I have been asked to look at what Doug Shields presented regarding Charles Taze Russell and the occult. In doing so, we have decided to respond here.
Shields begins by talking about Sir Isaac Newton. Shields claims that Newton was "under the delusion that he was one of the few men given the ability to interpret the bible and related prophecy, specifically biblical chronology." No reference is given. Newton did write a lot about the Bible; we don't know, however, that he actually ever presented himself in the manner described by Shields. If he did, it would seem that he would have published his writings on the Bible so as to get the message out, but he never did.
Shields states that there is "a striking similarity" between Newton and Russell, so much so he says that certain people think that Russell studied Newton's writings and lifted Newton's ideas and presented them as his own. In reality, we highly doubt that Russell ever studied much of Newton's religious writings, most of which had not even been published. Russell mentions Newton a few times, so we are at least aware that Newton thought the disputed clause in 1 John 5:7 is spurious. On the other hand, Russell was more influenced by later writers which he wrote about, some of whom he actually studied with, such as Henry Dunn, George Storrs, Henry Grew, George Stetson, and Nelson Barbour.
Like many others, Shields presents Charles Taze Russell as being the "founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses". As we have shown many times, Russell did not believe in such an organization as the Jehovah's Witnesses organization, nor did he believe the Armageddon teachings of that organization. He was certainly not the founder of that which he preached against.
Shields asks his readers if they know that Newton was a member of the Rosicrucians. We know that many have claimed that he was a member of the Rosicrucians. He evidently did have friends who were members of the Rosicrucians that existed in his day; we cannot say that he either was or was not a member of the Rosicrucians. Newton certainly did not seem to agree with much that the Rosicrucians believe, such as the Rosicrucian trinity, who Jesus is, or the immortality and transmigration of the soul.
Some Rosicrucians claim that Newton was a Rosicrucian, but they also make the same claim that Plato, Jesus and many others were Rosicrucian. The claim that Newton was a member of Rosicrucian order of his day appears to be partly based on some of his writings that appear to be alchemist in nature. Additionally, it was stated that when he died, he left over 160 books in his library on alchemy. We present below a quote from a book presented by the Wikimedia Foundation entitled: Sir Isaac Newton - His Life and Inluence
Newton's ownership of these materials [books on alchemy] by no means denotes membership within the early Rosicrucian order. Furthermore, considering that his personal alchemical investigations were focused upon discovering materials which the Rosicrucians professed to already be in possession of long before he was born, would seem to exclude Newton from their membership. During his own life, Newton was openly accused of being a Rosicrucian, as were many members of The Royal Society. Though it is not know for sure if Isaac Newton was in fact a Rosicrucian, and he never publicly identified himself as one, from his writings it does appear that he may have shared many of their sentiments and beliefs.
The Sun of Righteousness Illustration
At any rate, Shields next states that "they [evidently referring to the Rosicrucians] put a lot of stock into Egyptian gods (check the winged globe on the cover of any copy of Studies In The Scriptures and you’ll be looking at an image of the sun god Ra)." Actually, if you look on the cover of Brother Russell's Studies in the Scriptures, you'll be looking at an illustration of the "sun of righteousness" as found in the Bible at Malachi 4:2. The sun of righteousness symbolism that Malachi presented is in contrast with the present sun of vanity and unrighteousness. (Genesis 3:18,19; Ecclesiastes 1:14; 3:16; Romans 8:20,21,22) Fritz Springmeier insinuates that the words of Yahweh recorded by Malachi 4:2 was influenced by Malachi's contact with pagans. Russell, however, certainly did not believe in any of the Egyptians gods.
We read concerning Egypt: "Yahweh has mixed a spirit of perverseness in the midst of her; and they have caused Egypt to go astray in every work of it, as a drunken man staggers in his vomit." (Isaiah 19:14) Thus, it is no wonder that Egypt would pervert God's symbolism for the purposes of idolatry. They did it with the sun, moon, stars, trees, and many of the animals that God created. Their perversion of God's work does not make God's work itself perverted.
Shields insinutates a connection between Russell and the Rosicrucians since some Rosicrucain authors quote Piazzi Smyth. Yes, Nelson Barbour made use of the Smyth's measurements of the Great Pyramid, and quoted from Smyth, and so did Charles Taze Russell. So far, the greatest thing objectionable we have found regarding the works of Piazzi Smyth was his belief in the Anglo-Israelite theory, a theory that Russell did not accept. At any rate, Shields presents how the Roscricucians quote Smyth and Shields evidently wants his readers to imagine dots connecting Russell with the Rosicrucians since he also quoted Smyth.
Shields then presents a picture of Piazzi Smyth's grave and a picture that he mistakenly purports to be "the gravestone of Charles Taze Russell." We have not found much concerning the pyramid constructed over Piazzi Smyth's grave; evidently, his wife had it constructed. Smyth was convinced that the Great Pyramid is the "witness" that God said he had put in Egypt. (Isaiah 19:19,20) We share this belief with Smyth, as the evidence is overwhelming that the Great Pyramid was indeed constructed under the direction of Yahweh.
The picture that Shields presents as the "gravestone of Charles Taze Russell" is actually a pyramid monument that Joseph Rutherford authorized to be constructed several years after Russell died. It was constructed to honor God's Witness in Egypt; it is not Russell's "gravestone". It was intended to be a memorial especially to various ones associated with the Watch Tower Society, and there are many blank spaces left for many names to be inscribed on that replica of God's witness in Egypt. Within just a few years, however, Rutherford did a total turnabout when he claimed that Satan had the Great Pyramid constructed in Egypt. The manner in which he did this, however, would have meant that Satan knew a lot about the Bible before the Bible was written. Nevertheless, due to Rutherford's change concerning the Great Pyramid, the spaces on the replica remained blank.
Except perhaps for the extravagant use of funds, however, we find nothing wrong about that replica of God's Witness in Egypt, nor do we find anything wrong with the pyramid that was built on Smyth's grave.
Shields states: "I can understand his mistakes in thinking the pyramid was a mystical symbol and communication from God. I get that!" By the way that this is worded, we highly doubt that Shields does "get" the meaning of God's witness in Egypt. So far we are not sure what Shields means by the pyramid as being "mystical symbol" as this would relate to Brother Russell's writings; as far as we have been able to determine, Russell never spoke of the Great Pyramid as a "mystical symbol" nor did he view the Great Pyramid as a means to gain any kind of special "communication with God" other than corroboration of the Bible.
Shields further states: "What I don’t get is the significance of having this by his grave! What possible reason would he have unless he thought (as well as the Watchtower leadership) that this would give him some advantage in the 'afterlife'." We do not know that Russell ever actually approved that this monument should be constructed. Rutherford and his associates indicated that Russell did approve of that monument. Regardless, its purpose is to honor God's witness in Egypt; it was not constructed to give Russell or anyone else "some advantage in the 'afterlife'. Nevertheless, the manner in which Shields makes his statements appear to be an attempt to leave the reader with the thought that Brother Russell was connected to some form of heathen occultism.
Shields wonders why Piazzi Smyth's and "Russell’s pyramid" are so similar, and he wonders why Russell was was so interested in Smyth's work. Our response is that both pyramids are replicas of the same witness in Egypt; why should they not be similar? It should be obvious as to why Russell was interested in Smyth's work, since they both shared similar views concerning God's witness in Egypt. Of course, Shields' purpose in asking these questions appear to be based on some kind of idea that, since the Rosicrucians have some teachings regarding the Great Pyramid, that anyone who believes that the Great Pyramid as God's witness in Egypt must have something with heathen occultism, etc., and his imagination is that there is a link between the Rosicrucians and Russell because both made references to the Great Pyramid.
Then Shields asks why would Newton have a similar pyramid over his grave? Isaac Newton also realized that the Great Pyramid is God's witness in Egypt, so why would it be strange for there to a pyramid over his grave? As far as I can tell, Newton's interest, like Russell's, in the Great Pyramid, was strictly Biblical and Scientific, and had nothing to do with practicing any heathen occultism.
