I have a Bachelor's degree in Science (education), a Master's of Divinity and Doctorate of Ministry degrees. All are from accredited schools, and the last two were accredited by both the normal regional accrediting agencies and by the ATS, which is the harder accreditation to get. I mention this partly because VP Wierwille's "Doctorate" was not at all accredited, and was close to being a "degree mill," and of little value.
The main focus of my ministry is that of pastoring a particular group of Christians in Highland (who call themselves Messiah Lutheran Church so people have an idea where they meet and what they stand for). The Lord has given me responsibility to help them grow in faith, knowledge, worship, obedience, ministry and witness. In order to do this, I teach about 300 Bible studies a year, preach about 70 messages a year), visit, counsel, help the poor, and so forth.
I have no interest in building up a national (or even regional) following by producing and selling books, tapes and magazines. This is hard for many Wayers/ex-Way to understand, because they have a mind set that this must be what a "ministry" should do-- build a following by selling tapes (since this is all they experienced in TWI). This is not the primary Biblical model for ministry. Paul launched churches, and wrote to them (mainly to correct unbiblical practices and to clarify some teachings). But he did not intend to be "the Teacher" for all "his" churches, nor did he intend his letters to be the regular source of teaching for them. Instead, he helped the churches to ordain local pastors and teachers to see to this. (In this way, it was like the Old Testament model, which had local, independent "rabbis" [teachers] and "rulers of the synagogues.") He didn't establish a "tree" structure in order to control all the churches, disseminate his own teachings and build a large scale following (he actually spoke against such a thing in 1 Cor. 1). This is the error he spoke against in Acts 20:30: "men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them."
Sadly, V.P. Wierwille and L. C. Martindale did not heed this warning, and have devoted their lives to distorting the truth in order to try to draw disciples after themselves. In fact, it is almost "necessary" for them to distort truth, because then they can claim that they alone have the "rightly divided" Word and so are the only teachers on earth anyone can go to in order to learn the "accuracy of the Word." The main purpose of PFAL was not to teach the basics of Bible research, but to give V.P. a chance to promote himself as the only Teacher who had the insight or revelation to really understand the Word-- this is why he peppered the class with unusual teachings (like four crucified). Whether he really believed his odd teachings or not, they provided great ways to hook followers. In the same way, Martindale's WAP class spends most of its time on peculiar topics (rather than central Bible teachings) in an effort to establish himself as the new and improved "Teacher" and "man of God."
This is one failing of most ex-Wayers. When they leave the old "man of God" and "teaching ministry," they just go about trying to find another one to follow among the ex-Way groups. They switch from an organization and tape subscription in New Knoxville to one in Indianapolis (or wherever), but not much has changed. They are so stuck in the "tape ministry" model that they seldom understand God's basic plan-- the local church, which is the local manifestation of God's Church around the world.
Because of this, I don't promote Messiah Lutheran Church (or even the Lutheran Church as a whole), except to list times of worship for people in our area. On the web site I purposely don't sell articles and Bible studies I've written on other topics, because I don't want people to think I'm promoting my own organization or trying to develop a following of my own. Instead, I encourage people to find a church in their areas to fellowship with, with a local pastor and/or teacher who can fulfill the Biblical task of feeding the flock.
I do, however, recommend that people find a church that teaches truly according to the Bible, which includes the key teachings of the church throughout history-- salvation by grace in Jesus Christ, redemption by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross, the personality and powerful presence of the Holy Spirit, eternal life, the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ, asking God for His blessings in prayer rather than trying to "operate" the "laws" on our own, and so forth.
On the side, I also minister to Way/ex-Wayers and their families, because many people who are looking for sound, specific answers to the issues, teachings and accusations TWI has made. TWI continues to belittle and attack the Christian Church and its teachings, and to teach error. There aren't many places people can go to find thorough responses to TWI. I believe God has called us to respond to those who've been hurt by TWI, and have seen many people benefit from reading our articles. In fact, most of the articles on the site were written to respond to inquiries (mostly email) we received. I figure that if one person expresses a question or need, then there are probably hundreds of others who visit our site who have the same need and would benefit from an article on the topic. This has been the main focus of our web site, because it's a good means to contact people who couldn't find us in other ways.
As far as "credentials" for writing-- I value my education, because it has enabled me to see the huge inaccuracies and errors in VPW's and TWI's Bible teachings. Most people in TWI (and ex-Wayers) can't see them, partly because they really have so little concept of the Bible languages, background, church history, how to interpret the Bible, and other very basic principles of Biblical research. I have found that even when Wayers throw around technical terms like "the critical Greek texts," they don't have even the most basic knowledge of what these things are.
At the same time, I realize that academic degrees in themselves are not proof that anyone teaches accurately on all points. I do believe that people who take off their Way "blinders," arrogance and biases, will come to see that the Biblical criticisms I've written about in my articles on TWI are accurate. It's just that most Wayers never seriously questioned TWI teachings (most were too in awe of "The Man of God," and too afraid of being "mark and avoid" to do so), or never had the Bible background to be able to do so competently. What I've found is that most Wayers who disagree with what I write don't take the time to seriously consider it detail by detail-- they just make knee-jerk reactions against it according to their Way-implanted biases.
I challenge you to read my things in detail and show me where details are wrong. Most are afraid to do this, perhaps because they fear that Way teaching will fall like a house of cards, or because in their hearts they realize how little TWI has equipped them to study the Bible for themselves. But I have hope and confidence that you will be more open to the truth than this, and I look forward to hearing from you in the future.
In the Vine, JOHN