by JOHN P. JUEDES
Members of The Way International hold in high esteem the writings of founder Victor Paul Wierwille. His teachings embody the group's theology and practice, and are the primary rule by which The Way's researchers decide which verses of the Bible may be deleted or revised (The Integrity of the God-Breathed Word, May-June 1975, pg. 7). The courses Wierwille teaches (via video tape), including Power for Abundant Living, for decades were essentially required for acceptance by anyone who wishes to participate in The Way International.
Wierwille's followers produced a book, The Living Word Speaks, which lauded the quality and volume of his writings with a chronological bibliography. His followers also value. his. writings as unique and original in our day, being based entirely on his own biblical research with God Himself as mentor (The Way -- Living In Love, second edition, 1972, pg. 178).
When one understands the nature and origin of Wierwille's writings, one also understands something about him as a man. Further, when one understands the writings, one realizes that Wierwille does not deserve the esteem bestowed upon
Wierwille's writings fall into three categories of character and origin: transcribed sermons and teachings, books actually written by him and books written by others in his name.
The majority fall into the first category, including the Studies in Abundant Living series, Victory in Christ, parts of Jesus Christ is Not God, and most magazine articles. The style is sermonic; Wierwille alternately quotes a few verses of Scripture and then follows with commentary. It is easy to "write" a book in this manner. All Wierwille needed was an audience to discipline him to give regular teachings, a tape recorder and a transcriber. Rhoda Wierwille, Wierwille's secretary since 1947 (and who later became his sister-in-law), remembers transcribing the tapes of his Power for Abundant Living teachings into a 900-page manuscript that later was edited into a book of the same name. Any pastor who preaches regularly could produce a 500-page book every year using this method.
Wierwille made his output seem even larger by printing certain articles several times, as chapters of books and in several different issues of his magazine. This is apparent from identical titles listed in the bibliography of Writings of Victor Paul Wierwille in The Living Word Speaks (1981, pp. xv-xxx).
The greatest weakness of this method is that it is easy to say inaccurate things in a live situation. For instance, when Wierwille gave his Power for Abundant Living teaching on Hebrews 11:5, he stated that the word "see" in Greek is anablepo, which, he said, means to see with one's eyes (see Power for Abundant Living, 1971, pg. 191). Anablepo was changed to eidon some time after the second printing, though the text around the word was left unchanged - a sign that Wierwille's interpretation of the verse would be the same no matter what Greek word was used.
No one has ever found a Greek manuscript with the word anablepo used there. However, Wierwille was using his English Bible, guessed wrong on what the Greek word was and bunt his whole case against the orthodox Interpretation of this passage on a false statement. As one reads some of his teachings, it appears that he did not do any significant research before his presentation. Consequently, Wierwille's exegesis, exposition and applications often are superficial.
Examples in the second category include portions of Receiving the Holy Spirit Today and Are the Dead Alive Now? It takes more time and effort to sit down and write than it does to merely speak and have someone else transcribe a tape, and it usually makes a person more careful in what is put into print.
However, there is a temptation in written work to plagiarize and Wierwille succumbed to it. He copied some parts of J. E. Stiles' book, The Gift of The Holy Spirit, published in 1948, into his Receiving the Holy Spirit Today, published in 1954, almost word for word. Wierwille also incorporated every section of E.W. Bullinger's book, The Giver and His Gifts, published in 1905, into this book, copying some sections almost word for word (see PFO Newsletter, Jan.- Mar., 1983, pp. 1, 10-11). In fact, if one were to delete from Receiving the Holy Spirit Today all the words and ideas that he took from Stiles' and Bullinger's books, little would remain.
Wierwille also included some sections of Bullinger's works in his book, Are the Dead Alive Now? This will be dealt with in more detail In a later article. It is likely that more plagiarism will be brought to light, too. Plagiarisms are most noticeable in the earliest editions of Wierwille's books, before rewritings obscured them.
One cannot overemphasize how dependent Wierwille was on the ideas of other men to fuel his teachings. He absorbed teachings from many men, including Glenn Clark, Albert Cliffe, Rufus Mosely and George Lamsa, none of whom are Christian teachers according to the standards of either evangelicals or The Way International.
The many willing writers found among Way membership as it grew in the 1970s gave birth to the third category of Wierwille writings. Examples are Jesus Christ Our Passover, Jesus Christ Our Promised Seed and portions of Jesus Christ is Not God. One photo in The Way Magazine showed his eight person research team working on a manuscript of Jesus Christ Our Passover (President's Newsletter, The Way Magazine, Nov.- Dec., 1979, pg. 28).
Use of a writing team expedites larger volumes and makes possible deeper treatments of a topic. However, to conform to the rules of scholarly practice, Wierwille should have listed himself as the general editor of these works, rather than author. One is left with the impression that the writing was done by him rather than by others. The material does reflect Wierwille's theology, since he picked the writers, approved the production and contributed material.
All this suggests that Wierwille's primary talents did not lie in writing. Apparently, he rarely took the time or care, or perhaps just did not have the ability. It may be that this also reflects shallow research abilities and a tendency to "shoot from the hip" in teaching, which - led to inaccuracies.
Wierwille combined a lack of original research with a tendency to grab unusual ideas from others and publish them as his own. The most alarming facet of this was Wierwille's plagiarism.
The Way International rests its teaching primarily on the integrity and authority of Wierwille, its founder. When the founder's lack of integrity and authority is demonstrated, it calls the foundation of the group into question. Those wanting to witness to members of The Way should be ready to demonstrate just how faulty a foundation The Way is built upon.
By John P. Juedes, Personal Freedom Outreach Journal, April-June 1987
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