Were the miracles of William Branham’s ministry a hoax?

Multiple critics allege the miracles in Bro. William Branham’s meetings were a hoax. Peter Duyzer claims in his book that Bro. Branham practiced mnemonics and was memorizing the prayer cards of people before a meeting in order to fake his gift of knowledge. Jeremy Bergen repeats the statements of Walter Hollenwager, Alfred Pohl and W. J. Taylor who all indicate that people Bro. Branham pronounced as healed either died or never got well. John Collins alleges the healing of Congressman Upshaw was faked because he and Bro. Branham were KKK buddies. (We have debunked the KKK claims in another article.) In this article we want to examine these allegations and also see if we can find any proof of real miracles.

Doug Wead ‘s account

Author Doug Wead with President Donald Trump

There are many accounts that we could share with you to verify the authenticity of the miracles in Bro. Branham’s ministry. We find the account of Doug Wead to be particularly effective, and will share that one with you first. (Doug Wead is a prolific author, and has appeared on TV many times, and has been recognized by many people for his achievements.1) Wead is not a message believer or follower of William Branham. Here are excepts of his  recounting his first meeting with Bro. Branham.

The Assemblies of God, the largest Pentecostal denomination in the country, was being bombarded with mail. “Who is this guy? Is he doctrinaly sound? Is he a fraud? Can we co-operate with his meetings?”

In those days, my father [Roy H. Wead]2 was the point man for the Assemblies of God in Indiana. He was called the District Superintendent, which meant he was sort of the denomination’s bishop for the state. “What do you know about a Baptist preacher named William Branham?” Headquarters asked. Dad had never heard of him. “Well, he’s from your state, so check him out.”

Every Sunday my father spoke in a different Assemblies of God church somewhere in the state. It was a time of unprecedented growth. In Indiana they opened a new church every month, a pace that would continue for 12 straight years. Traveling the state was Dad’s way of troubleshooting the District problems and promoting the statewide events. There were four boys in the family and on this particular weekend, I was elected to go with dad.

At first glance, William Branham was not a very impressive guy. It looked like he had slept in his suit. No one even introduced him. His first words were an apology for his poor English. But the crowd apparently knew what was coming. When they realized it was him they broke into a roar of conversation, drowning out his voice, and there was a belated but spontaneous and excited applause. In those days, people never applauded in church. But they had been waiting all afternoon for this moment.

And then Branham pointed up to my father. “The man up there. No, not you. The man to your right. No, not you. The one behind you. The one in the blue suit.”

My father sunk lower and lower in his seat. No one knew he was going to this meeting. The General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God didn’t know. Mom didn’t know. Dad himself didn’t know until that morning when his host pastor had dropped the news that Branham was conducting a Sunday afternoon service nearby.

My father had been surprised. As far as he had known, Branham was still ministering in the Pacific Northwest. Dad hadn’t even told the pastor what he was up to. But now William Branham was calling him out of the audience.

Dad looked at me solemnly. “Now, you stay right here,” he ordered. Whatever happens, stay right here. I’ll be back.”

According to my father, as he related the story in later years, Branham welcomed him to the platform, pulled him aside, and said, “You and I have never met. I don’t know who you are or where you come from. But I saw you in a dream last night and I knew you would be here today. God sent you here to confirm my ministry. You may ask any question you want. You may talk to any of the people in the healing line. You may interrupt what is going on at any point. You do what God tells you to do. You are here to confirm my ministry.”

Over the next few years my father did just that. At some meetings he rearranged the healing lines, just in case Branham was only invoking some parlor trick, memorizing who had what disease. He quizzed the people who claimed that they were healed, taking down names and addresses. And often he would call their doctor to talk about what had happened. On more than one occasion he spotted a friend from out of state and would spontaneously walk that friend to the front of the line. Branham would never miss a beat. “You are from Iowa,” he would say. “Three weeks ago you were told by your doctor that you have cancer.”

Afterwards, the friend would confide to my father, “Nobody knew that but my wife and I, and she is back in Iowa. I haven’t even told my children.

Doug Wead – Found as the forward to Don Stewart’s 1999 book Only Believe, pages iii-v 

Doug Wead goes on to relate how his father was eventually elected to the national executive board of the Assemblies of God and as a result of his experience defended Bro. Branham and the miracles he witnessed his entire life.

What did Gordon Lindsay and Ern Baxter say?

Ern Baxter and Godon Lindsay were two prominent ministers who were both closely associated with Bro. Branham during the healing revival. They went on to have prominent charismatic ministries after it ended. If anyone would have first hand knowledge that the miracles were a hoax or had widespread failure, it would be these two men. They proved they were not afraid to criticize Bro. Branham and expose what they thought were his mistakes. If they thought the miracles were faked, wouldn’t they expose that too?

Given that they were not afraid to criticize Bro. Branham, why then do they completely and openly embrace the miracles in his ministry as authentic? The logical answer is because they were authentic. Ern Baxter said the following:

When William Branham came on the scene, he was the only one who had a genuine healing ministry at that time.


