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Concerning Cults – William Branham (Part 1)

June 2002 | by Eryl Davies

William Branham
see image info

The name of the late William Branham may have no significance at all for you or your church. If so, I am delighted. But why should I now tell you about Branham? There are three reasons for doing so.

One reason is that Branham’s disciples are contacting increasing numbers of evangelical pastors and churches. Some pastors are confused as to whether or not his teaching is biblical. They are asking for help and hence this article.

Foolish claims

A second reason is that Branham’s books, cassettes, tracts and videos are available in many languages. They are pouring into countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico and Paraguay.

Branham’s resources are also penetrating effectively into other areas of the world like England, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, Hungary, Romania, Lithuania, Russia, the Philippines and South Africa.

And this is not an exhaustive list. It is probable that you may soon have contact with a person who has received Branham’s books or cassettes.

Thirdly, people make foolish claims concerning him. For example, Branham is regarded as ‘the twentieth-century prophet’; ‘A man sent from God’; and ‘a prophet to the Gentiles’ whose ministry ‘has been unparalleled since the days of our Lord Jesus Christ’.

These fanciful claims will be considered later. I will begin by answering some questions in order to outline and evaluate Branham’s life and teaching.

When did he live?

William Marrion Branham (1909-1965) was born in Kentucky, USA. Following a personal healing as a young man, he felt a call to preach and became an independent Baptist pastor.

In his itinerant work, he emphasised healing, deliverance and prosperity.

One historian, D. E. Harrell, in his book All Things are Possible (Indiana University Press), reports that many participants in the ‘healing revival’, which ‘erupted’ in 1947 in the USA, regarded Branham as its ‘initiator’.

His simple messages, and reports of many alleged healings, made him extremely popular worldwide.

Why is he considered a special person?

Firstly, because of ‘the pillar of fire’ photograph. Here are the details.

In January 1950 a photograph of Branham was developed and a light appeared in the negative above his head ‘in a halo-like form’. Rather than seeking a technical explanation, his supporters regard the phenomenon as supernatural. They say the light is a supernatural entity and claim that this is ‘the only supernatural Being ever photographed’!

When Branham himself was informed about the photograph, he expressed no surprise. He said that before the photo was taken, he ‘heard the Pillar of Fire descend into the building with a sound of rushing wind’. Astonishingly, people believed Branham.

Branham claimed that ‘the same Being’ photographed in 1950 had appeared to him earlier in 1933 with the message: ‘As John the Baptist foreran the first coming of Christ, you will forerun the Second Coming’.

Could he read minds?

He is considered special, secondly, because it is stated that Branham could read the hearts and minds of others, at least during healing meetings. The claim is that ‘the hearts of the people were revealed – the past, the present and the future’.

That is not all. They add: ‘and not one time did it fail … God was doing through this ministry exactly as he had done in the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ 2000 years ago’.

What happened? Branham told ‘the people of their past life … sins would be called out, secrets of their hearts revealed…’

Even Walter J. Hollenweger, who interpreted for Branham in Zurich, was ‘not aware of any case in which he was mistaken in the often detailed statements he made’ (The Pentecostals, 1972, p.354).

Foolishly, many followers accepted his claims. In fact, when he died in 1965, many ‘expected him to be resurrected, some believing him to be God, others believing him to be virgin-born’ (Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, 1988, p.96).

Should we reject these claims?

Yes, of course. After all, only God is omniscient. No human is able to reveal the thoughts and secrets of individuals. That is God’s prerogative alone.

To claim that the ‘light’ that appeared in the photo was a ‘supernatural Being’ and, by implication God, is absurd. There are plausible explanations, of this phenomenon, such as glare or reflections, accidental film exposure, or deliberate ‘touching-up’.

Furthermore, now we have the complete Bible, God does not ‘reveal’ himself physically to anyone, and certainly not in photographs! Apart from God’s glory stamped on creation (Romans 1:19-20), all that we ‘see’ of God here and now is found only in the Bible.

Also, we must reject the claim that Branham had achieved ‘exactly’ what our Lord’s ministry achieved 2000 years ago.

Christ’s miracles were unique, functioning as ‘signs’ verifying his deity and confirming his claims.

For example, to answer John the Baptist’s doubts as to whether he was the promised Messiah, Jesus referred to his own mighty miracles as evidence of the fact (Luke 7:22). No comparison can be drawn between the Lord’s ministry and that of Branham.

