message issues

a simple summary of concerns that should not be ignored

Identifying the Issues with the Message

Morning Mercy has never been about dealing with the specific doctrinal issues of the message. There are many websites that deal with breaking down the issues (many of which I will cite in the content below). However, in the past years, I have wanted to leave a record of why I left the message.  The following page will not be a comprehensive list of issues (that would be extremely long and detailed). This gives a very brief explanation of my concern, with links and resources to further examine the issues in detail. 


These are the highlights of what personally impacted me, leading to my leaving the church: 

The Compounding Problem

Individually, issues that arose regarding William Branham or any perceived “failure” were not deeply concerning. 

He was human, and none of us are perfect. He was uneducated and simple. He was like all of God’s men – called from the wilderness, unlearned, and being used in all his humility and unworthiness. It wasn’t the details that mattered; it was the sum of the Message – and we heard “The Voice” and were responding to it as the elected bride should. 

I probably would never have given the issues credenceI was a believer. Holding an absolute belief in the prophetic office and position of William Branham, an alleged or apparent ‘mistake’ (or even several) did not give me authority to challenge it.

Accusers were supposed to come, in pattern with other biblical prophets; including the ministry of Jesus Himself. We were in the season of Jesus coming again in Word form;  and as expected, he was being crucified anew.

However – I had reason to stop and look.  

First of all, the people presenting the issues were good friends – I was worried. Given their dedication to sharing the message through missionary efforts (we are talking about Believe the Sign here), I was shocked they were expressing doubt.  It warranted taking time to look at their concerns, so that I could offer a path to stable ground.

The bigger issue, I would discover,  was that they weren’t just raising a mere handful of concerns. They were suggesting the issues were extensive and pertained to core tenets of the Message . 

There was no single issue that would have been enough to scare me. However, William Branham didn’t have a single-issue problem; he had a compounding problem. 

What I eventually recognized was a pattern in William Branham’s life. He was consistent in speaking carelessly – disregarding a need to be precise in his claims, when it was his claims which were (by his own words)  his vindication.  If it were a handful of issues, I could forgive. When it was a clear demonstration of questionable character, it raised an alarming concern.

The listed issues here are only a few (of an endless list) which, personally, I found exceptionally troubling. 

The Cloud Mystery

Snapshot Summary of Problems

  • William Branham identified the cloud in the photo, claiming it was the same one he was standing beneath it as it was ascending.
  • He could not have been. On the day it was photographed, he was in a location 200 miles away.
  • Furthermore, the cloud appeared a full week before William Branham was even there for his hunt.
  • The details of the clouds were continually revised over time (eg. the cloud was comprised of 5 angels, then 7 angels)

My Perspective

The Importance of the Cloud

For the entirety of my time in the Message, “The Cloud” was heralded as an event and symbol of vindication for the supernatural ministry of William Branham. The photo hung on the walls of churches and homes, and was used in sermons with utmost reverence.  According to Branham, this was the very cloud of angels which paid visit to him in preparation for the preaching of the mysterious Seven Seals. 

The Response from Message Ministers

In defense against the critics,  message ministers have tried to dismiss the importance of the cloud. Some tried to offer alternative timelines, super-spiritual explanations (eg. him being caught up in another dimension), or merely confused and mistaken at the intersection of his humanity and the supernatural realm.

More simplistically, it’s been suggested the cloud was not important to the vindication of the prophet at all; it was merely a heavenly sign declaring a coming event. The revelation of the message, after all, was in the teachings (word), not in the signs. 

The problem is, until the discrepancy was exposed, the cloud had remained a centerpiece sign of vindication for William Branham’s message ministry. Furthermore, to dismiss it’s importance would be to ignore the very words of William Branham himself. It was expressed as being pivotal evidence of the importance of his ministry – and he laid claim to the photographed cloud as a witness and participant.

Why would sometthing so rooted and integral in the message become so suddenly dismissed when shown to be an impossible claim?

Video Explanations

1933 Baptism on the Ohio River

Summary of Problems

  • William Branham’s retelling of the event changed over time, significantly revising the number of people involved.
  •  At times it was 130 people baptized, at other times it was 200-300, then 500 people, and then 1000 converts. 
  • The audience, according to Branham, went from hundreds of people, to 4,000-5,000 people, to 7,000-8,000, to over 10,000 people. The local newspaper, which documented the most mundane events, reported there were 14 converts.
  • William Branham claimed a light (the same one that lead Israel) appeared over the scene on the river. 
  • In later retellings, he added that a voice spoke from the light – which spoke varying messages, including that his ministry would forerun the second coming of Christ.
  • Branham claimed many witnessed it, and it was reported widely in newspapers for the significance of the astounding , supernatural scene. No such records can be found anywhere, nor witnesses produced. 

