(REPRINTED FROM THE NATIONAL COURIER)
Founder: Victor Paul Wierwille
Date Founded: 1957
Name: The Way
Headquarters: New Knoxville, Ohio
Current President: Victor Paul Wierwille
Major School: “The Way College” Emporia, Kansas
Major Publications: The Way Magazine
Publications: The American Christian Press: This is their own printing firm which prints most of their books, pamphlets, and The Way Magazine.
Church Organization: Tree
1. Trunk-International Headquarters
2. Limbs-Statewide Organization
3. Branches-Various Cities
4. Twigs-Home or Campus meetings
5. Leaves-Individual Christians
Theology: As in the case with every other cult, The Way movement deviates from historic Christianity on the divinity of Christ, the Trinity of God, and the Scriptures as the full, complete and final written revelation of God to man. As we previously indicated one will find members of The Way using much of our traditional biblical terminology. However, even though they use our vocabulary they do not use our dictionary! In other words, while they may express their doctrine using the same terminology as Orthodox Christians, they do not mean the same thing by the use of those words or phrases. So, even though we and they might sound alike by our terminology, we do not share a common faith at all! At least Mr. Wierwille has now forthrightly acknowledged this in writing when he made this warning to his followers: “We must define our terms. Many people may be misled because while using the same language of words, we don’t mean the same things.” All I can say is: “Mr. Wierwille, you can say that again!”
According to The Way, the Bible must be clearly and accurately understood. Naturally, Wierwille claims to do this because of his “over thirty years of independent Biblical research!” It was during this period that he claims to have rediscovered what the original apostles taught–a teaching that was lost to Christianity until he rediscovered it! When asked, “Do you consider yourselves in the line with historic Christianity?” One of their leaders answered, “We’re not concerned with what somebody else taught.” Indeed, the only similarity the followers of The Way see with any group in church history is with the apostolic church of the first century! “There have been very few organizations like us in history that want a perfectly Biblical view,” said one Ohio leader.
The theology of The Way then is a strange mixture of theological and philosophical strands!
1. Unitarianism: God exists only in one substance and in one person. Christ was therefore a created being and the Holy Spirit is not a person, but Divine attributes.
2. Biblical Liberalism: “The Word of God means what it says and says what it means.” This is one of Wierwille’s favorite statements! In reality he means this: “The Word of God means what I say, and says what I mean!”
3. Evangelicalism: “Salvation is entirely by grace through faith in the virgin-born, crucified, resurrected and ascended Son of God.” (Note: They would agree with much of Christian orthodoxy on the facts of the incarnate life of Christ. Where they differ, is on his pre-incarnate existence. Orthodoxy agrees with John and says that: “In the beginning was the Word (Christ), and the Word (Christ) was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).”
4. Calvinism: Once a person is saved he cannot become unsaved.
5. Dispensationalism: The church began with Paul’s Epistles. The Gospels belong in the Old Testament; and only those New Testament Epistles addressed to the church apply to believers today–although the remainder of the Bible is “for our learning.”
6. Pentecostalism: The 9 spiritual gifts of I Corinthians are operable today–and tongues and healing are stressed.
“Christianity is the greatest thing the world’s ever seen. I want to tell you, my God’s a living reality to me, …And His Son, Jesus Christ, the most dynamic thing I’ve ever experienced in my life…to be born again.” That may not be an unusual testimony, except that it comes from Dr. Victor Paul Wierwille, author and self-publisher of Jesus Christ is Not God. The title of the book is not merely to catch the eye: “Anybody who says Jesus is God is not going to stand approved before God on that statement, I guarantee you,” Wierwille, founder and president of The Way International, told the National Courier.
At the headquarters on the west-central Ohio farm where Wierwille was reared, The Way labels itself a “Bible-research center.” But figuring out the theology expressed by Wierwille and The Way can be a demanding task. In dismissing the traditional view of Christ as God, Wierwille often employs bewildering Bible interpretations, many based on Greek and Aramaic texts. At the same time, he used plenty of phrases like “Christ our Savior” and “Being born again.” It’s a theology with which many people may be ill-equipped to deal, one that can draw converts by its overwhelming first appearances.
