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William Branham's Forced Altar Calls ... With Vengeance

Seek The Truth Blog

William Branham's Forced Altar Calls ... With Vengeance:

Though many are aware of the unscriptural nature of William Branham's frequent usage of end-of-the-world predictions and pronouncing judgment on cities, states, nations, and continents of the world, there was a method to his doomsday madness. It takes a close examination of the altar calls that still remain unedited on the recorded sermons from 1947 to 1965.

Branham felt that these altar calls were a fundamental element of the sinner's conversion to the Gospel of Divine Healing, and it served a two-fold purpose: Branham taught that these altar calls were the "showdown," the sinner's choice between death and life. But it also was a measurable statistic for the success or failure of the conversions to this new gospel he proclaimed.

The problem is that the crowds were not as receptive as he wanted. With his ministry fading and replaced with other Gospel giants such as Billy Graham and Oral Roberts, William Branham needed successful recognition in the media to draw larger crowds. He could not be that shepherd seeking one lost sheep -- Branham needed to be the shepherd that rejuvenated all of the sheep. And he needed them to gain their excitement at the platform for advertisement photography. But what happened when those crowds were not obedient to his command?

In Canada, those who did not obey were harshly scolded and threatened. According to Branham, any who did not obey the altar call were making a decision to burn forever in hell.

"What's the matter with you, Canadians? What's the matter? It's a good thing to be conservative, but don't be too starchy. You're going to grieve the Spirit away from you, and you won't have no revival. Listen at me. I speak in the Name of the Lord. Break up that stubbornness among you, that starchy... Get to your knees. You know you need repenting. I speak in Jesus Christ's Name. Yes, sir, if you want to have a revival, warm your heart to God. There's a dozen or two of you more needs to be around this altar tonight. And if I'm the servant of God, if I'm the prophet of God, I speak in His Name, and you know who I'm talking to. Plan your place here at the altar. You're too starchy. You better get right with God, 'cause the hour is coming when you're going to scream to find this, and you won't find it. That's THUS SAITH THE LORD. That's God speaking. All right. Find your way around this altar. You who are indifferent, shame on you. When the Holy Spirit come and do the things that He's doing right in the midst of you, and you set like a—like you was froze to death. Get out of the seat and get to the altar; repent or perish. That's true. Don't know why I'm saying this. Something is saying to me to say it. I'm giving you a warning. This may be your last one too. You repent. I don't care what church you belong to. If you're not repented and the love of God's not in your heart, you're a sinner and on your road to hell. That's THUS SAITH THE LORD. The same God Who discerns the spirits here and tells them their condition, is speaking right now. I speak in Jesus Christ's Name. Fly to the altar and get to your repentance, quickly, before God turns the page over on you, and you're doomed forever. That's THUS SAITH THE HOLY SPIRIT that's in the midst of us now. 59 That's blunt, but that's Him. I can only speak. God knows that I wouldn't say that within myself for nothing. Something grabbed me and said, "Say that." I only obey God"
Branham, 57-0806 - God Projecting His Love

But are forced altar calls leading of the Holy Spirit? Does the Holy Spirit threaten and scold? According to William Branham, this was not his voice threatening the Canadians. As the name of the publishing company insinuates, Branham claimed that this was the Voice of God speaking, not the voice of William Branham.

Worse, Branham claimed that by rejecting his command to stand around the altar, these Canadians would "grieve away" the Holy Spirit. In other words, the man on the platform was so important to God, that if they rejected Branham's voice, they would anger the One that God sent to lead and guide us into truth.

But is this idea scriptural?

"Altar calls" are a practice that started the 1700s by the first generation of Methodists in America. Influenced by the Church of England, these Methodists remembered the public confession in the Church of England, and honored that memory by calling the end of the church building an "altar," and continuing the practice. But it was not until the 1820's that it hit mainstream Christianity. A lawyer by the name of Charles Finney changed the course of Evangelical Christianity in America with what is hailed as "America's Greatest Revival." In Finney's theology, all that a sinner needed to be saved was a decision of the will, rather than a regeneration of his nature. In other words, Finney did not believe in the necessity of the new birth of the inward man as described in John 1:13 and John 3:1-8. Primarily because he did not believe in the reality of the sinner's depraved nature (Jer.17:9; Eph.2:1-3).

Though this practice cannot be found in scripture, Finney's influence is widespread. Many ministers today are abandoning the practice, because attributing salvation to a physical act is an outright denial of several passages of scripture. Even an atheist can "walk up to the altar," and return to his or her seat as an atheist. It takes a change of the heart for a conversion of the soul.

It also denies the assurance of salvation. Christians who have accepted their salvation by faith in Jesus Christ actually question their assurance during an altar call. Should they go forward? What if they have sinned? Do they need to hold a confession?

Mainstream Christianity realizes that it is nothing more than sheer arrogance to believe that the man on the platform or his commands can gain one's eternal salvation. And William Branham took this arrogance to a whole new level by proclaiming that his forced altar call was done so through the mouth of the Almighty God.

"the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for fall have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins."
- Romans 3:22-25