by John P. Juedes
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.
Stiles was born in northern California in 1891. He studied and taught at the University of California and was a farmer. In the late 1920s, he decided to become a full-time minister. He explored the Foursquare denomination, but settled into the Assemblies of God. He served as a pastor in Woodland, Calif., for two years and in Hayward, Calif., for 17 more.
The Assemblies of God and other Pentecostal bodies had long taught that a Christian could receive the Holy Spirit only by "tarrying" and pleading with God until agonizing insights and personal worthiness were rewarded with an experience of the Spirit.
Influenced by Howard Carter, Stiles bucked tradition when he insisted that the Bible taught that the Holy Spirit was received by simple faith, not by wrestling with God. Incensed denominational officials reprimanded Stiles, accusing him of leading people into a "light" or "unselfconscious" experience with the Holy Spirit. 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, including about 1,000 in an eight-month tour of Canada.
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. (1) Given the wide distribution of Stiles' literature, Wierwille's intense search for the power of the Holy Spirit, and Wierwille's personal contact with Stiles, it would be a surprise to find that Wierwille had never come upon his writings.
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. We invite you to examine the following excerpts from these two books, with an eye for similarities in ideas and terminology:
|V.P. WIERWILLE -- Receiving the Holy
Spirit Today, 1972:
Chap. 5 - "How to Receive the Holy Spirit: (pp. 55-62)
|J.E. STILES -- The Gift of the Holy Spirit,
Chap. XII - "How to Receive the Holy Spirit" (pp. 108-121)
|Acts 2:38: (Quote, KJV) (pg. 56)
If we get anything because we have done something good or virtuous, then it is a reward for merit. (pg. 56)
Luke 11:13 (Quote, KJV) pg. 57)
This was spoken before Pentecost. After Pentecost the idea of giving the holy spirit is never once mentioned. (pg. 57)
|Acts: 2:38, (Quote, KJV) (pg. 109)
If you work for something, or get good enough to merit it, then the thing becomes wages, or a reward for merit. (pg. 109)
Luke 11:13 (Quote, KJV) (pg. 108)
Notice that these words concerning God giving the Holy Spirit, were spoken before Pentecost, but after that memorable day we do not find the Bible speaking about giving the Spirit to men. (pg. 108)
|It is no longer a question of God's doing His
part; He has done it. It is now a question of
your doing your part to receive. (pg. 57)
The word "receive" applies to action on the part of the one who desires to get something. (pg. 57)
|...now it is not a question of God's willingness
to give the Spirit, but of the Christian's
willingness to receive Him. (pg. 109)
You see the word "receive" applies to the ;act of the one who gets something, and not to an act of the giver. (pg. 109)
|Since we cannot speak two languages at once, we must lay aside all thought of speaking words in a Language which we know and operate by our understanding. (pg. 58)||Since you know that it is impossible to speak two languages at the same time, therefore, the only possible position of faith that you can take is this; I will not even whisper a word of my natural language. (pg. 119)|
|I want you particularly to notice the words
"ministereth to you" when I teach an
audience, I "minister" The Word to them, I
give out the Word. (pg. 59)
|...notice the word "ministereth." If your pastor stands up before you and preaches to you, or gives out the Word to you... (pg. 109)|
|Galatians 3:5 (Quote KJV) pp. 58-59)
Acts 8:18 (Quote, KJV) (pg. 59)
People have said to me, "Yes, I know the apostles could and did minister the holy spirit, but who are you?" (pg. 59)
|Gal. 3... Verse 5 says, (Quote, KJV) (pg.109)
Acts 8:18 (Quote, KJV) (pg. 110)
And someone may say, "Yes, we admit that the apostles were able to minister the Holy Spirit to others, but who are you?" (pg. 110)
|We cannot make a mistake in our quest. I Samuel 16:7. But the Lord said...but the Lord looketh on the heart. (pg. 58)||...knowing that God looks on the heart, and if your motive of heart is to please God, then you can go determinedly forward to complete victory. (pg. 121)|
|Ananias, who ministered the holy spirit to Saul of Tarsus, was also just a believer. (pg. 60)||...the man who laid hands on the Apostle Paul, when he received the Holy Spirit, was an obscure disciple, named Ananias, ...He was just a believer, such as you or I. (pg. 110)|
|3. Rest your head back and breathe in deeply.
The word "inspiration" also means
"in-breathing." (pg. 60)
Opening your mouth and breathing in deeply is an act of believing which God honors. (pg. 60)
|The very word INSPIRATION means
inbreathing,...You can look up to God and
open your mouth and breathe deeply... (pg.
