Question 34 (ABM) - The Cloud over Flagstaff

From BelieveTheSign

The following are a series of questions and answers between one of our editors (referred to as BTS) and an anonymous Branham minister (referred to as ABM). This series of Q&A relates to William Branham's credibility. The full text of this question and its answer is below.

Click on the links to go to a specific question or a different subject area. You are currently on the topic below that is in bold:

Complete list of questions

Q&A relating to William Branham's Prophetic Ministry

Q&A relating to William Branham's Doctrine

Q&A on the current status of the "message"

Question 7 - William Branham's visit to Rome

Question 8 - The 1933 Ohio River Baptismal experience

Question 10 - Congressman Upshaw

Question 11 - A Faked Discernment?

Question 12 - A Biblical Perspective on William Branham's Lies

Question 16 - The Vision of the Plum and Apple Trees

Question 17 - The Mystery of the Empty Cornerstone

Question 21 - How many people were actually healed in Branham's ministry?

Question 28 - Did William Branham visit the graves of Muhammad, Buddha, and Confucius?

Question 29 - Did William Branham travel around the world seven times?

Question 30 - The man from Windsor

Question 33 - The Prophecy of the Seven Angels

Question 34 - The Cloud over Flagstaff

Contents

Question 34 - The Cloud over Flagstaff

Dear ABM,

I wish to continue with the issue of William Branham’s credibility.

As you know, at around sunset on February 28, 1963, a cloud appeared in the vicinity of Flagstaff, AZ and remained sunlit for 28 minutes after sunset. It was highlighted in the May 1963 edition of Life Magazine. In addition to Life Magazine, various articles written appeared in Science Magazine (April 19, 1963), an independent report issued May 31, 1963, and in Weatherwise Magazine (June 1963).

The cloud was very unusual and puzzled scientists at the time, who could not find a conclusive explanation for the cloud. The height of the cloud was initially estimated by James E. McDonald from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the University of Arizona, Tucson, as being approximately 35 kilometers but was later revised by him to be at approximately 43 kilometers (141,000 feet). It is interesting to note that the Thor rocket was intentionally destroyed at an elevation of approximately 44 kilometers.

Believers of William Branham's message view the cloud as part of the fulfillment of a vision that William Branham had in December 1962 that Seven Angels would meet him outside of Tuscon, Arizona. They see it as a supernatural sign that preceded William Branham's opening of the Seven Seals. I assume you are of a similar view.

Personally, I view the cloud as simply being the aftermath of the intentional destruction of the Thor rocket over Vandenburg air force base on February 28, 1963.

I see William Branham's stories about the cloud being the aftermath of the angelic visitation as untruthful, as these stories are in direct contravention with the facts. It is clear that William Branham's own testimony clearly shows at he made up the stories about being at the cloud's genesis and that these stories only began after he saw the article in Life Magazine.

Many people focus on the scientific issues surrounding the cloud. These issues pale in comparison to the real issue: Are William Branham's accounts of his interaction with cloud credible? And if they are not, then where does that leave a person with respect to William Branham's overall credibility?

The facts about William Branham’s itinerary during the first 6 months of 1963 are as follows (from Only Believe Magazine, "Road to Sunset" by Rebekah Branham Smith):

  1. William Branham spent the month of February 1963 and the beginning of March in Tucson;
  2. Javelina hunting season in Arizona was from March 01 through March 10, 1963;
  3. On March 3, 1963, he and Billy Paul drove to Houston, Texas for a meeting;
  4. He drove back to Tucson after the meeting on March 4.
  5. He left for hunting on March 6 and arrived at Rattlesnake Mesa (this is almost a 150-mile journey by car but, as the crow flies, it’s just over 50 miles northeast of Tucson). He was accompanied by Gene Norman and Fred Sothmann;
  6. William Branham shot a javelina on March 7;
  7. On March 8, 1963, William Branham supposedly had a supernatural visitation by 7 angels;
  8. On March 9, 1963, the three men return to Tucson;
  9. William Branham speaks a series on the Seven Seals of Revelation in Jeffersonville, IN from March 17-24, 1963;
  10. Some two months later, the May 17, 1963 issue of Life Magazine contains a story about a “mystery” cloud; and
  11. Three months after the cloud appeared, William Branham first mentions it in a sermon entitled, “Come, Follow Me” on June 1, 1963, in Tucson.

I am going to list a number of questions all of which relate to the cloud and William Branham’s credibility in relation to his claims about the cloud.

The cloud appeared over Flagstaff but William Branham was hunting 200 miles from there at Rattlesnake Mesa. Why does he say that he was at Flagstaff?

When I come, one thing, was by a vision, that I was standing above Tucson up here when a--a--a blast went off. Well, Brother Fred was there when it went off. And they took that picture now, you know, in the sky. And I didn't think much about it, never noticed it. So it begin to impress me somehow, other day. And Brother Norman, Norma's father here, told me, said, "Did you notice this?"
And just as I looked, right there was them Angels just as plain as They could be, setting right there in that picture. See? I looked to see when it was, and it was time, same, about day or two before, or day or two after I was up there. I looked where it was at. "Northeast of Flagstaff, or Prescott, which is below Flagstaff." Well, that's just where we was at, see, just exactly.[1]

Why did William Branham state that the cloud was directly above him when it appeared 8 days earlier 200 miles away? If your child bent the truth this badly, what would you call it?

And the blast did just exactly the way It said it. Is that right, Brother Fred? And I--I--I must have jumped way off of the ground. And just above me was the Angels of the Lord that sent Message back, for me to come here to break these Seals...
And, now, I didn't know at the time, that they were taking pictures of that, scientists was, as the Angels lowered themselves from Heaven, to bring the Message...
How many saw, "A mysterious cloud in the sky"? You see the hands. And now the Life magazine picked it up. And I have the--the article here this morning, in the Life magazine, of to show. Now here It is, the same time I was there. See the pyramid of the Cloud? I was standing just below this. [2]

Why does William Branham state that there were no airplanes in his area when he appears to be referring to the magazine article which is talking about the area around Flagstaff, some 200 miles away? It is also interesting to note that Gene Norman stated that after the “blast” occurred he looked up and saw “two long streaks like, ah, like a plane leaving a trail.” Local newspaper reports from the Springerville area (just minutes from Rattlesnake Mesa at supersonic speeds) at the time also referred to residents reporting sonic booms. As a result, it is realistic to draw a conclusion that the “blast” was actually a sonic boom.

