Founder: Victor Paul Wierwille
Headquarters: New Knoxville, Ohio
Date Founded: It is hard to fix a date for this cult, but the following are significant dates:
a. 1942- Date God revealed to Wierwille his teachings.
b. 1968- Date of first real growth which was mostly gained from the Jesus Movement.
c. 1953- The date that Wierwille started the “Power for Abundant Living” courses.
Cult Name: The Way International; The Way
The Bible Tells Me So
Power for Abundant Living
The New, Dynamic Church
The Word's Way
Receiving the Holy Spirit Today
Jesus Christ is Not God
Are the Dead Alive Now
Periodicals: The Way Magazine (Has a circulation of about 10,000.)
Publishing House: American Christian Press
Important “Way” Names or Organizations:
a. Rock of Ages Christian Music Festival- This is a type of national convention for the cult which takes place each year at the end of the summer camp program. It is a time of gospel-rock music, teachings, and rejoicing.
b. W.O.W. Ambassadors- “The Word Over the World Ambassadors” are the people who fulfill the outreach program. They are mainly young people who give up one year of their lives in establishing local fellowships, witnessing, and running the PFAL courses. According to the W.O.W. handbook, each person must put in a minimum of eight hours each day in witnessing. They must completely support themselves by jobs, and the give 10% to Wierwille.
c. W.O.U.S.A.- “The Word Over the United States of America”
d. Correctional Outreach- Their prison ministry of teaching and rehabilitation.
e. T.W.I.G.- “The Word in Government” is the political outreach. This program is to train young people for political office. They already claim a woman mayor in Maine, who after being elected joined a Way course.
f. Total Fitness Institute- This is a wilderness survival program located in the California Sierras and run by an ex-Marine Corps Physical Fitness Director. The program, which is instituted to stress the importance of the physical person, costs $275 for two weeks.
g. Christian Political Alliance (CPA)- Political groups in Ohio started by Maine Senator Hayes Gahagan.
h. Minute Men- Seasoned workers.
Power for Abundant Living (PFAL):
This program is the basic outreach of Wierwille's ministry. It is a video-taped teaching ministry that is either done on film, tape, or live. The program advertised as a “Biblical Research Class,” consists of 12 three hour sessions costing $85. In these sessions Wierville claims that his over 30 years of supposed Biblical knowledge will lead one who believes to a more relaxed freedom, a conscious joy, and the attainment of the promised abundant life of John 10:10.
During the first session, the person is told to sit back and listen. You are not allowed to take notes or ask questions, but you are to just look at your Bible. Then, at the last session, if you do remember questions, you are to write them down and turn them in.
In Session 12, the person is now “lead” into speaking in tongues. After this the program ends and you are now prepared to go on into further classes as follows:
1.The intermediate class in which you learn to interpret tongues and prophecy
2. Renew Your Mind class
3. Christian Family and Sex.
(All of these are at a price, which goes to Wierwille's headquarters.)
Organizational Structure: (The Way Tree)
The organization that Wierwille has structured is rigid and is characterized by a tree:
a. Trunk- international headquarters
b. Limbs- statewide organizations
c. Branches- represents cities
d. Twigs- home or campus meetings, basic fellowship groups
e. Leaves- individual members
The international board is made up of V.P. Wierwille, H.E. Wierwille (brother) and Ermal Owens.
School: (Also known as The Way Corps)
The Way recently purchased a former United Presbyterian College in Emporia, Kansas, which had closed in 1973. It was renamed “The Way College,” and it will be the cult's training center. The school opened without accreditation and without authority to grant degrees with over 400 students in 1975 on the 41-acre campus. Wierwille's son Donald is the administrator. The cost is $300 per month, which is solicited by students from friends, relatives, parents, etc., and each student is expected to keep a daily hour by hour record of his time. They have recently opened another school in Rome City, Indiana for the 1977 school year.
Victor Paul Wierwille: (Founder)
The founder, born in 1918, grew up in a fundamental home of Christian parents, but he soon began to doubt some basic doctrines like the trinity. He studied at several schools including Mission House College, the University of Chicago Divinity School, Moody Bible Institute, and received a masters from Princeton Seminary. In 1948, Wierwille received a doctorate (honorary) from Pike's Peak Bible Seminary, a known “degree mill.” In Christianity Today November 21, 1975, pg.19-20, a letter from the Colorado Commission of Higher Education stated “The Pike's Peak had no residency, faculty, accreditation, or governmental supervision that honors any degree.” After his ordination, Wierwille became an Evangelical and Reformed Church minister (now it is the united Church of Christ), but soon claimed his life was without power and fruit. Also, he failed to see behavioral changes in his people. He dumped his 3,000 theological books into the city dump and began to pray and study the Bible for power. Then in 1942, God audibly spoke to him, he claims, and told Wierwille that He would teach him the Word as it had not been known since the first century, if he would teach it to others. In 1953, the PFAL was born by this self-proclaimed Greek and Hebrew scholar.
False Teachings of Victor Paul Wierwille:
1. Denial of the deity of Jesus Christ- He was not God, but He was created specially to pray for sins. (See Jehovah Witnesses (J.W.) notes on deity) Also, if Christ is not God, but a creation of God, then to worship Christ is idolatrous (Romans 1:18-21.)
2. Denial of the personality of the Holy Spirit- Wierwille teaches that the Holy Sprit is another name for God. He teaches that the Holy Spirit is an ability, a power given at Pentecost. (See cult notes of personality of the Holy Spirit)
3. From Matthew and Luke, Wierwille has concluded that there were four people crucified with Christ, not two, and that they were crucified on stakes rather than crosses, i.e. Jehovah Witnessed and Armstrong.
4. Wierwille believes in soul-sleep. (See Seventh Day Adventist notes.)
5. Speaking in tongues is for today, as are all the temporal apostolic gifts–healing, etc.
False Church History- A typical Wierwille approach to show what he believes in his so-called scholarship of church history. Wierwille claims that the Trinity was a pagan doctrine brought into the church by Constantine in the fourth century A.D. for political reasons. He did this by calling council in Nicalea (now Nice, France) which was attended by about 220 bishops, mostly from the West. The Creed of Nicalea was signed by this “overawed” minority.
Actual Historical Account- The history of one of the greatest and most significant councils of Christianity leads one to doubt the creditability of Wierwille's teachings. Listed below are some actual facts about the Nicalean Council of 325 A.D.
a. Nicalea is not Nice, France, but Istanbul, Turkey.
b. There were actually 318 bishops present, including a total of 1,500 bishops, elders and deacons from the whole Christian world, not just from the West.
c. These men were the same men who had suffered through extreme persecution-some were blind from having their eyes poked out, others were maimed, having had parts of their bodies cut off from persecution. They had all suffered for their faith in Jesus Christ and we are to assume from Wierwille that these were “overawed” men who were forced to sign the Creed!
d. The Creed was a work of over 1,500 men–not a few as Wierwille claims. They met for three solid months and discussed every possible Scripture to find truth.
Founder: Victor Paul Wierwille