Branham Cloud Controversy

Late in 1962 William Branham, a preacher who had what is probably the most effective world wide evangelistic and healing ministry in the mid 1900s, spoke about a "blast" that could mean the end of his life or something dramatic. Well, something dramatic happened on February 28 1963 when a strange cloud appeared over Flagstaff, Arizona as recorded in Time Magazine. It apparently moved toward Sunset Mountain near Phoenix as darkness fell. 

Some days later William Branham arrived at Sunset mountain to go hunting when he claims a blast occurred and he was caught up by angels. He claims that those an\gels came to tell him to go to his home church in Jeffersonville, Indiana and preach on the Seven Seals of Revelation 6 and Revelation 8 v1. Branham also pointed out that when the main photo was turned sideways the cloud seemed to have the face of Jesus Christ looking down to earth.

 

The page in Life magazine (above) showed photos of the cloud, first seen over Flagstaff, Arizona on 28 February 1963. William Branham said that this cloud was made by seven angels and was heading to Sunset mountain near Phoenix. 

This was no normal cloud. It was dramatic, it was awe inspiring, it was unusual. It was some 26 miles or 137,000 feet high, well beyond the height at which water droplets can form to make a cloud. It was nearly 100,000 feet higher than the normal cruising altitude for today's passenger jet flights which, as most travelers know, fly above cloud.

Some claim that this event has been used by William Branham as evidence to bolster his claim to be a Prophet of God. It is also claimed to be used by cult followers in support of their claims that William Branham's ministry was a new move of God. Critics say that William Branham was hunting on the 28 February (illegally) and used the cloud phenomenon to build a story of angels in support of his ministry. 

Critics offer the suggestion that a wayward Thor rocket, launched from Vandeburg Air Force base north of Los Angeles earlier that same day (February 28), had proven unstable after launch and had to be destroyed. They add that it was the remnants from this rocket that caused the cloud.

Certainly the rocket was reportedly destroyed close to the same altitude as the cloud in the photograph, but Vansenburg Air Base is some 500 miles from Flagstaff where the cloud appeared. 

Critics also point to the apparent discrepancies in Branham's various accounts at that time. Branham was supposedly on a hunting trip in the Sunset mountain area near Tucson, Arizona. The dates and the order of events as given by Branham do seem, at first glance, inconsistent and incorrect.

As with all criticism much depends on initial assumptions and the intent of the enquirer. Certainly the inconsistency of dates would occur if Branham was at Sunset Mountain when that cloud appeared on the 28th February. He wasn't. He arrived about a week later! He recorded the sermon "the Absolute" in Houston, Texas on the 3rd March 1963, three days after the cloud appeared. He then had to travel to hunting site at Sunset Mountain in Arizona from Houston. That would need a day or two of travel for that distance on the roads of those days. In short William Branham was not on a hunting trip on the 28 February as the is recorded preaching in Houston on March 3 shows. He arrived at Sunset Mountain about the6th March. That would have been seven or eight days after the cloud appeared on 28 February. He was up the mountain when there was a blast that shook the mountain and Branham said that he was caught by the seven angels who had formed that cloud. He was given a message to preach the Seven Seals and then the cloud left that same day. Branham says no one took a photo of it on the day it left.

Any assumption that Branham saw the cloud in February is just that, an assumption with nothing to back it up. The claim that Branham was there in 28 February is a critic's creation of a straw man. That straw man is something  which can then be easily destroyed by the critic to "prove" the straw Branham was made of straw! How clever! 

There is a very interesting sermon about the cloud issue by Pastor Chad Lamb. He took over Believers Christian Fellowship (BCF) in Lima Ohio after the previous Pastor Jeff Jenkins decided the cloud and other issues were too intellectually challenging to allow him to continue to follow William Branham's teachings.

 

 

In the sermon, and it is a long sermon but well worth viewing, Bother Chad raises some serious issues about the Thor rocket theory being the explanation for the cloud. 

 

 

For example, for the Thor rocket remains to reach Flagstaff in time to be photographed as a cloud it would have to travel 510 miles in 3 hours and 48 minutes. Then it would have to dramatically slow down and change its course to head south-south east from Flagstaff toward Tucson. Remember at that height we are not talking about wind shifts. The weather is some 100,000 feet below.  

