Site Search:

 

You're Reading 20Th Century Charlatan



Read our other books in our Bookshelf!
To read in your language, press the "Language" button in the top menu

 

The Church Ages

 

William Branham taught that the Seven Churches of Asia Minor found in the book of Revelation were symbolic of seven church "ages," starting with the time of the Apostle Paul, and ending with himself as the "messenger" for the final age. According to Branham, he was given divine revelation as to these ages, dates, and messengers, and followers of Branham's ministry believe this doctrine to be scriptural truth.

 

This teaching is loosely based upon the doctrines of John Darby, well known to be the "father of dispensationalism." The teaching seems to have originated with a mystic named Jane Leade, who established a religious group that called themselves "The Philadelphia Society." Leade's teachings on the "dispensations of the ages" became more widely known through members of her following, and was ultimately spread by Cyrus Scofield and his Scofield study bible. Interestingly, Leade's prophesies were found among the possessions of Charles Price, a Los Angeles pastor whose church Branham frequented.

 

Branham's timeline for the "church ages" seems to be identical to the drawings of Clarence Larkin in his work entitled Dispensational Truth. The same dates that Larkin used for his drawings are used in Branham's teaching, with the exception of the last age, which Branham pointed to himself. And while Larkin did not list messengers for each age, Branham chose messengers to align with these ages, picking one messenger that was not alive during his church age.

 

Columba

 

The most obvious error in this "revelation" is the examination of the supposed fourth age messenger . William Branham claimed that the Thyatirean Church Age lasted from A.D 606 to A.D. 1520, and that the messenger for the age was St. Columba. These dates align with those in Larkin's Dispensational Truth but with the addition of messengers to each age, Branham failed to examine the lifespans of the men he claimed to be the messengers.

 

St. Columba (521-597) was not alive during any portion of his "Church Age". He was one of the so-called "Twelve Apostles of Ireland", taught under Finnian of Clonard, who is said to be one of the fathers of Irish monasticism.

 

Columba became a monk, and was later ordained a priest. Tradition has it that around 560, Columba got in a harsh quarrel over a psalter (scroll of Psalms). Columba copied the psaltery, intending to keep the copy, and St. Finnian disputed his right to keep it. This eventually led to the Battle of Cul Dreimhne (561) during which many men lost their lives.

 

Afterward Columba devoted his life to saving as many men as had lost their lives in that battle, and exiled himself from Ireland.

 

The main source of information about Columba's life comes from his writings of the Vita Columbae, which are essentially three books: One of prophecies, one of miracles, and one of apparitions. Interestingly, these books are the first mention of the Loch Ness Monster.

 

Some followers of Branham claim that messengers can live "outside" of Branham's (Larkin's) "ages," however this is in direct disagreement with William Branham:

 

"Each age has had its message and messenger. God has seen to that. Every... Even in the church ages, we find out that each one had a messenger, and each one lived their age"

63-0116 - The Evening Messenger

 

The Man From Windsor

 

William Branham told many stories of the awesome power of God that offered him protection, and on the surface, it seems to be just that. God loves and cares for His own.

 

But when you examine these tales in chronological order, details were added that seem to give the story a slight adjustment in purpose. Over time the stories changed from amazement in God's mighty power to amazement that any would question Branham's authority. The best example of this is the tale of the "Man from Windsor," who suffered several different tragedies for pretending to enter Branham's prayer line without actually having the diseases written on the back of his "prayer card."

 

During the early stages of Branham's ministry, the Branham campaign would require patients to fill in "prayer cards," a small piece of paper that contained the person's name, address, affliction, and other information. These cards were handed in to the ushers, and given to Branham for "prayer." Then, during the course of the lengthy prayer lines, Branham would guess what each person wrote on the backs of the cards — claiming that God had given him this revelation in a vision he called "discernment."

 

To question this awesome power was forbidden. Followers of William Branham are trained to believe that questioning the "prophet" is to question the Holy Spirit, and by doing so they can mistakenly drive the Holy Spirit from their presence.

 

But according to Branham, this man questioned. By heeding the instructions in the Bible to test the prophets, Branham claimed that God smote this man to the ground, paralyzed.

 

But this was just one version of the story. In other telling the man suffered different consequences, fates that included death, running from the platform, a bedridden condition, pain, and suffering at the hand of Almighty God.

 

Here is the list of fates that Branham claimed this man to have had:

 

1. He fell to the floor and began screaming (1950)

50-0110 MOSES_ HOUSTON.TX TUESDAY_ E-41

 

2. He received the diseases that were written on his prayer card and was still afflicted (1953).

53-0508 GOD.COMMISSIONING.MOSES_ JONESBORO.AR FRIDAY_ E-67 through E-69

 

3. He died from the diseases written on the card (1954).

54-0902 SOUTH.AFRICA.TESTIMONY_ NEW.YORK.NY THURSDAY_ E-12 through E-15

 

4. He was still bedfast "to this day" (1956).

56-0407 BLIND.BARTIMAEUS_ CHICAGO.IL SATURDAY_ E-66

 

5. He ran screaming from the platform (1956).

56-1209E JEHOVAH.JIREH_ BROOKLYN.NY SUNDAY_ E-88 through E-90

 

