A Lutheran Approach to Ritual Part 4: Scripture in Light of Scripture

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Scott S. Dueball

Part 1  -  Part 2  -  Part 3

Up to this point, I have introduced and expanded on two different ways to vary your approach to ritual and text. The next approach deals with the “big picture.” The Lutheran concept of ‘Scripture in Light of Scripture’ encourages the reader to examine the text as a whole to identify its entire value. In the Masonic context this means that the reader recognize that Craft Masonry is not a single homogeneous work but rather a series of lectures and allegories written and edited by multiple pens. As such, there may be tensions that exist between different parts of Masonic Philosophy.

This approach discourages us from being too myopic in our reading of the ritual. In doing this, we select the pieces of the philosophy that best fit our own comforts. This discredits the larger message of who we are meant to be as Masons. The ritual is meant to change us and make us better not comfort us. You have likely seen the focus on details over themes manifest as knowing the symbols and lectures of our degrees but distancing oneself from the more general message and application of the ritual.

There are a number of examples of this mistake. Our commitment to charity is one such example.When charity is challenged the first response is “...but Faith, Hope and Charity.” One single line of ritual governs nearly all of the Masonic activity in some of today’s lodges and organizations. If you study the larger themes and contexts of the ritual you will find that Charity is really Love. With this in mind, the act of passing an Almoners jar, buying a spaghetti dinner ticket, or participating in a raffle to win something is absolutely passive. It may be laudable but it falls well short of fulfilling our duty to “charity” inculcated by the ritual. In this example, we have zoomed in too closely resulting in ignorance toward the greater lessons in our teaching. We ought to be more apt, as William Preston put it, “[to] soothe calamity, alleviate misfortune, compassionated misery, and restore peace to the troubled mind.”

A few, infinitely more relevant examples are the exclusion of Brethren based on their sexuality, the prohibition of liquor in our lodge buildings (in Illinois at least), and promulgation of the progressive line. Here are applications of personal morals which have clouded our ability to see the larger messages of Brotherly Love, Equality, and Liberty which have been the pinnacle teachings of our order in all times.
The application of ‘Scripture in Light of Scripture’ is to observe the ritual both on a micro and macro level. We cannot get so dialed in to a point that we ignore the major themes. Further, if an idea is in conflict with a major theme, we should be able to consider whether the major theme should take precedence. But we will discuss that in more detail in the final installment of this series.


WB Scott S. Dueball is the Worshipful Master of D.C. Cregier Lodge No. 81 in Wheeling, IL and holds a dual membership in Denver Lodge No. 5 in Denver, CO. He currently serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois as the State Education Officer. Scott is also a member of the Palatine York Rite bodies and the Valley of Chicago A.A.S.R.-N.M.J. He is passionate about the development of young masons, strategy and visioning for Lodges. He can be reached at SEO@ilmason.org

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