Quantcast
The Way Tree is Splintering
AUTHOR: Juedes, John P.
PUBLISHED ON: May 2, 2003
DOC SOURCE: CCN

—————————————————————-
Copyright 1993 by the Christian Research Institute.
—————————————————————-
COPYRIGHT/REPRODUCTION LIMITATIONS:
This data file is the sole property of the Christian Research
Institute.  It may not be altered or edited in any way.  It may
be reproduced only in its entirety for circulation as
“freeware,” without charge.  All reproductions of this data file
must contain the copyright notice (i.e., “Copyright 1993 by the
Christian Research Institute”).  This data file may not be used
without the permission of the Christian Research Institute for
resale or the enhancement of any other product sold.  This
includes all of its content with the exception of a few brief
quotations not to exceed more than 500 words.

If you desire to reproduce less than 500 words of this data file
for resale or the enhancement of any other product for resale,
please give the following source credit:  Copyright 1993 by the
Christian Research Institute, P.O. Box 500-TC, San Juan
Capistrano, CA 92693.
—————————————————————-

“The Way Tree Is Splintering” (an article from the Christian
Research Journal, Fall 1988, page 9) by John P. Juedes.
  The Editor-in-Chief of the Christian Research Journal is
Elliot Miller.

————-

    For followers of The Way International and its late founder
Victor Paul Wierwille, the past two years have been life
shaking. This is a key time for Christians to understand the
issues which Wayers and ex-Wayers face and to learn ways to
share biblical truth with them. Furthermore, this volatile time
gives observers of new religions an unusual modern-day glimpse
into how such movements spawn daughter groups.

    Many statistics show that The Way International is
splintering:

*Enrollment at _The Way College_ of Emporia, Kansas, fell from
350 students to 90. This reflects an enrollment decline in The
Way Corps leader training program.

*Attendance at the Rock of Ages festival was down by 3,000 in
1987 (about 12,000 below its peak of 22,000 several years ago).
This annual gathering includes teaching, entertainment, tours of
facilities, recognition of the past year’s W.O.W. (“Way Over the
World”) Ambassadors (one-year volunteer missionaries), and the
commissioning of new Ambassadors.

*The 1987 “Corps week” drew only 2,000 of the 3,500 graduates.
All grads of The Way Corps are required to attend this meeting
which precedes the Rock of Ages each year, so attendance is
normally near one hundred percent.

*Income fell to $10 million (1986-1987), far below the $27.1
million for 1983-84 and the one-time peak fiscal year of $32
million. Reports say The Way’s facility in Tinnie, New Mexico,
is for sale.

*Ex-followers have held meetings of Wayers in many cities to
expose corruption and false doctrine in The Way, resulting in
several alternative groups.

*ACCUSATIONS CAUSE DEFECTIONS*

    People who have been involved in The Way for several years
have formed networks of friendships which are now being used to
spread debate and accusations.

    The main objects of the accusations are past and present Way
trustees, especially founder Victor Paul Wierwille, present
president L. Craig Martindale, Wierwille’s son Donald, and
Howard Allen. The five trustees (which numbered only three
before the controversy began in 1986) control all aspects of the
group, including teaching, policy, and finance.

    Way leadership has tried to ignore the controversy and stop
public and private debate. Trustees have fired leaders who have
protested and have accused some of being possessed by devil
spirits. They have warned followers not to listen to or read
materials by defectors. The President’s regular newsletters and
_The Way Magazine_ have said nothing of the controversy.
However, regular readers have noticed the smaller size of the
issues and the conspicuous absence of former leaders’ names. The
Way has also reorganized and reduced the size of some “twigs”
(home fellowships) to adjust for losses.

    Four major charges dominate the debate: _authoritarianism,
plagiarism,_ practice and approval of _adultery,_ and _false
teaching._ In each case, Wierwille is indicted with current
leadership.

    Prominent dissenters made most of the charges while still in
top Way leadership positions, which increased their damaging
effects.