6. He died a year later (January 1957).

57-0127E BLIND.BARTIMAEUS_ LIMA.OH SUNDAY_ E-66 through E-67

 

7. He was still in "serious condition" (June 1957).

57-0630 THIRSTING.FOR.LIFE_ CHICAGO.IL SUNDAY_ E-4 through E-5

 

8. He died 6 months later from cancer (1958).

58-0208 THE.QUEEN.OF.THE.SOUTH_ SOUTH.BEND.IN SATURDAY_ E-85 through E-86

 

9. He was carried from the platform paralyzed and was still paralyzed (1958).

58-0330E CHRIST.KNOCKING.AT.THE.DOOR_ MIDDLETOWN.OH SUNDAY_ E-61

 

10. He died six weeks later (1961).

61-0212M JEHOVAH.JIREH_ LONG.BEACH.CA SUNDAY_ E-24 through E-26

 

11. He died six weeks later (1962)

62-0124 HAVE.NOT.I.SENT.THEE_ PHOENIX.AZ WEDNESDAY_ E-142-143

 

12. He received the diseases that were written on his prayer card (1963).

63-1124E THREE.KINDS.OF.BELIEVERS_ JEFFERSONVILLE.IN V-3 N-6 SUNDAY_ 203-218

 

The Tragedy of Donnie Morton

 

Reader's Digest printed the tragic story of a father's love for his child as he travelled to one of the Branham healing campaigns. In 1952, an article entitled "The Miracle of Donnie Morton" was published, detailing the account of Arthur Morton and his four-year-old son Donnie. Donnie Morton was dying of meningitis when he entered the prayer lines of the Branham camp. "Your son is suffering from a serious brain malady... But do not give up hope. With faith in God's power, and help from the medical world, your little son will live," Branham said. In a 1953 sermon, Branham claimed that he saw a vision of the child living through the disease. Though father was told that the boy would be healed, Reader's Digest describes how the boy breathed his last breath during complications from meningitis and pneumonia. He died of Meningitis Serosa Traumatica, the same disease that caused his father to seek out the faith healer. Though Branham announced the child would live, sadly, he never recovered. The publicity of Reader's Digest was more powerful than William Branham could overlook. The story of Donnie Morton would be retold over and over in Branham's ministry; however, the end result was often left out of the story.

 

Driverless Eggcar

 

In 1933, William Branham toured the World's Fair Century of Progress International Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. This fair provided visitors with a glimpse into the future, walking patrons through the latest technologies, prototypes, and future direction.

 

One of the exhibits in this fair was the Lincoln Zephyr, which seems to be the foundation for a prophecy that Branham would claim years later. The Lincoln Zephyr, originally named "Briggs Dream Car," was a prototype that was made in honor of the biggest attraction in the 1933 World's Fair: The Pioneer Zephyr. This train was the early model of what would become the California Zephyr, a train that would quickly transport passengers from Chicago to San Francisco.

 

The aerodynamics of this train was state-of-the-art, its front end rounded and angled forward to allow airflow freely over or to the side of the engine. Lincoln took the same design with the car’s front-end grille, but took aerodynamics to the next level with the rounded fenders, rounded top, and overall shape of an egg. For its time, this car was sci-fi fantasy, but not long after, it became reality.

 

This aerodynamic strategy was employed in several prototypes by other manufacturers, including another egg-shaped vehicle on display in the 1933 World's Fair. The first prototype of the Dymaxion made test runs at the Fair, and was involved in an accident that killed the driver and seriously injured two passengers. The canvas top of the vehicle did not offer sufficient protection against impact, and the single rear wheel did not offer enough stability. After its accident, the investors abandoned the project.

 

All manufacturers seemed to be competing to produce their idea of the future as described by Norman Bel Geddes, who was quickly becoming a recognized name in the automotive industry, as well as many other industries.  These "egg car" schematics were already public knowledge prior to the World's Fair. In 1932, Norman Bel Geddes published a prophetic book of the advancements in science that were soon to become reality. In "Horizons," Bel Geddes describes the car of the future:

 

"This form is approximately that of an egg, though the small end of the drop tapers more sharply to a conical point. In falling, the larger and blunt end of the drop is foremost. This is the shape that creates the least turbulence"

Page 45, "Motor Cars and Buses"

 

"It is my prediction that within the next two or three years some farseeing manufacturer will again turn his attention to making his machine go, that this time his design will be the result of what has been learned in this motorized-buggy era. This means that he will start afresh and that his objective will be the ultimate form of the future motorcar. This car will look very different from those you seen on the road to-day but not very different from Car Number 8 as illustrated here."

Page 63, "Motor Cars and Buses"

 

"Bel Geddes had glimpsed himself as a designer and planner on a grand scale. He adopted the stance of an adversary to the irrationalities and resulting inefficiencies and dangers of present conventions in highway building and as the champion of rational engineering and mistake-proof technologies. A system of 14-lane highways, on which drivers would respond to messages from radio control towers and find their way illuminated at night by an electric-eye controlled system of indirect lighting, would eliminate most of the accidents resulting from "human failure."

