of William Branham
by John Kennah and Tom Perkins
An error that many have fallen into is to judge the scriptural soundness of a teaching by the teacher's own interpretation of the Bible. Christians are responsible for determining the accuracy of any preacher or prophet's doctrine by objectively comparing the teachings to what the Bible says, relying on the Holy Spirit abiding in them, to lead them into truth (I John 2:27).
By the time of his death in 1965, the followers of William Marrion Branham considered him God's prophet to the 20th century. Today, Branham's followers (most of whom disapprove of being called "Branhamites") approximate 1/2 million worldwide. In Tucson, Ariz., one of Branham's former residences, there are almost 2,000 followers who meet in the four area churches or in homes.1 Pentecostal leaders such as Kenneth Hagin, Oral Roberts, Tommy L. Osbome, Gordon Lindsay and the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship were at one time greatly influenced by Branham. His teachings continue to spread worldwide from the hundreds of independent congregations that believe "Brother" Branham's proclaimation, "I am God's voice to you."2
Born to a poor family in rural Kentucky in 1909, Branham had no religious background to speak of and only an elementary school education. His life was marked by strange apparitions, voices and visions. When he was a young boy, a voice from a whirlwind spoke to him, “Don't you never [sic] drink, smoke, or defile your body in any way. There'll be a work for you to do when you get older.”3
These and other supernatural occurrences often caused him great stress and as a young man Branham was compelled to find out what his life was all about. He went into a shed behind his house to seek God, when a light in the form of a cross appeared and he heard a voice in a unknown language.4 Soon after this "conversion," he felt the call to preach and began his ministry in a Baptist church.5
One day in 1933, Branham began baptizing a multitude in the Ohio River when a bright light came down from the sky. Branham heard a voice say to him, “As John the Baptist was sent to forerun the first coming of the Lord, so are you sent to forerun his second coming.”6
Branham denied the Trinity and taught a Oneness doctrine. Toward the end of the 1950s he also began to imply that he was the Elijah of Malachi 4:5, 6 and the angel (messenger) spoken of in Revelation 3:14 and 10:7.7 He taught that mankind has been perverting the word of God, but he came to restore the Word and prepare the bride (his followers) for Jesus' second coming. Branham preached, “the Lord Jesus loves you. And He died that you might be well... Then He sent me as His prophet to tell you what is truth.8 His prophetic teaching, known as the “Message,” became crucial to anyone who expected to be raptured. Trinitarians, and others that did not know the Message, would not be raptured but must endure the tribulations.9
Adam and Eve
Part of Branham's Message is an unorthodox interpretation of Genesis. Because God created man in His image, and since God is spirit, Branham concluded that Adam was created as a spirit and not as a physical being.10 He erroneously called this spirit being a theophany. According to the dictionary, a theophany is a visible manifestation of God, not a man's spirit. Branham taught that all who accept the Message have a theophany (their spirit selves) waiting for them in heaven.11
The Message teaches Adam's theophany was both male and female. It was not until the second chapter of Genesis that God formed a physical male body for Adam. The Lord is supposed to have removed the feminine part of Adam's spirit theophany to make Eve. “Remember, Adam was both masculine and feminish [sic] in the original creation, one, but then he was separated by a rib. Notice... but a by-product... And notice, the only one of all God's creation of every animal and anything else, she was the only one designed this way. Every other female was in the original creation, but Eve was not in the original creation. See, that had to be that way.” [elipses in original]12
What Branham failed to see was that Genesis chapter two is not a separate creation account, but a more detailed description of chapter one. The Bible teaches in Genesis 1: 27 that God created them (plural) male and female. Adam was not first created as a spiritual theophany, because in Gen. 1:28 and 29 God said to be fruitful and multiply and that the plants were to be used as food. There is no biblical evidence that spirits can multiply or need food. Genesis 2:1-2 says that God completed His creative work on the sixth day and rested on the seventh. Contrary to Branham's teaching, the creation was completed in chapter one.