Shields states: "The Rosicrucians as well as Piazzi, Newton and Russell all thought that the great pyramid was a key to understanding the hidden code of prophecy in certain books of the bible." I am not certain about the Rosicrucians; Russell never mentions any "hidden code" -- period. He does refer to the mysteries, secrets, of the Bible that are revealed only to the saints. He also refers to the "secrets" of the Great Pyramid, which may understood through the holy spirit in light of the Bible. As far as Newton and Smyth, we would have to see where they speak of any such "hidden code" in the Bible, and see what exactly is being referred to, if they indeed ever do mention any such hidden code. Shields' effort, however, is evidently to continue draw an imaginaray parallel between what the Rosicrucians taught and what Newton, Smyth and and Russell believed. We know Newton rejected many of the teachings of the Rosicrucians, and most definitely we know that Russell rejected the teachings of the Rosicrucians. Of course, the Rosicrucians claim to be Christian, thus there may some parallels between them and anyone else who professes to be Christian. Brother Russell, rather briefly in book, Thy Kingdom Come, demonstrated the following:
The Great Pyramid, however, proves to be a storehouse of important truth--scientific, historic and prophetic--and its 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 in the above quotation. -- Thy Kingdom Come, pages 314,315.
An extensive demonstration of the testimony of God's Witness in Egypt was given by the Edgar brothers, John and Morton.
Russell did not view the Great Pyramid as "key" to understanding Bible prophecy; he did view the Great Pyramid to be corroborative of the Bible, including its prophecies.
Shields claims that Russell was an "avid student of Pyramidology." This may be misleading, since the word pyramidology, as it used today, often refers to things that Russell did not believe in. Russell never spoke of pyramidology, and probably would never have thought himself as a "pyramidologist." Nevertheless, the early usage of the word "pyramidology" simply refers to the study of the Great Pyramid as God's witness in Egypt. It has nothing at all to do with heathen occultism, practice of astrology, spiritism, pyramid power, etc.
Shields claims that Russell "sought to validate his predicted dates of the end times by using the Great Pyramid as a 'proof'." The Great Pyramid does indeed corroborate the time features that can be seen from the Bible, and that is what Russell presented. Nothing wrong with that. However, Russell never wrote anything about "end times". He did write about the time of the end, which he believed had begun in 1799.
Shields evidently finds fault with Russell's reference to the Great Pyramid as God's Stone Witness". Since it is made of stone, and since the evidence is overwhelming that it is God's witness in Egypt, as spoken of in the Bible, yes, it is God's Stone Witness in Egypt.
Shields cites the alleged the similarities "of belief, writings, as well as the references to Smyth’s work by both the Rosicrucians and Charles Taze Russell" and indication of a "hidden relationship" with the Rosicrucians. By this same, method, since Rosicrucians quote a lot from the Bible, and since all professed Christian churches quote a lot from the Bible, then, consistent with the reasoning given, anyone who professes Christianity must have some ties to the Rosicrucians, for certainly it could not be a coincidence that they would both quote from the same book. (We say this only to show that this method of reasoning is actually unreasonable.) In reality, the writings and teachings, especially of both Newton and Russell, show a great difference in belief from what the Rosicrucians teach.
Shields proclaims that The Watchtower certainly acts like a mystical order. In reference to The Watchtower of today, on this to some extent we agree. Russell's Watch Tower, however, never advocated -- and even spoke against -- such a hierarchy as now exists amonst the JWs. Russell did not believe in any body of men one earth who should serve as a "governing body", nor did he claim such authority for himself. Indeed, he disclaimed any such authority. He never said anything to the effect that one must accept his conclusions concerning chronology, time prophecies, or the great pyramid in order to be Christian, and certainly he never claimed that one had to become associated with the International Bible Students Association or else be eternally destroyed in Armageddon.
Shields again creates an imagined connection between a drawing presented as being a drawing of Rosicrucian temple and the cover of Russell's Watch Tower magazine. He seems think the tetragrammton is a "old" Hebrew word for "God". It is not; it is the eternal Holy Name of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob never told anyone to change His eternal Holy Name to something else. -- Exodus 3:14,15; Deuteronomy 18:15-19.
Shields states that there is a winged globe around the Holy Name at the top of the Rosicrucian picture. This would not fit what Russell taught, for this would imply that Yahweh himself is "sun of rightoeusness". Russell did not believe such. Nevertheless, again, the Rosicrucians, professing to be Christian, may have some similarities with what any Christian group may present; such similarities do not mean that we should supply an imaginary connection between them.
Contrary to Shields' conclusion that what he has presented is "overwhelming evidence of a hidden collaboration", those who are truly familiar with what Russell taught, if they should read very much of the teachings of the Rosicrucians, would note, not an overwhelming agreement with them, but an overwhelming disagreement with them. In reality, all Shields provides for "evidence" is what is being imagined and assumed.