Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
April 4, 1998
Last Updated :
May 10, 2013
Branham False Doctrines: Didn't Acknowledge Jesus As The Rock, Branham Promoted False Doctrine Regarding Seven Church Ages, Branham Falsely Predicted 1977 To Be Year Of Christ's Return, Scriptures Regarding False Prophets, Evidence Points To Mr. Branham Believing Himself To Be The Endtime Prophet Elijah, Head-On Collision In 1965 Results In William Branham's Death, Senseless Meaningless Death, Tales Regarding Realigned Bones, Multiple Men Claim To FulFill Malachi's Prophecy Regarding The Prophet Elijah, False Prophets And Deceivers Are On The Rise, David Brandt Berg And Children Of God Cult, Alleged Healing Of Virginia Brandt Berg, Deborah Davis And "The Children Of God: The Inside Story", Reaching Hippies Of Southern Calif., David Berg Changes Name To Moses David And Initiates Bible Names For His Group Members, New Creatures In Jesus Christ, California Youth Respond To Berg's Message, Controversial Witnessing Techniques, Prophets Of Doom And Prophet Buses, Children Of God Go Global, Berg And Zerby Commit Adultery
While I am not very familiar with Branham's teachings, I have read enough to realize that he embraced a number of doctrines and beliefs which contradict the Scriptures. For example, Mr. Branham claimed that in the following verse that is found in the Gospel of Matthew, not only was the Lord not referring to Peter as the Rock, but He was not referring to Himself as the Rock either:
"And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
Matthew 16:18, KJV
As I point out in a number of articles, Jesus most certainly was the Rock who had been prophesied since the times of the Old Testament era. Consider the following Scriptures which clearly verify this point:
"The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes."
Psalms 118:22-23, KJV
"Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? . . . And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them."
Matthew 21:42, 44-45, KJV
"And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?"
Mark 12:10-11, KJV
"This [meaning Jesus] is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner."
Acts 4:11, KJV
"And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ."
1 Corinthians 10:4, KJV
"Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,"
1 Peter 2:6-7, KJV
"Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces . . . And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure"
Daniel 2:34, 44-45, KJV
While conducting my research regarding William M. Branham, I also discovered that he was an early -- and in fact, primary -- supporter of the Seven Church Ages doctrine. This doctrine -- which Branham heavily promoted in his 1965 book called "An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages" -- is supposedly based on the following verses which we find in the Apocalypse; that is, in the Book of Revelation:
"Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches."
Revelation 1:19-20, KJV
According to Branham, each of these seven churches represents a church age which has existed from the time of the original First Century Church, up to our present time, with the final church age being the age of the Laodicean Church. Mr. Branham also claimed that the seven Angels which are mentioned in the previous verses aren't actually spiritual entities, but rather seven human messengers -- or Prophets -- one of each of whom has existed during each of these seven church ages. As far as I am concerned, this is a man-made false doctrine which is not supported by the Scriptures. In fact, only ten verses earlier, we are clearly told exactly who these Seven Churches are, as well as where they were located, and when they existed, as we see by the following verses:
"I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea."
Revelation 1:10-11, KJV
Clearly then, these were seven Christian congregations which existed at that time in Asia Minor, which we know today as the country of Turkey. There is really no mystery there, or a need to try to interpret what those two verses are saying. To do so is to twist and pervert the meaning of God's Word; and that is exactly what William Branham did, in my opinion. These are just two examples which cause me personally to have serious reservations regarding everything which has been said regarding Mr. Branham. However, that is not all, as I will now explain.
In addition to what I personally view as highly exaggerated stories regarding Mr. Branham's life -- some of which were promoted by Branham himself -- and the false doctrines which he both embraced and promoted, I also discovered that similar to a number of other Christian denominations, organizations and preachers, William Branham falsely predicted the year of Christ's Return. Based on seven prophecies or visions which he claimed to have received in 1933 which pertained to events which were unfolding in the world, Branham predicted that we would witness the Return of Christ and the beginning of His Millennial Reign in the year 1977. This year would likewise mark the conclusion of the governments of man upon the Earth. Branham's prediction is clearly stated in chapter nine -- The Laodicean Church Age -- of his aforementioned book entitled "An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages". Consider this:
----- Begin Quote -----
"Based on these seven visions, along with the rapid changes which have swept the world in the last fifty years, I PREDICT (I do not prophesy) that these visions will have all come to pass by 1977. And though many may feel that this is an irresponsible statement in view of the fact that Jesus said that 'no man knoweth the day nor the hour.' I still maintain this prediction after thirty years because, Jesus did NOT say no man could know the year, month or week in which His coming was to be completed. So I repeat, I sincerely believe and maintain as a private student of the Word, along with Divine inspiration that 1977 ought to terminate the world systems and usher in the millennium."
