William Branham stated:
This article is one in a series outlining a number of William Branham's visions that failed - you are currently in the article that is in bold:
There were also many visions that changed significantly over time. This article examines the response of people in the message to the failed visions.
Message Ministers use of the red herring
The media player is loading...
The use of red herring arguments by message followers
Message believers have to reconcile what they believe (that William Branham was a prophet) with historic facts (that William Branham's prophecies did not all come to pass). The easiest way to do this is to trivialize the importance of facts until the person feels comfortable ignoring them. This is required because of a psychological condition which is common in people involved in cults that is referred to as Cognitive Dissonance.
There is no such fish as a "red herring"; it refers to a particularly strong kipper, a fish (typically a herring) that has been strongly cured in brine and/or heavily smoked. This process makes the fish particularly pungent smelling and, with strong enough brine, turns its flesh reddish. The term "red herring" was thought to have originated from the technique of training young fox hounds. When the dog was being trained to follow the faint odour of a fox, the trainer would drag a red herring (whose strong scent would confuse the animal) acreoss the animal's trail to confuse the dog. The dog eventually learned to follow the scent of the fox rather than the stronger scent of the red herring.
In the area of logic or arguments, a red herring is an issue or fact that is introduced to deliberately mislead or distract a person from the actual concern that is being raised. A red herring is a distracting argument that leads people towards a false conclusion. A red herring might be intentionally used (particularly where there are no real arguments against the issue), or it could be inadvertently used during an argument as a result of poor logic.
Voice of God Recordings explanation of why William Branham's failed prophecies are not important relies totally on the use of red herring arguments.
Voice of God Recording's basic argument
Voice of God Recordings ("VoGR"), is an entity led by William Branham's sons and dedicated to sharing his sermons. In a publication called Catch the Vision(2012, Volume 2), they explain away the failures in William Branham's prophecies without discussing the facts. Their argument flows as follows:
Three examples of Biblical "errors" that VOGR gives are:
The problem with this reasoning is that it assumes that the "problems" in the Bible are the same as the problems in the message. But the problems aren't the same.
For starters, the Bible accounts are written by different people thousands of years ago, while the Message is from one source (William Branham) and his spoken words can be searched in an electronic database online. Second, William Branham spoke English, while the Bible is translated from an ancient form of Greek and Hebrew. The King James Bible in itself is a translation of Hebrew and Greek into Latin, and then into English.
Let's address the specific examples provided by VoGR:
Differences in Paul's Conversion Experiences
Message ministers don't understand Greek. In fact, they like to mock and scoff those that study it (for example, listen to Vin Dayal's sermon of January 13, 2013). For them, perhaps ignorance is bliss. But if you were a non-English speaker, how could you really hope to understand what William Branham is really saying if you don't speak English? And what if the translator was translating into your mother toungue but using language from 400 years ago? Do you understand that there might be a bit of a problem?
But for those of you who might be curious, here is something to ponder.
Acts 9:7 (KJV) states, “The men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.”
Acts 22:9 (KJV) reads, “And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.”
These statements seem contradictory, with one saying that Paul’s companions heard a voice, while the other account says that no voice was heard. However, a knowledge of Greek solves this difficulty.
The construction of the verb ‘to hear’ (akouo) is not the same in both accounts. In Acts 9:7 it is used with the genitive, in Acts 22:9 with the accusative. The construction with the genitive simply expresses that something is being heard or that certain sounds reach the ear; nothing is indicated as to whether a person understands what he hears or not.
The construction with the accusative, however, describes a hearing which includes mental apprehension of the message spoken. From this it becomes evident that the two passages are not contradictory.
Acts 22:9 does not deny that the associates of Paul heard certain sounds; it simply declares that they did not hear in such a way as to understand what was being said. Our English idiom in this case simply is not so expressive as the Greek.
This is very clear in a modern English like the NASB, where VoGr's problem with the Bible suddenly disappears:
What Voice of God and Joseph Branham have done is to exaggerate the differences in the accounts of Paul's conversion experience. They are throwing the Bible under the bus in an attempt to get message followers to overlook the problems with William Branham's failed visions and lack of credibility.
Abranham's prophecy was also wrong
The Old Testament (Genesis 15:13) and the New Testament (Acts 7:6) both agree that Abraham’s offspring would dwell in a foreign land, and would be afflicted. The term of this is 400 years, and either refers to 400 years of slavery, or from the date of the prophecy until the end of the slavery.
The Old Testament (Exodus 12:40) also states that the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was 430 years. The New Testament then confirms that the law came 430 years after God’s covenant with Abraham about his offspring (Galatians 3:16-17).
