A long time ago, in a town not far away, I ran a website called The Bride of Christ Homepage. It was my first foray into html and delving into programming, so it was a little crude, but I learned a lot from it. It was kind of a hub for message believers… I had a “guestbook” page, links, quotes, audio clips… lots of neat stuff that nobody was doing yet. Eventually, some great sites popped up. Bro. Byskal’s church started to host the entire message online in mp3. Numerous sites had the whole message in a readable format. MessageLinks.org began linking to anyone and anything that claimed to believe the message… and social sites for the message came around. So, when I decided to stop working on the Bride of Christ Homepage, I was comforted by the idea that there were already numerous sites doing what I was doing, and some even did a better job than I had.
Fast forward to the here and now. I’m chatting with a brother on Sunday, and he mentions that messagelinks.org has taken down all of their links. Curious and somewhat skeptical, I browsed to Sam Borlovan’s old website, and lo and behold, all of the links are down. Well, not all of the links. There’s still pointers to branham.org. Perhaps they were planning on renaming the site, “messagelink.org?”
Disappointing. That was the first word that came to mind. I’m disappointed with these brothers’ decision to take down a site that has been a valuable tool to the Bride of Christ on the internet over disagreeing with a few ministers. I re-iterate: Disappointing.
I’d like to cover, in detail, their IMPORTANT UPDATE dated 05 Feb 2008. Since they don’t want any “carnal discussion” of their decision, I’ll have to settle for writing it here. Let me be plain, I am critical of their decision. Their words are italicized in blocks.
First let us understand that this letter does not serve to open any carnal debate or a forum for discussion (the judgement that comes from spiritual discernment is final: I CORINTHIANS 2:151).
Translation: “We’ve made up our minds, and we don’t want to hear from anyone that disagrees with us.” Let’s be honest, brethren, anyone can make a decision and say it was divinely inspired. Whether or not it is done according to scripture, and has the right motive and objective, is what determines whether or not it was spiritual discernment. Since we’re quoting scripture,
1 Peter 3:15
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
I agree that we’re not supposed to be “fussing,” as Brother Branham put it. When it comes to doctrinal truths, we’re not to pretend we’re on the debate squad and gender strife endlessly. But we should not be afraid to answer those who disagree with us. Once actions are examined by scripture, and our motive and objectives are made clear, we should all be in one accord. To me, dismissing any and all criticism as “carnal” and shutting oneself off from any influence of the rest of the body shows a lack of confidence in what is presented, if not a twinge of arrogance. I definitely detect a lack of meekness or fear.
The owners and operators of this web page can no longer in clear conscience provide a hub or a link between some churches who claim to follow the Message, specifically churches who stream their services on the world wide web to spread their influence further than their own body.
When you indict churches as “claiming” to follow the message, you are, in fact, inferring they are not part of the Bride. They’re not, “true believers,” as those who believe exactly like yourselves are.
We then see a further condemnation of churches who stream their services on the internet. That would definitely include the internet site of my church. At bswt.org, we stream our services as well. But it is certainly not to “spread our influence further than our own body.” It is specifically to let our congregational members who cannot attend a service listen in during service time, or afterwards through the archives. If anyone else who chooses to listen in or download a service is blessed by the ministry of Bro. Samuel, or Bro. James Browning, or Bro. Carlos Cruz, then to God be the glory.
To suggest that these pure intentions are part of some conspiracy to subvert the minds of internet-savvy believers is quite harsh. To me, it hints that we’re hearing from brethren who don’t believe in a God-called five-fold ministry, and are afraid people will actually listen to them.
This influence has increasingly served to sow discord among brethren…
Let’s keep things straight. The major discord was sown when the “Here I Stand” pamphlet was sent to the homes of believers, bypassing the local ministry. The dispute, however, goes back much farther than that, with differing opinions over words like “franchise,” “copyright,” and statements Bro. Branham made about Bro. Joseph. But, to claim that the ministry is responsible for the current discord is not correct.
Granted, the ministry criticizing the statements in the “Here I Stand” pamphlet has not healed any divisions amongst the body, but how could they? If their revelation is that Voice of God was wrong in action, motive, or objective in sending that document, could they stand idly by, suppressing their own convictions and not decrying it from their pulpits in the name of “unity?”
Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
…and the disposition of certain ministers toward the Voice of God Recordings has become increasingly hateful.
Clarification: We’re talking specifically about Donnie Reagan and the “Here I Stand,” series of messages he preached (or possibly Bro. Tim Pruitt). Bro. Donnie did make some… impolite statements towards Voice of God Recordings, and their president Bro. Joseph Branham in regards to their legal actions against brethren who were reproducing tapes. He also ministered, in that series, on controversial issues such as “is Bro. Joseph a prophet?”
