The Branch Davidian Seventh-Day Adventist’s are an apocalyptic cult (much like the mainline SDA Church) that formed in 1955 at the behest of Benjamin Roden. They consider themselves to be the heirs of Victor Houteff’s General Association of Davidian Seventh-Day Adventists which was founded in 1935.
Houteff, dissatisfied with the direction the Seventh-Day Adventist Church was going, sought to seek reform within the movement. He wrote a series of tracts titled “The Shepherd’s Rod” in which he began proselytizing his newfound “light.” He specifically believed he was given insight by God into Isaiah 54-66 regarding the sealing of the 144,000 and the purification of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Like the mainline SDA denomination, Houteff appealed to the writings of Ellen G. White for his support. His message centered around the investigative judgment being tied to the future establishment of the Davidic Kingdom in Palestine.
After his death in 1955, Benjamin Roden claimed to be given a message of warning and reproof from God to take specifically to the Davidian’s followed by the mainline SDA Church. This message claimed that the time of the investigative judgment for the living has come to a close and his support for this was the 430 year prophecy in Ezekiel 4. This supposed light came at a time of great turmoil within the SDA Church with the likes of Christian apologists Donald Barnhouse and Walter Martin investigating into the movement for Martin’s book Kingdom of the Cults. This “light” given to Mr. Roden was supposedly the answer from God that both the Davidian’s and mainline SDA Church needed to clear things up.
Roden claims he was told, by God, to begin proselytizing this new light by writing letters and signing them “The Branch”—which was claimed to be the new name of Jesus. He appealed to both Revelation 3:12 and Ellen White’s first vision where she claimed to be shown that the 144,000 would receive the truth of Jesus’s new name. In conjunction with Houteff proclaiming that that name is “The Branch” which would bring about a great revival.
Those that accepted this new message took upon themselves the name “Branch Davidian Seventh-day Adventists,” led by Ben Roden. It was through yielding to this “new light” that they believed the Spirit was leading them into greater revelation of truths that were lost and needed restored. Part of this “revelation” included the restoration of all of the Law. On top of the seventh-day sabbath, Roden claimed they were supposed to observe all of the other appointed times in the Sanctuary.
Then, in 1977, Lois Roden, Benjamin’s wife, claimed to be given a revelation that those in the movement needed to be born again. What they called being born of the Spirit such that “she” might be to them a mother. Meaning, they believe the Holy Spirit is a female. With this fresh revelation also came the understanding that because male and female are both made in God’s image, the Godhead possesses both male and female attribution. This led to the development of their heretical belief regarding the Godhead which they claim is made up of three distinct Beings with the Holy Spirit being the Mother of Christ, just as God is His Father. They refer to this as the Heavenly Family (like the SDA Church refers to their godhead as the Heavenly Trio).
In 1986, Lois Roden received her final “revelation” with regards to the “Heavenly Family” which is that they have a daughter—Wisdom. She claimed that Wisdom was begotten before the foundation of the world and “she” was a creative agent alongside Jesus in creating the earth. They claim she is the “bride of Christ.”
Upon Mrs. Roden’s death, there was much opposition to whether or not what she claimed was legitimate. The movement was, yet again, facing upheaval and backlash. Out of this rose Douglas Mitchell who, carrying on the torch from Lois, claimed to be given a vision regarding the “dry bones” in Ezekiel 37:11. Mitchell claimed that the prophecy symbolically depicted the Advent messages coming onto the scene, being proclaimed to the “whole House of Israel,” which included all Davidians, Seventh-Day Adventists, and Christians who were all spiritually dead.
Mitchell then claimed to receive “light” on the truth of the Lord’s Supper—that it was to be taken daily at the third and ninth hours of the day, just like the old testament priests of the earthly sanctuary ate their meal at that time.
It was out of this confusion that George Roden (Lois and Ben’s son) and Vernon Howell (more notoriously known as David Koresh of Waco) broke off from the Davidians forming their own offshoot. George ended up incarcerated, but Howell would go on to establish the Branch Davidian Headquarters called the New Mt. Carmel Center in Waco, Texas which led to the infamous Waco Massacre and siege in 1993.
Vernon Howell proclaimed himself to be the final prophet before the return of Christ—identifying himself as the Lamb of Revelation 5:2 who would make way for the Second Coming. He claimed that God had chosen him to father a child of Lois Roden and that that child would be the “Chosen One.” In 1983, three years before her death, Lois Roden allowed Howell to begin teaching his message which he had branded “The Serpent’s Root.” After acquiring this position of spiritual leadership, he changed his name to David Koresh which he claimed had ties to King David and Cyrus the Great and was on a mission to develop a new bloodline of world leaders. This sparked the allegations of child abuse taking place at the Mt. Carmel Headquarters which began the tip off of federal agents leading to the chaos that ensued.
By the point of the siege, Koresh had convinced his followers to identify themselves as the “Seven Seals” over and against Branch Davidians.
Today, the Branch Davidians are headed up by Trent Wilde who, after Mitchell’s death in 2013, took up the torch. Wilde believes he was called by God to bear the next message of The Branch. Wilde’s “paradigm shifting” truths have included a rethinking of inspiration, the material nature of reality, the existence of wicked gods, the history and nature of scripture (including supposed “lost” scriptures) and the teaching that if anyone has any amount of sin in their life, they are a servant of sin and are seen as such by the Heavenly Family (sinless perfectionism). They have branded this message as a “restoration of the gospel” just like the mainline SDA Church believes they are restoring the fullness of the Gospel. Mr. Wilde clearly found influence from the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
The mainline SDA Church has obviously sought to distance themselves from this entire debacle, but it goes to show the fruit of Ellen White’s writing and thinking along with the role it played in the development of all of these cultic offshoots.