Both the 400 year period and the 430 year period end with the exodus from Egypt (Genesis 15:14, Exodus 12:41), after which they head straight to Mt. Sinai to receive the law. The difference between the 400 year and 430 year periods is two different important starting events, 30 years apart from each other.
400 Years of Slavery
The position of some ancient Jewish rabbis is that Genesis 15:13 speaks of Israel’s affliction in Egypt and Exodus 12:40 speaks of the longer gap of their sojourning (i.e. they were not afflicted immediately, but only after a Pharaoh came to power who did not know Joseph). Hence, this latter span includes the additional 30 years.
400 Years from the start of affliction
God’s covenant with Abraham marks the start of the 430 year period (Galatians 3), after which Isaac was born 25 years later. The 400 year period of suffering would have then started with the sacrifice of Isaac on Mount Moriah. Isaac, the son of promise, is a type of Jesus Christ and a representative of the affliction that the Son of God would eventually endure.
Here are two reasonable explanations (one Jewish, and the other Christian) which are provided as to why no real issue problem exists between Genesis 15:13 (“400 years”) and Exodus 12:40 (“430 years”).
This red herring was also used by Pastor Wisper Gwena in his recent defense of William Branham.
Differences in the Gospel Accounts
There are a number of explanations for the differences in the stories between the Gospel accounts, the simplest being: There are 4 different people telling the same story. Who in their right mind would expect them to be exactly the same? If you have 4 eye witnesses at the scene of an accident, will they all agree? In particular, when none of the men who wrote the accounts were actually present at the tomb with the women, they are simply relying on the memories that they recalled.
There are four different men telling the story and we are supposed to be shocked and surprised that their accounts are slightly different? Seriously?
The biggest problem is that VoGR does not truly state the facts in the case. Far from its being true that two of the Gospels state that they “saw only one angel,” not one of the Gospels states that they saw only one angel. It is true that Matthew says that “they saw an angel” (Matt 28:1–5), and Mark says: “They saw a young man,” presumably an angel (Mark 16:5–7); but neither Matthew nor Mark says that they saw “only” one angel. Saying that they saw one does not preclude the possibility of their seeing two.
Furthermore, it is not true that two of the Gospels state that the women saw two angels at the grave. It is true that Luke says (Luke 24:3–4) that after they had entered into the sepulcher two men (presumably angels) stood by them in dazzling apparel. But this apparently does not refer to the incident that Matthew refers to at all, for the angel there mentioned was an angel who was outside the sepulcher. Nor does it seem to refer to the same fact of which Mark speaks, for the young man (or angel) in Mark’s gospel was one who was sitting on the right side of the sepulcher. This angel may have been joined later by the one who was on the outside, and these two together may have stood by the women. This seems more likely, as the message uttered by the two in Luke is in part the same as that uttered by the angel outside the sepulcher in Matthew, and by the young man inside the sepulcher in Mark (Luke 24:5–6; Matthew 28:5–7; Mark 16:5–7).
The very simple solution is that there was an angel outside the tomb when the women approached, and they saw another one inside sitting. The one outside entered, and the one sitting arose, and standing by the women they uttered together or after one another the words recorded in Matthew and in Mark and in Luke.
But how about the account in John? John does tell us that there were two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had lain (John 20:12–13). How can we reconcile that with the other three?
It was not the group of women at all that saw these two angels, but we are distinctly told it was Mary alone. Mary started out with the other women for the sepulcher, got a little ahead of the group, was the first to see the stone rolled away from the tomb (John 20:1), immediately jumped at the conclusion that the tomb had been rifled, and ran at top speed to the city to carry the news to Peter and John (John 20:2). While she was going into the city, the other women reached and entered the tomb, and the things recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke occurred. These women left the sepulcher before Mary reached it the second time. Peter and John had also left it when Mary reached the sepulcher; and two angels, the one who had been on the outside and the one who at first had been sitting on the inside, were both sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet where the body of Jesus had lain.
All the other apparent contradictions in the four accounts of the resurrection — and they are quite numerous — also disappear on careful study.
But as we mentioned above, these apparent contradictions are themselves proof of the truth and the accuracy of the accounts.
It is evident that these four accounts are separate and independent accounts. If four different persons had sat down to make up a story in collusion of a resurrection that never occurred, they would have made their four accounts appear to agree, at least on the surface. Whatever contradictions there might be in the four accounts would only come out after minute and careful study.
But just the opposite is the case here. It is all on the surface that the apparent contradictions occur. It is only by careful and protracted study that the real agreement shines forth. It is just such a harmony as would not exist between four accounts fabricated in collusion. It is just such an agreement as would exist in four independent accounts of substantially the same circumstances, each narrator telling the same story from his own standpoint, relating such details as impressed him, omitting other details which did not impress him but which did impress another narrator and which the other narrator related.
