Wednesday, May 23, 2012

bad tree bad fruit

My great uncle (my mom’s uncle) was discipled by a man named William Branham. Branham is still considered by many today to have walked in one of the most accurate word of knowledge and healing gifts of anyone documented. Many times he would call out a person’s address, phone number, and sickness and then declare healing over them. More often than not, that individual was healed. Many times whole hospital wards were brought to his tent meetings, and often everyone would leave healed! William Branham once said that my uncle was like a son to him. He poured much into him, and it did not go without return! My uncle was involved in the beginnings of the Full Gospel Businessmen, a ministry that God used in the mid-1900s and still continues to use today to go to the nations as well as to fund overseas missions.

Several years ago, I sat around a fireplace with my 89-year-old uncle listening to firsthand stories of himself, William Branham, and Demos Shakarian. These were compelling accounts of miraculous healings, third Heaven experiences, and most of all, radical love for God. He recounted a time he was in Japan and announced that God wanted to heal. Right away, a man with a shriveled arm and hand came up for prayer. As they began to pray, the cracking and popping of bones being formed and muscles being created filled the room as the Holy Spirit began to move in a powerful way. It was soon announced to those attending the meeting at the Pearl Ball Room in the Tokyo Hilton that revival had come to Japan. The man’s arm was completely healed. Soon after this, the room was full of reporters and the pastors began to minister deliverance and salvation to those attending.

Byrd, Andy; Feucht, Sean (2010-09-01). Fire and Fragrance (pp. 32-33). Destiny Image. Kindle Edition.

This excerpt is from the third chapter of the book, which is subtitled (Andy's Story) (yes, the parentheses are there), and so Andy Byrd is talking about his own great uncle.

So, keeping in mind that he's talking about a great-uncle who was seriously connected with William Branham, we might well ask, who was Branham and what did he teach (to overuse parentheses even more, you may notice that Byrd writes nothing about Branham's teachings).

Well, Branham was what could, most politely, be called "a piece of work".

The Teachings of "the Prophet" William Branham
William Branham's Basic Beliefs

First, and perhaps most importantly, Branham denied the triune nature of God. His ideas about Christ seem very convoluted. Jesus was a created being, Jesus at one time was not God because Jesus had to have had a point of beginning, Jesus thus was not eternal. He was against baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He was, thus, a modalist.

His ideas about the Fall are bizarre. He taught that the account of the Fall was some kind of symbolic language, that what really happened was that Eve was sexually seduced by the serpent, and thus became pregnant with Cain. Apparently, she and the serpent even set up house together for a while.

He claimed that God's word could be found in other places than the Bible, but also in the Pyramids of Egypt and in the Zodiac. So much was in influence by these ideas that his own tombstone is in the shape of a pyramid.

He was a false prophet. Like the current false prophet Harold Camping, Branham made predictions that the end of the age would occur in 1977, and that that is also when the millenium would begin.

You can see how Byrd tries to essentially equivocate and cover for Branham.

"Branham is still considered by many today to have walked in one of the most accurate word of knowledge and healing gifts of anyone documented." Notice the weasel-words "one of the most accurate...". Obviously, that means it wasn't perfectly accurate, either in regards to knowledge or to healing, a sure sign that Branham's powers did not come from God. In the Bible, a prophet is expected to be absolutley perfect and accurate in what he says in prophecy. How could it be otherwise, if the God who is perfect in knowledge is giving knowledge to the prophet? But if the spirit speaking to the prophet is not God or from God, then we may sure that, for all of it's apparent displays of occasional accuracy, it will also show itself to be very wrong, and thus false.

"Many times he would call out a person’s address, phone number, and sickness and then declare healing over them. More often than not, that individual was healed." Again, notice the similar weasel-words "more often than not..." Byrd is admitting the Branham got it wrong at times. Again, that is a sign that this spirit was not from God.

"Many times whole hospital wards were brought to his tent meetings, and often everyone would leave healed!" It would have been good if Byrd had given us some documentation of these events. Where, for example, did such things happen? Were these healings verified?

Notice that Byrd is essentially boasting of this connection, distant as it was, with this false teacher and prophet. He holds Branham up as a model or hero, someone to be looked up to, an example of a person with the kinds of powers many today or tomorrow should have.