Well, to try to remember or to pick out a few outstanding supernatural occurrences with Branham is somewhat difficult because it was just a parade of the supernatural. On one occasion, we were down in the southern states, and a big auditorium meeting. The first or second night there, Brother Branham came to a certain man in the healing line. He looked at him and said, “Sir, I see you have come into this line tonight to trick me. In fact, I see you last night in a room sitting around a table with four other ministers. You are a minister of such and such a denomination.” He pointed up to the balcony and said, “Those four men sitting up, there are your friends, and you plotted last night how to trick me. I was going to tell you what was wrong with you, and you were going to deny it.” They just turned around and fled the building.


I was with him in South Africa at a time when a large number of religious people rejected the ministry of healing, creating real pressures. There was a man in the meeting who was interested. He was of a denomination that was coming down on us very heavily. On the way home from the meeting, this man felt a hand on the back of his shirt. He turned around and there was no one there. But when he got home, he took off his shirt and found a handprint there – just as if a hot iron had left its imprint on his shirt. The shirt was shown in the next day’s newspaper.


Once in Des Moines, Iowa, a missionary from the South Seas who had just flown home because of a very serious ailment was standing in front of him. Branham started out by saying, “Oh, you’re a missionary. You just flew in today,” and then he named the place the man had come from. At that, the entire crowd went into jubilation.

New Wine Magazine, “New Wine Interviews Ern Baxter”, Christian Growth Ministries, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, pp. 4-7, 22-24

Here are some accounts shared by Gordon Lindsay:

We stopped over at Calgary, Canada, where Brother Branham was holding a seven day meeting. We had the opportunity to assist in the prayer-line, and there had a close-up view of the ministry of our brother. In one instance, we watched as he talked to a man lying on a cot. At first there was no sign of an intelligent response from the man. Explanation then came from the wife standing by, that the man was not only dying of cancer, but was deaf and could not hear what was being said.
Brother Branham then said that it would be necessary for the man to receive his hearing so he could instruct him concerning the healing of his cancer. There was a moment of prayer. Suddenly the man could hear! Great large tears rolled down the cheeks of that man whose face all evening had been so expressionless and impassive. He listened with deep interest as he was told of his deliverance from cancer.


One incident was of singular interest to Brother Moore and the writer. At the close of one of the services, as we were leaving the stage, a mother stopped and pleaded with us to pray for her little boy who was about five years of age and who was a deaf mute. She said she feared that Brother Branham would not be able to get to him. Brother Moore looked at me and said, “Lets pray for him.” After prayer we took him to the piano and satisfied ourselves that he could hear the music and then walked off the stage.


The next evening, during the healing service, we looked and lo, the same woman and the little boy came for prayer. She had secured a card (which were given by lot), and decided to use it, thinking that it would do no harm to bring the boy in the line again. Brother Moore and I naturally were intensely interested to know what Brother Branham would say to her as the spirit of God spoke through him.


As he looked at the child he said, “Mother, your child has been deaf,” which was of course correct. Then he looked again and said words to this effect. “Someone who has faith in God prayed for your child last night. Your child is delivered.”

Gordon Lindsay in his book, A Man Sent From God

Are there people who can testify of personal experiences?

Yes, multitudes. Here are a few easily found online. The editors of this website are aware of about two hundred and thirty living people who are part of message churches who claim to have had personal miracles through Bro. Branham’s ministry. The subjects of Bro. Branham’s ministry’s most famous healing cases have passed away. Unfortunately bodily healing is only temporary, but to have your spirit healed by Jesus, that is permanent.

What about reports of failed healing?

There are to our knowledge, no examples of anyone reporting a failed healing while Bro. Branham was still living. We believe this is a noteworthy fact. Reports of failed pronouncements of healing only surfaced after his death.

Alfred Pohl is the only eye witnesses of Bro. Branham’s healing campaigns we are aware of who gives specific cases where he says Bro. Branham pronounced people as healed, but they failed to receive healing. There are others who make claims that the healings and miracles were a hoax or failed, but none who provide specific cases to examine. Walter Hollenwager and W. J. Taylor are two often quoted sources who claim that healings failed, yet they provided no specific cases to examine.

There are many people Bro. Branham prayed for and told them they could be healed if they would believe. This is distinct from people he prayed for and said they were healed. The editors of this website hope our readers can appreciate this distinction. To tell someone they could be healed by believing was to instill in them the hope of healing as promised in the bible. But to actually pronounce them as healed is to speak something which must come to pass if it is truly of God.

The editors of this website do not believe it is possible for someone to “lose” their healing. The editors of this website also do not believe it is possible to simply “believe” your way into healing. Faith is indeed a critical element to receiving healing. However, the healing must be in the will of God. The scripture says “All things are possible to them who believe.” Truly, it is possible because God can do anything, but it will only come to pass if it is his will.

It is important to note, that Bro. Branham was told by an angel that all he had to do was get the people to believe, and nothing would stand in his way, not even cancer. Bro. Branham already had the will of God on his side when praying for people. That is why he could speak in a manner that people only needed faith. Because in his case, he already had the will of God.

