ROOD'S CULTIC ROOTS IN "THE WAY INTERNATIONAL"
Michael Rood uses his prior involvement in Christian groups as a sales tool, bragging about how he left "corrupt" Christianity to find his Hebrew roots. However, he generally avoids mentioning that he was trained by, and served as a mid level leader in, a cultic organization called The Way International (TWI), founded by Victor Paul Wierwille (although he once sold a DVD talking about his experience in TWI).
While Rood's beliefs are largely different from TWI, and he claims to have left it behind, he actually practices and promotes many of the same troublesome aspects of religious life he learned in TWI.
1. Rood claims personal and special revelation from God.
Rood's mentor in TWI was founder V. P. Wierwille, who was widely accepted by TWI followers as a prophet, apostle and "the man of God for our day and time" who taught and functioned "by revelation." TWI counts its anniversary from the day Wierwille claims that God "spoke to him audibly" and told him to "teach the Word as it had not been known since the first century."
Like Wierwille, Rood repeatedly claims that God speaks to him and leads him miraculously and teaches the Torah as it has not been known since the first century. On a page for page basis, Rood claims this far more often than any of the writers of the New Testament.
For example, Rood said, ""...YHVH spoke to me in a revelation dream stating that his judgement was going to change my plans for ministry.... Your plans for the future are going to be interrupted; I am telling you this by the spirit of YHVH." (August 2006). He repeatedly claims his teachings are revelation, "Nine years ago I received a revelation from Heaven concerning the three layers of the seventy sevens prophecy... Exactly one year ago this month the revelation necessary to unlock the third and final layer of Daniel's prophecy finally came. 'The Jonah Code and the Seventy Shavuim Prophecy of Daniel' seminar is the result of that revelation" ("A Rood Awakening," April 2007). He frequently uses the claim to revelation as part of a pitch to sell his DVDs. More examples of this can be found in the article Rood's "Revelations" Sell CDs.
Rood also claims to teach Torah observance as neither Christians nor Jews (which he claims teach traditions rather than pure Torah) have done.
Rood learned in TWI that the bolder the claim to revelation, the more likely people are to buy it. He seems to sense that many people want someone- anyone- to tell them exactly what to believe and do with absolute authority, and he offers this.
2. Rood makes a living off Christianity-bashing.
Rood uses every talk and monthly letter to attack Christians as misguided sun-god worshipers who have abandoned the Word of God for the "dog and pony shows" of churches. Rood learned this from Wierwille, who also belittled Christians as pathetic "Maggie Muggins" and attacked leaders as deceptive "forgers of the Word." (Although Rood is Zionist, he also does Jew-bashing, condemning Orthodox teaching on the Torah and the religious calendar where they differ from him, thereby keeping people's focus on himself.)
With two billion Christians in the world, there is no shortage of targets. But like Wierwille, Rood consciously avoids mentioning any of the outstanding examples of Biblical scholarship, works of mercy, mature leadership and godly faith in the Church. Straw men are easy to knock down.
3. Rood's Messiah (Mashiyach) is expendable.
Although TWI taught "Christ in you" it subtly shifted its meaning from the Messiah to believers' own spirits which they receive when they inhale spirit under the instruction of TWI's Power for Abundant Living class. "Operating" spiritual manifestations became the focus instead of a relationship with the Savior. The words of Jesus Christ were in effect discarded because they were contained in the Gospels which were written for Jews of the first century, not for the Church today.
Although Rood gives lip service to the Messiah (as all world religions do because of his influence), he makes the Messiah expendable as TWI did. Rood consciously avoids teaching the sinless nature of the Messiah, the centrality of His cross as the one means of atonement, forgiveness and salvation by grace rather than by the works of Torah, His resurrection which assures the resurrection of his followers, and the essential nature of a relationship with Him- as essential as the connection between branches and vine.
The finale of all Rood's seminars is a call to obey Torah, not to become disciples of the Messiah. Yeshua Mashiyach (Jesus Christ) is as expendable as any rabbi.
4. Rood devalues much of the New Testament.
TWI used dispensational teaching to assert that only seven epistles of Paul were written directly to the Church. So anything in any of the other Bible books could be dismissed, when desired, as not written "to" them. When Bible passages contradicted TWI teaching, they were rewritten or dismissed as corrupted ("forged") by deceptive church leaders over the centuries. TWI published its own corrected version of the New Testament translated from Syriac texts, although it normally used the King James Version and left it to TWI teachers to "correct" passages on the fly as they taught.
