A Brief History
The Branch Movement
From 1955 to the Present
THE UNTOLD STORY
From 1993 to the present day, “Branch Davidians” are typically characterized as followers of David Koresh (Vernon W. Howell). The terrible fiery end of the Koresh faction in 1993 has become the universal perception of The Branch Movement among all Seventh-Day Adventists world-wide and the public at large.
Historically and factually, nothing could be further from the truth. In the tremendous spiritual battle that transpired at New Mt. Carmel, Waco, Texas, in the early-to-mid 1980s, many “Branch Davidians” did not accept Vernon Howell (a.k.a. David Koresh).
The author of this historical website is one such Branch Davidian who never accepted or supported Vernon Howell. In fact, many of us actively resisted Vernon Howell’s seeming takeover in 1984, actively warning those who were intrigued with his message and his charismatic methods.
In reality, there is nothing simple about our history as a movement in this third section of The Advent Movement from 1831 to 1844, particularly from 1977 to 1984. There is an important verse in the Book of Proverbs, chapter 18, most applicable for this perceptual dilemma, which reads, “He that answers a matter before hearing it, it is a folly and a shame unto him.”
The events of the spiritual warfare within The Branch were chronicled by myself (site author), in 1994 describing the historical climax in the movement, personally witnessed during my nine month stay at NMC, Waco, Texas, in 1984, and before. The Sign of Jonah Report is available to read on this website in this section of “History”. The Sign of Jonah Report gives the historical background in connection with my spiritual and Scriptural analysis of those events when Vernon Howell captured the minds of many of my old friends in the message, partly due to the temporary faltering of movement leader, Lois Roden, having been confronted by a very clever and talented young man, truly, a serpent in the garden.
The brief spiritual perplexity facing Lois Roden in the 1981 to 1984 time frame presented an opportunity to Vernon Howell to present his false claims to many residents living at New Mt. Carmel beginning in 1983, a time of crucial theological crossroads in the message and movement relating to a prominent conceptual paradox already facing Branch theology in 1980. Sometime in 1980, Lois Roden began teaching to all of her students a Scriptural paradox in those central years of her message, and unwittingly she set the stage for a message within a message concerning the Divine Family Image. This Divine paradox finally broke through the intense perceptual mist, in all of its dynamic beauty and Divine glory, during the Passover 1984 Branch Convocation. In this great meeting of April 17, 1984 was the last general convocation of The Branch before the great change, where Vernon Howell was confronted with a study presentation that exposed his motives, his message, and his eventual end, nine years later, almost to the very day.
This “paradox”, pertaining to the emerging revelation of the complete Divine Image, from 1977 to 1984, was based upon no less than the Cross of Messiah Yahshua Himself, a revelation of His Person, the revelation of the Other Comforter, “another” Parent (Jn. 16:6-13 ; Hab. 3:4). This concept, brought forth in her many publications, was the central theme in the seven year ministry-message of Lois Roden, clearly indicated in several of her time charts reproduced on this site in the Original Publications section. This doctrinal paradox is the first and perhaps most important aspect of Branch Davidian History today that every reader should be aware of, to set the record straight, to understand who we are, from who we were, understanding the end (conclusions) from the beginning. These advanced concepts of Truth, being revealed to a small Sabbath keeping group in the Heart of Texas in the early 1980s, hidden from view of most scholars for over two millennia, provided the fertile ground to attract the attention of some very powerful forces bent on the destruction of the message and the messenger.
The summary below gives a general overview of Branch theology and lifestyle, at a glance.
We are historically and fundamentally Seventh-Day Adventist, and we embrace the whole of the written counsels of Ellen White, 1844 through 1915, constituting the first sealing message of Revelation 3:12(a), plus the new light given by Ellet J. Waggoner and Alonzo T. Jones of the 1888 General Conference meeting in Minneapolis, the 1888 Message of the Righteousness of Messiah-Christ, wholly endorsed by Ellen White.
We further embrace the Spirit of Prophecy – new light advent revelations - of the Shepherd’s Rod Messenger, Victor Houteff, founder of the Davidian Seventh-Day Adventist Movement in 1930, preserving the Protestant Reformation (see prophecy chart at the end, below) according to the 430 year time prophecy of Ezekiel 4, constituting the second sealing message of Revelation 3:12(b). Victor Houteff did not in the least desire to separate from the main body of the Advent Movement, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, but ultimately he had no choice, not only because he was formally disfellowshipped from the mother Church in 1930, along with many of his followers, but years later, because of the WWII Selective Service issue facing Davidian SDA men. The mother church would not permit the Davidian-SDA men, subject to the military draft, to utilize their church membership benefit of conscientious objector status in time of war, long established by the SDA church. Seventh-day Adventist and Davidian Seventh-day Adventist young men were typically inducted into wartime service as combat medics and other non-combatant troop support.
The Matthew 13:30 injunction to let the “wheat and the tares” grow up together, is directed to the church, the assembly of Messiah, not to disfellowship members on basis of doctrinal differences. Church members are not to judge who may be a “wheat” or who may be a “tare”, particularly when all of the fundamental beliefs of the parent church (SDA) are fully upheld by the members being disfellowshipped, as was the case for every Davidian ‘put out’ of the SDA Church, from the 1931 to the present, including the author of this website. Victor Houteff did not start a new church, but rather continued the Advent Movement in its second phase, depicted in the “Ensign” (Isa. 11:1) symbolism, “the repeat of the First Angel’s Message”(WHR 37), being prophetically ordained in the six messages in the Book of Revelation, chapter 14.