----- End Quote -----
Well, obviously, as has occurred with every other preacher who has foolishly predicted the year of the Return of Jesus Christ -- Harold Camping being the latest sad example -- Mr. Branham was dead wrong. While he tried to protect himself by referring to his belief as a prediction, and not as an actual prophecy, nevertheless, I think we should consider what God's Word tells us in the Book of Deuteronomy:
"But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."
Deuteronomy 18:20-22, KJV
Imagine that. Claiming to speak in the name of the Lord when the Lord had not spoken at all, was considered to be such a serious offense, that the false prophet was sentenced to die. I discuss the issue of Prophets of God more at length in such articles as "The Office of a Prophet".
At any rate, regardless of whether he referred to it as a prediction or a prophecy, William Branham's glaring failure here is made all the more apparent, not only by the claims which he made concerning himself, but also by the claims which have been made by his devoted followers. Let us not forget that this man claimed to receive visions, dreams and prophecies from God. Mr. Branham claimed to hear voices from Heaven. He also claimed to speak directly to Angels. He was likewise convinced that a spiritual presence -- the Pillar of Fire -- accompanied him at his meetings, and that this presence enabled him to peer into the future, thus allowing him to see whether or not a person was going to be healed.
In short, this man claimed to be seriously in tune to God's Spirit. That being the case, and if all of Branham's claims were true, how is it that he was so misguided when it came to his 1977 prediction? Wouldn't God's voice have told him "Hey William! You've got it wrong!"? Quite frankly, I just don't believe that real Prophets of God -- such as the ones that we read about in the Bible -- ever get it wrong. They are always on the mark regarding their prophecies, because they are truly in tune with God's Spirit, and hearing from the same. As far as all of these others are concerned, I am reminded of verses such as the following:
"For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD."
Jeremiah 29:9, KJV
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
Matthew 7:15-20, KJV
"And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many . . . For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."
Matthew 24:11, 24, KJV
"For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect."
Mark 13:22, KJV
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
2 Corinthians 11:13-15, KJV
"But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived."
2 Timothy 3:13, KJV
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;"
2 Timothy 4:3, KJV
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction."
2 Peter 2:1, KJV
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
1 John 4:1, KJV
As I mentioned earlier, as far as I know, William Branham never outright claimed to be the so-called Endtime Prophet Elijah. However, if we consider all of the evidence which I have now shared with you, it seems rather apparent that he did believe this in his heart, and that he also implied it in some of his comments. Let's review some of the facts.
• During the Ohio River baptism, Branham said that a bright light shone on him, and that a voice from Heaven stated that his message "will bring forth the forerunning of the Second Coming of Christ". Clearly, Branham was comparing himself to John the Baptist, who carried the same Spiritual Anointing as the Prophet Elijah.
• Branham said that during a San Antonio, Texas meeting, a man stood up and prophesied that Branham's message "will cause the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ". It is obvious that this is another comparison to the ministry of John the Baptist and the anointing which was upon Elijah.
• Branham believed that we are in the last of seven church ages.
• Branham believed that there is only one Prophet -- or angel according to his belief -- per church age.
• Branham was convinced that Christ would begin His reign on the Earth by 1977.
Putting all of these points together, it isn't difficult to see what Branham was really saying. Even if you cannot see it personally, his most ardent followers certainly do; and that is why so many of them continue to believe that he was the so-called Endtime Elijah. In a word, those poor folks are just as deceived as Branham was himself. For those of my readers who may be Branham followers, I ask you to consider the following interesting point. As the forerunner to Jesus Christ, John the Baptist lived right up to the time of the revelation of Christ to the nation of Israel. That being the case, if William Branham was following the same pattern as John the Baptist, and was the Endtime Prophet Elijah, should he not have likewise lived up to the Return of Jesus Christ as well?