We do not reject the statements of Pohl, Hollenwager, Taylor, or others who claim there were failed pronouncements of healing. They are troubling if they are true. However the bible is clear that we should only accept an accusation against an elder if be established by two or three witnesses. (1 Tim 5:19) As previously mentioned, Pohl is the only one to give specific cases to support his claims. Hollenwager and Taylor provide no evidence or specifics for us to evaluate their statements. As a result, we have no single incident with the two needed witnesses to arrive at a firm judgement on the matter.  Thus we have to conclude that the critics are actually violating the scripture by advancing their accusations that the miracles were a hoax. Why would professed Christians be throwing about accusations in an unscriptural manner? How can they expect believers to accept their accusations except they can make them according to scripture?

We are unaware of any person pronounced healed who later reported that failed to come to pass. The allegations of failed healing that do exist come from people who were third parties to the events that occurred. For example, in an OffTheShelf podcast, a lady claimed her mother was not healed. Yet her mother, who was the recipient of the miracle, believed she was healed. Perhaps, being a child, she did not correctly recall her mother’s case. Her mother was satisfied.

If Bro. Branham was pronouncing people healed who failed to be healed, why did none of them expose his fraud?  The case of evangelist Jack Coe is an excellent example of this. In the same years Bro. Branham was campaigning, Coe pronounced a young boy in Florida as healed. His parents took him off his medical treatment but he failed to recover. They went on to sue Jack Coe, and Coe was arrested and jailed. If Bro. Branham pronounced people as healed, and then they died, why did their relatives not take legal actions against him just like was pursued against Jack Coe? Why did none of them go to the news or seek damages?

It is the belief of the editors of this website that Pohl, Taylor, and Hollenwager mistook Bro. Branham saying “you are healed if you believe” for pronouncements of healing. (Pohl says the failed healings he witnesses were “Thus saith the Lord”.) The editors of this website are witnesses of multiple pronouncements of healing by Bro. Branham, none of which are known to have failed, and most of which had followup confirmation to prove the healing.

What about people who are known to have died after being pronounced healed?

Everyone Jesus pronounced healed eventually died. Even Lazareth, who he raised from the dead eventually died yet again. Everyone will die unless the rapture takes place during their lifetime. Bodily healing is only ever temporary. Congressman William Upshaw, who was able to give up his crutches after being healed, died of an unrelated issue about 22 months later. Howard Branham, who was pronounced healed during the 1940s following world war two injuries, died in 1957 due to complications of world war two injuries. Did 10+ years of healthy life count for nothing? 

Consider the case of King Hezekiah, who was sick and dying (2 Kings 20:1-15). Isaiah the prophet pronounced that God would extend his life by fifteen years. The illness was temporarily healed, but eventually took his life. Is this not a biblical case of a temporary healing? And as previously stated about Lazureth; he received the greatest healing possible: he was raised from the dead. Yet it was just temporary. There is no example in the scripture of anyone who received bodily healing, but did not eventually die.

Because of these and other biblical examples, a reasonable Christian can accept that someone who is healed will still eventually die. This is why healing of our spirits is far more important than healing of our bodies. Receiving Jesus will give us eternal life, whereas bodily healing just extends our natural life for a little longer.

By critics measure of evaluation, we would have to conclude that even the healings of Jesus were a hoax…

Jesus healed everyone, so why didn’t Bro. Branham?

Jeremy Bergen makes the following statement on his website, saying “It is clear that in Jesus ministry, everyone was healed that Jesus prayed for.” He goes on to say Bro. Branham should have the same results were he truly called of God.

This is flawed reasoning on two accounts. Firstly, Matthew 13:58 states: “And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” Even Jesus Christ was limited in the miracles he could do by the faith of the people he was ministering to.

Secondly, William Branham was not the Messiah. He was a prophet. In Jesus dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily. (Col 2:9) Believers like Bro. Branham however had merely a measure, or lesser degree, of that anointing. (Eph 4:7) Bro. Branham’s results should instead be compared to other prophets or the Apostles. Here the results are comparable. Paul prayed three times to be delivered of his vision impairment but was not healed. (2 Cor 12:8) Paul also reports (1 Cor 11:30) that there were many sick unhealed people in the church, and also pointed out that Timothy was a person with frequent health problems. (1 Tim 5:23) Healing was certainly not universal in the early church.

  1. https://www.dougwead.com/
  2. https://dougwead.wordpress.com/tag/indiana-district-assemblies-of-god/

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Mike
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Mike

Blank spots on tapes.

One stumbling block for me is seeing blank spots on tapes that seemingly happen at very specific times. Like recording a miracles, going in to details of what was done or who was there…

I think a frank discussion of this that doesnt gloss over it would be helpful to believers.

I understand recording technology, limitations, damages, losses etc…. But some blank spots do not seem random at all.

Thanks for your stabilizing work to the body of Jesus Christ!

J. Chase
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J. Chase

The editors of this website do not believe it is possible for someone to “lose” their healing. The editors of this website also do not believe it is possible to simply “believe” your way into healing. Faith is indeed a critical element to receiving healing. However, the healing must be in the will of God. The scripture says “All things are possible to them who believe.” Truly, it is possible because God can do anything, but it will only come to pass if it is his will. Brother Branham did teach that healing lasts as long as faith lasts .… Read more »