Class by L. Craig Martindale
President L. Craig Martindale of The Way International (TWI) has sought to remake The Way, squeezing out some of the influence of the late founder V. P. Wierwille, and placing himself squarely in the spotlight. The center piece of this transformation is Martindale's new class "The Way of Abundance and Power," (WAP) which replaces Wierwille's "Power for Abundant Living" class as the required point of entry for new converts.
Initially, it was to be given only to those who participated in a twig (home fellowship) for a year, although it is now common to do so after just a month.
Here we provide you with a public review of portions of this top-secret class.
Martindale seemed to struggle with the problem of wanting to establish himself in place of Wierwille, while repeating all of Wierwille's teachings (on which almost all of The Way's teachings are based). The similarity of the title "WAP" to "PFAL" itself shows how Martindale tries to be the same and different at the same time.
Martindale's class is dramatically different from Wierwille's class in one way. Wierwille was an eclectic, scavenging and repeating bits of peculiar teachings and heresies from a wide variety of authors. Although he seemed to be virtually reading from the appendices of E. W. Bullinger's Companion Bible during the PFAL sessions, he nearly always presented his teachings as though they were unique revelations from God rather than plagiarism.
Martindale, by contrast, has the typical closed mind set of a Wierwille follower. He distrusts and is ignorant of other Bible teachers and parrots the Wierwillisms he heard from his "Father in the Word." Indeed, his claim to fame has always been that he sat at Wierwille's feet rather than that he studied the Bible for himself.
Like Wierwille, he has never been much of an author, instead teaching live and having assistants transcribe and edit them, without adding (or even having) any detail such as footnotes or documentation for vague statements such as "the text reads..."
Such is the WAP class-- Martindale seems to struggle to get out from under Wierwille's shadow
while living under the roof Wierwille built.
The working syllabus of WAP differs from that of PFAL in style. The 24 segments are covered in 136 pages of detailed notes. Many of the PFAL-style charts are included. The 31 page appendix includes three articles-- "The Life-style of God's Word" by Wierwille and two old magazine articles by Martindale, "One Day at a Time" and "Not Ashamed of the Gospel: The Sin of Homosexuality."
While Martindale mentions the "life more abundant" in Segment 1, he manages to delay focusing on Wierwille's key verse, John 10:10, until Segment 2. Instead, Martindale's lead verse is John 14:6. While this verse doesn't explicitly mention "abundance" or "power," it does use the popular Way phrases, "the way" and "life."
Segment 1, "The Way of Abundance and Power," highlights a few central Way assertions. First, Martindale is quick to claim that Jesus Christ is not God, using a phrase typical of Wierwille, "No place in the Bible, in any text of authority, does it say God the Son, but rather Son of God" (Syllabus p. 3). He also emphasizes that it is important to learn and practice the Word of God: "You learn how to do what's right, and you practice it until you do it correctly and successfully" (Syllabus p. 3).
Thirdly, Martindale issues the standard blanket condemnation of all Christian churches. He writes, "II Timothy 3:2-5 'form of godliness'-- great description of religion, of denominational Christianity.... They don't want any power of the true God; they just want ritual and legalistic standards. They don't want to humble themselves to the Word." He issues this broad condemnation in spite of the fact that he has had no serious dialogue with Christian leaders, and without mentioning that nearly 90% of The Way's followers bolted from Martindale's faction, claiming that TWI has only "a form of godliness" and that leaders are too proud to admit their personal errors.
Martindale introduces two of TWI's basic methods of Bible interpretation. First, he assumes all students will use the King James Version (KJV) and that he will retranslate the archaic terms it uses. It would make a lot more sense to use a reputable contemporary translation which already updates obsolete words (for instance "Esaias" is one KJV form of "Isaiah," Syllabus p. 8) more accurately than Martindale does. Ex-followers who begin to use newer translations often remark at how the Bible seems to open up to them when it is easier to understand.
Second, he introduces figures of speech. TWI emphasizes this, and seems to infer that Christians as a whole know nothing of figures of speech. Actually, Christians commonly understand them, but don't draw attention to the technical terms used for different kinds of figures of speech. Throughout the syllabus it appears that he is not even recognizing and naming figures of speech on his own, but is noting them and copying the terms from Bullinger's Companion Bible which is by his side.
Key phrases which appear in boldface type in Segment 1 include: "The Word of God is just good common 'horse sense,'" "A genuine student is not just one who thinks but one who acts," and "Love God by learning to obey the Word of God by your freewill choice."
In Segment 2, "God's Word is the Standard," Martindale discusses two standard Way texts, John 10:10 and 2 Peter 1:20-21.
Martindale's notes on Acts 10:38 are a good example of how The Way makes itself appear as though it has done scholarly research, while in reality it is offering vague and inaccurate information. Martindale writes, "The text reads 'with the holy spirit which is power" (Syllabus p. 6)." This sounds impressive to someone with little background of New Testament texts, but collapses under the weight of simple questions.
What exact "text" is Martindale referring to? The English text? No existing English text reads this way. His own "translation?" If so, what language is he attempting to translate? Does he mean the Aramaic text? If so, The Way's own Aramaic Interlinear contradicts him since it reads "and" power, not "which is." Does he mean the Greek text? (Throughout the syllabus he refers to the Greek text much more than the Aramaic.) The Greek text uses the standard word for "and" (kai) more than once in this verse, but Martindale doesn't translate it as "which is" in the other places. There is no evidence he can even read Greek without English interlinear words to tell him what the Greek means.
Martindale doesn't say which text he means. Perhaps he doesn't even know himself. No text does read "which is." But Martindale follows the lead of Wierwille by making up new wording for Bible verses while hiding under vague, intelligent-sounding phrases like "the text reads...."
Martindale clearly does not follow his own advice, "The key in understanding the Scripture is learning to read it clearly, not read into it" (Syllabus p. 8).
Key phrases in Segment 2 include: "The Authority and Integrity of God's Revealed Word," "You should delight in the Word," and "Nobody goes beyond what he is taught."
Martindale closes the Segment 2 notes by again parroting Wierwille, "Nobody goes beyond what he is taught." He fulfills his own prophecy by repeating the errors of his Father in the Word, V. P. Wierwille.
(Reviews of additional segments of WAP will be published in the near future.)
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