Legend of the Fall: An Evaluation of William Branham and His Message is a 2014 book by author and critic Peter Duyzer. The book is self published. It consists of twenty-four chapters which we will review in this article.
Unlike scholarly authors who have wrote about Bro. Branham and his ministry, like Prof. Douglas Weaver or Prof. David Harrell, Duyzer takes a very unbalanced view of Bro. Branham. He focuses entirely on trying to advance conspiracy theories, discredit Bro. Branham, and ignore all of Bro. Branham’s positive contributions to Christianity. As we noted in our article on the Legacy of William Branham’s Ministry, Bro. Branham’s ministry had a profound impact that has influenced millions of Christians.
Chapter One: My Story
Duyzer opens his book with an explanation of his own personal background. Speaking of the church he eventually left and is attacking in his book, he states that he “had never experienced friendship, or love, like we did there. It was the closest thing, in our minds, to the early church.” He pays this profound compliment to the message followers, which is exactly what they strive for.
He goes on to explain his relationship with Eddie Byskal and explain the many successes of his church, like helping drug addicts overcome their habits and move onto successful Christian lives. After explaining the seemingly good fruit of the Branham movement, (which is what the bible tell us to judge by) he then goes on the attack.
Duyzer explains how he had marital problems, and then blames them on the William Branham, rather than take responsibility for them himself. He accuses his wife of being overly attached to Bro. Branham’s teachings, and was upset that she seemed to be too involved in the church.
He ultimately left the movement in 1977. It is unclear if his wife also left. 1977 was the year without a rapture. He does not directly state that the failure to be raptured that year was his reason for leaving, but it seems highly coincidental, and fair to assume that probably did play a major part. Many people left the Branham movement in that time when their false belief that the rapture would occur in 1977 failed to materialize.
He ends the chapter by claiming he will evaluate Bro. Branham and his teachings and followers as a “New Religious Movement”, and seems to convey he will be neutral and fair minded. This later proves to be far from the case. Having read multiple books on new religious movements, I can confirm he does not treat his subject matter with a open mind nor does he attempt to fully review his subject and present all of its aspects, negative and positive. His book is an unbalanced attack. Ultimately, he undermines his own goal of discrediting Bro. Branham by overreaching in a desperate attempt to throw everything he can find into his attack.
Chapter Two: Who Was William Branham
In his second chapter, Duyzer claims to present a summary of the life and legacy of William Branham. The chapter is primarily a restatement of the writings of Doug Weaver, David Harrell, some material published by Voice of Healing and Voice of God Recordings, interspersed with Duyzer’s own comments. His comments are generally disparaging the the sources material he is using to write the chapter. He does properly link Bro. Branham to a large part of the Charismatic movement and notes his broad influence.
Duyzer then proceeds claim that Bro. Branham was not really poor growing up and that his life story as generally accepted was made up. He does so on thin evidence. (We debunk the myth that Bro. Branham was a secret rich man in another article.)
Chapter Three: William Branham A Man Sent From God?
Duyzer opens chapter three by impugning Professor David Edwin Harrell for stating that the Pentecostal world viewed Bro. Branham as a “Prophet to a generation”. Although having no credentials himself, Duyzer seems to believe that Harrell’s long tenure as Breeden Eminent Scholar of Southern History at Auburn University and his widespread scholarship on American religious history do not qualify him to properly assess the ministry of William Branham. (The editors of this website encourage you to read Harrell’s book for a much more fair and honest account of Bro. Branham’s healing revivals.)
Duyzer then goes on to compare the original 1950 edition of William Branham: A Man Sent From God to a revised 2002 internet version shared by Voice of God Recordings. He appears to allege there is some conspiracy to change the book, when in fact it appears that only one paragraph of the book has been modified, which is the introduction to the book. The two version do not differ substantials, as both speak about the birth of Bro. Branham. The only substantial difference in the 2002 versions is that it offers a fuller summary (four sentences) of the ministry of William Branham. It seems reasonable that in issuing a revised book 52 years later, the introduction could be updated to reflect facts that occurred after the initial printing of the book. This is not an uncommon practice. Yet Duyzer seems to find this to be a great conspiracy.
