The following are a series of questions and answers between one of our editors (referred to as BTS) and an anonymous Branham minister (referred to as ABM). This series of Q&A relates to William Branham's prophetic ministry. The full text of this question and its answer is below.
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Question 2 - The Billy Graham Prophecy
In 1962, William Branham stated:
- Nineteen fifty-six I prophesied in Chicago that Billy Graham that year would return and cancel his meetings. Tommy Osborn would return, and America would see its last call. And from then the revival would die. I just count back and see. We got that on record. See? And the revival is gone. (62-0628 - A Greater Than Solomon Is Here, para. 8)
We have a record of everything William Branham stated about Billy Graham in Chicago in 1956 (this is assumed to be his reference to “we got that on record” since there are no other records):
- “Go ye into all the world; preach the Gospel to every creature.” That’s one commission. That’s right. Billy Graham, Jack Shuler, many of the other great men are doing that. (William Branham, 56-0405 - The Resurrection Of Jesus?, para. 31 (Chicago))
- I’m not saying, as our Brother Billy Graham said, “Answering my critics.” I so thankful I have so few critics.
- ...And I looked at the wheels turning up. I notice the great, famous evangelist, Billy Graham, he come back from overseas and he staged his meetings, New York and these great places, to hit the very nerve center, and so forth. And I see that, Brother Roberts excommunicated out of the foreign country. Mr. Arganbright wants me, after June, and them, to go into Germany, back down into South Africa and through there, but something is holding me to America. And all the others seems to be the same way. And I believe that America is going to get her last call, this year. (56-0408A - What Is A Vision?, para. 27, 167 (Chicago))
- The other day I read a letter from a sister who was with Billy Graham and them down in—in Saipan, Brother Moore’s daughter. (William Branham, 56-0408E - The Time Is At Hand, para. 26 (Chicago))
- And now, I’ve left my hometown when Billy Graham was over there. And I’ve always wanted to meet Billy Graham. And he’s in Louisville now, preaching. My family and them’s attending. Our churches are closed and everything, a cooperating in the meeting to do everything we can to put the effort. I live about where eighty-five percent of the alcoholic beverages is, that swindles these drunken people on the streets, comes from Louisville, Kentucky. And the tobacco factories, it’s the seat of Satan. And you people in Chicago pray that God will anoint that evangelist Billy Graham till there’ll be a revival break out in Louisville and will just start something. And now, pray for him. And I pray for him all the time, each day and every night and everything. ’Cause God’s using the man in a great way. A very fine brother, so I am told. (↑ William Branham, 56-1003 - Painted-Face Jezebel, para. 11)
As a result, one can reasonably conclude that William Branham never prophecied anything about Billy Graham in Chicago. We can conclude that because he said it was “on record,” which presumably means on tape. What he did say was that, "I believe that America is going to get her last call, this year."
That is certainly not a prophecy that Billy Graham was going to cancel his meetings. It’s just an opinion about the state of the USA.
Did Billy Graham cancel his meetings in 1956? Let's examine what actually happened in Billy Graham's ministry...
In 1956, Billy Graham conducted at tour of India, Taiwan, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and the Philippines which started on January 17in India and ended in Honolulu on March 11.The Bombay rally on January 20, 1956 was canceled because of riots, however, none of the remaining Indian or Asian meetings were cancelled. It should also be noted that the cancelled Bombay rally was prior to William Branham’s meetings in Chicago. Billy Graham held numerous meetings throughout the US in 1956 including an almost month long crusade in Louisville, Kentucky from Sept 30 to Oct. 28, 1956. Dr. Graham went on to hold rallies in St. Louis, MO in the last week of November and in Buffalo, NY on Dec. 13-14.
William Branham was aware of Billy Granham's meetings in Louisville. What is strange is that he did not mention his “prophecy.”
