Many ex-Wayers focus their anger on Craig Martindale, seeing him as the enemy who perverted and destroyed The Way International. It was better in the "old days," they feel, when Victor Paul Wierwille taught them the Word without all the excesses and error.

However, Martindale really hasn't significantly changed and perverted TWI. Instead, he is actually following Wierwille's lead. When Martindale was installed as President, he emphasized this by noting his "book" V. P. and Me, which showed how he tried to mirror V.P.

Even many of the worst of Martindale's actions-- bloody culling of the ranks through "mark and avoid," indiscriminate use of women, profanity as a tool to bully his followers, and so forth, all followed, not departed from, Wierwille's lead. Martindale's actions may be more overtly abrasive and brash, but in the B.M. (Before Martindale) days, Wierwille himself did the same things.

What differed? Most of all, Wierwille enjoyed unquestioned authority. He held near god-like status as an apostle to whom God spoke directly, and who taught and spoke by revelation. If Wierwille had faced wholesale discontent and criticism as Martindale did, he may well have become more extreme in his reaction, too. Wierwille's depression-era generation and training as a parish pastor also taught him more decorum and restraint than Martindale had. Wierwille was old enough to be father to most of his followers, while Martindale was the peer of most of his during the "fog years," so he didn't accord the respect due an older person.

What follows here are ten examples of how Martindale's worst actions only follow Wierwille's lead. Martindale may be harvesting thorns, but Wierwille planted the weeds. Martindale may be careening down toward a dead end, but Wierwille highlighted the route on his map. Ex-followers of TWI who try to go back to Wierwille's ways may prune a few thorns off the bush, only to find many of the same thorns growing back again.


Selfish Use and Denigration of Women. Both men used their celebrity status as "Man of God for our day and time" to gain sexual use of many women (see "Marsha's Story" and "Donna's Story"). While the Bible speaks of husbands as being heads of their homes, Martindale and Wierwille practice this in an inordinately headstrong way, closer to a sargeant and recruit at boot camp than to Jesus Christ's style of servant leadership.

Authoritarianism. While LCM has been criticized for authoritarianism, VPW wrote the book on it. Who established the "Way tree" as a means of controlling who led twigs, as a way to assure that all offerings went to New Knoxville instead of to the local fellowship, as a way to train Corps at the Root who would then be sent out to control twigs, as a means to centralize all teaching (in the very early days, other men taught PFAL, but VPW soon put a stop to that)? Who was revered as "president," and "Apostle," and enjoyed having everyone stand and play "Hail to the Chief" as he entered a room? Who taught men to control their wives and make all decisions in their marriages? VPW was a master of control and couldn't stand relinquishing it to anyone. (Passing of a Patriarch claims that Wierwille's main complaint was that Martindale and the trustees no longer did what he told them to do, which he says contributed to his death).

Verbal Abuse. Martindale has raised verbal abuse to an art form, as most people who have been "M & A'd" ("mark and avoid") can testify. Most every ex-Wayer vividly remembers times when leadership intensely battered them with words. But this didn't start with Martindale. Christopher Geer's Passing of a Patriarch mentions (in diplomatic terms) how difficult VP could be to live with, and how he deeply hurt those closest to him. People who were in TWI from the 70's on, noted how Corps gradually replaced ordinary Wayers as area and twig coordinators, and how the atmosphere in TWI progressively changed from caring to controlling and demanding. Who trained the Corps? VPW and his closest imitators did, of course. VPW stamped the Corps with his controlling and aggressive nature.

Mark and Avoid. Martindale uses M & A as a weapon to punish or expel anyone who doesn't obey him and his select leadership completely and without question. In fact, M & A is almost the centerpiece of his work, although the term and practice probably hasn't been plainly described in as public a setting as The Way Magazine(although TWM has alluded to it). Nonetheless, TWI has a long history of expelling leaders and followers who don't tow the line. Not long after Power for Abundant Living was first filmed in 1967, Wierwille forced out the men who produced the film-- Peter Wade in 1970 and David Anderson in 1973. One of my coauthors, Jay Valusek, described how he was expelled in the 1970s for using a study guide he wrote to help recruits better understand PFAL. It was entirely favorable to TWI, but it drew attention away from leadership.

