Saturday, April 09, 2011

William Branham’s followers made him fall into heresy?!?

[Posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, August 21, 2010]

Did you know that infamous post-war faith healer William Branham only became a heretic because his friends gave him delusions of grandeur?

At least that’s what Stacey Campbell, noted Canadian charismatic prophet and teacher said a few weeks ago at the Canada Awake gathering in Toronto July 22-24. And now that a video of her remarks is on the Internet, you can see it for yourself.

It’s the sort of remark that may lead you to consider how well Campbell uses her discernment and wisdom.

Americans probably know Campbell for her book Ecstatic Prophecy, which attempts to argue that wild physical movements and strained styles of speech are appropriate when offering prophecies today.

Don’t know what I mean? Well, when Todd Bentley had a special ordination meeting at the Lakeland revival, Campbell came to pray for her fellow Canadian and, on stage, gave a demonstration of how she likes to prophesy. She’s up first to pray.

With the collapse of Lakeland, Campbell’s prophecy apparently went pear-shaped too. She had to issue a statement trying to answer for it. The statement is also quoted here.

So how is she doing now with her words? I fear not much better.

This is what Stacey Campbell said in her introductory remarks before the Canadian Prophetic Council shared in Toronto.
Starting at 1:47 of the video, Campbell says:

"You know, leaders sometimes fall in our nation. It’s because they are raised up. There’s so few that kinda break through that the rest of the people, kind of, you know put them on a, almost set them up for a failure. That’s what happened with a person like a William Branham. You know, he was so humble. All of his associates say he was one of the most humble people on the face of the earth. But he had such extraordinary revelations, so much more than anybody else that all of the people around him began to say ‘Hey, he is Elijah who is to come’ and it wasn’t him, it was the people around him that began to exalt him to a place that God hadn’t given him. Why? Because the word of the Lord that came through him was so rare. Now the way I think is ‘Well, if everybody was doing that, you know, ‘these signs were following those who believed’, then there would be so many doing just normal Christianity…’”

If you don’t know about Branham, this would just fly right past you.

I’m in debt to David Edwin Harrell Jr., whose book All Things Are Possible is a comprehensive and definitive history of the “healing revivals” and charismatic movement up to the mid-70s. From pages 160 to 164, he begins to discuss how Branham’s ministry, which filled halls and stadiums in the 1940s and early 1950s had gone into decline. Letters dwindled along with bookings. “…by the early 60s”, he writes, “Branham had become had become an extremely controversial teacher. [Gordon] Lindsay and other ecumenical-minded men defended him, but many of those who remained loyal did so in spite of his teachings.”

To be fair, Harrell does go on to write that some feel that Branham was used by followers who believed strange things that they propagated in Branham’s name.

“…Branham increasingly lent his influence to a small group of followers who compiled and canonized his teaching before and after his death. He may have been used, but his recorded sermons demonstrate that his followers did not pervert his later teaching. Branham reached at last that status of unique prophet which he believed was his destiny,” Harrell writes.

Harrell dates the crucial turn in the Branham as Eiljah affair to 1963, when Branham preached that the “End Time Messenger” in the “spirit of Elijah” was on Earth. This special messenger, he quotes Branham as saying, would have a name like “Abraham” and have seven letters in his name. [He must have been talking about Joseph Smith, I’m sure of it. :) ]

Branham ‘s identity as this special prophet is debunked by the fact that he predicted that California would slide into the ocean and that Jesus would return in 1977. Let alone his various heretical beliefs.

I am not a theological historian, as Harrell is (or was), but this is what comes to my mind. Branham was losing money and followers. Therefore, the old dog and pony show had to be updated, perhaps with a spectacular claim that he had “the spirit of Elijah.” This would also serve to retain a hold on what followers he had left.

Why would I be so skeptical? Well, because of a Canadian’s account of how Branham played havoc in the Canadian churchy before the question of “was he Elijah came up.

I remember reading this on the original website, but it is now gone. Fortunately, another site, which I also am great indebted to managed to save it. Scroll down to Examination. (And do also read the other background in their section on Branham, which is excellent.)

It quotes a man named Alfred Pohl, who worked as a helper with Branham crusades in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. He was often “right by Branham’s side”.

Pohl is being quoted from a Q and A interview that he did with a magazine called O Timothy in 1990.
It’s a stunner.

