William Branham's Teaching on the Godhead
It would appear that the doctrine of the godhead is one of the biggest obstacles for people coming out of Wm. Branham’s message. I would like to address this in as simple, non-technical, a way, as possible. Also, as much as I can, I will use Scripture without resorting to outside non-Jewish references. I will start off by examining what the Old Testament records on the godhead. Secondly I will take a look at the New Testament to see what it records regarding the godhead. Thirdly, I will look at Wm. Branham’s earlier teaching on the Trinity, in the Orthodox sense of “God in Three Persons.” This term is not to be mistaken for his later claim of being a Trinitarian where he sees God as a Trinity of manifestations, which I will address next. This belief system, also called Sabellianism, holds that God manifests Himself in three modes (or masks) of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the same person acting out theses three different roles, or modes. Fifthly, around that same time frame Wm. Branham introduced another shift, where he places himself in between the position of Trinitarian and Oneness. Finally I will have a re-cap and a conclusion. The scriptures quoted are from the KJV, unless otherwise noted.
THE IMPORTANCE OF RIGHT DOCTRINE
Some of you might dismiss these definitions of the godhead as unimportant, trivial and an absolute waste of time. We must bear in mind, however, that God found these issues of the utmost importance. In fact, God said that if we worship a false image of God (called idolatry) we will NOT enter Heaven. (Cf. 1 Cor. 6: 9; Eph. 5:5) If that is what God said, and He did, can anyone in good conscience stand idly by and let people just worship any false image of God without protest and warning?
THE OLD TESTAMENT ON THE GODHEAD
The Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures are called the Tanakh, or TNK. This abbreviation is derived from three words: Torah – The Law (or Five Books of Moses); Navi – The Prophets; Ketuvim - the Writings. Remember how Jesus referred to this when he was on the Emmaus Road (Lu 24). The Torah (Law) consists of: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The Navi (Prophets) consists of: Joshua, Judges, 1Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. The Writings consist of: Ruth, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, I & II Chronicles. Below are listed respectively, some Scriptures on the godhead from the Torah, The Prophets and the Writings.
Gen 1:1 - In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Gen 1:26 - And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing… Gen 3:22 - And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us… Gen 11:7 - Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. Ex 3:14 - And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. Ex 20:3 - Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Deu 6:4 - Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: Deu 32:6 - Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? Is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?
1 Ki 18:39 - And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God. Isa 9:6 - For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isa 42:8 - I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. Isa 43:10 - Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me…11I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. Isa 44:6 - Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God…8 Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any…24 Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; Isa 45:18 - For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. Isa 63:16 - Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting. Hos 13:4 - Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me. Zech 14:9 - And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one. Mal 2:10 - Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? Mal 3:16 - Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
Job 9: 8 Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea. The above Old Testament Scriptures clearly declare that God is One and that beside Him there is no other God.
CANONICAL READING OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
Here we take a look back at the Scriptures with the understanding that Christ is spoken of, or hinted at, or shown as an “embryonic” reference to a plurality within the One God in the OT. This is a “luxury” that, unlike us, the Jews in the Bible days did not have and which is called Canonical reading.
Gen 1: 1 – 29 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters…3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light…6. And God said…9. And God said… 11. And God said… 14. And God said…20. And God said… 24. And God said…26. And God said…28. And God said…29. And God said …
The above Scriptures list God the Creator and the Holy Spirit involved in Creation, but it also mentioned “God said,” ten times. The Jerusalem Targum (Aramaic), commenting on Gen 1: 27 calls “God said,” “the Memra.” The word “Memra” translates into Logos in Greek. Here we see these three are involved in Creation. In other words, three a plurality of beings [Yahweh, Ha Ruach (The Spirit of God) and the Memra (Logos or God said) were active in creation.
Col 1: 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
Neh 9:6 You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.
Gen 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
Some Jewish scholars would explain the plurality shown in Gen 1: 26 as the plurality of majesty, though that form of address has not been traced back further than the Roman Empire, possibly because of more than one person in power in Rome, at the same time. God could not have been referring to angels, because angels are creatures.
Ps 148:2, 5 KJV Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts… Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created.
If it is not referring to angels and it is not plurality of majesty, there is only one other option and that is simply that the word IS in plurality. That this is the easiest explanation is quickly seen in verses such as:
Exodus 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods (elohim) before me.
Deut. 13:2, 3 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods (elohim), which thou hast not known, and let us serve them.
These verses have Elohim in the original and the translators determined that this should read “gods” rather than God. Much more could be said here and many more Scriptures shown in support, but I wanted to keep it simple.
