Ephesian - Paul
Smyrnean - Ireneaus
Pergamean - Martin
Thyatirean - Columba
Sardisean - Luther
Philadelphian - Wesley
Laodicean - Branham
Among most major proponents of Kingdom Theology these men are considered the great reformers of the various stages of Church history. To many Kingdom Theology proponents William Branham was perhaps the greatest "prophet" for the Church's final age.
In 1948, Branham, a Baptist preacher turned Pentecostal, and influenced by Franklin Hall, gained notoriety for his teachings on what he called, "God's Seventh Church Age" (supposedly the final move of God before the manifestation of His Kingdom on earth). Branham based this teaching primarily on Joel 2:23 and Revelation 1:20-3:22, the latter recording Jesus' messages to the seven churches in Asia Minor.
Branham claimed that the angels (messengers) to the churches were men who appeared at various times throughout Church history to usher in revelations that would lead the Church in new directions according to the purpose of God.
As indicated on his tombstone, Branham was thought to be the angel to the Church of Laodicea - the end-time Church.
In his teachings on Joel 2:23, Branham defined the "latter rain" as the Pentecostal Movement of his day. God's promise to restore what the locust, cankerworm, caterpillar, and palmerworm had eaten, he defined as the "restoration" of the Church out of denominationalism (which he equated with "the Mark of the Beast").
Although denying he was a believer in the "oneness" doctrine, Branham had his own form of "oneness" teaching that defined God as one person who manifested Himself as three different "attributes": the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, rather than three Persons comprising one Godhead.21 He believed the doctrine of the Trinity was the "Babylonian Foundation" of the denominations, inherited from Roman Catholicism.22
Branham also believed that the Word of God was given in three forms: the Zodiac, the Egyptian pyramids, and the written Scriptures.23 The Zodiac theory was not new, having been put forth by Franklin Hall previously, and as early as 1893 by historian E.W. Bullinger in his book, 'The Witness of the Stars.' The idea that the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt was constructed by God (possibly through Enoch) is at least as old as the Zodiac theory, and is popular with the Dawn Bible Students, an offshoot of the Jehovah's Witnesses.
It can be said of Branham that he had a simplicity and apparent humility which attracted many followers. "Gordon Lindsay told of how he impressed audiences with his utter and complete consecration."24
The Serpent's Seed
In spite of his apparent humility and consecration, Branham had great difficulty controlling a strident, hateful attitude toward women. In his own poor English, transcribed from a sermon, Branham stated, "But I remember when my father's still up there running, I had to be out there with water and stuff, see young ladies that wasn't over seventeen, eighteen years, up there with a man my age now, drunk. And they'd have to sober them up and give them black coffee, to get them home to cook their husband's supper. Oh, something like that, I said, 'I...This was my remarked [sic] then, THEY'RE NOT WORTH A GOOD CLEAN BULLET TO KILL THEM WITH IT.' That's right. And I hated women. That's right. And I just have to watch every move now, to keep from still thinking the same thing." 25
This attitude toward women may have played a part in the development of Branham's bizarre "Serpent Seed" teaching. This was based on a twisted interpretation of Genesis 3:13, where Eve is recorded as saying, "The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." The word "beguiled" Branham defined as "seduced sexually." He claimed that Satan and Eve engaged in an adulterous affair out of which Cain was born. Since that time evil has passed from generation to generation through women, who keep the seed of the serpent alive. 26 He seemed to think that women are responsible for the evil in the world because of their enticements.
The "Serpent's Seed" teaching obviously indicated that Branham didn't take the Scriptures literally, where we read, "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived and bare Cain..." (Genesis 4:1).
His animosity toward women led to the preaching of a rigid moral code that lambasted them on their manner of dress, and may have been responsible for his "revelation" that allowed for divorce.27
From the time of his infancy it was evident to his parents that William's life had upon it the touch of the supernatural. Born in 1909 in a mountain cabin near Berksville, Kentucky, William Marrion Branham's childhood was spent in extreme poverty. His father was only eighteen years of age, and his mother fifteen when he came into the world weighing a scant five pounds, the first of nine boys and one girl.28
The following account may be legend or fact, but it was part of Branham's testimony from the start: On the day of his birth, after being washed, he was placed in his mother's arms by the midwife who then went to a window to open the shutter. (There was no glass in the Branham house in those days.) As dawn broke sending a few rays of light into the room, there was seen a small circular halo about a foot in diameter, above the bed where little William lay in his mother's arms.29
Thousands of people have supposedly seen this halo, which is ostensibly revealed in a photograph taken in Houston, Texas, during a January, 1950, campaign. (The best we've been able to obtain is a photostatic copy of a copy which, though poorly reproduced here, will allow the reader to see what has been taken for a "halo." Whether this is a halo or a flaw in the negative - whether it is a manifestation from God or Satan or poor photography, we will leave to the reader's judgment.)
When he was three years of age, Branham experienced for the first time what he called "the Voice." At age seven "the Voice" commanded him, "Don't you never drink, smoke, or defile your body in any way. There'll be work for you to do when you get older."30
This "Voice" accompanied Branham throughout his lifetime, and eventually made itself known as an "angel" that directed him in every aspect of his personal life.31 During healing services Branham would often fall into a trance during which his angel would work through him. Asked once if the healings were done by the Holy Spirit, Branham replied, "No, my angel does it."32
Branham was one of the foremost proponents of the theory of healing and imparting the Holy Spirit through the "laying on of hands." He would often feel a heat in his hand as he touched affected parts, and exhibited a remarkable clairvoyancy in knowing intimate details of the lives of people he had never seen before. No doubt this was due to the angel's possession of his mind.
Difficulties With The Brethren
Branham's unorthodox methods of healing and allegedly imparting the Holy Spirit by the laying on of his hands came under severe criticism by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. These practices became major sources of controversy between the Latter Rain Movement and the established Pentecostal denominations who held to their belief that one must "tarry" in prayer for the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In spite of his bizarre healing methods and aberrant doctrines, Branham enjoyed remarkable popularity among many Pentecostals, and was warmly received by such notables as Demos Shakarian (founder of the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International), Oral Roberts, W.V. Grant, A.A. Allen, Gordon Lindsay (founder of Christ for the Nations), O.L. Jaggers, George Warnock, and Franklin Hall.
Although many Pentecostals were willing to embrace Branham as an "apostle" and "prophet" while overlooking his aberrant teachings, his popularity declined in the late 1950's after his numerous bold proclamations of "thus saith the Lord" to establish his doctrines. Many Pentecostal churches became reluctant to allow him to speak.33
One conversant with Pentecostalism will deny that, for better or for worse, William Branham had a tremendous effect on the neo-Pentecostalism of his time. From all accounts, he did exhibit remarkable healing powers which no doubt played a significant part in giving credibility to his teachings.
Branham was warmly welcomed by Pentecostal churches and organizations such as the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International. This organization in particular provided his most reliable support. In 1961, the editor of FGBMFI's magazine, 'Voice, ' wrote, "In Bible Days, there were men of God who were Prophets and Seers. But in all the Sacred Records, none of these had a greater ministry than that of William Branham."34
It should be noted that often what Branham taught as a guest speaker differed from what he taught at his own church, Branham Tabernacle, where he felt freer to disclose his more aberrant teachings.