    Mass confusion and fear struck Way leadership when European
Region Coordinator Chris Geer read “The Passing of the
Patriarch” at leader meetings in 1986. Geer claims this is the
last will and testament of founder Wierwille (“Patriarch” refers
to Wierwille). Declaring that the Trustees failed Wierwille and
departed from the Word, the document appoints Geer to restore
the ministry. Relatively few Way insiders have heard “The
Passing,” and apparently no third party was present when
Wierwille spoke with Geer shortly before his death. Yet, most
leaders seem resigned to the influence which it and Geer have
acquired since its first reading.

    Within months, John Lynn and other Way leaders added more
accusations in a 37-page letter (46% of which is quotations of
Wierwille) to the Trustees in February 1987. The letter accuses
Trustees of gross dereliction of duty, evil intents and
practices, lies, unbelief, instability, devilish judgments,
refusal to accept correction, and other related misdeeds.

*Charge One: Authoritarianism*

    Ex-Wayers assert that leaders coerce followers to promote
and obey the organization at the expense of the people. As
examples, they note the Way teaching that believers who disobey
Way leadership will be opposed and judged by God. They also
denounce the Way law of tithing and abundant sharing, which
requires followers to give more than 10% even if personal needs
go unmet. They further criticize the Trustees’ manner of making
decisions, detailing expenditures, and selecting leaders for
local areas.

    V.P. Wierwille initiated “The Way Tree” hierarchy in the
late 1960s, claiming it was the biblical pattern for the church.
In this structure, “leaves” represent believers, “twigs” stand
for home fellowships, “branches” are areas, “limbs” stand for
states, some countries are called “trunks,” and “roots” are Way
bases of operation, especially the New Knoxville, Ohio,
headquarters.

    It was not long, however, before top leaders realized that
Wierwille used the Way Tree structure to attain finances from,
and absolute control over, groups that had previously been
independent expressions of the Jesus movement. As a result, at
least seven top leaders left, including Peter Wade, whom
Wierwille once commended as his “assistant” and “friend,” and
who wrote articles and a booklet for The Way. Ironically, many
who replaced them, such as Lynn, have only now come to realize
the domination of The Way Tree, and have left also.

*Charge Two: Plagiarism*

    Charges that “the Master teacher” V.P. Wierwille plagiarized
large sections of other authors’ books also occupy many
conversations. This writer published the first examples in 1980,
showing that in his _Receiving the Holy Spirit Today_ Wierwille
plagiarized sections of E.W. Bullinger’s _The Giver and His
Gifts._[1] By 1987 Jay Valusek and I had also published excerpts
showing Wierwille had plagiarized portions of _The Gift of the
Holy Spirit_ by J.E. Stiles, _The Father and His Family_ by E.W.
Kenyon, and _Selected Writings, The Church Epistles, The
Mystery, How to Enjoy the Bible,_ and _Figures of Speech Used in
the Bible_ by Bullinger.[2]

    Recently, more examples have been uncovered, including (but
not limited to) Wierwille’s use of:

*Bullinger in his University of Life course on _Thessalonians._

*B.G. Leonard’s _The Gifts of the Spirit_ in his _Receiving the
Holy Spirit Today_ and the _Intermediate_ and _Advanced Power
for Abundant Living_ courses.

*Oral Roberts’s _The Red Thread_ in his _Lifestyle of God’s
Word._

    In addition, anyone who is well-acquainted with Wierwille’s
writings and reads Kenyon’s and Bullinger’s books is struck by
the close parallels, even though one cannot always trace exact
word-for-word plagiarism.

    Many people follow Wierwille in part because they were
impressed by his claim that he took over 3,000 books on theology
to the city dump[3] and resolved to study the Bible alone
without men’s teachings.[4] Although Wierwille sometimes said he
learned from others, he often explicitly claimed originality. He
cultivated an image of being an original Bible researcher and
his followers have seen him as such. It has now become apparent
to many of them that Wierwille was instead an eclectic
plagiarist.

    Almost every one of Wierwille’s teachings can be traced to
other sources (see sidebar for descriptions of some of
Wierwille’s teachings). Wierwille’s writings on the topics of
interpreting the Bible, soul sleep, the distinction of
impersonal holy spirit from the Holy Spirit,
ultradispensationalism, gospel harmony, and “the mystery” are
all drawn from Bullinger.

