Question 10 (ABM) - Congressman Upshaw
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 10 (ABM) - Congressman Upshaw
This is another troubling example of William Branham's lack of credibility. Honestly, as a former message believer, I was shocked when I discovered how far from the truth William Branham's version was from the actual events.
Followers of the message have been repeatedly told how, at the age of 84, 66 years after becoming physically handicapped, Congressman Upshaw was told "Thus Saith The Lord, you're healed", upon which Upshaw, was instantly healed, rose from his wheelchair and had full use of his legs for the remainder of his life.
The picture of William Upshaw that has been painted into the minds of William Branham's followers is that of a frail, old man who was destined to a crippled life in a wheelchair. William Branham often mentions how the Congressman was so bad off that he had to be wheeled around, carried on beds, and practically unable to function.
Shortly before his death at age 86, William Upshaw published his testimony in a Pentecostal magazine which he had turned into a tract.
The following are excerpts from the article written by Congressman William D. Upshaw:
- I walked into that Branham-Baxter meeting in Calvary Temple, Los Angeles, loving God and His blessed Word, leaning on my crutches that had been my “buddies” - my helpful comrades for 59 of my 66 years as a cripple - 7 of those years spend on bed; I walked out that night of February 8th, leaving my crutches on the platform – the song of deliverance ringing in my heart in happy consonance with the should of victory from those who thronged about me – their tears of rejoicing crystal with the light of the skies’ chief among them was my blessed wife whose dear face, glowing amid her joyous exclamations: “Praise the Lord” and “Glory to God,” was beaming like a patch of Heaven.
- … Brother Branham, exhausted, was carried from the platform. Brother LeRoy Kopp, Calvary Temple’s golden-hearted pastor, came back to the pulpit and said: “Brother Branham says ‘The Congressman is healed’.” My heart leaped. I stepped out and accepted the Lord as my Healer. I laid aside my crutches and started toward the startled Pastor and my happy, shouting wife – and the bottom of Heaven fell out!
- …A few days after my wonderful deliverance, dear Brother Branham said to me: “Brother Upshaw, I feel like the best part of your life is before you – fortified and stimulated by this new evangel of your Divine healing, and I hope you will cover the nation.”
William Upshaw was “healed” on Feb. 8, 1951, and died less than two years later on November 21, 1952.
But in the newspapers, we find Upshaw traveling across the country, walking around freely carrying his crutches at times, and speaking to multiple audiences per day -- both for political speeches and evangelistic sermons.
As a result, it appears that Congressman Upshaw's healing may not have been quite as miraculous as it was both he and William Branham described it.
There is also significant concern with the huge changes in the story over time as it was told by William Branham.
In Congressman Upshaw's testimony, William Branham never speaks to him or even acknowledges him. The message that he is healed is delivered by Brother Leroy Kopp.
William Branham's testimony (1951) is initially in basic agreement with that of the Congressman. However, by 1958 it had changed to the point that there is a vision of a man in a brown suit with a wired microphone being run back to the Congressman to allow him to have a conversation with William Branham from the pulpit. Leroy Kopp's part in the miracle is completely eliminated as William Branham himself told the Congressman over the pulpit - "THUS SAITH THE LORD, you're healed."
Here is the story from 1951:
- And one night, I walked into the platform here. Mr. Baxter had just left the platform. I looked, hanging right out here, and I seen the White House, seen all about it. Begin to speak, and I couldn't tell. And I told Mr. Baxter. In a few moments, It fell and I seen where the man was setting. I seen it was him, seen him get hurt when he was just a little boy. And he'd been a crippled for all...
- And I started to leave and the Spirit of God begin to fall. And a woman had raised out of a wheelchair, and some more things had taken place where the Holy Spirit revealing to them.
- And as I started, Mr. Kopp here, the... Brother Kopp, the pastor run up there. And I said, "Go tell the congressman that God has healed him. I seen him, going walking away." (My Commission, 51-0505)
Here is the wildly embellished story from 1958:
- How many remembers the healing of Congressman Upshaw? I was just standing there talking like this when there's thousands of people standing there, and they was fixing to line up, and I looked out. I'd seen an old man, and they'd been a many a wheelchair, oh, there was just wheelchairs all over the places in California. And I looked across, and I seen a little boy playing on a haystack, and he fell and hit his back across a--the edge of a frame. And it must've broke his back. I seen a doctor with little glasses hanging low on his nose, white mustache and white hair, a working on him but it was no good, too far gone. And I seen them boring holes in the house so that the people walking in, it wouldn't vibrate on the floor. He was so bad. And that's the only thing I can say is what I'm looking at.
- And just then, I seen there come a great man, a famous speaker, and the vision left. And I looked around; I couldn't find him. And they'd just brought him in, I think, by a plane. And I said, "There's the old man setting right there now." And his wife was down with him. He's eighty-six years old, been in a wheelchair for sixty-six years. And there he was, and bowing down. And to you Baptist tonight, you surely ought to know him. He was the Vice President of Southern Baptist Convention.
- So when he a... And he said, "My son, how did you ever know that I fell on a hay frame?"
- I said, "Sir, I didn't know."
- He said, "It has to come from God, for that is the same type of doctor that operated on me which has been gone for years." He said, "And no minister anywhere..." Said, and they told me, said, "It's Congressman Upshaw."
