Where God's Work Is Succeeding
Pastor Stoney Shaw
After graduating from seminary, I spent two years as an associate
pastor and eight years as a Baptist campus pastor, before moving to my pastorate at a
Southern Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri. My life there was like a ten year
honeymoon. We completed a $4 million building program ($3.4 million paid), while
consistently giving 21 percent to the cooperative program of the Southern Baptist
Convention, Association ministries, and state mission offerings.
Although my leadership style is redemptive in nature, I was also a
strong leader in other ways, and those who ministered under me were truly innovative. We
had precept Bible studies, AWANA for children, discipleship and outreach ministries. We
went to the foreign fields, the inner city, mission trips, and had a prison ministry
second to none.
Trouble began when I brought in a number of growth ministries, such as
Life Action Crusades, Exchanged Life Conference (Dr. Charles Solomon), Resolving Personal
and Spiritual Conflict Seminars (Dr. Neil Anderson), Institute in Basic Life Principles
(Bill Gothard), Major Ian Thomas, Precept Training, and many others. There were some who
did not like all of this and resented our building being used by so many different people,
like men's Bible Study Fellowship.
Another element in our church was opposed to the church's historical
stand on divorce, remarriage, and the holding of leadership positions in the church. The
church, as well as I, interpreted the Scriptures to mean that a divorced man could not be
a deacon or in a called staff position. This definitely caused a "spirit of
contention" in our fellowship.
At this time my wife and I had some financial difficulties that
ultimately led us to confess before the church that we had financially overextended
ourselves. We sought their forgiveness. It turned out to be a beautiful, redemptive
experience. Ninety-five percent of the members showed their compassion, love and
forgiveness. Although the church ministered God's grace toward us in our time of
need, there were some who would not forgive, causing again, a "spirit of
contention." Among those who would not drop their burden of bitterness, each
contention was heaped upon another.
Freemasonry served as the last and greatest issue of contention. The
element within the church that was in continual opposition to all our righteous standards
and spiritual growth programs also supported Freemasonry. Therefore, the issue of
Freemasonry provided the catalyst for bringing my ministry to a close and ruining a fine
It began when one of our godly Sunday School teachers challenged his
class to sever themselves from any of their past dealings with the occult, cults, or false
religions. On the list he handed out were many things that Christians should not be
affiliated with, including Freemasonry. Some of the older members of the class were
Masons, and took offense. Some verbally attacked the teacher. The teacher then began a
self-study of Freemasonry. What he discovered troubled him greatly. He wrote a letter
challenging the deacons to study the subject and make a decision whether or not Masons
should serve in positions of spiritual leadership in the church.
I had just returned from the June 1992 Southern Baptist Convention in
Indianapolis, where Freemasonry had become an issue at our convention. I shared this with
our Board of Deacons, and the chairman asked me to educate them on the subject. At that
time I knew nothing about Freemasonry, nor what a Mason was, nor if there were Masons in
my church. As I began collecting resources, studying and investigating Freemasonry, I was
appalled! Then I thought, "This can't be true." No Christian would be involved
with secret pagan rituals that would condone praying around an altar saying that all
people, regardless of their religion, could hold hands and pray to the God of a thousand
names, the great architect of the universe!
After an in-depth study consisting of reading books, listening to audio tapes,
interviewing former Masons, and viewing video tapes of their rituals acted out by former
Masons who had seen the clear Light of Jesus Christ as the true LIGHT of the world, I came
to realize that Freemasonry was truly a false religion!
After several months of study, the deacons dealt with the issue of Freemasonry by
voting 24-1 that it was incompatible with Christianity. The dissenting vote was a
middle-aged man who had gone through the York Rite and did not believe there was any
conflict between Masonry and Christianity. (The York Rite is Templar Freemasonry with 13
degrees, as opposed to Scottish Rite Freemasonry with 32 degrees.)
This York Rite Mason, instead of being open and truthful with his fellow deacons,
neither denied nor confirmed what we discovered. He preferred to keep deep, dark secrets
of things to which he had made "death oaths," even before he knew to what he was
committing. This amazed me!
