Victor Paul Wierwille, founder of The Way International, says that he resolutely searched for the power of the Holy Spirit after he left his pastorate in Van Wert, Ohio, in 1944. He says his quest was finally fulfilled when he spoke in tongues in Tulsa, Okla., under the ministry of the Rev. John Edwin Stiles Sr., who was an important figure in the American charismatic movement.

Although one would expect that Stiles would have had a profound influence on Wierwille, "the teacher" never again mentions him in Way literature. A close look reveals that there is a reason for Wierwille's silence-- Wierwille stole Stiles' ideas and even his very words from his book The Gift of the Holy Spirit, all the while claiming that God taught him everything he knew and that he learned none of it from other men's books (RTSHT, 1972, p. x)..

Stiles bucked Pentecostal tradition when he insisted that the Bible taught that the Holy Spirit was received by simple faith, not by wrestling with God. Stiles left the parish ministry around 1946 to travel and spread his message of receiving the Spirit by faith alone. In 1959, Stiles estimated that he had led 10,000 people into receiving the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues.

Moved by a lack of biblical teaching on receiving the Holy Spirit, Stiles published a pamphlet called "How to Receive the Holy Spirit" for free distribution after his meetings. Stiles also published a book called The Gift of the Holy Spirit in 1948. This book told how to receive the Holy Spirit by faith, evidenced by speaking in tongues.

The book became a classic, especially among those who had been frustrated by strained attempts to receive the Spirit. The book went through 10 printings totaling over 50,000 copies.

Way writer Barrie Hill located Wierwille's copy of Stiles' book in the rare book room in the Outreach Services Center at TWI's New Knoxville Headquarters ("Great Day in Tulsa, Heart, Oct-Nov. 1982). Benita Jess, The Way's Librarian for Rare Books confirmed that Wierwille had a copy of Stiles' book when she provided us a copy of its title page and table of contents along with her letter dated Oct 26, 1983.

Accordingly, one wonders why Wierwille never mentions Stiles' publications in footnotes or anywhere else. The similarities between portions of Stiles' The Gift of the Holy Spirit and Wierwille's Receiving the Holy Spirit Today (First edition, 1954, six years after Stiles' book appeared) suggest one reason for the silence. Besides wanting to boost his own ego and following, Wierwille surely wanted to hide the fact that he plagiarized large sections of Stiles.

For more information of this, see "Wierwille Borrows, Stolen Goods- How Wierwille Plagiarized RTHST" and the picture of Stiles' book in the picture gallery.

Dr. John Juedes, 2007 www.abouttheway.org

Return to Photo Gallery Menu