We welcome comments, questions, letters and criticisms. However, all email we receive is confidential, and no letter is ever published without written permission.
Below are a few select letters from ex-followers of TWI, and answers to inquiries we have received.
Martindale in the Eyes of an Ex-Staff Memberis a letter by an ex-Way clergy that gives insights into Martindale's behavior and attitudes
Rumors have circulated for years that V. P. Wierwille was a sexual predator. Marsha tells her
Richard "'P's Story of Sexual Promiscuity in TWI" Donna Editor's Statement on Spectacular Sex Stories
Richarddescribes how TWI prepared for a massive invasion of the USA (by stockpiling food, etc) which VP Wierwille prophesied, and describes rampant sexual promiscuity and adultery at the New Knoxville headquarters when he worked on staff there.
"'P's Story of Sexual Promiscuity in TWI"describes sexual promiscuity and abuse among TWI leadership.
Donnaadds her memories of how Wierwille abused her, too.
Editor's Statement on Spectacular Sex Storiesoutlines why this web site hesitates to publish such stories, and why it must.
The Way was everything to Russ Mahan for 17 years. Why did he leave in Sept. 1997? Russ gives
us a revealing look at what The Way is like on the inside.
Bdescribes some of her experiences as Ways Corps and branch coordinator.
Would you like to know more about Christian Educational Services (CES; a Way splinter group)
and the "Momentus" training CES promotes? Read Bill Barton's letter for details on these.
Bea Tatetalks about how TWI died a slow death at the hands of the Way Corps, and how TWI's teaching on "believing" multiplied her family's grief.
TWI's methods are amazingly similar to those of Germany's government in the 1930s, says T.J. Johnson, who also outlines why he and his Corps friends left TWI.
"Why are you so obsessed with attacking a dead guy like VPW?"
"What are your credentials? Why don't you write about your religion instead of picking on TWI?
"Who reads your web site?"
"I feel uncomfortable in churches"
"Why wear religious robes? (People often condemn things they don't understand.)"
"Quote of the Month"
"What's the big deal about plagiarism?"
"Why calls The Way's research 'needless effort?'"
"Should I stop speaking in tongues now that I've left TWI?"
"I can't seem to get TWI out of my mind."
"Did you steal the syllabus for Rev. Martindale's class?"
"You seem to be on a "personal crusade" against The Way. Why?"
"The Word says that Jesus is the Son of God, not God the Son. How can you say Jesus is God?"
INJURED PEOPLE DO.
Almost everyone who searches for and reads this site do so because they have been injured during their involvement in The Way International. Whether they are now in TWI, or left fifteen days ago, or fifteen years ago, they still feel the emotional, spiritual (and sometimes physical) injuries they experienced in TWI. A few of these (especially current followers) aren't consciously aware of the harm done to them. Some people weren't involved in TWI themselves, but they've been harmed through the involvement of loved ones or friends.
It always strikes me how deep their injuries are, how much of their lives are affected, and how long they last.
There is no quick fix to these injuries. However, reading the material on this site is helpful to a degree. It helps people understand why TWI is harmful, know what the truth is, learn steps to take toward recovery, and feel that they are not alone.
The good news is that Jesus Christ is still present to heal people, that the Word of God that TWI twists also holds answers to many problems, that people's injuries do heal, and that they find strength in family and other believers. This always takes longer than we wish, but strong trees grow slowly, especially if they have once been poisoned.
I have found that most Way/ex-Way are sort of "racist" when it comes to churches. They've heard TWI defame churches so much they think churches are all worthless. Some people hate all blacks even though they don't know any, but somebody told them so often that all blacks are lazy criminals and eat watermelon, that they believed it. Some people hate churches even though they've had so little contact with any, but somebody told them that churches were full of hypocrites and don't care about the Word, so they believed it. They talk about "churches" as though they are defective things rather than people.
Churches/denominations are just groups of people, most of whom are very sincere, study the Word carefully, work at being a disciple of Jesus Christ, love other believers and in general have strong faith and desire to serve God. Like any groups of people (from civic clubs to churches), they vary in amount of unity, knowledge of the Word, etc. But only a "racist" would condemn all churches as hypocrites who care nothing for the Word. I wish you were nearby. I'd be happy to introduce you to people at my church, let them share their faith and knowledge with you, see their love, and tell you some of their stories of God active in their lives. I've seen a lot of them grow from infants in faith. Perhaps no one is a superman now (actually, none of those exist), but God has brought them a long way. If ex-Wayers would deal more with their own arrogance and
bias, they'd find a lot of blessing in churches. And, yes, even in pastors and many denominations. God is at work in His people not matter how they group themselves. I also know a lot of pastors. Most any of them would far exceed any Way clergy in compassion, God's grace, knowledge of the Word and the original languages, being a servant and love for God's people.
