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|William Marrion Branham|
|Born||April 6, 1909|
Cumberland County, Kentucky
|Died||December 24, 1965|
Cause of death
|William Marrion Branham|
|Born||April 6, 1909|
Cumberland County, Kentucky
|Died||December 24, 1965|
Cause of death
William Marrion Branham (April 6, 1909 – December 24, 1965) was a Christian minister, usually credited with founding the post World War II divine healing movement. Many Pentecostal Christians welcomed his evangelistic and healing ministry, and some considered him to be a prophet. According to David Edwin Harrell, "Branham's healing power became a world-wide legend".
Branham's most controversial revelation was his claim to be the end-time prophet to the Bride of Christ although this was never explicitly stated. He believed that Christians needed to return to the original apostolic faith of the Bible, often referring to Malachi 4:5–6 and Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
William Branham was born in 1909 in a log cabin in Cumberland County, Kentucky, near Burkesville. The first of ten children of Charles and Ella Branham, he was raised near Jeffersonville, Indiana. William Branham's family was nominally Roman Catholic but he had minimal contact with organized religion during his childhood. His father was a logger and an alcoholic, and William Branham often talked about how his upbringing was difficult and impoverished.
Branham claimed that from his early childhood he had supernatural experiences including prophetic visions. He said that in his early childhood, while walking home from getting water from the creek, he heard the voice of the Angel of the Lord who told him 'never to drink, smoke or defile his body, for there would be a work for him when he got older'.
Leaving home at nineteen, William Branham worked on a ranch in Arizona and had a short career as a boxer At the age of twenty-two he had a conversion experience and later was ordained as an assistant pastor at a Missionary Baptist Church in Jeffersonville. When he disagreed with the pastor about the role of women preaching, William Branham held a series of revivals on his own in a tent. Later, the meetings moved to a Masonic temple  until they were able to construct a building in 1933 which the congregation named 'Branham Tabernacle'.
From accounts by William Branham's family, it is evident that he had been conducting healing campaigns at least as early as 1941 when he conducted a two-week revival in Milltown, and his 1945 tract "I Was Not Disobedient Unto the Heavenly Vision' shows that his faith healing ministry was well established by this time.
On May 7, 1946, William Branham claimed to have received an angelic visitation, commissioning his worldwide ministry of evangelism and faith healing. His first meetings as a full time evangelist were held in St Louis, Missouri in June 1946. Professor Allan Anderson of the University of Birmingham, has written that “Branham’s sensational healing services, which began in 1946, are well documented and he was the pacesetter for those who followed”. Referring to the St Louis meetings, Krapohl & Lippy have commented: "Historians generally mark this turn in Branham’s ministry as inaugurating the modern healing revival".
During the mid-1940s William Branham was conducting healing campaigns almost exclusively with Oneness Pentecostal groups. The broadening of Branham's ministry to the wider Pentecostal community came as a result of his introduction to Gordon Lindsay in 1947, who soon became his primary manager and promoter. Around this time several other prominent Pentecostals joined his ministry team including Ern Baxter and F. F. Bosworth. Gordon Lindsay proved to be an able publicist for Branham, founding The Voice of Healing  magazine in 1948 which was originally aimed at reporting on Branham's healing campaigns.
In June 1947, the Evening Sun newspaper of Jonesboro, Arkansas reported that "Residents of at least 25 States and Mexico have visited Jonesboro since Rev. Branham opened the camp meeting, June 1. The total attendance for the services is likely to surpass the 20,000 mark". Several newspapers carried reports of healings in the meetings" His success took him to countries around the world. According to a Pentecostal historian, "Branham filled the largest stadiums and meeting halls in the world."
In Durban, South Africa in 1951 he addressed meetings sponsored by the Apostolic Faith Mission, the Assemblies of God, the Pentecostal Holiness Church, and the Full Gospel Church of God. Meetings were conducted in eleven cities, with a combined attendance of a half million people. On the final day of the Durban meetings, held at the Greyville Racecourse, an estimated 45,000 people attended and thousands more were turned away at the gates. Many healings were reported in the local newspapers.