Rood also dismisses much of the New Testament, particularly passages on salvation by grace instead of by Torah observance, and the centrality of Jesus the Messiah. Rood claims that his seminar on the life of Jesus Christ prompted him to come up with his own Corrected King James Version (CKJV), even though he cannot read the Greek in which the New Testament was written (August 2009 "Rood Awakening" newsletter). He also "corrects" NT passages on the fly as he speaks. Rood claimed in his "Lost Book" seminar that the NT was originally authored in Hebrew, even though there is no evidence whatsoever for that. (The boldest of credible Aramaic scholars claim only that some of the Gospels may have been based on older Aramaic collections of Jesus' sayings and that possibly the Gospel of Matthew may have been first written in Aramaic, which is closely related to Hebrew).
It is very self-serving, as well as false, for an cult leader to claim that the New Testament is inaccurate and that they can tell people the correct readings. It gives them license to rewrite New Testament passages to their liking.
5. Rood uses novelties to "prove" his unique knowledge and revelation.
Rood learned how to use novelties to gain a following through his involvement in TWI. TWI "proved" that it alone understood the Bible by producing unusual teachings and interpretations of Bible passages. For example, TWI "proved" that four men were crucified with Jesus Christ and explained why the genealogies recorded n the Gospels of Matthew and Luke differed. TWI added many more novelties, like inhaling to receive spirit, the myth of the Holocaust, and the claim that followers should be prepared for the economic and political catastrophe which was to fall on the USA in the 1970s.
Rood produces a new novelty every year in order to gain and keep his followers, who like to hear exciting new finds all the time. He says he has the corrected Jewish calendar, found Pharaoh's chariots in the Red Sea, the real Mount Sinai, an old (but not ancient) Hebrew NT, and the Jonah code. Rood's list of novelties grows every year, so stay tuned. Although Rood claims to have left TWI behind, he used TWI's teaching on Jesus' genealogy in his "Raiders" seminar. (See this author's Found a Book but Lost the Gospel-- A Review of Michael Rood's "A Rood Awakening" and Raiders of the Lost Book.") Of course, he did not admit to getting this idea from anyone, and certainly not from the cult he claims to disavow.
Rood follows TWI's lead in prophesying catastrophe in the USA. He originally predicted "Zechariah's thermonuclear war" would happen in 2001. Currently he prophesies it will happen in 2011. He wrote, "It appears we have less than one year" until the "sudden destruction" ("Rood Awakening" September Newsletter, Sept 29, 2009).
Rood is even more of a salesman than Wierwille and TWI were. Since Rood does not serve people as a pastor in a congregation does, he wants to make money collecting donations and selling DVDs and other products. Every one of his daily emails and monthly letters to supporters contains a sales solicitation. His biggest profit margin is in selling "real brimstone" from the area of Sodom and Gomorrah which fortunately comes with his own certificate of authenticity.
Ironically, in the same newsletter in which Rood criticized churches for having only a "dog and pony show" (no substance), he wildly promises his followers an "extravaganza" of a feast in Michigan. Oddly, Moses in the Torah never refers to any of the feasts as "extravaganzas."
Rood's use of "Rood Awakening" funds has been much like Wierwille's use of TWI funds. Rood was involved in a lawsuit with administrators of his Rood Awakening in Oregon. The administrators produced proof that Rood was not depositing all offerings in ministry accounts, but was using offerings as he wished without proper accounting. Like Wierwille, he considered it "his" ministry which he thought gave him license to spend funds without any oversight or accountability. (See this author's Arbitration Board Rules Against Michael Rood.)
THE CULTIC NATURE OF ROOD AWAKENING AND THE WAY INTERNATIONAL
Rood left behind many (but not all) of the beliefs he held as a result of his involvement in TWI.
However, Rood kept the cultic orientation and structure he learned in The Way International and continues to apply them in his Rood Awakening. As Rood's followers closely evaluate Rood's methods and outlook, they often have a rude awakening as well.
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Dr. John Juedes, 2009 rood_TWIroots www.abouttheway.org