Video available here: http://youtu.be/PwDfnH4yj74
Irenaeus writes of Marcus the Egpytian, whose teachings of
Egyptian mythology and system of worship infected the early church. Marcus brought the pagan teachings of the
Ogdoad, the eight deities in Egyptian worship, combined them with Christianity
through use of basic numbers claiming spiritual significance, and spread a
Gnostic form of faith known as Gnostic-Manichaean teaching. His doctrines, coming directly from Memphis,
were deemed as heresy and identified with the same evil that Simon the Magician
spread into the early church.
In the Roman-controlled Iberian Peninsula, known as Roman
Hispania, a Gnostic group known as the Priscillianists started to emerge. Like many cults of the past, present, and
future, their groups established took the name of their cult leader,
Priscillian. Like the groups we see
today severing themselves from other Christians, the Priscillianists devoted
themselves to ascetic lifestyles in order to produce a worship that was based
on denial of the flesh. They refused to
drink any form of alcoholic beverage, including wine, and ignoring Paul’s
statements with regards to meat became vegetarians. Priscillian devoted his teaching to the deuterocanonical
books that he associated with scripture, the books that we now refer to as the
Gnostic dead sea scrolls. Interestingly,
Priscillian also wrote a series of commentaries on the true books of the Bible,
and those commentaries were accepted into the orthodox church – overlooking the
error of his beliefs.
The early church fathers were far more violently opposed to
heresy and its impact on the Body of Christ than we find today, so aggressive
in weeding out evil that a penalty of death was imposed on all found to invade
the Christian church with pagan heresy.
The Priscillianists had severed themselves from the body of Christ and
wandered off into study of secret “mysteries,” bringing the teachings of Marcus
into a form of worship that was starting to coerce wayward followers into
serving other gods. In fact, they
attracted quite a large following that included several from the church
including two bishops. Because of this
heresy and its massive impact, it gained attention of several other bishops of
the church, and they held a summit to discuss the subtle injection of Egyptian
idolatry into the quickly diminishing church.
The Priscillianists were asked to attend this summit, but
refused to defend their faith. By nature
of their separation through hidden mysteries, to defend their faith was to
describe all things hidden in shadows.
And they knew that there was no defense, because the Apostle Paul
condemned this lifestyle in his letters to the church. Their failure to attend brought a sentence of
excommunication to the four leaders of this Gnostic movement, but that
excommunication was not enough.
To any rising cult, excommunication is more of a blessing
than a punishment. When the main body of
the church is viewed as “those who do not have our mystery,” that separation
becomes more defined through rigid definitions of “us” against “them.” This excommunication only added fuel to the
fire. The people rebelled, lifting
Priscillian into a person of greater importance, and almost immediately
Priscillian was ordained to the priesthood, appointed Bishop of Avila. With the Gnostic group having a bishop, they
could now appeal to the imperial authorities.
This battle and their many appeals made their way up the
entire hierarchy of the church – all the way to the Pope, who denied them an
audience. They had lost their place in
the church, been denied the assembly of their Gnostic members to meet in their
churches, and were facing exile. Refusal
to make their appeal to the governing leader was a failure to exist as a
But in the court system, the Priscillianists were able to
buy their freedom and restore their way of life through what many would call
bribery. Their transfer of funds to the
Court brought such great success that they were not only freed from the
sentence of exile, but were once more permitted to assemble in their churches throughout
Hispania, where they continued to practice their, Egyptian form of
Gnosticism. This breach of justice added
even more fuel to the fire that would soon bring penalty.
Just as Irenaeus describes in his book, “Against Heresies,”
Marcus brought magic into the cult by power of the Egyptian gods. This group was displaying great signs and
wonders that attracted itching ears and wandering souls, and while their
worship bore the name of “Christianity,” it was rooted in the very evil that
Ireneaus described. Were it not stopped,
Priscillian would achieve the same power as Simon the Magician who was
responsible for this rising threat to the Church. The bishops that tried to disperse the group
and bring them back into the faith now were crying out for capital punishment –
death to all who participated in Priscillian’s idolatry.
