by Kevin Reeves
LTRP Note: The following article by Kevin Reeves describes the background of much of the Word-Faith, River movement, Latter Rain, IHOP, Joel’s Army, Apostles and Prophets movement, etc. taking place today. Mike Bickle, Rick Joyner, John Wimber, and many others rose out of the 1940s Latter Rain movement. Followers believe that the Latter Rain “revival” is the latter rain referred to in such Scriptures as Jeremiah 3:3, Joel 2:23, and Hosea 6:3. These movements have now intersected with the contemplative prayer movement; now combined with Purpose Driven, the emerging church, Willow Creek, etc., a powerful mystical body is merging as an apostate, end-time church.
“The Headwaters of the River”
by Kevin Reeves
In February of 1948 in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, a community of believers met to seek God for His power. A power did manifest. Miracles were reported, and Christians from all over set out on a pilgrimage to get this power. The Latter Rain movement emerged full-blown, evidencing supposed signs and wonders, prophetic utterances, and impartations via the laying on of hands. The movement was also marked with a spirit of elitism, false prophecies, and an inbred authority structure based upon the new “word of the Lord.” When the Christian community was faced with the decision between solid biblical teaching and awe-inspiring miracles, many swung their legs over the fence of indecision and jumped with both feet into one of the first major 20th century tributaries of the “River.” The reasoning went that a new thing, based on the prophecy in Isaiah 43:18-19, had sprung up. All concerns about doctrine or practice could be dealt with sometime down the road, if at all. The pendulum had swung from the Word to experience as the final arbiter.
What many do not realize is that two issues factored heavily into this revival. The first is that a 1946 book written by Franklin Hall, called Atomic Power with God Through Fasting and Prayer,1 was read and promoted by the revival’s leaders. The other is that one of the foremost prophets of the era, William Branham, had imparted his ministry power through the laying on of hands to some of those involved in this revival. His teachings were a strong determining factor in the Saskatchewan revival’s course.
The Franklin Hall book is a strong call to return the church to a pattern of fasting and prayer. While the premise of fasting is itself biblical, the book strangely asserted that without the discipline of fasting, prayer goes unanswered. As proof, Hall even cites the answered prayer received by pagans offering supplications to their false gods. In his excellent analysis of Dominion doctrine and practice, Vengeance Is Ours: The Church in Dominion, noted Christian researcher Al Dager astutely observes:
If we analyze Hall’s claims, we must come to the conclusion that those who pray to demons will have their prayers answered if they fast, but Christians will not have their prayers answered if they donâ€™t fast. At the least, it seems, they would be hindered greatly.2
In another of Hall’s books, he wrote that the church would eventually produce an elite group of overcomers with the power to defy the laws of gravity, to walk upside down, and even attain to present immortality. He also spoke of a shining gold dust appearing on the skin of believers. Interesting that reports of this kind of phenomena have been circulating in River churches–even though at least one chemically-analyzed “gold dust” sample proved to be nothing more than children’s plastic glitter.3
William Branham, called by some in today’s prophetic ministries the greatest prophet to have ever lived, had also drunk deeply of Hall’s teachings, including Atomic Power with God Through Fasting and Prayer. Emerging into the late 1940s spotlight with a reputation for accurate words of knowledge and miraculous healing power, Branham astounded the multitudes. It was said he could tell a person he’d never before met what conversations the person had and the situation which he was facing, and he could speak restoration to a chronically diseased part of the body and heal it. He made it known that he was a prophet of the Lord, and his preaching drew the crowds. But what those same crowds didn’t generally hear were some of his other pet doctrines.
Branham taught that Satan had sex with Eve in the Garden of Eden, and Cain was the result of that union. He taught that he himself was the seventh angel of the book of Revelation, that he was Elijah the prophet, and that a belief in the Trinity was of the devil. But as long as he kept these beliefs under his hat and continued to wow the mob, the invitations to speak at churches worldwide kept pouring in.
His life certainly appeared marked by the miraculous. And Branham had no hesitation to say so. His testimony included a halo around him at his birth, and an actual photo of him in later life shows what appears to be a ring of light around his head while he stands at the pulpit preaching. It’s what his followers have sometimes called The Pillar of Fire. This strange phenomenon supposedly happened in grander manifestation on June 11, 1933 as Branham was baptizing converts in the Ohio River near Jefferson, Indiana. Hearing a voice tell him to look up, Branham beheld a mysterious, star-like light in the sky, which rapidly descended until it rested just above him. Some in the crowd of 4,000 fell in worship, others ran in terror. The voice commissioned Branham, telling him that as John the Baptist was the forerunner of the Messiah, so Branham would be the forerunner of Christ’s second coming.