————-
*THE WAY’S TEACHING AND TERMINOLOGY*

    What follows is a brief description of some of the teachings
which Victor Paul Wierwille compiled and established as
normative for The Way International.

    *Abundant Sharing (and Tithing).* Every person owes God a
tithe (ten percent) of his or her income, so true giving begins
after the “minimum payment” is made. The portion over the tithe
is called “abundant sharing” and (with the tithe) is to be paid
directly to the headquarters of The Way International. God’s
unchanging “law of prosperity” is that the payment of one’s
“debt” of the tithe insures that the payer will not experience
financial collapse, health problems, or accidents.

    *Administrations.* Wierwille adapted E.W. Bullinger’s
ultradispensationalism which divides history into seven
administrations (dispensations). This system teaches that water
baptism should no longer be practiced and that only the seven
“church epistles” by the Apostle Paul are meant for Christians
today, thereby placing little stock in the other 59 biblical
books.

    *Believing.* The “law of believing” works for saint and
sinner alike: one’s negative believing (fear) will _cause_ one’s
fear to happen, while one’s positive believing will cause
prosperous things to occur. Wierwille claimed that one mother’s
fear that her boy would be hurt was what caused him to be killed
by an automobile.

    *”Christ in You.”* The natural man is born with a body and
soul, but not a spirit. When one is born again, God creates a
human spirit in him or her. This spirit is also called “Christ
in you,” “holy spirit,” “inherent spiritual power,” “power from
on high,” “spiritual abilities,” and “the mystery.” It is not
Jesus Christ Himself.

    *”The Dead Are Dead.”* Believers are dead and unconscious
until raised by Christ Jesus at “the gathering” before the
tribulation (similar to “soul sleep”).

    *The Holy Spirit.* The Holy Spirit (the first letters of
which are capitalized) is another name for God the Father, as
Bob is another name for Robert. God, who is Holy and is Spirit,
is the Giver who gives His gift, holy spirit, to believers. (See
“Christ in you” for a description of “holy spirit,” which is not
capitalized.)

    *Jesus Christ.* Jesus is not God, but a perfect human who
came into existence when the Father created sinless sperm and
implanted it in Mary.

    *Keys to Biblical Research.* Traditionally, The Way has seen
itself as a biblical research and teaching center rather than as
a church, even employing full-time “researchers.” It teaches
keys to research (rules of interpreting the Bible), most of
which are commonly known. One exception is its special use of
old Greek manuscripts (textual criticism) to support Wierwille’s
preconceived theology.

    *Laws.* God established “immutable laws” which govern human
situations, such as the law of believing, law of prosperity, and
law of tithing. Accordingly, what one does, believes, or
confesses (affirms) causes either good or bad to come to him or
her, depending on the quality of his or her action or belief.

    *Narrative Development.* The Way considers itself a pioneer
at true Gospel harmony research. Its narrative development
approach distinguishes similar gospel accounts, concluding, for
instance, that Peter denied Jesus six times and that four men
were crucified with Him.

    *Operate the Manifestations.* Followers are taught how to
speak in tongues, interpret tongues, and prophesy, and are then
expected to do so instantly when called on by a leader in any
meeting.

    *Speaking in Tongues (SIT).* SIT is the infallible evidence
that a person has been born again. Believers are told to SIT
constantly after being taught how to do so in the foundational
“Power for Abundant Living” class. The Way claims that this $40,
33-hour, taped class by Wierwille is the only way to understand
the Bible.
————-

    Wierwille’s stance that the whole Bible was authored in
Aramaic, that parts of Scripture have been lost, that many Bible
passages in popular translations were deviously inserted by
pagans, and his Nestorian-like view of Jesus Christ (which
drives a wedge between the “human Jesus” and the “divine
Christ”) all trace to mystic George Lamsa. Although Lamsa’s
blemished “translation” of the Bible appears in Christian
bookstores, he held New Thought (Christian Science-like), not
evangelical, beliefs.[5]

    Wierwille drew his laws of believing, of tithing,
prosperity, mental imaging (imagining good things to bring them
to pass), and the “more abundant life” from Albert Cliffe.
Although _Guideposts_ helped popularize Cliffe’s writings and he
claimed to be Anglican, Cliffe held New Thought beliefs, seeing
God as impersonal principle. He also was a spiritist and
claimed, “Many of the subjects I have given in my Bible class
have been dictated to me by the loved ones long since passed
on.”[6]

    It would appear that Wierwille’s gnostic leanings, healing
emphasis, camp/advance (retreat) formats, divine laws, stress on
physical exercise, desire to be “the best,” and even the term
“The Way” itself were derived from New Thought speakers Glenn
Clark, Starr Daily, and Rufus Moseley.

