Comment: Did Branham preach prosperity?

Erlend Førsund wrote on 15/5/08,

Dear Joseph R. Towns,

In your article about the faith movement you write that "Branham emphasised prosperity". As one who has studied the teachings of Rev. William Branham and as a personal critic of the prosperity teaching I was (to say the least) somewhat surprised to read your statement.

What I know about Rev. Branham tells me quite the opposite. In fact, he preached that Christians should be contented with what they have and that material things are not necessarily blessings from God. He criticized that greedy money-loving spirit that was creeping in among the pentecostal circles. Read this quote from 1963:
"I was speaking at a Christian Business Men one time, down there. I don't know how they ever had me back. I guess, 'cause they love me. But I--I--I don't... I tell them just what I--I know the Lord says. I don't say it to be smart. If I do, I need to be down there at the altar. I say it because I love them. I respect them. One night down there, testifying before businessmen of the world, how many Cadillacs they have, and what their little business. I said, 'Them men don't want that. Tell them about the humility of Christ.' I said, 'You're so much different from the early pentecostal Church. They sold everything they had, and give to the poor, and went out preaching the Gospel.' I said, 'You people trying to say how much you prospered, how much you got.' Not how much you got; how much you can get rid of!"
The movement he left behind, which I am a part of, are shocked by how the faith movement in their rude way propagate their greedy doctrine of prosperity. Such a teaching was never brought by Rev. Branham and it is certainly not found in the Bible.

So, the reason that I write to you is to give you constructive critique on the mentioned post of yours. Rev. William Branham did not emphasize prosperity. These quotes will give you a better reason to believe me. They are collected from Rev. Branham's sermons:

"God doesn't promise ease and prosperity. But He promises grace to endure in every trial. It's the grace that we look to." (1956)
"Prosperity always ruins people. That's a hard thing to say. But prosperity takes a man away from God." (1958)
"Prosperity is not always the sign that God is with you. Many times that's deceiving. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. But it's by their fruits they are known." (1959)
"People think that prosperity is a sign of spiritual blessing. That's exactly contrary." (1962)
"And, usually, prosperity causes sin. Many people look upon prosperity as blessings. It would be, if we could handle it right. But it usually leads to sin, dishonoring God." (1963)
"I was having a meeting. That night when they come back over to the Flamingo Motel, I said,'I'm ashamed of you fellows.' I said, 'It's a disgrace. All you talked about, before all the political leaders and things, and businessmen up-and-down here, was about, 'I had a little bitty business down here, and I got sixteen Cadillacs,' or whatever more.' I said, 'Them man, you can't compare with them.' That's what's the trouble with the church today, you are trying to compare with Hollywood. You're trying to make it like Hollywood. Remember, Hollywood glares; the Gospel glows. You can't go over on their ground; you've got to bring them on our ground." (1964)

In Christian love,

Bro. Erlend Førsund (Norway)

J. R. Towns replied on 15/5/2008,

Dear Erlend Førsund,

Thank you very much for your criticism of my mention of W. M Branham 'emphasising prosperity' in Origin of prosperity doctrine Part V.

I found your quotes informative, and I can see why you were surprised with my statement, "Branham emphasised prosperity as well as healing and taught about the intrinsic power of the spoken word."

Although your quotes do demonstrate that Branham's emphasis was different to those who have later built on his teaching (at least at times), do these quotes show that Branham never emphasised prosperity? In other words, is your knowledge of Branham exhaustive? (that is, is it completely comprehensive?).

By the sounds of things, you know of Branham better than I, and so I can only refer you to my sources, which seem to be reputable and I have assumed to be reliable:

Dwight J. Wilson, (Ph.D., University of California-Santa Cruz. Professor of History, Bethany Bible College, Santa Cruz, California) has made the following comments in his article on Branham in The International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (Burgess, Stanley M., et. al., 2003, Zondervan.):

"In contrast to the image-minded evangelist, he lived moderately, dressed modestly, and boasted of his youthful poverty. This endeared him to the throngs who idolized him. He was self-conscious about his lack of education, but the simplicity of his message had worldwide appeal. By emphasizing healing and prosperity and neglecting his Oneness theology, Branham was able to minister in Trinitarian pentecostal circles as well... His teaching on the power of the spoken word has been a characteristic of later revivalists. Kenneth Hagin identifies Branham as a prophet."
Leonard Lovett (Ph.D., Emory University. Chief Executive Officer, Seminex Ministries, Alexandria, Virginia) made the following comments in his article on Positive Confession Theology in the same Dictionary:

"...From Quimby, William Branham, E. W. Kenyon, and John G. Lake, a view of God emerged that is currently espoused by Hagin, Copeland, Capps, and Price."
I will follow this up some more, as you may also like to do, and if I can convince myself (or if you can convince me) that Branham did not emphasise prosperity at all (at least in the Trinitarian Pentecostal circles he ministered in), then I am more than happy to revise the statement I've made in this article.

With this in mind, if you'd like a list of Dwight J. Wilson's sources given in his article on Brahman (quoted above) then I can provide this also.

Again, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I always appreciate readers helping me to get the facts right!

Peace in Christ our Lord,

Joe | joe towns: christian discussion on pentecost, charisma, pentecostal and charismatic beliefs, the Bible and Jesus; including the origin and history of pentecostalism, baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, gifts and miracles, divine healing and word of faith, prosperity and wealth, praise and worship, guidance and hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit.