Before getting into specifics about William Branham I will give a bit of general background to my own experience.
It seems to me that one of the easiest ways for a Christian to be led away from Bible truth is when their admiration for or interest in a particular preacher, ministry or place becomes their main focus. Add to that the erroneous belief that a true Christian cannot be deceived and you have the potential for a shipwreck ahead – hopefully not permanent!
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that when my husband and I were very young in the faith, we joined the local Elim church and were taken under the wing of a very nice man, David, who came regularly to our home to teach us from the Bible.
We were enthralled as he related stories to show us that God was still doing miraculous things , just as He did in the early church, in the ministries of the great healing Evangelists around at that time [late 60s -70s]. He explained that God was restoring the five-fold ministries [Eph 4:11] to the church and fulfilling Joel’s prophecy as on the Day of Pentecost in Acts.
We were not sufficiently knowledgeable in the scriptures ourselves at the time to question, nor did we see the need to challenge anything we were being taught. He was a lovely Christian man, we got on well with him and he knew his Bible inside out [it seemed to us] – so what could possibly be wrong? It was years later that we learned these were the heretical teachings of the Latter Rain movement. He also was a member of the Full Gospel Business Mens Fellowship who also believe the same.
Well – the Pastor of our church did not approve and forbade David to meet with us anymore. There was no explanation why , so the inevitable happened and we eventually departed the Elim church and became a small house fellowship. We later met in a small building as our numbers grew.
Then – I think through David – we began to have connections with a church community in Chard, Somerset, which everyone got very excited about because of the wonderful things that were happening there.
A preacher came from Chard specifically to teach and encourage us all in the gifts of the Spirit. But something he said set the alarm bells ringing. His words were: ” If the [first] voice you hear isn’t the Holy Spirit – then who are you being led by?” This seemed very unwise counsel to my husband and I – especially as no mention was made of the need for conformity to the scriptures.
Needless to say, things began to happen in the meetings , including being ‘slain’ in the Spirit, as discernment and caution flew out the window in this newfound confidence and freedom.
When we tried to voice our concerns we were faced with anger and the general caution was not to ‘quench the Spirit’ because this was all part of God’s end time outpouring and restoration of signs and wonders to His church.
During our association with David the name of William Branham cropped up regularly. He was much admired and held in almost reverential awe by his followers. We were impressed by the ministry God had given him. We were completely ignorant about him and listened in wonder to the accounts of miraculous healings by this great ‘man of God’.
I am always willing to be objective about people and not to simply accept what may be personal prejudices about anyone , so to that end I read accounts both for and against. I am amazed now at the true picture that emerges from some of those who were close to him and that William Branham was so accepted [and still is] in pentecostal/charismatic circles without question. There are some enlightening and very interesting videos and articles on line and I’ll put links at the end of this post.
One of the first things I came across was a video by Ed Byskal[?] . It’s titled ‘I Am A Witness’ and begins with a quote from Luke’s opening words to his gospel account. So – you would think it’s a witness to the Lord Jesus Christ wouldn’t you? But NO – it’s his witness to William Branham!
A young looking Ed B. explains that he wants to share his personal experiences so that “you may know with certainty the things of which I am a witness” Luke 1:4 So, the whole video is a defence of and excuses for WB’s many false prophecies and heretical teachings. It seems WB was a humble servant of God with faults and failings, but so exalted and blessed by God with the miraculous, that it made any false teachings and prophecies of no account! EB , tragically seems to have made it his life’s calling to defend WB – unless of course the selective videos are giving me an unfair picture.
WB had psychic phenomena happening at his birth and throughout his childhood. These included voices, visions and angel visitations, which always frightened him . This is not surprising when you read that his extremely young parents were not Christians and believed in fortune telling.
If WB’s followers were/are aware of all this – it doesn’t seem to phase or bother them because they place God’s ‘anointing ‘ above His word. I came across this quote from the FGBMF ‘Voice’ mag 1961. ‘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.
I will end with a concerned appeal to those who think that Christians cannot be deceived – you are in a danger zone if your focus and admiration is on a particular person, ministry or ‘revival’ location – however spectacular the signs and wonders and however humble and sincere they may be. Your focus must always be on the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostle’s teachings as they are revealed in the Bible. ‘Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’ Psalm 119:105
And don’t let yourself be put off, if, when you think something is wrong and unscriptural, you are told not to ‘judge’, not to ‘touch God’s anointed’, ‘not everything God does is in the Bible’, ‘you have a critical spirit’, or that Bible believers ‘worship’ the Bible or are legalistic.
These are just fear tactics [probably because they are in fear themselves] to keep you quiet and in bondage to their authority. Don’t be afraid to follow up your doubts and be a good Bible searching Berean. Read everything in context and get an overall view of what verses are actually saying and don’t let others do your thinking for you. 2 Tim 2:15 and 2 Tim 3:16,17 seem appropriate here.
For articles on William Branham I would recommend http://www.Letusreason.org. If you go to the left side bar on their home page you will be able to scroll down to Latter Rain and click to see them.
A You Tube search will find Ed Byskal’s video titled I Am a Witness. There are several other interesting and informative videos there too.
Another ministry that concerns me is The Healing Rooms and John G Lake. Let Us Reason has some excellent articles on him too.