THE NEW TESTAMENT ON THE GODHEAD
The above makes it clear that the TANAKH teaches that God is One. Every Jew, then and now, believes this testimony: God is One. It would have been impossible for any of the Apostles and NT writers to accept a teaching about the godhead that stated that the godhead consisted of three gods. So, the question arises, “Where did this teaching come from?” What we do know is that Paul, on his Damascus Road, has an encounter with the Risen Jesus and he does not appear to be confused when he asks, “Who art thou, Lord?” Paul does not ask for a theological explanation when he addresses Jesus as Kurios, or Lord. Of course, people like the JWs will explain that to simply mean, “Sir.” This appears incredible to me. A blinding light from heaven shines down at midday, Saul is knocked down and he is blinded and Saul thinks this is just another mortal or angelic being? Excuse me?
Why would Scripture mention the word “godhead” (Also translated Deity, Divine, Divine Nature, Divinity, etc) when referring to the One and Only God? It is interesting that this word occurs three times in NT Scripture:
Acts 17: 29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead [Grk - Θεῖον - Divine (Nature)] is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
Rom. 1: 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead [Grk Theiotēs - Divinity]; so that they are without excuse.
Col 2: 9 For in him [Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead [Grk - Theotētos – Deity] bodily.
This last Scripture quoted makes it ultimately clear that, although mortal man can be anointed with the Spirit of God and possess the Spirit of God in a measure, it is only Christ who has the fullness of the Holy Spirit. When we take Wm. Branham’s teaching of the Incarnation, in which Mary is impregnated by God’s Spirit which fertilizes her “God created” ovum, or as Branham called it God’s “egg and sperm,” it would follow that this created Christ would be fully God. That would leave us with God as Spirit creating God as flesh, or two entities, different in substance, but both equal. That concept is ultimately an insurmountable problem for Wm. Branham because it denies Jesus’ humanity, or flesh. This is an Early Church heresy called Docetism where Jesus only SEEMED human. The further consequence of Docetism is that Jesus has NO connection to the Abrahamic and Davidic lines and promises. This, in turn, means we would not have a Kinsman Redeemer and we are not saved. In contrast, Scripture teaches that Jesus is fully God and fully man which, of course, is seen in Scripture.
Jesus is fully God
The following Scriptures show that Jesus is fully God
Nothing needs to be said about these scriptures, Jesus is without sin and he was addressed as GOD.
Jesus is fully Man
Mark 15:39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. Luke 24:39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. John 9:35-37 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? 36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? 37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. John 19:5 Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!
The Holy Spirit is fully God and is a person
Mt. 28:19-20, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Jn 14: 15 – 17, 25- 26 If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you…25 These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 2 Cor. 13:14, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all." Eph. 4:4-6, "There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all." 2 Cor. 3:16-18, "but whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." The above listed Scriptures indicate that the Holy Spirit is God and is spoken of in connection with both the Father and the Son, as a person. We must, therefore, interpret all Scripture in light of that revelation. This would, of necessity, include the Baptismal formula of Matt 28 19-20.
The Great Commission
The following is Jesus’ commandment that He gave his disciples before His ascension:
Mt. 28:19-20, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. History shows that this Matt 28: 19-20 was used just as it was given up until the early 20th Century when certain Pentecostal people allegedly received a new revelation that this was not correctly understood by the church at large. They base their understanding on the Book of Acts, where this wording is never used. The oft disputed part of this verse is, “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Of course, all Scripture is given by inspiration.
2 Tim 3: 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: Nowhere does the Book of Acts indicate that any consistency was employed by those baptizing.
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 8:16 For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Acts 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Acts 22:16 Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.
These people would re-enforce this claim by stating that Scripture teaches that all things must be done in Jesus’ Name.
Col 3: 17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Surely they do not consistently practice everything they do in this way. There is no magic in Jesus’ Name, but there is power and authority in His Person. Wm. Branham went even further because he was not even happy with in “Jesus’ Name, because he knew many different Jesuses and we must indicate which Jesus it is.
Peter preached about Jesus and no one then ever brought up that “name” objection. Throughout the Bible we see untold examples of people being told things in “The name of the Lord” without confusion regarding the Person meant here. Why is it important to mention the Latin countries, do people not know that Jesus, pronounced as “Hey soos” in Latin America, is just a good Roman Catholic man’s name? We serve a God who hears every single person’s prayer in the world, at infinitely smaller than pico-second units of time and this God cannot be trusted to know who is being addressed? Surely Wm. Branham’s argument was frivolous.
Apply this to a worldly situation such as the Triumvirate in Rome, where three rulers were in charge, Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus. For argument’s sake, say that they were equal in power and substance. Suppose we received a statement like, “Open up your door in the name of (the person called) Julius Caesar, and of (the person called) Pompey, and of (the person called) Crassus. Immediately some observations come up.
We know that God is NOT the author of confusion, so why do Branham and others confuse this whole issue whereas none of the people in the Bible were confused when there are references to a plurality in the godhead? We read in the Psalms:
Ps 110: 1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. Matt 22: 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? Lu 20: 12 And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Acts 2: 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
Do we see any arguments appearing regarding the possibility of two gods, either in the OT or NT? No, not once. Below I have listed Peter’s statement which he made when he stood before the Sanhedrin:
Acts 3: 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him.
