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 prophecies were found among the posessions 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.
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.
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