My Perspective

The greatest concern I hold in these issues is the impact that exaggerated claims have on our minds. The more I’ve thought about it over the years, the more disturbing it becomes.  Because of stories like this which superficially elevate the significance of an event – we can’t help but to elevate our opinion of him based on untruths. It is unmerited reverence. 

When spoken across pulpits and in Sunday School lessons, or listened to on tapes – it is perpetuated as unchallenged fact – and it reinforces our deeply held belief that William Branham was exceptional and in the league of prophets.  

The wild disparity between variations is not spoken about or acknowledge to the point we don’t even know about an issue right in front of our face. It numbs us to caring about accuracy, facts and details that establish the credibility of what we are hearing.  We settle for “he said it, and we believe”. 

This is part of the compounding concern I developed when examining the pattern in William Branham’s character and message. 

Video Explanations

1933 Prophesies

Snapshot Summary of Problems

  • William Branham claimed to be a prophet, touting infallible accuracy for his prophecies coming to pass – thereby vindicating his Ministry.
  • The is no record or proof that he made any future-predicting prophesy prior to these events happening. He only began speaking about them in the early 1950’s – long after the historical event passed.  
  • He claimed to have the prophecies written down, one would assume, to preserve the accuracy for when they came to pass. Yet the prophecies continually changed, sometimes dramatically, over the years – and were often incorrect or inaccurate even as he claimed them to be true. 
  • He claimed to have placed a paper with the prophecies written on them inside the cornerstone of the church building. Despite the cornerstone being examined on more than one occasion, the paper was not found. 

My Perspective

Consider a person coming into the message and hearing the term “prophet” applied to Branham. The natural first thought is “then he must have foretold many things correctly”.  Consequently,  these prophecies hold a lot of weight.

Without knowing the full picture of how these prophecies came to be and the many variations, it’s unlikely for them to be able unravel inconsistencies and revisionism. They wouldn’t know there is no evidence that any occurred prior to the historical events. Similar to my own experience when I first heard the prophecies – I trustingly assumed they must be true, because how else could an entire church full of people believe Branham? It’s easy to be disarmed with awe and community agreement. 

For longtime believers who never really examined (eg. children who were raised to inherently believe), they are generally long past the place of questioning and critical thinking. It’s true because they believe it, rather than believing it because it’s true.

For the prophecies themselves, it is difficult to be gracious in the face of such utter failure. As a disarmed believer, there came an ease with which I could stretch and bend reality to align with the prophecies. I didn’t require accuracy; the confidence I had in the humility, mystique and simplicity of William Branham – the man – held sway over any confusion. But over years and becoming more honest, it was apparent accuracy was not William Branham’s forte. 

In the sum of his track record and in sight of the real historical record, I can only conclude that the humility and mystique of Branham was greatly exaggerated.  

Plagiarism of the Seven Seals, Church Ages & More

Summary of Problems

  • William Branham positioned himself as a Malachi prophet sent to bring Divinely revealed ‘mystery-truths’that would turn the hearts of the church back to the original faith.
  • He made it seem like he was under deep inspiration and council from God in receiving these teachings. Most unwitting believers would be left thinking the inspiration was directly from the mind of Branham, under the inspiration of God. 
  • For many (all?) of the key doctrinal mysteries (including The Seven Seals, The Church Ages, Future Home), it was found that Branham would often use the writings, explanations, words of other men (nearly verbatim)  in his “inspired” teaching. 
  • Though he would lightly cite names of historians, scholars and biblical teachers, he didn’t openly disclose how exactly his ideas followed their teaching. For example, the exact dates of the church ages, which William Branham led believers to think were divinely revealed to him, were precisely taken from Clarence Larkin.

My Perspective

Much like other issues concerning William Branham, in isolation, I might not find the circumstances of “plagiarism” to warrant my full concern. For myself, I was aware of the times he mentioned referencing other historians and teachers of theology – such as Larkin or Russell. I recall hearing message teachers making mention of these sources of information – and I had seen the charts from Larkin that outlined his perspective.

I also held the belief that William Branham was relatively uneducated man, as he often admitted to. It was understandable, or even expected, that he may use reference to study. This is a normal activity for a student of any subject.

However, these  weren’t 10th grade school assignments. This was a man who claimed to be receiving direct and inspired information from God,  to teach the material upon which the salvation of mankind hinged. It seems conflicting that he needed to lean so heavily on books he accumulated in his library, while strongly suggesting his was finding inspiration through visions and visitation of angels.

The first times I saw the direct comparison between the words of the source material and Branham was shocking in that he made so little effort to use his own words in many instances. 