Toward the end of his career, however, Branham's public espousal of his strange doctrines became even more controversial and he was used less and less by the FGBMFI, though for several years his speaking engagements were underwritten by local chapters. For years he had been a frequent speaker at regional and national conventions.
Branham's life ended abruptly. While on a trip to Arizona, his car was hit head-on by one driven by a drunken driver. For six days he lay in a coma and, on Christmas Eve, 1965, he passed away.
The entire Pentecostal world was shaken by the tragedy. "A number of old friends - Oral Roberts, Demos Shakarian, T.L. Osborn - telephoned their concern."35
When Branham died, Demos Shakarian wrote, "Rev. Branham often made the statement that the only Fellowship to which he belonged was FGBMFI. Often, when called upon to speak at various conventions and chapter meetings, he has traveled long distances to keep those engagements. His spirit of service was an inspiration."36
Many of Branham's followers believed that he had truly come in the spirit of Elijah; some believed him to be God, born of a virgin.37
They fully expected him to rise from the dead and come back to them at the end of three days.
Five days after his passing, William Branham was buried, and his grave was soon marked by the pyramid-shaped tombstone.
To date, William Branham's body is still in the grave. But his approach to healing was picked up by hundreds of pastors and teachers who have traded on it to a greater or lesser degree.
THE SHARON BRETHREN
In the fall of 1947, two former pastors for the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, George Hawtin and Percy G. Hunt, joined with Herrick Holt, a pastor of the North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Church of the Foursquare Gospel, in an independent work. That work - Sharon Orphanage and Schools which Holt had originally started in a large residence in North Battleford - had come to occupy about one thousand acres of farmland about ten miles distant from the city limits.
With Hawtin and Hunt came seventy students from Bethel Bible Institute where both had formerly taught before Hawtin was asked to resign for lack of cooperation, and Hunt resigned out of sympathy. George Hawtin's brother-in-law, Milford Kirkpatrick, and Ernest Hawtin, George's brother, soon joined in ministry at Sharon.38
Herrick Holt had been preaching that God was going to be doing a "new thing" in accordance with the prophecy of Isaiah 43:18-19:
"Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. "Behold I will do a new thing; Now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert."
Of great influence upon the work at Sharon were the teachings of William Branham. Several of the school's brethren visited one of his campaigns shortly after George Hawtin and P.G. Hunt had come on staff. With renewed fervor, the brethren took Branham's teachings back to Sharon, unaware that the supernatural power bestowed upon them by Branham would make their ministry the focal point of the Latter Rain Movement for several years to come.39
Another influence, on the Hawtin brothers in particular, was J.E. Stile's book, 'The Gift of the Holy Spirit,' which asserted that if one were truly repentant, and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, all that was necessary for him to receive the Holy Spirit was for another believer to lay hands on him.40
Franklin Hall's book was especially utilized at Sharon. Ernest Hawtin wrote: "The truth of fasting was one great contributing factor to the revival. One year before this we had read Franklin Hall's book, entitled 'Atomic Power With God Through Fasting and Prayer.' We immediately began to practise [sic] fasting. Previously we had not understood the possibility of long fasts. The revival would never have been possible without the restoration of this great truth through our good brother Hall."41
On February 11, 1948, a young woman at the Bible school prophesied that a great revival was about to break out. The next day, according to Ern Hawtin, the Holy Spirit fell with great power. "Day after day the Glory and Power of God came among us. Great repentance, humbling, fasting and prayer prevailed in everyone."42
Because of the manifestation of power at North Battleford, news of the outbreak spread, and soon people were coming from everywhere to receive that power. They believed that the long drought was over for Pentecostals, whose use of the gifts had gradually declined since the advent of Pentecostalism at the turn of the century.43
A striking characteristic of the Sharon revival was the effort to avoid the establishment of another denomination as had happened during the earlier Pentecostal Movement. George Hawtin was especially adamant about this and labored to instruct those who were touched by his ministry not to fall into that trap. He felt that the unity of the Church was essential to bring about its restoration, and therefore encouraged the establishment of autonomous, local congregations.
It became a hallmark of the Latter Rain Movement that innumerable independent churches sprang up with no denominational affiliation. This did not set well with the Pentecostal denominations, who lost many members to this "new thing."
A major point of controversy between the North Battleford brethren and some Pentecostal denominations was the teaching by the former that there are present-day apostles and prophets for the Church.44 And though George Hawtin wrote in the June, 1948, issue of 'The Sharon Star' (the school's newsletter) that "no church exercises or has any right to exercise authority of jurisdiction over another church, its pastors or members," the travelling "presbytery" from Sharon, of which he was a part, did indeed exercise authority over people in other congregations through personal "directive prophecy. "45
In spite of the Sharon group's insistence upon autonomy, they eventually became sectarian to the extreme, holding to the notions that no teaching was valid unless it originated with them, no fellowship was to be engaged in with anyone outside their own confines, and they alone were the purveyors of God's truth. If anyone would be an "overcomer," it must be through obedience to their authority.
Even some who were endorsed as apostles and prophets by the Sharon group eventually became disillusioned and broke ties from Sharon. Among these was Reg Layzell who wrote: "At the first camp meeting you were made a member of the Body of Christ by the Spirit of God. And even if you said you were not in the Body you still were. No man could put you in or take you out. Now the error: they claim you are only put in by them and can be put out by them."46
A significant event in the history of Sharon Orphanage and School was its July 7-18, 1948 Camp Meeting, during which thousands of people from Canada and the United States flocked in hopes of receiving something special from God. Residents from at least twenty states attended, and the great Latter Rain Movement burst upon the world.
From that time the movement spread rapidly and Sharon shortly became just one of many centers of teaching for the Latter Rain Movement.
In his thesis on this movement, Richard Riss states: "It should be noted however, that prior to the revival, these practices [laying on of hands and acceptance of apostles and prophets] were already commonplace in some places, including Elim Bible Institute, which was at that time in Hornell, N.Y., and which, until the revival, had not had contact with North Battleford."47
"It should also be noted...that prophecy was a major distinguishing mark of the Latter Rain Movement, whereas, in the case of the healing evangelists, healing was more prominent, and in the case of the early pentecostal revival, tongues had prominence."48
Elim Bible Institute was for years prior to the outbreak of the Latter Rain Movement a center for neo-Pentecostal teachings. Although it was Sharon Orphanage that gave real impetus to these teachings, it is Elim Bible Institute that has continued even to this day with its influence, while the Sharon group has largely been relegated to obscurity.
Among those present at the Sharon Camp Meeting in July, 1948, was George Warnock who at one time had been personal secretary to Ern Baxter (an associate with William Branham's healing ministry).49 At this meeting one of the teachers, James Watt, made a passing remark that the third of Israel's feasts, the Feast of Tabernacles, was yet to be fulfilled.50 This struck Warnock and he began to associate it with the end-time ministry of the Church, and the concept of restoration.
