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What is Branhamism? (Message Believers)

Branhamism is a title given by outsiders to people who follow the teachings of the late William Branham, a Pentecostal healer and evangelist who taught doctrines not accepted by the rest of the Pentecostal movement. Because Branham taught that denominationalism was unscriptural and would one day be the mark of the beast, Churches that teach his doctrines and individuals who believe them are not part of any membership roll where they can be counted, nor does one organization speak for everyone. Based on statistics from Voice of God recordings, an organization which is in the mainstream of the majority of those who follow Branham’s teachings, there are likely at least a couple million people under the influence of this teaching, the majority in Africa.

“Branhamite” is not really a title that those in the movement would use, generally, they refer to themselves as “message believers”, based on their acceptance of the compilation of Branham’s sermons as “The message”, many referring to these as the word of God.

If you haven’t already watched the Short video here on the Ready to Harvest channel, “Who is William Branham?” I recommend it, if you aren’t familiar with him. This video is the second video on Branham, where we discuss his doctrines in more detail, as well as the beliefs of his followers today.

First, let’s evaluate how message believers view Branham and his teachings. We’re going to look at the publicly available statements and testimonies on the website of Voice of God recordings, which is the large media-producing organization affiliated with the William Branham Evangelistic Association. Most, though not all, Message Believers agree with the theology presented by these groups. Voice of God recording’s website is Branham.org

First, Branham is viewed as a prophet of God. Here is a statement on Branham from Voice of God recordings’ “About Us” page:

Voice Of God Recordings, Inc. is an inter-denominational ministry that is dedicated to the furtherance of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The primary source of the material that we distribute is the recorded sermons of the late William Marrion Branham, a prophet of God and internationally-recognized evangelist.[1]

Branham’s teachings are called both the “Voice of God” and the Voice of the Seventh Angel”, which Branham is considered to be:

“Holy Scripture records the lives and deeds of men who walked with God and were so anointed with His Spirit that they declared THUS SAITH THE LORD, and their words were confirmed by infallible signs and wonders. They were God’s prophets, and the Voice of God to their generation.

God honored Brother Branham’s willingness to believe every Word in the Bible, and He is using his ministry to lead millions of souls to Jesus Christ. Today, the Voice of the Seventh Angel is sounding out as loud as It ever has. About two million people worldwide believe Brother Branham’s Message. This may be a tiny minority of the two billion that claim Christianity, but when were God’s people not a minority?

We have more than 1,200 recorded sermons containing the Voice which was prophesied to come in Revelation 10:7. Each of these sermons unlocks more mysteries of God. That Voice is available to you if you are willing to hear It.”

Testimonies posted by Voice of God Recordings on Branham.org also call Branham’s sermons the message of God, and border on calling them the Word of God. One testimony says:

I give thanks to God for giving me the opportunity of having the privilege of knowing the Message of God, by William Marrion Branham, and I just desire to be an instrument so the people can know the Voice of God for this day.[2]

Another testimony says:

…we received the audio tapes with the Life Story of Brother Branham. I took my wife and children in our humble house and reverently listen to this tape registered and translated in our language. It was such a blessing to us, and it was the beginning of our life as Message Believers. We were so touched by God’s Word sent through His prophet. It gave us peace, sweetness and so much joy to our hearts!

Today, in 2014, after 36 years since we received the first sermon of Brother Branham, my family and I continue to feed our souls with the Message, which is our everyday fresh Manna.

As we received the greatest blessing in this life having the Revealed Word of God, we are happy and eager to share it with the others.[3]

In the article “Golden Nuggets”, before quoting Branham, the website states,

“There is no testimony or missionary report that we could ever post on this website that compares to God’s Word, spoken directly from His prophet. Just one word from him is more that we could say in a lifetime of articles.