I've also heard Way/ex-Way say that the Word didn't really come home to them until they heard from TWI. But I also find that few of these became part of a church-sponsored small group as adults (esp of their own age group). It's a normal progression for children/teens who are raised in the church to reach a point sometime past age 18 when they emerge from childhood and begin to experience things as adults. When people discover the Word at 20 and compare it to their experience in a church at 14, it's an unfair comparison, since the maturity level is so different.
Faith develops and matures with time. A young adult has faith like rapids in a river-- lots of white water and movement, because adult faith is new to them. A middle-aged adult has faith like a lake. Little white water movement, but a whole lot of depth. Young adults with shallow understanding mistake this as being lack of life. It's just the opposite for many mature people, since it's depth of faith that counts in the long run, not churning movement.
Vince Havner may not have been a follower of TWI, but could speak for them on this matter:
"In my early Christian experience I set out to read the Bible, taking the promises at face value, believing the Scriptures as I found them without the benefit of footnotes or commentaries. I began with Genesis and was claiming everything for myself when I was informed that those promises were for the Jews! My ardor was dampened, but I did not want to lay hold of anything that did not belong to me, so I moved into the New Testament and began to appropriate the blessings of the Sermon on the Mount when again I was interrupted and duly notified that all those things belonged to the Kingdom Age.
Not wanting to trespass on the Kingdom Age, whatever that was, I started over in the Acts and was daring to claim some, if not all, the fruits of Pentecost when I was reminded that the Acts covered a transitional period and that we were not to press those matters too literally!
By then, I did not know which promises were mine, nor could I stand with confidence on any passage of Scripture, lest some divider of the Word might come along like a policeman to order me off private property. In desperation, I said 'Lord, I've heard of a man without a country, and I'm becoming a Christian without a Bible. Give me a verse I can claim for my own.'
He answered with one I have stood on ever since: 'Let God be true, but every man a liar...' (Romans 3:4)!"
(From "Jesus People Information Center Newsletter," 26:2)
A. A person better understands the severity of plagiarism when he realizes that plagiarism is both lying and stealing. Ephesians specifically instructs us, "you must put off falsehood" (4:25) and "he who has been stealing must steal no longer" (4:28), while Jesus states that the Adversary is the father of lies. Wierwille stole others' words when he placed them in his books and then lied by placing his own name on the books, asserting that all words in them were his alone. By selling his publications, Wierwille also made money from other men's work. He therefore obtained a degree of prestige and money at others' expense. Many lawsuits initiated by the entertainment industry and business have established that theft of other peoples' words, ideas and work are criminal offenses. Surely Wierwille's extensive plagiarism indicates that he has stolen words and ideas and lied about their source, demonstrating a lack of integrity.
A. Undoubtedly, there are bad aspects of denominations and tradition. The Way embodies the worst of these aspects. It emphasizes tradition (the yearly anniversary, the founding trustees and president, rigid theological standards as recorded in Wierwille's writings, etc.) and denominationalism (fellowshiping with and allowing teaching by no one outside its own circles). Nonetheless, tradition in a good sense is simply God's track record of working in and with believers in all cultures in all centuries. Everywhere we go (and in all centuries past) we find believers who take the Bible literally, preach salvation by grace through faith, worship one God and are filled with the Holy Spirit. At their core, denominations are an expression of unity among Christians, because they provide a framework in which believers work together to train workers, provide publications, help the poor, send missionaries, fellowship, confront problems and the like. Wherever two or more human beings are together, there are "politics" and interpersonal problems. Yet the fact remains that healthy denominations are one valid way in which Christians can band together to accomplish some things which individual Christians or fellowships cannot do alone.
A. Much of what Wierwille called research was simply plagiarizing words and concepts from others without identifying sources. (Fully half of Receiving the Holy Spirit Today is plagiarized.) Some teachings he appropriated from men who were not Christians by either orthodox or Way standards (e.g.: Albert Cliffe, Glen Clark). The Way's Aramaic work is more serious research than Wierwille attempted. Nonetheless, it is an example of the shortfalls typical of Way research. First, it does not document its sources, only stating that its text "is similar to the Peshitta version." This raises more questions than it answers, for if it is similar -- then how is it different? Second, it is based on the inaccurate assumption held by Wierwille (which he accepted uncritically from George Lamsa) that the New Testament was written in Aramaic. Third, it seems unaware that Christian scholars have already closely examined old Aramaic texts and cited the results in detail in the United Bible Societies/Nestle Greek text which can be found in most any pastor's library. Most Way researchers are not even aware of common biblical research tools used by beginning seminarians.
