The Message is Greater than the Bible
This article is one in a series looking at the issue of whether the message of William Branham is a cult. You are currently in the article that is in bold:
It is clear that some followers of William Branham believe that he was Jesus Christ. Many followers of William Branham put his sermons above that of the Bible because they believe that he was infallible. These groups would include most of the followers of Joseph Branham.
But some message believers say:
- ...I have never put Brother Branham's teachings above the Bible! He told us that the Bible is our absolute and that is what I believe.
While such people may think that they place the Bible above William Branham's teaching, is this, in fact, the case?
This is an important question. One of the key characteristics of a cult, is that there is a religious leader whose authority is viewed as being equal to or greater than the Bible and whose teachings are in opposition to the doctrines of biblical and historic Christianity.
Whether the message is a cult turns on the issue of whether William Branham's teaching are viewed as being equal to, or greater than, the Bible.
The view of message followers
Message minister Tom Rae speaking at Cloverdale Bibleway stated:
- Amen, it's not just a story. This message has made the Bible come alive. You take this messenger away from the Bible, the Bible's a dead book. You tell me, "Where's the Moses-Exodus type?" You tell me, "Where's the Joshua going into the new land type?" You tell me, "Where's Elijah and on 400 on Mount Carmel with 400?" Every type this message types, take it away and you got a dead letter. You should be thankful this morning for a Living Word. Amen? That's come through a mouth of a prophet.”
If the Bible is a dead book without William Branham's message, then it is at least equal to the Bible, if not greater, in the eyes of Tom Rae. Sadly, this is the view of virtually all message followers.
Tim Pruitt, the pastor of Evening Light Tabernacle in Minden, Louisiana, confirms this view:
- It grieves me to learn that some no longer believes in the messenger but yet claim to believe their Bible and yet see no need for a restoration of its truths. What a lie! Without the message, we are rendered as powerless as the denominational world we came out of.
Jason Watkins, the pastor of Bethel Tabernacle in Beaufort, South Carolina, also holds this view:
- I have challenged all to disprove any single doctrine from the message that William Branham brought to us. I have never found anyone who can do it. They can’t do it, you can’t do it, I can’t do it, no one can do it. The message of the hour is the restoration of the original teachings as Jesus promised it would be.
- ...The Bible clearly prophesied that the message that would come to us was a restoration of the Word made flesh, and therefore the message that was to come would be Christ!
In the eyes of these message ministers, the Bible is dead without William Branham's message; the church has no power without William Branham's message; and, William Branham's message is Christ. Obviously in their view, one cannot be a true Christian without being in the message.
The message of William Branham must, therefore, be categorized as a cult.
We should also add that we have specifically challenged Jason Watkins regarding the non-biblical nature of some of William Branham's doctrines but he has failed to respond to us.
Questions to ask message followers
Here is a list of questions that you can ask a follower of William Branham to test whether they put the message ahead of the Bible:
- Do you believe that William Branham was one of the greatest prophets of all time?
- Do you believe that as the seventh angel, William Branham could not make any significant doctrinal errors because the purpose of his ministry was to reveal all of the hidden mysteries of God?
- Is there anything that William Branham taught that disagreed with the Bible?
- Do you believe (as William Branham taught) that the only true evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is believing the Word for your hour? This refers specifically to the teachings of William Branham. As a result, if you think that William Branham's message has any significant errors, to a message believer this proves that you don't have the Holy Spirit. But if you believe what William Branham taught, then you have the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
- Do you believe that "the message is Jesus Christ"?
If they answer "yes" to any of these questions, they are actually putting William Branham's message above the Bible, whether they admit it or not.
How can we say that?
- Virtually all message believers will state that William Branham was one of the seven church age messengers and, therefore, at least the equal of Paul the Apostle. In addition, they generally believe that his ministry as the Seventh Angel puts him in a league above all the other church age messengers. This statement in and of itself is puts William Branham's message above the Bible.
- A message believer does not have the option of disagreeing with William Branham, except possibly in respect of a relatively few minor issues.
- Some message followers believe that to the extent that William Branham did make any significant errors, God corrected him before he died. This has resulted in the doctrine of Progressive Revelation, which basically states that if William Branham taught different things about a subject, one should rely on his last teaching on the issue. But almost all message believers would agree that William Branham did not make any doctrinal errors
- If presented with a clear teaching in the Bible that disagrees with William Branham, message followers will always accept William Branham's teaching and never that of the Bible.