On February 28, 1963 a few miles from Tucson, Arizona, an immense, bright ring of cloud appeared in the clear sky. Branham claimed he was caught up into its midst where it turned out to be “seven mighty angels” who had appeared to give him yet another divine commission; this time he was to make known to the church the mystery of the seven seals of the book of Revelation.4
Taken at face value, this means that the incomplete church had waited two thousand years for Branham to appear on the scene.
A presence made itself known around Branham throughout his life. He had been followed since childhood by a spiritual being that, when Branham reached manhood, manifested as a young man with long hair and flowing robes. Stepping out from a ball of brilliant light, this being commissioned him to go out and heal the afflicted and said that he would know of diseases present that affected an individual by vibrations in his left hand. Branham also claimed to have been given another spiritual gift–he would know what was in the hearts of men.5
Killed by injuries received in an automobile collision in 1965, Branham has physically faded from the scene, but his legacy of incredible tales, supernatural signs, and prophetic anointing lives on. He has a following to this day.
Branham’s tradition of sensing the anointing in one’s hands is something that continues as well. Many of those within the old Latter Rain ranks, and in the Faith Movement that followed, claim heat or vibrations in their hands which they believe indicates the presence of God for healing…. While Branham and Latter Rain proponents claimed allegiance to God’s inerrant Word, their practices and peculiar doctrines denied it. Here are some of the basic beliefs they do adhere to:
* A great, end-times army will arise and take authority over the earth, putting Satan and his minions under their feet.
*The last days remnant of the true church (meaning those adhering to the Latter Rain doctrine) are the elite.
* Specific desirable anointings can be imparted from person to person by the laying on of hands.
* The church needs to experience restoration of all the gifts and revelation knowledge of who we really are in order to walk in fullness of power and finally be complete.
* Modern apostles and prophets must be set up in the church and the elect must submit to them.
* Restoration of the five-fold ministry of Ephesians 4:11 must take place for that authority structure to be erected.
* The church must come into complete physical unity.
* The rapture of believers is a myth, spawned by Satan to corral the church into a retreat mentality.
Some Latter Rain adherents no longer wait with yearning for the redemption of our bodies at the Second Coming. Now, in place of the rapture, they teach to expect Christ to come in us, instead of for us.
According to the Bible, believers in the last days are not, in triumph, going to make the nations fall at their feet (Matthew 24:9). And as for the need for restoration of revelation knowledge in order to be complete–we’ve always been complete in Christ Jesus (Colossians 2:10). We have always had all the authority (Matthew 28:18; Titus 2:11-15), gifts, and revelation knowledge needed to live righteous before Him and be witnesses of Christ before a lost world (II Peter 1:3)…. The God of the Bible is big enough to carry on the work of the Spirit’s empowering throughout world history. He doesn’t need to create it over and over, as Latter Rain doctrine insists. The canon of Scripture is forever closed. Prophets, by their pronouncements, add to the Bible. This was their purpose before the complete written testimony was set down. There is nothing lacking in the scriptural record. Today’s supposed prophets add to the Bible. While they vehemently deny this, a quick glance at their words from the Lord is enough evidence to stop them cold.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (II Timothy 4:3-4)
(For more information on this, read The Other Side of the River by Kevin Reeves.)
1. Franklin Hall, Atomic Power with God Through Fasting and Prayer, 1946.
2. Albert James Dager, Vengeance is Ours (Redmond, WA: Sword Publishers, 1990). p. 51.
3. Mary Owen, “Oregon church says gold dust, feathers fell during meetings” (Charisma magazine, September 2000, http://www. charisma mag.com /display.php?id=517, accessed 02/07); also see “There’s Gold in Them Thar Teeth” by Mike Oppenheimer, http://www.letusreason.org/Pent5.htm, accessed 02/07.
4. Mike Oppenheimer, “The Teachings of ‘the Prophet’ William Branham” (Let Us Reason ministries, http://www.letusreason.org/Latrain4.htm, accessed on 01/07).
5. Ibid. For photos, history and detailed information on William Branham, see http://www.biblebelievers.org.