Opening the mouth and breathing in constitutes a step of faith that God will honor. (pg. 120)
|Psalms 81:10 ... open thy mouth wide, and I
will fill it. (pg. 61)
Psalms 119:31 (Quote KJV) (pg. 61)
|Again, in Psalms 81:10 we have the
instruction, "Open thy mouth wide, and I will
fill it." (pg. 120)
Psa. 119:131 (Quote KJV) (pg. 120)
|Jesus specifically tells us to drink in the holy
spirit. John 7:37-39 (Quote, KJV) (pg. 61)
In Job 29:23 we read, "And they opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain." (pg. 61)
If you will do this, you shall realize the manifestation. (pg. 62)
|John 7:37-39 (Quote, KJV) Here He literally
says that we are to drink of the Spirit. (pg.
Job 29:21-23 reads as follows, ... and they opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain." (pg. 120)
If you will do this I can assure you that the Spirit will begin to move in a very short time. (pg. 121)
|... by your own will, move your lips, your tongue, your throat; you must make the sounds, form the words. (pg. 62)||... follow the promptings when they appear; opening and closing your mouth, and moving your lips as the Spirit guides you to do... (pg. 121)|
The next section compares Wierwille's 1972 and 1957 editions of Receiving the Holy Spirit Today and Stiles' 1948 edition of The Gift of the Holy Spirit. This shows that Wierwille obviously copied from Stiles' book in 1957, even though editing for later editions changed the wording a little and made the plagiarism a little less obvious.
|Receiving the Holy Spirit
Today, 6th ed., 1972:
Chap. XIV - "Some Questions Answered" (pp. 249-256)
8. Is it possible for a Christian to receive false tongues or a false spirit when believing for the holy spirit?
|Receiving the Holy Spirit
Today, 3rd ed., 1957:
Chap. IX - "Some Questions Answered" (pp. 135-142)
8. Is it possible for a Christian to receive false tongues or a
false spirit when believing for the pneuma hagion?
|The Gift of the Holy Spirit,
Chap. XIII - "Questions and Answers" (pp. 122-139)
8. Is it not possible for a Christian to receive false tongues or a false spirit when seeking to receive the Holy Spirit?
|The answer is a loud and
clear no. As a matter of fact,
speaking in tongues is the only manifestation which basically Satan cannot counterfeit. When I am asked that question, I know that person has come into contact with those whom i term "faith
blasters," who go about making statements which have no foundation in Scripture. When someone suggests to earnest Christians that they are in danger of receiving something false when believing to manifest the fulness of God according to God's Word, he sinfully dishonors God. Where is there a chapter or verse indicating that a Christian my get false tongues? It is an unreasonable idea, for the loving Father cares for His children and stands ready with His might to protect them from the power of enemy.
|The answer is no... When
people ask that question, I
know that they have
somewhere come in contact
with one of these "faith
blasters" who go about making statements which have no foundations in scripture. When someone suggests to earnest Christians that they may get something false when believing for more of the fulness of God according to God's Word, he sinfully dishonors God and the Holy Spirit. Where is there a chapter and verse indicating that a Christian can get false tongues? If this happened, God would either be too careless and indifferent about the welfare of His children or else He would be too weak to protect them from the power of the enemy.
|Answer: When people ask
that question, we know that
they; have somewhere come
in contact with one of the
"faith blasters" who go
about making statements which have no foundation in Scripture. When we suggest to earnest Christians that they may get something false, when seeking more of the fulness of God, we sinfully
dishonor God and His Holy Spirit. Where, we ask, is there the slightest suggestion in the Bible that the Christian, whose heart longs for more of God, may get false tongues or a false spirit? If such a thing could happen, it would have to be true that, either God was too careless and indifferent about the welfare of His children, or else he was too weak to protect them from the power of the enemy. To suggest either one of these things is horrible, as it makes God out to be either a puny weakling, or a careless monster.
|With Scripture as our rule of
believing and practice, The
Word contradicts the wicked
thought of false tongues
coming from the holy Spirit.