    Wierwille’s ideas on sense knowledge, confession, and
healing (among others) he found in E.W. Kenyon.

    The Way founder’s instruction on how to receive the Holy
Spirit by inhaling and the belief that speaking in tongues
cannot be counterfeited were derived from J.E. Stiles, a leader
in the early charismatic movement. Wierwille credits Stiles with
showing him how to receive and manifest the Holy Spirit by
speaking in tongues when they met at a Tulsa rally in 1951.[7]

    He took his teachings on evil spirits, definition of humans
as body-soul-spirit (with his peculiar exegesis), laying on of
hands, and his descriptions and methods of “operating the
manifestations” (gifts of the Spirit) from B.G. Leonard.
Wierwille admits going to Alberta, Canada, twice in the early
1950s to hear Leonard teach on the manifestations and get a copy
of his syllabus for his use.[8] Leonard still teaches in
Brownsville, Texas.

    Wierwille exercised very little discernment in learning from
others, readily accepting teachings from itinerant mystics,
Christian Scientists, and spiritists.

    It is apparent that almost all Wierwille taught he acquired
from other men, not from original study of God’s word. When
Wierwille wrote, he commonly used these men’s writings and
copied them, idea by idea and often word by word. He never
credited his sources, in effect lying to his readers by leading
them to believe that he originated his teachings under God’s
direct tutelage.

*Charge Three: Adultery*

    Defectors also accused Way leadership of practicing and
approving adultery as a godly practice. John Lynn claims that
Wierwille and at least four other trustees had sex with
literally hundreds of women, many of whom Lynn and other
ex-leaders have counseled personally.[9] They also claim the
Trustees fired long-time researcher John Schonheit for writing a
brief paper summarizing the Bible’s teaching against adultery.
Additionally, ex-members have on file letters and transcripts in
which Way president L. Craig Martindale defends sex outside
marriage in many situations.

    Many Wayers have accepted these allegations in part because
they explain and confirm previous experiences. Almost every
long-time member has had at least one question such as: “Why did
Dr. Wierwille never speak against adultery in his ‘Christian
Family and Sex’ class?” “Why does my Limb leader often spend the
night with certain twig leaders of the opposite sex?” “Why did
our women’s meeting leave the impression that a woman should
satisfy _any_ physical desire of visiting Way leaders?” “Why do
Way leaders give contradictory answers when I ask about the
biblical stance on sex outside of marriage?” “Why did the twig
leader make sexual advances toward me the first time I
attended?”[10]

*Charge Four: False Teaching*

    Ex-Wayers are increasingly charging The Way with false
teaching and scholarship. John Schonheit’s paper on adultery was
a thinly veiled accusation that Wierwille and other leaders
falsely taught that adultery is a biblically acceptable
practice. Ex-Wayers also charge that The Way teaches falsely on
the topics of believing, abundant sharing, tithing,
interpretation of tongues, and “athletes of the spirit” (the
belief that every warfare metaphor in the Epistles should be
understood as an athletic metaphor instead). Many have realized
that they have also been falsely taught on Jesus Christ and the
Holy Spirit, and have turned to evangelical beliefs instead.

    As Wayers recognize false teachings, they further see the
inaccurate scholarship Wierwille used to defend his
teachings.[11] Therefore, they also criticize Wierwille’s skill
as a Bible researcher and teacher and call into question
everything they learned from him.

