Is the message a denomination?
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What is a denomination?
A denomination is a faction of the church, out of fellowship with other factions, holding to some “distinctives” of doctrine, practice, worship, ethnicity, style, history, social class, etc. Denominationalism is any attempt to justify and maintain the separate existence of a denomination.
On the basis of this definition, it is clear that the message is a denomination.
Is the message also a sect or a cult?
Denominations are movements that differ on doctrinal issues but hold to a common core of beliefs about God, Christ, and the Scriptures. They see God as trinitarian, Christ as unique in His human-divine person, and the Scriptures as the authoritative text passed down from the prophets and apostles.
Sects agree with the historic teachings of the Christian church on these matters, but they often have some characteristic that places them on the fringe of Christianity, such as the radical separatism of the Amish.
Cults are connected to Christianity in that they employ Christian Scripture and appeal to Jesus, but they also differ from the traditional faith in certain core areas. They may deny or reinterpret the Trinity. They may have novel views about Christ. They may reject part of the Christian Scripture, add new texts to it, or claim to have an infallible interpretation that replaces traditional doctrine with a new approach.
On the basis of this definition, the message would be considered a Christian cult because:
- Message believers deny the historic doctrine of the Trinity in favour of either Sabellianism (modalism or oneness) or Arianism
- They exalt the teachings of William Branham above the Bible.
- The message claims that William Branham's interpretation of scripture is infallible.
Quotes of William Branham
I've always tried to stand between the people, outside of the organizations and their differences, and call to what it seemed like the Spirit of God was saying through the brethren here this morning, that we are not a denomination. We are children of a family. Now, there is not no Branham denomination. There is a Branham family, and we all don't join that family, we're born in that family. And so, I, that's what I'm trying to represent, the—the best that I know how.
See now who is the leader of this modern, religious, evil age? It's the devil, taking that tree of good and evil, and placing it out there, notice, bringing his beautiful church bride to the ecumenical council for a wedding. That's a good one. His beautiful scientific church, with all the—the—the degrees that can be gotten; the Ph.D's out of the church of Christ, the Ph.D's out of the Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostals, and all. Bringing them all, with their decorated fineries and big churches, all to the ecumenical council, "We are one." It'll never be forgiven them. A denomination, to wear the brand of a denomination, is the mark of the beast. We've done been through it on here; to do it. Flee it, children, flee it! See? Great, beautiful church to the ecumenical wedding, wearing his mark!
Denominations carry a single name
The followers of William Branham refer to themselves as being in the "message", a unifiying single name:
- This is the first denomination of repute that came out of the harlot, but when Luther died it was not long until it had a hierarchy like the one it had fought. This move of God, by the time the second generation came along was right back under the wing of her mother. She had gone back and did not even know it. They had taken on their own name above His Name. They were living their own name, too. And all the denominations are doing that very thing today. They are living their own name, and not the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is easily seen for every church is known by the way it worships but none are known by the power of God. There is your test. And I want you to notice right here that this era did not have the signs and wonders amongst them. They gave up the power of God for the power of the state. They clung to their own name; they made their names great. It was that old spirit of getting everyone into its fold. Today the Baptists want the Methodists to come over to the Baptists. The Methodists are out to proselytize the Presbyterians. And the Pentecostals want them all. Each claims to offer the most and to hold out the greatest hopes—a sort of door to heaven, or at least, the way to a more abundant entrance. How tragic it all is.
- John M. Frame, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2013), 1141.
- Chad Owen Brand, The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith, 2007, 39.
- William Branham, 65-0429B - The Seed Shall Not Be Heir With The Shuck, para. 19
- William Branham, 65-0801M - The God Of This Evil Age, para. 145
- William Branham, An Exposition Of The Seven Church Ages - Chapter Seven - The Sardisean Church Age, para. 256-2