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An Examination of Kingdom-, Dominion-,
and Latter Rain Theology
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An Examination of Kingdom Theology - Part 1/3

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William Branham

Inscribed on a pyramid-shaped tombstone in a Jeffersonville, Indiana cemetery, are the names of the seven churches of Revelation, "Ephesian" at the base representing the beginning of the Church Age, "Laodicean" near the top the end of the Church Age. On the opposite face are the names of seven men whose impact on the Church throughout its history has been significant.

Were the two faces of the pyramid juxtaposed one over the other, we would see the names of the churches superimposed over the men's names in the following order, from bottom to top:

Ephesian - Paul
Smyrnean - Ireneaus
Pergamean - Martin
Thyatirean - Columba
Sardisean - Luther
Philadelphian - Wesley
Laodicean - Branham

Among most major proponents of Kingdom Theology these men are considered the great reformers of the various stages of Church history. To many Kingdom Theology proponents William Branham was perhaps the greatest "prophet" for the Church's final age.

In 1948, Branham, a Baptist preacher turned Pentecostal, and influenced by Franklin Hall, gained notoriety for his teachings on what he called, "God's Seventh Church Age" (supposedly the final move of God before the manifestation of His Kingdom on earth). Branham based this teaching primarily on Joel 2:23Off-site Link and Revelation 1:20-3:22Off-site Link, the latter recording Jesus' messages to the seven churches in Asia Minor.

Branham claimed that the angels (messengers) to the churches were men who appeared at various times throughout Church history to usher in revelations that would lead the Church in new directions according to the purpose of God. As indicated on his tombstone, Branham was thought to be the angel to the Church of Laodicea - the end-time Church.

In his teachings on Joel 2:23Off-site Link, Branham defined the "latter rain" as the Pentecostal movement of his day. God's promise to restore what the locust, cankerworm, caterpillar, and palmerworm had eaten, he defined as the "restoration" of the Church out of denominationalism (which he equated with "the Mark of the Beast").

Although denying he was a believer in the "oneness" doctrine, Branham had his own form of "oneness" teaching that defined God as one person who manifested Himself as three different "attributes": the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, rather than three Persons comprising one Godhead.(21) He believed the doctrine of the Trinity was the "Babylonian Foundation" of the denominations, inherited from Roman Catholicism.(22)

Branham also believed that the Word of God was given in three forms: the Zodiac, the Egyptian pyramids, and the written Scriptures.(23) The Zodiac theory was not new, having been put forth by Franklin Hall previously, and as early as 1893 by historian E.W. Bullinger in his book, 'The Witness of the Stars.' The idea that the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt was constructed by God (possibly through Enoch) is at least as old as the Zodiac theory, and is popular with the Dawn Bible Students, an offshoot of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

It can be said of Branham that he had a simplicity and apparent humility which attracted many followers.

Gordon Lindsay told of how he impressed audiences with his utter and complete consecration.

The Serpent's Seed

In spite of his apparent humility and consecration, Branham had great difficulty controlling a strident, hateful attitude toward women. In his own poor English, transcribed from a sermon, Branham stated,

But I remember when my father's still up there running, I had to be out there with water and stuff, see young ladies that wasn't over seventeen, eighteen years, up there with a man my age now, drunk. And they'd have to sober them up and give them black coffee, to get them home to cook their husband's supper. Oh, something like that, I said, 'I...This was my remarked [sic] then, THEY'RE NOT WORTH A GOOD CLEAN BULLET TO KILL THEM WITH IT.' That's right. And I hated women. That's right. And I just have to watch every move now, to keep from still thinking the same thing.

This attitude toward women may have played a part in the development of Branham's bizarre "Serpent Seed" teaching. This was based on a twisted interpretation of Genesis 3:13Off-site Link, where Eve is recorded as saying, "The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." The word "beguiled" Branham defined as "seduced sexually." He claimed that Satan and Eve engaged in an adulterous affair out of which Cain was born. Since that time evil has passed from generation to generation through women, who keep the seed of the serpent alive.(26) He seemed to think that women are responsible for the evil in the world because of their enticements.

The "Serpent's Seed" teaching obviously indicated that Branham didn't take the Scriptures literally, where we read, "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived and bare Cain..." (Genesis 4:1Off-site Link).

His animosity toward women led to the preaching of a rigid moral code that lambasted them on their manner of dress, and may have been responsible for his "revelation" that allowed for divorce.(27)

Supernatural Manifestations

From the time of his infancy it was evident to his parents that William's life had upon it the touch of the supernatural. Born in 1909 in a mountain cabin near Berksville, Kentucky, William Marrion Branham's childhood was spent in extreme poverty. His father was only eighteen years of age, and his mother fifteen when he came into the world weighing a scant five pounds, the first of nine boys and one girl.(28)

The following account may be legend or fact, but it was part of Branham's testimony from the start: On the day of his birth, after being washed, he was placed in his mother's arms by the midwife who then went to a window to open the shutter. (There was no glass in the Branham house in those days.) As dawn broke sending a few rays of light into the room, there was seen a small circular halo about a foot in diameter, above the bed where little William lay in his mother's arms.(29)

Thousands of people have supposedly seen this halo, which is ostensibly revealed in a photograph taken in Houston, Texas, during a January, 1950, campaign. (The best we've been able to obtain is a photostatic copy of a copy which, though poorly reproduced here, will allow the reader to see what has been taken for a "halo." Whether this is a halo or a flaw in the negative - whether it is a manifestation from God or Satan or poor photography, we will leave to the reader's judgment.)