The Deterioration of Trust & Benefit Toward William Branham

This issue is not isolated to one of plagiarism – and this is the essential difference between the critic and the apologist of William Branham.  

The apologist gives much leeway and grace to his humanity, saying he too made mistakes, was uneducated and was prone to exaggeration. However, the critic is observing a lifelong pattern of concerning behavior in all aspects of Branham’s life and ministry. To give him any benefit of the doubt for his claim of Divine inspiration is difficult, when it can be proven his tendency to fabrication – and in this case, the extent of how he “borrowed” from other men. 

Video Explanations

Do Some Homework!

As with any accusation, I encourage you to look up the defense of these plagiarism allegations from Message ministers. There are well made efforts to give a different view, and gathering a fuller picture is an honest approach with such heavy accusation. 

My Personal Opinion of Branham

Branham knew his audience, and by the time his ministry had fallen into disrepute, he was no longer clamoring to appeal to masses. Bridges were burnt and, in some circles, he was already exposed. However, his loyal followers had shown they were willing to look past, endure and/or were unable to recognize inconsistencies and failures. It offered a confident path to lead fearlessly and boldly – for what would it matter? Who would contest?

To implicitly embrace the prophetic or spiritual nature of any figure is to be intellectually disarmed. All of the men leading the charismatic, divine healing movement would have known and recognized this trait in their audiences (hence the ascent of many troubling personalities via that movement). 

William Branham could likely have said anything, and it would have been accepted by his most loyal. For a man who desperately needed to produce the end-time revelation he teased, it makes sense he turned to predecessors who dabbled in these same subjects. To leverage the ideas of men more intellectual and studied than him, it allowed him to present a version of end-time revelation that sounded both plausible and divine. He was incapable of this on his own. 

I believe this is the essential product Message theology. The material curated by loyalists in the years following Branham’s death were written by the intellectually disarmed – or by those aware of power in his coattails. It served to preserve and uplift the mythology – and a following of generations would unwittingly follow.  

The Boy from Finland

Summary of Problems

  • In the retellings of this miraculous event, there are alarming inconsistencies
  • In sharing how he had the vision of the boy, he had contradicting versions ((1)awakened from his sleep at 3am… (2) while riding on a train in Miami, Florida…  (3) while passing by a train in Georgia)
  • In retelling the event, the tragedy unfolded in wildly differing ways ( [1] the unconscious boy was carried to a car, where he was prayed for and was revived, [2] the boy couldn’t be moved due to the laws, so he knelt by the boy on the road, and the boy came to life and ran around praising God
  • Other witnesses offered conflicting versions that didn’t align with Branham; especially in what happened with the boy’s body
  • Additional details continued to be added over time, becoming more dramatic (including the way he dramatically challenged any doubters he would pin a “false prophet” sign on his back if the boy wasn’t raised)

My Perspective

I find it astonishing that, for the enormity of this event, William Branham couldn’t recall critical details. His versions so wildly differed that I could not help but question his integrity, simply for the absolute carelessness for accuracy.

How could he not be straightforward with what happened?  Why not be transparent, and just tell the story; it doesn’t need exaggeration.

Unless there’s motive to incite emotional influence to impact an audience, and build his credibility.  It is my opinion, similar to all claims of supernatural events in his life, William Branham used this story as a method of emotional manipulation.

I also noted that William Branham was decisive in declaring the boy dead; other witnesses were more measured, sometimes saying the boy was “unconscious”.  Was the boy actually dead, or only rendered unconscious, as one might expect from a head injury?  They were on their way to the hospital at the time of his reviving; it would seem that there’s no clarity on the actual status of the boy – aside from William Branham’s strong claims (which benefited the sensation and emotional impact of his story).

Municipal Bridge Vision

Summary of Problems

  • William Branham claimed having a vision as a child of 16 men losing their lives by drowning in the construction of Louisville Municipal Bridge.
  • Extensive research was conducted through the historical records of the constructions; there is no evidence of this claim coming to pass. 
  • Branham provided a timeline of when he had the vision – and when it should come to pass (22 years later). Based on dates when the Bridge was completed in 1929, the bridge would have been completed years prior than the supposed fulfillment.

My Perspective

A failed prophecy/vision used to Branham’s benefit and credibility.

William Branham spent his entire ministry making claims to establish his authority as a prophet messenger. Although one might call this vision an inconsequential and unimportant that had little value to “The Message” he was sent to deliver – it’s follows the pattern of speaking claims to influence his audience. 

Branham used these stories to his benefit. He spoke with a matter-of-fact confidence that went unchecked – and an unwitting audience would walk away effected by the claims.  