Here are a few quotes from Brother Branham. We hope they bless you as much as they have blessed us.”[4]

Message Believers believe that William Branham was the “Elijah” prophesied in the book of Malachi, that his coming now precedes the second coming of Christ. Andrew Alasa is the Voice of God Recordings office manager in Lagos, Nigeria, and he writes on Branham.org:

BEHOLD I SEND YOU ELIJAH THE PROPHET.
God does not play with words, as we are rightly taught by the Prophet Elijah for our day, Brother William Marrion Branham. … There is no need to look for new doctrines, or new lights, or some other interpretations or seek for new wisdom, “Elijah indeed, has already come.” He has revealed ALL the mysteries of God; He finished his work. The Book is now an opened Book, and is being made available to all who would want to listen or read It, as spoken by the Seventh Angel Messenger to us. We are not looking for another messenger to come. Thank God for finishing the mystery to His Church. He has sent us Elijah, and he has turned our hearts back to the Original Apostolic Faith.

Themessage.com, a William Branham Evangelistic Association website says,

“The prophet of Malachi 4 came as promised, and he brought a Message from the Throne of the Almighty God. That prophet’s name is William Marrion Branham. We call him “Brother Branham.”[5]

There is a small minority of message believers that believe that Branham is God in the flesh, some of which have websites promoting this view. Branham denied any such thing. At Branham’s own memorial service, Tommy Osborn who preached, titled is message “God in flesh again”, which though it is now denied that he taught Branham was God, certainly could be understood to border on that view. Here are some excerpts[6]:

Some are going to think I am sacreligious or off doctrinally (and it doesn’t really matter), but God came again in human flesh and said, “Apparently I must show them again. I must remind them again. They must see one more time. Once again they must know what God is like.” And He stepped down and sent a little man, a prophet, but more than a prophet this time, A Jesus-man this time! Elijah was not that. This is more than that which we have beheld! Moses was not that, for because of the different dispensation in which he lived, it couldn’t be what we have seen. More than that! A Jesus-man, a man full of God, but sent as a special sign to a generation – this generation. A supernatural sign, an extraordinary measure.

(…)

Here comes Brother Branham along in the twentieth century and does exactly the same way. GOD IN THE FLESH, again crossing our paths; and many did not know. THEY WOULD NOT HAVE KNOWN HIM IF THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN HERE – WHEN GOD CROSSED THEIR PATH IN THE BODY THEY CALLED JESUS CHRIST!

(…)

I SAW JESUS THAT NIGHT IN A HUMAN FORM THAT THEY CALLED WILLIAM BRANHAM! I saw God at work in a little Kentucky Hillbilly. I saw God’s Word, the living Word that can never be broken, displayed on the platform.

Let’s now move on to what Branham himself taught, which is where the unique doctrines of those who follow him come from.

As far as his own prophetic ministry, Branham said that those who were prophets should not be judged or challenged. He said the following on December 19, of 1959 in the Sermon “Questions And Answers On The Holy Ghost”

Now, there’s a difference between prophecy and a prophet. Prophecy goes from one to another, but a prophet is born from the cradle a prophet. They have THUS SAITH THE LORD! No judging of them. You don’t see them stand before Isaiah, or Jeremiah, any of them prophets, because they had THUS SAITH THE LORD! But a spirit of prophecy amongst the people; you have to watch that, ’cause Satan will slip in there.[7]

Because Branham’s followers unequivocally consider him a prophet, his teaching becomes unquestionable. Branham even himself called himself the voice of God, and that his words were inspired. On May 5, 1951, in the Sermon “My Commission”, he said:

Now, I’m just your brother, by the grace of God. But when the Angel of the Lord moves down, It becomes, then, a Voice of God to you. Maybe it… If I offended you by saying that, forgive me. But I felt that might been resented. But I am God’s Voice to you. See? I say that again. That time was under inspiration. See? And I—I felt bad about it the first time, but It repeated it. Now see, I can say nothing in myself. But what He shows me, I say it.[8]

Branham denied the Trinity. Branham.org says:

Although “The Holy Trinity” has endured through the ages by the merciless hand of the Catholic Church, it is never mentioned in the Bible and neither was this concept taught anywhere in Scripture. In fact, separating God into three different persons would have gotten you stoned in the Old Testament for breaking the first two Commandments.[9]

