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“Brother Branham, you’re wrong.”

F.F. Bosworth’s Surprising Rebuke of William Branham

By Roscoe Barnes III

Author, F.F. Bosworth: The Man Behind Christ the Healer

Copyright © 2018

#FFBosworth

#BosworthMatters

F.F. Bosworth, left, and William Branham

In his book, Supernatural: The Life of William Branham (Tucson Tabernacle, 2001), Owen Jorgensen recounted an argument between William Branham and his ministry team in South Africa that prompted a swift and surprising reaction from F.F. Bosworth.

Branham wanted to stay in Johannesburg for a couple of weeks, go hunting for 10 days, and then go to Durban, but his team had different plans and a different itinerary. The incident, which occurred in October 1951, raised concerns about the team’s commitment to the local churches. Money had been spent and schedules had been approved. But those issues did not seem to matter to Branham, who wanted to go in the opposite direction.

When Branham insisted God had spoken to him and told him that he should not follow the approved schedules, Bosworth spoke up and rebuked him in the presence of the team members.

"Brother Branham," he said. "You are wrong."

Jorgensen featured the incident in a chapter titled, “Satan Springs His Trap 1951.” Satan’s trap, according to Branham, included Bosworth’s rebuke and those who chose to follow the approved schedules. In addition to Bosworth, the Branham team included Billy Paul Branham, Ern Baxter, Julius Stadsklev, and a group of South African ministers.

According to Jorgensen, Branham and his team had just held a successful salvation-healing meeting in Johannesburg. Up to 17,000 people reportedly attended the meeting in which many healings occurred. After the final service, Baxter announced plans to visit another city.

“After breakfast, Ern Baxter came to Bill and said, “Brother Branham, I’ve got some news for you. I know you want to go to Durban, but rather than going straight there from Johannesburg, the National Committee has set up an itinerary that will take us over 1,000 miles south to Capetown, then up the east coast to Durban.”

That night, wrote Jorgensen, Branham had a vision in which an angel appeared to him.

“The angel folded his arms across his chest, gazed sternly at Bill and said, “Don’t go with those men down to Capetown. Stay here in Johannesburg for two more weeks of meetings. Tomorrow you will meet a man…”

The angel reportedly had a word about hunting. He said that Branham would meet a man named Sidney Jackson who operated a farm up north. “He is a great hunter and he can take you on a safari,” the angel said. “After two weeks in Johannesburg, you must take the next 10 days and go hunting with Sidney Jackson. Then go straight to Durban and stay there until I call you. If you will do these things, I will give you the country.”

Branham pouts

After the vision, Branham rushed to the room where Baxter, his manager, was staying. He said: “Brother Baxter, wake up. The angel of the Lord just met me and told me we can’t take that itinerary the National Committee set up.”

Baxter referred him to the Rev. A.J. Schoeman, head of the National Committee, the organization that approved the meetings for Branham. When Schoeman learned of Branham’s wish, he explained that they had to keep the itinerary: “We’ve already spent thousands of dollars on advertising, and the people are expecting you to be there.”

Branham disagreed and began to sulk, according to Jorgensen.

On Friday, Oct. 12, 1951, Branham and his team loaded into three cars and headed southwest to Klerksdorp. At one point along the way, Branham, who rode in the lead car, told the driver to stop the car. The driver pulled over and stopped. He asked the evangelist what was bothering him. Branham said he could not go any farther and that he must return to Johannesburg.

The two cars following them also stopped. Schoeman walked over to Baxter and Bosworth and told them that Branham "refuses to go south." He urged the two men to speak with Branham.

Baxter and Bosworth got out of their car and walked over to Branham. After listening to Branham, Bosworth told him he was wrong. “If you go south with these men, I believe you’re going to see exceedingly abundantly above all you could ask or think,” he said.

As far as Branham was concerned, Bosworth was not convincing. To Branham, “it felt like the knife of betrayal had stabbed him between his ribs,” wrote Jorgensen.

“Daddy Bosworth, I’m shocked at you! As many times as you’ve stood on the platform and heard me say, ‘thus saith the lord,’ has it ever been wrong?”

Averting his eyes from Bill’s accusing glare, Bosworth mumbled, “Well, this time I think you’re wrong.”

Jorgensen noted the angry response from the South African ministers who were present: “One man said angrily, ‘Don’t you think that God speaks to somebody else besides you?’” Branham responded by reminding them of Korah, who was swallowed by the earth after he challenged Moses.

Gordon Lindsay's concern

 

In sharing the above account, it is important to note that Jorgensen’s book is not a critical biography or an exercise in objective journalism. Rather, it is a secondary source on Branham’s life history that presents a hagiographical perspective on the evangelist. As such, it tries to portray him in the best light. Jorgensen has acknowledged that the content in the book came primarily from Branham’s messages. In the section, “Endnotes and Sources,” Jorgensen noted: “Most of the details in this biography come from the personal testimony of William Branham as recorded in his 1,100+ sermons between 1947 and 1965.”