But there was no plane in the district. The book says so here. They've checked it.[3]

Why does he state that the magazine refers to the same place that he was hunting when it clearly does not?

And then while I was praying on this subject, of wondering what would happen to me, and you know where I was at? North of Tucson, east of Flagstaff; just exactly, positionally, where I told you, months before it happened, I'd be standing. And exactly according to this paper here, and of papers and this magazine, and our own testimony, exactly where it taken place. God is perfect and cannot lie, and it will come to pass.[4]

Have you read the articles that he is referring to? Do you know where he was hunting (see Rattlesnake Mesa? Why does he say he was hunting at the same time and at the same place that the cloud appeared when the facts clearly show that he was not?

And now the Life magazine picked it up. And I have the--the article here this morning, in the Life magazine, of to show. Now here It is, the same time I was there. See the pyramid of the Cloud? I was standing just below this.[5]

Why does he again state that he was under the cloud, when he wasn't anywhere close to it?

And science is baffled. Standing right under where it was happening there... Now science took the picture of It, you seen It, went on Associated Press. They didn't know what It was. There is a Cloud hanging, twenty-six miles high. That's fifteen miles, or twenty, above even where vapor is at. They don't know what it's all going about, and they are trying to investigate It. And there, right under It, I was standing. [6]

Either he is being untruthful about where he was hunting or he is being untruthful about the cloud being over him? Is it possible for such wild exaggeration to be an "honest" mistake?

Stand north of Tucson, witnesses standing here with it, when a blast come, that shook the mountains off the ground, almost. And at the same time, a circle of Light hanging yonder in the air, when the science took the pictures now. [7]

Why does he now involve a supernatural presence that told him to look up and see the cloud that wasn't there? Is he trying to make himself look like something more than he is? Why does he say that his companions were talking about the cloud when they admit that they never saw it?

It's a mysterious cloud. The cloud is twenty-six miles high and thirty miles across. And that's what we were speaking of here. That's where the Angel of the Lord came down and shook the place...
It went so loud, right on me, like that. Then, all at once, Something said, "Look up." There It was...
I met Brother Fred and Brother Norman, about a hour later, when I found them. They were excited and talking about it. There it is. And science says that it's impossible for--for any kind of a--a mist or anything get that high, fog, vapor.[8]
Like the March 17th, the March issue of the Life magazine, you seen that circle of Light in the skies, thirty miles high, twenty-seven miles across. Why, moisture is only about nine miles high, and they can't even make up what it was. And right standing beneath that, a man that is sitting right present now, was right standing there by me, when seven Angels come down from God, visibly standing right there...[9]

Why is he now elaborating on his prior exaggeration, something that never happened? How can he claim to be standing under a cloud that appeared 8 days earlier and 200 miles away?

And I looked up, there was that white Circle above me there, circling around. Here come seven Angels, come moving down out of the air, picked me up...
I didn't know it; but cameras from all over the country was taking the picture of That, as the white Cloud settled down, went on the Associated Press. I think your Chicago paper packed it, all around. Life magazine packed it. How many has seen it in there, that Mr.... That, see, that was it right there, just exactly the way it said it, standing right under It when It come down and formed. They said, "It was way beyond, and it's... hunted the country, there was no airplanes or nothing in there. And It was too high, twenty-six miles high, where there is no vapor or nothing. You couldn't, they couldn't make vapor, anyhow. And thirty miles across It."[10]

Some people claim that William Branham told someone that the angels had been waiting at Rattlesnake Mesa for a week before he got there. Doesn't that sound like hearsay evidence?

These people then state that the cloud was simply an after effect of the angels arriving. But how could that be when William Branham clearly states that the cloud was created by the angels leaving?

Now, some sister here, Billy just showed me, was nice enough to go get this Life magazine, this picture, and blow it up, of that of the seven Angels, and have it taken and sent to me. That is the picture. And now if you'll notice here, as it was leaving, ascending back, when the Angels had brought Their Message.[11]
And when they ascended up on High, like that, went thirty miles high in the air; and, on the same day, they took the picture of It, science did, and went around the world.[12]
Later, the Angels appeared as was prophesied. And at the same time, a great cluster of Light left where I was standing, and moved thirty miles high in the air, and around the circle, like the wings of the Angels, and drawed into the skies a shape of a pyramid in the same constellation of Angels that appeared.
Science took the picture, all the way from Mexico, as it moved from northern Arizona, where the Holy Spirit said I would be standing, "forty miles northeast of Tucson." :And it went into the air, and Life magazine packed the pictures, "A mystic something way in the spheres, where there could be no moisture, where there could be no evaporations of anything; thirty miles high, and twenty-seven miles across," and coming right up from where those Angels were...
And now, as this went up, we have the picture outside on the plaque...[13]

Some message believers point to the cloud and say that William Branham explained the cloud as being a sign that appeared in the heavens before the experience on the hunting trip, i.e. He declares it in the heavens before He does it on earth. He always does that. He shows His signs in the heavens first. However, doesn't this statement appear to be talking about the fact that these events took place before the meetings that were held where William Branham spoke his series on the Seven Seals?

Even if this was the case relating to the cloud, how does this justify William Branham stating that they took the pictures on "that day", i.e. the day he heard the blast?

But did you notice before the Seven Seals was revealed, before the great mysterious Light showed forth in the heavens up here at above Tucson, Flagstaff, where we were? Brother Fred, two of the man that was... the two men was with me that morning...
That day they took pictures all across southern United States and Mexico. There it hangs now in the Life Magazine, still a mystery to them. But He declares it in the heavens before He does it on earth. He always does that. He shows His signs in the heavens first.[14]
Later, the Angels appeared as was prophesied. And at the same time, a great cluster of Light left where I was standing, and moved thirty miles high in the air, and around the circle, like the wings of the Angels, and drawed into the skies a shape of a pyramid in the same constellation of Angels that appeared.
Science took the picture, all the way from Mexico, as it moved from northern Arizona, where the Holy Spirit said I would be standing, "forty miles northeast of Tucson." And it went into the air, and Life magazine packed the pictures, "A mystic something way in the spheres, where there could be no moisture, where there could be no evaporations of anything; thirty miles high, and twenty-seven miles across," and coming right up from where those Angels were.
Now, they asked, to know. Science, the one of them in Tucson, wanted to know any significance, but I didn't tell them. You all knew it, told beforehand. But it wasn't for them; it was for you.[15]

Knowing that the cloud formed 8 days before the hunting trip, doesn't this affect William Branham's credibility? If your pastor told you things that were this far off base, would you believe him?

And I started up the mountain, running as hard as I could on the other side. All of a sudden, I thought somebody shot me. I never heard such a blast; it shook the whole country. And, when it did, standing before me was seven Angels in a cluster.
I met Brother Fred and them, a little after. Said, "What was it?"
I said, "That was it."
"What are you going to do?
"Return home. For, THUS SAITH THE LORD, the seven mysteries that's been hid in the Bible all these years, these denominations and everything, God is going to open those seven mysteries to us in the Seven Seals."
There was that circle coming up from the earth, like a mist forming. When It did, It went plumb up into the mountain, begin to circle on westward, from the way It come. Science found It after a while, thirty miles high and twenty-five miles across, just exactly in the circle of the pyramid.[16]
In there I watched it until that circle went up, started sweeping up, and they turned into like a mystic light, like a fog. Just exactly the way... How many seen the picture of It that was taken in Houston? Remember that? See? Well, that's just the way this was. It turned into the same thing, It kept going higher and higher.
I was running and running, trying to find Brother Fred and them...
As it went up, I didn't know that the observatories and things, plumb into Mexico, was taking that picture. Life magazine packed it as It went up. [17]

It appears that even Billy Paul Branham was confused by all of this, believing himself that his dad was hunting below the cloud when it appeared. Here is what Billy Paul said in the preface to the book, The Revelation of the Seven Seals. It is interesting to note that newer versions of the Seals book do not contain this language.

The Word of the Lord has promised that He would send to the earth once again the spirit of Elijah in the form of that End Time Messenger who was the Angel to the Seventh Church Age in these final closing days of time. We believe firmly that this promise was fulfilled in the vindicated ministry of our precious brother, William Marrion Branham. Throughout the life of this humble servant of the Lord, who so epitomized the Spirit of Christ, we find manifestations of God, which were so perfectly vindicated that they cannot be explained away by any natural reasoning. Of the hundreds of thousands of visions which the Lord gave to Brother Branham around the world, not one time has there ever occurred a vision which was not confirmed and attested to be the Word of the Lord. On December 30, 1962 at the Branham Tabernacle, Jeffersonville, Indiana, Brother Branham brought a message entitled Sirs, Is This The Time? [The Spoken Word Vol. II No.11] In this Message he told of a vision that instructed him to move to Tucson, Arizona with his family. This vision foretold a blast that would take place, the force of which would shake the whole country. This vision was fulfilled on Feb. 28, 1963 when 40 miles northeast of Tucson, Brother Branham was caught up in a constellation of seven angels and was told to return to his church in Jeffersonville, Indiana, where the mysteries of the Seven Seals would be revealed to him. [18]

The events related to the “Cloud” when compared with William Branham’s story have a significant negative impact on his credibility.

ABM, you have previously stated that William Branham “embellished and exaggerated frequently” and that he had a “propensity to exaggerate.“

Personally, I think he is just outright lying based on a magazine story that he thought he could use to further promote himself as a prophet.

The smoking gun is that he mentioned none of the events related to the cloud until 3 months after the appearance of the cloud.

Why should we not reject everything that William Branham has to say about the cloud?

Shalom,

BTS

Response from ABM

BTS,

Thank you for your continued dialogue.

I approach this topic knowing Bro. Branham had a tendency to exaggerate, and I try to parse his statements carefully. He sometimes had a way of wording things which could be interpreted multiple ways. I personally believe he did that on purpose at times to allow people to infer something he did not actually directly say. That is one of the manners in which he exaggerated, without explicitly saying something untrue. My opinion is that, overall, that is what has happened with the cloud story. He never plainly says he was there the day the picture was taken, and was under the same cloud which was photographed. He dances around it and implies it heavily, but never directly says it. I know you likely disagree with my last sentence, but read his statements like a lawyer would and you can see he left himself an out. (I can certainly see why you would argue he did say he was there that day. So even if I accept that, I can just put it in the category as one more exaggeration, just like exaggerations we saw in the ministry of Elijah.)

What is deception?

BTS: The issues you raise here are worth considering in more detail.

“Deception” is the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid.

You have effectively admitted that William Branham deceived people in two ways:

1. He often exaggerated. I consider the exaggerations to be so great, I refer to them as lies. Exaggeration is a form of deception because people in the congregation assumed what William Branham was saying was true. But it wasn’t. This is an act of deception.
2. Intentionally misleading people by using unclear language is referred to as equivocation or “doublespeak”. The two essential elements of equivocation are: ambiguous language and an effort to deceive others. At best, William Branham’s language surrounding the cloud is doublespeak. Personally, I think he was just plain lying.

Additionally, prophecy that can be interpreted in multiple ways is referred to as “Delphic ambiquity” – a prophecy or statement that is ambiguous enough that no matter what happens the prophecy has been “fulfilled”. Doing so intentionally is clearly deception.

So how are we to respond to William Branham’s deception?

Paul stated in 2 Cor. 4:2 that “we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

The use of deception in any form under the new covenant must be rejected as contrary to scripture.

What is deception?