The Designers go to the Fair, II: Norman Bel Geddes, The General Motors "Futurama" and the Visit to the Factory Transformed

 

In 1956, Branham started claiming to have had a vision describing this shape of a car. Also, during sermons, Branham claimed that the shape had become common — reminding listeners of how the early automobiles were designed. His original intent was to describe a prophecy that listeners would see as already fulfilled.

 

Over time, this motive changed. As technology increased, and automobiles were no longer styled like the Zephyr, Branham added additional details to this prophecy. From rounded glass tops to self-guidance systems, this prophecy of a car shaped like an egg began to take other forms pointing to future innovation.

 

When the Central Power and Light Company ran an article entitled "Power Companies Build For Your New Electric Living,” Branham's telling of this vision now included details of the people sitting inside of the car. His description closely matched the scene from the article, from the rounded glass dome of the vehicle to the family playing a board game in the cab while leaving the steering wheel unattended.

 

Again, Branham claimed that his vision had been fulfilled. This time, however, it was fulfilled by the driverless car. That same car was on exhibit in the 1962 World's Fair Century 21 Exposition, in Seattle, Washington. Branham toured the exhibits, and described the car as fulfillment of prophecy.

 

But like the egg-shaped Zephyr, this technology has not become mainstream. Followers of William Branham gather great excitement when they read of any advancement in the automotive industry, hoping that these vehicles will someday become common. Printed in newspapers, it was already common discussion by an excited nation.

 

"Republished in magazines and newspapers, these designs of Bel Geddes's "prophetic imagination," one historian noted, "struck a responsive chord in a public anxiously looking toward the better environment that was promised by an enlightened technology"

Page 158, Stage Designers in Early Twentieth-Century America

 

 

With the progression of science, one can raise many questions surrounding this prophecy describing an egg-shaped car. Why are cars no longer in the shape of the Lincoln Zephyr? Why would God show a vision of a family playing a board game, when modern families are more likely to be entertained by a DVD, Blu-Ray, Xbox 360 or PlayStation? Why did Branham claim prophetic insight regarding something that he saw at a World's Fair and in a magazine, as well as newspaper ads? 

 

California: Still Standing

 

The last year of his ministry, William Branham condemned Los Angeles for rejecting his ministry, and pronounced judgment against the city with a punishment of destruction. Branham claimed to have been given a vision by God in which the God compared Los Angeles to Capernaum. In this vision, Branham claimed that God destroyed Capernaum by pushing it beneath the sea for rejecting Christianity.

 

Capernaum

 

Capernaum was a fishing village at the time of the Hasmoneans (140-116 BC). It is still located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee to this day. Archaeological excavations have revealed two ancient synagogues built one on top of the other. Capernaum was spared by the Romans during the Jewish Revolt (AD 66-70), and was referred to as a fertile spring in the writings of Josephus. Many homes were built in the 4th century, and one of the homes was greatly transformed in the 5th century. Evidence shows a constant transforming city since before the days of Christ until about the 5th Century. It has never been under the sea.

 

It is common knowledge that California sits on a fault line that produces major earthquakes, and it was common knowledge long before Branham made the prediction. Los Angeles is particularly brittle under its foundation, which is a science William Branham discussed in his sermons—also before the prophecy was given.

 

Others have recorded predictions that an earthquake would sink Los Angeles, dating back to at least 1937. While in a hospital, a 17-year-old Joe Brandt had an out-of-body experience that was so clear to him that it was written down and formed into a book in 1965.

 

I've been thinking about it all morning. I'm going home tomorrow. It was just a dream. It was nothing more. Nobody in the future on Hollywood Boulevard is going to be wearing earrings — and those beards. Nothing like that is ever going to happen. That girl was so real to me — that girl with those kids. It won't ever happen — but if it did, how could I tell her (maybe she isn't even born yet) to move away from California when she has her twins — and she can't be on the Boulevard that day. She was so gosh-darned real. The other thing — those ham operators — hanging on like that — over and over — saying the same thing:

 

"This is California. We are going into the sea. This is California. We are going into the sea. Get to the mountains. Get to the hilltops. California, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, Utah. This is California. We are going into the sea." — The Coming Earthquake - Joe Brandt

 

May's Department Store

 

Branham claimed that he could see nothing past 1977 except devastation, and made that very clear throughout his ministry. According to a book by Pearry Green, Branham said he saw that Los Angeles would be under the ocean before his son Billy Paul grew to be an old man. He claimed that he saw sharks swimming in the streets where they were standing, in front of May's Department Store. One would conclude by combination of multiple prophecies that Branham believed this event would happen before 1977.

 

"Billy, I may not be here but you won't be an old man until sharks will swim right where we are standing"

—The Acts of the Prophet, Pearry Green, page 119

 

Billy Paul Branham was born on September 13, 1935, meaning he is at a ripe old age of 78 in 2013. Yet William Branham himself claimed to be an "old man" at age 56. One would also conclude that Branham's description of the vision would picture a man much younger than his own age. Regardless, Billy Paul Branham outlived the life expectancy for men at the time William Branham made the claim to this prophecy.