William Branham was a Christian minister, usually credited with founding the post World War II faith healing movement. Whilst many Pentecostal Christians welcomed his evangelistic and healing ministry, and some even considered him to be a Prophet, a minority have accorded him an even higher status, believing that his ministry and teachings were supernaturally vindicated by God.
In May 1946, Branham reported receiving an angelic visitation, commissioning his worldwide ministry of evangelism and faith healing. His first meetings as a full time evangelist were held in St Louis, Missouri. Professor Allan Anderson of the University of Birmingham, has written that Branham’s sensational healing services, which began in 1946, are well documented and he was the pacesetter for those who followed.
U.S. Congressman William Upshaw, crippled for sixty-six years, publicly proclaimed his miraculous healing in a Branham meeting in a leaflet called I’m Standing on the Promises. William Branham also claimed that God’s miraculous intervention healed King George VI of England through his prayers.
Church ministers working with Branham in his meetings testified that he was able to reveal the thoughts, experiences, and needs of individuals who came to the platform for prayer. Branham claimed that this knowledge, which he called discernment, was given to him through visions.
On the night of January 24, 1950, an unusual photograph was taken during a speaking engagement in the Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston, Texas. A photograph, the only one of its film roll that developed, shows an apparent halo of light appearing above Branham’s head. A copy is held in the Library of Congress photograph collection.
William Branham preached thousands of sermons, of which almost 1,200 have been recorded and transcribed. His sermons dealt not only with the doctrines that would secure his place in modern religious history, but with staples of Pentecostalism such as personal prophecy. There are some that would even go as far to say that he was a judgement prophet like Jonah was in bible days.
Branham also went outside traditional Christian theology in his rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity and in his denunciation of the Oneness concept. From the late 1940s to the early 1950s it appears that Branham did not publicly denounce the Trinity in his campaign meetings, however to his congregation in Jeffersonville he was more open regarding his preference to the Oneness position.
Criticism of Branham’s ministry has focused not only on doctrinal differences, but on an assumption that he supported astrology. This is based on his comment that God wrote three Bibles. He said these were the zodiac, the great pyramid and the Holy Bible. He believed the first two predated any written Scripture, and are not for Christians today.
The followers of William Branham tend to distance themselves from controversial exclusiveness and maintain their homes in their communities. There is no headquarters. These churches have no membership or members and have little, if any, organization. Voice of God Recordings, the major distributor of materials related to William Branham’s ministry, currently produce print, audio, and video materials in more than 60 languages and maintain offices in over forty countries.
The largest concentration of Christians following William Branham is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where it is estimated that there are up to 2,000,000 followers. There are numerous churches following William Branham’s message in the United States and around the world. Branham’s followers should not be viewed as entirely monolithic as beliefs and interpretations of Branham’s teachings vary somewhat between groups.