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This article is one in a series on the Message of William Branham - you are currently in the article that is in bold:
- What is the Message of William Branham?
- Is the Message a Cult?
- The Sub-Sects of the Message
- The Theology of the Message
- Are followers of William Branham Christians?
- What is the Fruit of the Message?
- The Message Dress Code
Those who leave the message but remain Christians are generally viewed by followers of William Branham as unbelievers, i.e. non-Christians.
The comments we have received from those in the message include:
- "You could scream all you want for mercy, but like Esau you have sold your birthright. You were predestinated to that like Pharoah. You have crossed the line of mercy willfully."
- "You have blasphemed the Holy Ghost", and
- "You are not even fit to be foolish virgins, so what is left? Hell."
That certainly isn't the spirit of Christ. In fact, those that say such things are in danger of condemning themselves, as Jesus said that “God will judge you in the same way as you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others.” (Matt 7:2 GNT)
Additionally, we have had old friends convey to us that they no longer want to have anything do with us in the future.
But the question has also been asked – What is the true status of those in the message?
Some Message Believers are Christians
Having spent many years in the message ourselves as Christians, there is no question that we believe that there are many people in the message that are sincere Christians. There are those that have left the message that do not believe that anyone in the message can or should be considered a Christian, but we take a strong exception to such a judgmental view.
However, there are also those in the message who have not truly accepted Christ’s sacrifice but rather are resting on William Branham’s message for their salvation. We have even talked to a number of people who were raised in message churches and had no concept of the true message of salvation through the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. Salvation is not found in the Message, Salvation is found only in Jesus Christ.
The Many Problems with Wiliam Branham's message
William Branham not only held himself out to be a teacher, he held out as being as someone who was restoring truth that had been lost for hundreds of years:
- I never went to any seminary, never went to any school, never took anybody else's word about it. I went right straight into the Bible in prayer. And this is Divinely revealed by the Holy Spirit, the same Angel of God that directs me to see visions and so forth like that, and the healing of the sick. And you can judge by that whether it would be true or not.
- Yes, I know it's been hard, cutting, strange, I don't do that to be mean, I do that to be honest. I do that because I love you, I love God, and I do it to try to help you. And truly, friend, I—I—I believe… And with all my heart, with all my faith, I believe that my Message comes from God. It's—It's been proving that to you through the years.
The problem with this claim is that it brings great responsibility (James 3:1):
- Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
Paul told us how we should look at God's servants:
- This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.
Was William Branham faithful? What does being faithful mean? Paul went on to state:
- But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
The comments below simply reflect some of the main obstacles that people will face in balancing Christianity with their belief in William Branham's role, policies, prophecies and doctrines. The fact is that many things in William Branham's life were hidden in darkness but they have now been revealed and we must judge these things according to scripture.
Paul states in 1 Corinthians 13 (GNT) that
- "I may be able to speak the languages of human beings and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell. I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains—but if I have no love, I am nothing. I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burnt — but if I have no love, this does me no good."
Most individuals that leave William Branham's message are not contacted after they leave by either the church leadership or those in the congregation. If those in the message really think that those who fall away from the message are lost, one has to wonder why there is generally no attempt to go after them. Didn’t Jesus talk about leaving the ninety-nine sheep grazing on the hillside to go and look for the lost sheep? One wonders what kind of Christians those in the message are when they don’t even make a half-hearted attempt to go after those that have left.
Another evidence of a lack of love is a church's response to the poor, or a catastrophe. When disaster strikes, do you say "Thank God no believers were hurt", or do you extend a helping hand to those that were hurt? When the poor come into your church, do you lead them to the deacon (the policeman of message churches) or help them yourself? When the poor don't come to your church, do you find it easy to ignore their problems?
All message believers insist that William Branham's teaching constitute divine revelation.
But true Christian behavior cannot be predicated on William Branham's teachings, which lead to pride, but on the way of love, which is in fact the true way of knowledge.
The tyranny of the message and other special revelations as the basis of Biblical understanding and "spiritual revelation" has a long and unfortunate history in the church, from which most likely few — including the authors of this website — are exempt.
And it is especially tempting, as message believers often do, to use it as a club on others.
This does not mean that such revelatory knowledge is either irrelevant or unimportant, but it does mean that it cannot serve as the primary basis of Christian behavior. Special knowledge or revelation must always lead to love - see 1 Cor 13.
One must always beware of those teachers or systems that entice one by special “revelation” or “deeper insights.” Such appeals are invariably to one’s pride, not to one’s becoming a more truly loving Christian.
In the true Christian faith “special knowledge” or “insight” or "revelation" is never an end in itself; it is only a means to a greater end, the building up of others.
And this is clearly lacking in the message.
Those in the message will state that "love is corrective" which is simply an excuse for clubbing people over the head with their "revelation". However, true corrective love can only come out of relationship.
The problem of spiritual immaturity
It should also be said that those who are Christians in the Message aren't on a great diet for spiritual growth. This is what Paul said:
- But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?
People that point to a man or believe that following a man like William Branham provides a higher level of spirituality are, at best, spiritually immature.
The hallmark of spiritual maturity is to follow Christ and not a man. That is what Paul is saying.
Shocking lack of credibility
Message believers revere William Branham as a prophet of Biblical proportions. In fact, most believe that he is the greatest prophet that lived, aside from Jesus Christ and, perhaps, Moses. One would expect that such a prophet would be beyond reproach, given the Biblical requirements of servants of the church as outlined in 1 timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:6-9.
But when William Branham's sermons are examined in detail and compared with historical evidence, huge credibility gaps become painfully evident. We have provided a detailed listing of the multitude of our concerns in this regard.
