Second Revised Edition
Calendrical Fabrications Continue to Betray
Watchtower Pronouncements to Be “The Truth”
by Mark Mountjoy
Foundations of anything, be it buildings, institutions, or relationships, make all the difference in the world; they also determine the success or failure of any concern. In the world of religion, no more telling example of this can be found than in the questionable timetable and teachings of the self-styled Jehovah’s Witnesses. Throughout their less than 200 year history of existence they have demonstrated, time and time again, not accuracy and integrity, but gullibility and complicity, on an epic and unenviable scale.
Why is this the case at all? Why is it that not one of their many prophecies about world events and the end of the world has ever materialized, despite their overconfident declarations? In this short essay, we want to quickly examine the main reasons why no prophecy of this organization has or ever will materialize.
Are Egyptian Monuments a Key to Bible Prophecy?
In order to approach this study and proceed with a lucid strategy, the first question any investigators must ask is: Are Egyptian monuments even a legitimate key to understand Bible prophecies? Charles Taze Russell’s personal fascination with the pyramids led him to travel all the way to Egypt to see them for himself, but his enthusiasm and convictions about this matter did not actually establish or prove that there was ever a relationship between the prophecies of the Bible and the intricacies of the pyramids. A more sure fact is that Isaiah 19 predicted the building of a Jewish Temple in Leontopolis by Onias IV. According to Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews, it was built around 155 B.C. and this and this only is the lone building mentioned by any prophet of Israel of any sacerdotal structure for God in the Land of the Egyptians (and, by the way, the prophecy did not fail to come true).1
And so, as far as the pyramids are concerned, quite the opposite has proven to be true for Russell or the Watchtower over the past 107 years: The end of the world failed to materialize in 1914. This was a devastating blow to Russell and, it could be argued, that what did not happen that year was so serious to his mind and heart that it led directly to his death only two years later.
After Russell’s death on Halloween in October 1916, a power struggle developed in the leadership, and Joseph Rutherford succeeded in wresting control of the Watchtower from a commission that Russell had groomed to succeed him. But Rutherford quickly abandoned the pyramid speculations and began to “wing” interpretations of the future on the basis of his own whims alone. He, however, did not abandon the 1914 milestone teachings, but chose instead to reinterpret them to mean that year was “the beginning of the end.”
According to him, then, the new end of the world date, which began in 1914 would materialize, finally, in 1925. He wrote thus,
“Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the Apostle in Hebrews 11, to the condition of human perfection.” Millions Now Living Will Never Die, p.89.
“The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures than 1914.” WT 9/1/22, p. 262.
“Our thought is, that 1925 is definitely settled by the Scriptures. As to Noah, the Christian now has much more upon which to base his faith than Noah had upon which to base his faith in a coming deluge.” WT, p. 106, 4/1/23.
But when 1925 finally arrived they wrote this:
“The year 1925 is here. With great expectation, Christians have looked forward to this year. Many have confidently expected that all members of the body of Christ will be changed to heavenly glory during this year. This may be accomplished. It may not be. In his own due time, God will accomplish his purposes concerning his people. Christians should not be so deeply concerned about what may transpire this year.” WT, 1/1/25, p.3.
As these quotes demonstrate and as the passage of time has proven, the Watchtower pivoted around the Giza pyramid to establish the so-called fact of an Armageddon in 1914, but when that failed to transpire the organization’s leadership essentially ricocheted away from those notions as if it was only a superficial foil to persuade and convince in the first place. Within a mere 14 years, the pyramid ideology that supported the original Watchtower Bible eschatology timeline was completely jettisoned by Joseph Rutherford and the sect relied from then on its wits to make newer predictions about the end of the world in 1942, 1975, and the year 2000.
Did the Prophets of Israel Refer to the Pyramids At All?
The short answer to this question is, No, not at all. But the next question is where did these beliefs originate and how did they spread to reach and influence Charles Taze Russell?
According to Wikipedia, pyramidology came to the Church in the guise of Christian British Israelism.
“Taylor influenced the Astronomer Royal of Scotland Charles Piazzi Smyth, F.R.S.E., who made numerous numerological calculations on the pyramid and published them in a 664-page book Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid (1864) followed by Life, and Work in the Great Pyramid (1867). These two works fused pyramidology with British Israelism and Smyth first linked the hypothetical pyramid inch to the British Imperial Unit system.