Even more controversial is Branham's doctrine of the Serpent Seed. According to this teaching, when God forbade the eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, He was actually saying not to have carnal knowledge with the serpent. “Trees throughout the Scriptures refer to persons, as in Psalm 1. Thus the Tree Of Life must be the Person of Life, and that is Jesus... If the Tree Of Life is a person, then the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is a person... Here is where we receive the true revelation of the ‘Serpent’s seed’. Here is what really happened in the Garden of Eden. The Word says that Eve was beguiled by the serpent... This beast was so close to a human being (and yet was pure animal) that he could reason and talk. He was an upright animal somewhat in between a chimpanzee and a man, but closer to a man. He was so close to being human that his seed could, and did mingle with that of the woman and caused her to conceive."13
Since Eve gave into the temptation of committing adultery with the serpent, Branham placed the entire blame of the fall on her. He said Adam's only sin was taking Eve back as his wife and that there is a Godly principle that if a woman commits adultery, the husband is not to take her back.14 This is actually a misinterpretation of Deuteronomy 24:1-4. According to this passage, God commands a man not to take a wife back if they had divorced and she had remarried. God does not say a husband can not take back a wife that committed adultery (see Hosea 3:1-3) and nowhere does the Bible say Adam divorced Eve. Jesus said in Matthew 19:8, “For the hardness of your heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”
The term “Serpent’s Seed” comes from Genesis 3:15 and refers to what Branham believed were the literal descendants of the serpent and Eve. The Message teaches that Cain's real father was the serpent. He was conceived when the serpent seduced Eve. A “proof” that Cain's father was the serpent is found in 1 John 3:12 where Cain is said to be of the wicked one. Jesus said that the Pharisees were of their father the devil (John 8:44), meaning they were literal descendants of the serpent too. But the Scriptures indicate that when one’s acts are inspired by Satan, one becomes in effect, Satan’s child- in a spiritual sense, not physically.
Another “proof” used by the Message is that if Cain was of Adam, the birthright and man’s lineage would have passed through Cain, not Seth.15 But Cain was cursed and cast out from God's presence. He lost the birthright and his place in the lineage was given to Seth. Similar examples are found in the stories of Isaac and Ishmael and in Jacob and Esau.
If God was cursing the literal lineage of the serpent, why was it stated in Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed...” since Abel, Seth and Cain were seed from the woman? This is not a curse on the literal descendants of a quasi-human race but an announcement of hope for the triumph of Christ over the influence of Satan’s kingdom.
Creation of Jesus' Body
A Tucson Message pastor frequently asks, “If the doctrine of Serpent Seed isn't true, then why did Jesus have to be virgin born?” The presumption is that Jesus had to be created in Mary’s womb in order to bypass contamination of the human race by serpent seed. Branham wrote, “As the Spirit of God, He came down and created in the virgin Mary the cells from which His body was born. I want to repeat that. He created the very cells in the womb of Mary for that body. It was not enough for the Holy Spirit to simply give life to a human ovum supplied by Mary. That would have been sinful mankind providing a body. That would not have produced the ‘last Adam.’ Of Him it was said, ‘Lo, a Body hast thou (Father) prepared for me.’ God (not Mary) provided that body. Mary was the human incubator and she carried that Holy Child and brought Him to birth."16
But the Bible says Jesus had to be virgin born to fulfill Genesis 3:15, which says that Jesus was the seed of the woman. Isaiah 7:14 says that a virgin shall conceive (not be implanted), and be with child. It also says that the virgin birth was to be a sign that God was fulfilling His promise. God told David in 2 Samuel 7:12 that through his own seed would come the Messiah: “...I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.”
The Message teaches Revelation 3:14 is further indication that Jesus’ body was
created.17 But the phrase in verse 14, “…the beginning of the creation of God,” is not saying that God/Jesus was created. It refers to God’s possession of creation. The Amplified Bible renders this verse, “…the origin and beginig and author of God’s creation.” The New International Version puts it, …the ruler of God's creation.”
Branham gave another reason for the creation of Jesus in the womb: “There has to come a sensation to bring the egg through the tube to the womb... [If Jesus was the product of Mary's ovum,] you make Him a sexual mess.” 18 Branham did not understand that sexual stimulation does not cause the egg to descend from the ovaries. This occurs monthly whether a woman is with a man or not.