 

Not only that but, in spite of being a major event in plain view to everyone at Flagstaff (and for hundreds of miles around), those rocket remains would have had to make the journey all the way from the west coast to Flagstaff while being absolutely invisible! No one ever reported any such cloud until it appeared at Flagstaff. So to believe that the cloud was rocket remains, invisible for 3 hours and 48 minutes traveling at 135 miles per hour a little north of due east, then suddenly becoming visible and dramatically changing both course and speed, takes an incredible amount of faith.

The cloud was such a dramatic sight that there were some 80 plus photos from 35 different sites recorded at the time. And this was in the days when film and print costs made everyone far more selective of what to photograph and how many photos to take. (This is unlike today's almost unlimited "free" digital photography.)   

Brother Chad links so many events together to give a real time line of events. He also discusses the numerology involved in the cloud event and so much more. For example, the number 28. The lunar cycle (by which some people sow seeds and plants) is 28 days. It is also the number of days of a woman's cycle. 28 is the number of life. The cloud appeared on the 28th of February and was visible for 28 minutes. The cloud photographs appeared in which magazine? Life!

As for the cloud being a propaganda event for Branham's ministry there are several things worth noting. William Branham did not supply any of these photos to Life magazine. Nor was he involved in writing the article, nor the page layout. Yet there is another "coincidence" that must be explained.

Life magazine was running a two page article on strange sights in the sky. On the previous page, (the reverse side of the cloud photo), there is the only known colour photo of a moon rainbow. This unique rainbow photo was taken in Hawaii at night. The page layout has the moon rainbow placed at the top of the page. Incredibly it is so placed that if it bled through from its side of the page to the cloud photo side the rainbow sits over the head of the cloud. This looks like a fulfillment of Revelation 10 verse 1.

 

So, if Branham's account is accepted is a cloud of seven angels, with the face of Christ looking down to earth, appearing on the 28th day for 28 minutes being photographed as it moved toward Sunset Mountain during sunset. William Branham arrived about seven days later and claims to have been caught up with the angels and told to preach the Seven Seals in his home church. Photos of the cloud are laid out by Life magazine and placed in such a way that the rainbow is over the head of what looks like Christ coming down with seven angels. Revelation 10 v1 "And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head ....."

Critics would have to believe that this was all arranged by William Branham and the Life layout specialist. He would have had to keep the collusion secret so that when the cloud photo became an issue many years later his cultish followers could point and say, "See, this is Revelation 10 verse 1," 

Yea right!

Of course there was no collusion. Apparently Brother Branham didn't even know the photos would be in Life magazine, let alone arrange to have that rainbow photo from Hawaii placed on the other side of the page with the cloud photo. And what did the mighty angel of Revelation 10 v1 (Christ) come down with? The opened seven seal book. And Branham was told to preach the opening of the seven seals! 

A conspiracy? Get real!

For me Brother Branham has always opened the scriptures and made them alive. When I was in denominational churches the Bible was a religious history book. But when I heard William Branham's teachings it became a living reality. Jesus Christ, the Word of God, became a living personal friend. And this was because William Branham preached God's message for us today and was vindicated as God's messenger with miracles, healings and discernment.

Christianity isn't a set of rules, or a habit, It is life in all its abundance. If that makes me part of a cult then all I can say is that this cult I am in is the closest parallel to the church as seen in the book of Acts that has ever been.

As far as I am concerned this isn't a cult. All else is.

I'd like to finish with a note of my own failure. When I look at the cloud photo I cannot see the seven angels that Brother Branham mentions. In contrast I can see the four beasts that surround the throne of God. The face of a lion, a man, an eagle and a calf as well as the face of Christ. And that's real neat!  

I believe.  

 

Richard Oliver

Jan 2015. (V2 August 2015)

Any comments or question address them to elthammessagechurch@hotmail.com

 

Criticism Through History

Pharisees and Sadducees "proved" that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was a lie through the testimony of the tomb guards. (Actually a guard that failed to guard was put to death back then. For them to be alive and able to testify proves that their statements must be false. But the controversy lingers for the Jews to this day.) 

Mohammed claims that Jesus didn't die on the cross then rise again. Jesus' death was (supposedly) rigged. (Mohammed is claimed by Islam to be the true prophet, even though he neither fulfills scripture, nor does he do what all true prophets do, that is, agree and teach what previous vindicated prophets said.) 

