Question 21 (ABM) - How many people were actually healed in Branham's ministry?
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.
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Question 21 (ABM) - How many people were actually healed in Branham's ministry?
Thanks for your recent response. I am doing some thinking on what you said and will have a follow up after a couple of additional questions.
This question has to do with William Branham’s healing ministry.
Followers of the message believe William Branham to be the greatest prophet since Paul and one of the greatest prophets that ever lived. If this is the case then one would expect that his healing ministry would be similar to that of Jesus or the apostles.
It is clear that in Jesus ministry, everyone was healed that Jesus prayed for. We read this in a number of passages in the Gospels:
It is also clear that everyone that the apostles prayed for were healed as well.
What independent observers said about William Branham
From our prior questions and answers, I know you are aware that William Branham was prone to mass exaggeration (which I would call "lying" or "speaking falsehood"):
However, it is clear that there were a number of voices that knew that William Branham was being dishonest.
Controversy surrounded Branham right from the start of his public ministry. In 1947, a minister in Saskatchewan, Rev. Alfred Pohl, stated that many who Branham pronounced as healed later died.
Pohl stated that he saw several people pronounced well by William Branham who died shortly there after. He relates one case of a friend whose wife had been prayed for:
In another case, a minister flew to Saskatoon for the meetings to have his wife prayed for:
In 1948, W.J. Taylor, a district superintendent with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, raised the same concern. He and his executive asked for a thorough investigation, presenting evidence that claims of the number of people healed were vastly overestimated. While he expressed warm regard for Branham as a person, he stated, "I firmly believe that there is a possibility that this whole business is wrong".
Walter Hollenweger, a noted Pentecostal historian who worked as translator for Branham in one of his campaigns in Switzerland, wrote of Branham:
Hollenwegger also stated that however generously Branham is judged:
William Branham’s vindication was not what WMB said it was. That is the reason why WMB's church (narcissistically named after himself) never numbered more than a few hundred people.
The question is - How are we supposed to view William Branham's healing ministry? It was clearly not what he said it was. He told people that they were healed when they were not. It is clearly not a vindication for him being a prophet as he did not have anywhere near the healing ministry that the apostles had.
Response from ABM
Thank you for your continued dialogue. I have carefully read your email to understand your position, and hope I can convey some points that will be helpful to you.
The purpose of Bro. Branham's healing ministry was to draw crowds and to serve as a sign. The bible says that "these signs shall follow them that believe". So it is natural to expect a great ministry of God to have such signs associated with it. However, many followers of the message make a mistake in that they follow the signs rather than let the signs follow. In other words, it is a mistake to be led by the signs. The healings that took place in Bro. Branham's ministry are of minor importance, truthfully. The miracle's in Christ's ministry were a tool to draw the people to him so he could preach to them. It is in this same way we view the miracles associated with Bro. Branham's ministry. They were just a tool to draw crowds to be preached to. This is the framework in which I view the miracles attributed to his ministry.
You state "It is clear that in Jesus ministry, everyone was healed that Jesus prayed for". This is a very true statement, however I would suggest something a bit more. Every bodily healing ever done by Jesus was only temporary. Take, for example, the greatest bodily healing possible: resurrection from the dead. Christ raised Lazareth from the dead in one of his greatest examples of healing. Yet, like every other person healed by Christ, he subsequently died (again). It was merely a temporary healing. Everyone Jesus healed eventually still died - and their bodily healing was thus only temporary. This is why healing of the spirit and a new birth is so important. Spiritual healing will bring eternal life. It is the same with Bro. Branham. Many people he pronounced healed subsequently died. Eventually, should time go on, everyone he pronounced healed will be dead. But those who received spiritual healing and had a new birth by the spirit, they will live forever. So that some died after being pronounced healed, is not in itself a convincing argument.
You make a point that everyone was healed in the ministry of Christ. This is very true in that, everyone he prayed for was touched. However, he was not able to heal everyone. There are some he did not pray for because he was unable to heal them. Matthew 13:58 makes it clear that the faith of the people being ministered too was impactful even to Christ's ability to perform miracles. So that Bro. Branham was unable to heal everyone is not surprising. Additionally, Bro. Branham was not God, he was limited.