Numbers are never discussed publicly, but active adherents to The Way’s doctrine may be as high as 50,000, many of whom have taken Wierwille’s videotape course “Power for Abundant Living,” offered in many communities. Way missionaries, called “WOW Ambassadors” (“The word over the world”), are said to be in all 50 states and 51 foreign countries. The Way College, formerly a United Presbyterian college, is located in Emporia, Kansas, and another campus in Rome City, Indiana, formerly a Roman Catholic facility, will open in September 1985. Continued growth in The Way is perhaps due to a minimum of internal questioning.
The Way, as Wierwille said, is “The greatest love of God that is possible for us to engender. It has such a diversity of people, but the same Word. And we don’t criticize and find fault. We allow people freedom in their own lives as long as it doesn’t contradict the Word.” The question is, whose word? The Christianity which Wierwille speaks so highly of may well be Christianity–The Way International style. “I make this statement publicly: About 85 percent of what is believed as being Christian is not Christian if the Bible’s right.” Wierwille told the Courier. “Christianity is going down the drain… losing, has lost and will continue to lose until they come back to the one true God and worship Him.”
Wierwille has said that God has granted him special, but not necessarily exclusive, insight, explaining that in 1942 “God spoke to me audibly, just like I’m talking to you now. He said He would teach me the Word as it has not been known since the first century if I teach it to others.” It wasn’t until 1975, however, that he published his book dismissing Christ’s deity. “God is not human,” Wierwille said. “God is spirit. You can’t see spirit. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He was here upon the earth. Jesus Christ you can see.” “I’ve got an earthy son. He’s not me. If He (Christ) is God’s Son, He’s not the Father.” “If Jesus Christ was God,” Wierwille said, “and God died on the cross, then the teaching that God is dead is right, sir. Who raised God from the dead if God died on the cross?”
Wierwille was then asked a number of questions about his scriptural analysis in Jesus Christ is Not God. Several he refused to answer, despite his pet phrases of “Working the Word” and “God’s Word means what it says and says what it means.” For instance, Wierwille cited Hebrews 1:8 in his book: “But unto the Son he saith Thy throne O God, is for ever and ever…” He said the passage is not a reference to Christ as God, but an instance in the Bible where a man is called a god. Reminded that “God” in the Greek text is the divine word for God, “ho Theos,” that this has been applied to Christ, and asked to give an answer, Wierwille said, “I’m not going to. I’ll stick by my book.” “You and I just needn’t talk, because you just don’t believe God’s Word, son,” Wierwille said.
Expressing indignation over questions about his scriptural analysis, Wierwille said, “I think the interview is all couched and one-sided. And I think you came in to make trouble…to humiliate me as a student of God’s Word.” “Well, I’m almost sorry we’re making this tape. Almost asked you to throw it in that fire over there,” he said during the tape-recorded interview in a den warmed by a fireplace. Thus, a tongue-lashing may be in store for anyone approaching Wierwille to ask, “Doesn’t Christ today have the nature of spirit as he sits at the right hand of God and dwells in men’s hearts?” Although the school where he got his doctorate, the former Pike’s Peak Seminary, is often attacked as a “degree mill,” Wierwille said, “But if you want to give me a Ph.D. exam in my field, I’m willing to take it.”
Wierwille said he wrote Jesus Christ is Not God, because I just believe it ought to have a hearing. “If Martin Luther would have had more time, and lived in our culture, I’m confident he would have come up with a far better work in Jesus Christ is Not God than I because, he knew it. But he just didn’t have time.” Luther, however, did have time to write a catechism, published in 1529, in which he wrote that Jesus is “true God and true man.” According to Wierwille’s interpretation of Christian history, “You got the Trinity out of Babylonian paganism, baptized by Roman Catholicism and indoctrinated in the hearts and lives of theologians down through Europe.” “Don’t you see the fights in Christendom?” Wierwille argued, “My goodness, you can hardly get two Christians bodies together any length of time to talk about God’s word and not fight. Even denominations, the biggest of them, split after split after split.” “Come on, man, we have to be blind if we don’t see the hatcheting that’s going on. It can’t be from the true God; it has to be the adversary fighting,” he said.
“Whenever a nation has more than one god, that nation is finished. Just read your Old Testament. I think my ministry could help the church a great deal,” Wierwille said, “I think in three years, in time we in the United States could again become spiritually the greatest nation in the world if they’d come back to one God.”