Sometimes two accounts would seem to contradict one another, but the third account would come in and unintentionally reconcile the apparent discrepancies between the two. This is precisely what we have in the four accounts of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We should thank God that there are these apparent discrepancies among them. The more one studies the four accounts of the resurrection, the more they will be convinced, if the person is honest, that they are separate and independent accounts, and a truthful narration of what actually occurred. They could not have been fabricated in collusion with one another — the very discrepancies urged prove this. Much less could they have been fabricated independently of one another. Four men sitting down independently of one another to fabricate an account of something that never occurred would have agreed with one another nowhere, but in point of fact the more we study these four accounts the more clearly we discover how well they fit in with one another.
In the basic fundamental truths, the Gospels have absolutely no contradictions. The so-called variations in the narratives are only the details which were mostly vividly impressed on one mind or another of the witnesses of our Lord’s resurrection, or on the mind of the writers of these four respective Gospels.
The closest, most critical, examination of these narratives throughout the ages has never destroyed and can never destroy their powerful testimony to the truth that Christ did rise from the dead on the third day, and was seen of many.
Pastor Wisper Gwena's use of the red herring
The Off The Shelf podcast did a 5 episode series commenting on Pastor Wisper Gwena's 2017 defense of William Branham. Pastor Gwena is a pastor of a message congregation in North London, UK.
Pastor Gwena’s argument is this:
Pastor Gwena adopted Voice of God's red herring argument as outlined above. However, he also introduced a new red herring with respect to the prophet Elijah.
Elijah and the red herring
In 1 Kings 19:16-16, we read:
The problem is that Elijah did not anoint Jehu.
According to Pastor Gwena, "we have a scriptural precedent of things said to a prophet which a prophet does not fulfill and yet we still accept him to be a prophet." This is taken as a reason to accept William Branham's status as a prophet regardless of his failed visions. It is taken as a reason to ignore Deuteronomy 18:20-22.
The problem with this explanation is that it is done without a true knowledge of the scripture. However, there are two good explanations for the failure of Elijah to anoint Jehu.
We read of Ahab's repentence in 1 Kings 21:27-29:
Ahab's repentence brought about a delay in God's judgment. We find this principle outlined in Jeremiah 18:
So God has clearly outlined the conditions under which a prophecy will not come to pass. But those conditions do not apply to ANY of William Branham's failed prophecies.
The message to Elijah was not a prophecy, it was a command
Elijah did not see a vision. From scripture, we read that God audibly spoke to Elijah and told him what he was to do.
Elijah did not say "Thus Saith The Lord, I will anoint Jehu." God told Elijah what to he was to do. And then, as a result of Ahab's repentence, he did not require Elijah's obedience.
God delayed the judgment on Ahab's house and Jehu was eventually anointed King of Israel in 2 Kings 9:
This is completely unlike William Branham, who pointed to himself and said:
While it is clear why Elijah did not fulfill the command of the Lord, there is no valid scriptural reason for William Branham's failed vision. And while Pastor Gwena states that he has "biblical precedents" to explain the failed brown bear vision, the red herring arguments of Abraham and Elijah simply aren't valid. They are red herrings.
Why a Comparison to William Branham's Failed Prophecies is a Smokescreen
The issues in the failed or flawed prophecies of William Branham are completely different from the two issues raised above.
One needs to look at each of the prophecies to determine what the problem is.
For example, The Municipal Bridge Vision was not fulfilled. No one died. For more details on why we can say this, look at our article on the subject. This is not similar to any of the so-called discrepancies in the Bible that we discussed above. Similarly, it has nothing to do with speaking judgement against a nation and the nation repenting. The big problem is that William Branham said that the vision was fulfilled but it was not.
The African Vision was also not fulfilled. This is again not a case of a nation avoiding judgement by repenting. It is not a case of a slight discrepancy in a story. This is a case where William Branham prophesied that he would speak to 300,000 people but he didn't it never happened. This simply cannot be compared to the issues raised with the Bible. They're just not the same.
We could go on and on. What we would ask is those that read this to be honest. Please prove us wrong. If we have any incorrect facts, we will change them as soon as we receive reliable evidence to prove that our position is incorrect.
Jonah prophesied against Nineveh but it was not destroyed
Jonah prophesied against Nineveh saying that it would be destroyed but but it wasn't. Similarly William Branham prophesied certain things and they didn't come to pass. Sometimes prophets say things that don't come to pass, message people explain.
The problem with this explanation is that it is done without a true knowledge of the scripture.
God told Jeremiah:
So God has clearly outlined the conditions under which a "Thus Saith The Lord" prophecy will not come to pass. But those conditions do not apply to ANY of William Branham's failed prophesies.