As a result of the rejection of the Trinity, Branham taught that followers should be baptized in the name of Jesus, which he taught was the name of all three members of the Trinity, whereas “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” are just titles. Here’s what he said:

And there is no such a thing in the Bible as anybody ever being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, Holy Ghost; because there is no such a thing. Father’s no name; and Son’s no name; and Holy Ghost is no name; but the Name of the Father, Son, Holy Ghost is the Lord Jesus Christ.[10]

Branham wasn’t averse, at least at first, to using the word “trinity.” Here’s a quote from “Who is God”, August 15, 1950:

But let’s think of before there ever was anything, there was God. He was in the beginning. And let’s see Him, and picture Him out there in—in space. That’s Jehovah we’re speaking of. And watch how the trinity of God comes to man just for a moment.[11]

In 1951, in the sermon “The Resurrection of Lazarus”, Branham said this:

Now, God in His great universe… Could you just imagine just… Let me give you a small picture of what I think God is, what the trinity of God is. There is different arguments in the world concerning the trinity of the Godhead. If they would just… they… All of them believe the same thing, but the devil’s just got between them and got them all broke up. That’s all.[12]

Branham taught that Trinitarians believe in three Gods. On July 25, 1965, in the sermon “The Anointed ones at the end time”, he said:

Show me the word trinity in the Bible. Show me where there’s three Gods. Show me where there’s such things as that. It’s not in the Word of God. There is no such a thing as anybody ever baptized in the name of “Father, Son, Holy Ghost,” using those titles.[13]

In his sermon titled “Gifts, on December 7, 1956, Branham stated

Anyone that knows God, and knows His Bible, know that those three are One. Not three gods, one God, manifested in three persons.[14]

In a Sermon on Hebrews 2, on August 25, 1957, Branham said this:

There is no such a thing as three Gods: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. That’s not even in the Scriptures, nowhere.[15]

Finally on the Trinity, on June 28, 1959, Branham said:

Now, ten days later Peter said, “Repent, every one of you and be baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, see how the extreme trinitarian idea… See, they try to make three gods out of that. There’s no three gods.[16]

Because of Branham’s belief that Baptism must be in Jesus’ name, he believed that those baptized any other way must be baptized again. Also note the language of speaking for God in this quote:

THUS SAITH THE LORD. The baptism using the title of “Father, Son, Holy Ghost” is false. THUS SAITH THE LORD. I command every one of you, on here or on tape, that hasn’t been baptized in the Name of “Jesus Christ,” be baptized again in the Name of Jesus Christ.[17]

Branham believed in annihilation, that hell will not go on eternally. He stated, “hell had a beginning, and it has an end.”[18]

At this point, I’m not going to keep stating the names of the sermons that he stated these things, because I like a concise video, but in the video description is a link to the transcript of this video, which has footnotes you can use to look those sermons up, if you would like.

To clarify Branham’s view on hell, here’s another quote:

Now, remember, I’m not saying there’s not a burning hell. There is a burning hell, fire and brimstone. “Where the—the worm is…the fire isn’t quenched and the worm never dies,” of fire and brimstone, a punishment. It may last for a hundred billion years. But it has to have an end, for hell was created for the devil and his angels.[19]

Branham believed that Cain was the descendant, not of Adam, but of Eve and the Serpent, and he taught that the original sin in the garden of Eden was Even mating with the serpent. He said:

But you see where the seed of the serpent? What was the seed of the serpent? Adultery. You following? Adultery with Eve.[20]

He also stated,

The seed of the serpent comes along, and what does it produce? Now let’s take the first few years. Now watch what takes place there. We’ll read it right down, ’cause I’ve just checked it up. The seed of the serpent produced Cain.[21]

And even clearer in the same message,

Notice, now, the devil come down and got into the serpent. And he found Eve in the garden of Eden, naked, and he talked about the fruit in the midst. The midst means “middle,” and so forth; you understand, in a mixed congregation. And he said, “Now, it’s pleasant. It’s good to the eyes.” What did he do? He begin making love to Eve, and he lived with her, as a husband. And she saw it was pleasant, so she went and told her husband, but she was already pregnant, by Satan. And she brought forth her first son, whose name was Cain, the son of Satan.[22]