Luke points out most
emphatically that God will not
give His children a worthless or harmful substitute for the
pneuma hagion. Luke 11:11-13: (Quote-KJV). The very essence of God is love. Can any sane person conceive of a loving Father, who
is all-wise and all-powerful, giving his hungering, believing child a false and harmful substitute? There are hundreds of Scriptures which point out that God seeks only the welfare and blessing of His children.
|With the scripture as our rule
of faith and practice, the
Word contradicts such a
wicked thought. Luke
11:11-13 points out most
emphatically that God will not give His children a worthless or harmful substitute for the pneuma hagion. The very essence of the character of God is love. Can any sane person conceive of a loving Father, who is all wise and all powerful, giving His
hungering, believing child a false and harmful substitute? There are hundreds of Scriptures which point out that God seeks only the welfare and blessing of His children.
|If we will take the Scripture as our guide, we will see that it flatly contradicts such a wicked thought. Luke 11:11-13 points out most emphatically that God will not give His children a worthless or harmful substitute when they come to receive the Holy Spirit. The very essence of the character of God is love. Can any sane person conceive of a loving Father, who is all wise and all powerful, giving His hungering child a false and harmful substitute? There are hundreds of Scriptures which point out that God seeks only the welfare and blessing of His children.|
|Cast away forever the repulsive idea that God would allow His child to receive anything false.||Cast away forever the repulsive idea that God would allow His child to receive a false and harmful substitute.||Cast away forever the repulsive idea that God would allow His child to receive something false and harmful when seeking to be obedient in this manner of receiving His Holy Spirit with the supernatural signs accompanying.|
|Pay no attention to anyone who suggest unscriptural doubts or fears. (pp. 253-255)||Pay no attention to anyone who suggest unscriptural doubts and fears.(pp. 140-141)||Pay no attention to anyone who goes about suggesting such unscriptural things which only promote doubts and fears. (pp. 128-129)|
Are Wierwille's teachings carbon copies of Stiles'? There are certainly key differences. Stiles emphasized that in receiving the Holy Spirit, we receive a person, not just an experience.(2) Wierwille, on the other hand, denies that God the Holy Spirit personally indwells a believer and denies the doctrine that God is a Trinity. Stiles' teachings place him within the realm of orthodox Christianity. Wierwille's place him in pseudo-Christianity. (Wierwille also shows his pridefulness by repeatedly changing the pronouns to "I," so that he's more the center of attention.)
A comparison of these books gives us insights into Wierwille's methodology and integrity. The
unwritten code of honor among authors tells them to fully credit another writer when borrowing
his ideas or terminology. This is why footnotes mark scholarly productions. Many men who have
plagiarized as Wierwille did have been fined, sued or fired.
Furthermore, authors' integrity and copyright laws demand that direct and indirect quotations of another writer be noted, even when another's work is not copyrighted. (3) Wierwille's methods do not reflect the integrity that the secular world expects, to say nothing of the integrity that God demands.
Yet, there is an even more important issue than integrity. Wierwille not only claims to be a scholar, he also claims to publish original material on the Spirit and that he is taught by God and His Word alone. Wierwille counts his ministry as beginning the day that God audibly assured Wierwille that He Himself would teach him. Wierwille claims in the preface to Receiving the Holy Spirit Today that he used only the Bible as a reference for the book.
Sadly, Wierwille again falls far short of his own claims, of the mark of scholarly integrity, and of God's moral expectations.
1. J.E. Stiles sponsored about 9 printings of The Gift of the Holy Spirit beginning in 1948. Most of these included letters received by Stiles as a preface (pp. 4-6) and closing chapter (pp. 140-156). These are cited as "Burbank, CA: Privately published, n.d." in card catalogs because they were not copyrighted and were promoted via a post office box in Burbank although printed by Church Press in Glendale, California. Bible Voice, Inc., Van Nuys, California, copyrighted and published it in 1971, dropping the letters and including a forward by charismatic leader George Otis. The same year Fleming H. Revell Co. published the book in cloth and paperback, adding a preface by John L. Sherrill. The text is the same in each of these editions.
2. J.E. Stiles, The Gift of the Holy Spirit, (Van Nuys, CA: Bible Voice, 1971), p. 112.
3. The wide variety of uncopyrighted sources which scholars necessarily cite include newsletters, pamphlets, works not yet published, theses, dissertations, archives, conference proceedings, records, court cases, government documents, correspondence and personal interviews. See various works on referencing including Mary-Claire van Leunen, A Handbook for Scholars (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978).
4. Background information of J.E. Stiles, Sr. was gleaned from the prefaces to The Gift of the Holy Spirit by John L. Sherrill and George Otis, as well as personal interviews with J.E. Stiles,
Jr., and his wife Patricia August 20, 1982. We thank the Stiles' for their time, thought and materials which they generously shared with us.
(c) 1983 - PFO. All rights reserved by Personal Freedom Outreach.
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