Did William Branham have a good understanding of church history?
What William Branham got wrong about the First Council of Nicaea
William Branham referred dozens of times to the Nicene Council being held at "Nicaea, Rome" (see quotes below). But the city of Nicaea, where the council was held, was nowhere near Rome. The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia (present-day Iznik in Turkey) by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325.
William Branham also taught the following which are historically incorrect:
- The doctrine of the Trinity started at the Nicene Council;
- The primary dispute was between the Trinitarians and the Unitarians; and
- Everyone baptized prior to the First Council of Nicaea was baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What was the primary problem with the Nicene Council?
From our perspective, what the First Council of Nicaea got wrong was not doctrinal, it was in the shift from an emphasis on how Christians should be behave to how Christians should believe.
Jesus stated in John 13:34-35:
- “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
- “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back."
What we believe is foundational to being a Christian but if it is not coupled with love, it doesn't amount to anything:
- If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
- If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day,
- and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
- If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere.
- So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. . Love is the only thing that matters.
The church that Jesus founded was to be a movement love would replace law-keeping:
- When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear.
What stands out in the original version of the Nicene Creed (and its subsequent amendments) is that the word "love" is not to be found. Christianity moved from being about how people acted to what people believed. It moved from being behavioral to being creedal. That is the primary problem with the decision of the Nicene Council and William Branham completely missed it. This is likely because to William Branham what a person believed (particularly about him) was more important than how they behaved.
Quotes of William Branham
But they had the worship of one true God. In that little faction, they set up in the program (which many of you historians know), of making the trinity three different Gods. They had one God, the Father, with a long beard. I seen the pictures right at the Vatican. They had another one, God, the Son, with a younger man and a little bird flying around like a dove, calling the Holy Ghost. Now, they lost sight there, of the true picture of the one true God. God is not three Gods. God is one God. God has three offices, the trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but it isn’t three different Gods. If it is, we’re pagan. But that never started in the early church; they knowed different from that. It started in the middle age, when the unity of brethren was broke up, and the love.
Now, of course, we people today, we believe that there’s three, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost is the three persons of the one true God. It’s three offices, not three Gods. But that same… Listen now, we think that was ridiculous in the Catholic church, but we brought it right down here at Pentecost and tore yourselves to pieces with it—set up another organization, started something else.
Now, at the Nicene Council, they come to two great decisions. On the… Oh, many of them in that day of the early church fathers, they had two extreme views. One of them was a triune God, a trinitarian. And the other one was a—a one God. And they both come into existence and went out on two straight limbs, out like that. The triunity became a place of a three-god person. The oneness became a unitarian, just as far wrong as the other one was. So they both went on limbs, but right in Here reveals the Truth.
And in the Nicene Council, to do this, in order to do this, they had to take a trinity, because in the Roman world they had many gods. They prayed to their dead ancestors.
And no one, no Protestant, no early church was ever believed in three gods. It was a great issue at the Nicene Council, and both of them went on limbs; out this way, as to say. The trinitarian, the triune people that believed in the trinity, which finally formed in the Catholic church, they went to complete trinity, making God “three” people. And there was one that believed that God was “one,” and they went on the other side to be a unitarian. Both of them are wrong.
If it would’ve been wrong, why did God recognize it then, and command all the rest of them, down through the Bible, to be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ? And every person in the Bible was baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ. And every person up to the organization of Catholic church, was baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ. At the Nicene Council, they formed this baptism of Father, Son, Holy Ghost, making a triune God out of one true God, to bring in their—their trinity.
A trinity of frogs! A frog is an animal that always looks backward. He never looks where he’s going; he looks where he’s come from. See? Don’t you see? Where was trinitarianism born at? Remember, “three unclean spirits,” individual spirits. Are you getting it? [Congregation says, “Amen.”—Ed.]
Notice, they look back to the Nicaea Council where the trinity doctrine was born at, not in the Bible. There’s no such a thing. They look back to the Nicaea Council at Nicaea, Rome, where the trinity was born at. Notice where they come from. Notice. And the trinity of frogs came out of an old trinity, give birth to a new trinity, their mother. What’d it come out of? A trinity, “the dragon,” see, “the beast,” and “the false prophet.” A trinity, new. For when were these frogs come out? When did it? Notice, they was there all the time, but it wasn’t manifested until between the Sixth and Seventh Vial, just before the Seals opened (Hmm?) to reveal it. “For in the Message of the seventh angel, the mysteries of God would be known,” all these trinitarian things, and false baptisms, and everything was to be made manifest. God help us to see what’s Truth! And not think it’s somebody trying to say something to…
I feel that spirit resenting That, you see. I’m not speaking of myself, brother. I’m speaking of the Angel of the Lord that’s in the camp. That’s exactly right.
- The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Jn 13:34–35.
- The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Lk 6:32–35.
- Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), 1 Co 13:1–3.
- The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ga 5:6.
- Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2015), Heb 8:13.
- William Branham, 57-0309B - I Will Restore, para. 31-32
- William Branham, 60-1204M - The Revelation Of Jesus Christ, para. 171, 175
- William Branham, 60-1205 - The Ephesian Church Age, para. 32
- William Branham, 61-0120 - The Water Baptism, para. 97
- William Branham, 65-0725M - The Anointed Ones At The End Time, para. 240-242