The Many Sects of the Message Movement
After William Branham died near the end of 1965 several key speakers started to gather a following. Most of them were William Branham’s contemporaries. Below is a list of the main groups.
- Dr. Lee Vayle – This sect is commonly referred to as “Perusia” (Greek word for presence) among the other sects, these people tend to emulate the brazen and crassness of their late founder. Lee Vayle is known for his hard line sermons often containing a long and drawn out “hooooogggggg-waaaassshhhh!” Lee is known for preaching that no one could be saved after 1977, a notable year to branhamites. The Perusia, or presence of God was thought to be “here” after 1977, meaning that “the Lamb” from the book of revelation was no longer on “the Mercy seat” in heaven. This meant no one could obtain Christian salvation. He later retracted this teaching.
- “Thunders” Lead by Joseph Coleman – The following behind this man is best known for his revelation about the seven thunders from chapter 10 of the book of revelation. Basically it can be summed up as “The Seven Thunders are the Seven Virtues.” Yup, that’s it. They tend to be very charismatic, much like the UPC or other strict fundamentalist holiness pentecostal groups.
- Junior Jackson – This man was a contemporary and friend of William Branham. After William Branham’s death, his teachings were more liberal and he developed a following. He re-preached several of William Branham’s sermons and attempted to correct the mistakes he had made. Some notable teachings are that the “previous civilization” William Branham mentioned (pre-Genesis creation epic) were the dinosaurs, which were wiped out due to some unknown disobedience. He also disagreed with William Branham’s interpretation of the New Jerusalem in the book of revelation. William Branham taught a literal interpretation, that the New Jerusalem would be a 1500 mile high and wide pyramid centered where the present day Jerusalem is. Junior Jackson taught that the biblical passage is in fact figurative, representing Jesus’ bride, which the text does specify (Revelation 21:9-15), and not a literal pyramid. Some have dubbed William Branham’s 1500 mile high pyramid as “ice cream cone world”, which becomes apparent when you look at a sketch of the earth with a 1500 mile high pyramid on it. Most of the pyramid would be in outer space, bombarded my meteors and extreme heat and cold depending on which side faced the sun.
- “Bride Coming” – This group believes that they are the second coming of Jesus Christ. In their view, the second coming of Jesus is a process that comes in stages, represented by the “shout”, “voice”, and “trump” of I Thesselonians 4:16. In March 1963 “the Lamb” is said to have opened the seven seals from the book of revelation Chapter 6 and delivered to William Marrion Branham to preach in his home church in Jeffersonville, Indiana, USA. Christ became incarnate in his Bride, starting with William Branham and then later progressing to whoever would “catch the revelation”, this was the shout. The voice represents the voice of the resurrection. And the trump is supposed to represent the rapture. There is some disagreement on who will utter “the voice”, as William Branham is now dead. Some believe it will be William Branham himself after he raises from the dead (see Return Ministry). The association of churches that the other sects refer to as “Bride Coming” is quite large, and includes such names as Donny Reagan (Happy Valley Church of Jesus Christ), Tim Pruitt, and Ed Byskal.
- “Tapes Only” – This group does not attend any church, but listens regularly to William Branham’s sermons. They may meet in groups, but often listen to sermons by themselves. Based on one quotation from their prophet from a questions and answers service, they justify their non church attendance. They often say things like “we follow the Word” or “Jesus is my pastor”. William Branham during his lifetime promoted church attendance in his sermons, saying, if you are going to be legalistic about something, it should be regarding church attendance.
- Voice of God – This sect is like the tapes only, but they support “Voice of God Recordings” with their tithe money. Joseph and Billy Paul Branham (William Branham’s sons) run Voice of God Recordings (VOGR) as a distribution center of transcripts and recordings of William Branham’s sermons. This sect holds Joseph Branham as a prophet, based on a quotation from William Branham’s recorded sermons.
- Return Ministry – This is a fairly large sect of people. A lot of William Branham’s original followers belong to this sect. They believe that William Branham will raise from the dead before the second coming of Jesus and fulfill several unfulfilled prophecies. When their founder died, there were several prophecies he had made that had not yet happened. He is supposed to go to set up a tent and hold 50s style revival meetings all over the USA, shoot a bear, fly in a certain airplane, and finally call for the resurrection (1 Thes 4:16). The other sects that do not accept this idea spiritualize the prophecies in some way. For instance, the tent is said to represent a part of William Branham’s ministry.
- Christ Branham – This group reveres William Branham the same way Christians would Jesus Christ. They believe he was “Christ”.
- Polygamy – There is a small sect of people who practice polygamy based on some quotes from William Branham. To many branhamites, William Branham’s quotations are sacred, or even regarded as infallible / “the Word of God”. Therefore it is easy for people with an ulterior motive to take things out of context and make a doctrine out of it. William Branham was against polygamy in both word and deed. But these believers find a technicality in his words, which they believe are infallible, to justify this practice.