As The Way International (TWI) splintered in the years after the death of its founder in 1985, many leaders in TWI's hierarchy struck out on their own. They carried with them nearly the whole package of TWI's teachings, methods, lifestyle and structure.
However, few of them will own up to the fact that their training, teaching and ministry are saturated in, and carry on, the nature of TWI. They commonly hide the fact of their TWI roots and lack candor in discussing this (except among other ex-Wayers, who follow them simply because they do carry on TWI's ways).
One example of this is Vince Finnegan, who joined TWI as a young man, graduated from TWI's leadership training arm, "The Way Corps," and served on Way staff for about 15 years. He held several high level positions, such as leading the Limb (State) of New York and positions on the "President's Cabinet" of TWI.
Like the rest of TWI's splinter groups, Finnegan's organization, Christian Biblical Counsel, offers "research and teaching" on tape and in print to followers across the country. Their followers are primarily people who left TWI and gravitated to ex-leaders they knew while in TWI. Finnegan also offers a variant of the Power for Abundant Living (PFAL) class which TWI used as its primary recruitment and indoctrination course.
Finnegan's class, called God's Purpose of the Ages-- His Story, presents much the same content as PFAL. It is presented by a "qualified presenter" in ten sessions (21 hours) on audio tape. It offers most of the main topics of PFAL, including: the profit and purpose of God's word; body, soul and spirit; two Adams, how to get born again, holy spirit; nine manifestations of spirit; how to speak in tongues; the mystery and renewed mind. It does, however, include other topics and talk more about Jesus Christ than PFAL did.
However, in spite of Finnegan's long attachment with TWI and its teachings, he doesn't acknowledge this publically.
The biography of Finnegan that is included with his class outline on his web site includes this note:
Reverend Vincent C. Finnegan's qualifications to teach God's Word are not found solely in his academic degrees. They include his personal account of deliverance and his 25 years experience in research, teaching, and ministering God's Word to thousands of people around the world.... Reverend Finnegan has taught and ministered God's Word throughout the United States and in 40 other countries. His audiences have ranged from small groups in home fellowships to a large assembly...."
But this bio raises more questions than it answers. Who (if anyone) ordained him? What are his academic degrees? Did he teach independently or as part of an organization?
These details are important. For example, some people are ordained by the Universal Life Church, which is nothing but a mail-order business designed to help people avoid paying taxes. Experience teaching as a Roman Catholic monk would be far different than teaching as an independent storefront Pentecostal. We all want to know if our medical practitioner is trained in natural healing (using herbs but no surgery or medication) or had an M.D. from a reputable medical school. It's only fair and forthright to let one's readers know where a spiritual leader is coming from.
Finnegan was contacted, asking him to elaborate on his degrees, ordination and experience. After waiting for a response for over a month, he was contacted again with the same inquiry.
Finnegan responded that academic training is "irrelevant." He didn't state who ordained him. He described his experience this way: "My wife and I pastored a Church in New Jersey for three years, Ohio for ten years, and here in New York for the past fifteen years.... Our work is non-denominational and non-sectarian."
Finnegan's response is not forthright. His experience was far different from pastoring a Church. In fact, the great majority of Finnegan's experience was as an administrator in The Way International, which even he and most of his followers probably consider a cult. He was ordained by TWI, was trained in The Way Corps, was on staff at TWI headquarters, absorbed TWI teaching, and reproduces much of TWI teaching in his course. While TWI claimed not to be either a church or a denomination, it behaved like a very rigidly controlled denomination. His teaching is highly sectarian (even heretical) when compared to Christianity as a whole. Yet, he doesn't admit to any of this influence on his public web site or in this personal correspondence.
Is Finnegan consciously hiding his past so that potential clients cannot consider his true background? Or does he naively think that his experience in TWI is completely irrelevant to what he's doing now?
In any case, Vince Finnegan and some other ex-leaders of The Way International need to show more forthrightness and candor in admitting their backgrounds in TWI and to allow their potential clients a fair chance to consider this.
Dr. John Juedes
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