The Municipal Bridge Vision involves a vision which William Branham said was fulfilled. The problem is that it was not fulfilled. How can you compare that with Jonah and Nineveh?
In the vision of the brown bear, William Branham states with an emphatic "Thus Saith The Lord" that he will shoot a huge brown bear. He didn't. How can anyone validly compare that with Jonah and Nineveh?
The real problem, the Biblical problem, with William Branham's unfulfilled visions is Deuteronomy 18:20-22.
William Branham agreed with this being the Biblical standard.
The people that rely on the excuse (and it is an excuse) that the Bible has errors in it, simply don't have a good understanding of the Bible (and this includes those message ministers that use this claim). They are simply yielding to the normal progression of Cognitive Dissonance. The first easy answer that they get is good enough for them.
Those that state that some of the failed prophesies of William Branham are comparable to that of Jonah's failed prophecy similarly fail to understand the principles of Biblical prophecy.
So to VoGR, Ed Byskal, Vin Dayal and others who are using these red herring arguments to overcome their own Cognitive Dissonance, please go back and address the issues we raise with each of the failed prophecies. We want this website to reflect only one thing - the truth.
Would you recognize a red herring if you saw one?
In a discussion, a red herring is an issue that is introduced to deliberately mislead or distract a person from the actual concern that is being discussed.
In our Humble Pie article, we raised a number of serious questions that go to the heart of whether William Branham was a prophet.
We initially raised our questions with anyone that would listen… and even some that didn’t want to.
However, at no time did we ever get a serious response to the many questions that we were asking.
Since we posted the Humble Pie article, we have had almost 50,000 people from 179 different countries visit our website. We have repeatedly asked for anyone to prove the conclusions of our research wrong or to correct any incorrect information that we have posted.
However, we have had only one serious response to our request, the results of which can be found on a website called “Searching for Vindication”. These people actually faced the issue, and have published their research material and findings. We recommend that you look at this site.
What has surprised us most is that the most common response to our questions from message ministers has been to focus on completely irrelevant topics to divert attention away from the real issues.
Instead of producing answers, these ministers have been producing Red Herrings.
Let’s start with Voice of God Recordings,
If you read the 2012 Catch the Vision newsletter, volume 2 – you were told that, since skeptics can bring “reasonable” arguments against the Bible, believers should not be surprised when skeptics bring what sound like “reasonable” arguments against the message.
You were asked whether it would have been reasonable to believe that Jesus was a “false prophet, wine bibber, law breaker, and Sabbath violator” who was “justly” convicted and sentenced to death by the federal government... Or would it have been more reasonable to believe the testimony of a group of former prostitutes, illiterate fishermen, and tax collectors?
The problem with all of these questions, and similar issues raised by a host of message ministers, is this:
We have asked questions about failed prophecies, prophecies that have changed over time, and stories that William Branham told that hold no bearing to reality.
These are issues that ministers have been aware of for years - but chose to hide from their congregations.
Sure, we know that William Branham as a man was not perfect. But that also has nothing to do with the difficulties we have raised regarding failed prophecies.
We have been mocked for having the nerve to raise these questions. One minister compared us to the Three Stooges, attempting to make our questions look foolish. But they aren’t foolish questions.
In fact, the apostle Paul commended the people of Berea for searching the scriptures to determine whether what he said was true.
We also have diligently searched the scriptures and want to know, in the light of all of the warnings in the Old and New Testaments about false prophets, how can William Branham be considered a true prophet if even one of his prophecies failed to come to pass?
One minister ridiculed us because we raised the issue of William Branham plagiarizing from the works of other men.
But in the light of Jeremiah 23:30, this is a serious issue.
While William Branham didn’t use the phrase “red herring”, he did use the same concept. He called it “barking up the wrong tree”, which means that when you go hunting with a lying dog, you will come home empty-handed every time.
Our advice to you is this – if you see a red herring, or think your pastor is barking up the wrong tree, just go and ask him for a direct answer to the specific question that you have. If he cares about you, he will answer your question. However, you will probably be asked to be quiet or leave the church, which is what happened to me.
To be perfectly honest, there are actually good answers for all of the questions raised by ministers relating to problems with the Bible. However, we have not seen any good answers to the questions we have asked about William Branham’s prophecies and his message.
Why are they avoiding these issues? Is a red herring the best they can do? Are you really paying them to bark up the wrong tree?
Josh McDowell and Don Douglas Stewart, Answers to Tough Questions (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1993)
Ted Cabal, Chad Owen Brand, E. Ray Clendenen et al., The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith, 1756 (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007).
R. A. Torrey, Difficulties in the Bible: Alleged Errors and Contradictions (Willow Grove: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1998).