The ministry of William Branham spanned a thirty-two-year period from 1933 to 1965. Last month we illustrated the foolish claims made concerning Branham himself and his work. In this article we focus on Branham’s teaching.
People ‘watched with astonishment’, it is claimed, as Branham’s ‘prophetic ministry unfolded before them’. They also tell us that people are ‘still being challenged by the legacy of his ministry’.
Branham’s 1964-65 English sermons are now available in printed form. There is excitement, too, on the part of his followers because twenty-four recently discovered messages have been made available on cassette.
There is more being claimed by this group. It is stated that in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s Branham’s ministry was superior to that of other ‘evangelists’ and ‘revivalists’ operating in the United States.
How? Other men, they say, ‘left only memories of signs and wonders’ after their death. By contrast, the ministry of William Branham is supposed to have ‘left the legacy of A Message’.
And that Message, they inform us, is ‘cherished’ by thousands of believers around the world.
The claim expands. Branham left a Message which challenges ‘Traditional Christianity’ and ‘our traditional way of thinking about practically everything that is called Christian’.
They see their website as ‘a serious challenge’ to our faith. We are challenged, ‘not only to believe that God has sent a prophet to this Last Age, but also to believe the Message he brought to restore, correct and set the bridge of Jesus Christ in order for the rapture’.
No wonder some pastors and congregations, especially in Eastern Europe, Africa and South America, are confused over Branham’s claims and message.
Their confusion is aggravated in two ways. First, Branham’s claimed that he had enjoyed ‘constant communication with God and Angels’ and, as a result, received a divinely given message for people in the end-times.
Such a claim must be rejected as being illusory and occult. This point was made last month.
Secondly, confusion is deepened by the group’s insistence that through the ages, God’s people have ‘always followed a man’ and a man of God’s choosing (see Following a man?, p.1).
The logic of their argument is clear. Paul urged believers to be ‘followers of me’ (1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1). Then they argue that God does not use stars or angels to reveal his Word to people. No, ‘He chooses a man like Moses, Elijah and the prophets’.
We agree wholeheartedly. John Calvin, for example, is one of many Reformed writers who uphold this principle.
In his commentary on Acts 10 Calvin illustrates the principle in action. God did not send an angel to preach to Cornelius in Caesarea. Rather, the angel was sent to tell Cornelius to bring Peter from Joppa, as he would preach the Word to him.
Yes, God is sovereign but chooses to use men and human preaching to bring the elect to faith in Christ. This is important.
However, Branham and his followers assume that because God revealed himself in Bible times through visions or angels, he continues to speak to chosen individuals today in the same way. But he is wrong.