Saturday, November 9, 2019

What Ern Baxter Really Thought of William Branham

A look at his 1978 interview with New Wine Magazine

By Roscoe Barnes III, PhD

#FFBosworth
#ErnBaxter
#WilliamBranham

Ern Baxter
(1914-1993)

Note: In 2018 I wrote about an interview of Ern Baxter that was conducted by Dewey Friedel. The interview, which was undated, reportedly occurred around 1991, according to one source. A transcript of the interview was culled from four videos entitled “Life on Wings – Interviews with Dr. Ern Baxter.” It was published as a book, which has been called “Life on Wings Transcripts.” The book was released by Ritch Carlton, Baxter’s administrator. For more information on the Dewey Friedel interview, see the article, “Why Ern Baxter Left the Ministry of William Branham” at this link.

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‘Awesome Account from Ern’s time 
with William Branham’

The December 1978 issue of New Wine Magazine featured a fascinating interview of Ern Baxter in which he talked about William Branham. Baxter opened up and shared what he really thought about Branham, who has been described as the pacesetter of the post-World War II healing revival.

Among other things, Baxter answered questions about the spiritual climate and the lack of the supernatural in the mid-1940s, the time when Branham burst onto the scene. He mentioned F.F. Bosworth, but did not elaborate on his ministry with Branham. “F.F. Bosworth joined up later than I did and shared in some of the meetings,” he said.

In his description of Branham, Baxter clearly identified him as the acknowledged leader of the healing revival that occurred in the 1940s and 1950s. He spoke about the accuracy of Branham’s “word of knowledge” that worked with his amazing gift of healing and the unusual way in which Branham received his ministry without any links to Pentecostalism or other healing revivalists.

Baxter also addressed the issue of speaking in tongues, Branham’s own Pentecostal experience, and the “end of that era of the healing revival.” Near the end of the interview, he talked about the failure of Branham and his own reason for leaving Branham’s ministry. Below are some of the highlights from the interview.

The entire New Wine interview can be read here.

 ‘Fountainhead’ of the revival

Baxter, who spent a number of years managing Branham's ministry, noted Branham was indeed the pacesetter of the Post-World War II healing revival, which occurred at a time when miracles of healing were sorely lacking in the church. “He was really the fountainhead of the healing revival of the 50’s and 60’s,” he said.

According to Baxter, the spiritual climate at the time was “very low.” “When William Branham came on the scene, he was the only one who had a genuine healing ministry at that time,” Baxter said. “Even the Jeffreys brothers from Great Britain had passed the peak of their ministry which was in the late 1930s.”

Because the supernatural element in the church appeared to be missing, what Branham brought was “newsworthy because of its relative novelty,” Baxter said.

‘Word of Knowledge’

Although simple and somewhat illiterate, Branham possessed an ability that was unheard of, according to Baxter. He had “a tremendous word of knowledge” that was 100 % accurate, Baxter said. He noted: “Branham never once made a mistake with the word of knowledge in all the years I was with him. That covers, in my case, thousands of instances.”

But long before his vocal use of the word of knowledge, in which he would give detailed description of people’s conditions, Branham was able to detect and identify diseases through a physical phenomenon in his hand, according to Baxter.

He would take the hand of the person in his. Immediately at the base of his thumb, in the thick part of his hand, there would be a specific manifestation according to the sickness or need. From seeing the phenomenon so often, I began to pick up what these were and became adept at reading them. Tuberculosis was a light pink flush. Cancer was an angry red appearance in which the ball of his thumb just seemed to surge like a wave.

Speaking in tongues

Branham was simply unique. Although well received by Pentecostals, he apparently had no knowledge of some of the biggest healing revivalists before him, like Charles Price, and “no direct link with pentecostalism in terms of his gift,” according to Baxter. He explained that Branham had no human models for his ministry, “certainly not in the realm of his word of knowledge,” and he was not inspired by any men or ministries before him. “He just seemed to break from a whole new source,” he said.