ABM: I agree that exaggerations are a form a dishonesty, and that deception and exaggeration are inappropriate traits for a minister of God to have. I think we essentially agree on that point. Where our difference lies is in determining if that character flaw in Bro. Branham was severe enough to warrant us to dismiss his entire ministry and reject (in this instance) his sermons on the seven seals. I come back to the same scriptural rationale I have presented previously. Prophets of the old testament lied, exaggerated, and changed their stories after giving the them the first time. Specifically all three biblical prophets of the Elijah anointing did just those very things. So what I have to ask myself is this: is Bro. Branham's mistakes in these areas any greater than the mistakes of those other men of the Elijah anointing? I ultimately conclude no, because John the Baptist actually got close to denying Christ in his change of story. None of Bro. Branham's exaggerations seem to have any doctrinal impact. For me, the majority of Bro. Branham's exaggerations are minor in nature, not impactful or related to doctrine or church teachings, and easily overlooked and excused (not as though they were ok, but just accepted as the flaw of a man). This particular exaggeration concerning the cloud, as I have said is the most unfortunate. However, not being related directly to scriptural interpretation, it again does not provide us with scriptural grounds to reject his entire ministry. It provides us only with grounds to question this particular event.You state 1 Cor 4:2, which is an excellent goal and standard. However, Paul also states in Rom 11:29 "the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance" (or irrevocable in other translations), meaning that the gift and calling can still be authentic despite the personal failings of the gift bearer or called individual. A prophet is still a prophet, despite his personal failings.

William Branham admitted he was not there

ABM: There is one important quote about the cloud I notice that you are missing, which I believe is the clarifying statement to the entire issue. In the first message where he ever talked about the cloud photograph, he says the following:

When I come, one thing, was by a vision, that I was standing above Tucson up here when a blast went off. Brother Fred was there when it went off. And they took that picture, you know, in the sky. And I didn’t think much about it, never noticed it. So it begin to impress me somehow the other day. And Brother Norman, Norma’s father here, told me, said, “Did you notice this?” And just as I looked, right there was them angels just as plain as they could be, setting right there in that picture. You see? I looked to see when it was [AMB: in the magazine, Feb 28] , and it was time, same ’bout day or two before or, day or two after I was up there. [AMB: indicating he was up there maybe around March 1\2, but in reality March 7.] I looked where it was at: northeast of Flagstaff, or Prescott, which is below Flagstaff. Well, that’s just where we was at (See?), just exactly. - Come, Follow Me (63-0601)

He says pretty clearly he was not there the day the photograph was taken. So seeing he said that from the very beginning, it certainly can help interpret the rest of what he said properly. He said he was not there... Then he said things that indicate he was there. Which is the true statement? Obviously facts bear out his original statement that he was not there is the truth.

His belief that the picture was important was based on him claiming to see a vision of angels within the picture itself when it was shown to him. Not because he personally witnessed the cloud on Feb 28.

William Branham's failed excuse

BTS: I am aware that he made the statement that it was “’bout day or two before or, day or two after I was up there.” The problem is that this statement is also not true. He is trying to make light of the fact that the cloud was ONE WEEK before he went hunting. It was not after, it was before. Honestly, I think someone pointed out the fact that he was hunting after and he simply brushed off the comment with a statement inferring that it was close to when he was hunting. BUT IT WASN’T!

The excuse is acceptable

ABM: I think that statement is a very important one. Because he states quite plainly he was not there the day of the cloud was photographed. He is conveying that he was there in the same time frame, but not the same day. That is critical information. If we are going to look at the varying accounts on the cloud, I think it is important that we look at the account that most closely resembles the known facts. I think the version that most closely resembles the facts is the most likely to be true.

The cloud appeared over Flagstaff but William Branham was hunting 200 miles from there at Rattlesnake Mesa. Why does he say that he was at Flagstaff when he wasn’t?

ABM: Brother Branham had been known to exaggerate things. But it is important to note the cloud was visible for hundreds of mile around. He was certainly hunting in an area where the cloud would have been visible. (But he was hunting there on a different day) That fact can be verified by the photos of the cloud taken from nearby Tuscon.

William Branham lied when he said he prophecied he would be near Flagstaff

BTS: I have been to the Sunset Peak area. Back when we were in the message, we were honestly trying to do what we could to prove the message to be true. It is a mountainous area. It would have been almost impossible to see something low in the northwest. But that is beside the point. William Branham specifically stated:

…and you know where I was at? North of Tucson, east of Flagstaff; just exactly, positionally, where I told you, months before it happened, I'd be standing. (63-0623M)

He never said that he would be standing North of Tucson, east of Flagstaff. He doesn’t mention Flagstaff on tape at any time between January 28, 1962 and March 17, 1963. He does state on December 23, 1962, that the angels were around Tucson looking east. He does not mention Flagstaff. So this is again a case where he is lying to make it look like he was prophesying something when, in fact, there was no prophecy.

Arizona is close enough

ABM: I have also been to Arizona, and the area he called sunset mountain. He said he would be out west, in Arizona. He did not say where in Arizona. The cloud was in Arizona.He was in Arizona. Just zoom out a little bit and his statements have accuracy.

Why did William Branham state that the cloud was directly above him when it appeared 8 days earlier 200 miles away?

ABM: The cloud Bro. Branham was underneath was on March 8. Clearly, he believed the cloud, or an identical cloud, appeared more than once, given the fact he acknowledged he was not there the day of the photograph.

This is doublespeak

BTS: William Branham’s reference to “a day or two before or, day or two after” is simply equivocation. You have already confirmed that William Branham often used doublespeak. This is simply another example. He brushed off the fact that he wasn’t there with a statement that was also untrue. And message followers continue to fall for his deceptive practices.

I still buy his excuse

ABM: So we just disagree here. He could not possibly have been under the cloud on Feb 28. He said he was not there on Feb 28 in other remarks. Thus I can fairly conclude it was another day and another cloud.

Why does William Branham state that there were no airplanes in his area when he appears to be referring to the magazine article which is talking about the area around Flagstaff, some 200 miles away?