    This article only sketches the most prominent and
publishable charges. The stories which former (and current) Way
insiders hear include many more specific charges about shocking
events. Lynn summarized this when he assured listeners that many
stories “would curl your hair.”[12]

*SPLINTER GROUPS BEGIN*

    Several thousand followers have severed ties with The Way
International as a result of the allegations and evidence they
have seen, including the entire state (Limb) of South Carolina
in April 1988 and about 80 percent of the Washington, D.C.,
Limb. They now favor home fellowships which are “self-governing,
self-financing and self-propagating.” This is a reaction against
The Way, which governed home groups, received and dispensed
their income, and directed all the propagating efforts (which
focused on promoting Wierwille’s videotaped _Power for Abundant
Living_ class). Nonetheless, many ex-Wayers desire publications,
traveling teachers, regional meetings, and a network of
fellowships similar to those they had in The Way. Accordingly,
several groups have arisen to try to meet these needs.

    The largest group seems to be Christian Educational
Services, Inc. (CES), which incorporated this fall in
Indianapolis. This group was formerly known as American
Fellowship Services. CES includes many past Way celebrities and
clergy such as John and Pat Lynn, Ralph Dubofsky, Robert Belt,
Sue Pierce, Tom Reahard, and John Schonheit. They all have been
visible in speaking, writing, and leadership positions such as
Region and Limb Coordinators and headquarters staff (Region
Coordinator is the highest Way position other than Trustee).
They have been active and effective at exposing problems in The
Way through personal influence and meetings of Wayers around the
nation.

    CES holds two national meetings per year in Chicago (drawing
about 150 people per meeting), publishes _Dialogue_ magazine
bi-monthly, circulates periodic newsletters, and distributes
tapes. The CES meeting in May 1988 sponsored two and one-half
days of biblical teachings and allowed sales of books by those
attending, including Lynn, Lionel Recio, and myself. The most
debate arose when the topic of financing CES was raised, which
prompted fears that their donations would be misused by yet
another organization. Participants were sensitive (having been
wounded by The Way), were open to friendships and ideas, and
were reevaluating their beliefs.

    Pacific West Fellowship,[13] headed by Steve Sann (who also
was once a Limb and Region Coordinator), seems to be the second
most aggressive splinter group. Sann distributes a free tape, “A
Ministry in Crisis: An Editorial on The Way International,” in
which he asserts that The Way became hierarchical in the 1970s,
causing a deterioration of “the Ministry” in many areas. Sann
also circulates periodic newsletters and regularly publishes
teaching tapes. He also hopes to produce more printed materials,
provide a network of fellowships, and serve as a traveling
teacher.

*The Nature of the New Groups*

    While ex-Wayers want the groups to be much different than
The Way, there are many similarities in teaching and goals.

    First, the assumptions and structure of the new groups are
like The Way International. They assume that honest, objective
biblical research and a fellowship of true believers cannot be
found among Christians outside Wierwille’s heritage of teaching,
so they limit research and fellowship to their own narrow
circles. While accusing the Christian church at large of being
divisive, the new groups (like The Way International) practice
division much more stringently than most Christian denominations
or churches. Wierwille always told them that they could only go
as far as they had been taught, and the new groups demonstrate
this principle by organizing themselves in the same ways, and on
the same assumptions, which Wierwille used in building The Way
Tree. One CES leader, with a touch of irony, attempted to
distance CES from The Way by explaining that CES would do
“Christian study,” not “biblical research” (A Way term).
Nonetheless, hundreds of Way refugees are resisting the new
groups’ pleas to “join up.”

    Second, the doctrine of the splinter groups is nearly a
carbon copy of Way doctrine. A good example of this is John
Lynn’s 12-session class “Keys to Victorious Living.” The Class
is nearly an exact duplicate of Wierwille’s “Power for Abundant
Living” class, teaching over two dozen of the same specific
doctrines and using the same proof texts Wierwille used (though
Lynn corrects some of Wierwille’s most glaring
misinterpretations). Lynn retains all the critical Way doctrines
of concern to Christians, such as anti-Trinitarianism,
ultradispensationalism, soul sleep, and the belief that speaking
in tongues is infallible and essential proof that one is saved.
Lynne’s “new” teachings include the assertions that
interpretation of tongues must always be praise to God (never a
message to believers), and that “believing” does not work for
saint and sinner alike, but is receiving God’s promises.