U.S. Congressman William Upshaw, crippled for sixty-six years, publicly proclaimed his miraculous healing in a Branham meeting in a leaflet called "I'm Standing on the Promises". Branham claimed that God's miraculous intervention healed King George VI of England through his prayers. Branham also claimed to have witnessed a young boy raised from the dead in Finland in April 1950, which he said was the fulfilment of a vision he had told audiences during his campaign meetings
From the mid-1950s onwards Branham began to publicly teach that neither Oneness theology nor Trinitarianism was correct, but that God was the same Person in three different offices – in the same way that a husband can also be a father and a grandfather. As he began to speak more openly about doctrine, such as the Godhead and serpent seed, the popularity of his ministry began to decline.
Shortly after being ordained, William Branham was baptising converts on June 11, 1933 in the Ohio River near Jeffersonville. He described how people along the bank saw a bright light descend over where he was standing, and that he heard a voice say, "As John the Baptist was sent to forerun the first coming of Jesus Christ, so your message will forerun His second coming." Branham indicates that this event was picked up by the Associated Press and appeared in newspapers "plumb in Canada and around" although C. D. Weaver reports that he was unable to locate a copy of the article.
William Branham says that his evangelistic healing ministry started one night during his search for personal meaning. Branham claimed that on 7 May 1946, an angel in the form of a man appeared, saying: "Do not fear. I am sent from the presence of the Almighty God to tell you that your peculiar birth and misunderstood life has been to indicate that you are to take a gift of Divine healing to the peoples of the world."
Church ministers working with William Branham in his meetings, testified that he was able to reveal the thoughts, experiences, and needs of individuals who came to the platform for prayer, and in the audience. Walter Hollenweger, a noted Pentecostal historian who worked as translator for Branham in one of his campaigns in Switzerland, wrote, I am not aware of any case in which he was mistaken in the often detailed statements he made.  Branham claimed that this knowledge (which he called discernment) was given to him through visions.
On the night of January 24, 1950, a photograph was taken of Branham during a debate between F. F. Bosworth and a Baptist minister regarding the biblical justification for healing. The photograph showed a light appearing above Branham's head. Gordon Lindsay, a member of William Branham's ministry, made arrangements to have the photograph examined by George Lacy, a professional examiner of questioned documents who worked in Houston  George Lacy, in his report, stated "the negative submitted for examination, was not retouched nor was it a composite or double exposed negative.". Branham believed that the light was supernatural and was a verification of his ministry. A copy of the photograph is held in the Library of Congress photograph collection.
Branham regarded his series of sermons on the Seven Seals (Rev 6:1–17 and Rev 8:1) in 1963 as a highlight of his ministry. While agreeing with some of the views of Clarence Larkin he integrated the seven seals, the four beasts of Revelation chapter 6, and the seven churches of Revelation chapters two and three in a unique way. Branham claimed that a cluster of seven angels met him on 'Sunset Mountain' (Sunset Peak) forty miles northeast of Tucson in the Galiuro Mountains, Arizona to commission the revealing of the Seals, which he believed was in fulfilment of a vision he had told his church several months earlier. Branham interpreted an unusual cloud formation resembling the head of Christ which had been photographed several days earlier over Flagstaff, Arizona, (featured in Life and Science magazines)  as vindication of his experience, claiming the cloud was formed by the same angels who met him at Sunset Mountain.
On December 18, 1965, William Branham and his family (all except his daughter Rebekah) were returning to Jeffersonville, Indiana from Tucson, Arizona for the Christmas holiday. About three miles east of Friona, Texas (about 70 miles south-west of Amarillo on U.S. Highway 60), just after dark, a car travelling west in the eastbound lane struck Branham's car head-on. Branham lived for 6 days after the crash, but died on December 24, 1965, at 4:49 PM at the Northwest Texas Hospital in Amarillo.
William Branham was buried four months later. It was reported in the press that some of his followers predicted that he would return to life during Easter but William Branham's elder son (Billy Paul) said that the interdenominational faith founded by his father did not teach this. Disciple Pearry Green stated that William Branham's burial was postponed in order to allow his widow to attend. She was seriously injured in the accident which claimed her husband's life. However, some had hoped for his return from the dead on Easter Sunday and his ultimate burial was accepted reluctantly. William Branham's body was left in a sealed casket in a Tucson funeral home during that period. He was subsequently buried in the Eastern Cemetery in Jeffersonville on April 11, 1966 
William Branham preached thousands of sermons, of which almost 1,200 have been recorded and transcribed. These sermons, together with several books that he published (principally An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages) are the source for all Branham's doctrine. He believed that his theological understanding was the result of divine revelation, though he studied other teachers and endorsed some of their views.