Duyzer ends the chapter by pointing to a discrepancy in Bro. Branham’s birthdays as stated on his first marriage certificate with Hope Brumbach and his second marriage with Meda Broy. His birthday changed from 1908 to 1909. Duyzer then claims that census records prove Bro. Branham was actually born in 1907. Without evidence, Duyzer alleges that Bro. Branham believed in witchcraft and changed his birthday on the advice of a fortune teller. Born in rural Kentucky where there no birth records, is it not possible Bro. Branham just did not know the year of his birth? Such is not an uncommon problem of people of that period and region.
Chapter Four: Poverty Claims Examined
Duyzer in this chapter returns to the allegation that Bro. Branham did not actually live in poverty and his life story was fake.
The chapter is quite petty and Duyzer repeats allegations we debunk in our article titled Was William Branham Secretly a Rich Man.
Duyzer does present some new findings which he believes is the smoking gun to prove Bro. Branham grew up well-to-do. Here is the evidence:
- A story in which Bro. Branham related receiving candy as a boy. Duyzer believes poor people never get candy.
- Indiana, where his family moved to, was a supposedly wealthy state thus Bro. Branham’s family must have been well-to-do. However, according to the IRS, out of 48 states, Indiana was 37th in average income, certainly making it one of the poorest states. It was in fact poorer than Kentucky which he had left.1
- Mulligan Stew, (the favorite meal choice of the homeless) which Bro. Branham ate when growing up, was a clear sign he was not poor.2
- Bro. Branham’s father’s addiction to alcohol meant the family must have had plenty of money. How else could he have been able to purchase enough liquor to get drunk on?
We find these claims of evidence of his supposed wealth or well-to-do upbringing to be absurd. Duyzer ends his chapter saying “There is no supporting evidence found for WMB’s claims of poverty.” What an ironic statement for Duyzer to make.
Chapter Five: Non-religious Background Examined
Bro. Branham claimed he was never involved in religion as a child and that his first time to attend a church was at age 20 for his brother’s 1929 funeral. In this chapter, Duyzer attempts to prove that was untrue. Duyzer alleges Bro. Branham was associated with some form of withcraft throughout his adolescence and that his life was guided by a fortune teller.
Duyzer also alleges Bro. Branham did have Christian background. His only significant evidence for this is that Bro. Branham was ordained as a minister less than a year after being converted to Christianity. He concludes that the brief time of contact with Christianity was insufficient for Bro. Branham to have enough experience in Christianity to become a minister. While this appears reasonable, it is far from a certainty. There are multiple examples of men in the bible being commissioned as ministers almost immediately after their conversion, such as Paul.
Chapter Six: Angelic Commissions 1-3
Duyzer next begins to review the different times Bro. Branham reported having been visited by an angel. Rather than viewing these visitations as an ongoing series of events that built upon each other to guide Bro. Branham’s life, (which is what message followers believe) Duyzer alleges these visitations were contradictory and each was a false attempt by Bro. Branham to rebrand himself. He also alleges that this number of angelic visitations is unusual and without biblical precedence. We conclude Duyzer must have never read the bible.
The first three vistations are during Bro. Branham’s childhood. In none of the visitations does Bro. Branham even claim to have fully understood what happened when he was young, nor even realize it was an angel who visited him, but only when looking back after he was converted he understood the meaning. It is quite apparent that Duyzer is being dishonest in this chapter, as none of the visitations could be called a “commission”.