In the fall of 1949 Warnock took up residence at Sharon, "assisting in the office work, and helping in the Bible School and in the local church."51
In 1951 Warnock wrote his book, 'The Feast of Tabernacles,' in which he layed out a specific doctrine for the Latter Rain Movement, and those who came after. He taught that the Church was about to usher in the completion of God's feasts for Israel, through perfection of the saints and their dominion over the earth.
Essentially, this Latter Rain teaching implies that the three great annual feasts of the Lord in Israel's worship (Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles) pre-figure and typify the whole Church Age, beginning with the death of Jesus on the cross, and consummating in "the manifestation of the Sons of God" - the "overcomers" who will step into immortality and establish the Kingdom of God on earth.52
Warnock teaches that this will be accomplished through the restoration of the Church in unity and, once done, the saints will "eat the Lord's Supper in reality."53 (as if we are not doing so now).
"Unity" as defined by Kingdom Theology entails the putting on of "the mind of Christ" so that we all think, say, believe, and confess the same things.54 What we will think, say, believe, and confess will be told to us by the apostles and prophets.
Unity without regard to "doctrine" (except the doctrine of those imposing the unity) is the great cry among those today who think that the Body of Christ has thus far failed in its commission. We will deal with these teachings in more detail later.
THE LATTER RAIN CONTINUES
Many teachings of the Latter Rain Movement have been retained in the Church through the influence of various men and women, many of whom are still alive, and active in groups that spun off from the Latter Rain Movement.
Although the Latter Rain Movement has had lasting effects upon Pentecostalism in general, its effects upon the major Pentecostal denominations was minimal after the mid-1950's. This was due in part to the role the Assemblies of God played in confronting the Latter Rain extremes. That denomination, as well as others, lost many pastors and members to the Latter Rain as a consequence of their opposition
Today, the influence of the Latter Rain Movement upon traditional as well as Pentecostal denominations is growing. And although by all appearances the name has died out, the Latter Rain Movement has surfaced under other names and is held together by a network of teachers and organizations which are finding new acceptance on a wide scale in the Christian media.
1. Franklin Hall, "Miracle Word" (Phoenix; Hall Deliverance Foundation, Inc., Summer, 1985) p.10. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid, p.9. 6. Ibid. 7. Franklin Hall, 'Atomic Power With God Through Fasting and Prayer' (Phoenix: Hall Deliverance Foundation, Inc., 5th Ed., 1975), p.19. 8. Ibid., p.9. 9. Franklin Hall, Catalogue of Publications (Phoenix: Hall Deliverance Foundation, 1986). 10. Franklin Hall, 'The Return of Immortality' (Phoenix: Hall Deliverance Foundation, Inc., 1976), pp.2-3. 11. Ibid., p.3. 12. Ibid., Inside Front Cover. 13. Ibid., p.10. 14. Ibid., p.48. 15. Ibid., p.20. 16. 'Atomic Power With God Through Fasting and Prayer', pp.29,31. 17. Ibid., p.7. 18. Ibid., p.53 19. Ibid., p.55. 20. Catalogue of Publications. 21. William M. Branham, 'Adoption' (Jeffersonville, IN: Spoken Word Publications, 1960), p.21. 22. William M. Branham, 'The Serpent's Seed', taped sermon, undated. 23. 'Adoption', pp.31,104. 24. David E. Harrell, Jr., 'All Things Are Possible' (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1976), p.162. 25. William M. Branham, 'My Life Story' (Spoken Word Publications, undated), p.27. 26. 'The Serpent's Seed'. 27. 'All Things Are Possible', p.162. 28. 'Brother Branham' (Jeffersonville, IN: Spoken Word Publications, undated), p.19. 29. 'My Life Story', p.21. 30. Ibid., p.24. 31. Kurt Koch, 'Occult Bondage and Deliverance' (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1972), p.50. 32. Ibid. 33. 'All Things Are Possible', p.159. 34. Ibid., p.161. 35. Ibid. 36. Ibid. 37. Ibid., p.164. 38. Richard Riss, 'The Latter Rain Movement of 1948 and the Mid-twentieth Century Evangelical Awakening' (Vancouver, B.C.: Thesis), p.79. 39. Ibid., p.80-81. 40. Ibid., p.83-84. 41. Ibid., p.86. 42. Ibid., p.89. 43. Ibid., p.89-90. 44. Ibid., p.101. 45. Ibid., p.102. 46. Ibid., p.154. 47. Ibid., p.108. 48. Ibid., p.116. 49. Ibid., p.104. 50. Ibid. 51. Ibid. 52. George Warnock, 'The Feast of Tabernacles' (Cranbrook, B.C.: George Warnock, 1951), p.14-20. 53. Ibid., p.22. 54. Ibid., p.23.
Media Spotlight Vol 7. - NO.2 April - June 1986
P.O. Box 1288
Costa Mesa, CA 92628
Written by Albert James Dager
WHO WAS WILLIAM BRANHAM?
William M Branham died in a car accident in 1965. His death did not stop the growth of the group that followed him however. Throughout the world groups of his followers promote his teachings enthusiastically. Most people who come in contact with them are only permitted to see the "deeper things of God" when they are "spiritual enough to receive them."
During his ministry Branham was well-known in Pentecostal circles for his claims to heal the sick and have special "words of knowledge" from the Lord. However, few knew much about his history or his teachings. Even today I have spoken to older Pastors who had no idea that Branham denied some of the central teachings of the Christian church such as the Tri-une nature of God.
William Branham was born in April 1906. He was the first of nine children born to Charles and Ella Branham.
There were claims of supernatural signs, angelic visitations and even a halo over his crib at birth (Footprints on the Sands of Time by William Marrion Branham; (Spoken Word Publications; Jeffersonville, Ind., 1975 pp. 2, 21, 93). Branham claimed that at seven years of age an angelic voice warned him to "never drink, smoke, or defile your body in anyway, for I have a work for you to do when you get older" (William Branham: A Man Sent from God by Gordon Lindsey. William Branham Publisher, Jeffersonville, Ind. 1950 p. 30).
Branham said : "There was always that peculiar feeling, like someone standing near me, trying to say something to me, and especially when I was alone. No one seemed to understand me at all. The boys I associated with would have nothing to do with me, because I wouldn't drink or smoke, and all the girls went to dances of which I wouldn't partake either, so it seemed that all through my life I was just a black sheep knowing no one who understood me and not even understanding myself." (A Man Sent From God, p. 31).
