What is freemasonry? Is it a religion or is it a fraternity? What are their beliefs? Can a christian be a freemason? Or are they anti-christ?
The definition of freemasonry is complicated. It is a fraternal order with very strong religious overtones. The essence of the group is that it is a service organization. The origins of freemasonry is obscure. They appear to have started as an organization of workers in stone, as the name implies, but they evolved by the eighteenth century into a pseudo-religious organization. The freemasons have an underlying deistic philosophy. I am not sufficiently expert in this group to make sweeping and reliable statements, but from what I have seen, both by knowing freemasons and by reading about them, it is hard to see how a Christian could be a freemason. To do so would require that he downplay significantly the religious overtones of their oaths and ceremonies. Their signs, grips, symbols and ceremonies are not Christian (although Joseph Smith adopted them to his temple worship in Mormonism). The organization itself is clear that freemasonry is not a religion, nor a substitute for religion. So, I would say that it would be inadvisable but not absolutely forbidden for a Christian to be a freemason. It is not that a Christian cannot join fraternal organizations. The Lion’s club or the Elks, for example, bring up no significant problems for a Christian, but the freemasons, with their gnostic-like philosophy and ceremony is a grey area at best, and I would suggest a Christian to find a different fraternal organization.
Are they the anti-Christ? I do not believe that any particular prophecy about the anti-Christ is a specific prophecy about the freemasons. In that sense, I would say that the head of the freemasons is not the antichrist. However, if we apply 1 John 2:22-23 as our definition, perhaps we could make a connection. “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist–he denies the Father and the Son.” I am not sure that a member of the freemasons is, necessarily required to deny the Christ. Many who formally believe that Jesus is the Son of God are in this organization, so it seems a bit over the top to label them as the anti-Christ, but their theology is sufficiently nebulous that some might describe them in this way.
The biggest reason masons have been rejected by many Christians is their high level of secrecy. Members promise, under oath, to never divulge the handshakes and other symbols. In the past, they swore, on penalty of grave physical harm, to not reveal the secrets. The bloody nature of the promises have been toned down more recently. Probably there has been an overreaction to this group by some. I believe that if this group was simply more open about what happens in their ceremonies, they would be less of a cause of concern for believers. Nevertheless, I still would not advise a Christian to join.