- Well, I didn't... He might've said somebody from India. I wouldn't knowed any different 'cause I didn't know no Congressman. And so Mr. Baxter said, "That's Congressman Willie D. Upshaw."
- I said, "I never heard of him."
- So he said, "Will I be healed, my son?"
- I said, "Sir, I don't know. The only thing I can say is what I see."
- And I said, "Have you got the prayer line ready?"
- And the boys down there said, "Just about." They started a woman up.
- ...And just as I turned, I seen the old Congressman with a brown pin striped suit on. He wore a blue suit with a red tie at the time. He was going right over the tops of the heads of the people. He was very southern hospitality, going along, going like this.
- I said, "Congressman," (they run the address system to him quickly).
- And I said, "Haven't you got a brown pin striped suit?" He said, "My son, I just bought one yesterday."
- I said, "THUS SAITH THE LORD. It looks like that God would've healed you when you were about seventeen years old and your bones all young to wait till you're eighty-six and then heal you." But I said, "He's healed you, Congressman."
- He said, "Do you mean to say, my son, that I can rise from this chair?"
- I said, "In Jesus' Name, come here." And that man, being bound to his... When they raised him up like President Roosevelt, with those great, big things over him (braces) and he walked. You know how he walked, if you knew him. And he threw those down, raised from his wheelchair, run to the platform and touched his toes like that, and stand up as a real man. And it's...?... the nation. (The Queen of the South, 58-0208)
Based on research done by John Collins from newspaper reports relating to Congressman Upshaw, there is significant doubt that Congressman Upshaw's healing was as miraculous as he claimed. However, even if it was a bona fide healing, the 1958 version of the story is so far from the truth that it can be only called a blatant lie as it goes far beyond embellishment or exaggeration.
I understand that there are isolated incidents in the scripture where prophets appeared to have lied but this appears to be a common occurence in William Branham's ministry.
Why did a real miracle from God (if that is what it was) require William Branham to lie about it?
Thank you for your continued dialogue.
Let me open by saying that there are things I have learned over the years that have shocked me as well concerning Bro. Branham. In that you are not alone. However, I have not yet come across anything which requires me to conclude that Bro. Branham was not an endtime prophet with an Elijah-like anointing who had a messages that would go before the second coming of the Lord. The issues I find are not incompatible with that belief.
I know I have repeated this statement in the last several questions: Bro. Branham had a bad habit of embellishing and exaggerating things. This is something he admitted openly, and asked for forgiveness for. The story of Congressman Upshaw is an example of where Bro. Branham took, what you might call a "small" miracle, and embellished it into a "fantastic" miracle. The Florence Nightingale story is another prominent example. There are plenty more. (Many would argue that all miracles are fantastic, I would as well. But I use these terms for the sake of this discussion to illustrate my point.)
Why Bro. Branham felt the need to embellish what was already a good testimony of a miracle, I do not know. But he did this somewhat commonly. He was an exaggerator. But so was Elijah. I agree with you, if Upshaw's version is accurate, then Bro. Branham's version contains substantial fabrications. (But perhaps Upshaw's version is incorrect, so I leave open that possibility.) But even if I accept that Bro. Branham fabricated most of the story, is it less of a fabrication than the ones we see made by other prophets? Including Elisha.
I understand your argument is that the sheer number of embellishments and exaggerations we find in Bro. Branham's ministry must disqualify him from being a true prophet. I again disagree with that rationale. Because while making up stories is a bad thing, we find other prophets did the same. But even more notable, we find other prophets did far worse. Samson was a fornicator. Did that negate the calling God placed on his life? Peter died the Lord Jesus. Did that negate the calling on his life? David had a man killed and took his wife. Did that negate the calling on his life? David is recorded as being a prophet (Acts 2:30). Jospeh carried a gift of God, but he misled his family, planted false evidence, and took his younger brother "hostage". Examples abound in both old and new testament of men with gifts and callings of God who had terrible personal failings - far worse that Bro. Branham's regular exaggerations and embellishments. Romans 11:29 states "The gifts and callings of God are without repentance." Personal failings are not justifiable, and all will be held accountable for them. But they do not negate the gift or calling God has given.
There is a reason Samson died in Gath. There is a reason David's son died. There is a reason (more than one truly) Bro. Branham passed away and is no longer with us. I do not speculate to say that God caused took Bro. Branham for this reason, but in any event - none of these things revoked the calling God placed on these men. Your rationale would require us to reject a significant part of the bible. Should we reject the psalms David wrote because of his personal failings? Should we reject Peter's books because of his personal failing? Perhaps we should reject Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Songs of Solomon because of Solomon's personal failings? They were all worse than Bro. Branham's personal failings. If I must accept the Word of God spoken through those men, why can I not accept the Word of God spoken through Bro. Branham?
You ask "Why did a real miracle from God (if that is what it was) require William Branham to lie about it?"
Answer: It did not. Congressman Upshaw claimed to be healed. His story was carried in the Los Angeles Times. The Los Angeles Times called it "the most effective healing testimony this generation has ever seen." (You will find this in Doug Weaver's book on page 59). There was already an excellent reception of the miracle. Bro. Branham may have embellished the story to the point that he made his version of it indefensible. That is unfortunate because it was not necessary. But there are prophets who did things equally and even less defensible that. Accept the good, but reject the bad.
Those who find Bro. Branham infallible would find this answer unpalatable.