Strong Masonic Opposition
Ultimately he became a strong opponent of my ministry, and opposed me as pastor. By his
side was a Mason who had gone through the thirty-two Scottish Rite degrees. Together these
two men gathered around them many of their friends, and the antagonism escalated to a
higher level. Letters began to come in challenging what the deacons had done. They were
asking questions whether or not the church should be involved in issues such as
Freemasonry. Antagonism turned to ridicule. We were asked if we were going to start
investigating all groups, such as the Boy Scouts, the Democratic Party, and many other
organizations. I patiently answered each letter and challenged the people to study the
material on Freemasonry and learn for themselves what it was all about.
Meanwhile, the deacons worked up a resolution that said a "Mason could not be a
deacon or a called staff member." The resolution was presented to the church for a
vote. Six months after the issue had first come up, a special business meeting was called.
I was confident when I entered the sanctuary, because I believed we had done a superb job
of educating members.
A failure of nerves
Was I in for a surprise! The chairman of the deacons, as well as some
other deacons, had a "failure of nerves." They had studied Freemasonry as much
as I. They were resolved that it was occultic, therefore not compatible with Christianity.
But, they worried what their resolution would do to the church. Consequently, I was
"set up" by the chairman of the deacons, who opened the meeting by saying,
"Pastor, you're going to have to be the 'point man,'because you know more about this
than we do." At first I thought this was a compliment. Later I realized that he and
many other deacons were not intending to give a defense for their resolution. They wanted
me to carry the fight alone!
Of course, this worked against me as it appeared that I the pastor was
against "godly Masons." Only two deacons out of twenty-eight stood with me and
gave a defense during the debate. I was forced to stand again and again against the
Masons. I just could not let what some of them said go unchallenged. Once, while trying to
respond, I was literally shouted down by the Masonic element.
I was deeply hurt. To be shouted down in my own church after having
faithfully lead and protected this flock for twelve years was almost more than I could
bear. However, God was gracious and He sustained me throughout the evening. I praise Him
for some of the good laymen and laywomen who stood and made a defense against the Masons.
Finally, the vote was taken - 150 - 58 that Freemasonry was
incompatible with Christianity. Had the hour not been so late, many younger couples would
have stayed. I believe their vote would have caused a 4-1 ratio instead of the 3- 1.
Although it appeared we had won, I was amazed that so many good
Christians voted against the resolution. How could they not see that the pagan foundation,
questionable history, dark secrets, and the terrible death oaths of Masonry were wrong?
How could they vote against a Godly pastor? How could they vote against our
spiritual leadership? How could they vote against a resolution that would protect the
Church of the Living God from the fiery darts of the wicked?
I had endeavored to keep the discussion a "truth issue" and
not a "personality issue." The Masons and their friends, however, had carefully
made it a personal issue between them and the pastor. And they had succeeded! The deacons
failed the congregation by not giving spiritual leadership before the very body they had
committed to protect and serve. They also harmed themselves by not publicly standing with
their pastor on such a vital issue.
The next few weeks were difficult for me as I thought through all that
had happened to my family, my church, and to me. My mind reflected on all the attacks that
had come my way because of this whole ordeal. One event that hurt me the most occurred
when one of our senior adults, who had been a very good friend over the years, personally
attacked and threatened me while I was teaching a Sunday School class on the dangers and
ungodly nature of Freemasonry. Oh, that we would defend Christianity as fervently.
There were others. One lady, to whom my staff, my wife and I had
ministered quite extensively, accosted me after a church service with these words,
"Once you were a giant in my eyes! Now you are a pygmy." The letters, phone
calls, pointed visits, and conversations became a daily affair!
Then the looks, the whispers, the innuendoes, avoidances, and lack of
love and fellowship began to increase. As gossip flowed like a river, everyone appeared to
be joining "camps." Although the Masons had lost the vote, they persistently
spread discord among the brethren, and relentlessly attacked me and all who supported me.
Then my ideas began to be attacked, especially at business meetings.