When reading Peter’s account of Acts 3, does it appear that the Sanhedrin believed Peter preached a godhead consisting of four gods? Like the four gods of the Sumerians - the god of Heaven, Air, Earth and Water called Anu, Enlil, Kiki, and Enki, resp.? No, of course not! They understood Peter to speak about ONE GOD. To interpret Matt 28: 19, “In the name of the Father etc…,” to mean there are three gods is preposterous.
The New Testament also indicates that another person was included within the Godhead:
Matt. 22: 45 – 47 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.
Jn 1: 1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made…10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
Jn 17: 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. [Note: Before anything was as yet created, Jesus already existed with the Father and shared Glory with the Father. Remember God said He would not share His Glory with another. Isa 42: 8) I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.; Isa 48: 11 For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another. PMD].
Rom 9: 5; 11: 38 ESV To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ [the Messiah - PMD], who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
Rom 11: 38 For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
1 Cor 8: 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. Eph 1: 10, 20, 21 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment--to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ…he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. Col 1: 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Heb 1: 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
Christ, who is the Logos and thus is God, created all things. Again we see that Scripture indicates that Christ and Yahweh are equal in essence, and they are both called God. Thus Scripture is very clear that God and Christ and the Holy Spirit are God. Scripture teaches that God is One, which means that this must in some way be understood and reconciled outside a mathematical formula. Both claims are true, because God cannot lie and remain God. Therefore these two truths must remain in the tension they are found. We see this demonstrated for us in the most famous of all Jewish prayers, the Shema:
Deu 6: 4.Hear O Israel, the Lord Our God, the Lord is One.
This states that, Yahweh our Elohim (plurality) is Yahweh Echad (One). The Lord our God (plurality), the Lord is One (A Unity or Unique, without compare). We see here that the Plurality of our God is a unity, or our God is unique. How is Yahweh unique? He is unique because He is uncreated and sovereign and all other things and beings were created by Him.
Col 1: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
There are other elohim (other spiritual beings) mentioned in Scripture, such as
Ex 20: 1-3 And God (Elohim) spake all these words, saying, 2 I am the LORD (Yahweh) thy God (elohim), which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3Thou shalt have no other gods (elohim) before me. Job 1: 6 Now there was a day when the sons of God (Elohim) came to present themselves before the LORD (Yahweh), and Satan came also among them. Job 2: 1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD (Yahweh) , and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. Gen 35:7 And he built there an altar, and called the place El bethel: because there God (elohim) appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother. Deut 32:17 They sacrificed unto devils (demons), not to God (elohim); to gods (elohim) whom they knew not, to new [gods (elohim)] that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. 1 Sam 28:13 And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods (elohim) ascending out of the earth. 1 Kgs 11:33 Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess (from elohim) of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god (from elohim) of the Moabites, and Milcom the god (from elohim) of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father. Psa 82:1; God (elohim) standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods (elohim).
Other gods, sons of God, demons (also called other gods), false gods and spirit rulers are all included in one word, “elohim,” but these elohim do not equate or compare to Yahweh the True God. Among these elohim, Yahweh is Unique and incomparable:
Ps 89: 6 For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD (Yahweh)? who among the sons of the mighty (elohim) can be likened unto the LORD? Isa 46: 5 To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare, that we may be like?
What does all this mean? It means that our God, the God of Israel, Yahweh, is the Ultimate, Supreme God over all other gods. The word for God is plural but does not necessarily translate into polytheism, because all the above exercise showed that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is ONE God. Other examples of this plurality in Scripture show a definite plurality because of other grammatical indicators, such as plural adjectives. Had Elohim been used or understood as singular, the other indicators would reflect that singularity, but they don’t. Another thing to remember is that we use terminology today that was foreign to the Bible days. This issue has, of course, been debated for ages and today’s Jewish rigid Monotheism has largely been shaped by Rabbi Maimonides (b. 1135 – d. 1204) who was much influenced by the Greek philosopher Aristotle and Islamic philosophers. Maimonides recognized Islam’s rigid monotheism as legitimate, over against the more “fluid” descriptions of the godhead in the Bible. Maimonides rejected Christianity’s view as idolatry, which Jews hold until today. Wm. Branham’s early teaching of the Trinity doctrine
Below I have listed a number of quotes from Branham’s messages, about the different “persons” in the godhead, though it is not an exhaustive list:
At Thy Word, May 06, 1951, PM, Los Angeles, CA, E-32 See, you believe in God; you believe in the Son, believe in the Holy Ghost; that's the Trinity. We believe in that. But then, in order for this to operate, you must believe me, not as Them, but They sent me here for this.