As for Pohl, I have read his book before. The things he says about Bro. Branham are indeed very disturbing. If they be true, then it would be a very negative thing for Bro. Branham. The charges are serious, and I do not outright reject them as being false. They are something have to be evaluated and treated seriously. The bible gives us a formula for evaluating such claims. It says to not accept a charge against an elder except it be by two or three witnesses. Likewise, it says let every word be established by two or three witnesses. There is no second or third witness for any of Pohl's accusations. Hollenwager and Taylor neither offer any specific cases in their statements. I am unaware of any dispute against Bro. Branham's healing minister where the two needed witnesses can be provided. Thus, scripturally, I have no grounds on which to accept their accusations. They just hang there ominously. Because I cannot establish them with a second witness, they are in a category of being possibly not true.
Given that Jack Coe was jailed and sued for a failed pronouncement of healing in the same years, it seems unusual to me that Bro. Branham would not have faced something similar if his pronouncements of healing were such epic failures. Bro. Branham held meetings multiple times in the area that Alfred Pohl was a minister. Likewise, Pohl mentions the newspapers covered the events and investigated them. I would be interested to find the newspaper accounts and see if Pohl's statement's can in some way be validated.
I find the account of Doug Wead to be very effective in defending Bro. Branham. Wead is not a message believer. He wrote the forward to Don Stewart's 1999 book "Only Believe". I am placing an except here and including a picture of Wead (note: the picture has not been reproduced because of potential copyright concerns).
I am sure you know, there is a multitude of people who claim to have been healed or touched in some way by Bro. Branham. There are many youtube videos of people who Bro. Branham healed who give their testimony first hand that can be reviewed. I am aware of a large number of people who claim healing through his ministry.
You ask: "How are we supposed to view William Branham's healing ministry?" Answer: View it as a tool to attract audiences so that they could received the true healing: the healing of their souls through salvation. View it as a tool to gather people to hear the message of truth. But do not let it overshadow the message.
You state of his healing ministry: "It was clearly not what he said it was." However, Historian Ronald Kydd, in his 1998 book Healing through the Centuries: Models for Understanding, states the number of people who claimed to be healed in Branham's campaign meetings "is impossible to approximate" and that "no consistent record of follow-ups was made" of the healing to prove them false or true. I generally agree with Kydd's position. Using what most people would consider reliable sources, there is insufficient evidence to arrive at a clear conclusion at just how many people were healed. Where ten thousand people healed? Maybe. Where tens-of-thousands healed? Likely not, but there is no way to definitively prove that. I am certain thousands were healed. Only Jesus exceeds that in the biblical accounts.
You state "He told people that they were healed when they were not." There is not a single report I am aware of, where a person pronounced healed came back to report they were not healed. I think it is safe to say Bro. Branham personally prayed and pronounced people healed in front of at least several hundred thousand people during his ministry. Out of that, we have 3 to 8 (at most) known people who state someone they knew failed to be healed. Of that 3-8, only Pohl gives any type of a detailed explanation for his allegation. (Your podcast interview could be considered a second such case, but she contradicts herself by stating her mother believed herself to have been healed.)
You state "It is clearly not a vindication for him being a prophet as he did not have anywhere near the healing ministry that the apostles had." I would agree with this, in part. Healing is not a vindication of a prophet. I disagree though that his gift of healing was not on par with the apostles. You have to discount many reputable sources to arrive at that conclusion. By the bible, at most we could say a few hundred were recorded as healed in the Book of Acts. There is ample evidence that at least a few hundred were healed during the ministry of Bro. Branham. I, and those who have been collaborating with me, are eye witnesses and even recipients of many miracles. In my own church there are over thirty people who are still living who were healed through Bro. Branham's prayers. My own family members were miraculously healed through his prayers and I was witness. I have personally known people healed of birth defects through his prayers. You cannot fake that. I know people who claim to be witness to Bro. Branham raising the dead, and they are faithful people I have no reason to doubt them. And they provide multiple witnesses of the event. The list is long if I were to recount it all, and I am sure you have heard such things a thousand times. Suffice to say, I am completely convinced a great many people were healed.
Bro. Branham likely exaggerated the number of miracles in his ministry. Does that mean there were none? Or few? No, there were many. But ultimately what did any of them profit? Most all of the healed people are now dead. Healing was the bait. The miracles were the first two pulls. But those pulls did not catch the fish. In fact, the angel told Bro. Branham very plainly he made a mistake with his first two pulls. He placed too much emphasis on the miracles.