The Man from Windsor

My Perspective

An Intimidating Story of Power

In this story he repeated on many occasions, Branham claimed to receive a prayer card from a deceptive man claiming to have multiple illnesses. The man was allegedly attempting to expose Branham’s gift as being fake by having him try to proclaim healing over him for ailments he didn’t have. However, according to Branham, his gift allowed him to discern the man was not sick, and instead exposed the man’s false intentions. 

Many details and inconsistencies arose over years of retelling, which faithful followers consider to be human lapses in memory, and therefore, inconsequential.

In the initial version of the story, Branham tells how he extended mercy to the man who had asked for forgiveness. However, all further versions turned into a much different outcome. From year to year and service to service, the consequence of God’s displeasure changed.

In some cases, the man was bedfast. In other cases, the man died within 6 months – or in a year. Sometimes the man was only in a serious condition, in other instances, the man was carried from the meeting paralyzed. 

Whatever the case may be, that Branham so carelessly dispensed God’s wrath as a consequence of disbelieving his gift/ministry is an alarming demonstration of recklessness  There is no evidence to suggest any version of the story is true, let alone there being multiple variations. 

In retelling such a powerful story of God’s displeasure at disbelieving Branham’s authority, one might think it would be important to the speaker to be precise and accurate. After all, the story is a lesson about having absolute faith and trust in what “the prophet” is speaking and doing. If you are wanting me to trust your word, then let your word be correct, straight and honest. 

Did it happen, or did it not happen? If it happened – surely he would care to know exactly what happened?

Snapshot Summary of Problems

According to the story, the Man from Windor met multiple conclusions:

  • January 10, 1950: “…is there forgiveness for me?” There was.
  • May 8, 1953:  “The disease that you put on that prayer card will be on you the rest of your life.” And it is.
  • September 2, 1954: “Now, the things …on your prayer card, is on you. You have it now…” Far as I know, the man’s in eternity today, dead.
  • March 7, 1956: And the man’s laying bedfast to this day.
  • December 9, 1956: ”What you put on your prayer card, you have.” And screaming, he run from the building. …I don’t know what ever happened.
  • December 7, 1957: ”The thing that you put on your prayer card…, is on you now.” The man died about a year later
  • June 30, 1957: “But the last time I heard him, I never heard no more, just a letter from some of the people, that he was in a serious condition.”
  • February 8, 1958: “Now, what was on your prayer card you have.” He died about six months later with a cancer. “
  • February 30, 1958: “And I said, “Now, what you put on your prayer card, you have.” …They took him out paralyzed, and he’s still paralyzed.”
  • January 24, 1962: “I said, “I said, “The things that you got on your card is upon you.” He died about six weeks after that.”
  • November 24, 1963: “I said, “Sir, you put ‘TB and cancer’ on that card, and now you have it. It’s yours now.”
Alfred Pohl: A Witness to Fraud & Failure

Summary of Problems

  • Alfred Pohl, a Pentecostal leader, assisted William Branham during his 1940 healing campaigns in Canada, and initially believed in the genuine gift Branham claimed
  • He later would leave the Pentecostal movement after observing alarming problems and a path of failed healings
  • In his follow up to the campaigns, he learned that despite Branham’s assuring declaration of healing, people were, en masse, dying or deteriorating just as they were. In some personal instances, he talked with families that were bewildered at the soon passing of their loved ones. They had received their healing, and still perished. 
  • He was bothered by the “out” Branham left himself, when he would suggest that people had to keep faith for healing to hold.

My Perspective

When coming into the message, I was introduced by concerned friends to a man named Alfred Pohl. He was a minister who was privileged to work closely with Branham during his healing campaigns. 

At the time, I was being ‘loved bombed’ by the church – and although I was alarmed at reading Alfred Pohl’s account – I opted to dismiss it. A regret I struggle to think about to this day. 

One might think, why would I accept the words of one critic, and not the testimonies of those who affirm Branham’s gift? It’s a valid question. I think my story is a good demonstration. 

In isolation, Alfred Pohl is a mere critic and an unbeliever. In comparison to the greater trust I had in the Message, he was just a Pharisee and an accuser. But when placed alongside a mountain of similar concerns, and view from a mindset of critical thought – it’s not just one critic. I can now point to countless episodes of deception and failure in Branham’s ministry. There are more than Alfred Pohl who were alarmed with Branham.

The entire faith healing movement was rife with fraud, deception and corruption. We believed Branham to be authentic and the others were merely counterfeits. I would argue, the track record suggests that Branham is implicated more responsible for how corrupt the faith healing industry became; his example paved the way for enormous harm. 

Also, I find the ‘disclaimer’ Branham gave that healing was entirely dependent on the faith of the individual to be incongruent with Biblical teaching. Furthermore, an exposing backdoor for a man who, by the accounts of many, failed often in his so-called gifts.