Branham claimed to have had a series of visions during and after surgery when he was about 20. He had been overcome by toxic gas while working for the Public Service Company of Indiana. He says that he feared he might die and was not yet ready to meet God. Apparently this incident led him to seek God. He went behind woodshed at his home and cried out to God. He said that:
"Suddenly there appeared a light in the form of a cross and a voice spoke to him in language he did not understand. Then it went away. He became frightened and wondered as he said, 'Lord, if this is you, please come back and talk to me again.' The light reentered the shed. As he prayed, it appeared again the third time. Now he realised that he had met God. He was happy; he was thankful." (William Branham: A Prophet Visits South Africa p. 9-11)
For Branham this was a call from God to preach. He began attending the Missionary Baptist Church and some Pentecostal Holiness groups during the same time period. He felt more accepted by these "oneness " or "Jesus only" Pentecostals and it was through the "oneness" Pentecostals that he was propelled into worldwide recognition as a miracle worker. (All Things are Possible by David Edwin Harrell. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Ind., 1975 pp. 27-40.) [Oneness Pentecostals deny the Tri-une nature of God. This is the modern form of the early church heresy of Sabalienism.]
Branham claims he received yet another angelic visitation in May 1946. This time he was told that if he would be sincere and persuade the people to believe in him, nothing would be able to stand before his prayers, not even cancer (A Man Sent From God, pp.76-77). It was after this visitation that his healing and deliverance ministry grew to worldwide proportions and touched thousands of lives (All Things are Possible pp. 27-40, 159-164).
During the late 1950s, the healing and deliverance rallies of the famous Pentecostals of that time began to decline from the prominence of the previous decade. Branham's declined along with the others. He began to devote his time to his home church, Branham Tabernacle of Jeffersonville, Ind. Away from the influence of the more orthodox leaders of the Pentecostal movement and Branhams path of heresy broadened.
Other claims of Branham were:
a) He was Elijah the prophet, the seventh angelic messenger to the Laodicean Church Age (Footprints on the Sands of Time, p. 620),
b) Anyone belonging to any denomination had taken "the mark of the beast" (Footprints on the Sands of Time, pp. 627, 629, 643, 648).
c) He received divinely inspired revelations (The Revelation of the Seven Seals, Branham: Spoken Word Publications, Tucson, Ariz., n.d. p. 19; Questions and Answers, Book 1, Branham: Spoken Word Publications, Tucson, 1964 p. 60.)
Eventually the majority of his followers believed he could teach no error. He was, and still is, idolised by most, even worshiped, by some of his followers.
Branhams "divinely inspired revelations" included an unscriptural doctrine about end time events known as the Revelation of the Seven Seals and that the fall of man happened when Eve had sexual relations with Satan and that this sexual union produced Cain and in so doing begat a fallen race with Satan's nature. (An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages, W M Branham, Branham Publisher, n.d. pp. 98-99, 101). Branham also taught that "every sin that ever was on the Earth was caused by a woman ... the very lowest creature on the Earth" The Spoken Word, Vol. III Nos. 12, 13, 14;, Branham: Spoken Word Publications, Jeffersonville, Ind. 1976; pp. 81-82.
Even though it can be verified that healings and supernatural occurrences were seen at Branham's rallies we have no scriptural authority to use these manifestations to prove or disprove the man was sent from God. Branham's doctrines and teachings are what should be examined first. He claimed to be the "prophet to bring the Christian church into final truth,". If his doctrines are unscriptural then the man and his ministry must be re-evaluated.
Well know Pentecostal preachers of the time such as Gordon Lindsey, Oral Roberts, T L Osborn and Ern Baxter seem to have accepted Branham as a "great man of God" because of his humble spirit and his ability to work miracles. Humility and miracles do not have any scriptural justification for acceptance of a persons's claim to be from God. There are many who are not Christians who manifest a meek and humble demeanour such as Buddhist priests. They are noted for these traits and have turned many westerners to their beliefs because of it. For the Christian, all the meekness in the world means positively nothing apart from the indwelling Lord Jesus Christ.
Miracles by themselves are not scriptural indicators of being from God either. The magicians of Pharaoh's court duplicated many of God's miracles performed through Moses (Ex 7:10-13). Paul speaks of lying signs and wonders ascribed to the power of the evil one. (2 Thess 2:8-9) Satan can work miracles and does not mind God getting the glory when it suits his purpose - blinding people to follow after other gods.
Christians are quick to point out claimants to be God's prophet such as Joseph Smith, Ellen White or Mary Baker Eddy. We should insist that ANYONE claiming to be God's prophet or spokesperson be examined and apply the same standards to those who are working within the mainstream churches to this same scrutiny lest the sheep be led astray. Branham's teachings about God must be measured against the Bible.
A prophet a "mouthpiece" for God. He simply communicates what God tells him to say. God provided criteria for testing those who claimed to be his mouthpieces in Deut 13:1-3 and 18:20-22. There it says that even if the prophet works signs and wonders, if he teaches us to follow after strange gods he is to be rejected. If a prophet predicts future events, every single one of those predictions must come true, down to the finest detail. If the events don't occur the prophet is to be rejected. In 1 Kings 13 we find a story which shows what happens to those who follow someone found to be a false prophet.
In Matt 7:15-24 Jesus also told us how to recognise a false prophet. He said to examine their fruit. But contrary to the opinion of many, the fruit that we are to examine is not the fruit of the Spirit or their life but what the "prophet" proclaims. The fruit of a "mouthpiece" is what he "speaks".
Branham failed both the Matthew and Deuteronomy tests.
There is evidence that Branham taught a false gospel from the very beginning of his ministry. Ern Baxter, a well known Pentecostal evangelist, was with Branham from 1947 to 1954. Baxter wrote, "when he would speak, especially in those early days, he would say some things that were terribly provocative. To me, (they were) unnecessarily so. So when we talked together, we agreed that apart from his giving testimonies and relating his life story, I would do all the speaking and he would do all the ministry to the sick. That was the way it was when we were together" (New Wine Magazine, Dec 1978, p. 56). Branham's doctrine continued to deviate further as time passed.
Close scrutiny of what Branham taught reveals an unscriptural view of God that would put him under the "strange god" clause of Deut 13:1-3 For example:
“What is God? God is a great Eternal. At the beginning, way back before there was a beginning, he wasn't even God. Did you know that? A god is an object of worship, and there wasn't nothing to worship him; He lived alone. And in him was attributes. What is an attribute? A thought."
(The Spoken Word, Vol. III, p.
Branham denied the Triune nature of God. He pronounced it a "gross error" (The Spoken Word, p. 79). As a prophet with the authority of a "Thus saith the Lord," he said it had been revealed to him that "trinitarianism is of the devil" (Footprints on the Sands of Time, p. 606).
Branham failed the Deut 18 test of a prophet from God in that his predictions did not come true with 100 percent accuracy:
"Based on these seven visions, along with the rapid changes which swept the world in the last 50 years, I predict (I do not prophesy) that these visions will have all come to pass by 1977. And though many may feel that this is an irresponsible statement in view of the fact that Jesus said that "no man knoweth the day nor the hour," I still maintain this prediction after 30 years because, Jesus did not say no man could know the year, month, or week in which His coming was to be completed. So I repeat, I sincerely believe and maintain as a private student of the word, along with divine inspiration that 1977 ought to terminate the world system and usher in the Millennium".
(An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages, p. 322).
Even though Branham tried to qualify his statement by saying he "predicted" rather than "prophesied" certain events this does not change things because any time a person claims that they are a prophet of God, that they are speaking under divine inspiration, it is prophecy.