There is a difference of degree. Wierwille forced out anyone who crossed him, while Martindale shows more paranoia in that he forces out anyone he thinks may possibly cross him. Way leadership (and many followers)have typically had two-faced behavior. They seemed to be your best friend as long as it appeared to them that you were a supporter (or potential supporter), but in the blink of an eye they could turn away from you-- or turn on you.

Egotism. Both Wierwille and Martindale clearly say that they have it all, and that all Bible teaching and fellowship outside TWI is false and devilish. What shocks ex-Wayers is that all it takes is a single phone call from their branch leader to abruptly move them from being an insider to being an outsider. It doesn't matter if someone believes and practices the same as TWI-- you're still on the outside if LCM/VPW don't feel that you're "one of them." People's relationship with God and knowledge of the Word mean nothing-- all Martindale and Wierwille care about is that people follow THEM. This is a big surprise to ex-Wayers, but not to anyone else.

Condemnation of All Christians. Ex-Wayers are shocked because Martindale rejects and spurns them even though their teachings, background and practice are all like, and rooted in, TWI. This is no surprise to anyone else, because VPW and TWI have always condemned everyone outside their own circle. VP's motto always seemed to be, "if you're not with me, you're against God."

"Itching Ears." The Apostle Paul warned that people will "not put up with sound doctrine," but will "gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths" (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Wierwille's "itching ears" led him to grab hold of any strange teaching he could find-- inhaling holy spirit, four crucified, "believing" which doesn't involve God at all, "the king can have all the women in his kingdom," and so forth. Martindale's itching ears led him to think that lesbianism was both Adam's and Eve's first sins, that the Bible forbids any kind of debt, that most everyone has homosexual devil spirits, and so forth.

Stay tuned! More weird and unbiblical ideas are sure to come.

Jesus-Less Religion. TWI does quote Romans 10, "believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead." But beyond this, Jesus Christ plays a very minor role in the teaching of Martindale and Wierwille. Christianity emphasizes that Jesus is the Vine who gives life, that we believe in God, that the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life are central to faith, and that Christ Himself dwells in believers. But both Martindale and Wierwille exclude Jesus from all of these. Instead, they teach that people need to renew their own minds, that they believe something-- not Someone, that the Gospel accounts of Jesus aren't for believers today, and that believers get their own spirit, not the spirit of Jesus Christ.

Religion of Self-Effort, Not Grace. Christianity emphasizes that Jesus fills believers with His grace, that power comes in relationship with Him (He's the Vine, we're the branches), Martindale and Wierwille both emphasize self-effort instead. People's own believing, not God, causes healing, that people renew their own minds by reading the Word, and that people learn to operate their own manifestations, they say. TWI of every era promotes the burdensome message of man-centered, legalistic self-effort.

Control and Resistance to Correction. LCM is in the process of eliminating as much of the Wierwille legacy as he can (although he can't get rid of VP completely-- because LCM doesn't have the talent to write replacement books nor the humility to let any other Way leadership do so). He also has expelled some 95% of all who were leaders ten or fifteen years ago. The wants control, and will not tolerate anyone who questions any of his actions or ways. Wierwille always bragged that there were only three members of TWI. What was so good about that? Wierwille just didn't want to be outvoted on any decision, not matter how small. He'd have been a one-man board of trustees, if the state of Ohio had allowed him to have a non-profit corporation on those terms. He went out of his way to show or tell any Wayer how to do anything-- not so much because they weren't doing it the right way- but because they weren't doing it his way (although he probably couldn't often tell the difference between the two).

Martindale has followed in VPW's footsteps in the areas of misuse of women, authoritarianism, verbal abuse, mark and avoid, egotism, condemnation of Christians, itching ears, Jesus-less religion, self-effort, not grace, control and resistance to correction.

Martindale has been less effective at these, however. He has been more brash and overtly aggressive, and less considerate and able to practice these without repercussions from his followers than VP was. At the same time, he has dropped some of the more effective attitudes and practices that VP learned from the traditional church and his pastoral training. So the net effect and amount of damage is worse under LCM than under VPW.

Nonetheless, it is important for ex-Wayers to see how the root errors were all taught and practiced by Wierwille so that they make a complete break from them and learn more godly ways and beliefs.

By John Juedes, 1999

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