Way International

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The Way, International is a cultic organization founded in the mid 1950s by a former Evangelical and Reformed minister, Victor Paul Wierwille. The Way claims it is not a church or a denomination but merely a "biblical research and teaching organization."

Like most cultic groups, The Way's history and theology revolve around its founder and long - time president. A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, Wierwille holds a doctorate from a reputed degree mill, Pike's Peak Seminary. He first taught his "power for Abundant Living" class in 1953 and began to attract attention and followers during the Jesus Movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. The class continues to be the primary means by which potential converts are introduced to the unorthodox teachings of the movement, and has become the cornerstone of The Way's doctrinal position.

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In 1958 Wierwille resigned from the ministry, disillusioned with the institutional church, and continued his spiritual search as an ecclesiastical loner. He claims to have had a life - changing experience during which God spoke to him audibly and promised that he would teach Wierwille the Word as it had not been known since the first century.

After this "revelation" encounter with God, Wierwille pursued a career of writing, preaching, and teaching that included the denial of the Trinity, the deity of Jesus Christ, and other major doctrines of orthodox Christianity. He is revered as a prophet by his followers and views himself as an apostle, "one who brings new light to his generation."

Wierwille's theology is a strange admixture of Unitarianism, dispensationalism, Pentecostalism, and Calvinism. While he claims to teach the "rightly divided" Word in a manner that was lost to Christianity until he rediscovered it, Wierwille's preconceived theology is an accumulation of ancient heresies in modern dress combined with some biblical truth. The Way, in reality, is an organization that is built around one man's interpretation of the Bible.

Critics claim that Wierwille misdefines Greek words, employs inferior study tools, promotes false principles of textual criticism, and routinely distorts biblical teaching. A presupposition underlying much of Wierwille's questionable exegesis is the primacy of the Aramaic. Way researchers assert that the NT was originally written in Aramaic, not Greek. They make extensive reference to Syriac versions and to the Peshitta version translated by George Lamsa, an inferior biblical text. Wierwille also manipulate Orientalisms to reinforce his own preferred doctrine.

Members of the Way do not accept the deity of Christ. Wierwille regularly asserts, "Jesus Christ is not God, never was and never will be." The Way teaches that Jesus is the son of God, but he is not God the Son. Consistent with Wierwille's unitarian monotheism is his rejection of the Holy Spirit as the third person of the Godhead. In his view, the Holy Spirit is the Father (God) and just another name for God. When the words "holy spirit" are not capitalized, Wierwille is referring to a spiritual ability of power. Therefore, according to Way theology, the Holy Spirit is not a person but an impersonal power or enablement.

Speaking in tongues is central to the Way's theology. Wierwille teaches that speaking in tongues constitutes the true worship of God and that the practice is a necessary indicator of the new birth. As part of the Power for Abundant Living course Way members are taught how to speak in tongues, following Wierwille's rather mechanical instruction.

Other errant doctrines of The Way include the belief that there is no glory in death and that the dead remain dead until the final resurrection ("soul sleep"); the teaching that water baptism is not for Christians; and the view that faith is a spiritual thing given to man only after Pentecost and therefore it is the faith of Jesus Christ that saves, not our faith in Jesus.

The Way International has headquarters in New Knoxville, Ohio. Its outreach program includes Word Over the World (WOW) Ambassadors, a leadership training program called The Way Corps, and publication of The Way Magazine. The organization espouses a very conservative political ideology and has been accused by some parents of mind manipulation and aggressive recruitment tactics.

R M Enroth
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)

R M Enroth, Youth, Brainwashing and the Extremist Cults; J MacCollam, "The Way," in A Guide to Cults and New Religions, ed. R M Enroth; D V Morton and J C Juedes, The Integrity and Accuracy of the Way's Word; J L Williams, Victor Paul Wierwille and The Way International.

The Way International

Letter from a Reader

Thanks for this website! I belonged to this organization for over 12 years and to its splinter organizations for several more years before breaking away completely and publishing a book debating its doctrine. The Way took the truth in Jesus Christ and blurred it so bad the truth and the history was lost in the minds of thousands of people.

S. Spencer

(NOTE: BELIEVE has received over 150 similar letters in the years that our presentations have been on the Internet. There have also been about four letters that have come in that supported The Way, two of which were from people in their organization.) We try never to present any bias or preference toward any viewpoint on any religious subject. This letter and this reference to other letters is merely meant as trying to be informative.

The individual articles presented here were generally first published in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

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