This diagram from Charles Piazzi Smyth’s Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid (1864) shows some of his measurements and chronological determinations made from them Smyth's theories were later expanded upon by early 20th century British Israelites such as Colonel Garnier (Great Pyramid: Its Builder & Its Prophecy, 1905), who began to theorize that chambers within the Great Pyramid contain prophetic dates which concern the future of the British, Celtic, or Anglo-Saxon peoples. However, this idea originated with Robert Menzies, an earlier correspondent of Smyth’s. David Davidson with H. Aldersmith wrote The Great Pyramid, Its Divine Message (1924) and further introduced the idea that Britain’s chronology (including future events) may be unlocked from inside the Great Pyramid. This theme is also found in Basil Stewart’s trilogy on the same subject: Witness of the Great Pyramid (1927), The Great Pyramid, Its Construction, Symbolism, and Chronology (1931) and History and Significance of the Great Pyramid... (1935). More recently a four-volume set entitled Pyramidology was published by British Israelite Adam Rutherford (released between 1957–1972). British Israelite author E. Raymond Capt also wrote Great Pyramid Decoded in 1971 followed by Study in Pyramidology in 1986.
Joseph A. Seiss
Joseph Seiss was a Lutheran minister who was a proponent of pyramidology. He wrote A Miracle in Stone: or, The Great Pyramid of Egypt in 1877. His work was popular with contemporary evangelical Christians.
Charles Taze Russell
In 1891 pyramidology reached a global audience when it was integrated into the works of Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Bible Student movement.
Russell however denounced the British-Israelite variant of pyramidology in an article called The Anglo-Israelitish Question. Adopting Joseph Seiss’s designation that the Great Pyramid of Giza was “the Bible in stone” Russell taught that it played a special part in God’s plan during the “last days” basing his interpretation on Isaiah 19:19-20 which says - "In that day shall there be an altar (pile of stones) to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar (Hebrew matstebah, or monument) at the border thereof to the Lord. And it shall be for a sign, and for a witness unto the Lord of Hosts in the land of Egypt.”
Two brothers, archaeologists John and Morton Edgar, as personal associates and supporters of Russell, wrote extensive treatises on the history, nature, and prophetic symbolism of the Great Pyramid in relation to the then known archaeological history, along with their interpretations of prophetic and Biblical chronology. They are best known for their two-volume work Great Pyramid Passages and Chambers, published in 1910 and 1913.
Although most Bible Student groups continue to support and endorse the study of pyramidology from a Biblical perspective, the Bible Students associated with the Watchtower Society, who chose ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ as their new name in 1931, have abandoned pyramidology entirely since 1928.”2
It is interesting to note that the Bible, in the Old or New Testament, says not a single word about pyramids, the pyramids and Bible interpretation or the pyramids and Bible prophecy, but Charles Taze Russell, following his circle of influences, heard about it; engaged and ran with it and by it ended up transmogrifying and polluting the Society’s Bible prophecy interpretations and expectations beyond recognition.
It could be argued that even if the pyramids were in the Bible and even if, somehow, it was a legitimate key to the Scriptures Russell’s successor Rutherford jettisoned the whole structural foundation of the justification of the 1914 doctrine as soon as he ditched pyramidism in 1928, yet he left the fruit, whilst destroying the proverbial tree.
The issue, then, of the pyramid’s relevance to Watchtower Bible interpretation and theory is rendered null and void, yet, negatively speaking, pyramidism’s impact still echoes in Watchtower teachings even as 1914 begins to fade from memory or fall, like a dysfunctional satellite to the earth, at this present time.
The Original Watchtower Bible Prophecy Timeline
The original timeline of Russell did not extend beyond 1914; 1914 was the be-all and end-all year with which he directed the attention of the International Bible Students. From the beginning, ad hoc calculations centered around what Russell supposed had already happened in 1874 (i.e., a so-called invisible Second Coming). The 1914 date was singled out as the Waterloo year of the governments of mankind and the downfall of world Christendom in a mighty universal Armageddon cataclysm from which a new world society, a post-apocalyptic utopia would emerge and flourish forever.
Later on, as the 20th century progressed, and atomic and nuclear research and development accelerated in the scientific and the military-industrial realm and with it a competition between the United States, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and to a lesser degree, China, anxieties about the fate of the earth and mankind’s existential prospects filtered down into the worries, concerns, and writings of Christians, including sectaries like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose literature capitalized on these fears in order to win people to the ranks of the organization.