ABM: I am not sure I understand this question. If your emphasis on his statement about the airplanes, or his location? If it is the airplanes, I cannot speak to that. But if it is in regards to his location, I will restate that the cloud was clearly visible from Tuscon. The magazines mention Tuscon. He was near Tuscon.

A clearer explanation

BTS: Again, he was 50 miles from Tucson as the crow flies but he was in the mountains. He never saw the cloud when he was in Tucson (he certainly never mentions it). And he could not have seen the cloud when he was at Rattlesnake Mesa (he was a week after the short time the cloud was visible). He was lying.

The cloud must have appeared twice

ABM: This is only problematic if we view it as a single cloud. But we cannot reconcile his statement that he was not there on Feb 28, and have a single cloud event. Either there were two times the cloud appeared, and he is talking about the second, or he made it up. I see sufficient evidence to conclude he thought it appeared twice.

Why does he state that the magazine refers to the same place that he was hunting when it clearly does not?

ABM: The magazine does refer to Tuscon. There are pictures published in them which are taken from Tuscon. It does not mention his hunting group specifically, but certainly does mention the region in which his hunting ground was located.

Life Magazine does not state that the cloud could be seen from Tucson

BTS: The Life Magazine article does not refer to the cloud being seen from Tucson. Other science magazine do, but there is no indication that William Branham knew of these at the time.

Here is what the Life Magazine article stated:

Hovering like a giant's smoke ring, a great cloud appeared at sunset over Flagstaff, Ariz, last Feb. 28 and set off a continuing scientific mystery. Watchers struck by the cloud's odd shape and huge size, took pictures, like these four, at different times and from widely scattered locations in the state.
Dr. James McDonald, a meteorologist at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Tucson, has been accumulating the pictures. Using them as the basis for trigonometric calculation, he has made a startling discovery that the cloud was at least 26 miles high and 30 miles across - "a lot higher and bigger," he says, "than a cloud should be."

The circle was too high to be made by a jet plane, and so far as Dr. McDonald can determine, there were no rockets, rocket planes or bombs being tested nearby that day. He hopes anyone else with pictures will lend them to him, for he would like some more clues about the cloud 26 miles up - no water droplets exist at that height to make a cloud.

Again, it is possible that William Branham could have seen the cloud from Tucson on February 28, 1963. But that is not his testimony. He said that he saw the cloud that was in Life Magazine and the date that he saw it was March 7, 1963, a week after the cloud appeared.

I think you are wrong

ABM: I think you are mistaken. Life Magazine plainly refers to Tuscon on page 112. It clearly states that is where Dr. James McDonald was located at, and was analyzing the cloud from. It also states the cloud was visible from "widely scattered locations in the state" of Arizona. I to am unsure if he had any of the other news or magazine articles available to him at the time. But certainly the subsequent articles in Science magazine confirm the cloud of Feb 28 was plainly visible from Tuscon. As far as him seeing it, we just parse his words differently. I see he could just be stating he was present where the Feb 28 cloud had been visible, as opposed to seeing it himself. And then not clearly explaining what he saw personally was on another day.

Sorry, I am not sure you can read

BTS: I quoted Life Magazine exactly. It does refer to The Institute of Atmospheric Physics as being in Tucson. It does not state anything else in reference to Tucson.

There is no indication that William Branham read Science magazine.

Why does he state that the magazine refers to the same place that he was hunting when it clearly does not?

ABM: The magazine indicates the cloud was visible across the entire state of Arizona. He was hunting in Arizona (on March 7-9). So he was certainly in the location where the cloud had been visible.

William Branham was hunting in the mountains

BTS: William Branham was in a mountainous area with a chain of high mountains running from north to south immediately to his west. So his view of the cloud (if he had been there on February 28) would have been obscured by the mountains. Please look at Google maps (https://goo.gl/maps/LTefEfPjw2n) and you will see what I am referring to. It is possible he could have seen it if he was standing on top of a mountain peak but he was hunting and javelina are not known to be found on the top of a mountain.

You might be right but you can't be certain

ABM: It is possible the cloud was not visible at his hunting ground, but that is not certain. Given the height of the cloud, it may indeed have been visible there. It would certainly have been several miles higher in the air than the top of the peak and the angle may have been adequate. I am not a mathematician though to provide the formula to calculate that. Ultimately this only matters if there was only a single cloud appearance on Feb 28. We know he did not personally see the Feb 28 cloud.

Why does he say he was hunting at the same time and at the same place that the cloud appeared when the facts clearly show that he was not?

ABM: As demonstrated in my first quote, he clearly says he was not at the same place and at the same time the photograph was taken. A reasonable explanation is that he thought the cloud appeared twice. It was photographed when it appeared, which he did not witness. And it appeared a second time when the angels left, which he did witness, but was not photographed.

And, now, I didn’t know at the time, that they were taking pictures of that, scientists was, as the Angels lowered themselves from Heaven, to bring the Message. STANDING.IN.THE.GAP_ JEFF.IN V-6 N-7 SUNDAY_ 63-0623M

From this statement it is clear he viewed the photograph as being taken of the angels lowering themselves, or descending to earth. He believed the photo was of their arrival, not their departure. The photos were taken eight day before he witnessed the cloud, which fits this interpretation. He repeats a similar statement in another sermon, supporting the fact that he believed the cloud was photographed just days before his visitation.

That day they took pictures all across southern United States and Mexico. There it hangs now in the Life Magazine, still a mystery to them. But He declares it in the heavens before He does it on earth. He always does that. He shows His signs in the heavens first. SHALOM_ SIERRA.VISTA.AZ 64-0112

What he claims to have seen was their departure

Later, the Angels appeared [ABM: to Bro. Branham] as was prophesied. And at the same time, a great cluster of Light left where I was standing, and moved thirty miles high in the air, and around the circle, like the wings of the Angels, and drawed into the skies a shape of a pyramid in the same constellation of Angels that appeared [ABM: originally on Feb 28]. IT.IS.THE.RISING.OF.THE.SUN JEFF.IN 65-0418M

It is not hard to interpret what he is saying as the angels recreating the same cloud that had originally appeared on Feb 28 as they departed on March 9. And this is the cloud he is claiming to have witnessed, on March 8. The statements are clearly open to that interpretation, in my opinion.

William Branham did not know whether the angels were coming or going!

BTS: William Branham stated:

Now, some sister here, Billy just showed me, was nice enough to go get this Life magazine, this picture, and blow it up, of that of the seven Angels, and have it taken and sent to me. That is the picture. And now if you’ll notice here, as it was leaving, ascending back, when the Angels had brought Their Message, it was in the form of a pyramid; just exactly what I told you, three months before it happened, the way it would be. Is that right? (63-1110E - He That Is In You)
And when they ascended up on High, like that, went thirty miles high in the air; and, on the same day, they took the picture of It, science did, and went around the world. (63-1201M - An Absolute)

Based on the quotes you gave and the quotes above, it does not appear that William Branham knew whether the angels were coming or going in the picture. Again, this is proof that he was simply making things up. This is another example of doublespeak, a type of deceptive speech.

Either he is being untruthful about where he was hunting or he is being untruthful about the cloud being over him. Is it possible for such wild exaggeration to be an "honest" mistake?

ABM: Bro. Branham was clearly exaggerating the experience in my opinion. In my assessment, he only implied he was under the cloud on the day it was photographed without actually saying it. A careful parsing of what he says reveals what he explicitly stated what he experienced was on a different day than the photograph was taken, and he believed it was an identical cloud just like the one in the photograph. He is not perfectly clear (on purpose in my assessment) about this, but the clues are there.

In my opinion, this is the most unfortunate of all of Bro. Branham's exaggerations.

Wild Exaggeration is Lying

BTS: With respect, you are subject to confirmation bias and therefore, cannot accept what is obvious to an impartial, independent observer. William Branham was not there and was simply telling a lie. Neither of his companions saw the cloud.

Even if William Branham lied, he was still a prophet

ABM: I can appreciate your opinion. As I stated before, whether I accept he exaggerated it all, or just a portion, it does not really change the fact that he exaggerated here. This takes me back to the question, in the worst case scenario, where it all was totally made up, is that severe enough for me to reject him ministry? Then I see Elisha and Elijah both completely made up a story and presented it as the truth to people. I do not excuse the shortcomings or personal failings, but is it enough for me to reject what he said I know to be true? It still does not meet that level for me. The real danger here is doing what some message ministers do: present these things as solid facts and build up a crazy doctrine on it. That is the real danger, and so long as that is avoided, I find it excusable.

Why does he now involve a supernatural presence that told him to look up and see the cloud that wasn't there? Is he trying to make himself look like something more than he is?

Different clouds, different days. He is not trying to make himself look like something, he is trying to "enhance" the "vindication" behind his sermon on the seals. The motivation is to make God look good, which is a good motive. Unfortunately, God cannot be made to look good by anything short of the perfect truth.

Really?? There were 2 clouds??

BTS: So you are saying that an entirely different cloud appeared to William Branham on March 7, 1963? And that cloud looked exactly like the cloud that was photographed in Life magazine? But no one in the state saw this strange reappearance of the cloud a week later?

Either that or William Branham lied

ABM: Either that or he made it up. There is no other possible answer. There is no scriptural precedence for time travel by men.

The only reasonable explanation is...

BTS: That is almost as good as the other explanation that I have heard, which is that William Branham was caught up into another dimension and saw the cloud that appeared a week earlier. Again, this is simply cognitive dissonance at work. Message believers think it is impossible that William Branham lied and, therefore, there must be some bizarre explanation to avoid the obvious conclusion.

My simple question is: Can you at least see why we think William Branham was being untruthful? It certainly appears that way.

In my view, this is where one must look to Occam’s Razor which essentially states that simpler solutions are more likely to be correct than complex ones. When presented with competing explanations, one should normally select the solution with the fewest assumptions. In this case, you are making some very wild assumptions. However, the most logical and straightforward explanation is that William Branham was being untruthful.

Even if it is a wild exaggeration, I think there is some truth

ABM: I think it is clear, no matter how you cut it, Bro. Branham was exaggerating when he told this story. The degree to which it was exaggerated is where I think we disagree. You think it was totally made up. I see an element of truth there.

Some message believers point to the cloud and say that William Branham explained the cloud as being a sign that appeared in the heavens before the experience on the hunting trip, i.e. “God declares things in the heavens before He does it on earth. He always does that. He shows His signs in the heavens first.”

I subscribe to this view, in case you have not already noticed.

However, doesn't this statement appear to be talking about the fact that these events took place before the meetings that were held where William Branham spoke his series on the Seven Seals?

I am not sure I understand this question. Yes, I do think the cloud appeared and he had his experiences before he preached the sermons on the seven seals. But I am not sure that is the question you are asking. Please clarify if I am misunderstanding.

Even if this was the case relating to the cloud, how does this justify William Branham stating that they took the pictures on "that day", i.e. the day he heard the blast?

I will respond inline in his quote.

But did you notice before the Seven Seals was revealed, before the great mysterious Light showed forth in the heavens up here at above Tucson, Flagstaff, where we were? [ABM: They were in Tuscon, and it happened before he preached his sermon on the seals. True.] Brother Fred, two of the man that was... the two men was with me that morning...
That day [ABM: This is not necessarily chronological. We can infer it is chronological, and that is the logical thing to do, but from a purely legal reading of the words, it does not have to mean "that same day". It could equally mean "that other day". "That day" could refer to a different time period, and in light of his statement that he was not there the day of photo, it must be in reference to another day. But he is obviously trying to imply it is the same day without directly saying so... exaggeration..] they took pictures all across southern United States and Mexico. There it hangs now in the Life Magazine, still a mystery to them. But He declares it in the heavens before He does it on earth. He always does that. He shows His signs in the heavens first. [ABM: Here is a clear indication that the cloud occurred before the angels actual appeared to him, several days later](64-0112)
      • this is a different quote from another year. It important to not read these as though they are one line of thought.
Later, [ABM: after the vision of the King's sword] the Angels appeared as was prophesied. And at the same time, [ABM: the same time they appeared to him, which was days after the photograph] a great cluster of Light left where I was standing, and moved thirty miles high in the air, [ABM: he speculates on the height based on the magazine article of the original cloud] and around the circle, like the wings of the Angels, and drawed into the skies a shape of a pyramid in the same constellation of Angels that appeared. [ABM: those departing angels made the same shape which had originally appeared and been photographed days earlier]
Science took the picture, [ABM: of when the angels appeared, not departed] all the way from Mexico, as it moved from northern Arizona, where the Holy Spirit said I would be standing, "forty miles northeast of Tucson." [ABM, he was between Mexico and northern Arizona] And it went into the air, and Life magazine packed the pictures [ABM: he artfully leaves it open to us to interpret the cloud he witnessed was the same as the one in the magazine, without explicitly saying so], "A mystic something way in the spheres, where there could be no moisture, where there could be no evaporations of anything; thirty miles high, and twenty-seven miles across," and coming right up from where those Angels were.
Now, they asked, to know. Science, the one of them in Tucson, wanted to know any significance, but I didn't tell them. You all knew it, told beforehand. But it wasn't for them; it was for you. (65-0418M)

Your explanation does not make sense

BTS: I have a hard time believing that you are attempting to twist his words from their apparent meaning to mean something that makes no sense. Your analysis of his words makes no logical sense.

I agree that William Branham makes no sense

ABM: His plain meaning of them makes no logical sense. Our options are to conclude it was all made up, or try to make sense of it. We just take a different path.

Knowing that the cloud formed 8 days before the hunting trip, doesn't this affect William Branham's credibility?

ABM: Bro. Branham clearly intended to imply he was present the day of the photograph, but he left enough wiggle room in his statements for him to have an out and say he was misunderstood should someone call him on it. It is there if you will look for it. It affects his credibility no more than his other exaggerations. I do not recommend repeating his teachings verbatim without the insight of the Word of God to validate them. I likewise do not recommend presenting all of his stories as true stories unless they are certainly verified. But we have never done that, only the nuts and idolaters have.

I must conclude William Branham was lying

BTS: William Branham has so many exaggerations that his credibility is in tatters. You think he was an expert at doublespeak. I think it is clear that he was lying.

I agree this looks bad but it's not that bad

ABM: We just disagree concerning the extent of the severity of his exaggerations. His exaggerations in this story are his most unfortunate. This is the worst there is. I don't honestly think it is nearly as bad as you do. And this being the worst, the rest are generally minor.

If your pastor told you things that were this far off base, would you believe him?

ABM: If this was all there was to it, yes it would be hard to be sure. But there is so much more to Bro. Branham than his exaggerations, which makes it difficult to dismiss the parts I am sure of.

William Branham's lies created his prophetic status

BTS: I do not believe there is more to William Branham than his exaggerations. There were very few people healed, according to the historical records. Certainly, there were no more people healed than in other healing evangelists’ meetings. William Branham was a man who proclaimed that he was a mighty prophet. But it is clear that he wasn’t who he said he was.

We agree to disagree

ABM: We clearly draw different conclusions.

Why should we not reject everything that William Branham has to say about the cloud?

ABM: I personally have no problem with someone doing that. I see no negative consequences to doing so. It has no doctrinal or spiritual value of itself. I think you attach more importance to this cloud than I do, or than most of the Branham movement does. I call his exaggerations on this topic the most unfortunate of all because it puts a negative cloud over his more important teachings. It was unnecessary, because we accepted the teaching without the cloud.

In regards to the origin of the cloud, I would add this: I believe that everything truly in the end is bound by the laws of nature, which God created. Science is the understanding of the laws of nature which God made. As on author wrote, true science is merely the answer to how God did it. There is no doubt a scientific explanation to the clouds of glory which the Lord left and will return in. I have no problem with discovering the origin of the cloud was via some explainable means. Cloud by day and fire by night - God put some law in nature to produce that cloud and that fire.

I really only see two possible solutions to this issue. One, he never actually saw a cloud at all while he was hunting and he made it up. Two, he did see a cloud when he was hunting, but it could not have been the same one in the photo. With option one, it goes in the category of exaggerations. With option two, it goes into the category of exaggerations. I would draw the same conclusion.

If there were two clouds, why did the other people not see the cloud?

BTS: How do you explain the fact that his two companions never saw the cloud?

The second cloud was supernatural and no one could see it

ABM: Paul on the Damascus road. Paul saw the light and heard a voice, the others around him did not experience the same thing. So there is biblical precedence.

Conclusion

ABM: My personal conclusion on this topic, which may not be widely shared, is that Bro. Branham exaggerated this story and tried to imply he was present when the photograph was taken. I do believe the vision of the Kings Sword. I do believe he met the seven angels and was instructed to go back to Jeffersonville to bring the message of the seals. I do believe there was a great blast. I do believe a strange cloud appeared in the sky a few days before that happened. I do believe he had a vision of a constellation of angels appearing prior to all of that. I think there is reasonable support to prove all of those things. I cannot throw out the parts I am sure are true, because I see one part that is embellished. Outside of what I am sure is true, I would not present the rest as solidly known facts, but I see no negative consequence doctrinally or otherwise to doing that. Likewise, I see no negative consequence in in accepting what Bro. Branham said, so long as it is not turned into some crazy doctrine like "Perusia". I have no problem repeating Bro. Branham's account and let people decide for themselves.

William Branham is simply not credible

BTS: Again, I will refer to the quote of Friedrich Nietzsche – “I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.” When I came to understand the extent of William Branham’s deception, I was upset. But I wasn’t upset that he lied, I was upset that I had to reject everything he has to say. William Branham is simply not credible. A court of law would throw out his ENTIRE testimony because he is clearly an unreliable witness.

