By Roscoe Barnes III
Author, F.F. Bosworth: The Man Behind Christ the Healer
Copyright © 2018
This image is taken from the April 1949 issue of The Voice of Healing.
NOTE: The material shared in this article is based primarily on an undated interview Ern Baxter (1914-1993) had with Dewey Friedel (a source on YouTube suggests the interview occurred around 1991. See here). A transcript of the interview, which was culled from four videos entitled “Life on Wings – Interviews with Dr. Ern Baxter,” was published as a book. The book, in some places, has been described as Life on Wings Transcripts. It has also been titled, “Warfare follows Ern Baxter wherever he goes … he is constantly in the middle of warfare.” The book was released by Ritch Carlton, Baxter’s administrator. Carlton has given me permission to share this material.
Even in the early days of his work with Evangelist William Branham, Ern Baxter felt something was wrong. He initially felt uncomfortable with Branham’s understanding of faith, particularly as it related to divine healing. However, he later found Branham’s “gift of healing” to be quite disturbing. Baxter talked about both issues in an interview with Dewey Friedel, and he said those issues prompted him to leave the ministry of Branham. While he believed that Branham sincerely loved the Lord Jesus, he could not blindly accept Branham’s teachings or his supernatural gift that Branham claimed was directed by an angel.
The great Northwest meetings will long be remembered by the many thousands of people that attended. The first of the services of three or four-day campaigns was held in Vancouver, B.C. Much of the success of this meeting came as the result of the fine work and preparation made by the local committee which included Rev. Walter McAlister, Rev. W. J. Ern Baxter, and Rev. Clarence Hall. The report of the meeting by Rev. Baxter has appeared in print elsewhere, but it so admirably describes the Vancouver campaign that we reproduce part of it here:
“Scenes of indescribable glory were witnessed during the all-too-brief, four-day, city-wide campaign with Rev. William Branham. As in other cities, so in Vancouver, the largest available auditoriums were inadequate to accommodate the teeming multitudes that waited on the ministry of our brother. Surrounding towns and villages seemed to literally empty into Vancouver, until the whole city was conscious of the spiritual impact of thousands of praying, believing people. Ministerial delegations from various cities attended with a view to securing the ministry of Brother Branham for similar meetings in their various fields of labor. Thousands were unable to gain access to the meetings, and this in spite of transportation strike involving all street cars and buses.
“Many testimonies of healing have continued to come to the attention of local pastors, and many marvelous works were wrought by the immediate action of the Holy Spirit at the time of prayer. To undertake any kind of a report on the healings experience would be an impossible task, for should one speak of crossed eyes straightened, or of bed-ridden invalids raised, or of the deaf hearing, or of the dumb speaking? Or should one seek to recount the thrilling testimonies of those relieved of cancers, tumors and goiters? The task is too great, and when seeming completed, it has only begun. Final records will only be read when we stand before the Giver of every good and perfect gift.”
Baxter’s work with Branham
Then Lindsay, who was now busy publishing The Voice of Healing magazine, suggested that Bill consider using Ern Baxter as his campaign manager. Not only did Ern Baxter have organization skills, he was also a dynamic preacher, and he had offered to help in any way he could. After praying about it, Bill agreed to the switch.
Reverend Baxter did prove to be a good campaign manager. He and Fred Bosworth planned to work Bill slowly back into his deliverance ministry. Protecting Bill’s heath from overwork was their main concern.
“Brother Branham, I can assure you that the ‘gift of healing’ hasn’t gone from you. Romans 11:29 says that ‘the gifts and calling of God are without repentance,’ meaning that they are not based upon our actions. God would be untrue to His promise if He took the gift from you. It can’t leave you. Samson slept all night with a harlot, but his strength didn’t leave him. The next morning he tore off the city gates and carried them to the top of a hill.”
Baxter feeling ‘disturbed’
Interview (Pages 40-41)
Dr. Baxter, you were discussing William Branham, your relationship with him and how you went to many nations and seeing the hand of God in the meetings and yet you were beginning to be disturbed, in your spirit and could you talk some about that?
Well this isn’t coming out of a set of notes, it’s just coming out of my memory. I think one of the things that began to disturb me was the matter of faith. Basically my understanding of the matter of faith – when I began to travel with William Branham – was that he had received a special commission from an angel who had appeared to him, telling him that he was to take his gift of healing to the peoples of the world and that if he was faith, they could believe that nothing could stand before his prayers, including cancer and in the early days of my association with him there was a high excitement and anticipation because I think (as I have already mentioned) the supernatural element in Pentecostalism had sort of waned and my last contact with Pentecostalism was a conference where I attended and they had a committee to find out why people weren’t getting converted and a committee to find out why they weren’t being filled with the Spirit – it was almost like everyone was on a committee to find out what was wrong.
And when I read in Time magazine about William Branham – to read that same thing today would be received in an altogether way than it was then, because there no one doing that.
Baxter’s growing concern
Interview (Page P. 47)
Now Branham was not really in the Latter Rain – he was a simple man that was doing evangelistic work but increasingly you were troubled with something you discerned.
Branham was a missionary Baptist, which is a denomination I believe mainly in the South and he has this gift of healing as he later told me. This was in operation in him as a boy so it was something that he always had. When he became a Christian minister he incorporated it into the Christian thing.
One of the early things that started to bother me was the whole question of faith. And the whole idea was that you could get healed if you had faith. And faith became the focus point. And so it became a matter of having faith in your faith. And if your faith was in good shape then you had faith in your faith. But the Bible doesn’t talk about having faith in your faith; it talks about faith in God.
So while I was quite disturbed about it I thought I’d better arm myself biblically.
And I don’t know just how far to go with this but I began to be disturbed with some of the phenomenon that were occurring – some of them I felt were good, others I felt were borderline psychic. And I became quite disturbed about it. I continued with Branham until I felt that in my conscience I couldn’t go on.”
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