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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 prophetic ministry. The full text of this question and its answer is below.
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Question 22 - Are there any true prophecies or visions on tape that were clearly fulfilled?
The Bible is clear as to how we were to recognize a prophet. He would gain credibility as God fulfilled the things he predicted. And if he stated anything that failed to be fulfilled, he was to be rejected as a false prophet.
In the Old Testament, prophets prophesied within two time frames: their own time, and for the distant future. The test of a prophet was the prophecies which would be clearly fulfilled in his own lifetime. Obviously, if it was beyond his lifetime, he wouldn't be around to have to answer for it. There had to be some current prophecies so that people would know that the person was a prophet.
We see this in 1 Samuel 3:19-20:
- As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything Samuel said proved to be reliable. And all Israel, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord
The criteria given in Deuteronomy 18:20-22 also confirms this as the means by which a prophet gained his reputation as a true prophet and spokesman of the Lord. Over the course of a prophet’s ministry, in matters important and less significant, the character of a prophet as a true spokesman of God would begin to emerge clearly. He would speak things that were to happen in the future and they God saw to it that they came to pass. And equally, false prophets would be discredited and then dealt with under the law.
However, when we look back at William Branham’s prophetic ministry we find this lacking. It is clear that he believed it to be true of himself and constantly told people that this was the case:
- But God said, “If there be one among you, spiritual, or a prophet, I the Lord will make Myself known to him. And what he says comes to pass, then hear him and fear him; but if it don’t, then don’t fear him at all.” See? So that was the—the vindication of the prophet. (65-0221E - Who Is This Melchisedec?)
- I don’t speak my words. I speak His. That’s the reason They’re always right. See? That’s the reason I ask the world, “Show me one time it didn’t come to pass. Show me one time, by the thousands of things that He said.” Not one time did It fail, and It never will, because It’s God, not man. (63-0412E - God Hiding Himself In Simplicity)
However, we have been unable to find a single unambiguous prophecy made by William Branham that was recorded publicly before the fact (i.e. that we can verify on a tape) and that was later fulfilled in a clear manner during his lifetime.
Surely, somewhere between 1946 and 1965, there is at least one clear unambiguous prophecy that was made on tape and then subsequently fulfilled in a clear manner. In fact, there should be mulitple such prophecies.
While some view William Branham's healing ministry and his gift of the word of knowledge as proof that he was a prophet, this is not the Biblical test.
One would think that those that believe him to be a prophet would have numerous examples of publicly available prophecies that were later clearly fulfilled. Sadly, this is not the case.
All of the prophecies that we have had pointed out to us are either after the fact (i.e. William Branham only mentions them on tape after they have been fulfilled) or are ambiguous prophecies (i.e. if they were not fulfilled, no one would have been able to point to the prophecy and say that it was clearly wrong).
There are a number of different types of prophecies that William Branham could have made:
1 - Vague Prophecies (verified) that are (sort of) fulfilled
This is the kind of prophecy that is seen quite commonly in popular culture and amongst those that call themselves prophets, seers, psychics or fortune tellers.
Such prophecies are made in advance but contain enough vagueness for deniability if they don't happen but also something that can be pointed to as a "fulfillment of prophecy" if it does happen. With respect to William Branham, a good example of this would be the "prophecy" of the birth of his son, Joseph.
2 - Prophecies made beforehand (verified) that was not fulfilled
We have several occasions where William Branham prophesied of things that would come to pass in the future but did not happen as prophesied ("failed prophecies"). Examples of this would include the vision of the brown bear and the vision of the African meetings.
3 - Prophecies (unverified) that were not fulfilled
When we state that such prophecies are "unverified", it means that the first time they were told was after the prophesied event had occurred. Such prophecies are also referred to as "after the fact". Some message believers will protest that there is evidence that such prophecies were clearly made in advance but we have been unable to find any independent evidence that would confirm this. The only evidence we have is William Branham's own words, which do not qualify as independent evidence.
Such prophesies would include those that William Branham said had been fulfilled but, in fact, were not. Examples of this type of failed prophecy would include The Municipal Bridge Vision and The Marilyn Monroe Vision.
- While these are "after the fact" prophecies, it is strange that William Branham held out that they were validly fulfilled, when they clearly were not.
