Is belief in the Great Architect of the Universe (GAOTU) the same thing as belief in the God of the Bible?Question: "Is belief in the Great Architect of the Universe (GAOTU) the same thing as belief in the God of the Bible?"
Answer: This question—does believing in the Great Architect of the Universe equate to believing in the God of the Bible?—requires more than a simple YES or NO. In fact, the correct answer may be YES and NO!
The Great (or Grand) Architect of the Universe is clearly the Creator God. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The fact that the world is the result of an Intelligent Designer (a Grand Architect) should be a common starting point for all people (see Romans 1:18, 21).
The term Great Architect of the Universe is used by a number of groups but figures prominently in Masonic teaching. The problem is that those groups often use it because it is ambiguous. Many people—Christians, Jews, Muslims, Deists, and many Native American tribes—acknowledge a Creator, and, without a deeper look into their belief systems, it appears they all worship the same God. Speaking of a Great Architect of the Universe is essentially no more than an acknowledgment that God exists. According to the Bible, the acknowledgment of the Grand Architect of the Universe is the starting point, not the destination. One does not come to a fully biblical faith until one acknowledges that the Grand Architect has laws that we all have broken. We stand guilty before Him and deserve condemnation. But in His love the Grand Architect became incarnate in Jesus Christ, died on a cross to pay for our sins, rose again, and is coming again to gather His people to Himself. In the meantime, He has sent us His Spirit. The biblical Grand Architect of the Universe is a Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
While visiting Athens, Paul found an altar to an Unknown God. Paul did not split hairs over whether the God he served was the same or different as the Athenians’ unknown god. He simply stated that they needed to know more about that God and that he would tell them what they needed to know. Paul started with creation (Acts 17:24) and ended with the Jesus Christ, the resurrection, and final judgment (verse 31). At that point, the crowd would listen to him no longer.
Antony Flew was one of the leading, outspoken atheists of the 20th century. He stunned the world in 2004 by announcing that he had abandoned atheism and that he believed in a Creator. This was a start in the right direction. Flew’s change of mind was brought about by evidence he saw for design in the universe. However, for Flew it was also the end of his journey. He never came to faith in Christ, and he believed that when he died (as he did about 6 years later) that he would simply cease to exist. Although he acknowledged the Creator, he did not worship and honor Him as He desires. He admitted the existence of a Great Architect of the Universe, but he did not come to God by faith in Jesus Christ. “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him” (John 17:23). Many who acknowledge the Creator and would even claim to honor Him do not honor the Son and therefore do not truly honor God.
If a person is witnessing to someone steeped in Masonic teaching, he or she might use the term Grand Architect of the Universe as a point of contact to share more biblical truth, just as missionaries often use the local terms and ideas about God as starting points for sharing fuller biblical truth. (Missionary Don Richardson has written a book called Eternity in their Hearts about the value of this approach.) The God of the Bible is certainly the Grand Architect of the Universe, but that is not all that He is. The Grand Architect, the Creator, the Intelligent Designer is revealed in the first verse of the Bible. But Genesis 1:1 is only the beginning. The intended goal is found in the last book of the Bible—to be inscribed in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21:27).
Recommended Resource: The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge by Ankerberg & Weldon
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Questions about God
Is belief in the Great Architect of the Universe (GAOTU) the same thing as belief in the God of the Bible?