Chapter Seven: Angelic Commissions 4-6
Duyzer continues falsely calling all the visitations “commissions” in an attempt to mislead his readers in the next chapter. The three angelic visitations in this chapters are related and leading up the Bro. Branham’s conversion to Christianity. Duyzer actually suggest Bro. Branham was being visited by a demonic spirit, rather than an angel. Because, according to Duyzer’s logic, demons encourage people to convert to Christianity. Duyzer is just being absurd again.
The final visitation mentioned in this chapter is the June 1933 baptismal service where Bro. Branham heard a voice say “As John the Baptist was sent to foreun my first coming, so you will carry a message that will forerun my second coming.” Bro. Branham at the time did not understand the meaning the vision, and years passed before he launched his nationwide ministry. For this purpose, it is not fair to consider this visitation to be a commission either. If it is to be considered a commission, we must conclude Bro. Branham failed accept it.
Chapter Eight: Angelic Commissions 7-9
In this chapter Duyzer finally gets to Bro. Branham’s actual commission. On May 7, 1946, Bro. Branham was visited by an angel. This was the first time Bro. Branham actually saw an angel. In prior times he had only heard a voice or saw a light, and never realized it was an angel at all. Duyzer ignores the story as told by Bro. Branham, and thus fails to communicate key elements to his readers. Up until this point in his life, Bro. Branham viewed the prior angelic visitations as a personal mental problem, and was actually praying to understand why he had the prior strange experiences. It was during this time of praying and seeking God that the angel appeared to him for the first time and explained to him the nature of the prior visitations. In this meeting he was told he would be given two gifts (healing and discernment) and that he was to go forth carrying the gospel. The following month, he launched his nationwide ministry, and by August was drawing crowds of 25,000 to his healing revivals. This achievement of overnight fame is ignored by Duyzer.
Duyzer goes on to claim that the angelic visitation must have actually been demonic. He suggest that because the angel wore a robe, rather than pants and a shirt, it was a clear sign it was not a real angel. At this point Duyzer is well on his way to showing the reader his agenda is to prove that Bro. Branham was actually a prophet of Satan.
Chapter Nine: Angelic Commission 10
In his final chapter on “Angelic Commissions”, Duyzer suggests the angels that appeared to Bro. Branham on sunset mountain gave him yet another contradictory commission, this time to preach the seven seals. He then goes on claim the entire event was a hoax by twisting Bro. Branham’s statements regarding the cloud that appeared on February 28, 1963 over the American southwest. We debunk and address these allegations in our article on the Mystery Cloud of Sunset Mountain.
In summary, Duyzer misinterprets (or knowingly misrepresents) what Bro. Branham says about the cloud and concludes he made up the entire story.
Chapter 10: Types of Healing
Duyzer opens his eleventh chapter by suggesting faith healing and divine healing are different. He suggests faith healings was practiced by Bro. Branham, and that it actually does not require faith in God, just faith in general. This short chapter is an attempt to show the healing methods of Bro. Branham were not biblical. Duyzer seems to completely ignore scripture which establish that faith and believing are key elements in receiving healing from God.
Chapter 11: Healing in Scripture
Chatper 11 is Duyzer’s continued effort to prove that divine healing, as taught and practiced by Bro. Branham, was incompatible with the bible. He is advancing this theory to support his earlier allegations that Bro. Branham was involved in witchcraft or some other non-Christian belief system.
Duyzer opens this chapter by comparing Bro. Branham’s healing service to faith healing as practiced in ancient Egypt. He compare Bro. Branham to the magicians in Egypt in Exodus 7:21-22. Duyzer claims Satan has the power to heal saying that “Satan could also have loosed, or changed the affliction, depending on his purposes.” This is of course in direct contradiction to Jesus Christ, who when he was accused of healing by the power of Satan stated the following.
And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils. And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.Mark 3
Jesus was perfectly clear that Satan and the powers of darkness lack the ability to heal or cast out devils. Therefore healing is a clear and certain sign of the power of God. Duyzer completely ignores this passage which totaly undermines all his attacks in this chapter.