Jorgensen also drew material from Stadsklev’s book, William Branham: A Prophet Visits South Africa (1952). Interestingly enough, Stadsklev mentioned the team’s trip to Klerksdorp, but he did not mention the argument.

While some of the claims in Jorgensen’s book may be questionable, some of the incidents have been reported by other sources. For example, Branham’s tendency to cancel meetings was also noted by Gordon and Freda Lindsay.

In her book, My Diary Secrets (Christ For The Nations, 1976), Freda recounted a situation involving Branham and a series of meetings in Minneapolis, Minn. Branham had asked Gordon to arrange the meetings, which he did, and at great expense. However, the night before the meeting was set to begin, Gordon became alarmed when he could not reach Branham by phone. He eventually sent someone to Branham’s house and “insisted that Brother Branham answer his phone.” Freda wrote:

Branham called him back and said that he just felt led not to come to Minneapolis. A little preacher friend of his not too far from where Brother Branham lived wanted a “little meeting” so he just decided to go there and help this dear brother.

Gordon, of course was rightfully distressed. He reminded Brother Branham that he had asked him to set up this meeting; that Gordon had spent thousands of dollars in having the tent made and in shipping it to Minneapolis, plus getting the seats, the advertising, renting the organ and piano, etc. In addition Gordon told him that all future meetings would be canceled unless Brother Branham was a man of his word and kept his appointments.

Brother Branham’s response was unbelievable – almost childish. He said very meekly, “Now Brother Gordon, if you really think I should come, I will get in the car and drive all night long to get there. I didn’t really think it made all that much difference.

To make a long story short, he did drive all that night and got in just in time to go to the platform to preach without having even a chance to change his clothes.

Lessons for the church

The incident between Branham and Bosworth is an example of what can happen with Christian leaders and the people who work with them. It presents a number of important lessons for the church.

Lesson 1: Famous Christian leaders, no matter how gifted they may be, can still have flaws in some areas of their lives. Since nobody is perfect, nobody is always right. That includes the people who are charismatic, strong, and deeply admired.

Lesson 2: Christian leaders must dare to hold people accountable, including those they respect. No one should blindly follow anyone. Like Paul calling out Peter, Christians must take a stand and confront those who are found to be wrong in doctrine or in their behavior. Consider what Paul wrote in Galatians 2:11-13:

Paul Confronts Peter

But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. – New Living Translation (NLT)

Lesson 3: Christian leaders must have discernment. They should not be so emotional in their faith that they turn a blind eye to error. Instead, they should critically judge what they see and hear by the word of God. John wrote in 1 John 4:1:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. -- English Standard Version (ESV)

Lesson 4: Christian leaders will disagree on some issues. After all, they are human. In some cases, their disagreements may lead to heated arguments. Such was the case with Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15:36-41:

Disagreement Between Paul and Barnabas

Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. New International Version (NIV)

Lesson 5: Christian leaders have public and private voices. Depending on the situation, they will share information "on the record" and sometimes "off the record." Like politicians, they also have official versions of events and actual versions. In Bosworth's case, he used his public voice to praise Branham in books and magazines; he used his private voice to rebuke the self-proclaimed prophet. Bosworth's public voice was about marketing and public relations, but his private voice was about correction and accountability.

In his public voice, Bosworth boasted about the accuracy of Branham's discernment and his words from the Lord. However, in his private voice, he said Branham was wrong.

Lesson 6: Christian leaders should move beyond their conflict. No one is helped by holding grudges. The leaders must find a way to forgive and be reconciled, and then move forward in their work for the Lord. Bosworth and Branham eventually moved on with their work and remained close in their fellowship until the end.

Conclusion

This article is presented to shed light and provide commentary on the little-known incident in which Branham was rebuked by the elderly Bosworth. The story, as written by Jorgensen, gives readers a behind-the-scene look at the Branham campaign in South Africa in 1951. The story is a reminder that great events, even in the church, may come with challenges, disputes, and errors in judgment. Revival meetings are not immune to problems. But God’s grace is sufficient. And he is patient and full of mercy, even when leaders fail or miss his perfect will.

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For more information:

Visit ffbosworth.strikingly.com. See the Bosworth page here. Questions about the research and commentary on F.F. Bosworth may be directed to Roscoe Barnes III via email at doctorbarnes3@gmail.com or roscoebarnes3@yahoo.com. For updates on F.F. Bosworth history, simply follow this blog or @Roscoebarnes3 on Twitter. #ChristTheHealer

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