Why are you so obsessed with criticizing a dead man like V. P. Wierwille when there are so many problems with "Christian" churches and ministers like Jimmy Swaggert? Clean up your own backyard, first.

You some good points in this letter. Certainly I didn't mean to infer that Christian churches are problem-free or that adultery, etc, doesn't exist in them. However, you seem to suggest that I'm doing nothing, and aren't interested in, helping to make the Christian church more moral and more able to help people so that they don't look for spiritual help in groups like TWI. If so, you seem to be judging me solely on the basis of our web site and know little about my work as a whole. Let me assure you that the web site is a small fraction of my ministry.

I make efforts to serve the church and help people in my church, community, church body and beyond. For example, right now I'm writing a series of articles on spiritual and moral issues for our city newspaper, because this is a public way to communicate Bible truth to many people who have little interest in God, the Bible or worship. In our local church, I teach several Bible studies a week, preach, counsel, lead worship, and so forth.

The purpose of the web site isn't to present our total ministry. Rather, it's a means to help people who are interested in TWI to find information and help. As you know, it's hard to find thorough, up-to-date info on TWI. This "niche" ministry enables people to find our information, even though they'd have no other way to find us. I find avenues other than the web for our other types of ministry.

It's true that our site has a lot of information on TWI, but it's one result of 20 years' research and ministry to people affected by TWI. I don't see this as "obsessed," but as consistent. Many ex-Wayers are finally coming to the same conclusions, and accepting the same evaluations, of TWI and its teachings that we wrote about 15 years ago. Over the years, my interest in it has ebbed and flowed. Right now it's higher because so many people write me and visit our web site (and pass material on to friends who don't have Internet access). I don't "yearn" to write critical articles, as you seem to think. Rather, people write me with needs, problems, pains and concerns, asking for help. If you read the article titles carefully, it will be clear to you that most are written in response to real, hurting people. For example, I wrote articles on child custody simply because I've had pain-filled letters from men and women in custody fights. I've done articles on Jesus because I've heard from people confused by Way teaching, asking for information. I've done articles on believing because of the guilt and pain the Way teaching has inflicted on people. I don't write in a vacuum, or because I like conflict or like to beat up on a dead guy.

In fact, Wierwille isn't dead in a sense, because so many people are still devoted to him, or to his legacy-- which is still yielding pain for them. It is more important to respond to VPW more than some other teachers gone awry because VPW tried to make a cult following for himself, condemning all churches and ministries besides his own. In some ways, I wish he was still alive to answer some of our criticisms (although he, like Martindale today, was always too stubborn and egotistical to have actually considered constructive criticism, so it wouldn't really help if he was). If there were more people ministering in this field, there would be less need for me to stay active in it. But right now, it appears that God has established me in this ministry. As I get mail, it is apparent that it is helping many people, and many needs still need to be addressed on our web site. As much as all of us may try to meet people's spiritual needs so they don't go into TWI, the TWI illness still exists, and I believe God wants some folks doing the remedial work of healing. I'm glad that you acknowledge that there is a place for helping people misled and wounded by Way leadership, but surprised that in the light of this, you should be so very critical of this part of our ministry that is designed to do just that.

Many individual churches and Bible teachers do have problems and sin, some severe. These must be faced and dealt with (and we have done so with people or churches who are within our area of influence-- something Jesus calls our "neighbor"). But that's not the only kind of church. God is doing a good work in the lives of many people, through the ordinary, day-to-day ministry of many unknown, but faithful servants.

In the Vine, JOHN

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