scrutiny...” – Counsels to Writers and Editors, pg. 40
I remember being mesmerized by the lecturer (who will otherwise be left unnamed), initially overwhelmed with the amount of knowledge he had. The presentations were quite well made and researched. Slide after slide of information came through, impressing the audience. I also remember leaving the lectures convinced on their validity. This was info the Church needs to get out there! I remember myself thinking.
Looking back at all that it now seems a bit silly. Let’s take a look at the more common conspiracy theories floating out there among the faithful:
Jesuits are real and they seek to undermine Protestantism at every chance. Jesuitism has had its best success when mainstream Protestantism bought its eschatological proposals in Preterism and Futurism, the latter being the more popular and the former interpretation forwarded by critics of Historicism like Desmond Ford (George W. Reid, The ABC’s of Desmond Ford’s Theology ). It might be tempting to attribute every doctrinal aberration within our midst to Jesuits, but the truth is, it is more likely a result of unscrupulous concessions to and compromises with mainstream Evangelicalism by well-meaning but misled individuals.
There are good reasons not to look for Jesuit infiltration behind every bush. Here are a few:
- There is little benefit for us to send Adventist agents masquerading as Catholics into their parishes. This isn’t an effective way to change their doctrines. Would it make sense the other way around? Especially since the Adventist Church is a bottom-up organization, and not top-down, like the Catholic hierarchical system. It would make sense that the Jesuits would focus more on the ecumenical route to conquering Protestantism than wasting resources on a game of ecclesiastical espionage rivaling the intrigue of the Cold War.
- It arouses suspicion among church members and creates unnecessary rifts among and between laymen and leadership. Yes, leaders (as well as laymen) can and often do make errors that include espousing unbiblical ideas and concepts warned against by Sister White. But this doesn’t mean they are Jesuit plants. The Pantheism heresy in Adventism at the turn of the 20th century was a serious theological epidemic and yet none of the Pioneers around at the time that confronted it, including Sister White, didn’t see the need to attribute it to “Jesuits.”
- What happened to the old “let truth stand” method of defending truth? How have we succumbed to teaching speculative theories instead of teaching what we know for sure is solid Biblical truth? It's thrilling to speculate who among us may be an “enemy agent,” but it serves as a distraction and a waste of time. Even if there is infiltration going on, the operatives will never admit their true identities and the Jesuit order will likely disavow anyone caught. It’ll always remain a mystery. Focus on Biblical truths.
Like the Jesuits, Freemasons have been speculated to be in control behind-the-scenes, manipulating governments like pawns on a chessboard. The evidence for this, as given by certain individuals is that the vast majority of world leaders have been or are involved in Freemasonry. Much if this is true, many powerful figures, past and present have been and are Freemasons. The Freemasons were mentioned as an evil organization by Sister White in her interaction with N. D. Faulkhead, a convert to the Adventist faith who was “... Master of the Master Masonic Lodge; second, ...was first Principal of the Holy Royal of Canada; third, …was Preceptor of the Knight Templars, besides many other minor lodges (five in all), Good Templars, Rechabites, Odd Fellows, etc.” (White, Arthur L., Mr. Faulkhead and the Secret Sign, pg. 1)
It is interesting that in all of Sister White’s counsel on avoiding Secret Societies she fails to mention their involvement as the almost the sole proprietor in steering history, as implied by various conspiracy theorists, convinced as they are of the permeation of masonry in today’s society. Brother Faulkhead, after leaving freemasonry, was mostly mum. If the Masons were involved in planning world events, you would think he would at least warn the brethren.
It is likely true that Freemasons would engage in rituals and ceremonies that true Christians cannot take part in, but it might be an overreach to blame all the world’s woes on them. The intricate planning of world events, as attributed to them by certain lecturers, suggests an elaborate design spanning centuries, manipulating the rise and fall of leaders and nations. Even if secretive groups do attempt to direct world affairs, the Bible paints a different picture than what conspiracies theorists would have us believe, “[God] removeth kings, and setteth up kings” (Daniel 2:21, KJV).
I love history, and by no surprise it became my academic major. It was this training that motivated me to scrutinize the aforementioned lecturer’s key presentations and method of determining the information being presented. I wanted to apply the Berean method and make sure it was rock solid before I shared it to others myself. Most of it passed muster; the lectures exposing occultism and idolatry were the most powerful, but when it came to conspiracy theories, which by nature are unfalsifiable, the case fell apart.
I don’t have enough room here to detail all of the problems and inconsistencies that began to become apparent, but I hope what I list will be enough to further your own study and for you to make your own judgment on the matter.