Some message churches teach a distorted, heretical, view of basic truths that most would assume have to be believed properly in order to be a Christian. We have compiled a list of all of the doctrinal issues that we have identified to date. Many of these doctrines are heretical or non-biblical.
For example, is it possible for a person to be saved if they do not believe that Jesus Christ was God in flesh (Matthew 1:23)? Certain followers of Lee Vayle hold to a heretical view of the Godhead – that Jesus Christ was not deity. Such doctrinal beliefs are against the plain teaching of scripture (John 20:28), and therefore put those who believe such teachings at risk of missing the basic tenets of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Apostles.
Most message believers view William Branham's message as being superior to the Bible. Can one really be considered a Christian if they hold William Branham's teachings as superseding those of the Bible?
Many message believers condemn denominational and non-denominational churches on the basis that those congregations are lukewarm. However, message congregations can also fall within the same classification as lukewarm. The message of Revelation 3:16 is crystal clear when the Lord states “because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am going to spit you out of my mouth.” The peril of being lukewarm is the same, whether in relation to a message church or a non-message church!
As Francis Chan puts it:
- Do not assume you are good soil.
- I think most American churchgoers are the soil that chokes the seed because of all the thorns. Thorns are anything that distracts us from God. When we want God and a bunch of other stuff, then that means we have thorns in our soil. A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, sins, activities, favorite sports teams, addictions, or commitments are piled on top of it.
The legalistic teachings of William Branham have a decidedly negative impact on believer’s spiritual development. So while there are those in the message that have experienced Christ’s redemptive work, they are weighed down by a theology that is inconsistent with Paul’s teachings regarding the grace of Christ. Paul states that such beliefs can alienate a person from the grace of God – “Those of you who try to be put right with God by obeying the Law have cut yourselves off from Christ. You are outside God’s grace.” (Gal 5:4 GNT)
A man named Simon thought that he could buy the Holy Spirit with money. It appears that some message believers are trying to buy the Holy Spirit by public demonstrations of their own righteousness.
- But if the ministry that produced death—carved in letters on stone tablets—came with glory, so that the Israelites11 could not keep their eyes fixed on the face of Moses because of the glory of his face12 (a glory which was made ineffective), how much more glorious will the ministry of the Spirit be?
Paul clearly states that the ten commandments, written in tablets of stone, represented the ministry of death. Paul also was clear that Jesus did not redeem us from the curse of sin but from the curse of the law:
- Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that ahangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham bmight come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Failed visions and constantly changing prophecies
One significant problem with William Branham's prophetic ministry is that we have been unable to find a single occurrence where we have a clear prophecy recorded on tape that was later clearly fulfilled. We have compiled a comprehensive listing of all of the problems with William Branham's prophetic ministry.
The Abuse of Message Believers by Ministers
We have been shocked by the number of former message believers that have contacted us and have clearly been abused by their former pastors while in the message. While that is clearly not the experience in all message churches, it certainly occurs in enough churches to represent a significant problem within the message. Additionally, message ministers when they become aware of abuse in other churches rarely say anything and avoid criticisms of any other ministers, regardless of how abusive they have become or how questionable their personal conduct.
The Main Problem
We have been told that the problems we have with the message are just a few "cherry pits" and that they don't destroy the basic goodness of the "cherry pie" that is the message of William Branham.
But what if you are eating a piece of cherry pie and you discover that what you have in your mouth also contains maggots - or something that will make you very ill? At that point of realization, you have to throw out the whole pie and go back to the source of truth - the Bible. That is what we have done. We are not pointing anyone to a specific church or to any man. We are simply urging people to get back to basic Biblical teaching and to find a church that teaches simple Biblical truths. And, yes, such churches do exist.
William Branham's message has problems in three major areas:
- 1. Lack of credibility which is detailed here in our article on William Branham's credibility.
If you want some of the major problems we have identified, simply go to our Youtube channel and watch some of the videos we have produced.
William Branham held himself out to be a prophet but we have been unable to find one unambiguous prophecy that he stated publicly (i.e. on tape) in advance that was later fulfilled in a clear manner! We have also found several prophecies that William Branham stated were from God but were clearly not fulfilled. All of these issues are addressed in our apology to message believers entitled "Humble Pie". We invite you to read that apology.
In short, William Branham's message is not healthy. You can eat junk food, but if that becomes your diet you will eventually experience side effects. A Christian will have a healthier spiritual life outside of a faulty belief system, and that is what William Branham taught – a view of the scriptures and reality that is seriously flawed.
The solution to the problem - Follow Christ
We are not pointing to ourselves, to another man, or to any church. Paul said that we are to follow the teachings that he laid out in scripture (2 Tim 1:13). Peter said the same thing:
- For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
A minister of the Gospel only speaks authoritatively to the extent that what he says agrees with scripture. But we don't follow these men, we follow Christ. We examine their lives and if they are worthy of being examples of the Gospel, then we may want to imitate them. But we must judge their teaching and their lives by the Gospel as the writer of the Hebrews stated:
- Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.
We are not to follow a single man but those leaders (plural) that provide a godly example of a Christian life in word and deed. And we are to judge their teachings based on scripture.
- William Branham, 54-0513 - The Mark Of The Beast, para. 29
- William Branham, 65-1206 - Modern Events Are Made Clear By Prophecy, para. 309
- The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Jas 3:1.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Co 4:1–2.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Co 4:3–5.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Co 3:1–4.
- Francis Chan, Crazy Love (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2008).
- Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible, 2 Co 3:7–8 (Biblical Studies Press, 2006).
- The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ga 3:13–14 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009).
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Pe 2:21–25.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Heb 13:7–9.