A. There is room for difference of opinion on this question, but consider this: Most Way members were committed believers before they were led astray. The Apostle Paul presents an excellent description of this in his second letter to the Corinthian church:
"I hope you will put up with a little of my foolishness; but you are already doing that. I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough... Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ" (II Corinthians 11:1-4, 11-13).
Return to the practice you had before joining the Way. If speaking in tongues was beneficial, then continue it if you wish. If, however, you began speaking in tongues during Power for Abundant Living or under Way tutelage, then do not continue this practice, because The Way is promoting a "different spirit" and counterfeit manifestations, as 2 Corinthians 11 describes. One finds evangelical believers who speak in tongues and others who do not.
A. It is common for ex-followers to experience negative effects long after leaving the group. Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman published a survey in which ex-Way members reported frequent depression, loneliness, weight loss, feelings of guilt, embarrassment, violent outbursts, disorientation, nightmares and psychic phenomena. Some feelings may express grief and loss similar to that which we feel when a loved one dies. It is common to have feelings of denial ("Wierwille can't really be a liar and adulterer, can he?"), loss ("I'm going to dig up all the errors I can find!"), and depression (often marked by listlessness) and so forth.
It will help you to read articles refuting Way beliefs, hear from other ex-Way members, dialogue with informed critics of International, establish new friendships outside The Way, find an understanding and empathetic counselor and help others recover from involvement in the group. Spiritually, remember that you are still a branch attached to the Vine, Jesus Christ, who is able to provide power to aid your growth and bring about fruitfulness in your life again (John 15). Persevere, for in time you will experience the abundant life ahead!
No, I didn't steal the syllabus for Martindale's "The Way of Abundance and Power" class. I have an original, not a copy of the syllabus. There are several legal ways to get the syllabus, one, of course, is taking the class. Why is Martindale so afraid of its contents becoming known? Is he afraid that someone who examines it closely will find many errors?
I don't feel hate or bitterness toward the Way, and I don't have a personal vendetta against its leaders. Though I am a PFAL grad, I haven't been personally injured much by The Way, as others have.
I do believe God has given me a ministry to help people who have been harmed by TWI. Over the years, I have heard from many followers and ex-followers of TWI who have told me how they were harmed spiritually, emotionally and even physically by Way leadership. Some (particularly women) tell stories about how Way leaders used and abused them sexually. Many talk about how leaders verbally harassed and threatened them, cursed at them, and tried to manipulate them by what they said. Others speak of how Way leadership tried to control their lives. Many speak of how their faith has been weakened after learning that the "men of God" they trusted lied to them or twisted the Word of God for their own purposes. Most speak of how The Way pressures them to conform and obey without letting them voice their questions and get good answers. These stories bring me great sadness, for I realize how much damage The Way has brought to these people. They inspire me to continue to write and speak of the errors in TWI, hoping that this will keep some people from being damaged by TWI, and help others to leave before The Way damages them more. Jesus said that the second greatest command was to love your neighbor, and this is one way I can love people who have some specific needs.
The Word of God warns Christians that some leaders will distort the truth in order to draw people after themselves (Acts 20:30), and will harm the faith of some believers by teaching another Jesus, another spirit, and another Gospel while they are disguised as apostles of light (2 Cor. 11:1-15). It warns people that some will teach myths that "itching ears" want to hear (2 Tim. 4:3-4). In my research, I've seen how The Way is doing exactly these things, and my goal is to answer the Lord's call to "contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).
As I have read the "research" by V. P. Wierwille and L. C. Martindale, I have seen how they twist and distort the Word of God to their own ends. They talk about "rightly dividing" the Word, but do the opposite. My training in Greek and Bible backgrounds has helped me to see the glaring errors that Way followers without such background miss. (It is sad that most Way followers see themselves as great Bible researchers, yet a first-year student in any reputable seminary could run circles around them in basic Bible knowledge and research.) Seeing how Way leaders twist and misuse the Word has angered me enough to publish articles about the errors, hoping it will help Way followers who are absorbing the ignorance The Way promotes as "research." Sadly, Way leaders "program" followers to avoid any criticism, thereby keeping them from the truth they need most. Nonetheless, many Way followers, ex-followers, their families and friends have written to say that much of the information was helpful to them.
