Just Another Doomsday Cult:
When we use the term "religious cult" for the cult following of William Branham, it is by no means a specific term. Nor does this phrase fully describe the hidden dangers to be found inside -- no matter how beautiful it may appear from the outside. A cult following is simply a group of people following a leader with a specific set of ideologies that the group agrees to follow. In his book, "Antiquities of the Jews," Josephus describes the "Jesus cults" that started to spring up during the Roman occupation of Jewish territory. Very few in Christianity today would be offended by declaring themselves to be followers of Jesus. But as followers of William Branham, this seems offensive because inwardly, they realize to uplift any other mediator between God and man is in error.
But if we were to start using specific terms in our writings, the correct label for the cult followers of William Branham would be a "doomsday cult." This term describes a cult following of a prophet leader who has declared that he has special insight on the coming apocalypse. Many times, doomsday cult leaders will describe a specific year and the mathematical calculations they used to create a this formula of doom, and use this as a fear tactic in their sermons while serving a large plate full of spiritual abuse.
Most cult followers are only aware of Branham's 1977 prediction, simply because it is the most often described in what remains (unedited) on recorded tape. Few are aware of the other years Branham claimed were the start of the End of Days, or the many different variations of these doomsday calculations. Nor are they aware of the doomsday prophets Branham copied and/ or influenced to make and spread some of these calculations. His "1954 Doomsday," for instance, appears to have originated with false prophet and faith healer John Alexander Dowie and is tied to the start of the "Latter Rain" movement.
"But look, let's take historically speaking. The first two thousand years, the world order (world order? Is this a freemason / illuminati term?) come to a climax, and God destroyed the world with water. You know that? Then it come forth as a new world. And the second two thousand years, it came to its end again and God sent Jesus. Is that right? This is the end of the next two thousand years, 1954. (Why 1954? Why not 2000? ) And the Gospel, Jesus said, "The work would be cut short." For what? "The elect's sake, or no flesh would be saved," it would so wicked. So we're at the end time. And then the seventh, in type, is the Millennium, a thousand years."
- William Branham, 54-0513 THE.MARK.OF.THE.BEAST
John Alexander, the â€œElijahâ€ to Branhamâ€™s â€œElisha,â€ was also involved with doctrine surrounding this year. In 1904, he told his followers to expect the full restoration of apostolic faith and announced that he had been â€œdivinely commissionedâ€ the first apostle of a renewed end-times church. Ironically, Branham announced that he was born in 1907 (the day after Dr. Dowie died). 1954 would be the â€œJubliee year,â€ 50 years after Dr. Dowieâ€™s 1904 doctrine.
"How Doctor Dowie, in his death, prophesied that I would come to that city forty years from the time that he died. Not knowing nothing about it, he died on one day, and I was borned on the next. And forty years to the day I entered the city, not knowing nothing about it. Oh, how God's great move is coming together. I hear the sound of abundance of rain."
Branham, 51-0929 OUR.HOPE.IS.IN.GOD
But 1954 was not Branham's only doomsday. There were others, frequently mentioned. Some given as prophetic predictions, others used casually, but all with the intent to capture the minds of the people by fear. Each prediction of the coming apocalypse contained the simple message: "You have no hope. Listen to me."
"What's the matter with people? Can't you see we're at the end time? It's all over. The next thing will be a sweep that'll grab that little group together. In a month or so she'll be gone, as soon as she's gathered together. Well, we're at the end. There's no hopes left nowhere."
- Branham, 62-0518 - Letting Off The Pressure
His 1977 prediction of Judgment was no different. Branham claimed that if he lived a normal life, he would witness this doomsday. If he died before it came, his listeners would witness it. By his calculations, it would not last until 1978. And though he put a large margin of error in the prophecy (From 1978 to 1999), many of those same listeners watched his doomsday come and go.
But even if cult followers are unfamiliar with the various years of doomsday, they are familiar with Branham's statements when he described a prophecy. Almost every time Branham made a prophetic statement, he would ask his listeners to "Mark it in your bibles."
"You're bound for judgment. There is no other way to accept it. Write it down in your Bibles. I'm getting to be an old man. You see if it doesn't go to judgment. If I live a normal life, I'll see it, normal time. Another few years will turn it."
64-0313 - The Voice Of The Sign
Some of those who traveled to watch Branham and Jim Jones in the faith healing campaigns, however, did see a doomsday. In Memorial Day of 1977, Jones confesses to his listeners that he was severely depressed and entertaining suicidal thoughts. In 1978, the first year of Branham's "Tribulation," Jones slaughtered hundreds of his doomsday cult followers in Jonestown, Guyana, South America.