Anything my opponents could dig up from the past would be thrown up at me in a variety of
ways. Opposition rose to such a level that nothing was happening in the church for the
glory of God. Although the majority in the church supported me, I was not permitted to
exert the strong leadership needed to deal with the disruptive element. Nor would the
deacons take the leadership required to deal with the situation. So, all we had was
Because I had put twelve years of my life, time, energies, and money
into that church, I struggled to keep the church from disintegrating. I constantly
challenged our people not to let anything get between us except Jesus - and to let Jesus
be Jesus in all of our relationships. But the rebellious nature of Freemasonry rode
roughshod over those godly principles and ultimately caused deep conflict in the church.
It became open season on the pastor.
At this point I knew I must resign and move on, or my family and I
would be emotionally destroyed. The Spirit's leading was not to split the church since the
church had voted against Freemasonry. On February 26, 1992, I resigned. Two months later I
started a new kind of church, one built on the cell church model.
As I look back on those tumultuous days, I have come to realize that
Satan will use any means to destroy God's church and His people.
Several Mason's names have been resubmitted to be deacon candidates. A
32nd degree Mason is now chairman of the personnel committee that oversees a ministry
staff. Two pastors have already turned down the pastoral search committee. As a result,
there has been some soul searching by some of the membership. For example, to make the
church more attractive to a potential pastor, they tried to change the bylaws to give more
spiritual authority to the pastor. But spiritual anarchy continues unchecked, since the
Masonic element overruled.
They have no desire to be under the spiritual authority of anyone,
especially a Godly pastor!
The evil agenda of Freemasonry, and the selfish agenda of those who
permitted it to happen, ruined a good church. To this date Masons still churn dissension
in the fellowship. Consequently, the church continues to decline in membership as
deception and delusion reign. It is amazing to see good men and women just holding on
while the self-centered, rebellious spirit of Masonry tightens its grip on the church.
What I have learned through all of this
Truth Matters. Without the truth of God's Word over every matter
in life, we will be deceived! I believe the weakness in the church today is that people do
not accept truth. We have multitudes as "hearers" of the Word, not
"doers" of the Word. If we are not "doers," we deceive ourselves. This
leads to "double mindedness." A double-minded man cannot know the things of God;
thus, he is left to the ways of the world, the flesh, and the devil. This is "Ever
coming to knowledge, but never coming to the truth! " Without truth we will be
deceived. What else can explain Freemasonry's dominant hold on the church today?
We must stand for the truth no matter what! Today we have too
many hireling pastors who are afraid of the consequences. We also have too many defeated
pastors with the Elijah syndrome. "Woe is me; I am the only one left in all of Israel
who loves the Lord." But that is not true! God always has His faithful remnant! Since
leaving that church, God has seen fit to give me a church with an international ministry.
I have found a remnant of Godly people willing to stand for truth. Today I have
more joy teaching, preaching, and leading this small, but enlightened God-fearing,
Bible-obeying, flock of God than I would have in a large "deceived flock" with a
self-centered, rebellious spirit. Yes, the large flock brought more denominational
recognition and fanfare, but the small faithful remnant brings deep satisfaction, close
fellowship, authentic caring with agape love, and a hunger to know God's Word, and obey it
no matter what!
We did not go far enough. I personally believe that if
Masons refuse to reject Masonry, they should not be allowed to be church members. Jesus
never intended for his church to be divided. A Mason has a divided heart! Would we allow a
Mormon to join our church and still practice Mormonism? Of course not! Jesus permits no
rival. Masonry offers a rival relationship. Jesus confronted this kind of confusion in
"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one,
and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot
serve God and mammon."
I believe church-attending Masons should reject and demit from the
lodge, or they should be disciplined according to Matthew 18. God told the children of
Israel to take the land and clean out the evil inhabitants. They did not, and today we are
still dealing with the problem they refused to confront!
Until Freemasonry is cleaned out of our churches, the spirit of
rebellion and witchcraft will infect and disease the body of Christ. The Church will
struggle with division and doublemindedness. Instead of building upon the foundation of
Christ, the Church will build with "wood, hay and stubble." These works will be
burned up in the end time!