St. Martin of Tours intervened.
St. Martin is remembered for his mercy to those that were
misled into becoming enslaved by the bondage of this ascetic group of
people. He opposed the punishment of
death for their following, knowing that many were pure souls that had become
distracted by signs and wonders. His
appeal to the emperor placed a halt on the death sentence, but only temporary. Martin went down in history as the one who
tried to bring balance to a fight that had turned bitter, and as a voice of
reason to those who placed more value on their orthodoxy than they did human
life. While the early church was correct
in their assessment of this Gnostic cult, their anger had blinded their
But followers of the Message of William Branham take a much
different viewpoint. Because so many of
the teachings of William Branham are based on Gnostic influence, St. Martin is
seen as a hero for a much different reason. To Branham followers, this group practiced
everything that they stood for and more, “heroes of the faith.” The Gnostic Dead Sea Scrolls were the source
of many “divine revelations” that William Branham proclaimed, and a severed
body of believers that believed that God hid His “Gospel” in mystery would seem
less of a cult and more of a “David” against “Goliath” story. Little do they know that this group also
practiced celibacy as part of their ascetic lifestyle, and while it was
thriving temporarily, the group could not sustain without new life.
William Branham promoted this idea that the Gnostic
Priscillinists were the “little bride” for its “age”. When he copied the “church ages” and their
dates from Clarence Larkin’s works, Branham assigned “messengers” to Larkin’s
“ages,” and appointed St. Martin of Tours as the “Messenger” to the
Priscillianists – not knowing that as part of the Orthodox church, St. Martin
opposed their belief system.
Martin never did fear the enemy regardless of who it was.
Thus he went to personally face a wicked emperor who was responsible for the
death of many Spirit-filled saints.
- CHURCH.AGE.BOOK CPT.5
The teaching of the
Priscillinists matched several of Branham’s “divine revelations,” from altering
the Creation Story to match Jewish Mysticism (sex was the original sin), and
the idea that the signs in the Zodiac were a “bible” recorded in the
heavens. This astrology, based on the
Egyptian worship of the Ogdoad, was tied to Christianity, just as William
Branham did when he claimed that the “great pyramid was the first bible” and
the “Zodiac was the second bible.”
But predominately, the greatest similarity between the
Priscillianist cult and the cult that William Branham established was the idea
that it is beneficial to tell lies to the sake of a holy end. Because it was believed that men could not
understand the higher paths, the Priscillianists who claimed to be enlightened,
were permitted to tell lies for the sake of a holy end. It was for this very doctrine that Augustine
wrote a famous work, "Contra Mendacium" ("Against Lying"). Lies to bring “spiritual enlightenment” was
against the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is interesting that this group was able to rise from the
teachings of Marcus and sever themselves from the Body of Christ in such a
short time since the Apostle Paul spread the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus
Christ to the nations. Paul was very
clear that our doctrine be founded in truth, and that we do not mislead – lies
of any nature, even for a holy end, were breaking the ten commandments and
denying the words of Christ.
I think it is for that very reason that so many are fleeing
the cult of William Branham. Having
identified the many fictional stories in Branham’s conflicting life stories,
they realize that these lies had the sole purpose of elevating our emotional
state to prepare our minds to be captured by the magic of his teaching and his
repetitive use of numbers in his sermons.
When they realize that the story of his conversion to Christ was
fictional, and that Hope was actively participating in the youth ministry of
the Pentecostal Tabernacle, it turns their stomachs. When they hear how the Egyptian “god of
wrath” smote his wife instead of looking back to the cross, they realize that
they were coerced into serving a pagan god, just like the Priscilianists. To them, Branham is nothing more than another
Marcus, who rose to sever the body of Christ – but there is no Martin of Tours
to help lead the good souls out of the cult.
