Confessions of a Cult Pastor:
Last night, we received an email from a pastor who has made a difficult journey. As the title implies, it is a confession from one having made their journey out of a religious cult, but from the perspective of a pastor.
This is a very sincere and sobering letter, sobering even for me. In my writings, I often use the same label for each pastor in the religious following of William Branham. This confession from an ex-cult pastor is a reminder that each person is an individual, and as individuals, many desire the Holy Spirit to lead them into truth. Many cult pastors face their congregations each Sunday with sincere intentions not knowing they are preaching error -- some even confused as to what those intentions and what their statements of faith should be.
We who have experienced the spiritual bondage of William Branham's doomsday cult must remember that the bruised sheep is not the only sufferer. The shepherds were also bruised, suffering just as we were. And after realizing error, an ex-cult pastor has a much more difficult pathway to closure. Their burning desire to protect the sheepfold did not stop when they walked away.
Good day to all.
My name is Joseph Hefflin, and I have been a cult pastor for many years. I feel it is time for me to confess these things since by Godâ€™s wonderful Grace he has broken the bars of deception for me and pointed me to what is Truth, His Word.
If you would not be familiar with what is called â€œa cultâ€ a good description would be to fall under the leadership of a man instead of the Holy Ghost. In doing so you will be led to believe many things that are not Scripture and without realizing it, your faith will be overthrown. 2 Timothy 2:18.
My spiritual journey, as most others, started out correctly by answering the call to the Gospel about 50 years ago. I had a desire to learn more about Christ and his Word, but somewhere I began to lean more to what I could see, and understand intellectually than to be spiritually led. Of course I did not know what was happening, nor did I realize that when a person starts their Christian journey, that is when Satan attacks them to try to pull them away from the leadership of the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 2:18,19.
Knowing that God is a supernatural being, I began to look for supernatural events that I thought would identify the presence of God. This begins my journey into the Pentecostal Church. Somewhere in that journey I began to feel that I was called to minister, but never answered that call while affiliated with the Pentecostals. Searching the Scripture I begin to see error in what was called â€œthe evidence of the Holy Ghost.â€ A teaching that all had to speak in what was called other tongues. There were other doctrines that the Pentecostals taught that I also questioned. I believe the Holy Spirit will lead people to take all things back to the Word, and when we fail to do that is when Satan, usually through some manâ€™s teaching, will lead a person into error.
It was at point in my life that I was looking beyond the Pentecostals to find more truth and to have my understanding opened to the Word of God that a friend gave me a tape of William Branham preaching a message called: â€œa total separation from unbelief.â€
Again, my eyes began to look at the seemly supernatural that surrounded the man William Branham, and I thought this is surely a great man of God. My mistake begins by taking the supernatural as vindications of truth instead of the Word, thus began my journey into the cult. I had failed to recognize that Christ had warned us not to look at signs and wonders alone. Matthew 24:24.
At this point in time I searched for others that were acquainted with William Branham and his message, which I found and they were very glad to help me farther into the cult.
It has been said that ministers of the cult called (the message) stand behind the pulpit and lie to their congregations. I do not deny that to be a fact, but I do know that many of them do not know they are pointing to something that is not truth. I believe it was said about Jim Jones that led over 900 people to their death at the Jonestown Massacre â€œThey drink their own Kool-Aid.â€ The Bible speaks of evil men deceiving and being deceived. 2 Timothy 3:13. Being a former salesperson, I know the best salesperson is one that truly believes in his products. Likewise prophets, pastors and teachers that deceive people often times believe the same lies they are telling.
I was caught up in the same system listening over and over to a man saying that he was the fulfillment of Malachi 4, Revelationâ€™s 3:14, Revelationâ€™s 10:7 and Luke 17:30 and being associated with a group that also believed, that I became convinced that it was the truth and I needed to get that message about the end time prophet to as many as possible. After all, he had more signs following then anyone I knew of at that time. He continually said those signs were vindication or proof that he was who he said he was and that he was telling the truth.
I cannot deny that God in his mercy give me many warning signs, which I either ignored or was advised by my elders to â€œput it on the shelf.â€ Some of the first things I noticed as I tried to study the message were that the teaching on the Seals in the book of Revelation seemed to be very confusing. William Branham seemed to say that intercession was over, or maybe not over, the seals was for the Bride of Christ and turn around and say that anything after the 3rd and sometimes the 4th chapter of Revelation was all for the Jews and had nothing to do with the Gentiles. Again I was advised and told that I could blaspheme the Holy Ghost if I would question the prophet. Others would tell me I just needed revelation, although they or no one else could explain the discrepancies in the â€œmessage.â€
This may seem as a strange scenario but I compare it to an abused wife, or sometimes husband, that believes that the abuse is their fault and sometimes spend their life trying to overcome something they blame on themselves.