Another doctrine relating to the whole situation, that Branham taught, was that the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil was not a literal tree, but that Eve herself was the tree. He said:

Now I’ll bring the story up. It was all pure and holy, there was no sin or no defilement. Now I’ll get the…your…this first question first. The tree in the life…the middle of the garden, in the midst of the tree. The tree was “the woman.”[23]

Another teaching of Branham, that also proved controversial to his Pentecostal audience, since Pentecostals deny this vehemently, was his teachings on election. Branham said:

And many times we have declared people to be Christians when they said, “I believe in Jesus Christ.” Why, the devils believe the same thing, and tremble. That’s no sign you’re saved. One of these nights I want to get on election, and then you’ll see what salvation means. See? It’s nothing you had to do with it, in the first place, or the last place, or nothing you can do about it. God saves a man, unconditionally.[24]

Branham however wasn’t in the absolute Calvinist camp on this one. At other times he would emphasize the importance of a person’s choice in belief to their salvation, such as in this quote:

God voted for you, and the devil voted against you. Now, where you cast your vote’s going to determine where you’re going. That’s right. You’ve got to take Christ. You’ve got to take His Word. You’ve got to believe Him.[25]

Another teaching that Branham caught flak from Pentecostalism for was his teaching on Eternal Security. Branham said:

Believe Him for everything He said. ’Cause and life, or death, or nothing can separate us from the love of God that’s in Christ. And there we’ll be with Him in His Presence forever. Say, “Brother Branham, that sounds very Calvinistic.” Well, I believe in Calvinist doctrine, as long as Calvinist stays in the Bible. See? If it gets out of the Bible I don’t believe it. I believe this; I believe every believer believes it with me, that the church has eternal security. God has promised and said He’d—He’d be there without a blemish, spot, or wrinkle. Is that right? God’s done said so, so that… Now, if you’re in the church, you’re secured with the church. Is that right? That don’t mean Methodist, or Baptist now, or Pentecostal. That means Holy Spirit borned again Church, that one we’re born into. Then you’re secured while you’re in the Church.[26]

He also said,

God predestinated by foreknowledge. Now, if God did that, predestinated us before the foundation of the world; and knew every one of us by name, before the foundation of the world; and Elected us to Eternal Life; and sent Jesus Christ to redeem us; that, six thousand years ago, He saw us, that we might appear to His praises in Glory! How can you ever be lost? Now, if you’re saved, you’re saved. If God saves you tonight, knowing He’s going to lose you ten years from today, He is defeating His Own purpose.[27]

However, Branham’s teaching on Eternal Security is not so clear-cut. The following quote makes it seem like there is at least some way for a person to “walk out” on salvation:

And the promise is to you as long as you stay in your covenant with Christ. But you get out of it, you’re – it’s up to you. But as long as you stay in there, God will keep you. Now, being a Baptist, or have been… I—I’m still a Baptist as long as Baptist is in the Bible. But I believe in eternal security as long as you’re secured with Christ. I believe this building here was made to keep you out of the rain; as long as I’m in the building I’m safe from rain. But when I walk out deliberately, I’m on my own. And as long as you’re in Christ, you’re secured with Christ. But if you want to get out in the world, you’re backslid. That’s a big word for a Baptist to say, isn’t it? But I sure believe you can backslide. We know that.[28]

And here’s another quote that shows a more Arminian position:

Somebody says, “How does Divine healing… Is it… Does it last all the time?” It lasts just as long as faith lasts. And salvation lasts the same way, just as long as faith lasts. When you feel that you’re not saved any more, you’re not saved. For it’s by faith are you saved through grace. Is that right? When you come to the altar, what do you do? You confess your sins and ask God to forgive you. And then, in your heart… Now get it! In your heart, you have to believe that He has forgiven you. Is that right? You have to believe that. Then you walk away from the platform. And then you have to confess it first, that you are saved. You can’t just keep it under a bushel; you’ll lose it right now. You’ve got to confess it and tell everyone that you’re glad.[29]