And their door-to-door preaching activities paid off handsomely and their international and local circuit assembly conventions became the envy of other Christians for their sheer size and magnitude!
1958 Divine Will International
Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses
Halcyon Days of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society
The 1958 Yankee Stadium convention proved the Watchtower’s evangelistic methods and determination to be quite effective, but nothing they could humanly do could make their prophecy assumptions materialize. This was, as we have already seen, the sect’s foundation is essentially situated on the sinking sands of Egypt, not upon the solid Rock of Jesus Christ, the Good News, or the Bible the Word of God, and nothing they can do or say can ever change that unfortunate fact.
The Primacy of the Year 1914 in Watchtower Eschatology
That Russell’s deep interest and involvement in pyramid calculations trained his attention on 1914 to the exclusion of any other year, there need be no doubt; all of his writings before that year directed the attention of his many followers on so-called certainties that that year would surely bring.
“We need not here repeat the evidences that the “seventh trump” began its sounding A.D., 1840, and will continue until the end of the time of trouble, and the end of ‘The times of the Gentiles,’ A.D., 1914, and that it is the trouble of this “Great day,” which is here symbolically called the voice of the Archangel when he begins the deliverance of fleshly Israel. “At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince (Archangel) which standeth for the children of thy people and there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation.” Dan. xii. 1. Nor will we here, again present the conclusive Bible proof that our Lord came for his Bride in 1874, and has an unseen work as Reaper of the first-fruits of this Gospel Age. (Zion’s Watchtower November 1880 p. 1)3
More information about what Russell expected can easily be found in the public domain, but it would be pointless to list ad nauseam how Russell saw the finality of not only world governments but also of the churches which he pejoratively called “Christendom,” and these he seemed to despise for their shared notions of the Trinity and eternal conscious punishment in hell.4
Trouble in Watchtower Paradise:
The Downfall of the New World Society
As can be imagined, the lack of any Bible prophecy fulfillments from the 1880s to the turn of the century put a tremendous strain on the leadership as well as the membership of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. There were anguished screams of disappointment and embarrassment (even if involuntarily emitted) coming from around the world of the Witnesses who, essentially, had not witnessed a single thing that they talked about and preached about so much.
When many discovered they had been asleep when they thought they had been awake, they woke up, not to a dream, but a nightmare of reality. This was a reality of religious self-deception, a deception that had been bred into them, many, from infancy up until adulthood and to their graves where, presumably, in the afterlife, the shocking realization of the truth of God, the Bible, the person of Jesus and their own salvation would become unpleasantly, unbearably and irreversibly clear.
Suicide was the unfortunate option for one too many of them as, if they could face the reality of the truth of their religion, they were unwilling to live a life shunned by the only people they had ever known and loved. It was and is a sad spectacle to see a religion founded on constantly shifting sands of far-fetched speculations and fear-mongering and millennialism, and then, eventually, go completely awry through the weekly dissemination and indoctrination of a mind-bending set of publications (The Watchtower and The Awake!) along with a flood of supporting publications that helped surround the Witnesses in what was an almost impenetrable theological and ideological bubble!
Now, Frederick W. Franze (1893-1992) became the president of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1977 and continued in that position until his death 22 years later at the age of 99. It was during his pre-presidential tenor that the Watchtower hatched yet another whimsical, yet false date about the end of the world. In 1967 they decided on a new program of predictions and outreach: Announce for God that it would be fitting for him to begin the new system of things at the end of six thousand years of history. According to their calculations which, remember, no longer were being based on Egyptian monuments since 1928, the end of the world would come on September 5, 1975 based on suppositions (but not facts) about how long ago God created Adam.
After it was announced that this was the logic, as usual, the organization ran headlong with its assumptions as if it was given purely by Divine revelation. No contradictions, no matter how well-intentioned, were tolerated either from anyone in the upper echelons of the organization or from the ordinary rank and file.
Years passed by; organized Bible studies—or more accurately, Watchtower magazine studies—saw the organization balloon in size as it had done in the halcyon days under the presidency of Nathan H. Knorr. Jehovah’s Witnesses had their numbers to boast about and ordinary Christians were at a loss as to what to really say against them. The Witnesses had their theological certainties intact, really, based on their door to door aplomb and their ostentatious audacity that seemed to echo first century Christian zeal, but on May 21, 1980, five years after the monumental failure of the 1975 predictions, fatal cracks appeared when serious scrutiny and self-reflection in the religion’s leadership ranks led to a seismic fallout and a subsequent purge.