- And, then, I think that the hour has arrived that this part of the country ought to receive a great visitation, on the coming of our noble brother, Billy Graham, to Louisville, this coming week. He begins the same time, Louisville, I begin in Chicago. So, I’ll be back, through, I—I want to meet him, personally, while he’s here. And some friends is going to introduce me to him. And I’ve been right in the same city, overseas, and many different places, but just, so, we didn’t get to meet each other. (56-0923 - Spiritual Adoption, para. 11)
It is also clear that William Branham was unaware of his 1956 propehcy (or at least did not believe it) when he prayed in 1958:
- Lord God... let men come to themselves and realize that just belonging to the church isn’t what You require. You want men to be filled with the Spirit, born, hewed out, burnt in with the Holy Spirit, branded, men who has crossed the line, God-called men. And we believe that You’re going to send the revival that Billy Graham and many others are praying for. When You can get men out to themselves, away from their school of theology, away from their self-styled ways, fearless men, men of—of character with You, who believes You and takes You at Your Word. (58-1005E - God-Called Man, para. 107-108)
There is no record of any US meetings of Billy Graham being cancelled in 1956. The only record of a meeting being cancelled in 1956 was the meeting in Bombay which was cancelled because of riots and that was before William Branham's Chicago meetings in April 1956. What is also strange is that he said that he believed that God was going to send a revival, which was completely opposed to his 1956 statement.
There is a record of a 3 day meeting being cancelled in Waco, TX in 1965. Additionally, Dr. Graham announced the cancelation of meetings in Dec 1967 as a result of his being diagnosed with pnemonia. Those are the only recorded meetings that were cancelled from 1956-2005 according to the records of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. (Wheaton College - Chronological Listing of Events in the Life of Billy Graham and the History of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) In 1957, Billy Graham held the longest evangelistic crusade in his life - a 16-week revival in New York City, where 2.3 million gathered at Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium, and Times Square. On September 22, 1991, Graham held his largest event in North America on the Great Lawn of New York's Central Park. City officials estimated more than 250,000 in attendance. In the 10 years from 1947 through 1956, Billy Graham held 64 crusades. In the 10 years from 1957 to 1966, Graham held 119 crusades. And from 1967 until his last crusade in New York City in 2005, he held another 234 crusades, for a total of 417 crusades held during his lifetime. Although William Branham said that Billy Graham cancelled his meetings in 1956, there is no evidence that this happened in 1956 in which Graham held 3 crusades after his return from an overseas tour.
As of 2008, Graham's estimated lifetime audience, including radio and television broadcasts, topped 2.2 billion.
We are faced with two possibilities with respect to William Branham's comments in 1962:
- William Branham actually prophecied that Billy Granham's meetings would be cancelled in 1956 but the prophecy was not recorded. That prophecy failed.
- There was no prophecy and William Branham lied when he stated he had made a prophecy and that it was “on record.” (the audience would not have been aware that no meetings were cancelled or what William Branham had said about them in 1956).
We are left with this question: Why did William Branham state in 1962 that he prophecied the cancelation of Billy Granham’s meetings after he “returned home” when no meetings were actually cancelled?
Response from the anonymous Branham minister
Thank you for your continued openness to dialogue.
There are fortunately still living people living who have memory of the days of Bro. Branham. Their number is getting fewer and fewer, but we are fortunate to have still living in our own church one extended family who moved to the Jeffersonville area as a result of Branham's campaigns in Chicago. We likewise have two associated churches in the immediate Chicago area who also have members who were present at some of the Branham campaign meetings in Chicago. I took some time to reach out to those I knew had been at the meetings to see if they had an specific recollection on this event. One lady explained different things that happened during the healing services, and upon a review of the tapes of those meetings, it was clear that the majority of the healing services were not recorded. The recordings were generally limited to the preaching services. This was common in the Branham's campaigns. Likewise, I might add, that Leo Mercer (or Mercier) was the one most frequently responsible for recording the services. He frequently altered tapes and withheld some completely. At the time of Bro. Branham's death there were only about 400 tapes in circulation. Then over the years, new tapes were gradually "discovered", predominantly coming from the library of Mercer. There was a considerable flap that occurred in the immediate years after Bro. Branham's death with Junior Jackson and Orman Neville on one side pitted against Leo Mercer, Perry Green, and Lee Vayle on the other side. Jackson and Neville both discovered that the tapes, and the subsequent spoken word books created from the tapes, did not line up with their memory of Branham's sermons or with original recordings of the services which they themselves possessed.