    Sann, on the other hand, considers people like Lynn to have
gone too far in rejecting valid teachings. In response, he
defends such Way teachings as that on interpretation of
tongues.[14]

    Ralph Dubofsky told the May 1988 CES meeting that the reason
they like so much of E.W. Bullinger is that they had already
heard Wierwille teach Bullinger’s material as his own. He
rightly exhorted them to reactivate critical thought rather than
just change from being a Wierwille disciple to a Bullinger
disciple.

    Many ex-Wayers continue to read Bullinger, as they did while
in The Way. Few know that many able scholars have effectively
refuted some of Bullinger’s ideas. One response still in print
is _Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth_ by H.A. Ironside, which
addresses aspects of ultradispensationalism.[15] It is often
perplexing to Wayers, though, that teachers Wierwille respected
such as Bullinger, Kenyon, and Stiles staunchly held primary
orthodox beliefs which Wierwille rejected, including
Trinitarianism.

*What Are Long-Time Wayers Thinking About?*

    The past two years have been a very unsettling time for
Wayers. Accusations have disturbed many people and strained or
broken numerous friendships. Reportedly, a few people have even
considered suicide or entered mental institutions.

    Some still in The Way are ignorant of the controversy, while
others refuse to listen to the charges, deny them, or
rationalize how Wierwille could have done such things without
guilt.

    There is a great diversity of emotions and viewpoints among
those who have left The Way International. Some retain great
respect for Wierwille, while a few joke about him. Many remember
current leaders as friends, but at the same time despise them
for wrongs they believe they have done or allowed. Most still
feel hurt from being betrayed by The Way, are suspicious of any
new organizations, and hesitate to connect themselves with any
Christian church. But they are open to friendships and the
Bible, and are reevaluating many teachings and practices. Some
find it hard to reevaluate the Trinity, perhaps because they
heard Way leaders ridicule Trinitarianism so often, and because
they themselves also berated the teaching. Most ex-Wayers are
confused, not knowing where to turn, whom to trust, or what to
believe. They also feel the need for teaching and fellowship
with other believers.

*SPIRITUAL INSIGHTS INTO THE CONTROVERSY*

    One Scripture passage (2 Cor. 11:2-4, 13-15) gives insight
into the nature of this controversy, Wierwille’s work, and his
followers:

        For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy,
    for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I
    might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid,
    lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness,
    your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and
    purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and
    preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or
    you receive a different spirit which you have not
    received, or a different gospel which you have not
    accepted, you bear this beautifully….For such men are
    false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising
    themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for
    even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light;
    therefore it is not surprising if his servants also
    disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose
    end shall be according to their deeds.

The Way began to grow significantly only when Wierwille traveled
to California and recruited followers from the Jesus
movement.[16] Like Eve and the Corinthians, these young
believers (and many since the 1960s) were “virgins” with simple
devotion to Christ, but were not grounded in Scripture and thus
were easily led astray. They did not understand that Wierwille
preached “another Jesus” (who was only a man) and “another
spirit” (not the Holy Spirit personally indwelling them).

    The apostle Paul warned of deceivers when he told the
Ephesians, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will
come in among you, not sparing the flock, and from among your
own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw
away disciples after them (Acts 20:29-30). Wierwille was not the
only former minister to draw away young disciples — David Berg
was one of several others. Like Wierwille, Berg drew young
people from the Jesus movement to form his own group, the
Children of God (now called the Family of Love), which uses
sexual promiscuity to win new followers. Like Wierwille, Berg’s
teachings became the ultimate authority, and when he committed
adultery, he reinterpreted the Bible in order to defend his
sinful practice.

    This present controversy is serving to alert “pure”
believers that Wierwille and his successors are false apostles
after all. Followers are now tasting the matured fruit of The
Way Tree — fruit of promiscuity, adultery, plagiarism (a form
of lying), authoritarianism, false teaching, unfaithfulness, and
lack of self-control. The  false apostles’ disguises are
being pulled from their faces, and the “virgins” who were led
astray are returning to the one true Jesus, Spirit, and gospel,
and the church of Jesus Christ.

    This is hard to accept for those who knew V.P. Wierwille as
father, friend, and teacher, but both the Scriptures and the
empirical evidence demand it.