When he was three years of age, Branham experienced for the first time what he called "the Voice." At age seven "the Voice" commanded him, "Don't you never drink, smoke, or defile your body in any way. There'll be work for you to do when you get older."(30)

This "Voice" accompanied Branham throughout his lifetime, and eventually made itself known as an "angel" that directed him in every aspect of his personal life.(31) During healing services Branham would often fall into a trance during which his angel would work through him. Asked once if the healings were done by the Holy Spirit, Branham replied, "No, my angel does it."(32)

Branham was one of the foremost proponents of the theory of healing and imparting the Holy Spirit through the "laying on of hands." He would often feel a heat in his hand as he touched affected parts, and exhibited a remarkable clairvoyancy in knowing intimate details of the lives of people he had never seen before. No doubt this was due to the angel's possession of his mind.

Difficulties With The Brethren

Branham's unorthodox methods of healing and allegedly imparting the Holy Spirit by the laying on of his hands came under severe criticism by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. These practices became major sources of controversy between the Latter Rain Movement and the established Pentecostal denominations who held to their belief that one must "tarry" in prayer for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In spite of his bizarre healing methods and aberrant doctrines, Branham enjoyed remarkable popularity among many Pentecostals, and was warmly received by such notables as Demos Shakarian (founder of the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International), Oral Roberts, W.V. Grant, A.A. Allen, Gordon Lindsay (founder of Christ for the Nations), O.L. Jaggers, George Warnock, and Franklin Hall.

Although many Pentecostals were willing to embrace Branham as an "apostle" and "prophet" while overlooking his aberrant teachings, his popularity declined in the late 1950's after his numerous bold proclamations of "thus saith the Lord" to establish his doctrines. Many Pentecostal churches became reluctant to allow him to speak.(33)

No one conversant with Pentecostalism will deny that, for better or for worse, William Branham had a tremendous effect on the neo-Pentecostalism of his time. From all accounts, he did exhibit remarkable healing powers which no doubt played a significant part in giving credibility to his teachings.

Branham was warmly welcomed by Pentecostal churches and organizations such as the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International. This organization in particular provided his most reliable support. In 1961, the editor of FGBMFI's magazine, 'Voice,' wrote,

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.

It should be noted that often what Branham taught as a guest speaker differed from what he taught at his own church, Branham Tabernacle, where he felt freer to disclose his more aberrant teachings.

Toward the end of his career, however, Branham's public espousal of his strange doctrines became even more controversial and he was used less and less by the FGBMFI, though for several years his speaking engagements were underwritten by local chapters. For years he had been a frequent speaker at regional and national conventions.

Eulogies

Branham's life ended abruptly. While on a trip to Arizona, his car was hit head-on by one driven by a drunken driver. For six days he lay in a coma and, on Christmas Eve, 1965, he passed away.

The entire Pentecostal world was shaken by the tragedy. "A number of old friends - Oral Roberts, Demos Shakarian, T.L. Osborn - telephoned their concern."(35)

When Branham died, Demos Shakarian wrote,

Rev. Branham often made the statement that the only Fellowship to which he belonged was FGBMFI. Often, when called upon to speak at various conventions and chapter meetings, he has traveled long distances to keep those engagements. His spirit of service was an inspiration.

Many of Branham's followers believed that he had truly come in the spirit of Elijah; some believed him to be God, born of a virgin.(37) They fully expected him to rise from the dead and come back to them at the end of three days.

Five days after his passing, William Branham was buried, and his grave was soon marked by the pyramid-shaped tombstone.

To date, William Branham's body is still in the grave. But his occult approach to healing was picked up by hundreds of pastors and teachers who have traded on it to a greater or lesser degree.

Continued

- Footnotes -

  • William M. Branham, 'Adoption' (Jeffersonville, IN: Spoken Word Publications, 1960), p.21.
  • William M. Branham, 'The Serpent's Seed', taped sermon, undated.
  • 23 'Adoption', pp.31,104.
  • 24 David E. Harrell, Jr., 'All Things Are Possible' (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1976), p.162.
  • 25 William M. Branham, 'My Life Story' (Spoken Word Publications, undated), p.27.
  • 26 'The Serpent's Seed'.
  • 27 'All Things Are Possible', p.162.
  • 28 'Brother Branham' (Jeffersonville, IN: Spoken Word Publications, undated), p.19.
  • 29 'My Life Story', p.21.
  • 30 Ibid., p.24.
  • 31 Kurt Koch, 'Occult Bondage and Deliverance' (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1972), p.50.
  • 32 Ibid.
  • 33 'All Things Are Possible', p.159.
  • 34 Ibid., p.161.
  • 35 Ibid.
  • 36 Ibid.
  • 37 Ibid., p.164.



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