Again, are we to deny Bro. Donnie his right as a god-called minister to preach what he believes God lays on his heart? Just to keep the peace? He’d be a compromiser and a hypocrite to do that. Any minister would.
1 Timothy 1:19-20
Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Ouch. Surely Paul could have worded his disagreement with those two precious brothers a little less… hatefully?
Since the time Bro. Donnie preached those messages, I have heard very little from him regarding Bro. Joseph or Voice of God recordings, and I would consider myself a fairly regular listener of his sermons. So, to say he has become increasingly hateful would seem to be an exaggeration.
We wish to make ourselves very clear on where we stand on certain issues of today. In our view, the arguments made by some prominent ministers within the circle of this message stem from a severe case of carnal reasoning. These arguments are only to discredit certain members of Bro. Branham’s family.
Once again, we’re talking about Donnie Reagan and any minister who questions Bro. Joseph’s position or authority within the Bride. Anyone who disagrees with us is afflicted with “carnal reasoning.”
I respect and appreciate Bro. Joseph, and the entire Branham family, for the sacrifice they made. If they had not given up their father to the work that God called him for, we wouldn’t even have a message to listen to. For that, I will always be grateful.
However… this does not put the Branham family above anyone else in the message.
My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons... But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
If I am in error, or I make a mistake, I thank the Lord God that He, through the ministry, is there to not only show me the error of my ways, but to show me the right path. Do we not want the same for the Bro. Branham’s family? Or do we hold them in respect of persons, believing they cannot make mistakes?
LIFE_ SALEM.OR THURSDAY_ 62-0719B
E-30 ...But I told the Business Men here not long ago, I said, "Brethren, I'm, as the brother said, I have never, never been hypocrite enough to pull a punch from anything. If it's so, it's so. If I say it, not with any hard feelings, but with love I say it."
If your little boy, or little child, was setting out there in the street, and you'd say, "Junior dear, if you don't come in you might get hurt," that's not love. Real love will go out there, and get him, and shake him, and make him stay off that street. See? That--that's real love. See? See, and that's--that's what it is, brethren. I don't mean it for anything... Now, you keep that in mind. See? Now, don't pet Junior. You see? We got to tell Junior, and make him line up. See?
Let me make myself clear. I love Bro. Branham’s family. Those are my brothers and sisters. But I would hope that we could accept that they are just like you and me… human beings who make mistakes and can be corrected by the five-fold ministry.
In plain language, we openly support the Voice of God Recordings,
I don’t think there’s a single person in the message that doesn’t support Voice of God Recordings. I certainly cannot currently reproduce the message in audio format on their level, and neither can anyone else. We all pray that God will bless them in their capacity to reproduce the Message. It’s when they get beyond that capacity that criticism should be expected.
…and we support the ministry of Bro. Joseph Branham. May the Lord God keep you from confusion.
This really depends on what is meant by “ministry.” I think everyone supports Bro. Joseph if you define his ministry as reproducing tapes. Personally, I reserve the word “ministry” to describe the work of someone who preaches the Gospel. I’ve never heard one of Bro. Joseph’s sermons, and I’m not sure if he’s ever preached one. But, regardless, I think we all support Bro. Joseph reproducing tapes.
I’d like to conclude with another word: objectivity. A while back I was reading the entry for Bro. Branham on wikipedia. The entry was obviously written by a believer, and sounded almost like a pamphlet to convince someone to believe the message. The article’s objectivity was brought into question. In other words, wikipedia is like an encyclopedia, and therefore, you cannot give opinions or your personal feelings on a matter. For example, you can’t say, “Bro. Branham was visited by an angel,” but you can say, “Branham claimed to have been visited by an angel.” As a believer, I’d say the first one, but in an objective article, I have to say the second one.
To me, that’s what these brothers lost somewhere along the way. Objectivity. If you have a domain name like, “messagelinks.org,” you are representing the whole message. The good, the bad, the ugly. The things you agree with, and those you don’t. Once you start censoring and filtering the results based on quibbles over this doctrine or that doctrine, you begin to change the meaning of that domain. In other words, the site should be renamed “myideaofthemessagelinks.org” before it is brought back online, and the original domain given to someone else (not myself, Lord knows I don’t have the time).
I pray God helps those brothers to reconsider their unfortunate decision. I hope no one who reads this gets offended, but if I can’t express my personal feelings on my own blog, what’s the point of having it? Regardless, I do reserve the right to enlarge my circle for you in case of just such an event :)
Ending carnal discussion… now.
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