Resurrection Of Lazarus, Jul 29, 1951, Aft., Erie, PA, 28 May the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, come in now, the Promise, the Comforter, that You said You would send. And He would take the things of God and would show them to us. See also: Our Hope Is In God, Sep 29, 1951, New York, NY, E-13; Early Spiritual experiences, Jul 13, 1952, Aft, Hammond, IN, E-66; God testifying Of Our Gifts, Jul 13, PM, 1952, Hammond, IN, E-38; Who Has Believed Our Report, Jul 20, 1952, PM, Hammond, IN, E-25 Well, that Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God. Is that right? The third Person of the trinity, Jesus Christ. ,
Wm. Branham even presented examples of his understanding of the Trinity.
The Testimony Of Jesus Christ, Aug 29, 1953 Chicago, IL, “It's a three foot rule that you let out. The same God the Father was made manifest in flesh, and now in the Holy Spirit. That's the reason the baptism is in the Name of Father, Son, Holy Ghost the Trinity…the Trinity, not three gods, but three persons in one God.” See also: Deep Calleth Unto The Deep, Nov 04, 1953, Owensboro, KY; Brass Serpent, Nov 21, 1953, Evansville, IN, E-15 Inside Man, Dec 12, 1953, Chicago, IL;Q & A, May 15, 1954, Jeff., IN.
He also showed how the Trinity was like a person, or Noah’s ark, or the Tabernacle:
Q & A on Genesis, Jul 29, 1953, Jeff., IN, 175 I’m a trinity in one. I’m soul, body, ands spirit in one person…There was atrinity in the ark: the bottom floor, the creeping things, the second floor for the fowls, flying things; and the third floor for Noah and his family…In the Tabernacle there was a congregation, the Holy Place, the holiest of Holy…
Branham’s understanding of the Trinity doctrine was flawed. In reality, he expressed his examples in Oneness fashion. In his yardstick example, none of the 1 foot, or 12 inch sections, represents a Yard. In his Ark example, the first story is not the second story, etc. In the Tabernacle example he repeats the same flaw, the congregation is not the Holy Place, etc. Within the Trinity, the Father is God, the Son is God and the Spirit is God and yet is expressly stated as One God, not as three gods. In the above listed quote, which I repeat below he made it clear that God is revealed in three dispensations, which strongly indicates a Modalist view of God the Father operating in the Old Testament dispensation, God as he Son operating in the New Testament dispensation and God as the Holy Spirit operating in the Church dispensation.
Q & A on Genesis, Jul 29, 1953, Jeff., IN, 176 In the Tabernacle there was a congregation, the Holy Place, the holiest of Holy…And there’s been three dispensations: the Fatherhood of God, the Sonship, and the Holy Spirit dispensation.
It is possible that Branham acted in ignorance but it also seems that he could have tried to match what he said with the sentiments of the audience he was speaking to outside his own Branham Tabernacle in Jeffersonville. In fact, WMB was challenged about the Trinity, and this is how he defended the doctrine in Chicago, where he even defended the Baptismal “Formula” of Matt. 28:
Lord, Show Us The Father And It Sufficeth Us, Sep 7, 1953, Aft., Chicago, IL, “Somebody said the other day, said, "Brother Branham, you can't explain the Trinity." …I said, "No, sir. I cannot explain it, but the heavenly God Who dwells here knows all things, and would reveal it to us as we have need to know." Amen. I believe it with all my heart. I know it's so. It dovetails right in with the Scripture and makes it plain.” The Testimony Of Jesus Christ, Aug 29, 1953 Chicago, IL, “That's the reason the baptism is in the Name of Father, Son, Holy Ghos…the Trinity…the Trinity, not three gods, but three persons in one God,”
Wm. Branham’s full shift to Modalism
Wm. Branham embraced the early church heresy called by a variety of names such as Modalism, Monarchianism and Sabellianism.
A Testimony, Jun 07, 1953, PM, Connersville, IN, E 3 Now, in the great Divine trinity of God… It's all the One God, God in a trinity: the Fatherhood, the Sonship, and the Holy Spirit dispensation. Now, if a man rejected God in the days of Fatherhood, under Moses and the law, well, he was put to death, if he disobeys God, broke His command. When Jesus came, He said, "Now, whosoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him. But whosoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, will never be forgiven him in the world, this world or the one to come. So to reject the Holy Spirit tonight is more serious than to reject God the Father in the days of Moses or to reject Jesus Christ when He was here on earth walking in flesh.
Ephesian Church Age, Dec 5, 1960, Jeffersonville, IN, “Now, what are we studying? The Revelation of Jesus Christ. And what did we find that God showed the revelation and Who He was? The first thing we find of all revelations, that God made known Who He was, that Jesus was no third person of a trinity; He was the trinity in full. He was both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. And that was the revelation…”
Wm. Branham appeared to have been influenced in this shift to Modalism by the “Jesus Only” movement, including Charles Fox Parham, in the early 1900s. Branham revealed Jesus was, “Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”
Ephesian Church Age, Dec 5, 1960, Jeffersonville, IN, “Now, what are we studying? The Revelation of Jesus Christ. And what did we find that God showed the revelation and Who He was? The first thing we find of all revelations, that God made known Who He was, that Jesus was no third person of a trinity; He was the trinity in full. He was both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. And that was the revelation…”
That is, of course, problematic, because a few minutes later in that same message Branham said, “Jesus could not be His own father, and neither can Jesus have a father and Him being three gods.”
A Testimony, Jun 07, 1953, PM, Connersville, IN, E-3 Now, in the great Divine Trinity of God…It’s all the One God, God in a Trinity…the Father-hood of God; I believe in the Sonship, and the Holy Spirit dispensation.
Palmerworm, Locust, Cankerworm, Caterpillar, Aug 23, 1959, Jeffersonville, IN, “I believe in the Father-hood of God; I believe in the Son-ship of God; I believe in the Holy Ghost dispensation of God; but it's the same God in every dispensation, not three Gods.” Wm. Branham’s open rejection of the Trinity Doctrine
It is not my intent to bring all the arguments, pro and con, to bear here. There are lots of great books on the topic of the Trinity. I want to address it simply and plainly. The following is what Wm. Branham (or was it really Lee Vayle?) wrote:
The Revelation Of Jesus Christ, Church Age Book, Ch. One 18-1•Now modern theologians won't agree with me for here is what was written in a great Christian magazine. "That teaching (on the Trinity) is at the very heart and core of the Old Testament. It is every whit as much at the heart and core of the New Testament. The New Testament is just as much opposed as the Old Testament is to the thought that there are more Gods than one. Yet the New Testament with equal clearness teaches that the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and that these three are NOT three aspects of the same Person, but three persons standing in a truly personal relationship to one another. There we have the great doctrine of the Three Persons but one God." 18-2•They also state, "God, according to the Bible, is not just one person, but He is three persons in one God. That is the great mystery of the Trinity". 8-3•It sure is. How can three persons be in one God? Not only is there no Bible for it, but it shows even a lack of intelligent reasoning. Three distinct persons tough identical substance, makes three gods, or language has lost its meaning entirely.
I personally believe that Lee Vayle’s “theology” permeated the Church Age Book and more. I am not alone here, there has been controversy about the book from day one. Ultimately, however, Wm. Branham endorsed the book and that is how we will leave it. It is very clear that Wm. Branham had no understanding of the godhead. He harshly denounced the Trinity doctrine and defended his Modalistic view with great fervor. Even though Branham’s attempt to explain the Trinity is poor, one dimensional and linear, nevertheless it makes it clear that Wm. Branham at least at this juncture in time was Trinitarian in his confession, even if he was not in his understanding. Then, in 1954, he completely denounced the Trinity doctrine and stated:
Questions And Answers, May 15, 1954, Jeffersonville, IN, “First thing is to straighten out you on your trinity: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Now, in the first place, not one place in the Bible was Trinity ever mentioned. You find it and show it to me. There's no such a thing. It's Catholic error, and you Protestants bow to it.”
What brought about such a radical change in Branham’s “theology?” Somewhere along the line he was influenced by anti-Trinitarian sources, most likely by the writings of Charles Taze Russell, of the JWs, though he was quite familiar with the Jesus Only people as well as with Wm. Sowders and his School of the Prophets in Louisville, KY, who believed in the Duality of God. Searching through Wm. Branham’s sermons I found what I believe is the earliest mention of Jehovah’s Witness people which was the Woods family:
Exhortation On Healing, May 01, 1951, Los Angeles, CA, E-47 Is that--is that right, Brother Banks? The Resurrection of Jairus’ Daughter, Mar 31, 1954, Louisville, KY, E-47 Mr. Woods and his wife here, I know them. We Would See Jesus, May 16, 1957, Saskatoon, SK, E-35 a man who lived next door to me, a Jehovah’s Witness. What Is A Vision, Apr 08, 1956, Aft., Chicago, IL, 6 Mr. Banks Woods, it’s my friend and neighbor We Would See Jesus, May 16, 1957, Saskatoon, SK, If there be Jehovah’s Witnesses here, I’m not speaking against you at all We understand from others, and even from his own messages, that Branham was a man easily influenced. Freda Lindsay, Wm. Branham’s manager Gordon Lindsay’s wife, wrote that Branham was, “a man easily influenced.” [Mrs. Gordon Lindsay, My Diary Secrets, (Dallas, TX: CFN, 6th ed., 1989), 87, 88]. Freda Lindsay continues and states: “Branham had some erratic ideas…his lack of sound teaching and background bordered on the occult…Branham was exceedingly vulnerable to flattery…he thrived on flattery…In later years some of those who made the deepest inroads into Branham’s life and held the greatest influence over him were those who would put their arms around him and publicly present him as the greatest preacher on earth.”