Along with some other Bible commentators, Branham believed that the seven churches described in The Revelation, chapters two and three represent seven historical ages of the Christian church, from its beginning to the present time. These ages were outlined in his book An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages:Ephesus (AD 53–170), Smyrna (170–312), Pergamos (312–606), Thyatira (606–1520), Sardis (1520–1750), Philadelphia (1750–1906), and finally Laodicea (1906–the rapture). Five of the seven dates agree with those given by Clarence Larkin in 1918, but Branham recognized the significance of the 1906 Azusa Street Revival to the Pentecostal movement. Branham believed the "angel" of each church was a man whose influence identified him as the messenger to an age. The messengers he named were Paul the Apostle, Irenaeus, Martin of Tours, Columba, Martin Luther, and John Wesley. Weaver feels that Branham was mistaken in selecting Columba as a messenger because he died before the beginning of the Thyatira age. Branham stated the messenger to every age, regardless of when he appears or goes, is the one who influences that age for God by means of a Word-manifested ministry  and explained how Columba trained men who he sent out as missionaries. Branham believed the last messenger would be the 'Elijah' prophesied in Malachi 4:5-6. He never explicitly claimed to be the seventh angel (messenger). but his followers today believe him to be the final messenger and the fulfilment of the second part of Malachi's Elijah prophecy.
Branham rejected the traditional understanding of the Trinity as three distinct, co-eternal Persons  and taught what he called “the Supreme Deity of Jesus Christ”. At times he referred to the Holy Spirit as the third person of the Trinity  while explaining that God revealed Himself in three “offices or manifestations”. He used the example of an actor who plays several roles by changing his mask, and that of a father, husband and grandfather being the same person. There is only one God with three titles: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Therefore water baptism, which he said should be by immersion, was performed in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and not using the Trinitarian formula of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Although Branham spoke about the "oneness of the Godhead", he disagreed with the Oneness Pentecostalism view.
Referring to the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325, William Branham wrote:
|“||Ever since then people have failed to realize that there is just one God with three offices or manifestations. They know there is one God according to Scripture, but they try to make it the fantastic theory that God is like a bunch of grapes; three persons with the same Divinity shared equally by all. But it plainly says here in Revelation that Jesus is "That Which Is", "That Which Was", and "That Which Is to Come". He is the "Alpha and Omega", which means that He is the "A to Z" or THE ALL OF IT. He is everything—the Almighty. He is the Rose of Sharon, the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star, the Righteous Branch, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. He is God, Almighty God. ONE GOD.||”|
Branham believed that through his ministry God was revealing His presence as in the days of Abraham. He quoted Genesis 18:9–15 as Scriptural support for this claim in that during the appearance to Abraham, God knew what was in Sarah's mind in the tent behind him. He believed this foreshadowed the gift of discernment in his own ministry which is indicated in Luke 17:28–30. After this supernatural sign was shown to Abraham, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. In the same way, William Branham believed that the discernment in his ministry was a sign of the coming judgment on the earth (usually called the Great Tribulation).
Branham strongly supported the view that the Bible is the infallible Word of God and stated that anything contrary to the Word of God was "Satan's kingdom". He insisted that faith must be based on Scripture alone, and said that if any minister, or church creed, or even an angel, presented something different, it should be ignored just as St. Paul had preached in Galatians 1 v8-9. He believed that the true interpretation of the Bible would be confirmed by Scriptural supernatural signs according to Mark 16:20 and Romans 15:19 
Branham taught that eating the "fruit" in the Garden of Eden was taking heed of the devil's words which led to an act of sexual intercourse between Eve and the devil-possessed serpent (a man-like creature) producing Cain as a result of their union. Some have understood this to mean that genetics determines one's eternal destiny though Branham emphasized that the elect were "spiritual seed".
Branham said that he had received seven major prophecies in 1933 regarding events unfolding in the world. He predicted "that 1977 ought to terminate the world systems and usher in the millennium."
|“||Based on these seven visions, along with the rapid changes which have swept the world in the last fifty years, I PREDICT (I do not prophesy) that these visions will have all come to pass by 1977. And though many may feel that this is an irresponsible statement in view of the fact that Jesus said that 'no man knoweth the day nor the hour.' I still maintain this prediction after thirty years because, 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 millennium.||”|
Branham made a number of prophecies concerning the Second Coming of Christ including a prophecy that "the city of Los Angeles would 'sink beneath the ocean'" and that a tidal wave would sweep inland as far as the Salton Sea.