My point with the first paragraph is to bring to your attention a fact long known in parts of the movement. The tapes and spoken word have been altered from what Bro. Branham originally spoke. Leo Mercer is believed to be the primary one responsible, having taken parts of multiple sermons and weaving them together to advance his own agenda. Then withholding other tapes from ever being published which clashed with his agenda. Vayle and Green later broke away from Mercer after it became apparent what kind of lifestyle he was involved in. By acknowledging the tapes are doctored, we realize we cannot take at face value everything from the spoken word books. You can find reference to this in the Contender newspaper Junior Jackson used to publish. These are on the internet. Those who are vested in the tapes and the income they provide find this fact inconvenient and will seldom mention it because doing so would strongly undermine the authority or the Spoken Word. For them it is better to have a doctored tape than no tape at all. So please understand that like many others, I take with a grain of salt anything from the Spoken Word. I have no certain confidence that the sermons in which Bro. Branham made statements are the actual times he made those statements. No one has taken the time to try and untangle the mess, as far as I know. VGR sure does not seem interested in doing it. Our "sect" if the message are not "tape churches" so we have never had need to fix it. We remember what was preached, and it is taught orally and passed down.
All that said, I will move towards addressing your question. The one paragraph given is ambiguous on its own. Let's look and see something closer to it's origin for a fuller picture:
- I say this and make this prediction. I'm not saying this in the Name of the Lord, now, I'm saying this as your brother. I predict this, and listen close. I predict that America this year, the United States this year, will either receive Christ or she will start falling, from this year.
- This is America's time to repent... I predicted that I think about January the 15th or 16th of this year, just feeling led to say it, and I have stuck with it, and I look at the wheels turning up. I notice the great famous evangelist, Billy Graham. He came back from overseas, and he staged his meetings in New York and these great places to hit the very nerve center and so forth. I see that Brother Roberts was excommunicated out of the foreign country. [This seems to refer to India]
- Mr. Arganbright wants me after June to go into Germany and back down into South Africa and through there, but something's holding me to America. All the others seems to be the same way, and I believe that America is going to get her last call this year. That's right. Look here at the tapes down here, they might be played twenty years from today.
- You have to watch what you're talking about; watch what you're saying, but I believe that. Now, the Lord hasn't told me that, but I believe that, that America is either going to receive Christ or is going to turn Him down flatly this year, and I predict that they will turn Him down. I do.
- Look what they're doing down in Florida to Jack Coe. [Jack Coe was being sued at that time over the death of someone he had pronounced healed] Look what they're doing all the way. How could they - that's even unconstitutional to oust a man out of the state. We've got freedom of speech - certainly we have. But first thing you'll know, they'll try to stop all of this. They'll try to quit praying for the sick and put a ban on it. Just remember that when persecution rises, the church comes to its very height then, it's always the best. Yes, sir, and God's working it all together. (56-0408 - Visions And Prophecy)
Bro. Branham clearly said this was his own feeling at first. And it later seems to have morphed into a prophecy. If we accept Bro. Branham at his word, his prediction along this line became a full fledged prophecy when he was in Chicago.
If you review Doug Weaver's book on Bro. Branham's life on page 91, and David Edwin Harrel's book "All Things Are Possible", page 7-8, you will find a summary of the events of these years from an outsiders point of view. I can confirm their outside point of view very much reflected the reality of the view of people participating in the revival. In 1956 the charismatic healing revival went into decline, and by 1958 it was over. After this Bro. Branham stopped having large inter-denominational meetings and the present church landscape began to develop. The majority of the healing revival participants went into the charismatic movement, Branham followers went into the Branham movement. For those in the movement, they view this transition as the fulfillment of this broader prophecy. The denominational churches rejected Bro. Branham and went their own way, and the movement then turned inward. This time was also marked by sudden decline in the number of miracles that had been happening.
So in reviewing the statement you have provided:
- Nineteen fifty-six I prophesied in Chicago that Billy Graham that year would return and cancel his meetings. [ABM: This is ambiguous, and could be interpreted multiple ways, including ways that are plausibly accurate. Your research confirmed Graham did have to cancel one rally.] Tommy Osborn would return, and America would see its last call [the last call was from Branham himself. Graham did not have the message people were being called to, Bro. Branham did. Graham kept going, ]. And from then the revival would die [ABM: The healing revival did go into decline and end by 1958]. I just count back and see. We got that on record. See? And the revival is gone. (62-0628 - A Greater Than Solomon Is Here, para. 8)
Did Bro. Branham successfully predict the decline and end of the revival in April 1956? I think so. Don't let the Billy Graham comment overshadow the element that is accurate. So I propose to you there is a third option for interpreting this.
