The Way International Author:
Russ Wise Date:6/11/2003 11:23:10 AM
Founder: Victor Paul Wierwille
Founding Date: Wierwille officially incorporated The Way in 1955.
Publications: The American Christian Press is the publishing arm of The Way.
Published Works: Jesus Christ is not God, Receiving The Holy Spirit Today, The Bible Tells Me So, Are The Dead Alive Now?, and others.
Structure of Organization: Wierwille employed the structure of a tree for his organization. The roots represented the various executive office locations internationally. The trunk is the particular nation in which the cult resides. The limbs represent the various state headquarters. The branch is representative of the followers in a given city. The twig is the basic unit, the local group of believers and the leaves are the individual believers.
Victor Paul Wierwille was born in 1916 in New Knoxville, Ohio. He grew up in the Evangelical and Reformed Church and was later ordained as a pastor in the denomination after graduation from seminary in 1941. He served as a pastor for sixteen years before he founded The Way International.
There has been considerable controversy regarding Wierwille's theological education. He studied at the University of Chicago and Princeton Theological Seminary. He also claimed to have done extensive study at Moody Bible Institute; however, he only took selected correspondence courses and never received a degree. His doctorate in theology was received from Pikes Peak Seminary, a reputed degree mill in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Wierwille suffered a lengthy period of spiritual depression in the early 1940's and in 1942 claimed that God the Father had spoken to him and told him that he would be used by God to receive the most accurate understanding of the Bible since the first century, if he would help others rightly understand the Scriptures.
The Power for Abundant Living course, (PFAL), was first offered in 1953 and to this day is used as the primary vehicle for introducing Way theology. The current name for the group, The Way International, was first used in 1958 and is still used today.
The Way headquarters is based in New Knoxville, Ohio, where the group located The Way Biblical Research Center. The organization also has two schools where "Wayers" are taught Wierwille's interpretation of Scripture. The most prominant of the two is in Emporia, Kansas.
The Way Doctrine and Theology
The Way is no different than most other cults in that they deny: the absolute trustworthiness of the Bible, the trinity, the deity of Jesus, and the person of the Holy Spirit.
Victor Paul Wierwille traditionally held a high view of Scripture and considered it as his source of authority. However, he leaned more to his personal interpretation of the Bible as his plumbline of truth. Wierwille made the fatal mistake of not allowing the Bible to lend understanding regarding its interpretation, but he, as most all cultists do, interpreted the Bible according to his personal understanding rather than letting the Bible shed light on itself.
The Way is no different than other cults in that they, too, have difficulty with the Deity of Jesus. Wierwille in his book, Jesus Christ is not God, indicates that the doctrine of the trinity was borrowed from pagan sources and established as truth in the 4th century. The implication is that since the pagan religions of the day had incorporated a triune deity and they were false gods, then the early Christian trinity was false as well. Wierwille holds the assumption that the trinity presupposes three gods. However, Christianity defines the trinity as three Persons that make up one God (Isaiah 43:10): the Father (2 Peter ), the Son (John 1:1,14), and Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4).
Deity of Jesus
Wierwille holds to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God but denies His deity. He likewise denies the pre-existence of Jesus prior to His birth. Wierwille believes that Jesus only pre-existed in the mind of God. God foreknew that He would bring Jesus into this world in the future, but Jesus did not pre-exist as a personality.
Consider the following comparison as evidence of the deity of Jesus:
AttributesThe FatherThe Son
first and lastIsaiah 44:6Revelations 1:17
does not changeMalachi 3:6Hebrews 13:8
is the AlmightyExodus 6:3Revelations 1:8
creates all thingsIsaiah 44:24Colossians
final judgeRomans 2 Cor.
forgives sinExodus 34:7Mark 2:5
King of Kings1 Timothy Rev. 19:16
Wierwille teaches that the Holy Spirit is God the Father and not a distinct Person and the third part of a triune Godhead. Wierwille bought into the third century view of the trinity known as modalism. God is one distinctive Person who manifests Himself in three modalities: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He can only be engaged in one mode at a time. He cannot simultaneously be all three at one given time.
Wierwille uses lower case letters for the Holy Spirit, denoting non-deity. He recognizes holy spirit as a gift from God and not as a personal deity. He conveniently overlooks passages such as Isaiah 6:8-10,
Victor Paul Wierwille stepped down as the President of The Way International in 1982 and was succeeded by a former Baptist youth leader by the name of L. Craig Martindale. Wierwille died in May of 1984 at the age of 68. Martindale had been involved with The Way since his senior year in college (1971) and later became the director of The Way Corps. He also served as vice president and faculty member at The Way College.
Wierwille founded one of the most deceptive behavior modification cults of our day. His lack of Biblical scholarship opened the door to spiritual deception and error. As Christians we are called to rightly handle the Word of God and not be deceived.
Acts 28:25-27 and Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 10:15-17 that clearly indicate that the Holy Spirit is a personality. Acts 5:3-4 likewise reveals the fact that the Holy Spirit is a Person. Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Person of the Holy Spirit and not simply a gift of spirit as Wierwille would have us believe.