Contrary to Branham's doctrine, the Bible teaches that Mary was indeed Jesus' natural mother (see Mat 1:18, 2:11, Luke 1:43, 2:48, Acts 1:14, etc.). Branham's view of the creation of Jesus' body in the womb also contradicts his teaching of the kinsman redeemer. Just as Boaz had to be a near kinsman to redeem Ruth, so Christ had to be a near kinsman to man to redeem the human race.19 But Jesus was not a kinsman to mankind if He was created and not part of Mary. Judas would have been a nearer kinsman if Serpent Seed were true.
The Message teaches that our sinful nature entered the world through the physical descendants of the serpent and the only way to overcome this is to accept Jesus, the Message and its prophet William Branham. But the Bible proclaims that sin entered the world through Adam. Never does is say through Eve, or the serpent, or Cain (Romans 5:12-14, 1 Cor. 15:21-22). All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). We have turned everyone to his own way, instead of God's way (Is. 53:6). Humans are not physical descendants of the serpent, but of Adam. To obey Satan's will is to become his offspring (John 8:44) and to receive Jesus is to become a child of God (John 1: 12).
God's plan of salvation is made plain through His gospel. It is wise to heed the Apostle Paul's warning, "If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1:9)
Ed. note: John and his wife Carolyn were members of a Message church for over ten years. They, and many other former Message followers, have found the peace that surpasses all understanding in Christ Jesus, not in some "prophet." John believes that many sincere, bomagain Christians are being deceived by Branham's Message. We welcome your comments and inqueries.
1. Branham's ministry was mostly based from his other home in Jeffersonville, Ind.
2. Branham, William. Footprints on the Sands of Time. (Spoken Word Publications, Jeffersonville, Ind. 1976.) p. 214.
3. Footprints p. 24.
4. Lindsay, Gordon. A Man Sent From God. (William
Branham Pub., Jeffersonville, Ind. 1950.) p. 41-2.
5. Weaver, C. Douglas. The Healer Prophet, William Marion Branham. (Mercer University Press, Macon Ga. p. 33. According to Weaver this was a Pentecostal Baptist Church; while Branham said he was ordained in the Missionary Baptist Church in Footprints p. 35.
6. Green, Pearry. The Acts of the Prophet. (Tucson Tabernacle Books, Tucson 1969.) p. 46.
7. Branham, William. Seven Seals. (Spoken Word Publications, Jeffersonville, Ind. 1967.) p. 73, 144, 147, 187, 372, 373. And Knoweth It Not. (Spoken Word Publications, Jeffersonville, Ind. n.d.) vol. 2 book 11p. 29. Also note that whenever Branham gave his own description of the qualifications of the Prophet in Revelation and Malachi, it always matched his personality traits and ministry. Mal. 4:5, 6: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord...” Rev. 3:14, 15: “And unto the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot...” Rev. 10:7: “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.”
8. Branham, William. “The Angel and the Three Pulls.” (Phoenix, Ariz.) recording April 14, 1951.
9. Branham, William. Conduct, Order and Doctrine. (Spoken Word Publications, Jeffersonville, Ind. n.d.)
10. Branham, William. Hebrews. (Spoken Word Publications, Jeffersonville, Ind. n.d.) p. 466.
11. Branham, William. Who Is This Melchazidek. (Spoken Word Publications, Jeffersonville, Ind. n.d.) vol. 5 book 10 p. 16-17.
12. Branham, William. Marriage and Divorce. (Spoken
Word Publications, Jeffersonville, Ind. n.d.) vol.3 book 13 p. 18.
13. Branham, William Marrion. An Exposition of the
Seven Church Ages. (William Branham Evangelistic Assn., Jeffersonville, Ind. 1965) p. 97-99.
14. Seven Church Ages. p. 104.
15. Seven Church Ages. p. 104-105.
16. Seven Church Ages. p. 336-337
17. And Knoweth It Not. vol. 2 book 10 p. 14-15.
18. Branham, William. Oneness. (Spoken Word
Publications, Jeffersonville, Ind. n.d.) vol. 10 book 2 p. 15.
19. Branham, William. Kinsman Reedemer. (Spoken Word Publications, Jeffersonville, Ind. n.d.) vol. 6 book 8 p. 27.