Today there are historians and archeologists out to prove that Abraham, the Exodus and Solomon's temple are all lies. They claim to have proof, even if that proof is no more than their own interpretation of events and not real archeology or history.

If the Message brought by William Branham is from God then it too will have plenty of critics able to "prove" the teachings wrong and his position as a prophet false. That is the pattern.   

So lets take a critical look at the central belief of Christianity. The resurrection of Jesus Christ. Is what we have in the Bible a clear incontrovertible fact? Can it be proved that the eye witness accounts are consistent? Or is the resurrection of Jesus Christ is just a story used to bolster Jesus' claim to be the Messiah and was it also promoted by His cult followers to support their claims! (This is a direct parallel to criticism of Branham and his message.)

Let us make a comparison of the four gospel accounts of that Easter morning and see if they agree.

In Matthew Mary Magdalene and another Mary go to the tomb. There was an earthquake and the guards were scared stiff. In Mark's gospel the second Mary is identified as being the mother of James but there is no earthquake and no mention of the guards.  According to Luke's gospel it was those two Mary's plus Joanna and others who went together to the tomb. Again there is no mention of Matthews record of a great earthquake, and that is surely something of note. Nor does John's gospel mention the earthquake. It also only speaks of one person, Mary, going to the tomb of Jesus.

Now anyone looking for errors would find plenty of ammunition to claim the resurrection story to be false based on those gospel inconsistencies alone. Christians, of course, have faith that there will be a simple explanation and that it does all work out.

The point is that if we look to find fault we will find it. If we think inconsistences are a sign of error then any perceived inconsistency (and notice the word perceived) will prove us right. And there is no one more bigoted that someone who is certain that their attitude and understanding is correct.  There have always been skeptics, and it is good to be honestly challenged. But we are to avoid foolish questionings. And that is surely what most of the criticisms of Branham and the Message are.

Since the 1850s very clever intellectual liberal theologians have basically brought denominational churches to their knees, I recognise that same spirit trying to worm its way into the Message now. Without faith it is impossible to please God. And yes that may make me look an idiot, but I am in good company.

From an everyday practical point of view, all true eyewitness accounts of any event will differ. In fact, were they are all identical the charge would be that the whole thing was a conspiracy. Critics can always criticise and come up with logical arguments but that doesn't make the resurrection false, it doesn't make "The Message" untrue. The fact that all the apostles were willing to die rather than recant their faith is actually proof enough that Christianity is for real. And I have met enough eyewitnesses of miracles from William Branham's meetings, and heard enough of his messages to know he was a prophet sent from God.

Many of today's Cloud critics have left the message and joined or created "standard" Christian churches. That is hypocritical to say the least. If they would apply the same logic and intellectual reasoning they applied to the Cloud, for example, to the Bible then they would have to reject any form of the Christian faith, even of any religion. It is totally hypocritical to condemn people operating in faith and not apply the same stringent tests of truth on themselves and their faith. They claim to be promoting truth but a hypocrite is an unreliable angel of truth. 

Christianity does not stand on absolutely concrete provable facts. Christianity, as all religions, even as all sciences are, is based on faith. And that word faith is the key. 

Were Christianity a purely logical fact, proven by argument, then every sane person would be forced to believe or declared mad. But Christianity is faith based. And that is as true today as it was for the apostles. They couldn't explain or understand everything, especially when Jesus said that His followers would have to eat His flesh and drink His blood, but they hung on in there. Had their intellect been the deciding factor then their intellect would be their final truth, their god. They would have had to reject the prophet of their day. But just as the apostles recognised God in what this carpenter from Nazareth spoke about, and in what He did bringing scripture to life, so message believers today see the same thing in the life, ministry and teaching of William Branham.

The holiest place in the temple where God is, was was hidden by a veil. That veil became human flesh in Jesus Christ. And the veil is human flesh again. God is in His people, but in each major move that starts with one person. The Jewish leaders could not see God working through the man from Galilee and so it must be today. Many, probably most, will fail to see God working through the man from Jeffersonville, or through those who have that same Holy Spirit. 

The Cloud is a classic example of modern critics in action. The "proofs" that the cloud was not a supernatural event actually require far more faith than believing that it is supernatural and exactly what Brother Branham said!