4 - Prophecies (unverified) that was clearly fulfilled
Message believers will provide several examples where William Branham stated that he had prophesied something that actually did come to pass. There are several examples of this such as Kari Holma or the vision of the grizzly bear. However, there would appear to be no record of these events being publicly recorded before the fact. Therefore, they must be considered after-the-fact prophecies. While one would normally think that "after the fact" prophecies would be amazingly accurate, there are significant problems associated with a number of William Branham's "after-the-fact" prophecies.
5 - Prophecies made beforehand (verified) that were clearly fulfilled
Anything in this category would be considered a true prophecy. We are only aware of one of William Branham's prophecies that could be considered to fulfill this criteria.
The prophecy of The Death of Florence Shakarian was made publicly a few months before she died. However, this prophecy has a couple of problems:
- 1. In 1963, Florence (Demos Shakarian's sister) was diagnosed with cancer. Although she was only 39, the cancer had advanced to a stage where her doctors couldn't stop it. How hard is it to predict that someone will die when they have received a medical diagnosis 2 years earlier that they have terminal inoperable cancer?
- 2. The prophecy was not ambiguous because William Branham left open the possibility that she might be healed when he stated:
- And I said, "Pray, just pray. You know there's... A prophet one time was told to go tell a king put his house in order. And he prayed, and He spared his life, fifteen years longer." I said, "Pray."
Other than the Florence Shakarian prophecy (which does not qualify because of the factors listed above), there would appear to be no independent evidence that William Branham actually had a prophetic gift.
We have been provided one other "before the fact prophecy" that William Branham made - the prophecy of the birth of Joseph Branham. However, if you read what William Branham actually said before the birth of his son, it is clear that this is not a bona fide prophecy.
It is quite amazing, given the claims made of William Branham's prophetic ministry, that there is not a single clear example of a fulfilled "before the fact" prophecy on any of William Branham's tapes from 1947 to 1965. This calls into serious question the testimonies of his supporters who claim they heard an unrecorded prophecy, and saw it fulfilled - the evidence that William Branham left on the tapes speaks against them.
Additionally, you have admitted that those around William Branham would not correct him and actually influenced him negatively. As a result, those that did have concerns simply left quietly. Relatively few made noise, such as Alfred Pohl.
We have repeatedly asked publicly for examples of unambiguous prophecies that were made on tape and clearly fulfilled at a later date, but have had no response to date other than the Florence Shakarian prophecy.
When we came to this realization, it was a serious problem if we were to believe that William Branham was a prophet.
Given that there is not a single unambiguous prophecy made by William Branham that was recorded publicly before the fact (i.e. we can verify on tape) and that was later fulfilled in a clear manner during his lifetime, how are we supposed to accept William Branham’s status as a prophet? Or do you have some examples that we are unaware of?
Response from ABM
Thank you for your continued dialogue.
This is an interesting question you ask.
Not all prophets give foretelling prophesies
I would offer some differing viewpoints before answering your question. Consider this: not every prophet in the bible gave a formal foretelling prophesy. The prophets of the Elijah anointing are in this category. Elijah cursed Israel so it would not receive rain, which is somewhat of an informal prophecy. Elisha gave only self-fulfilling prophecies. For example, his prophecy that told of the death of the King of Syria is what led to his death. Or his prophecy of the death of Jezebel also commanded Jehu to kill her. John the Baptist likewise gave no clear prophesy aside from those announcing Christ at his baptism (a prophecy he seems to later recant in Matt 11:3). So, there are examples of biblical prophets who did not have any type of outstanding prophecy. I focus on the Elijah anointing here because I feel it is the most applicable. The purpose of the Elijah anointing prophets was not to foretell the future, but rather to announce what was happening at the present. Their purpose was to get the attention of the people and effect a change in their present circumstances.
On those grounds, I can see that not every prophet issues a substantial prophecy. Thus, I can also accept that Bro. Branham could be a prophet who issued no substantial prophecy. In fact it would be fitting and in keeping with the historic acts of the type of anointing which was upon him for him.