    The current turmoil surrounding The Way presents an
excellent opportunity for Christians to befriend ex-Wayers and
help them discover biblical truths they have forgotten or never
known. Christian can also help (ex-) Wayers through four basic
steps of reorientation: 1) expose, 2) emotional reaction,  3)
relearning, and 4) reconstruction.

    First, it is helpful to present facts of doctrinal,
organizational, and personal error in Way leaders. This includes
Wierwille’s plagiarism, approval of adultery, authoritarianism,
errors of scholarship and Bible interpretation, and so forth. If
the person refuses to read or hear material which exposes such
errors, then take the time to obtain the primary sources which
demonstrate them and ask his or her opinion of them. Point out
that Wierwille’s adultery and lying (plagiarism) mark him a
false teacher, not just a teacher with failings (Matt. 7:15).

    Second, give ex-Wayers “space” to vent their emotions and
hurts, and pray for them and their healing. Show love and
patience throughout this trying time of change. It is common for
ex-Wayers to take several years to fully separate from The Way
and reorient their lives.

    Third, help them to relearn. They have rejected some
Christian teachings (such as the Trinity[17]) primarily because
they have accepted Way caricatures and have not fully understood
them. Explain teachings carefully, and give them time alone to
read the Bible in a newer version (such as the New International
Version or New American Standard) which has clearer wording and
lacks Wierwille’s marginal notes and deletions marked in their
old King James Versions. If possible, use Way terminology and
address Way thought patterns, or put them in touch with
ex-Wayers who can.

    Fourth, help them through the reconstruction of their
Christian lives by introducing them to sincere, Bible-believing
Christians, small group fellowships, and churches. This is a big
hurdle, because V.P. Wierwille was always more effective at
turning people away from the church of Jesus Christ than he was
at turning people toward the Bible or The Way International.

    By word, character, and example, show them that there is
more-than-abundant life outside The Way International.

—————————————————————-
Dr. Juedes is a Lutheran paster who has written extensively on
the Way.
—————————————————————-

*Notes*

1 John P. Juedes and Douglas V. Morton, _The Integrity and
  Accuracy of The Way’s Word_ (St. Louis: Personal Freedom
  Outreach, 1980), 43-48.
2 John P. Juedes and Jay Valusek, _Will the Real Author Please
  Stand Up?_ (St. Louis: Personal Freedom Outreach, 1987), 50
  pp.
3 Victor Paul Wierwille, _Power for Abundant Living_ (New
  Knoxville, OH: American Christian Press, 1971), 119-20.
4 Victor Paul Wierwille, _Receiving the Holy Spirit Today,_ 6th
  ed. (New Knoxville, OH: American Christian Press, 1972), x.
  See also Elena Whiteside, _The Way — Living with Love,_ 2d
  ed. (New Knoxville, OH: American Christian Press, 1972), 209,
  174, for Wierwille’s claim that his book is the most
  _original_ coverage of the subject, and p. 178 for his claim
  that God audibly promised to teach him directly and
  personally.
5 Lamsa considered himself an apostle and believed in
  clairvoyance and universalism. He taught that Jesus Christ
  was not resurrected bodily and will not return visibly, and
  that the Holy Spirit is an influence, not a personal being.
  See John P. Juedes, “Looking at Lamsa,” _Personal Freedom
  Outreach Newsletter_ (Jan.-Mar. 1987).
6 Albert Cliffe, _Let Go and Let God_ (Englewood Cliffs, NJ:
  Prentice-Hall, 1951), 157. Cliffe’s book _Lessons in
  Successful Living_ addresses similar topics. Although
  Wierwille has written against spiritism, he welcomed this
  spiritist with open arms.
7 Whiteside, 205-9. Leonard’s book and course syllabus called
  _The Gifts of the Spirit_ are still in print.
8 Whiteside, 197-200.
9 John Lynn, _Overview of Events,_ two-cassette series, 1987.
  Available from: Capitol Saints/John A. Lynn, 5918
  Chesterbrook Road, McLean, VA  22101. The Way published three
  books by Lynn, more than any author other than Wierwille.
10 These are actual experiences which Wayers, ex-Wayers, and
  others have shared with me.
11 Morton and Juedes, _Integrity and Accuracy,_ reveals many of
  Wierwille’s errors in scholarship and Bible interpretation.
12 Lynn, _Overview of Events._ For example, Lionel Recio and
  Steve Lefevers claim that one woman was “‘gang-raped’ by
  several Way clergy” and that the Corps residence training was
  sometimes like a “bordello” with promiscuity, adultery,
  orgies, and wife-swapping. _The Way of Life or The Way of
  Death_ (self-published, 1987), 106.
13 Address: Pacific West Fellowship, P.O. Box 18503, Anaheim, CA
  92817.
14 Letter by Steve Sann, Pacific West Fellowship, 2 March 1988.
15 H. A. Ironside, _Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth_
  (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1938) addresses the relation
  of the gospel to the church, the Bride and body of Christ,
  baptism, and related topics. (Ex-)Wayers would also benefit
  from Robert A. Morey’s _Death and the Afterlife_
  (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1984), Stuart
  Olyott’s _The Three Are One_ (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian
  and Reformed Publishing Co., 1979), and Cal Beisner’s _God in
  Three Persons_ (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1985).
16 Wierwille noted that acquiring young people from the Jesus
  movement caused the Way’s growth (Whiteside, 230-35).
17 Rick Lessing, _An Analysis and Critique of the Theology of
  The Way International: An Evangelical Christian Response to
  Victor Paul Wierwille’s Concept of the Trinity_ (unpublished
  paper, 1986), makes a case that Wierwille misunderstood
  Trinitarianism as (alternately) Sabellianism and polytheism,
  and that when Trinitarianism is properly explained, it is
  clearly biblically valid and coherent.