As some of you may know, William M. Branham died at the age of fifty-six on December 18, 1965 in a hospital in Amarillo, Texas, U.S.A. His tragic death was brought about by certain teenage drunken drivers which resulted in a two-car head-on collision a few miles outside of Friona, Texas. I read a few different testimonies regarding the accident, as well as the aftermath; and I must tell you that it was very graphic and very heart-wrenching. Branham suffered a slow, awful death over a period of six days. To be honest, I must admit that it is difficult for me to understand why the Lord would allow one of His servants to die so horribly in such a senseless manner.
While John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul, Stephen, James and many other of the Lord's servants also died by horrible means, it should be noted that it was at the hands of their enemies who were trying to stop their mouths, and obviously prevent them from preaching the Gospel. Furthermore, their deaths served as a witness and a testimony to many others. Quite frankly, I don't see how being horribly mangled in a car wreck served to glorify the Lord by any means. It was a senseless, meaningless death.
As I stated earlier, my personal impression is that some of the stories regarding Branham's life and ministry have been highly exaggerated and embellished by his devoted followers. For example, there are stories which claim that prior to Mr. Branham's death six days after the horrible accident, many of his broken bones were miraculously realigned. I really don't wish to come across as seeming to be insensitive. However, I have serious doubts regarding this claim. The question which arises in my mind is this: If the Lord did heal Mr. Branham's bones, what purpose could this have possibly served? Equally importantly, if Branham was truly the Endtime Prophet Elijah who was supposedly going to herald the Return of the Lord in 1977, then why not heal his entire body and raise him back to life? Sadly, this question has an obvious answer which should be apparent to all.
With the information I have now shared with you, I hope that you can see the pattern and the common threads which exist between the stories of these three different men, all of whom claimed -- or claim -- to be the Endtime Prophet Elijah who will supposedly prepare the way for the Second Coming of the Lord. What you will also find interesting is the fact that at the different websites I visited which are dedicated to these men and their ministries, the very same verses from Malachi chapter four are used to support their claims. This one point alone clearly reveals the deception and the confusion which results from the claims which have been made by these men, or by their followers. Has God prepared three Endtime Prophets who carry the same Spirit as the Prophet Elijah of old? Or perhaps two? Or maybe one? What if there are none at all?
If you are feeling somewhat confused right now regarding this Endtime Prophet Elijah business, please don't worry. I assure you that later on in this series, I will be sharing with you what I believe to be the correct interpretation regarding the controversial verses concerning the coming of Elijah. As you will come to understand, there is no controversy at all, once one grasps what the Prophet Malachi was really writing about.
This belief in an Endtime Prophet of God is not just limited to the supposed arrival of a Prophet Elijah. During the past century -- particularly during the past forty or fifty years -- both within and without Christianity, there have been many charismatic figures who have attracted followers to themselves and to their wayward doctrines. Sadly, their numbers appear to be growing. These deceivers and false prophets range from men who claim to be reincarnations of some of the Prophets of old, to others who claim to be actual manifestations of Christ, to yet others who believe that the Lord has given them a special anointing to carry out a particular ministry at this time. Not all of them are men. There are likewise women. I discuss some of the more tragic examples in the series entitled "Heaven's Gate, Suicide And Other Death Cults". While many Christians anticipate the arrival of Jesus Christ, as I point out in the article entitled "To Tell the Truth: Moshiach, Mahdi or the Messiah?", the Jews likewise await their messiah -- Moshiach ben David -- while Muslims expect the appearance of the Mahdi.
In the late 1960's, one of the groups which rose to the fore of the "Jesus Revolution" of southern California, U.S.A. was the Children of God. This evangelical group was founded by David Brandt Berg, who was a former pastor and leader of the "Teens for Christ". Berg was born on February 18, 1919 to an evangelical couple. While the husband of this team was noted for his excellent singing voice, it was his wife -- Virginia Brandt Berg -- who became better known due to her evangelical work in Florida, and weekly radio broadcast which was known as "Meditation Moments". According to the account which has circulated within the group for the past forty-five years, as a young adult, Virginia Berg suffered an automobile accident which left her with serious back injuries and other medical complications. In her personal testimony -- which I read about forty years ago -- Mrs. Berg notes that at the time of her accident, she was a staunch atheist who was thoroughly enjoying the pleasures which this life has to offer. The Apostle John pinpoints exactly what that is in the second chapter of his first Epistle, as we read here:
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."