I have no quarrel with most rank-and-file followers. They are looking for good teaching, for love and fellowship, and finding some. For the most part, they are victims, blindly going where Way leadership tells them. Ironically, most of them claim to be making up their own minds, yet are afraid to read anything that questions The Way, partly because of fear of what may happen if Way leadership, their family or friends find out. Many are much more influenced by fear of Way leadership than they are aware.
Do I make money from publishing on The Way? The only service we sell is a packet of 200 pages of material on The Way Int, postpaid, for $12. This amount barely covers the cost of materials, but does not cover time or overhead. This ministry is based on concern, not on profit.
Followers of The Way International like to say that "Jesus is the Son of God, not God the Son." Yet, few seem to carefully think through what it means to be "the Son of God."
What do you think the "Son of God" (or the "Word") is like? That he is a human son of God like the rest of us, with weaknesses and sins? Or that he is a sinless human like Adam once was? Or that he is primarily an angel-like spiritual being that existed before becoming flesh at
Bethlehem (or just after)? Or that he is a created divine-like power but not Divine? Or what? Or haven't you really thought much about what it is to be the Son of God? The only description you mentioned is that you don't think he was God made flesh. Then what was he?
Some problems I noted with the Way's approach:
1) they set up Christians as a "straw man." That is, they make it look like the case for Christ being God in nature is based on almost no Scripture. If you make the "enemy's" stance look weak, it's easy to knock down. For instance, "Jesus Christ is Not God" says "only six" Bible verses can be remotely used to teach the Trinity.
2) they misunderstand Trinity teaching. Christian's don't believe, as Jehovah's Witnesses and Wayers often think, that there are more than one God, that Jesus did not have a human nature, or that Jesus is the Father.
3) There are holes you can drive a truck through in TWI's arguments.
For example, "Jesus Christ is Not God"- 1st edition- and Martindale's "The Way of Abundance and Power" class- said that in Hebrews 1:2, the word "by" should be translated "for." This is totally false, as anyone who knows even a little Greek can see. We pointed this out in our book "Integrity and Accuracy of The Way's Word." A few years later the 2nd edition came out, deleting that false idea and making up a new one-- that old manuscripts read differently. But they didn't say which ones (Wierwille never gave evidence for his claims-- perhaps he just thought everyone should accept them because he taught by "revelation.") The research team sent us a list, which turned out to be mangled and false (see my article "Which Way Does it Read?"). To date, TWI still hasn't printed a correction of the gross inaccuracies they printed about this. In other words, TWI keeps changing their story on Heb 1:2, their stories are all inaccurate, and Hebrews 1:2 is still a clear description of Jesus as having the nature of God. The same is true of Matthew 28:19. If you are interested in how TWI has tried to twist it also, some details are in the above book and I could add others, too. Way leaders can't get them to read in an anti-Trinitarian way no matter how much they twist, because the Word is plain.
There are a lot of Scriptures on Christ's nature that TWI and the Jehovah's Witnesses never try to tackle (including many of the "hardest" ones. For instance, Rev 2:8, 22:13,16 (also Is 41:4, 44:6) call God the Father and Jesus Christ both the "1st and last." How can you have two "1st" and two "lasts?"
Several NT verses quote OT verses which contain the word "God." But they take out the word "God" and insert "Jesus Christ" (or make clear they refer to Jesus). If Jesus does not have the nature of God, how could a Bible writer quote a verse about God and substitute Jesus' name?
Imagine them writing, "In the beginning Joe Smith created the heavens and the earth!" Gross blasphemy (unless Jesus does have God's nature)!
The same is true of about a dozen titles (I AM, judge, Light, Savior, Rock, Shepherd, Creator, King, Bridegroom, Healer), all applied to God in the OT and to Jesus in the NT.
More than 15 verses make clear that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equal in honor and nature, of which Mat 28:19 is only one.
We encourage you to work through the list of verses, Bible in hand in the article titled "The Deity of Christ According to the Scriptures". It's not a matter of one or two verses, but a whole pattern you see throughout the Bible.
I invite your comments or questions regarding this issue. If you are interested in other articles about who Jesus Christ is, several web sites provide a place to start. (See our "Links" section for some) They have material on line about Christ and the Trinity and links to other Christian sites which address such topics.