An Occultic Pyramidologist?
This is an accusation that is not infrequently heard: Pastor Russell, by incorporating the measurements and lay out of the Great Pyramid in his teachings, was thereby guilty of occultic practices. Randall Watters asserts:
“Among the most obvious of Russell’s occult connections was
the use of the Great Pyramid in Egypt, which he used to predict
the future. [He] … used the measurements of the inner secret
passages, and turned ‘feet into years’ literally, in order to calculate
the return of Christ.”
The above charge is so distorted and out of touch with the facts that it suggests perhaps Mr. Watters is simply not acquainted with the beliefs of the Pastor. It is extremely difficult to understand how anyone familiar with the teachings of Pastor Russell on the subjects of the occult and the Great Pyramid could make such a statement. This will become evident as we now examine both of these issues in turn.
OPPOSED TO THE OCCULT.
In the first place, the Pastor always condemned the use of sorcery, divination, witchcraft and anything to do with the occult. He regularly admonished the Lord’s people to heed God’s warnings in Scripture against such practices
and never engaged in such himself. There are simply no “occult connections” in his teachings whatever, as such would be contrary to his own convictions and beliefs.
Clear examples of the Pastor’s strong opposition to the occult are not hard to find. In “A Vow Unto the Lord,” which he urged his followers to adopt, a prominent section reads:
“I vow to Thee that I will be on the alert to resist everything
akin to Spiritism and Occultism, and, remembering that there
are but the two masters, I shall resist these snares in all reasonable
ways as being of the Adversary.”
Then later in his ministry, the Pastor wrote specifically about the occult and again identified all such powers as emanating from the Adversary, and as evils that needed to be fought against:
“Through out this Gospel age, the … evil spirits, the …
fallen angels, have used, and do still use more or less of
occult power—psychic powers, mediumistic powers,
mesmeric powers, hypnotic powers—to mislead, to attract
away from the truth, to make error appear to be truth …
We believe that God does not use such hypnotic powers, but
as St. Paul declares, he has ‘spoken to us through his Son,’
and has given us his Scriptures, ‘that the man of God may be
thoroughly furnished unto every good work’—not needing any
occult powers. Hence we know of no good occult powers, but
are to rate them all as deceptions of the adversary, against
which God’s people are fighting.”
THE STONE WITNESS.
In view of this strong stand that Pastor Russell took against the occult, what are we to make of his teachings on the Great Pyramid? We believe these are clearly expressed in his writings and could hardly be misunderstood by anyone willing to take the time to read and evaluate them. The Pastor became convinced, through his careful study of the findings of other eminent investigators of the Pyramid, that it was indeed, as they had suggested, a store house of both scientific and spiritual truths.
It is a surprising fact that it has taken the advanced scientific knowledge of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to discover that many basic astronomical and geometric constants relating to the earth and the solar system were shown to be present in the design of the Pyramid’s construction. This means that for over four thousand years these advanced scientific truths have been “locked” into the dimensions and angles of the Pyramid, offering strong evidence for the belief that the Pyramid is beyond mere human origin and design. It would be difficult if not impossible to conceive of how such knowledge would have been available to the ancients and thus suggests to the reverent mind that, similar to the Tabernacle and Temple arrangements in ancient Israel, a God-given blue print was
Even more important to Pastor Russell was the discovery that the Great Pyramid was a store house of human history and Divine prophecy and fully corroborated God’s Plan of Salvation as revealed in the Bible. Robert Menzies of Scotland, in the late nineteenth century, was apparently the first to recognize this Truth. Consequently in 1890, the Pastor devoted an entire chapter in the Third Volume of his Scripture Studies series to this topic, and acclaimed the value of the testimony of the Great Pyramid in the following terms:
“We now find [it] to be a most full and complete corroboration of the plan of the ages and the times and seasons there with associated, as taught in the Scriptures …
It is by no means an addition to the written revelation: that revelation is complete and perfect, and needs no addition. But it is a strong corroborative witness to God’s plan; and few students can carefully examine it, marking the harmony of its testimony with that of the written Word, without feeling impressed that its construction was planned and directed by the same divine wisdom, and that it is the pillar of witness referred to by the prophet in [Isaiah 19:19,20].”
