|I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you. - Friedrich Nietzsche
|If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything. - Mark Twain
In order to thoroughly deceive others, it is necessary to also deceive oneself. The actor playing Hamlet must indeed believe in the moment that he is the Prince of Denmark, though when he leaves the stage he will usually remember who he really is.
On the other hand, when someone's entire life is based on such pretense, they seldom if ever return to reality. That is the secret of many successful politicians, evangelists and confidence tricksters alike–they believe they are telling the truth, even when it seems sure they must have known that they faked the evidence. Sincerity, my dear Julia, is a quality not to be trusted. – Sarah Caudwell from 'The Sibyl in Her Grave'
In our search to find the truth and to separate fact from fiction as it relates to William Branham and his ministry, one of the the most important issues that has to be addressed is his credibility. This need to be examined in relation to the various stories he tells in describing his supernatural experiences.
To be persuasive, we must be believable; to be believable, we must be credible; to be credible, we must be truthful. — Edward R. Murrow
Credibility refers to the believability, trustworthiness and reliability of a person.
Was William Branham credible?
Because William Branham was a minister of the Gospel, one starts off with the assumption that he generally told the truth, that he was credible. But that assumption must be discarded if it can be demonstrated that he regularly strayed from telling the truth.
William Branham portrayed himself as a simple, honest, uneducated man who was sent from God as a prophet to forerun the second coming of Christ. However, many of the stories that he told have been proven to be untrue and many of the doctrines that he said he received directly from God were, in fact, plagiarized from other ministers. Another significant issue is that many of William Branham's stories changed dramatically over time. Why did this happen?
The following items have caused us to question William Branham's credibility (click on the links to read a detailed explanation of the issue):
- Did William Branham visit the Vatican and see the inscription "VICARIVS FILII DEI" above the throne of the Pope?
- Did William Branham lie about his prophecy regarding Billy Graham?
- Did anyone hear the voice on the Ohio River in 1933?
- Did William Branham see a mother eagle carry her babies on her wings?
- Why did William Branham say that he was under the cloud when they took its picture, when he clearly wasn't?
- Did William Branham travel around the world seven times?
- Was William Branham's Bible saved miraculously in the 1937 flood?
- Why did the story of the man from Windsor change so drastically over time?
- Why did William Branham say that he received his revelations from God when he took many of his doctrines from other men?
- Why did William Branham change the story of Congressman Upshaw's healing?
- When did William Branham embrace Pentecostalism?
- Was Donny Morton really healed?
- Did William Branham speak in an unknown tongue that a Finnish woman understood?
- Was it reasonable for William Branham to blame his poor grammar on his dad?
- Did William Branham prayer for King George VI and was he really healed?
- Did William Branham raise a boy from the dead in Finland?
- Who was Hope Branham's Nurse?
- Was Florence Nightingale the granddaughter of the original Florence Nightingale?
- Did the Pillar of Fire really appear above William Branham's head in Houston? Why did other pictures from that evening appear in the newspaper, when he said his picture was the only one that turned out?
- Was William Branham truthful about asking Hope's parents for her hand in marriage?
- If only sissies wear shorts, why did William Branham wear them?
- How could William Branham have allowed Leo Mercer to be part of his ministry?
- Did William Branham claim to be a prophet?
- Was William Branham born under a Nazarite Vow?
- Was William Branham's discernment 100% accurate?
- Was William Branham's ministry always 100%?
- What was in the cornerstone of Branham Tabernacle?
- Did William Branham travel around the world seven times?
- Why was William Branham dishonest about his son's first marriage?
- Why was the vision of the five angels changed to a vision of seven angels?
- Why did William Branham say that he was at Sunset Mountain when he was actually at Rattlesnake Mesa?
- Why did William Branham make up the story of the Pyramid Box?
- Why did William Branham's stories change so radically over time?
- Was William Branham really the first fruits of spiritual maturity? The perfect man?
- Was the photo from Houston supernatural or just the out of focus picture of a flood light?
- Did William Branham see an amber light?
- Did William Branham help to launch the ministry of Jim Jones?
- Was Marshal Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke a real person?
- Is Joseph Branham a prophet?
- Was there a Mormon prophecy about William Branham?
- Danny Henry message
- How did William Branham view himself?
- Was William Branham a wealthy man when he died?
- If God spoke through William Branham, why did he mess up?
- If it was wrong to kill animals for sport, why did William Branham do it?
- Why did William Branham deny that he went to movies 3 weeks after admitting that he did?
- Why did William Branham criticize those who drove Cadillac's when he owned one?
- Why did William Branham criticize women that cut their hair and wore short skirts, when his own family did?
- What actually happened to Hattie Wright's boys?
- Why did William Branham say he went to William Cowper's grave when he didn't?
- Why did William Branham say William Cowper committed suicide when he died of heart failure?
- Why did William Branham state the Stephen Foster committed suicide, when this is not true?
- Was there really a connection between the Pope visiting israel in 1964 and the lunar eclipse that preceded his visit?
But didn't Abraham lie?
We have had many message ministers deflect the issue of William Branham's credibility by pointing to the flaws of some of the prophets in the Old Testament. Such a response is clearly coming out of Cognitive Dissonance (if you don't know what this is, please click on the link).
When a message believers, confronted with the clear facts that William Branham lied, states, "Abramham lied and he was the father of faith," they are effectively admitting that William Branham lied but that it is not a big deal.
The problem with this argument is that it is a red herring.
Why did Abraham lie? Because he feared that his life was in danger.
William Branham, on the other hand, appeared to have lied to uphold the claim that God spoke to him and that his prophesies were authentic. William Branham lied to make himself look like a prophet so that people would follow him.
Under the new covenant as outlined in the New Testament, lying is not acceptable behaviour because the Bible plainly tells us what is expected of Christian leaders:
- Therefore an overseer must be above reproach...
- An elder must be blameless...
- For the overseer must be blameless as one entrusted with God’s work...
- Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.
Also, because many of William Branham's prophecies failed, we must also deal with Deuteronomy 18:20-22.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Ti 3:2–3.
- Titus 1:6 (NET)
- Titus 1:7 (NET)
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Ti 1:8–11.