As a result, it is clear that the vast majority William Branham's followers hold his teachings above that of the Bible.
In the Psalms 138:2, David says:
- I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.
Anyone that exalts William Branham or his message above the Bible goes against God himself.
Examples of the Bible taking a back seat to William Branham
In a well known racist diatribe, Donny Reagan, the pastor of Happy Valley Church of Jesus Christ, stated publicly in a sermon that if Moses was alive today, he would have to follow William Branham's message. This comment clearly shows that Donny Reagan holds William Branham's message as superseding the Bible. He specifically makes this comment in respect of William Branham's teaching that biracial marriages are contrary to God's plan.
But what does the Bible say about biracial marriages?
- Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman.
A Cushite is from Cush, a region south of Ethiopia, where the people are known for their black skin. We know this because of Jeremiah 13:23: "Can the Ethiopian [the same Hebrew word translated "Cushite" in Numbers 12:1] change his skin or the leopard his spots?""
In response to Miriam’s criticism, God does not get angry at Moses; he gets angry at Miriam. Then God strikes Miriam with leprosy. Why? Consider this possibility. In God’s anger at Miriam, Moses’ sister, God says in effect, "You like being light-skinned Miriam? I’ll make you light-skinned." So we read, "When the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, like snow" (Num. 12:10)
God says not a critical word against Moses for marrying a black Cushite woman.
So according to the Bible, there is no proscription on biracial marriages. William Branham preached against them. Donny Reagan's comments thus prove that he holds William Branham's message as a higher authority than the Bible.
The following video is a look at interracial marriages from a Biblical perspective by John Piper:
Are William Branham's doctrines in opposition to Biblical Christianity?
We believe that some message believers are Christians. This is because some message churches do believe in and teach the core of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, that does not mean that the message represents true or restored Christianity.
To the extent that William Branham preached doctrines that agreed with the Bible, his teachings are acceptable. However, he taught a number of things that are in clear disagreement with the historic Christian faith and the Bible.
Many of these false doctrines actually were solely designed by William Branham to point to himself as God's supreme prophet for the end time:
- Matthew 17:11
- The Fulfillment of Malachi 4:5
- Enoch being the seventh from Adam
- Reading between the lines
- God only deals with one prophet at a time
- The Importance of a Seven-Lettered Name
Other doctrines were simply incorrect if a person reads the Bible in an honest fashion:
- The Serpent's Seed
- Michael the Archangel
- His Lazy Theology
- Enoch was a type of the wise virgin, and Noah was a type of the foolish virgin
- Illegitimate children cannot be part of the rapture.
- Christians that were required to believe Satanic doctrine
- If your wife cuts her hair, you can divorce her.
- A man can remarry after divorce but a woman can't
- Capernaum is under the sea
- John never wept because there was no one worthy to open the book- he was weeping for joy.
- Three holy words of the Bible
- His reasons for rejecting Eternal Sonship
- The difference in the meaning of Eternal vs. Everlasting
Finally, William Branham's teaching on the Godhead was very strange:
- In some ways, his teachings were most similar to those of Emmanual Swedenborg
- In some of his teachings, his view of the Godhead seems to be a form of modalistic monarchianism. As a result, many message churches effectively espouse the "oneness" view of the Godhead.
- But some of his teachings lean toward an Adoptionist view of the Godhead. He also taught in ways that seem to be in line with Arianism. Followers of Lee Vayle's have essentially espoused this hybrid Arianism/Adoptionist view of the Godhead (which some message followers refer to derisively as the "Twinity" doctrine).
Again the answer is "YES", William Branham's teachings contain significant Biblical errors.
As a result of the above, it is clear that "message believers" are members of a cult.
- Thomas A. Rae, "Blessed" (sermon), January 26, 2020, Cloverdale Bibleway, Surrey, B.C., Canada
- Timm Pruitt, from the website eveninglight.net/2019/12/29/in-defense-of-william-branham, December 2019
- Jason Watkins, from www.facebook.com/jason.watkins.71465/posts/1148672761992884, December 2019
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ps 138:2.
- Numbers 12:1