It is also remarkable to those who have studied the matter, that the construction symbols of the Pyramid—chambers, passageways and their placement—coincide in detail with the over all features of the Chart of the Ages produced by the Pastor to illustrate God’s
Plan. Further, the lengths of the various passage ways, measured in Pyramid inches (a unit found to be an integral part of the Pyramid design), were found to be exactly equivalent in years to the lengths of various ages and dispensations in the Bible chronology from man’s creation onward. Thus, an exact corroboration of the Bible teachings of the Plan of Salvation and its time features was seen in the symbolic testimony of the Great Pyramid.
Now we need to pause to make several observations regarding Pastor Russell’s use of the Pyramid as out lined above:
(a) Nothing whatever that he taught from the Pyramid had anything to do with the occult. All of his references to the Pyramid were gleaned from straightforward scientific investigation and analysis, from which a comparison to Scripture was then drawn. There was nothing secret, magical or occultic in the way this was done.
(b) The Pyramid was not used as an inspired source of chronological, prophetic or other Truth. The Pastor himself stated categorically, “We have never attempted to place the Great Pyramid, sometimes called the Bible in Stone, on a parallel or equality with the Word of God as represented by the Old and New Testament Scriptures—the latter stand pre-eminent always as the authority.” He consistently used the Pyramid only to substantiate beliefs which were already understood from a study of the Bible. And thus it was in a secondary role that he viewed the Pyramid as functioning as “a sign and a witness unto Jehovah,” as mentioned by Isaiah the prophet.
(c) Contrary to the opening assertion of Mr. Watters, the Great Pyramid definitely was not used to predict the date for the Second Coming of Christ or to foretell any other events. All of the dates that it set forth coincided directly with known events in the six thousand year Bible chronology or dovetailed completely with it. Thus there were no surprises or additional revelations to be found in its measurements as applicable to prophetic events—just the realization that it precisely corroborated the accuracy of the written revelation, the Bible.
Finally, we need to comment on yet another absurd charge in connection with the Pyramid. This was made by David Reed, who attempts to build a case on the alleged usage of questionable forms of pyramidology in the Pastor’s overall
ministry. First, he cites the fact that a seven-foot-tall stone pyramid was used in the Society’s Rosemont Cemetery near Pittsburgh to mark the location of burial plots for members of the Bethel staff, including Pastor Russell, and then writes:
“Why a pyramid? Because much of the Society’s teaching focused
on ‘The Testimony of God’s Stone Witness and Prophet, the Great
Pyramid in Egypt,’ title of Chapter Ten, Studies in the Scriptures,
Vol. III, 1890, p. 313.” [Then at a later date Reed stressed that this
same chapter had sixty-three pages of material, in which the Pastor
used “Egyptian pyramidology to foretell future events.”]
The first allegation seems like the old adage of “making a mountain out of a molehill.” If one were convinced that God had used the Pyramid in a remarkable way to symbolize His plan of the ages and had specifically identified it as such in His Word (the pillar of witness referred to in Isaiah 19:19,20), would it be improper or occultic to have a reminder of such erected as an identifying marker of a section of a grave yard? It should also be pointed out that on each face of this marker pyramid there was a large replica of an open Bible, with the obvious intent of depicting how the Pyramid reflected and confirmed its teachings.
In similar style, a stone pyramid with a cross and crown sculptured on its front face may be seen in the Preston Road Cemetery in Yeovil, England. It evidently marks the grave of a Bible Student and his wife, and clearly states its significance on the face to the left of its frontage: “This model of the Great Pyramid of Egypt in symbol illustrates the glorious purpose of God to shortly through Christ restore edenic blessings.” Thus it emphasizes that the Pyramid is viewed as God’s witness in stone reflecting the grand message of the Bible and has nothing what so ever to do with the occult.
As for Reed’s second assertion alleging widespread use of Pyramid teachings in the Pastor’s ministry, again it is entirely misleading. The sixty-four pages (inclusive) devoted to the Great Pyramid in Volume Three are but a small portion—2.1 per cent—of the
2,968 pages contained in all of the six volumes of Scripture Studies. A similar analysis of the subject matter in the Watch Tower Reprints from the years 1879 to 1916 shows that less than 0.3 per cent of its pages are devoted to the Pyramid. Over all, then, only about 1.1 percent of the Pastor’s writings (as reflected in these works) were concerned with the Pyramid. Surely this can hardly be construed as “much” or substantial.
This article is an excerpt from the book, PASTOR C. T. RUSSELL : MESSENGER OF MILLENIAL HOPE, Chapter 8, Current Charges of critics, copyright 2006 by Charles F. Redeker: You can download a pdf electronic copy of the book by clicking HERE: