William Branham's Teachings on Water Baptism
This article is one in a series of studies on baptism - you are currently on the topic that is in bold:
Believers of William Branham's message often challenge those outside of the message to "find one scripture in the Bible in which anyone was ever baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit."
People in the message are taught that the only true form of Christian baptism is in the triune name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is an highly important issue for message believers and we are aware of at least one instance where a deacon baptized an individual in the name of the Lord Jesus and was required to baptize the person again in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Challenge from William Branham
William Branham invited people to prove him wrong when he stated in 1957:
So there is the challenge laid down by William Branham - Find one scripture where any person was ever baptized any other way than in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Actually that challenge is quite easy to meet and we would challenge message believers to find us one scripture where anyone was actually baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Bible should be simply understood and therefore it seems quite obvious that William Branham has interpreted the scripture to say something that it clearly doesn't. The phrase "Lord Jesus Christ" appears 6 times in the book of Acts so it would have been very easy for Luke to have stated clearly that people were to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. But since he didn't, it is not possible to make that claim.
Scriptures referring to how baptism was conducted in the New Testament
So we have certainly found multiple scriptures that show people begin baptized in a form other than the three-part Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is clear from the Bible that there did not appear to be an emphasis on the exact formula of baptism, thereby proving one of the fundamental doctrines of William Branham's message to be flawed.
Another Challenge from William Branham
In the sermon, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Jeffersonville, December 4, 1960), William Branham stated:
William Branham's reference to the Nicene Council is to The First Council of Nicaea. which was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia (present-day İznik in Turkey) by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325.
However, William Branham's assertion that no one was baptized in the name of "Father, Son, Holy Ghost" is historically incorrect. While it appears clear that the very earliest forms of water baptism in the Book of Acts do not reference the trinitarian formula, it is also clear that the use of the trinitarian baptismal formula does predate the First Council of Nicea by at least a hundred and fifty years or more.
The Didache or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (Didachē means "Teaching") is a brief early Christian treatise, dated by most scholars to the late first or early 2nd century. Some even date it as contemporary with the books of the New Testament (c. A.D.40-60).
However, because of references in literature from the early 4th century, no scholars date the Didache as later than the 3rd century.
With respect to water baptism, the Didache states:
Baptism has been in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at least from the end of the 1st century. Some passages in Acts (2:38, 10:48, and 19:5) speak of Baptism ‘in the name of (the Lord) Jesus (Christ)’, but whether this formula was ever used has been questioned.
But what is the proof behind this statement?
Justin Martyr (ca. 100–ca. 165 AD)
For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water.
"After his resurrection he promises in a pledge to his disciples that he will send them the promise of his Father; and lastly, he commands them to baptize into the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, not into a unipersonal God. And indeed it is not once only, but three times, that we are immersed into the three persons, at each several mention of their names" (Against Praxeas 26 - A.D. 216).
"The Lord himself told his disciples that they should baptize all peoples in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit . . . for indeed, legitimate baptism is had only in the name of the Trinity" (Commentary on Romans 5:8 - A.D. 248).
William Branham should apologize
If there's a historian, a minister, any other person, on air, in tape, that can produce one Scripture or one speck of history, where anybody was ever baptized any other way than in the Name of Jesus Christ, till the Roman Catholic church at Nicaea, Rome, you're duty bound to bring it to me, let me apologize. There is no such thing. No. And every person that was baptized by immersing, that was not baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ, was commanded, before they could enter Glory, to come back and be rebaptized again. Now it's up to you.
Based on the evidence above, William Branham should have apologized. He did not know the history of the Christian church.
William Branham's changing views
William Branham's initial view was that it didn't matter whether you were baptized in Jesus' name or in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit:
He also repeated this very clearly in his vision of the plum and apple trees.
But later, he appeared to change his mind. For example, on January 8, 1961 William Branham stated that a Trinitarian baptismal formula was wrong. But note that he was preaching this in his home church:
But just a few months later, he changed his tune because his audience was different. He was now preaching in Chicago:
The question must be asked - Why did William Branham change his opinion based on who he was preaching to?
Why does Jesus say to baptize one way but Luke tells us a different way?
Why in the Book of Acts (Acts 10:48 and Acts 19:5) is baptism never performed as in Matthew 28:19, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost?
Various answers have been given.
The Didache, or Teaching of the Twelve, an ancient document that may date back as early as 70 A.D., seems to favour the second explanation by using as synonymous the two expressions, “baptism into the name of the Lord” and “baptism into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”.
What is clear is that the effects of baptism were attributed to the water and not to an exact formula of words. The Didache, Justin Martyr (c. 100–165), and Cyprian (c. 200–58) describe a baptism with the trinitarian formula as a baptism “in the name of Jesus.” A compulsory liturgical form is far removed from early times.
What is the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit?
Matthew 28:19 states:
WMB stated that " The Name of The Father,Son and Holy Ghost is The One and only LORD JESUS CHRIST. "
Then the Bible is wrong, because it NEVER calls the Father or the Holy Ghost Jesus Christ. Jesus is called, "Lord" all the time.
And in Exodus, God says that His name is Yahweh and THAT will be His name FOREVER.
Exodus 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. 15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.
You can't go inventing your own Bible. Thank God that His Word never changes, and He needs no New message. The old, timeless Gospel of Jesus Christ is just fine. Only the Son is ever referred to as Jesus, or Lord Jesus, or Jesus Christ, or Lord Jesus Christ.