According to the Bible, a lying prophet is OK

ABM: I have to use the standards of the bible to draw my conclusions. False doctrines or false prophesies are the grounds to reject a minister or prophet as a fraud. Anything less could indeed mean he needs to step down from the ministry, but it does not negate his calling, ministry, or the good he did. In my view, Bro. Branham's exaggerations do not rise to the level necessary to reject him as a false prophet. They are not without impact though. Things like this were openly discussed from the platforms of some message churches and addressed before you ever even discovered these problems. Parts of the movement have been completely open and honest about these things and dealt with them head on. You however were part of a church with buried all the truth. Then when you happened upon it, it was quite devastating. Especially coupled with clear failure of the ministry to live up to the gospel they preached. They proved themselves hypocrites. What basis did you have to continue to believe? You saw problems everywhere and no solutions and no one had answers, your only course was to completely repudiation everything. I understand. It makes me sad to even think of that for you. I suppose I, and others like me, have been inoculated to this problem of the exaggerations because we have never kept it hid. I am sure you can appreciate how that would give me a different perspective.

There is some validity to your claims

ABM: A basic element in your conclusions in all this is accurate. Bro. Branham exaggerated, he made some things up. Those exaggerations not related to doctrine or biblical interpretation can be "excused" as a personal failing of a man. There is sound biblical precedence for that. The result though is that we have to be careful, and make sure we validate things by the bible and not repeat everything as fact unless we know it is true. This goes back to the basic problem with some people in the movement, they are unable to separate fact from fiction, on this level, or on the doctrinal level. And that is the kind of a church you came out of. We are not all that way, and we have been honest about these things since the beginning.

WHY DID WILLIAM BRANHAM NOT MAKE A SINGLE REFERENCE TO THE CLOUD PRIOR TO JUNE 1963?

BTS: WHY DID WILLIAM BRANHAM NOT MAKE A SINGLE REFERENCE TO THE CLOUD PRIOR TO JUNE 1963? The most logical explanation is that he never saw it and so didn't mention it. You indicated that he was significantly influenced by other and it appears that he simply took their suggestion and ran with it.

I was forced to arrive at a conclusion very different from yours. If a man is consistently untrustworthy with respect to his speech, why would I ever trust him to lead me to proper doctrine.

Paul stated, Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. (2 Co 1:12). For the appeal we make does not come from error or impurity or with deceit… (1 Thess 2:3). …as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: …in truthful speech and in the power of God… (2 Cor 6:4, 7)

What we understand from scripture is that God is not in deception. William Branham repeatedly lied over the pulpit by your own admission. Paul set a standard for those in leadership in the church. William Branham failed that standard on a consistent basis. He was not who he claimed he was. He was not who you claimed he was.

I understand your perspective BUT William Branham's doctrine is good enough to ignore the problems with his credibility

ABM: I do understand your rationale and how you have arrived at your conclusion. I really have no thought that I will change your mind. You ask me "if a man is consistently untrustworthy with respect to his speech, why would I ever trust him to lead me to proper doctrine." The marvelous answer is that the doctrine can be validated by the bible. So in that respect we are not actually believing him, per se, but the bible. So this cloud, what does it have to do with the bible? Nothing.

I have used the word exaggerate, as opposed to lie. But I understand your terminology. I agree that Bro. Branham had failures in that area that Paul would have been very disappointed in. But Paul himself is clear that does not negate a true calling. Satan cannot heal.

I am going to say something you may not like. In the end, it takes a little faith. Of which I trust you have much faith. Not faith in lies, but faith in the truth. And Christ Jesus is the truth. If that be in you, you will do well. If I do the same, it will be well with me as well.

If I were to filter everything concerning Bro. Branham and put it into piles: one pile of exaggerations, one pile of proven truth, one pile of uncertainty, for me the pile of truth is a mountain compared to the other two. While your questions and positions are certainly thought-provoking and many, and maybe some of them cause me to adjust my piles a bit, I still feel like I am looking at a mountain of truth.

Kind regards,

ABM

Addendum by ABM

BTS,

One small addendum I would like to add:

I do tend to believe James McDonald's account regarding the source of the cloud. It makes sense. But I think it is important to note that James McDonald, before he concluded the origin of the cloud, was being hounded by certain idolators in the Branham movement trying to get him to say it was supernatural. And only after their hounding, he determined the natural origin of the cloud. Once again, it is that element of people who are directly responsible for so many problems. I dare say this would not even be an issue if where not for the way they have went crazy with this kind of stuff. Then after McDonald died they went to his funeral and left the place speaking evil of the man. Who does that? Crazy people.

There have been people in the movement causing problems all along, harassing people. And this kind of nuttery still goes on.

Kind Regards,

ABM




Footnotes

  1. :::COME.FOLLOW.ME_ TUCSON.AZ SATURDAY_ 63-0601
  2. STANDING.IN.THE.GAP_ JEFF.IN 63-0623M
  3. STANDING.IN.THE.GAP JEFF.IN 63-0623M
  4. STANDING.IN.THE.GAP_ JEFF.IN 63-0623M
  5. STANDING.IN.THE.GAP JEFF.IN 63-0623M
  6. O.LORD.JUST.ONCE.MORE_ HOT.SPRINGS.AR 63-0628M
  7. THE.THIRD.EXODUS_ JEFF.IN 63-0630M
  8. IS.YOUR.LIFE.WORTHY.OF.THE.GOSPEL JEFF.IN 63-0630E
  9. TESTIMONY SHREVEPORT.LA 63-1128M
  10. PERSEVERANT_ CHICAGO.IL 63-0802
  11. HE.THAT.IS.IN.YOU JEFF.IN 63-1110E
  12. AN.ABSOLUTE SHREVEPORT.LA 63-1201M
  13. IT.IS.THE.RISING.OF.THE.SUN JEFF.IN 65-0418M
  14. SHALOM_ SIERRA.VISTA.AZ 64-0112
  15. IT.IS.THE.RISING.OF.THE.SUN JEFF.IN 65-0418M
  16. WHAT.IS.THE.ATTRACTION.ON.THE.MOUNTAIN JEFF.IN 65-0725E
  17. TRYING.TO.DO.GOD.A.SERVICE.WITHOUT.IT.BEING.GOD'S.WILL_ SHP.LA 65-1127B
  18. The Revelation of the Seven Seals by William Marrion Branham


Navigation