The year 1977 is long gone. The United States is still here. The world is still turning and the Millennium has not begun. Since what Branham predicted has not taken place we can only conclude that Branham was not a prophet sent by God.
We can be thankful that almost every word Branham voiced from the pulpit in Branham Tabernacle was recorded and transcribed. His followers regard these transcriptions as the "spoken word," and on an equal status to the Bible. These transcripts clearly show and confirm our position that Branham's teachings were definitely not from God.
All Christians can learn a valuable lesson from the example of William Branham. Anyone who wants to be a superstar must be able to stand up to intense scrutiny. By claiming to be speaking for God a person automatically subjects themselves to close "fruit inspection" by the Body of Christ. And it doesn't matter if the name is Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Ellen G White, Charles T. Russell or William Branham.
There will always be "prophets" like Branham claiming to receive extra-biblical revelations. Some will point to the signs and wonders as proof that their deviant teachings are from God. We must always remember that no matter what miracles they may work, if they do not speak according to the Word of God and lead us after the One True God we must conclude that they are not of the Lord God and we should reject their message.
A Halo at Birth
William Branham was born in April 1906, the first of nine children born to
Charles and Ella Branham. It is claimed that there were many supernatural signs
and angelic visitations and a halo over his crib at birth (Footprints on the
Sands of Time, William Marrion Branham; (Spoken Word Publications;
Jeffersonville, Ind., 1975; pp. 2, 21, 93). At seven years of age an angelic
voice admonished him to "never drink, smoke, or defile your body in
anyway, for I have a work for you to do when you get older" (William
Branham: A Man Sent from God, Gordon Lindsey; William Branham Publisher,
Jeffersonville, Ind. 1950; pg. 30). He also apparantly had a vision were he saw
a bridge built over the Ohio River and 16 men killed in a construction accident
(William Branham: A Prophet Visits South Africa, Julius Stadsklev; Julius
Stadsklev Publisher, Minneapolis, Minn., 1952; pp. 3-4).
Branham said of himself and his younger years:
"There was always that peculiar feeling, like someone standing near me, trying to say something to me, and especially when I was alone. No one seemed to understand me at all. The boys I associated with would have nothing to do with me, because I wouldn't drink or smoke, and all the girls went to dances of which I wouldn't partake either, so it seemed that all through my life I was just a black sheep knowing no one who understood me and not even understanding myself." (A Man Sent From God, pg. 31).
About the time Branham was 20 years of age he was hospitalized afer being overcome by toxic gas while working for the Public Service Company of Indiana. Branham feared that he might die and that he was not yet ready to meed God. However, he went ahead with the necessary surgery and apparantly had a series of visions during ant just after the surgery which finally drove him to seek God.
He went behind the woodshed in his home and he says that the following occured as he cried out to God:
"Suddenly there appeared a light in the form of a cross and a voice spoke to him in language he did not understand. Then it went away. He became frightened and wondered as he said, 'Lord, if this is you, please come back and talk to me again.' The light reentered the shed. As he prayed, it appeared again the third time. Now he realized that he had met God. He was happy; he was thankful." (A Prophet Visits ... pg. 9-11)
Branham felt this as a calling from God to preach and he began associating with the Missionary Baptist Church. He also had contact with some of the Pentecostal Holiness groups during this same time period. It was with these "oneness " Pentecostals that Branham felt most accepted and it was through the "oneness" Pentecosals that he was launched into worldwide recognition as a miracle worker. (All Things are Possible, David Edwin Harrell; Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Ind., 1975; pp. 27-40.)
In May 1946, Branham received yet another angelic visitation. He was informed that if he would be sincere and persuade the people to believe in him, nothing would be able to stand before his prayers, not even cancer (A Man Sent From God, pp. 76-77). It was after this visitation that Branham's healing and deliverance ministry grew to worldwide proportions and touched thousands of lives (All Things pp. 27-40; 159-164).
During the late 1950s, the healing and deliverance rallies of the previous decade began to decline. Branham began to devote more time to his home church, Branham Tabernacle of Jeffersonville, Ind. Away from the influence of the more orthodox leaders of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement, Branham soared to new heights of heterodoxy. He was idolized and even worshiped by most of his followers, who thought he could teach no error.
His teachings included the claim that he was Elijah the prophet, that he was the seventh angelic messenger to the Laodicean Church Age (Footprints, pg. 620), that anyone belonging to any denomination had taken "the mark of the beast" (Footprints, pp. 627, 629, 643, 648) and that he received divinely inspired revelations (The Revelation of the Seven Seals, Branham; Spoken Word Publications, Tucson, Ariz., n.d.; pg. 19; Questions and Answers, Book 1, Branham; Spoken Word Publications, Tucson, 1964; pg. 60.)
These revelations included: an elaborate but unscriptural eschatological system known as the Revelation of the Seven Seals, the idea that the fall of man happened when Eve had sexual relations with Satan, that his sexual union produced Cain and in so doing begat a fallen race with Satan's nature (An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages, Branham, Branham Publisher; n.d. pp. 98-99, 101). As a corollary to this, Branham said that "every sin that ever was on the Earth was caused by a woman....the very lowest creature on the Earth" The Spoken Word, Vol. III Nos. 12, 13, 14;, Branham; Spoken Word Publications, Jeffersonville, Ind. 1976; pp. 81-82. Quoted in The Man and His Message, pg. 41).
Evaluation of a Ministry
That there were healings and supernatural occurrences at Branham's rallies is historically verifiable. That Branham was a "man sent from God," a "prophet to bring the Christian church into final truth, " is highly questionable because of Branham's bizarre and unscriptural doctrines.
Branham's acceptance as a great "man of God" by ministers such as Oral Roberts, Ern Baxter, Gordon Lindsey and T.L. Osborn, and the public seems to rest on two factors: his humble spirit and his power to work miracles. It is the opinion of this writer that there is no clear scriptural justification for using either of these to authenticate spiritual orthodoxy.
There have been many well outside the ranks of orthodox Christianity who have clearly demonstrated a meek and humble demeanor. Certain Buddhist and Hindu holy men are noted for these traits. Kindness, humility, and a meek character in and of themselves mean absolutely nothing apart from the indwelling Lord Jesus Christ.
The Bible is very clear that even miracles are by themselves not true indicators of doctrinal orthodoxy. The magicians of Pharaoh's court were able to duplicate many of God's miracles performed through Moses (Exodus 7:10-13; :6-7). And in the New Testament, Paul speaks of lying signs and wonders ascribed to the power of the evil one. (II Thessalonians 2:8-9)
How then is one to come to a conclusion about whether or not Branham was indeed a "man sent from God." As with Joseph Smith, Ellen White or Mary Baker Eddy or anyone claiming to be a prophet; Branham's teachings about God must be measured against the Bible.