Some prophets had none of their prophesies come to pass in their lifetime
Additionally, there are prophets who issued no prophesy which came to pass in their lifetime. Jonah, Obadiah, Joel, Malachi are all examples of this. The book of Revelation, which is the only recorded prophesy of John, was likewise not fullfilled in his lifetime. So, I could also accept (theoretically) that perhaps Bro. Branham is a prophet who has yet to have any of his prophecies fulfilled. Therefore, I could accept him as a prophet without having to find a single prophecy yet fulfilled.
Prophecy is more than foretelling
I would also point you to Revelation 19:10 which states, "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy". Prophecy is not just foretelling something that will come to pass. Prophecy can also be the simple act of God speaking through a person to give instruction or enlightenment. In most of Pentecostalism and Charisimatic Christianity, forthtelling in the name of God is also accepted as prophecy. Your position though seems only to accept foretelling as prophecy. So on this basic ground, I disagree with your narrow interpretation of what is prophecy is.
Some biblical prophesies were only recorded after they were given
I also disagree with your need to have the prophecy recorded in some fashion before it was fulfilled. There are multiple prophets of the bible, including Jesus, who did not have some of their prophecies recorded until after they were fulfilled. Many of his recorded sayings were private sayings given to two or three of the apostles and not recorded until long after he died. In fact, Jesus instructs them to keep some things private until after they are fullfilled. (Matt 17:9) Most of the prophesies in the book of Acts were recorded only after their fulfillment, yet we accept them as true. In the new testament, all the prophecies of Agabus were recorded after the fact, including one given privately outside of the church to Paul. So I have to conclude your requirement that a prophesy be recorded before it come to pass is not biblical. A witness to the foretelling seems to be adequate by biblical standards. Just because some of Bro. Branham's prophecies were not recorded on tape before they happened, does not mean he did not give them, and it does not mean he did not tell them to some people beforehand.
Foretelling prophesies of Bro. Branham
Using the definition of prophecy I have given, which includes forthtelling and acceptance of prophecies recorded after the fact but established by a witness, it would be very easy to establish Bro. Branham's prophetic gift. Admittedly, it is somewhat harder to clearly show his prophetic gift with your narrow interpretation of prophecy. But it is not impossible. I would encourage you to examine whether or not your criteria is scriptural. God does not seem to have any such tiered system and examples of true prophecy fitting all five of your categories can be found in the bible. Yet you seem to only accept the fifth category.
I will however engage you on your own fifth definition of prophecy. There are a few foretelling prophesies I would consider to meet your criteria of "Prophecies made beforehand (verified) that were clearly fulfilled". Since you do not record all these on your website, I will assume you either disagree with my assessment or you are unaware of them.
- Bro. Branham successfully predicted the decline and end of the healing revival in 1956.
- Bro. Branham had multiple self-fulfilling prophecies including
- His own death\the end of his ministry
- His move to Arizona
- He predicted his own world-wide ministry
- There are many pronouncements of healing that came to pass, which could be considered prophetic in a sense. Some of these are on tape. Some of them which are on tape I know personally to have come to pass.
- There are a fair number of prophesies that occurred off tape that were minor in nature which I know to have come to pass. People bear witness that he gave these prophecies, and you can find them recorded in some message literature before they came to pass. Some examples:
- He told Bank Woods "Don't ever let Billy Paul get his hands on the money, it will ruin him"
- He predicted the Tabernacle would cease to have services and become an empty building (There have been no regular services since 2015)
- He predicted in 1965 that many of his followers would go crazy after he died and have endless splits and divisions (This is probably the best one to meet your criteria)
- He predicted his wife would be healed of cancer
You ask "Given that there is not a single unambiguous prophecy made by William Branham that was recorded publicly before the fact (i.e. we can verify on tape) and that was later fulfilled in a clear manner during his lifetime, how are we supposed to accept William Branham’s status as a prophet?" Answer: I believe your criteria defining prophecy is not biblical. When expanded to its biblical definition, Bro. Branham has many clear prophecies. The majority of his prophecy is forthtelling rather than foretelling. Using scriptural precedence, we find even major prophets like Ezekiel, had none of their prophesies fulfilled in their lifetime, thus allowing us to see that this alone is not adequate grounds to judge a prophet's gift.
- 1 Samuel 3:19-20