In speaking of the Law, Paul describes our new freedom in
Grace while showing the need for the law.
The prophets were entrusted with something that would be wrapped into a
Gift and given to the Gentiles, and their lives devoted to the Law were necessary
to bring the Christ Child. But now,
other than training our hearts in perfect love of God and man, those laws are
of little value. Circumcision is his
example to the Romans in Romans 3:
advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews
were entrusted with the oracles of God.
What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the
faithfulness of God?
But after explaining why the Law was given, and why the Gentiles
are not bound by that Law, Paul starts speaking to the Truth of the Gospel, and
to the condemnation of anyone who falsely believes that lies can be told and
somehow support the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
By no means!
Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,
“That you may
be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”
But then, Paul addresses some of the questions being raised
through the spreading of deception.
Placing himself into the shoes of those who felt necessary to spread
lies for the sake of a holy end, Paul asks the questions and then gives the
response. He says, “I speak in a human
way,” letting us know that he does not promote the questions he is asking, but
rather that he is imitating those raising the question:
But if our
unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say?
That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)
But then he gives the answer. WRONG!
By no means! For
then how could God judge the world?
He then goes into another question, addressing this idea of
lying. Even if our lies result in
glorifying God, are we condemned? Let’s
see what Paul answers in this series:
But if through
my lie God's truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a
sinner? And why not do evil that good
may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying.
This question is a question that I receive by email, private
message, and even phone call many times.
Since Seek The Truth has started, and since the deception in the church
of William Branham has been exposed, many send in their questions about the
result of this fictional ministry. “What
if souls are being saved,” they ask.
“What if through Branham’s lies, their faith is elevated into their own
The simple answer is that faith in faith does not save. Faith in lies do not save. Faith in anything outside of Jesus Christ –
and the Jesus Christ of the Bible, God’s only Son, who died on the cross for
the sins of the world, rose again to be seated at the Right Hand of the Father,
and sent His Holy Spirit to us to lead us into all Truth is the only pathway to
salvation. That Holy Spirit does not
lead us into a lie – it presses on our hearts until we cannot rest until we
have abandoned the lie and are led into Truth.
Others send their hatred to us for standing up for Truth and
exposing lies, having been taught not to judge false doctrine. “Judge not, lest ye be judged” is twisted out
of context, malicious twisting of scripture to keep unsuspecting souls from
discerning right from wrong. They fail
to judge the wolves in sheep’s clothing, because those same wolves have trained
them to believe in their fictional stories without condemning or exposing their
But Paul does not teach this. His answer to the question, “Can we tell lies
for the sake of a holy end,” was answered with a harsh proclamation of
condemnation for the liar. God has His
Hand on the paths of our lives, and while the lies of these men are just a
milestone along life’s journey into Truth for God’s Children, their lies bring
God’s justice upon their own heads.
Listen to Paul’s answer about “lies for the sake of a holy
end,” and remember Branham’s three versions of his birth year – two of which
that are tied to spiritual events that contradict each other. Think about his fictional life in the hills
of Kentucky providing for his mother and siblings after the death of his
father, all while his father is alive and well until Branham is old enough to
preach his funeral as pastor of the Pentecostal Tabernacle. Think about the twisted story of “God
speaking from the heavens” as he baptized the seventeenth person in the Ohio
River – when the newspapers recorded the baptism with only fourteen
people. Or how the Egyptian “god of
wrath” smote Hope for his mother-in-law’s rejection of her daughter being
involved with the Pentecostals – all while Hope is involved with the youth
ministry at the Pentecostal church that Branham assisted in pastoring. Think about the rest of the stories, all now
proven to be lies for the sake of a holy end, and listen to Paul’s
response. Ask yourselves, does this
“message of lies” really “preach the same message that Paul preached” as
Branham claimed, or would Paul condemn a ministry based on fiction? Let’s continue reading Romans 3 to find out:
condemnation is just.