An in depth examination of THE PYRAMID nonsense of C.T.Russell

by Terry 25 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Terry

    Elegantly stated, Farkel!

    What is so enduring about Pyramidology is how titillating it is to new audiences.

    The late great TV pastor Gene Scott was highly successful in resurrecting Pyramid-mania among his tv constituency.

    Watching Scott was among the most entertaining JW substitutes I can recall in the late 80's and 90's.

    You just imagine how in Pastor Russell's time unsophisticated people of a "spiritual" nature ate this bunk up with their cornflakes.

    Here is something I find interesting which puts the cork in the bottle.


    A number of Christian religious leaders accepted the Taylor-Smyth theory and made it an article of faith. Numerous Englishmen took it up, and in France the abbé F. Moigno, the cannon of St. Denis at Paris, became its foremost advocate.(15) It was in America, however, that it obtained its greatest support. There, a book first published in 1877 by Joseph Seiss entitled Miracle in Stone became popular and because of such popularity "ran through fourteen editions."(16) Although many persons of many religious backgrounds came to subscribe to pyramidology, in the United States it received its primary acceptance among the heirs of the Millerites or the followers of William Miller who had expected Christ to return in 1843 and then in 1844.

    Piazzi's Smyth's ideas concerning the Great Pyramid were no doubt already known in American earlier, but in June 1876 he published an article in the Bible Examiner, a journal owned by George Storrs of Brooklyn, New York. Thus Smyth made known the "Glory of the Great Pyramid" to the American Second Advent community. The Bible Examiner served as an outlet for a great variety of persons both important and unimportant in the English-speaking, nonconformist world.

    It is not surprising, then, that a few years later George Storrs published a series of major articles on the Great Pyramid and its prophetic significance in the Herald of Life and the Coming Kingdom,(17) the official organ of a small Adventist movement, the Life and advent Union which Storrs had helped to found. Quite evidently the Union was influenced directly by Smyth's Bible Examiner article and by Joseph Seiss's study as well.(18) Significant is the fact that pyramidology was taken up by the leader of what was to become a fairly large, better-known religious group-Charles Taze Russell, the first president of what is now the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society and the founder of the International Bible Students and their spiritual descendants, Jehovah's Witnesses.

    Although Russell never regarded himself as a Second Adventist, many of the persons who influenced him in a major way were. According to his own admission, Storrs and an Advent Christian preacher, George Stetson, had the greatest influence on him.(19) And in 1876 he adopted a whole system of prophetic speculation regarding the parousia of Christ and the approaching end of the world from Dr. Nelson Barbour, another Second Adventist who had-like Storrs and Stetson-been involved with William Miller.(20) So while he rejected the name, in fact Russell was basically an Adventist in the Second Adventist tradition.

    It is quite probable that Russell came to accept pyramidology because of the influence on him of such men as Dr. Joseph Seiss and George Storrs. Following their lead, he announced that God had placed the great Pyramid as a sign in Egypt on page 3 of the September, 1883 issue of Zion's Watch Tower. Yet he did not stress the importance of pyramidology until 1897 when he published Volume iii of his famous Studies in the Scriptures entitled Thy Kingdom Come.

    With a full chapter devoted to the Great Pyramid in Thy Kingdom Come, Russell, went beyond Taylor, Smyth, Seiss, Storrs and others. What he did was to give a major historical-eschatological interpretation of the structure of the pyramid which he related to Barbour's system of biblical chronology and prophetic speculation.(21) Accordingly, he came to teach that the Great Pyramid was the "divine plan of the ages in stone." Interestingly, he submitted his ideas to Smyth for examination and received the latter's approval for them.(22)

    John and Morton Edgar, two Scottish brothers, became faithful members of Russell's Bible Students and pursued pyramidology with a passion. John, a professor of gynecology at Glasgow, published a number of works on the Great Pyramid until his death in 1912. Morton, who had collaborated with him, continued his studies and published several books on the subject during the following decades.(23) Only after Charles T. Russell's successor, Judge Joseph F. Rutherford denounced pyramidology as unscriptural and of the devil in 1928,(24) did Bible Students connected with the Watch Tower Society abandon it. Hence their spiritual heirs today, Jehovah's Witnesses, are hardly aware of its existence, but several schismatic Bible Student groups still advocate it.(25)


    Why, then, did pyramidology manifest such attraction to Charles T. Russell, the Edgars, and Bible Students in general? Were they, Taylor, Smyth, Moigno, Seiss, Storrs, and others simply naïve devotees of fadism as unofficial groups such as the disciples of Immanuel Velikovsky and the neo-gnostic followers of Karl Jung are accused of being today?