The role of a prophet is nothing more than being a "mouthpiece" for God. He merely relays what God tells him to say. Jesus, in Matthew 7:15-24, tells how to recognize a false prophet. The fruit that we are to examine is not the fruit of life, as many would have us believe, but what he says God says. Deuteronomy 13:1-3 and 18:20-22 give us other criteria for testing a prophet: He will work signs and wonders, but even if he does and then teaches us to follow after strange gods, he is to be rejected; he will predict future events, but every one of those predictions must come true, or the prophet is to be rejected. Branham fails both the Matthew and Deuteronomy tests.
Evidence exists that Branham was doctrinally aberrant from the inception of his popular healing campaigns. Charismatic evangelist Ern Baxter was with Branham at the height of his popularity from 1947 to 1954. In an article in the December 1978 New Wine Magazine, Baxter wrote: "when he would speak, especially in those early days, he would say some things that were terribly provocative. To me, (they were) unnecessarily so. So when we talked together, we agreed that apart from his giving testimonies and relating his life story, I would do all the speaking and he would do all the ministry to the sick. That was the way it was when we were together" (pg. 56). As time progressed, Branham's doctrine deviated further and further from the standard.
As mentioned above, there is evidence that supernatural signs did occur at Branham's meetings (A Prophet Visits pp. 48-195). The healings and prophecies purportedly came through an angel that was always with Branham on stage and continually gave him counsel and revelations (William Branham: His Life and Teachings, Kathie Adler; Narrow Way Ministries, Holbrook, N.Y., 1986; pp. 3-5) This has given rise to the charges by some researchers that Branham practiced occult healing (Between Christ and Satan, Kurt E. Koch; Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1971; pp. 149-150). But it is equally evident that Branham taught an unscriptural view of God that would put him under the "strange god" clause of Deuteronomy 13:1-3:
"What is God? God is a great Eternal. At the beginning, way back before there was a beginning, he wasn't even God. Did you know that? A god is an object of worship, and there wasn't nothing to worship him; He lived alone. And in him was attributes. What is an attribute? A thought." (The Spoken Word, Vol. III, pg. 79)
Moreover, true to his early oneness Pentecostal teachings, Branham denied the biblical triune Godhead. He pronounced it a "gross error" (The Spoken Word, pg. 79) and as a prophet with the authority of a "Thus saith the Lord," revealed that "trinitarianism is of the devil" (Footprints, pg. 606). Signs and wonders? Yes. Strange gods?
Yes. False prophet? Absolutely!
Branham also failed the test of a true prophet in that his predictions did not come true with 100 percent accuracy: "Based on these seven visions, along with the rapid changes which swept the world in the last 50 years, I predict (I do not prophesy) that these visions will have all come to pass by 1977. And though many may feel that this is an irresponsible statement in view of the fact that Jesus said that "no man knoweth the day nor the hour," I still maintain this prediction after 30 years because, Jesus did not say no man could know the year, month, or week in which His coming was to be completed. So I repeat, I sincerely believe and maintain as a private student of the word, along with divine inspiration that 1977 ought to terminate the world system and usher in the Millennium". (Seven Church Ages, pg. 322).
Despite the fact that Branham tried to qualify his statement by saying he "predicted" rather than "prophesied" certain events, any time a prophet of God speaks under divine inspiration, it is a prophecy.
It is now 1988. The United States has not been destroyed, the world's systems have not been terminated, and the Millennium has not begun. Therefore we can conclude that Branham was not a true prophet of God. It is fortunate for researchers that almost every word Branham uttered from the pulpit in Branham Tabernacle was recorded and transcribed. To the Branham follower, it is the "spoken word," on an equal footing with the Bible. To the investigator, it is confirmation that Branham's teachings were definitely not from God.
The ready acceptance of Branham by a large portion of those in the Pentecostal/Charismatic tradition points to a serious flaw in that way of thinking.
Instead of a clearly articulated theology based on inductive Bible study, the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement has by and large derived its teachings from personal experience and then tried to find scripture to authenticate the experiences. Where no scriptural authentication can be found, "special revelation knowledge" is often appealed to. This has led to a superstar mentality that unfortunately pervades the movement.
"Apostles" and "prophets" abound in this milieu and like Branham receive extra-biblical revelations. Also, like Branham, they point to miraculous signs and wonders as proof that their aberrant teachings are from God.
Christians can learn a valuable lesson from the life and teachings of men such as Branham: In God's economy there are no superstars. All are subject to the same scriptural scrutiny. Anyone who stands to proclaim the word of God must "speak according to the law and the testimony". By speaking he is automatically subjecting himself to a close "fruit inspection" by the household of faith. This is true whether his name is Joseph Smith, Charles T. Russell or William Branham.
(c) 1988 - PFO. All rights reserved by Personal Freedom Outreach. Reproduction is prohibited, including BBS, except for portions intended for personal use and non-commercial purposes. For reproduction permission contact: Personal Freedom Outreach, P.O. Box 26062, Saint Louis, Missouri 63136.
By Phillip Arnn
Founder: William Marrion Branham
Founding Date: Branham's Healing Ministry began May, 1946.
Official Publications: Spoken Word Publications produces numerous books, tapes and tracts, mostly the messages of Branham.
Organization Structure: Small groups meet worldwide under the name Bible Believers, Inc. There are several organizations which distribute literature and taped sermons by Branham.
Unique Terms: Laodicean Church Age, Seventh Angel's message, Mark of the Beast.
Other Names: Bible Believers, Inc.
William Marrion Branham was born April 6, 1909 in the mountains of Kentucky. He was the first of nine children. His father was a logger and their first home was a dirt floor log cabin. Branham was told by his mother that his birth was accompanied by a supernatural sign. He was born in the predawn morning. He was told that when the small window of the cabin was opened, that a light stood in the opening. (Brother Branham, taped sermon transcript, p. 21).
Branham's life was intersected and influenced by numerous visions and angelic visitations. He recalled that at age seven, he heard a voice, "Well, I started up the lane again. And I turned to look at this again. And when it did, a human Voice just as audible as mine is, said, `Don't you never drink, smoke, or defile your body in any way. There'll be a work for you to do when you get older.' Why, it liked to scared me to death!" (Ibid., p. 24). Branham recounted other audible communications and visions that imparted to him specific information concerning future events which later came to pass.
Branham was converted around the age of twenty and married Hope Brumbach. His conversion was a result of a series of visions occurring during and after a life threatening illness (Acts of the Prophet, pp. 40-43).
In his early ministry, he came in contact with Jesus-Only Pentecostals. This sect broke away from the traditional Pentecostal movement denying the doctrine of the Trinity . He attended one of their national conventions and was invited to preach. A number of their ministers invited him to conduct revivals in their churches. He returned home and informed his wife, "Oh, I met the cream of the crop. It's the best you ever seen. Them people ain't ashamed of their religion" (Brother Branham, p. 39). Although he was persuaded not to continue the association by family and fellow ministers, Branham was greatly influenced by the "Jesus-Only" Pentecostal movement. He later adopted a number of their doctrinal views.
Branham's wife and baby daughter died in 1937 from Tubercular Meningitis. He felt that it was because he had not continued in fellowship with the Pentecostals and had missed God's will (Ibid., p. 47).