Especially nearer to the end of his ministry, Branham taught that the mark of the beast was denominationalism, or at least being part of a denomination would lead to receiving the mark. He said:

Then how can the Bride of Christ associate in a denomination, when one is disobedient and the other obedient? How can one, be the Word; and the other one, perverted word? How can a prostitute and a clean woman walk together in agreement? They can’t do it. They have no fellowship at all. “Come out from amongst them!” It’s of the devil. It’s the mark of the beast. Heading right into it now; all denominations. I don’t care whose it is.[30]

Later in the same sermon he also stated,

See now who is the leader of this modern, religious, evil age? It’s the devil, taking that tree of good and evil, and placing it out there, notice, bringing his beautiful church bride to the ecumenical council for a wedding. That’s a good one. His beautiful scientific church, with all the—the—the degrees that can be gotten; the Ph.D’s out of the church of Christ, the Ph.D’s out of the Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostals, and all. Bringing them all, with their decorated fineries and big churches, all to the ecumenical council, “We are one.” It’ll never be forgiven them. A denomination, to wear the brand of a denomination, is the mark of the beast. We’ve done been through it on here; to do it. Flee it, children, flee it! Great, beautiful church to the ecumenical wear, wearing his mark![31]

Some additional doctrines that Branham taught, include rejecting women as preachers. He said:

Now, find one place in here where God ever ordained a denomination. Find one place He ever put a woman preacher or ordained one, in the Scriptures.[32]

He also taught wearing of makeup was wrong:

And did you know what? Let me tell you, Life Tabernacle. Seeing some of you women begin to wear your makeup and stuff like the rest of the women of the world, that nearly killed me when I walked in here the other day and saw that. Look. There’s only one woman in the Bible that ever painted her face. You don’t paint your face to meet God; you do to meet men. And the woman that did that, God fed her to the dogs. So when you go to wearing that, just remember, God’s turned you over to some dog meat, when you see anybody doing that.[33]

Likewise, Branham taught women should wear dresses and not pants, and that they should have long hair. Branham’s ministry was focused on faith healing, which even today is an important part of what Message believers teach. Additionally, Branham taught three ordinances, Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Foot washing. He stated,

And before this tabernacle was ever built, when we were yet in cottage prayer meetings, we practiced feetwashing. Our sisters go to the room in the back. Our brethren go to the room to the right. And we observe feetwashing. Strangers, if you’re with us, tonight, we’re only happy to have you to fellowship in these ordinances of God. I might explain, as I said a few moments ago, the thing that God left for us to do. Water baptism, one article; communion. And, remember, that’s only two. God is perfected in three. Feetwashing is the third. See? And we remember that, years later, even in the Bible, some people try to say it’s not necessary. Certainly, I don’t mean to say that people’s feet need washing. That isn’t it. Maybe theirs did not either. But it was an act of humility. It’s a—it’s a act of—of doing, just as essential as water baptism. Because He has said here, that, “I have given you an example, that you should do to each other as I have done to you.”[34]

Branham taught many things about end times or Eschatology, which I won’t cover in great detail here, but one is that the seven churches actually represent seven time frames of church history –something that Branham did not originate, but that had been popularized by some dispensational teachers of his time, such as in the drawings of Clarence Larkin. Branham went further, though, assigning certain people in church history as the angels or messengers of those ages, only leaving off at the final messenger. On Branham’s tombstone, the list of messengers Branham assigned is etched in, and you will note that the final messenger is there as well – its place given to Branham. Here’s what Branham stated about the Laodicean-age messenger:

Notice Revelations 10:1 to 7, all the mysteries are to be revealed to the Bride, by the messenger of the Laodicea Church. Has anybody got a Revised Version Bible? If you have, you’ll notice there where it said, “the angel,” it’s in parenthesis it says, “the eagle.” See? Uh-huh. Uh-huh. See? The messenger to the—the Laodicea Church, see, Revelations 10:1 to 7.[35]