It is not difficult to see Charles Taze Russell, who believed he was the “Laodicean Messenger” and God's seventh church age messenger, influencing Branham. Branham, like Russell, had a Pyramid shaped tomb. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xkn6wmJdQ-s There are other teachings that Branham held early on, which he later turned against, which include Hell, just like the JWs teach. Wm. Branham, again on May 15, 1954, stated that God (Branham’s solemn Judge) told him to say nothing against the Cult of “Jehovah’s Winesses:
And Almighty God Who is my Judge, standing here now in this sacred spot... Before I left home, the Spirit of the Lord told me, said this question will be laying on here. And I--I knowed nothing about it, but I knew it would be here.Is Jehovah Witness a false sect? See, somebody... And the Holy Spirit, at the place at the... Standing in my bathroom before coming down here, God, Who is my solemn Judge, told me, "That will be laying on the platform," and said I wouldn't say nothing about it, just go on
Even though Wm. Branham had come to reject the Trinity doctrine, early on he was not against people being baptized in the Trinitarian mode. In fact he appeared horrified when it was suggested that they should be re-baptized, as can be seen below:
Faith Is The Substance, Apr 12, 1947, Oakland, CA E-69 One person said, "Should we be baptized over now in order to come, be prayed for?" Mercy, that's as pagan as we ever had it. That's right. No. For by one Spirit we're all baptized into one body
However, as early as 1954, Branham changed his stance on that and, though not harshly, told people to be re-baptized as per Acts 2: 38. Q & A, May 15, 1954, Jeff., IN, “Now, you say, ‘Brother Branham, I was baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I got the baptism of the Holy Ghost.’…I believe God give them the Holy Ghost up there before they was baptized at all; but when Peter told them what to do, they went and done it. That's right. Now, you know what to do. That's right. And if you refuse to walk in Light when Light's brought forth, you turn to darkness.” Branham’ tone became harsher as time went on:
Q & A,, Oct. 15, 1961, AM, Jeff., IN, “I believe if a man was baptized wrong ignorantly, not knowing that he was baptized wrong...Now, I can't say this Scripturally. But I believe it with my heart, that if a man did not know what to do right, and he did something the best of his knowledge, I believe that God would overlook that and save him anyhow...Now, I truly believe…that the correct answer for this question is that the correct baptism is in the Name of Jesus Christ, and that those who was baptized contrary and in their heart, not selfish, just say, 'Well, I don't want to fool with that...' Now, that person, that'll be up to them and God. But if they didn't know any different, I believe that they're saved. I believe it with all my heart, because they didn't know any different.” Wm. Branham became so dogmatic that he stated that Trinitarians had a wrong spirit:
Palmerworm, Locust, Cankerworm, Caterpillar, Aug 23, 1959, Jeff., IN, Trinitarian has got the wrong revelation. As shown below, his denouncements became vitriolic and, from a Trinitarian perspective, even blasphemous. Not a shred of evidence is left of his intended vision to be conciliatory and meld both factions together.
That Day On Calvary, Sep 25, 1960, Jeff., IN, 172 Where do you get that triune pagan doctrine? Out of a Catechism, not out of the Bible. The word “trinity” is not even mentioned in the whole Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. There is no such thing. There is no such thing as a Trinitarian God. He’s God, God alone, one God.
A True Sign That Is Overlooked, Nov 12, 1961, Jeff., IN, 216 And any man, any man that calls himself spiritual or a prophet acknowledges that every word of this is true…How can he be a Trinitarian? How can he baptize in the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost and say that he's anointed with the Spirit? How can he teach people that error and still be anointed with the Spirit? It cannot be done. It's an impossibility. Palmerworm, Locust, Cankerworm, Caterpillar, Aug 23, 1959, Jeffersonville, IN, “And the "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost" is hatched out of Hell; there's no such a thing as three Gods.”
The Anointed Ones At The End Time, Jul 25, 1965, AM, Jeff., IN. 240 A trinity of frogs... A frog is an animal that always looks backward. He never looks where he's going; he looks where he's come from… three unclean spirits, individual spirits... Notice. They look back to the Nicaea Council where the Trinity doctrine was borned at. Not in the Bible, there's no such a thing. They look back to the Nicaea Council at Nicaea, Rome, where the Trinity was born at.
Wm. Branham’s shift to the Duality of God doctrine
From quite early on Wm. Branham stated that he was not Trinitarian, nor was he Oneness in his beliefs. He said he was obedient to a vision which placed him between both positions.