————–

End of document, CRJ0029A.TXT (original CRI file name),
“The Way Tree Is Splintering”
release A, February 7, 1994
R. Poll, CRI

(A special note of thanks to Bob and Pat Hunter for their help
in the preparation of this ASCII file for BBS circulation.)

—————————————————————-

The Christian Research Journal is published quarterly by the
Christian Research Institute (CRI) — founded in 1960 by the
late Dr. Walter R. Martin.  While CRI is concerned with and
involved in the general defense of the faith, our area of
research specialization is limited to elements within the modern
religious scene that compete with, assault, or undermine
biblical Christianity.  These include cults (that is, groups
which deny essential Christian doctrines such as the deity of
Christ and the Trinity); the occult, much of which has become
focused in the contemporary New Age movement; the major world
religions; and aberrant Christian teachings (that is, teachings
which compromise or confuse essential biblical truth).

Regular features of the Journal include “Newswatch,” “F.Y.I.”
(Relevant material in recent media), witnessing tips and book
reviews.

CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL RATES: (subject to change)
                        One Year    Two Years

California Residents    [ ] 17.24    [ ] 31.25
(state tax included)

U.S. Residents          [ ] 16.00    [ ] 29.00
(except California)

Canadian Residents      [ ] 30.00    [ ] 55.00
(in CANADIAN funds, payable to CRI’s Canada headquarters at:
Post Office Box 3216, Station B, Calgary, Alberta, T2M 4L7)

Outside U.S. and Canada  [ ] 32.00    [ ] 58.00
(U.S. currency only)

Please make checks payable to CRI

To subscribe to the Christian Research Journal, please print
this coupon, fill in the necessary information and mail it with
your payment to (Canadians please use above address):

    CRI, P.O. Box 500-TC, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92693-0500

[ ] Yes!  I want to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal.

Name:    ___________________________________________________

Address: ___________________________________________________

Address: ___________________________________________________

City, State, ZIP: __________________________________________

Country: _______________ Phone: ____________________________

YOURS FOR THE ASKING

Did you know that CRI has a wealth of information on various
topics that is yours for the asking?  In fact, a free
subscription to the Christian Research Newsletter is yours if
you contact CRI and ask for one saying that you found out about
the offer from this computer text file.  We offer a wide variety
of articles and fact sheets free of charge.  Write us today for
information on these or other topics.  Our first-rate research
staff will do everything possible to help you.

Christian Research Institute
P.O. Box 500-TC
San Juan Capistrano, CA  92693

(714) 855-9926

—————
End of file.

Doc Viewed 8347 times

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating / 5. Vote count:

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.