In 1946, Branham received what he came to call his "charge" from the recurrent audible voice. While baptizing converts in the Ohio River, he claims it happened. "And just then a whirl come from the heavens above, and here come that Light, shining down.... and It hung right over where I was at. A Voice spoke from there, and said, `As John the Baptist was sent for the forerunner of the first coming of Christ you've got a... have a Message that will bring forth the forerunner of the Second Coming of Christ'" (Ibid., p. 71).
Not long after the commission as the forerunner of the second coming of Christ , Branham was visited by an angel. He was told that he was being given two ministry gifts. He would receive the gift of healing and the gift of the "word of knowledge." Branham came to believe that this angel was the source of all his visions. Branham inquired of the angel why he should believe he was an angel of God. The angel told him that the religious leaders of Christ's day had called Jesus a devil. He should not worry about the opposition from family and fellow ministers. Branham had been told by fortune-tellers in impromptu meetings that he had a special gift of God and was born under a sign. The angel assured him that even devils had confirmed that Jesus was the Christ and not to be concerned by the testimony of fortune-tellers (Ibid., pp. 74, 75, 79).
The next Sunday Branham's first challenge, a woman dying with cancer, was brought before him. Just as the angel had said, he had a vision and prayed for the woman. She was healed. His fame spread far and wide Ibid.,p. 80). From that time forward, Branham claimed the angel was with him night and day. He stated that he was unable to minister unless the angel was at his side (Occult Bondage and Deliverance, pp. 49, 50).
Branham was a poorly educated man and had no formal Bible education. His ministry was proclaimed with alleged supernatural manifestations and empowered by a spirit being.
TRINITY: Like the Jesus-Only Pentecostals Branham denied the Trinity doctrine teaching a form of Modalism. Instead of three Persons in the Godhead, Branham taught that there was only one Person ( Jesus ) going under different titles or modes at various times in history. Branham's teaching is a variation of a second century heresy taught by Sabellius know as Modalistic Monarchianism or Patripassianism (see Monarchianism, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, pp. 727-28). Branham explained, "...not one place in the Bible is trinity ever mentioned...It's Catholic error and you Protestants bow to it" (Conduct, Order, Doctrine Q and A, p. 182). "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is offices of one God. He was the Father; He was the Son; He is the Holy Ghost. It's three offices or three dispensations,..." (Ibid., p. 392). This view of the Godhead is called Modalism and has been held to be heretical by both Catholic and Protestant churches.
BAPTISM: Branham claimed that proper baptism was needed to avoid the "Mark of the Beast" of denominational churches and escape the danger of missing the rapture and entering the Tribulation. Proper baptism must be in the name of Jesus only. Baptism with the Trinitarian formula of Matthew 28:18 ("in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost") is unacceptable to God.
Branham explained, "There never was a person baptized in the name of `Father, Son, Holy Ghost' until early Catholic church" (Ibid., p. 178). "Look down on your Bible and see if that says `in the names of...' Does it? No, sir... It said, `in the NAME...'" Branham attempted to explain the distinction, "You see, you misunderstand it then. It's one God in three dispensations.... And when He said, `Go baptize them in the Name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit,' it was Jesus Christ. And that's why we baptize in Jesus' Name" (Ibid., pp. 181, 184).
If an incorrect formula was spoken during baptism, Branham felt the convert would go into darkness. "But a tritheist, triune baptism was never recognized in the Church, the New Testament... Now you know what to do, that's right; and if you refuse to walk in Light when Light's brought forth, you turn to darkness. Right! Amen!" (Ibid., p. 190).
1) Serpent's Seed: Branham taught that Eve's sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) was sexual in nature. According to Branham, Eve was seduced into a sexual relationship with the serpent and became pregnant with Cain. He explained, "Here is what actually happened in the Garden of Eden. The Word says that Eve was beguiled by the serpent. She was actually seduced by the serpent. He was as close to being a human that his seed could, and did mingle with that of the woman and cause her to conceive" (The Original Sin, pp. 2, 3). The serpent's seed was Cain and all his descendants. They are predestined for Hell. The Godly seed is Seth and his descendants who have been revealed by their call to Branham's ministry. A third group, represented by those still in denominational churches have free will to choose Heaven or Hell. The Godly seed are the Bride of Christ and will be raptured before Tribulation. Denominations are or eventually will be the Mark of the Beast and those who remain therein will go through the Tribulation. (Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, p. 96).
2) Last Days Prophet: Branham's followers claim that he held a special role as God's uniquely empowered end-time prophet. "Now, I'm just your brother, by the grace of God. But when the Angel of the Lord moves down, it becomes then a Voice of God to you...But I am God's Voice to you... Now, see, I can say nothing in myself. But what He shows me" (Footprints On The Sands Of Time, p. 214). The angelic visitor told Branham that he would be given two gifts and that he would restore Bible truth.
Branham's followers identified him as the prophetic Elijah of Malachi 4 and the seventh angel of Revelation 10. Speaking of himself, Branham said, "...we are promised a return of that Spirit [Elijah] just before the end-time. He won't start another church, because there is no more church ages to come... because the Laodicea Church Age is the last age, and the messenger of the Seventh Angel,... is the fellow that is going to reveal, by the Holy Spirit, all of these mysterious things.... Notice. This last message of the last church age is not a reformer, he is a PROPHET!" (The Seven Seals, pp. 144, 45).
According to his disciples, Branham is not just a prophet but a major prophet. "A MAN SENT FROM GOD. That the ministry of William Branham qualifies to be that of a major prophet and thus fulfill Malachi 4, 5 and 6 and Revelation 10:7 should become abundantly clear to any who take time to conduct even a brief investigation..." (The Message, Bible Believers, Inc., p. 7).
1) The Trinity doctrine cannot be fully comprehended by finite man. However, any other view of the Godhead will not satisfy God's self revelation in Scripture. Modalism teaches that there is only one Person in the Godhead functioning through relational "modes." When He is in the Father mode, the Son and Spirit modes are not functional. In Matthew 3:13-17, however, the Son is baptized, the Spirit descends and the Father speaks. Also, "in the name of" (Matthew 28:19) or in the authority of does not limit the nature of God's unity to one Person but connotes equality of essence within the Godhead (2 Corinthians 13:14).
2) Baptism in the name of Jesus only may have been the early practice in the Jerusalem church. However, all manuscripts of Matthew 28:19 have the Trinitarian formula as being commissioned by Jesus . One document, dating from A.D. 60, the Didache, prescribes the Matthew formula (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) for baptism within the church. Regardless of the formula, baptism is not a requirement for being raptured or avoiding the Tribulation. Full salvation is by grace though faith and not of works such as baptism (Ephesians 2:8-9).
3) The Serpent's Seed doctrine is an improper interpretation of Genesis 3 that is allegorical and arbitrary. Eve's sin was not sexual. She partook of literal fruit from a literal tree. Adam also partook of the same fruit as Eve (Genesis 3:6). This is not a reference to sexual sin. The Serpent's Seed doctrine artificially limits the atonement by race or genetics. While it is true that most of humanity will not benefit from the sacrificial death of Christ (Matthew 7:13-14), Jesus died for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). Christ's atonement is not limited to a certain family or race of people.