As a pastor I thought we were doing so many wonderful things. AWANA,
Precepts, Prison Ministry, internal programs were all attracting people from other
churches. But, we were seeing few come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Of course,
this pleased Freemasonry. So long as we kept busy doing all these good "things,"
Freemasonry never rebelled. But, when we brought in Bill Gothard, Exchanged Life Concepts,
Freedom in Christ Ministries, and Life Action Crusades, Freemasonry grumbled and griped
about these life-changing ministries. Freemasonry is all for good programs, but not for
anything that will cause people to commit their lives to Christ. This is the rebellious
spirit of Masonry.
My advice to pastors who wish to set the
Body of Christ apart from Freemasonry
Prepare yourself and your staff. At first I did not know what Masonry was, nor
who in my church were Masons. So, I prepared myself. I accumulated the resources, then
studied to show myself approved, a workman not to be ashamed. I did research into the
primary documents and writings of the lodge. I personally interviewed and debated Masons
and counseled with former Masons and other experts in the field. I made long distance
phone calls, watched hours of video and counseled with cult experts.
Educate your leadership. I educated the deacon body for two months. Out of
twenty-eight deacons, one was a Mason. He was the lone dissenting vote. We did not go on a
witch hunt in the church looking for Masons, because we wanted it to be a truth issue, not
a personality issue.
Challenge your spiritual leadership to take a stand. The deacon body took a
Saturday afternoon and evening, and through gut-wrenching debate, came up with a
resolution to take to the church that a man could not be a Mason and be a deacon, pastor,
or staff member. Be sure your leadership is ready to take the lead in this battle. It is a
proven fact that staff members can only take so many skirmishes before they are shot
between the eyes. Therefore, prepare them emotionally and spiritually for the onslaught.
Warn them of the retaliation of Masons. Some may be threatened with the exposure of secret
sins. Others may be threatened with losing their secular jobs. Freemasonry is
all-encompassing in almost every community in America. Make sure your deacons fully
understand that this is a spiritual battle between God and Satan, and that God is already
Educate the church body. After educating the deacons, the deacons themselves
asked me to educate the church. I accomplished this through printed materials, audio
cassettes, videos, personal teaching, and casual conversation. This must be done with
complete thoroughness. Do not leave this task to someone else. I personally believe that
the pastor should stay on top of this all the way. Do not assume that once you teach them
that there will be understanding and acceptance. Keep taking them back to Scripture.
The only thing I did not do, and would change if I had it to do over again - I would
have had the deacons invite all Masons in the congregation to come together with the staff
and deacons to discuss the issue privately before bringing it to the church body. This
will prepare you in advance for all their objections.
Set a time for open discussion and a vote. Our discussion and vote was on a
Sunday night. If I had it to do over again, I probably would do it on a Sunday Morning,
when most of the congregation is present. When we are dealing with sin, we should take it
seriously! Be sure you have lay leadership ready to respond and stand united with you.
Don't be afraid to use the pulpit. You are the shepherd. It is your God-given
duty to protect the sheep. Don't be a fearful shepherd and run when the Masonic wolves
circle the fold, else the sheep will scatter. During this period I preached out of
Colossians and other important passages trying to lay a foundation of how to handle truth
vs. the lies of Satanic darkness and deception. Take opportunities to frequent Sunday
School classes. Go out to lunch with people who have questions and who desire to discuss
the issue. Caution! Never go to lunch, or have a private meeting without a knowledgeable
and qualified supporter with you as a witness to the conversation.
A video tape of Stoney speaking on The
Importance of Defending the Gospel is available. It was taped at
the 1997 Ministry to Masons Conference.
Stoney may be contacted via email.
Copyright 1997. This testimony is used with permission. It is from the 1998 reprint of The
Character, Claims and Practical Workings of Freemasonry, by Charles G. Finney. It
was originally published in 1869. The book is available from JKI Publishing at
(800) 333-5344. A descriptive flyer and order form is
available in PDF format.