James Bell has been shepherding the Lord’s flock as the pastor of Southside Baptist Church in Gallatin, Tennessee for over forty years. Brother Bell prepared for the ministry by studying God’s word at Truett-McConnell College, Belmont University, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The following is his personal testimony about encountering Freemasonry:
In January of 1969, at the ripe age of 23, I left seminary to take my first full-time pastorate. My wife and I moved from Ft. Worth, Texas to Hartsville, Tennessee where I had been called to pastor First Baptist Church. Quite a few FBC members were active in the local Masonic Lodge, Harstville Lodge #113. Many of their wives were active in the Order of the Eastern Star. My wife and I were often invited to monthly potluck dinners at the Lodge, provided, of course, by the Eastern Star ladies. Once we had our fill, they would kindly invite us to leave. Prior to taking my pastorate and being invited to these potlucks, I had no knowledge of the Masonic Lodge. Quite frankly, I had neither interest in nor curiosity about Freemasonry. However, during my six year tenure at FBC three that would change. Three memorable events opened my eyes to the darkness and dangers of Freemasonry.
First, I received a used book from England entitled “Darkness Visible: A Revelation and Interpretation of Freemasonry” I was amazed as I gazed upon a photograph in the book of a candidate prepared for initiation into a Masonic Lodge. He was blindfolded with one pant leg up above the knee. I was stunned as I read the horrible vows that such candidates were expected to make. They were blood oaths. “How could Christians make such vows!?” I exclaimed. Disturbed by what I had seen and read, I took the book to a respected FBC Church member who was a Mason. He looked and listened as I turned to the pages which I had marked. Then, without hesitation, he proclaimed that he knew nothing of such vows and practices…that maybe they did such in England; but definitely not in Hartsville, Tennessee! He stood there, looked his own pastor in the face, and lied. Since that time, I have found dishonesty to be a common practice among Masons. When confronted about the disturbing nature of their craft, Masons lie. When confronted with inside information from former Masons who gave up the craft out of Christian conviction, Masons will accuse the former Masons of being dishonest.
The second event was the first Masonic funeral I attended. I discovered that when a Mason died the Lodge members would show up at the funeral services wearing their white aprons and expect to have the last word at the grave site. As a pastor, this was normally my role. Over time, I noticed that regardless of what a Mason had professed as to Jesus Christ and regardless of how he had lived, his Masonic brothers proclaimed that he was going to have a grand eternity simply because he was a Mason. Needless, to say, this was deeply troubling. I had no ability to stop their proceedings. However, I told families and funeral directors that if I was expected to preach the funeral then the Masonic rituals would have to be done before I concluded at the grave site; I insisted that the Bible have the last word.
A third, heart-breaking, event solidified my stance against Freemasonry. Brother Nat McKinney, pastor at the Riddleton Baptist Church, in Smith County, Tennessee, asked me to preach a “Revival Meeting“… which I did. Before the evening’s services, we visited in several homes. One of those visits was to the home of an 85 year old gentleman who had never professed faith in Christ. He graciously received us into his old, but substantial, house and proceeded to make us feel most welcome. In fairly short order, he gave me permission to share the gospel of Christ with him. He seemed to listen carefully. However, when I asked what his response to what he had heard was, he did not hesitate to reply, “Young man, I believe in God but I am a Mason. I do not need Jesus!” I remember appealing to him; but he was steadfast— Being a Mason was enough to secure his eternity in heaven… he did not need Jesus. That settled it. From that day forward, I have gathered materials, usually written by former Masons, and I have used such materials to help others leave the darkness of the Masonic Lodge. In spite of all Masonic denials, Freemasonry is a false religion which every Christian should flee.
Brother Bell’s testimony is sobering one; it is one which pastors and church members should take to heart. Brother Bell has provided the following resources to those who wish to learn more about the dark nature of Freemasonry.
A Frank Exposure of Masonry – Reprinted from THE BAPTIST EXAMINER, Ashland, Kentucky
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.