According to Baxter, Branham did not believe in evidential tongues. In fact, he said, Branham once told him “he didn’t believe that tongues was the evidence of the baptism.” When Baxter asked him directly about speaking in tongues, Branham reportedly said he had prayed about it while attending a Pentecostal mission. He told God: “These are apparently the only people that will accept my gift – let me talk in tongues so I’ll be acceptable.” At that time, Branham said, “God let him talk in tongues.” However, he never spoke in tongues again, according to Baxter. Even so, it seemed, the Pentecostals embraced him.

Public perception

When asked how Branham was received by people in the 1950s, Baxter said he was popular among the “common people,” and that was because of his supernatural gift. “But to most ministers he was an enigma from the very beginning,” Baxter said. “First of all, he was theologically, as well as academically, illiterate. When he would speak, his English grammar was bad, and his theology worse.” Baxter said he joined Branham’s ministry, in part, “to try to articulate and provide an apologetic for his ministry.”

Waning of the healing revival

In spite of all the good that was accomplished by the healing revival, the movement had its problems and it began losing steam. The evangelists who played a major role in the movement found themselves facing “major unprecedented problems,” according to Baxter. He observed:

Men were suddenly ushered into very prominent, eye-catching, supernatural ministries. Many of them couldn’t handle it personally. One of the sad aspects of the healing movement is the personal shipwrecks and breakdowns. I think the healing movement began to subside because of the way it was mishandled.

Some of the evangelists fell prey to personal temptation. Some got caught up in competition with other evangelists, while some made exaggerated claims about miracles and the size of their audience. Still others were carried away by fame and extravagance. Concerned, Baxter wrote an article for The Voiceof Healing that offered a stern warning to the evangelists. He titled it, “The Curse of Carnal Comparisons.” He wrote “that there was a good deal of Corinthianism already in the healing movement.” If things did not change “to remedy” the situation, “this movement would self-destruct,” he wrote. The evangelists were not pleased with the article.  

End of a ministry

Near the end of the interview, New Wine asked, “What brought William Branham’s ministry to a close?” Baxter said Branham got into error and stepped outside his boundaries as a “miracle worker.”

Citing Romans 12, Baxter said Christians “must walk within the confines of our gift.” He explained: “If a miracle worker, who may be used mightily in working miracles, steps over the boundaries of that gift and presumes, to be a teacher when God has not called him to teach, then he is violating the rule of walking within his grace.”

Baxter said he cautioned Branham about his “esoteric” messages, something he saw early on. In fact, he said, he “urged him not to say some things in public.” But when Branham continued, Baxter left his ministry. He concluded: “Branham, as a miracle worker, had a real place. Branham as a teacher was outside his calling. The fruits of his teaching ministry are not good.”

Conclusion

In closing, Baxter mentioned two important lessons the church can take from Branham and the healing revival: First, nobody can afford to violate plurality and walk alone. It doesn’t matter how gifted they might be. Second, “man does not live by miracles alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

Miracles and signs have their place in the church, but they are not food, Baxter explained. Rather, “they are signs to tell you where the food is. If you try to live on the signs, you get unbalanced nutrition,” he said.

Related articles:

 Why Ern Baxter Left the Ministry of William Branham: A Look at Problematic Concerns About Faith and ‘Borderline Psychic” Phenomena. See here.

“Brother Branham, you’re wrong”: F.F. Bosworth’s Surprising Rebuke of William Branham. See here.
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Reminder: "F.F. Bosworth History" is now on Twitter. Follow @bosworth_fred

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Note: My book, F.F. Bosworth: The Man Behind "Christ the Healer," can be purchased here with a 25% discount. Use the discount code: bosworth25.

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For more information:
Visit the F.F. Bosworth page here. Questions about the research and commentary on F.F. Bosworth may be directed to Roscoe Barnes III, Ph.D., via email at doctorbarnes3@gmail.com or roscoebarnes3@yahoo.com. For updates on F.F. Bosworth history, simply follow this blog or @bosworth_fred and @Roscoebarnes3 on Twitter. #ChristTheHealer #BosworthMention #BosworthMatters

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Coahoma Community College Writing Seminar

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