Reasons to Reconsider the Freemasonry Conspiracy Theory
1. French writer and provocateur Marie Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pagès (1854-1907), known by the pen name “Leo Taxil,” wrote several documents purporting to be an exposé of Freemasonry. His writings incited a flurry of anti-masonry sentiments among Catholics, which he later admitted was a hoax:
“…when I first commenced to write against the Masons my object was amusement pure and simple. The crimes I laid at their door were so grotesque, so impossible, so widely exaggerated, I thought everybody would see the joke and give me credit for originating a new line of humor. But my readers wouldn't have it so; they accepted my fables as gospel truth...” – Leo Taxil, quoted in National Magazine, an Illustrated American Monthly, Volume XXIV: April - September, 1906, pg 228.
2. One of the major sources used as evidence for the controlling power of the Freemasons in world events is a letter, allegedly written by Albert Pike, a former Confederate General and high ranking Freemason. Supposedly written to a Giuseppe Mazzini in 1871, it predicted three major World Wars and that they were the product of design. It is implied that knowledge of these events from the future prove Masonry had a hand in the instigation of these conflicts. The letter is thought to have said,
“The First World War must be brought about in order to permit the Illuminati to overthrow the power of the Czars in Russia and of making that country a fortress of atheistic Communism… The Second World War must be fomented by taking advantage of the differences between the Fascists and the political Zionists… The Third World War must be fomented by taking advantage of the differences caused by the ‘agentur’ of the ‘Illuminati’ between the political Zionists and the leaders of Islamic World.”
However, this is a modern paraphrase by conspiracy theorist Michael Haupt in 2003 of a book written in 1955 by former Canadian military officer William Guy Carr, who, himself was an avid conspiracy theorist. Carr supposedly sourced the letter from a Cardinal Rodriguez, who in turn took from the work of none other than Leo Taxil, the hoaxer. But you won’t find mention of “three world wars” in the original. William Carr added that concept in his book Pawns in the Game. (see “Albert Pike to Mazzini, August 15, 1871: Three World Wars?”) That would explain the uncanny ability to “forecast” the first, second and even detail the outline for a third world war. Carr would know the first two world wars with hindsight, and (to him) the third was formulating right before his eyes with the new Israeli state fighting her Arab neighbors.
3. Years ago I checked one of the sources used by our famed lecturer on the Masonic origins of Mormonism. I had to pause the video to make sure I got the link, so small it was on the slide. I was brought to a website (of which the reference will be omitted, but those determined to search will find it) which “exposed” Mormonism as a Masonic cult; they included many images of masonic imagery and quotations from Mormon thinkers that contained masonic language. All was well until I clicked on a link on the same site which used the same methodology except against Seventh-day Adventists!
William Miller was a Mason, Ellen White has an obelisk on her grave, a lithograph conceived by James and Ellen White contained an all-seeing eye in the center of a tree, and numerous passages from the Spirit of Prophecy contained Masonic phrases like “all-seeing eye” (used at least 80 times with a search on www.ellenwhite.com) and “holy watcher” (used over 45 times). The website also detailed supposed masonic hand gestures in Pioneer pictures and masonic type designs in church journals and periodicals. It was worrisome that a respectable Adventist lecturer was using this website as a source! The strained connections were laughable, but then I had to ask the obvious question, isn’t this what we were doing to others?
It was then I realized that error isn’t determined by the number of triangles one can find in a church mural, or how hands are held in a photo (I was surprised by the number of incidental “Masonic” hand gestures my family members and I made in old family photos); no, error is determined in this way: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20, KJV). Even if Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other founders of Mormonism were Freemasons, we must judge Mormon doctrines using the Bible.
The authors of that anti-Masonic website were entrenched Sunday keepers, accusing Adventists of being a cult because of our views on the Sabbath, Investigative Judgment and the Spirit of Prophecy.
There are many more examples that can be included, however I want to leave this to the further study of those that wish to find out for themselves where their focus should lie. The Three Angels’ Messages is not defended by speculative theories. The Pillars of our Faith are not established by pointing out how many satanic symbols we can find in a company logo. We have a “thus saith the Lord” showing us what is Truth.
I humbly propose that all Present Truth seekers and teachers abandon speculative theories, and focus on the Biblical foundations of our beliefs. Conspiracy theories are entertaining, but in many cases they are no better than theatre shows and thriller novels.
“Walk firmly, decidedly, your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. You may be sure that pure and undefiled religion is not a sensational religion. God has not laid upon anyone the burden of encouraging an appetite for speculative doctrines and theories. My brethren, keep these things out of your teaching. Do not allow them to enter into your experience. Let not your lifework be marred by them.” – Counsels to the Church, pg. 325