Bro. William Branham was opposed to drunkeness, but was he completely opposed to consuming all alcoholic beverages? Did he believe that drunkeness was a sin? Critics accuse Bro. Branham of breaking a commandment given to him by an angel to never drink alcohol by drinking wine at the Lord’s Supper (communion). In this article we will examine what he said and also what the bible says to see what the truth is.
What did John Wesley teach?
John Wesley is the founder of a movement which has impacted a large section of Christianity. His teachings on holiness and Christian living have been adopted by millions. The widespread acceptance of his teachings in the United States was a major part of American support for prohibition, the banning of the production of alcoholic beverages in the early years of the twentieth century. Wesley influenced the Methodist, Nazarene, and Pentecostal churches and denominations, and his teachings have also found limited acceptance in the Charismatic movement.
Pentecostalism, like the other Wesleyan movements, adopted the holiness moral code of John Wesley. Before we delve into what Bro. Branham taught, let us see what had been taught and accepted by the definer of the doctrine.
It is therefore expected of all who continue therein that they should continue to evidence their desire of salvation,
First: By doing no harm, by avoiding evil of every kind, especially that which is most generally practiced, such as:
The taking of the name of God in vain.
The profaning the day of the Lord, either by doing ordinary work therein or by buying or selling.
Drunkenness: buying or selling spirituous liquors, or drinking them, unless in cases of extreme necessity.
Slaveholding; buying or selling slaves.The General Rules – John Wesley, 1743
Outside of medicinal use or extreme need, buying and consuming alcohol was forbidden. This leaves us to conclude that those who make this criticism must not be of the Wesleyan or Pentecostal tradition.
Critics seem to misunderstand the rationale behind the prohibition on drinking in churches which follow Wesley’s holiness teachings. Drinking is not a sin. Drunkenness is a sin. If a person has no medicinal reason to drink alcohol, why risk committing a sin? Rather than seeking to serve God with all their heart and soul, they are looking for “loopholes” so that they can indulge their flesh.
What did Bro. Branham say?
Critics of Bro. Branham often take his statements out of context, or misunderstand the point he was trying to make. Bro. Branham did not completely prohibit the consumption of alcoholic beverages, just as John Wesley did not. Bro. Branham drank wine at the time of communion, as do all message believers. This is a commandment of the Lord.
Bro. Branham had been commanded by the Lord to not defile himself in any way. This included a commandment not to drink alcoholic beverages. This is clearly to be interpreted as a command to avoid drunkenness, not to avoid taking the Lord’s Supper.
When Bro. Branham spoke against drinking, he was speaking against drunkenness and intoxication. Bro. Branham often made a statement saying “Swearing, smoking, drinking, that’s not sin; that’s the attributes of sin.” The context is not to prohibit drinking, but to prohibit intoxication. Critics who interpret Bro. Branham’s statements as a total prohibition against alcoholic beverages do so dishonestly, knowing Bro. Branham entirely endorsed drinking wine in remembrance of the last supper.
What does the bible say?
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 1Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.1 Corinthians 6:9-10
The prohibition against drunkenness and intoxication is stark and plain and is repeated throughout the New Testament. Drunkards will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
In the days of the New Testament, clean water sources were often not available. Fermenting a beverage was a way to ensure it remained free of bacterial contamination. In modern times, and in the much of the world, this is no longer a consideration as safe non-alcoholic beverages are easily available. As such, drinking alcoholic beverages is no longer as important to a person’s health as it once was. Paul’s statement to Timothy concerning wine indicates that the reason for which Christians drank wine was for it’s health benefits. (1 Timothy 5:23)
Given the health benefits are now low, why do so many people yet desire to drink alcoholic beverages? The answer is quite simple. They like to drink it for the “buzz” it gives them. They enjoy its intoxicating effect, even in moderation. Whereas in bible days, drinking wine was done to benefit their health, in modern times drinking is done primarily for the physiological effect it produces.
Many things are addictive, such as cigarettes and gambling. If a person never begins to take small doses of the things, they are unlikely to ever become addicted. The same is true with alcohol. If drunkenness is a sin which prohibits a person from being part of the Kingdom of God, why then would a Christian want to engage in an activity that could lead to a sin? Why would a Christian want to voluntarily submit themselves to temptation? Likewise, why would critics seek to criticize Bro. Branham and message believers for seeking to stay as far from sin as possible? This demonstrates that on this point, critics simply oppose message believers because of their choice of lifestyle.
Bro. Branham did not state that the bible prohibits the drinking of alcoholic beverages. However, message churches teach that it is wise to avoid them because it could easily lead to sin.
In closing I will offer an observation. The Lord God instructs us to love him with all our hearts and all our souls. In expressing our love to him, we seek to live a life that is pleasing to him in every way. Why would someone who loves the Lord flirt with sin unnecessarily?