There was a prediction (not an outright prophecy) that the revival would come to an end (and with it the opportunity for the broad masses to accept the message), and Bro. Branham exaggerated that into a prophecy. His prediction was on the record, and that is what he was referring to. He further embellished this by trying to say he had before the fact predicted Billy Graham's problems in his international trip.
Bro. Branham embellished and exaggerated frequently. He admitted this multiple times, and was even called out for it one time by a member of the Tabernacle for which he apologized from the platform for it and admitted it.Should the gospel profit from a lie? God forbid. So we acknowledge these things. Those who do not believe Bro. Branham was fallible do not find this explanation palatable. This was Bro. Branham's weakness in the flesh. If that was the worst weakness a man ever had, for most people we would see them as a roll model in many ways. To my knowledge this was his only earthly flaw - his propensity to exaggerate. He even asked for prayer for this weakness at times. The result of his exaggeration though is that some things, like this, are partially accurate and partially exaggeration. That leave us to have to untangle what is what.
Is there biblical precedent for prophets embellishing stories, changing their stories, and outright making up stories? Yes there is. Is there biblical precedent for the Elijah anointing embellishing stories, changing stories, or outright making up stories? Yes there is.
2 King 6:19 - Elisha made a false statement and then led people into a trap. How much of the Branham movement is stuck in a trap? Sadly the majority. We have believed and taught along this line for many years. Bro. Branham made many conflicting statements, even in doctrine. These things have kept much of the movement in a trap because they fail to use the bible to discern what is correct and what is not. God allowed the traps to be set because many people were not following the message, they were just following Bro. Branham. Preachers and men use the message where it is convenient to give them power. It is just a tool to them to make money, have power, or be popular. Bro. Branham was never the message.
Matt 11:3 - John the baptist contradicts his prior prophecy. Whereas he had previously said "Behold the lamb of God" and identified Jesus to the multitude as their messiah, now he changes his mind. He is not so sure anymore. Bro Branham felt like 1956 was the end of the revival, then he changed his mind a little. Similar. His followers are then left to try and figure out how to interpret what has happened. Which statement that John the Baptist made was correct? Was his first statement really a prophecy if he could lose faith in it? Was he really a prophet if he could stop believing his own prophecy?
Jesus himself gives us the answer to how to look at this seeming problem in Matt 11:9. "What went ye out to see? A prophet? Yea, more than prophet." Don't look at the reed shaking in the wind. That is how John the baptist appeared at the time to the people. Weak and shaken, unsolid. Just as Bro Branham appears at different times. Don't be distracted by the man, but receive the message of truth. The message that fits the scripture and the bible. Not every word that came out of his mouth, but the truth.
There is no preacher yet who was perfect, except Jesus. The problem with the idolaters in the Branham movement is that if they admit the fallibility of Branham, everything they have built begins to crumble. But if we treat Bro. Branham with the same level of tolerance and understanding as we would any other man, then these things have a fair explanation.
There are other scriptures that could be given, but I will save them for future questions. Suffice to say, there is ample scriptural support for a man of God misleading people to lead them to destruction. God knew exactly how to build a trap for all the idolaters. The Lord Branham Christ some say. Some bow down and worship Joseph Branham saying he is Christ, because his father was God. That is evil. They make manifest what they are.
But that is not all Bro. Branham produced. There is a whole side of the Branham movement you, Collins, Duyzer and other seem to have completely missed. We have been here all along. We are all over the world. Our church in Jeffersonville has more people than the Tabernacle. We have been battling against Lee Vayle, Pearry Green, and all those men starting even at Bro. Branham's funeral. (Note it was the men from our "sect" who preached Bro. Branham's funeral. The idolaters were there, but they had not succeeded in overthrowing the Tabernacle yet.) They are to blame for how the majority of the Branham movement has gone. Not Bro. Branham. I am sorry they are the channel through which you came into contact with the message.
Regards, I look forward to your next issue