Is there an occult explanation?

I think there is evidence for such an explanation. For example, he claimed esoteric, mysterious experiences from his childhood. According to Branham, he experienced ‘supernatural visitations’ even at the ages of three and seven.

Throughout his life, he claimed, he was guided by an angel. It was in a secret cave in 1946 that an angel supposedly first ‘appeared’ to Branham. On this occasion, he reports, he was given the power to discern people’s illnesses and thoughts.

Are these encounters associated with the occult? That was the opinion of Rev W. E. Best, pastor of Houston Tabernacle Baptist Church, at the time.

In 1950 Best, a godly Reformed pastor, challenged Branham’s colleague, Rev F. F. Bosworth, to a debate over this healing ministry.

The debate was attended by 8,000 people and Best argued his case well, despite many interruptions. After insisting on the uniqueness of our Lord’s earthly miracles, Best proceeded to emphasise the unique authority given to the apostles.

He rightly argued that this authority, including gifts of healing, was confined to the foundational period of the New Testament church in the apostolic era.

While God in his sovereignty can heal whenever he pleases, ‘No man has the power to heal,’ insisted W. E. Best.

Was it the work of God?

Amidst uproar in the meeting, Best claimed there were those ‘who used sorcery to bewitch people, so that people are sincerely misled and say it’s the power of God’.

Another person suggested that Branham ‘hypnotises his audience’. The use of hypnotism and his own psychic powers may have contributed to Branham’s reputation as a healer and a ‘revealer’ of people’s secrets.

Best, however, may be on the right path in suggesting a more sinister force as an explanation of Branham’s experiences and healings.

A ‘healing’ is not necessarily the work of God. This point needs to be stressed. For example, the devil and his hosts can also work in extraordinary ways.

In Egypt, Pharaoh’s servants performed miracles (Exodus 7:11,22; 8:7), while in Samaria Simon the sorcerer astonished people with his ‘wonders’ (Acts 8:9-11). In Philippi, Paul delivered a young woman possessed by a spirit of divination; she clearly had unusual abilities which attracted the attention of many people (Acts 16:16).

According to 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10, the man of sin will be revealed ‘with all power and with pretended signs and wonders’ (cf. Revelation 13:11-14). Tentatively, I suggest there may have been a mix of psychic and occult factors contributing to Branham’s success.

Was Branham clear about the gospel?

Yes and no! I will explain this answer in more detail next month. His sermons point to the way of salvation through Christ alone. He underlined texts like Acts 4:12: ‘Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved’.

Branham declared: ‘It is Christ or perish … salvation is not Jesus plus. It is Jesus alone…’ [italics original]. The Lord Jesus, he added, shed his ‘innocent blood to atone for our sins and rose again, to redeem…’

I must warn, however, that his presentation of the gospel came (and still comes) in a package which is unbiblical. But more of that next time.

21 thoughts on “Concerning Cults – William Branham (Part 1)

  1. Monday justus king's bride. says:

    Jesus is the same yesterday, today ,and forever. There fore Branham could not do anythi6 unless God was with him. Read his resurrecting a child in Finland.

    1. This is hearsay. Just because you have read something does not make it true.

      1. Xuzie says:

        Quoting the Bible “If Satan cast out Satan he is divided against Himself”
        Now there is something that nobody, no soul, no matter how strong you may feel you are with God and that is to ridicule a person wonks boldly standing for Christ and doing the works inwhich Christ himself promised WE WOULD DO.

        And when God moves you better catch that revelation bro.

    2. Tommy Thompson says:

      You are absolutely right! When you talk against Brother Branham, you are talking against the very God that gave him Thus Saith the Lord!

  2. Sheila Achieng says:

    John 14:12: very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.( The NIV version) so there is nothing wrong with Branham seeing visions and knowing the thoughts of people or healing them. Jesus did all this. If you are a true believer of Christ, you should be able to do so as well.
    At least use the Bible in your criticisms.

    1. Zakaria Zom Henry says:

      God bless you

    2. ISRAEL says:

      WILLIAM BRANHAM is an Absolute Truth a Great Prophet that I ever seen if you want to know who he is ? Just Go read Malachi :4 ,5 and went fader saying before reading of Malachi:4 he said in Malachi:4 ,3 Remember my servant MOSES Laws
      and this means what? saying about the Experience of the Pilar Fire in SINAÏ Mountain. GO CHECK IN

  3. Anonymous says:

    He who hath an ear let him hear what the spirit says to the church….its by revelation

    1. Zakaria Zom Henry says:

      God bless you

  4. Paul says:

    I found an article on Wikipedia about William David Upshaw and he attended one of William Branham’s revival meetings in 1951.

