Way leadership continues to use fear as a tool to try to control its followers.. However, its abusive methods continue to force out more and more of its people, leaving a tiny number of tightly controlled people. Nonetheless, Martindale tries to make all these negatives look positive, as in the Nov-Dec. issue of The Way Magazine.
The article "Stand Together to Prevail" emphasizes that "Obedience to the standards of the functioning household, which involves harkening submissively to the directives of the leadership, provides us with God's protection." This hints at how heavily leaders use fear to control its people. Leaders repeatedly badger followers to obey, saying that if they don't, they will be out of God's protection and terrible things will happen to them-- they will die, become sick, lose their families, get in accidents, etc.
Although TWI has long taught that people should have positive believing, in reality they constantly try to increase negative believing, or fear, it their people.
Since Way followers experience a lot of restriction of their lives, pressure, legalism and spiritual abuse, many leave (or are expelled, which is called "mark and avoid"). Instead of recognizing how they cause this decline, Way leaders blame everyone else for leaving: "The Way Ministry is for people who truly want to get in the spiritual competition, obey the Word of God, and stand against the adversary. That may keep us on a small level numerically compared to most movements in the world, but God's people have always been a remnant."
To call TWI a remnant is a huge understatement. Currently TWI has well under 5,000 followers. This is only about .000016 of the population of the USA (one-five-hundredth of one percent). This is an infinitesimally tiny portion of the world's population. TWI isn't a remnant, it's less than a speck of dust on a long overcoat.
Martindale's "remnant" idea is the exact opposite of his teaching on "The Rise and Expansion of the Christian Church," as set forth in his book and class of that title. He writes, "...the Book of Acts vividly illustrates God's passionate will and concern for the 'expansion' of His Word by way of those who speak it in love. Expansion occurs numerically and geographically and in impact throughout the whole inhabited world." (p.6) He adds that the "rise" of God's Word has to come first: "Praising God and living the grace of God, as opposed to practicing idolatry and living in legalism and fear, form the essence of the 'rise' of God's Word. When genuine rise occurs, then and only then may the doors open for godly expansion, the Lord adding to the Church" (p. 70)
In other words, he thinks that if there is no growth in the church, then the people are "practicing idolatry and living in legalism and fear." TWI is not growing-- in fact, it has been continuously declining for almost 15 years (as long as its brief growth period). By Martindale's own rationale, this means that he, his leaders, and TWI followers are all living in fear, legalism and idolatry. The "obedience" to Way leaders burdens followers with heavy doses of legalism which control every part of their lives, down to the tiniest details. Threats of being out of God's protection force fear upon followers. While the New Testament says that "perfect love drives out fear" (1 John 4:18), Way leaders instill fear. Followers seem to give more praise to Martindale as "the Man of God" than to God Himself (note the letters to The Way Magazine for examples). Although TWI gives lip service to the Lord Jesus Christ, allegiance and obedience to Him is mentioned far less than allegiance and obedience to leaders, especially to Martindale.
As Martindale continues to emphasize his brand of legalism, the Word will continue to decline, not rise, in TWI, and TWI will continue to contract, not expand.
John Juedes, 1999 www.empirenet.com/-messiah7
Return to The Way Today Menu