Liken to people in the message that blame themselves for not having the correct â€œrevelationâ€ to understand these great mysteries spoken by a prophet, and end up putting them â€œon the shelfâ€ while they wait year upon year trying to have faith for a revelation that never comes.
Through the years I tried to put Scripture with what I believed was the message of the hour, but now know that I had to â€œtwistâ€ scripture to make them fit with the message I thought was truth. This was because I was accepting what a man taught instead of seeking God through Christ and asking him to lead and guide me to all truth.
For years I had asked God to reveal the Seals and why there seemed to be discrepancies in what was according to William Branham a â€œperfectâ€ message.
After 40 years of preaching and teaching the â€œmessageâ€ one day while trying to study again the things taught in the Seals I fell on my knees and asked God just to show me the Truth whatever the cost. It was at that moment that, by Godâ€™s grace, I saw that all that mattered was what the Word of God said. That I could never receive a revelation on something that was not and never had been the Word of God.
A cult will often quote the Word of God as being an absolute while little by little leading you away from what it tells you, and by deception get you to depend upon the teachings of a man instead of Jesus Christ. I have also found that those caught in a cult can never defend themselves by the Word of God. I have never found anyone in the message of William Branham that will sit down with me and prove by the Scripture all the things that he taught, and when you try to show them his error or sometime fabricated stories they will walk away instead of listening or trying to defend by the Word of God his doctrine. The reason for this is that there are no Scriptures to back up a lot, if not most, of his major doctrines.
Satan uses a cult teaching in order to get the people who follow it to deny Scripture; often they are seduced into these things and never realize that they are denying Christ to follow a lie. It is impossible to follow a cultâ€™s teaching without denying Scripture.
For instance one major teaching of William Branham is that he opened mysteries of the Gospel that have been hidden from the foundation of the world.
63-1130E GO.AWAKE.JESUS_ SHREVEPORT.LA V-17 N-9 SATURDAY_
Â« 18 The mysteries of the Gospel has been hid since the foundation of the world, but was supposed to be revealed in these last days. And so, if the Lord willing, I want to speak on that.
William Branham repeats this at least seven times in different sermons so it is not just a slip of the tongue. To believe that you have to not believe
What Paul said in Galatians 1:8,9
Â» 8 â€ But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Â» 9 â€ As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
My question, if it was hidden from the foundation of the world, then Paul the apostle could not know it, so it has to be a different Gospel. Either William Branham or Paul had to be mistaken. Most cult members will stay with William Branham.
There are dozens of other teachings that are contrary to Scripture as you can read about some of them in my testimony if you would care to.
I cannot get you to fathom the sorrow I feel for having promoted these doctrines over the last many years, many people that I have taught have already passed on and I have no way to recall whatâ€™s been taught. My prayer that God and the people who know me will forgive me these errors and pray for me that I can hold to the Word of God.
I have also come to realize that most people in the message cult will never allow their minds to be changed no matter how much Scripture or evidence that you provide them. I have for the last two years or so tried to just teach from the Scripture, but then felt I should try to help people that I know still rely on the teachings of William Branham, but find there is not much I can do unless God Himself intervenes.
Paul spoke about Israel having a veil upon their heart, but when they turn to the Lord it shall be taken away. I am sure the same applies to every cult member if they would turn to the Lord and his Word they also would see truth.
In my testimony I have given the reasons for not following the message of William Branham anymore, nearly a thousand have read this testimony, but no one has challenged what I have said. Again one of the attributes of a cult is they cannot and will not defend their belief with Scripture.
I know there are a lot of lies on the internet about William Branham as there is about anyone, but also there are people who have dedicated their lives on finding out the truth. I may not agree with everything that is stated, but I do know that the truth is out there if you would like to find it. Websites that have helped me in my research are http://www.seekyethetruth.com http://www.believethesign.com http://www.searchingforvindication.com
Some of these web sites were started to prove William Branhamâ€™s ministry, but after research found they could not longer follow the message.
Please contact me if you have any questions or feel you can correct what I have said. The only defense I have received about William Branhamâ€™s ministry is â€œI have faith I do not need evidenceâ€ which will work to keep people in any cult.
For more information, please visit http://www.truth316.net/ https://www.facebook.com/SeekYeTheTruth/photos/a.281312795303458.48697.214739791960759/669165479851519/?type=1