  5. Xuzie says:

    Revelation 7 “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets”.
    Now no man Can know the heart of God true but Brother Branham never claimed to be able to read God’s mind, He was a humble and sincere man.

  6. Eric says:

    The writer of this article must be confused. Can the devil cast out the devil? Statement like “A healing is not necessarily a work of God” means that healing is also the work of God. Branham did not point people to himself. He pointed people to Christ.

  7. Tommy Thompson says:

    I knew him! I was there at the Branham Tabernacle when brother Way fell dead in the next row in front of me! Brother Branham prayed for him & he came to life! He prayed for a friend of ours. She had cancer. The doctors gave her up! Said she wouldn’t live through the night! Brother Branham prayed for her! She loved for 25 more years! Many many more!
    You have not been very thorough in your research! Prayed for my daddy over the phone from about 160 miles away! He had a 3rd degree burn from a 440 volt cable in the mine! Cable blowed up in his hand! He was in extreme pain! The pain immediately stopped. My brother had a bad fall when he hit his head on concrete! He lost his memory! Brother Branham prayed for him! He immediately got perfect memory back! He went back to school & much smarter than he was before!
    I listen to his messages every single day

    1. Samuel says:

      Hallelujah! God bless you dear brother

    2. George says:

      dear, please read revelations chapter 12 to 20 about the false prophet..he also does the same…my dad is attending a similar church and their pastors or elders will never come for a discussion with any other pastors, to prove their doctrines from the word of God.

    3. Veruschka Klein says:

      Amen thank you Jesus

  8. bro victor says:

    HAhahahah….. God bless you all i humbly breathen encourage you that Bro. Branham was a man sent from God , he was a prophet because he prophesied, he was not a healer the God living in him did the healing, many supernatural events happened and that was in accordance to God’s will. he preached the real bible not what a bishop said or a big man wearing a dress said .lets see if all what he said was Biblical then we will see light and believe his message

  9. Kathy Buskett says:

    If you don’t believe in miracles for today, it is you who are acting like the Pharisees and who is in the wrong.

    Jesus said we would do more miracles than he would! Paul said not to despise prophecies. And even more damning is this bit of scripture from Matthew 12:

    22 (A)Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23 (B)And all the people were amazed, and said, (C)“Can this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, (D)“It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” 25 (E)Knowing their thoughts, (F)he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, (G)by whom do (H)your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is (I)by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then (J)the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or (K)how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed (L)he may plunder his house. 30 (M)Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 (N)Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but (O)the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 And whoever speaks a word (P)against the Son of Man (Q)will be forgiven, but (R)whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in (S)this age or in the age to come.

    If you attribute miracles of true healing (not fake ones) to Satan then you’re literally committing the unpardonable sin. Only God can heal of course. He uses men to do it. Holy men with blameless lives. He used Paul and Peter. And there is NOTHING in the Bible that says God stopped healing. Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever.

    The fact that you don’t want to believe it’s for today just shows how faithless and apostate you really are.

    2 Timothy 3

    3:1 But understand this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, savage, opposed to what is good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, loving pleasure rather than loving God. 5 They will maintain the outward appearance of religion but will have repudiated its power. So avoid people like these

  10. Bruce says:

    Sir, you know so very little about this great ministry that the Lord used William Branham for. Let’s talk about the picture of the pillar of fire above Willaim Branham that was photographed. George J Lacey was the leading expert and worked for such groups as the FBI, he was the one who authenticated the picture as the “only supernatural photograph taken.”
    The bible says “the Word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” That was the spirit of God that was speaking through William Branham, very similar to the spirit of God speaking through the Lord Jesus Christ with the woman at the well. William Branham would stand on stage and say “I am waiting for Him.” When the spirit of God was present he would then start to call out the people and tell them things that only God would know. William Branham often said, “I am just a man, a sinner saved by grace, I can not do anything until He appears.”
    No hard feelings, just setting the record straight.

    1. Veruschka Klein says:

      Amen my.bro

      1. Apronia says:

        Glory to God for Brother Branham’s supernatural ministry! Undoubtably a Prophet sent from God.

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