The Impersonation Of The Trinity, Jan 20, 1957, AM, Jeff., IN, 35 And I saw a vision which spoke and said that my work would be between the two faculties of the Pentecostal, the Trinity, and the Oneness…
Branham stated he knew about the Oneness position VS the Trinitarian one in 1947:
Faith Is The Substance, Apr 12, 1947, Oakland CA, E-69 The Holy Ghost never fell on organizations; it fell on men. And so many people today say, "They don't belong to my faith." Well, if you're the faith of Christ, it's all the same… Your organization don't mean that to Him…And it--that's the reason I'd rather have it in a auditorium. If it's in a Oneness church, the Trinity won't come. If it's a Trinity's church, the Oneness won't come.
Wm. Branham was obviously influenced by Wm. Sowders, who believed in the personages of God the Father and Jesus in the godhead, and the Holy Spirit as a Force, much like the Jehovah’s Witnesses do. Wm. Branham, in the quotes below showed that he believed in a duality of persons in the godhead:
Q & A on Genesis, Jul 29, 1953, Jeff., IN, 22- 71 You say, "Now, what about it now, Brother Branham?" Now, here you get God in just exactly, and between the oneness and trinity you'll get the thing just exactly right now…42- 176 Now, God (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) is not like your finger, one, like some people thinks it…And there's been three dispensations: the Fatherhood, the Sonship, and the Holy Spirit dispensation…We don't say, "our Gods." That's heathen…
Q & A, May 15, 1954, Jeff., IN, 306 And I'm not a oneness. No, sir. You trinitarian people get that away from you. I am not a oneness. No sir. I'm not a oneness, neither a trinitarian. I believe what the Bible says.
Hear Ye Him, May 19, 1957, Aft., Saskatoon, SK, 9 There’s Trinity, they don't believe there's three Gods. That is heathenism. And the oneness don't believe that Christ was His own daddy. So, what would that be?
The Revelation Of Jesus Christ, Dec 04, 1960, Jeff., IN, AM 175• Now, at the Nicene Council…many of them in that day of the early church fathers, they had two extreme views. One of them was a Triune God, a Trinitarian. And the other one was a one God. And they both come into existence and went out on two straight limbs, out like that. The Triunity became a place of a three-god person. The oneness became a Unitarian, just as far wrong as the other one was. So they both went on limbs, but right in here reveals the truth.
Water Baptism, Jan 20, 1961, Beaumont, TX, E-74 Many of you people listening to this would say, "Brother Branham is a Oneness." I am not. I think you're both wrong, both oneness and trinity. Not to be different, but it's always the middle of the road…The way is in the middle of the road. Each side is where the off-falls is found. That's where you Oneness brethren went to on one side, Trinitarian went on the other side, but the true message lays in the center of the road.
Blind Bartimaeus, Jan 24, 1961, Beaumont, TX, E-80 What is my motive? To melt these people [Oneness and Trinitarians – PMD] together as God’s people Abraham’s Covenant, Mar 18, 1961, Middletown, OH, E-71 And some people say, "He's a 'Jesus Only,'" You're mistaken there. I wouldn't have that kind of a spirit on me. There that dogmatic, ungodly thing that... No, sir. I'm not Oneness. Not at all. I'm not Trinity either. I'm a Christian. I believe in God. I believe in God manifested in three offices.
Godhead Explained, Apr 25, 1961, Chicago, IL 122 there's both groups setting here this morning, both the Oneness…and the Trinitarian belief...I want to say that I believe that both sides are wrong as long as they argue one with the other, because their motives is wrong. And as long as your motives is wrong, no matter what your objective is…
Message of Grace, Aug 27, 1961, Jeff., IN, 37 Now, there is a group of people call themselves the Oneness or the Jesus Only. I don't agree with them upon their theory. Neither do I agree with that Trinitarian group that says that there are three different Gods the extreme of the Trinitarian. But I believe that the three, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is One, that they are three offices of one God. He lived in the Fatherhood in the Pillar of Fire; He lived in the Sonship in Jesus Christ; and He lives now in the Holy Ghost in His church.
Present Stage Of My Ministry, Sep 08, 1962, IN, 38 And if you notice, in the vision that I had of my ministry, it was I've never crossed those trees. I have never proselyted. I have never said, "All you Trinitarians be Oneness" or "all you Oneness be Trinitarians."…I went to the Trinitarian, I went to the Oneness, …and stayed between and never joined any of them; but stayed between…just exactly what that vision said do. And I've eat the fruit from both sides, salvation on both sides. Is This The Sign Of The End, Sir? Dec 30, 1962, PM, 301 The Oneness run off on Jesus Name; the Trinity went off on Father, Son, Holy Ghost, just like they did at the Nicaea Council, same thing; they both was wrong. But, now, in the middle of the road, in the Scriptures, lays out the Truth. The Seed Shall Not Be Heir With The Shuck, Apr 29, 1965, Brkfst, Los Angeles, CA, 107 There is where the Oneness missed it, there is where The trinity missed it, both sides of the road. But the happy medium is right in between.