Branham, Pohl says, would tell people who came up on stage that they would healed, but then would add the following:

"But then he had a little added statement there, and that was something like this, "Now, just keep on trusting the Lord. You're healed. Don't loose your faith in the Lord. Just keep your faith and trust the Lord, and you're healed." He said, "You're going to be sick for a while. You're going to be quite sick for a few days." Quite often he referred to three days. "You're going to be very sick for three days."

The people often asked, "Well, what do you mean, Brother Branham? If I'm healed, why should I be sick?"

He said, "The cancer, the cancerous growth which is now dead inside your body has to be carried out by the blood stream. And it's waste material; it has to be carried out; it's poison material, and so you'll be sick for quite awhile until that is carried away."

But what happened then was this: that in the meantime the people wouldn't worry about it.

They'd say, "Well, that's what Branham said would happen. I'm healed."

\But this went on, till some of these people got sicker and sicker and died.

So he had an out. By this time he was gone [from that place]."

Pohl then recounts what happened when, and after, a Branham crusade in Winnipeg. The newspaper he cites would probably be either the Winnipeg Tribune, or the Winnipeg Free Press.

"When the campaign was in progress in Winnipeg, the newspaper (one of the large city newspapers) was giving considerable coverage to the meetings, and they indicated that there were a lot of people healed. They were favorable to this church, and advertised it and gave news reports that quite a few people were healed. But later on that same editor sent out some reporters to check on some of these people that they had written up in the paper weeks before. [The reporters were] to check up and see whether these people who were supposedly healed at that time, were still healed, were still alive, or whatever.

And when these reporters went back, they discovered that these people had died, or were in the same state or in a worse state than they were before. So, the editor then put it in the paper that these cases had turned out to be phonies, and that these people weren't healed after all. And there was something wrong with these so-called miracles and healings."

Pohl shares a sad story about a Port Arthur, Ont. minister, with a radio ministry, whose wife was gravely ill. The pair came to meet Branham in Saskatoon, Sask., hoping for a miracle.

Upon arrival, Pohl relates, the pastor and his wife waited for Branham:

"And when the meeting was over, and the prayer line was over in the church, I brought Branham into the dorm and he prayed for this lady as well. He prayed also for the nurse. The nurse was deaf. He prayed for her healing, and claimed that she was healed. He also claimed that the pastor's wife was healed of cancer.

Well, there was great rejoicing. Let me tell you, we rejoiced together, because I thoroughly believed in Branham all this time, I thought he was just ... just it. He was God's man. We rejoiced together, and then Branham left. And the husband (the pastor) said to me, "Now, Brother Pohl," he said, "I've spent thousands of dollars to try to get help for my wife, on doctors, and this and that and the other, medicines." He said, "I really can't afford it, but here"-- and he wrote out a sizable check. He said, "I can't afford it, but Branham is worth it." He said, "My wife is healed."

He took Branham at his word. See, it wasn't anything else; he just believed Branham. And here was this sizable check. He said, "Give it to Branham." Which I did, the next day."

You can guess what happened. Sadly, she died.

Pohl adds:

"I was told that the worst thing was that this man (the pastor) had a very good radio broadcast in the area. He went on the air as soon as he got home, and he announced that they had been to Saskatoon to the Branham meetings and had wonderful meetings there, and there were many healings, and amongst them his wife was gloriously healed in those meetings.

I'm sure that many people rejoiced, were happy to hear that. But, it wasn't very long after that, a few days later, he had to get on the same radio station and mention the fact that his wife had passed away. And I was told this gave his radio program a severe blow and setback, because the world at large--I mean they think too, they're not stupid--here one day she was gloriously healed, and a few days later she's dead. You know, this doesn't add up."

My point is this. Branham took money from desperate people, and gave himself an out to blame the sick for dying. It’s beneath contempt. Although a healing ministry can be a noble thing, I think Branham certainly was the type to say or do anything—well before he thought he was Elijah 2.0.

I suspect a lack of character on his part. Which would proceed from within, and not be imposed on him by his friends and followers.

If Campbell is unable to account for this, while protecting Branham’s reputation in an offhand manner, I have to wonder what else she may not know, or get incorrect. Which is a bad thing for someone making a living as a “prophet”, I am led to understand.