Raymond Franz, a governing body member and nephew of the Watchtower president Frederick W. Franz became the flashpoint for allegations of religious mendacity centered at the very top of the Watchtower religious empire. He published a book on his observations, findings, and self-reflection titled, Crisis of Conscience, The Struggle between loyalty to God and loyalty to one's religion; it was a bombshell!
In the books, among other things, we would be made privy to the organization’s internal upheaval and restructure as well as its tradition and legalism, double standards, predictions and presumption, justification and intimidation and, of course, 1975: ‘The Appropriate Time for God to Act.’
In all his research and from his first-hand knowledge and experiences Franz reached what he called a ‘point of decision.’ He stepped down from his position in the organization and a purge saw others follow; when word got out of these discontents a new reality began to form: The phenomenon of the so-called “apostate” former JWs and “faders” and “PIMOS,” which we will describe below.
PIMO Members and What They Must Do
As we suggested above, there is a sector of baptized and unbaptized Jehovah’s Witnesses called ‘PIMOS’—those who are physically in, but mentally out; they know the contradictions, problems, and shenanigans—the tricky and questionable teachings, practices, or conduct of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and refuse to have the wool of lies pulled over their eyes.
At what point these declare, “Enough is enough!” and take decisive, careful, and intentional steps to actually repudiate association is a question and issue each individual must carefully make, however, the video below is by ex-Jehovah’s Witness and elder J.T. and his lovely wife, Lady Cee should caution every concerned person to be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves (as Jesus himself, in Matthew 10:16) counseled. I consider this couple to be dear Christian friends and since I was never a Jehovah’s Witness I could not give any real advice as they can.
I recommend that if you see the truth about the so-called Truth that you pay special attention to the valuable wisdom they share. Reflect on what steps you may need to take to secure your future in the aftermath of any exit from the world of the Watchtower: It can be treacherous if you have not properly prepared yourself.
ExJW Critical Thinker
Should I Tell My Family The TRUTH about JW.ORG?
The conundrum that Jehovah’s Witnesses find themselves in, upon investigation, is an organization that has defined and redefined itself, twisted and turned Scriptures inside out, corrupted the Bible, repeatedly made false claims in the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel and brazenly exploited its membership to own a vast multi-billion dollar publishing and real estate empire traversing almost the entire plain of the earth.
Yet nothing in their original pyramidal fixation around 1914 or anti-Trinitarian doctrinal claims or their religious prophecies about the end of the world suggest in any way, shape, or form that they are in a special position with a monopoly of truth with the Deity. A look at Deuteronomy 18:21-22 and 1 John 4:1 suggests the very opposite!
In the final analysis, there are a number of avenues a researcher can take to come to terms with TTATT—the truth about the Truth: Origins, organization, claims, disappointments, and downfall—all under the heading of a sectarian religious cult that advertized, exalted and prided itself in millennial predictions and wild speculations that never came close to materializing in the real world. But if one is to be free, that freedom comes with a price to pay: Following Jesus possibly on a road less traveled by anyone the Witness had ever known growing up in the movement.
It is our hope and prayer that our Watchtower Research Revolution essays will strengthen and encourage you to take wise, cautious, and necessary steps to ensure your good success and that, hopefully, a commitment to Jesus as Lord can shine far and above any disappointments, losses, and traumas you may have experienced under the direction of presumptuous, pretentious and overbearing men.
1 For more on the replica of the Jewish Temple built at Leontopolis, Egypt see Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews, 13.3.1:62―3:73.
“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. 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. 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. 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.
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. Only after Charles T. Russell’s successor, Judge Joseph F. Rutherford denounced pyramidology as unscriptural and of the devil in 1928, 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.”
First caption: This Pyramid prophecy chart was developed and published by Charles Taze Russell in 1913 a year before it was supposed to be fulfilled. Source: en.wikipedia.org.
Second caption: An undated photo of Charles Taze Russell with colleagues in Egypt in the late 19th or early 20th century.
Third caption: One generation chart published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Source: Charles Taze Russell_Wiki.
4 Follow this link to examine Russell’s ideas about the churches: https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a226955.pdf
You might also like