Occultism and the Watchtower

© Spotlight Ministries, Vincent McCann, 2002

Even though the Watchtower Society's official position on the occult and paganism is that they reject such things there is some evidence to show that they appear to have had some involvement with aspects of the occult themselves, particularly in their earlier history.

Pagan Symbolism

This image of the "winged disk" was found on the covers of the early Watchtower books Studies in the Scriptures. The image of the winged disk symbol (or "ring with wings" as it is sometimes called) is found in many ancient pagan cultures. These symbols are found to be common among the Egyptians, Assyrians, Hittites, Akkadians, Persians, and Canaanites. The amazing similarity between the Watchtower's winged disc and those of the ancient pagan world can be clearly seen when comparing the photograph below.

Egyptian sun symbol of Ra, the sun god. Photograph taken in the British Museum


The founder of the Watchtower Society, Charles Taze Russell, was very influenced by the great pyramid of Egypt, and relied on its measurements for his prophetic date setting. Series 1 of Studies in the Scriptures, The Divine Plan of the Ages (1916), not only carried the symbol of the sun god Ra on its cover, but also contained a dispensational chart, which was an unusual blend of Scripture quotations, chronology, and images of pyramids.

When Russell died he was buried in Rosemont United Cemetery, Pittsburgh, where a large pyramid marks the spot. Photographs of this gravesite can be seen at the following URL on the Freeminds web site: "Rosemont United Cemetery: Charles T. Russell Gravesite"


Websters dictionary defines Necromancy as: "Conjuration of the spirits of the dead for purposes of magically revealing the future or influencing the course of events" Even though this practice is frowned upon within the modern Watchtower Society, there is some evidence to suggests that in the early years of the movement, the Society appeared to be giving approval to a form of necromancy, involving their deceased founder, Charles Taze Russell. For example, a year after Russell's death we read that he still supervising the work:

"The three days of terrible darkness over the land of Egypt may represent three years of the great war, and indicate its close shortly after the publication of this final witness of the church ... Pastor Russell passed forever out of reach of the antitypical Pharaoh, Satan, in the fall of 1916.... we hold that he supervises, by the Lord's arrangement, the work yet to be done." (The Finished Mystery, p. 256).


"... though Pastor Russell has passed beyond the veil, he is managing every feature of the harvest work." (Ibid., p. 144).

Similarly, we read in the Watchtower magazine:

"Hence our dear Pastor, now in glory, is without doubt, manifesting a keen interest in the Harvest work, and is permitted by the Lord to exercise some strong influence thereupon. (Revelation 14:17) It is not unreasonable to conclude that he has been privileged to do, in connection with the Harvest work, things which he could not do while with us. Although we recognize that the Lord is the great Master and Director of the Harvest, yet we recognize that He would privilege the saints beyond the veil to have a part in the work on this side; and thus all the saints, both in Heaven and upon earth, are now given the honor of concluding the work on this side, preparatory to the full establishment of the Kingdom of Glory." (The Watchtower, November 1, 1917 p. 325.)

It was not only Russell who could be involved in the work of the Watchtower, even though he was dead, but also all of the departed members of his organisation:

"While the glorified members of the Kingdom beyond the veil are doing a work in shaping the current of present events and preparing for the glorious reign, those on this side of the veil have also an important work." (Thy Kingdom Come; 1891; 1915 ed.; pp. 303)

"Additionally, such should remember that they themselves, on the other side of the veil, will have still as good an opportunity of watching over the interests of their loved ones as they now have, and a much better opportunity than now to exercise a protecting care over them - a providential guidance in their affairs under divine wisdom, with which they will concur absolutely." (The New Creation; 1899; 1915 ed.; pp. 555-556)

"And in response one of the elders said to me: 'These who are dressed in the white robes, who are they and where did they come from?' So right away I said to him: 'My lord, you are the one that knows.'" (Revelation 7:13, 14a) Yes, that elder could locate the answer and give it to John. This suggests that resurrected ones of the 24-elders group may be involved in the communicating of divine truths today." (Revelation It's Grand Climax At Hand!; 1988; pp. 125).

Johannes Greber

For many years the Watchtower Society cited the Bible translation of former priest Johannes Greber to support their unusual translation of John 1:1 in their New World Translation Bible, which reads: "the Word was a God" [emphasis mine], rather than was God, as it appears in the vast majority of Bible translations. Greber's translation of the Bible also translates John 1:1 as a god. The Watchtower cited Greber's translation in support of their own translation in:

The Word, Who is He? - According to John, 1962, p. 5.
Watchtower, Sept., 15, 1962, p. 554.
Make Sure of All Things, 1965, p. 489.
Aid to Bible Understanding, 1971, pp. 1134, 1669.
Watchtower, Oct., 15, 1975, p. 640.
Watchtower, April 15, 1976, p. 231.

However, despite the Society quoting Greber's translation as a reliable source, the facts are that Greber was heavily influenced by the occult when he was engaged in the work of translating his Bible version. The following are quotations from an advertisement from the Johannes Greber Memorial Foundation entitled "Communication with the Spirit World of God", demonstrating Greber's occultic background:

"Johannes Greber was surely an Apostle of Truth. It is the purpose of his book, written in a spirit of love for his fellow man, to describe the path which brought him into the world of God's Spirits and laid the Truth open to him." (emphasis added).

"Pastor Johannes Greber also translated the New Testament. The task was not simple. Many contradictions between what appears in the ancient scrolls and the New Testament, as we have grown to know it, arose and were the subject of his constant prayers for guidance - prayers that were answered, and the discrepancies clarified to him, by God's Spirit World. At times he was given the correct answers in large illuminated letters and words passing before his eyes. Other times he was given the correct answers during prayer meetings. His wife, a medium of God's Spiritworld was often instrumental in conveying the correct answer from God's Messengers to Pastor Greber." (emphasis added).

What is particularly disturbing about the whole Greber and Watchtower relationship, is that it seems that the Watchtower knew that Greber was influenced by the occult as early as February 1956, but still continued quoting his translation regardless, even as late as 1976. This is clearly seen when one compares how the Watchtower Society quote him favourably (see earlier references above), with the quote below, which exposes him as a spiritualist, and appeared prior to quoting him in a favourable light!:

"...Communication with the Spirit World: Its Laws and Its Purpose..." In keeping with his Roman Catholic extraction Greber's translation is bound with a gold-leaf cross on its stiff front cover. In the Foreword of his aforementioned book ex-priest Greber says: " The most significant spiritualistic book is the Bible." Under this impression Greber endeavours to make his New Testament translation read very spiritualistic...Greber's translation of these verses [1 John 4:1-3] reads: "My dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, to learn whether they come from God. For many false spirits have emerged from the abyss and gone out into the world, and are speaking through human mediums ...You have been told that such spirits would come, and they are already appearing in the world." Very plainly the spirits in which ex-priest Greber believes helped him in his translation." (Watchtower 2/15/56, p. 111).

One final point worth considering relating to the above involvement with Greber is that the messages that the former priest received from his spirit guides, are startlingly similar to many of the doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses. For example, both Greber and the Watchtower deny the Deity of Jesus, and the Trinity, both deny that God is omniscient and omnipresent, both hold that Christ was the first of God's creation, both deny the existence of hell, etc. It is only therefore reasonable to ask why it would be that a book containing channeled messages from spirits that are not of God are teaching the same doctrines as the Watchtower organization? Could it be that they are both deriving their information from the same spiritual source? In the light of other aspects of occultism highlighted in this article this is a question that certainly deserves serious consideration.

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