Wm. Branham, as shown above, clearly burnt any bridge separating the Oneness and the Trinitarians; a bridge that he claimed he was told by God through a vision to build, and thus close the divide between them.
Standing In The Gap, Jun 23, 1963, AM, Jeff., IN, 129 You remember the vision. It's all wrote in books and on tapes and everything. Been years ago, how I seen these and I never crossed up the Oneness and the Trinity. I stood between them and planted these trees, and they were the only two trees that had fruit…And He said, "Hold out your hands for the fruit." And then I found the same fruit in the cross, when I run down there. And He said, "'Do the work of an evangelist. Make full proof of your ministry. And the time will come when they’ll not endure sound doctrine. Don’t quit them then. Keep on going,” Regardless of the arguments presented in this article on both sides of this divide, Wm. Branham clearly failed in his commission when he was told in his vision, “Don’t quit them.” Quit them he did and started his own brand of religion based on all sorts of ideas he gathered over the years. The fruit that Wm. Branham spoke about seeing is nothing to brag about.
The above examined what the OT taught about God and it was found that it taught that God is One, Unique, without compare. It was also shown that within the Unity of God, there appeared to be a Plurality which can be traced throughout the Bible. This was never seen as problematic but was simply accepted and left in the tension it was found. The Jewish understanding of the Memra was received into the Hellenistic Jewish culture and later into Christianity. Later, Rabbi Maimonides, in the Aristotelian tradition, declared that “God is One” meant that “God is Unique, or without compare.” That was not a monotheistic statement, per se. That word did not come into existence until the 17th Century. However, Maimonides also changed the previously fluid understanding of the godhead to an Islamic rigid understanding, which came to be the Monotheistic view we now see.
The NT showed that the Father was God, Christ was God and the Holy Spirit was God, yet not three gods. We next examined Wm. Branham’s acceptance of the Modalist position and his radical rejection of the Trinity as a doctrine spawned in Hell. Branham did not leave it there but proceeded to teach a duality of god doctrine. Branham rejected the use of the “formula” of Matt 28, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.“ He agreed with the Oneness position of baptizing in the name of Jesus Christ, with the caveat of adding “Lord.” Branham strongly stated that anyone who believes the Trinity and baptizes according to Matt. 28 has a false spirit and is an apostate and not a Christian. In one fell swoop Branham condemned Paul, Irenaeus, St. Martin, Columba, Luther and John Wesley, all of whom Branham had designated Messengers to the Seven Church Ages. Of course, the word Trinity is not mentioned in Scripture, but neither is the word Bible, or the word Rapture, or the word Spirituality, which words Branham freely used. Not only did Wm. Branham no longer believe in the Trinity, he denounced it, as shown above, as a doctrine hatched in Hell. Of course Orthodox Christianity never held there are three gods, or Tri-theism. Of all the teachings Branham embraced in his earlier ministry and which he later rejected as false, he never did repent of his earlier “false” teaching. He never once said, “Folks, I am sorry and I must confess that I was wrong in my teaching on the doctrine of the Trinity, or on Modalism. God showed me in His Word, the Bible, that I was wrong and I hereby recant my error and I ask God and you to forgive me for it.” In fact, Wm. Branham never ever repented of any of his errors.
Scripture shows that the God, or Elohim, of Israel is called Yahweh and that he is Unique among all the gods, or elohim, that are in the spirit realm. Yahweh is Unique, and in His Word, He revealed Himself as Elohim or Yahweh, but as shown, the Godhead also includes the Holy Spirit as well as the Son of God, the Logos. Ex 6: 3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH (Yahweh) was I not known to them. Listen to Israel as they shout after Elijah defeated the Baals: 1Ki 18: 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD (Yahweh), he is the God (Elohim); the LORD (Yahweh), he is the God (Elohim).
He chose to reveal Himself to us as a Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As the writer to the Hebrews states: Heb 1: 1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; 4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? 6 And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. 7 And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. 8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom…
Heb 11: 6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is (exists)…
We, as Christians, have accepted the Bible as a trustworthy document. The OT came to us through Judaism and the NT came to us from the Church. Godly people sat down and determined which books should, and which should not, be part of the Canon of Scripture. This Bible has universally been accepted as God’s authoritative Word to us. It is the Standard against we measure everything in order to protect God’s flock against heresy. What is puzzling to me is that some people while holding the above, question the judgment of the same Church regarding the Trinity teaching. I trust that this is helpful in aiding your understanding of the biblical Godhead as Trinity, the Elohim called Yahweh, the Son of God called Jesus and the Spirit of God called Holy Spirit, which we have encountered in the Old and New Testaments.