We further embrace the Spirit of Prophecy – new light advent revelations - of The Branch Message, introduced by Benjamin L. Roden from 1955 through 1978, and Lois Irene Scott Roden from 1977 through 1986. These last two messages represent the repeat of the Second and Third Angels’ Messages of Revelation chapter 14 respectively, appearing on time, according to the Ezekiel 4 time prophecy of 430 years, the completion of the Protestant Reformation in the latter days. Representing the third phase of the Advent Movement, The Branch Message fully restored the Leviticus 23 Festivals of Israel, within a providential “core gathering” of the Tribes of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) in the latter days. “The Branch” publications, under Ben Roden, also restored the Torah-New Covenant observance of “the Daily” (ha Tamid), known as “the hour(s) of prayer” (and the Emblems of Messiah, the sacraments of His Body and Blood) twice daily (Acts 3:1 ; Num. 28:2-10 ; Dan. 8-11 “the daily” ; Mark 15:34-38 ; Acts 2:15 ; Rom. 12:1 ; summarized in the book Patriarchs and Prophets p.352 by E. G. White).
Historically, we further maintain the vegetarian and Scriptural kosher dietary standards according to the book Counsels on Diet and Foods by Ellen White, further upheld in the various written counsels of Victor Houteff (in The Shepherd’s Rod Message) and Benjamin Roden (Seven Letters to SDA), also in the counsels of Lois Roden, further restricting from our diet the use of animal based additives or derivatives common in many commercial foods today. This, we understand as the Genesis 1 diet, the pre-flood diet of Noah and his family, and of the prophets, such as Daniel. Also, the use of tobacco products is not permitted, plus the avoidance of caffeine products such as coffee, tea, and caffeinated soft drinks, and the abstinence of alcoholic beverages is a historical practice in the SDA Church and a requirement in the Davidian and Branch-Davidian organizations. It should be noted however, that the continued consumption of (kosher) meat products by the membership of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, particularly of those new in the faith, has never been a test a fellowship. However, the vegetarian diet became a requirement for the Certificate of Fellowship under Victor Houteff’s leadership. Benjamin Roden and Lois Roden never issued a Certificate of Fellowship for the membership in The Branch, however still carefully maintaining the vegetarian and general dietary standards of the Advent Movement under the leadership of Ellen and James White, and Victor Houteff.
New members in the faith were carefully taught the principles of Scriptural kosher lifestyle, based upon the Torah, the Law of Moses, for the use of animal products, very much upheld in the early New Covenant faith under the Apostles, including the strict avoidance of any animal products with blood still present, the strict abstinence from any pork/swine products, strict abstinence from unclean seafood, such as shellfish, crab, lobster, fish without fins and scales etc., and, as Brother Roden taught, that even a vegetarian sandwich that is made, cut with the same knife that is used to cut a sandwich made with unclean meat, is also rendered treif, unclean, not kosher, and should be carefully avoided.
We strive to keep informed with the latest corroborated health information and healthy lifestyle trends today, such as herbal medicine, food enzymes, water purification technology, along with many alternative diagnostic modalities now available. By following these counsels and Torah kosher practices we are able to avoid the diseases common today in production livestock (cancer, BSE-Creutzfelt-Jakob Disease/Mad Cow Syndrome, tuberculosis etc.) carried in the blood, plus avoiding the synthetic growth hormones and antibiotics used in commercial livestock universally. With this dietary practice, as a group, we typically enjoy life extension averages of ten years with overall quality of life, typically free from all degenerative disease, exceeding other mainstream religious groups and the American mainstream lifespan in general.
The objective of our lives and our religious endeavors is the great hope of the soon coming of the Messiah of Israel, to be part of His First-Fruit harvest, the first of the Firstfruits (the Wavesheaf section), in the Kingdom of Messiah (Dan. 2:44 ; Acts 1:6 ; Rev. 11:15 ; 12:10 ; Rev. 14:15-18), and finally, the return of Messiah Yahshua (Jesus Christ) in the clouds of heaven, to be ready for His appearing, in these latter days.
The emerging concept of a DUAL Messiah, although not typically embraced or understood outside of Judaism, is acknowledged and anticipated in The Branch message of today, evidenced in numerous biblical references and symbolisms in Holy Scripture. In the world-wide orthodox Jewish community today, the dual messianic concepts of a “Messiah Ben David and Messiah Ben Joseph”, also known as the “Suffering Servant” (the Lamb) and the “Conquering King” (the Lion of the Tribe of Judah), are well anticipated concepts in the Jewish Community, since well before the time of Messiah-Rabbi Yahshua (Jesus Christ).
Most Seventh-Day Adventists, along with mainstream Christianity, are not the least familiar with these dual messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, studied for millennia by the Jews, and interestingly, acknowledged in the New Testament. Although this concept would seem new and revolutionary to most New Covenant believers today, these concepts have been around for a very long time, in Scripture, in typology and prophecy, deeply engrained in the Jewish culture. We embrace such concepts, paradoxical as they may seem. The Branch section of the Advent Movement has been most careful to study the “Jewish economy” "in all of its bearings”, as various statements from the pen of Ellen White instructed. For, as one of the founders of the 1844 Advent Movement wrote, “the Jewish economy is full of instruction for us.” E. G. White, Review & Herald, Feb. 4, 1902.
The following prophecy chart is reproduced more clearly, full size, in this section of History, under the title "Daniel 9 & Ezekiel 4 Time Charts, at the top of the sub-index on the left.