    One factor was that many of Smyth's contemporaries and disciples were as hostile to the metric system as was he. With some amusement Martin Gardner recounts the fact that in the United States the pyramidologist Ohio Auxiliary Society, of which President James A. Garfield was a supporter, published a journal entitled The International Standard to defend the "true inch" and other measurements against the metric system. Its president, an engineer "who prided himself on having an arm exactly one cubit in length," wrote:

    We believe our works to be of God; we are actuated by no selfish or mercenary motive. We depreciate personal antagonisms of ever kind, but we proclaim a ceaseless antagonism to that great evil, The French Metric System .... The jests of the ignorant and the ridicule of the prejudiced, fall harmless upon us and deserve no notice .... It is the Battle of the Standards. May our banner be ever upheld in the cause of Truth, Freedom, and Universal Brotherhood, founded upon a just weight and a just measure, which alone are acceptable to the Lord.(26 )

    Later The International Standard published a poem, the fourth verse of which reads:

    Then down with every "metric" scheme Taught by the foreign school, We'll worship still our Father's God! And keep our Father's "rule"! A perfect inch, a perfect pint, The Anglo's honest pound, Shall hold their place upon the earth, Till time's last trump shall sound!(27 )

    But Russell and the Bible Students were not particularly concerned with anti-metric sentiment nor did they become involved with anti-metric movements. The Bible Students were all, in one way or another, the heirs of William Miller and as such had long tried to calculate the time of Christ's parousia or second advent from Daniel, the Revelation, and other prophetic books of the Bible. Thus they were greatly intrigued by the mysterious numbers often found in those Scriptures and regarded them as a key to understanding eschatological prophecy. In addition to that, they were also greatly impressed by the natural sciences which they considered a key to knowledge of things metaphysical as well as physical. Charles T. Russell was, if anything, a rationalist. Like all in the Adventist tradition, he was also an heir of the Enlightenment. In the introduction to his first volume of Studies in the Scriptures, The Divine Plan of the Ages, he appealed to reason. Therein he states that he had "endeavored to build upon that foundation the teachings of Scripture, in such a manner that, so far as possible, purely human judgment may try its squares and angles by the most exacting rules of justice which it can command." (28 )

    Nelson Barbour, a physician, had written from the same standpoint. His first major publication was a paean of praise to the natural sciences as well as an Adventist prophecy of the Second Coming.(29 ) In consequence, these men and others such as George Storrs and members of the Life and Advent Union were impressed by Piazzi Smyth's arguments respecting the Great Pyramid. Smyth claimed there were three "keys" required for the "opening" of it. Those were "pure mathematics, as supplied chiefly in medieval and modern times;" "applied mathematics, or .. astronomical and physical science"; and "positive human history-past, present and future-as supplied in some of its leading points and chief religious connections by Divine Revelation to certain chosen and inspired men of the Hebrew race ...."
    (30) Thus in taking up pyramidology, Charles Russell was later able to state:

    The Great Pyramid, however, proves to be a storehouse of important truth-scientific, historic and prophetic-and it testimony is found to be in perfect accord with the Bible, expressing the prominent features of its truths in beautiful and fitting symbols. 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 [Isaiah at Isaiah 19: 19, 20](31)

    18 Seiss, a Lutheran, had a great deal of influence on the Adventists as well as other nineteenth-century, Protestant, premillennialist movements.
    19 The Watch Tower, 1906, reprints pp. 3820-6
    20 Nelson H. Barbour, The Midnight Cry (Rochester, NY: printed privately, 1871), passim
    21 Brooklyn, NY: International Bible Students Ass., 1913, pp. 313-80
    22 Ibid., p. 312
    23 These included The Great Pyramid: Its Spiritual Symbolism (Glasgow: Bone and Hulley, 19240 and The Great Pyramid: Its Time Features (Glasgow: Bone and Hulley, 1924).
    24 The Watch Tower, 1928, p. 339-45
    25 This is particularly true of the Dawn Bible Students, but pyramidology is certainly not limited to them.
    26 Gardner, p. 180
    27 Ibid.
    28 Brooklyn, NY: International Bible Students Ass., 1924, pp. 10-11
    29 This work, Three Worlds, was published in 1877 with Russell's financial support.
    30 Smyth, pp. xv-xvi
    31 Russell, Thy Kingdom Come, pp. 314-15

  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    It is sad that anyone ever believed this pyramid nonsense or that CT Russell was more than a con artist.

  • Terry

    I'm torn between thinking Russell was a naif and an utterly sincere person of faith who was a man of his times.......and thinking that he crossed

    a line somewhere and became self-aware.

    Self-aware? Yes, at some point he KNEW or realized that part of what he taught was bunkum.

    From that point forward he became intellectually dishonest to the point of fraud.

  • thetrueone

    There's no question Russell had a big involving interest in religious theology, where things may have gotten a bit off kilter

    was when these interests developed into his own propagating commercial interests, where his and and his own father's money was being

    put on the table so to speak.

    From store owner and operator to Pastor Russell and public speaker of religious teachings. He was in all intentions developing a self consuming image

    of himself, while cultivating the publics attention and adulation .

    I'm sure Charley liked this new persona though, this new uplift in personal stature as a religious icon

    from just being a quiet unknown clothing salesman.

  • lovelylil

    I'm torn between thinking Russell was a naif and an utterly sincere person of faith who was a man of his times.......and thinking that he crossed

    a line somewhere and became self-aware.

    Self-aware? Yes, at some point he KNEW or realized that part of what he taught was bunkum.

    From that point forward he became intellectually dishonest to the point of fraud.

    I am with you Terry on this.

  • Terry

    The really interesting characters are Rutherford and Freddy Franz!

    A team of psychiatrists could go numb analyzing these guys.

    If they had been in charge of a country in a government instead of in charge of a crackpot religion I think they could have give

    Josephy Stalin a real run for the money.

Share this