The Branham Movement is a broad term which can be used to describe the many different groups which all claim to follow the teachings of Bro. William Branham. The movement is very diverse and has no unifying leadership or organizational structure. Because of the great diversity, most groups disavow the other groups as being true believers. While they all hold in common a place of reverence towards Bro. Branham, the different groups vary widely in their beliefs. The spectrum goes from groups that are comparable to Pentecostal and Wesleyan Christians, to groups that are arguably new religious movements that are not Christian at all.
A very divided people
Within the movement there are sub-groups which adhere to varying interpretations of the Bro. Branham’s teachings. They emerged out of the millions of people Bro. Branham ministered to during his campaigning career. The group is large and worldwide, with adherents in almost every country.
Worshippers of Bro. Branham
In the final years of Bro. Branham’s life, a cult began to develop among some of his followers. Those people believed Bro. Branham was the return of Jesus Christ. They began to baptize in his name and pray in his name, and refer to him as the Lord Branham Christ. When Bro. Branham discovered this activity, he openly rebuked it and threatened to quit ministering. He openly disavowed their activity and accused the men of starting a cult. Following his denunciation, the men apologized to Bro. Branham and repented of their blasphemy. They lost their positions of prominence within the movement, for a time.
Following the death of Bro. Branham, those exact same men began maneuvering to take control of the Branham movement, beginning at his memorial service. A rift immediately opened in which they began proclaiming that Bro. Branham would rise from the dead to resume his ministry. They were openly rebuked by the ministers conducting Bro. Branham’s funeral, but they quickly began to rise to prominence and eclipsed the ministers who were resisting them.
This led to the first major division within the Branham movement. Since then divisions continued unabated. The basis of the divisions is primarily around the nature of Bro. Branham himself, or the interpretation of his teachings.
Second coming of Bro. Branham
There have been various men claim to be the return of Bro. Branham since his death who started break away groups which developed significantly different teachings and doctrines than Bro. Branham. Leaders of such groups are based on Ohio, Tennessee, Canada, South America, India, the Philippines, and multiple countries in Africa. Some of these groups have been short lived after it became apparent that their leaders were frauds. Others have persisted for many years now.
Voice of God Recordings
The largest segment of the Branham movement, but certainly not a majority, are the groups who maintain a lose fellowship through Voice of God Recordings and the Branham Tabernacle, which are both controlled by Bro. Branham’s sons, Billy Paul and Joseph. They generally believe in the return of Bro. Branham from the dead to complete his ministry, and that all the mysteries of God have been revealed in the message of Bro. Branham. They typically place a heavy focus on Bro. Branham’s teachings such that their ministers’ sermons are primarily a compilation of quotations of Bro. Branham, or they just listen to taped sermons of Bro. Branham.
Multiple other groups have broken away taking odd interpretations of certain of Bro. Branham’s teachings. The Perusia doctrine and the groups adhering to that teaching believe that, in some form, Christ returned to earth in 1963. Some even go so far as to say the availability of grace ended in 1963, or that the millennium began in that year.
Another group became heavily invested in the occurrence of the rapture in 1977, based on a prediction made by Bro. Branham. That element suffered major membership loss when it failed to materialize. The same group, whose leadership was based in New York, believed they had discovered the secret revelation of the seven thunders within Bro. Branham’s teachings, which they continue to promote.
Stranger still, some took Bro. Branham’s teaching on marriage and divorce and falsely believed he endorsed polygamy. Multiple ministers took up that lifestyle and gained followers, but were largely ostracized by the rest of the movement.
Middle of the road
Bro. Branham’s teachings were largely in line with the traditional teaching of Charles Parham’s branch of Pentecostalism (The United Pentecostal Church). His primary deviations from traditional Pentecostalism were the teaching of Serpent Seed, denial of tongues as the evidence of the Holy Spirit, and his Arminian doctrine of predestination.
A number of groups have stuck very close to Bro. Branham’s original teachings, and are not substantially different in their beliefs and practices than traditional Pentecostalism. They would disagree with such an assessment, but primarily because they have been cut off so long from the rest of Pentecostalism that their current generation are unaware of their teachings.
The Bride of Christ
It is the belief of the editors of this website that within the overall Branham Movement, there are groups and true believers who are part of the Bride of Christ. They hold the true faith which Bro. Branham came to turn their hearts back to, and they are practicing the apostolic faith of the early church.