Branham said that the mysteries would be revealed to the bride by that messenger, and that position to Message believers is the one Branham filled. The top of his tombstone has a great Eagle to show in symbol as well that he was that prophet. Of course, Branham highly suggested that he was that messenger, saying that the messenger had to already be alive, and that there could only be one prophet-messenger to that age. One such statement by Branham is as follows, from his book “An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages”:

But now according to the time wherein we stand in the Laodicean Age, the “Prophet-Messenger” of Revelation 10:7 must already be in the land. Once more “Thus saith the Lord” must be here, ready to be manifested with infallible vindication. Thus is the True Seed already maturing, and THEN THE HARVEST.[36]

Branham had no small effect on the Charismatic movement, being a major early influencer in its development. Many within Charismatic and Pentecostal circles, though they disagree with Branham on much, will still recognize the important position he played, and give some amount of legitimacy to his ministry. However, outside of Pentecostalism and his own followers, the Message Believers, He is nearly universally rejected.

[1] https://branham.org/en/aboutus

[2] https://branham.org/articles/3182015_FromThatTime

[3] https://branham.org/en/international/intl_romania

[4] https://branham.org/articles/192017_GoldenNuggets

[5] http://themessage.com/messenger2

[6] http://www.biblebelievers.org/wbmtos.htm

[7] 59-1219 – Questions And Answers On The Holy Ghost, Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from  http://table.branham.org

[8] 51-0505 – My Commission, Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from http://table.branham.org

[9] https://branham.org/en/biblestudy/thetrinity

[10] https://www.lwbcast.org/LWBWBTextfiles/gettf.php?textfile=61-1015m.htm

[11] 50-0815 – Who Is God?,   Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from http://table.branham.org

[12] 51-0729A – The Resurrection Of Lazarus,   Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from http://table.branham.org

[13]    65-0725M – The Anointed Ones At The End Time,  Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from  http://table.branham.org

[14]    56-1207 – Gifts,   Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from http://table.branham.org

[15]    57-0825E – Hebrews, Chapter Two #2,  Rev. William Marrion Branham,  accessed from http://table.branham.org

[16]    59-0628E – Questions And Answers, Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from http://table.branham.org

[17]    61-1112 – A True Sign That’s Overlooked, Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from http://table.branham.org

[18]    57-0908E – Hebrews, Chapter Six #2,  Rev. William Marrion Branham,  accessed from http://table.branham.org”

[19] 57-0908E – Hebrews, Chapter Six #2, Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from http://table.branham.org

[20] 58-0928E – The Serpent’s Seed, Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from http://table.branham.org

[21] 58-0928E – The Serpent’s Seed, Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from http://table.branham.org

[22] 58-0928E – The Serpent’s Seed, Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from http://table.branham.org

[23] 57-0925 – Questions And Answers On Hebrews #1, Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from http://table.branham.org

[24] 53-0609A – Demonology, Religious Realm, Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from  http://table.branham.org

[25] 62-1125E – The Countdown, Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from http://table.branham.org

[26] 53-1205 – The Resurrection, Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from http://table.branham.org

[27] 57-0908E – Hebrews, Chapter Six #2, Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from http://table.branham.org

[28] 59-0415E – The Faith Of Abraham, Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from http://table.branham.org

[29] 50-0711 – Ministry Explained, Rev. William Marrion Branham, http://table.branham.org

[30] 65-0801M – The God Of This Evil Age, Rev. William Marrion Branham, http://table.branham.org

[31] Ibid

[32] 58-0928M – The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit, Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from http://table.branham.org

[33] 56-0801 – The Arrow Of God’s Deliverance Shot From A Bow, Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from http://table.branham.org

[34] 62-1104E – Ordination, Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from http://table.branham.org

[35] 64-0719M – The Feast Of The Trumpets, Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from http://table.branham.org

[36]   An Exposition Of The Seven Church Ages – 9 – The Laodicean Church Age, Rev. William Marrion Branham, accessed from http://table.branham.org

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