William Branham was born in Kentucky USA in April 1909 and was the first of nine children. He died in a car accident in 1965. William Branham was converted in his early 20’s but even at the age of 7 he recalls the first of what were to be many angelic interventions in his life. In this first one the voice 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”
These early memories are both recorded on tape, the typed manuscript of which is entitled, Brother Branham and in the book Footprints on the Sand of Time.
He became part of what is known, among other titles, as The Manifest Sons of God. Those who hold this doctrine believe that they will become sinless and immortal in their physical bodies on this earth. They also believe that they will rule on the earth. Albert James Dager, in an article in Media Spotlight Vol 8. – No.1, gives this summary account:
“… man lost dominion over the earth when Adam and Eve succumbed to Satan’s temptation… God ‘lost control’ of the earth to Satan at that time, and has since been looking for a ‘covenant people’ who will be His ‘extension,’ or ‘expression,’ in the earth and take dominion back from Satan. This is to be accomplished through certain ‘overcomers’ who… will take control of the kingdoms of this world.
“These kingdoms are defined as all social institutions, such as the ‘kingdom’ of education, the ‘kingdom’ of science, the ‘kingdom’ of the arts, and so on. Most especially there is the “kingdom” of politics or government.
“… those in control (at this time)… are referred to as the ‘many-membered man child,’ whom Kingdom Theology adherents believe will be the fulfillment of Revelation 12:1-5…
Those who hold to Kingdom Theology assume that the Church (some believe only a small group within the Church, called ‘overcomers’), under submission to the latter day apostles and prophets, is that man child, and that it has the responsibility to put down all rebellion and establish righteousness… The many-membered man child must take control of the earth before Jesus can return.”
Many regard William Branham as one of the greatest prophet for this ‘final age.’ He taught about “God’s Seventh Church Age”; the final move before the manifestation of His Kingdom on earth. Indeed, he felt called specifically,
“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 Message that will bring forth the forerunner of the Second Coming of Christ’” – Brother Branham, p. 71.
Many of Branham’s followers believed that he had come in the spirit of Elijah; some even believed him to be God, born of a virgin. When he died, many expected him to rise from the dead at the end of three days. However after five days he was buried.
However according to Scripture we need to test the teachings and actions of William Branham to see if they are in line with the revelation of Scripture. If they are not, whatever we may feel about him we must say that he cannot be a prophet of God if He does not speak according to His word.
Below we record what Branham taught on some major areas of Christian doctrine and compare that with Scripture.
William Branham on the Godhead
Branham denied the Trinity doctrine: “The hours approached where I can’t hold still on these things no more… Trinitarianism is of the devil. I tell you that – Thus saith the Lord.” – Footprints on the Sands of Time: The autobiography of William Marrion Branham, Part Two, pp.606-7.
He then believed a slight variation of a second century heresy taught by Sabellius. Instead of three Persons in the Godhead, he taught that there was only one Person (Jesus) going under different titles or modes at various times in history.
“My revelation by the Holy Spirit is: Christ, and the Holy Spirit is the self same person, only in a different form… I know, that is one of the mysteries of the last days, how that Christ can be the three persons in One. It is not three different people–Father, Son, and Holy Ghost–being three gods as the trinitarians try to tell us it is. It’s three manifestations of the same Person, or you might call it three offices….Notice now, the Holy Spirit and the revelation and Christ is another form That’s right. ” (The Revelation of the Seven Seals, p.156-157)
Please note that William Branham claims this was revealed by the Holy Spirit. However Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit leads us into truth. If the doctrine above is not true then it does show that William Branham, at least on this issue, was listening to a different spirit, not the Holy Spirit.
What does Scripture teach?
We do not have space here to go in to a full treatise on the Trinity but such material is available. However we will note here the following:
There are three distinct persons. Scriptures such as Matthew 28:19 and 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 describe the three. We can also see from John 5:37 that Jesus distinguishes Himself from the Father. Then in John 14:16, the Holy Spirit is called ‘another’, distinguishing Him from both Father and Son.
Jesus is shown to be God. This can be seen from Scriptures such as John 5:21, 20:28 and Hebrews 1:3.
The Holy Spirit is God. Many verses including Acts 5:3-4 and 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 show the truth of this statement.
The word ‘Trinity’ may not appear in the Bible but the Bible clearly teaches the concept of the Trinity in all its aspects.
William Branham on Jesus
The following teaching about Jesus is taken from An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages:
“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” – p.21
“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.” – p.37.
What does Scripture teach?
John 1:1-5 clearly shows that Biblically Christ had a pre-existence before He came to earth as the Son of God, born of Mary.
John 1:1 literally means, “when the beginning begun Jesus was already there,” He is an eternal being and must have had an existence before coming to earth. Verse 3 also tells us that through Him all things came into being, and life was in Him. This cannot speak of an inanimate object but must speak of the person of Christ who existed before everything else.
Philippians 2:6-7 goes on to show that just as Jesus actually existed as man, He had already existed as God.
Finally we can also mention John 8:58 that succinctly says that “before Abraham Was. I AM.” Jesus was in existence before Abraham and therefore clearly had a life before He came to earth.
William Branham and The Serpents Seed
The following is taken from the Media Spotlight Vol.8 – No.1. 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.”
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.
What does Scripture teach?
There is no such teaching within Scripture and to teach this is to add to the revelation of Scripture.
William Branham and The Return of Christ
“… 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.” – The Seven Church Ages, p.322.
Yes, he did say first “a private student” and if this was only the opinion of William Branham it would be a different issue. But he added, “along with Divine inspiration” and thus has brought in the revelation of the Holy Spirit again.
In these notes we have only looked at the teachings of Branham and not his lifestyle or actions – these also give concern to many. However, the question we must ask is, “Can the teachings of William Branham be reconciled with Scripture?”
From the quotations given above, I believe the answer to that is clearly, “No”.
This is not to say that every word Branham spoke was wrong but we must approach his teachings with extreme caution because on a number of occasions he claimed revelation from the Holy Spirit that clearly came from a different spirit.
In New Testament terms William Branham is a false teacher and a false prophet and certainly the early church would not have accepted such teachings – I would therefore add that as true evangelical Christians – neither should we.
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