Oh, one more thing--Branham also taught the Manifest Sons of God heresy. It goes by other names--Joel's Army, the Latter Rain, Seven Mountains Dominionism, and others. Byrd and Feucht are quite into it, too, though they are careful to avoid the names. Here are some examples from this same book.

God is longing to fill us with an accurate view of the spiritual disciplines and allow us to begin to experience boundary lines in pleasant places as David refers to in Psalm 16. I prophesy and declare that God is raising up a whole generation that will be known for both great exploits and uncompromising character—radical power and a committed life of extravagant discipline! These will become inseparable in this generation. The world will look on with amazement as a company of Daniels emerges on the earth and in the Church whose character is above reproach and whose life is full of anointing, power, and love.

Byrd, Andy; Feucht, Sean (2010-09-01). Fire and Fragrance (pp. 148-149). Destiny Image. Kindle Edition.

"Raising up a generation...", language consistent with the dominionist's heresy. Here's my own attempt at prophecy. Well, not really prophecy, since I make no claim to such a gift. All I'm doing is being a bit far-sighted--think something like what chess players do--, and taking Scripture seriously. My prediction, such as it is, is this--there will be no such generation. God saves individuals, and puts those individuals into churches. There may be people with dominionist beliefs who have spiritual manifestations, but they will not be from God, just as the manifestations associated with Branham were not of God.

Colossians 2:10 exhorts and reminds us that every believer has “been given fullness” (NIV). We must break out of an ungodly paradigm that every believer is not already fully equipped to become the solution and hope for the darkness flooding the world. It is so imperative to understand that Jehu was not a prophet or a priest but was an heir to the throne. This mandate and high calling from God goes out to all joint-heirs of Heaven to establish His Kingdom dominion in the land. This is in one accord with the prayer of Jesus in Matthew 6:10: “…on earth as it is in heaven.”

Byrd, Andy; Feucht, Sean (2010-09-01). Fire and Fragrance (p. 161). Destiny Image. Kindle Edition.

You might note the focus on us, that we are to become the solution and hope for the world.

We declare that we have been crucified with Christ and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us. The life we now live, we live by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself for us! Oh God, we count all things rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, our Lord! Oh God! Raise up a generation that is radically in love with You, totally surrendering to you, and completely abandoned to Your purposes.

Byrd, Andy; Feucht, Sean (2010-09-01). Fire and Fragrance (p. 187). Destiny Image. Kindle Edition.

So, can anyone claim to be succeeded in "totally surrendering"? Not even Paul, whom these writers quote or paraphrase, would likely have said that he had. He wrote quite plainly in Romans of his struggles with his sinful nature.

This is law. Not only that, but I can't think of anyplace in the Bible that speaks of us needing to practice "total surrendering" or be "completely abandoned", unless it is a law that we must confess to have broken and repent for breaking. And as with all law, we will never in this life perfectly obey it. If your hope is in some generation that will be "totally surrendered" and "completely abandoned", then you will be disappointed.

Can fruit coming from such a bad tree as William Branham be anything but itself bad? I would say, no. To borrow a quote from Luther...

At that time my wife said unto me, Sir! how is it, that in Popedom they pray so often with great vehemence, but we are very cold and careless in praying? I answered her, the devil driveth on his servants continually; they are diligent, and take great pains in their false worshipping, but we, indeed, are ice cold therein, and negligent.

Martin Luther. Selections from the Table Talk of Martin Luther (Kindle Locations 1069-1072).


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I noticed you didn't cite and sources or quotes. Here is the quote on 1977 if you care to see it in context.

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."

This is commonly put forth as a false prophecy. That couldn't be further from the truth as he did not claim to have received this "Thus saith the Lord".

jazzact13 said...

No problem about the repeat posts. I've had that happen, too. It's sometimes hard to tell if a comment really went through or not.

Interesting. Actually, one of the pages I linked to provides a source, (Seven Church Ages Page 322).

I'll look into it more. I don't want to be unfair to him, though there does seem to be plenty of reason to raise questions about him. Even this prophecy or prediction seems to still be open to questioning. What, for example, is the difference between a prediction and a prophecy? While Jesus told us to be aware of signs of the end, He seems to have been against any kind of date-setting, which is what Branham did. If he was making this prediction only as "a private student of the word", why also mention divine inspiration?

Still, thanks for pointing this out. It does give me a bit more to consider.