The Serpent's Seed doctrine did not originate with Branham. Branham's version of the doctrine parallels the racist views of some groups within the Identity movement and the speculative philosophies of Sun Myung Moon.
4) In light of claims that Branham was God's end-time prophet, it is significant that he falsely predicted that America would be destroyed in 1977 (The Seven Church Ages, p. 322). Branham was guilty of false prophecy (Deuteronomy 18:20-22). While he tried to call it a prediction rather than a prophecy (without explaining the difference), he firmly stressed that the 1977 date was based on his thirty year study of the Bible and "Divine inspiration." Branham's ministry and claims were supported by alleged supernatural verification. Signs and wonders, however, are not infallible proofs. Many conflicting sects and ideologies boast similar subjective "proofs" (2 Thessalonians 2:9, Matthew 12:39, 24:24, Hebrews 1:1, I John 4:1-3).
1) Oneness Pentecostals & The Trinity. Gregory A. Boyd. This work focuses on the movement which greatly influenced William Branham. The issues of Modalism, the One Name, baptismal regeneration and others are examined. 234 pages.
2) God In Three Persons. E. Calvin Beisner. Beisner examines the historic roots of and biblical
WILLIAM BRANHAM AND THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
(SPOKEN WORD PUBLICATIONS)
William Marrion Branham has been dead for many years and yet his influence lives on in the lives of his dedicated followers. "Spoken Word Publications" headquartered in Florida distributes William Branham's messages worldwide.
In Newsletter No.5 (undated), this statement is made on page 4,
"...We have run many advertisements in large Christian magazines, such as Charisma, and this is the way we make contact with new people. Most people that write us have never ever heard of Bro. Branham....".
Why all this interest in William Branham, deceased? Perhaps this quote from "The Ledger" of Saturday, April 23, l985 best presents the view of his followers.
"Before every scriptural event, God has always spoken to a prophet. And once again, a prophet has been in the land Brother William Branham, the messenger to this last age. The same pillar of fire that led the children of Israel out of Egypt has appeared in these last days to lead the true bride of Christ back to the revealed word of God.
It was on June 11, l933, that a most amazing and well-documented phenomenon occurred. As he was baptizing the 17th person in the Ohio River before a crowd of about 4,000, the pillar of fire appeared with the sound of rushing wind that was audible to all. It came down and hovered over him. Many ran in fear while others knelt in prayer. A voice spoke to him out of this pillar of fire and said, "As John the Baptist was the forerunner of the first coming of Christ, so your message is the forerunner of the second coming of Christ."
After that supernatural event occurred, he had hundreds of visions and visitations from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Since his followers enthusiastically believe the above claims, their total devotion to the man is understood. However, notice that their belief in this man as a prophet of God is largely based on what we might call "signs and wonders". They prominently display a photograph of their leader with the "pillar of fire" on their publications as "evidence" of his being from God. However, we realize that Satan and his ministers can present themselves as an "Angel of Light" and "ministers of righteousness" (2 Corinthians 11:13,14), so we need to be careful in our evaluation of supernatural events.
Some Christian writers present the view that William Branham was acting at all times under the power and direction of Satan. Other Christian writers feel that he was at one time a great man of God ministering salvation and healing. Both camps agree that at some point he began to leave the orthodox teachings of the Bible and began to place more importance in his visions than he did in God's word the Bible. It is a fact that he began to teach the following heresies.
THE BRANHAM TEACHING ON JESUS CHRIST
In "An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages", we find the following teaching by Wm. Branham. Page 21 says,
"People talk about Jesus being the Eternal Son of God. Now isn't that a contradiction? Whoever heard of a Son being eternal? Sons have beginnings, but that which is eternal never had a beginning."
Page 37 goes on to say,
"Jesus was created. When the Holy Ghost came upon Mary He created within her the cell that would multiply and become the body of our Lord. That cell was created. It was the beginning of the creation of God. That is who Jesus is."
However, Jesus Christ is eternal, not created. When the prophecy came to the Virgin Mary, she was told she would bear "Emmanuel", "God with us". (Matthew 1:23).
John 1:1 states that the Word was "with God" and "the Word was God".
Verse 14 of John, chapter one, goes on to say that"the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us".
Colossians 2:9 states that "all the fullness of the Godhead (Deity) was in Christ IN THE FLESH".
Micah 5:2 states that Christ is "from the days of eternity".
Yes, Jesus Christ is eternal God, and is definitely not created as Branham came to teach.
OF THE SERPENT?
In "An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages", on pages 98,100 and 101, Branham goes to some lengths to state that he had the "true revelation of the Serpents Seed".
He claims Eve had sexual relations with Satan the Devil, and Cain was conceived. He teaches that Satan was intimate with Eve before Adam, and so when Eve conceivedfrom Adam, she was already carrying the Serpent's child in her womb. This resulted in "two sons (twins) from separate impregnations." This highly unlikely occurrence has no support from the Bible.Scripture plainly states, "And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bare Cain, and said, "I have gotten a man from the Lord". (Genesis 4:1).
Previously Eve said, "The serpent deceived me, and I dId EAT" (Genesis 3:13). Her sin was eating the forbidden fruit, not dallying with the Devil!
Since Branham was recognized as a Prophet by many, we should consider at least one of his prophecies. In "The Seven Church Ages", page 322, he made the following prediction
"...Jesus did not say no man could know the year, month, or week in which His coming was to be completed. So I repeat, I sincerely believe and maintain as a private student of the Word, along with Divine inspiration that 1977 ought to terminate the world systems and usher in the millenium."
Branham followers are quick to point out that this was merely a "prediction", not a prophecy, but if William Branham was indeed the "prophet" and "messenger to this last age" he would speak truth and not error. He, himself claimed "Divine inspiration" for his 1977 date, and how good a "private student of the Word" was he?
Obviously, Branham's understanding of the work of God was sadly lacking, as was his "Divine inspiration" for this obviously false prophecy. Mark 13:32 states "Of that day and that hour knoweth no man..."
Matthew 24:42 says, "Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come."
In 1950, the pillar of fire was photographed above Brother Branham's head. This picture is in the Hall of Religious Art in Washington, D.C. as the only verified photograph of a supernatural being.
God has also vindicated his servant with many thousands of healings and miracles. Seven people were raised from the dead; five of these were well documented."
OTHER DENIALS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
Branham denies the Trinity and the doctrine of eternal hellfire. He joins many other cult groups in these denials of the essentials of the Christian faith.
We have chosen to let the reader decide whether William Branham ever functioned as a true Christian. We acknowledge that many supernatural happenings occurred around him, but we cannot use these events to judge the man. We must confine our evaluation to a comparison of his teachings with those of God's word the Bible.
Our conclusion is that William Branham became a false teacher and a false prophet, and as such we are under Bible command to avoid him and his legacy.
Whatever good things he might have done, he ended up denying the Deity of Jesus Christ. As such a one he must be identified as a counterfeit Christian and he and his followers as a cult.