1 John 2:15-17, KJV
According to this same story, it was not until the Lord had literally brought her to the point of death as a result of her accident, that Berg finally surrendered her worldliness, her atheism and her pride, and cried out to God in complete desperation. Berg's personal testimony states that it was at that point that the Lord delivered her from her afflictions and blessed her with a miracle of complete healing. After this event had occurred, Mrs. Berg conceived and gave birth to her son, David Brandt Berg; which we are led to believe was a miracle in itself, because the doctors said that Berg could not conceive any more children.
If you notice a degree of caution in how I have related the previous account, it is because in a book which she authored after leaving the cult entitled "The Children of God: The Inside Story", Deborah Davis -- who is one of the daughters of David Brandt Berg, and one of the founding members of the Children of God -- states that the story of her grandmother's accident and so-called "miraculous healing", which has been believed without question for over four decades by members of the cult, is in fact an exaggeration and distortion of the truth. Please refer to Deborah Davis' book for more details, assuming that it is even still in publication.
According to his own personal testimony, for the most part, David Brandt Berg remained close to his mother's side until her death in California many years later. Berg says that it was actually his mother who first sparked an interest in the hippie counterculture of southern California during the late 1960's. Before long, together with his first wife and their four teenage children, Berg assumed the reins of the ministry to the teenagers of southern California which was first begun by his mother. In the formative years of his organization's development, Berg initiated the practice of adopting Biblical names by assuming the name of Moses David. This practice was viewed as a means of fulfilling such verses as the following:
"And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone."
John 1:42, KJV
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV
"That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."
Ephesians 4:22-24, KJV
"Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:"
Colossians 3:9-10, KJV
It was later revealed in Mr. Berg's weekly communications, which became known as the "Mo Letters" -- derived from the name Moses -- that the reason he had chosen this particular name was because, according to certain prophecies he had supposedly received, Mr. Berg believed that he possessed the spiritual anointing of both Moses and King David of the Old Testament. Similar to the Moses of old who freed the Hebrew slaves from Egyptian bondage, Moses David believed that his calling was to free the hippies from the corrupt American system by offering them a whole new way of life by way of faith in Jesus Christ. Perhaps if Mr. Berg had maintained the purity of that vision and goal, he wouldn't have gone so terribly astray in the years to come.
Given the attitudes which prevailed at that time, it is not surprising that many youth responded to Berg's invitation to become "fishers of men" and followed in step behind him. Some of Berg's early witnessing methods were quite revolutionary and controversial to say the least. One such method was the practice of leading his radical, youthful followers in church invasions dressed in long burlap robes as they carried wooden poles, wore large yokes and bore large posters that contained warnings of prophetic doom. Berg and his followers arrived at these eye-catching events in large red buses which they dubbed "prophet buses". Needless-to-say, such actions quickly aroused the ire of the conservative religious establishment.
By the mid-seventies, despite heavy persecution -- or perhaps as a result of it -- the Children of God, who now numbered in the thousands according to their own reports, had expanded to over eighty countries living in communities which they called "Colonies" or "Homes". Berg also moved abroad and spent a lot of time in Europe, particularly in Spain. At about that same time, they went through some major changes. One of these was that Berg changed his Bible name from Moses David to simply Father David. His second wife -- Maria, whose real name was Karen Zerby prior to a legal name change to Katherine Rianna Smith in 1997 -- came more to the fore of the group as well.
It should be noted here that while the cult refers to Zerby as Berg's second wife, the truth of the matter is that based on the Scriptures, Berg and Zerby were engaged in an outright and continuous act of adultery. This is because Berg took a sexual interest in Zerby during the group's early years while he was still married to his first wife, Jane Miller. In fact, in order to justify his wayward selfish actions and sin, Berg concocted a prophecy -- which was later released as "Prophecy of the Old Church and the New Church" -- in which he claimed that God said that Miller represented the spiritually dead church, while Zerby represented the new church and new bride to whom Berg was now to be married. While Berg continued to financially support Jane Miller, nevertheless, Jesus taught the following in the Gospels:
"It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery."
Matthew 5:31-32, KJV
"The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."
Matthew 19:3-9, KJV
"And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery."
Mark 10:2-12, KJV
"Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery."
Luke 16:18, KJV
Please go to part six for the continuation of this series.
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