Education Versus Ignorance - William Branham's Strategy of Blissful Ignorance:
In a blog post last month, we published the testimony of a man who described horrific experiences in his cult church dedicated to the doomsday teaching of William Branham. In just a few short sentences, he examined the more dangerous teachings that an unsuspecting family might stumble upon should they not be prepared to use their own judgment and discernment between right and wrong. Interestingly, this man's testimony is describing the cult church from which the current pastor of the Branham Tabernacle came. That testimony can be found here: http://seekyethetruth.com/blog/2015/20150816_Testimony_Describing_Experiences_In_A_Branham_Cult.aspx
This testimony spoke of several sinful and even illegal practices familiar to his church, some of which we have already examined in great detail. The church's promotion of corporal punishment to women as promoted by William Branham was examined in full detail last year. As the members of the cult became aware that William Branham promoted the physical abuse of women, they were shocked. Branham promoted both wives and teen agers beaten with 2x4 lumber and "barrel slats," or the thick, rounded wood from which a whiskey barrel is constructed. You can read more here: http://seekyethetruth.com/resources-deep-abuse.aspx
From his testimony, however, there is one cult doctrine that we have not studied on this website in great detail. The outcry from readers and listeners to this testimony's description of cult views on education appear to be virtually unknown in today's world of Branham followers. Many of the older people making their exodus from the cult of William Branham often make the statement, "People in the Message today have no idea what the Message even is!" This truly is the case.
As a child, I can remember listening to Ministers in the cult speak condemnation to the educational systems of the United States, and the desire to learn in general. Sermon structures often included the idea that "If they truly believed that the rapture was coming, they wouldn't an education!" Or "If they could only see the spiritual realm, they'd watch the demons delight in another soul entering the devil's teaching house!" Most often, "If they truly believed EVERY WORD the 'prophet' spoke, they would never send their kids to college!" Obviously these teachings did not come across the pulpits in such blatantly obvious phrases, but it did not take much more than my adolescent mind to understand that this was their intention.
Over time, however, this insistence on ignorance began to fade. As elders in the church began planning for their children's futures, they quickly realized that the educational system is more than a "tool in the devil's arsenal" -- it is a means to survival. No longer do the common skills offer apprenticeship programs. And a limited number in the cult ran family businesses that could be passed down from generation to generation. Unless they wanted their children to starve, they began planning a solid education!
Even the former pastor of the Branham Tabernacle spoke very strongly against a college education. It was not until his youngest daughter married a higher-education graduate that this stance began to change. But why the change? And why was it necessary from the beginning?
Religious cults flourish on the uneducated masses. There is a reason why so many religious cults focus their operations on developing nations -- those same nations contain a breeding ground for an uninformed decision to join the movement. Without understanding, and receiving teaching from "spiritual men," very few statements are questioned. It truly becomes a religion of "only believe," which these ministers claim is according to scripture. Referencing specific passages of scripture that describe the fantastic Biblical stories of great men in sheepskin and tracing lineages, they make a good case for their doctrine to the uninformed.
But closer examination from a person who is educated in scripture reveal a much different situation. One need not even be educated in the things of this world. Simply studying, learning, and becoming informed about the Bible these cults claim to promote will spark an exodus from an "only believe cult."
In the ancient world, there were a very limited number of "white collar" jobs. Typically, these were given to the more scholarly. The priests, whose job was to constantly educate themselves in the scrolls, for instance, could be considered a trade of higher education for its time. Scribes were educated in the ability to write -- which was uncommon in the ancient world. Solomon, filled with wisdom, wrote books of "wisdom literature," what we would today call "philosophy." This was a genre of writing practices by other non-Jewish nations in the Ancient Near East, making it a very similar example to the cult's doctrine on education. If we avoid wisdom today because we see atheists in colleges, should not Solomon have refrained from wisdom in the ancient world after witnessing the same from foreign nations serving idols?
It can be argued (correctly) through Scripture that King Solomon was given his wisdom through a Divine power, not through man. But we would submit, based also on Scripture, that God gave Solomon a mind to receive wisdom through a process of learning. God made the vessel, and the means to fill that vessel.
At the time of the Babylonian invasion, not much had changed. A nomadic people in the days of wandering in the wilderness, we don't picture the Children of Israel sending their children to educational centers to learn King Solomon's wisdom. Children typically practiced the trade of their father, and by today's standards, it would be an unskilled trade. There simply was no need for advanced learning and higher education to survive.
But it was altogether different for the children of the Temple, and the children who surrounded the kings as advisors. Many who were to practice higher-learning skills were required to be educated -- otherwise, what use were they? Even prophets were educated, not only in the ways of handling the holy scrolls, but also in the was of the ancient world as they understood it. One could compare many of their studies to "science" of today's world -- astronomy, architecture, primitive physics, and more.
When you hear the cult's negative preaching on education, it paints a completely different picture of the "Three Hebrew Boys" and the prophet Daniel who were taken captive into Babylon. Most cult children picture a group of boys who were simple-minded, blindly faithful, and completely uneducated. But according to the book of Daniel, their education was the very reason they were chosen to serve in the king's palace:
"Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family[a] and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king's palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans."
- Daniel 1:3-4
In today's cult of William Branham, this scripture would not present any problem. Most children anticipate college, and many families start college funds for their tuition. It is those same people who are outraged at the testimony of this man from an Idaho cult church who claimed that his family did not believe in education. This teaching, they blame on "ignorant parents" or "cult pastor gone rogue." But are they really ignorant? Are they really deviating from "The Message?"
Those who grew up in the message churches that once followed Branham's teachings by "EVERY WORD THE PROPHET SAID" realize the fallacy in these statements. In fact, it could be argued that this abusive and dangerous Idaho church followed the Message more closely than the current pastor who hailed from that same church. Not only did William Branham teach strongly against education, under his doctrine, education is the "Mark of the Beast."
"Education has been the mark of antichrist all through the ages. ... Education is the worst enemy the Gospel has ever had."
- Branham, 62-0725
There are those in the Branham cult who are not aware of the significance of this statement. Being "educated" in the sayings of William Branham more than "educated" in scripture, they do not make the mental connection between Revelation 13. They do not realize that William Branham is saying that this "mark of the antichrist" is a mark signifying eternal separation.
But remember, this is by design. It is the educated, the informed, who will not survive in a religious cult. It is those who study the scriptures who will not stand for false teaching. It is the informed who will realize the error -- not because of any "antichrist spirit," but simply because they recognize a man intent on capturing wandering souls. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yusx0QygzYE