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Satan Works Hardest
Where God's Work Is Succeeding

Pastor Stoney Shaw

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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 church.

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.

The Vote

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 spiritual anarchy!

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.

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The Aftermath

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.

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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 Matthew 6:24:

"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.

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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 the victor.

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.

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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.