Although Branham encouraged people to attend the church of their choice, he also spoke strongly against religious organisations. He believed that denominationalism would prove to be the mark of the beast.
Branham distinguished between the 'church' and the 'bride'. The latter were believers who had received the Holy Spirit and only these believers would be taken in the Rapture. Branham's followers believe he had a specific Message for the Bride, teaching that the Seven Thunders of Revelation 10:3–4 were to be revealed to gather the Bride, to give her faith, and to prepare her for the great translation faith.
Complete William Branham audio sermons and printed text with search facility are available online.
Hollenweger recognized the detailed accuracy of Branham's gift of discernment, but he also noted that healing was not as frequent as it was claimed. Branham believed that healing was a part of the atonement  and pronounced people healed on the basis of "with His stripes you were healed" (1 Peter 2:24) 
Branham has been criticized because of his comments on "three Bibles". He said these were the zodiac (see mazzaroth), the great pyramid and the Holy Bible. He believed the first two pre-dated any written Scripture, and are not meant for Christians today. Branham was strongly opposed to astrological horoscopes and said fortune telling was of the devil.
Branham's strict attitude towards women also has attracted criticism. He preached a literal interpretation on matters such as having long hair (1 Corinthians 11:13-15), wearing modest clothing (1 Timothy 2:9), not using make-up (2 Kings 9:30), women obeying their husbands (Titus 2:5), and women not preaching or teaching in the church assembly (1 Timothy 2:12). Sometimes he used expressions for immoral women intended to shock his hearers such as "Miss dog meat"  and "sexual garbage can" 
Branham was deeply respected for his legendary power  and inspired a significant movement in Christian America that remains on the scene today. The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements contains these comments: "The person universally acknowledged as the [WWII] revival’s `father’ and `pacesetter’ was William Branham. The sudden appearance of his miraculous healing campaigns in 1946 set off a spiritual explosion in the Pentecostal movement which was to move to Main Street, U.S.A., by the 1950s and give birth to the broader charismatic movement in the 1960s, which currently affects almost every denomination in the country" Today, there are an estimated 500 million Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians in the world.
It may be difficult to measure Branham's influence on other evangelists of his time period, but he certainly led the way in the pioneering of tent revivals, which would lead into the era of televangelism. Branham is often mentioned as the leader or first revivalist preacher of the second wave of Pentecost that swept the country after World War II (the first wave being Charles Fox Parham, William J. Seymour, and others). Among those who began around the same time as Branham, and part of the Second Wave of Pentecostalism (late 1940s to the mid-1950s), were Jack Coe, Oral Roberts and A. A. Allen. Branham was one of the first "faith" preachers and evangelists who not only preached a latter day visitation of God’s Spirit, but also emphasised faith for healing, as did Coe, Roberts and Allen.
A radical minority among Branham’s followers have partially or totally deified him and have given his sermons scriptural status Most disciples simply emphasize that Branham was the prophet of Malachi 4  but many go much further, seeing him as the greatest prophet of all time, second only to Jesus Christ himself and believe that his ministry foreruns the second coming of Jesus Christ  as John the Baptist foreran His first coming (Luke 7:27-28). Some observers refer to this as "Branhamism," however, adherents prefer the name "Message Believers."
The followers of William Branham tend to distance themselves from controversial exclusiveness and maintain their homes in their communities. There is no headquarters. These churches have no membership or members and have little, if any, organization. William Branham summarised this by saying: "We're no denomination. We have no law but love, no creed but Christ, no book but the Bible: no membership; just fellowship through the Blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us from all unbelief".
Voice of God Recordings, the major distributor of materials related to William Branham's ministry, currently produce print, audio, and video materials in 65 languages, ships directly to 174 countries, and maintains offices in over forty countries. Cloverdale Bibleway, based in British Columbia, also conducts an extensive international outreach with Message materials.
The Voice of God website claims that "upwards of 2 million people worldwide believe Brother Branham’s Message". and that believers are found in every country of the world  According to Joseph Branham, more than 500,000 Message Believers are found in Africa