The Way International Founder: Victor Paul Wierwille Founder’s Nationality: American Date Founded: 1942 Location: New Knoxville, Ohio Number of Adherents: 1970s estimated 35,000 people
History of the Founder Victor Paul Wierwille 1916-1985
Victor P. WierwilleEarly Years • Born in New Knoxville, Ohio • Raised “in the fundamental atmosphere of the Evangelical and Reformed Church” and “from his youth he wanted to be a minister.”
Wierwille’s Education • Attended Mission House College which is now known as Lakeland College in WI. • Obtained a Master of Theology degree at the Princeton Theology Seminary • Took classes at Moody Bible Institute • Taught homiletics at Gordon Divinity School • Received his doctorate at Pikes Peak Seminary
ControversyDoctor or just another college grad??? • Moody Bible Institute’s registrar reveals no records of his class completion • Wierwille did not concentrate in biblical studies as he claimed at Princeton; rather he studied advanced preaching • His TH.D. became controversial • because Pikes Peak Seminary • was considered to be a “degree • mill” without “resident instruction • …published list of faculty…and • accreditation.”
Creating his own NRM • 1941 Victor was ordained into the Evangelical and Reformed Church • Wierwille “began to feel inadequate in meeting the spiritual needs of the congregation.” • 1942 he defined his goal to discover the Power of Abundant Living. • Found himself trailing away from the beliefs of the Evangelical and Reformed Church • Began creating his own understanding
On his way to THE WAY • Wierwille’s direction became clear when he though God had spoken to him • “And that’s when He spoke to me audibly, just like I’m talking to you now. He said He would teach me the word as it had not been known since the first century if I would teach it to others.” • By 1955: Victor incorporated • The Way International
Membership and Understanding • TWI claim to be a nondenominational research and teaching ministry • New Believer Classes • Initial course: “Power For Abundant Living” • Use the Bible (only New Testament but excluding the Gospels) • Wierwille believes he has the True Understanding of the Bible and other people misconstrue the true meaning of God’s words.
The Trinity • TWI do not believe in the Trinity. • Teaches that Jesus is NOT God. • Jesus regarded as a perfect human created by sinless sperm. • To further denounce the trinity, Wierwille claims that the Holy Spirit is a synonym for God. • “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whomever believeth in him shall not perish but have ever lasting life” John 3:16
Salvation • In order to be saved one must believe that Christ is the Son of God and that he died on the cross for our sins. • A person is saved through oral confession • Once saved, they can no longer sin because everything they do – is the will of God. • Wierwille uses the difference between Standing and State to explain why one will never lose salvation after it is gained.
Proof of Salvation • Believers are taught not to believe in Christ but of Christ. • When God saves a person, he gives them Gifts: Speaking in Tongues Interpreting Prophecy Wisdom Ability to perform miracles Ability to heal others
The Laws • God instituted unchangeable principles to be obeyed by Christians which he calls the laws: • Law of Believing As one believes he recieves. “Fear is sand in the machinery of life” (Wierwller 1971:37) • Law of Tithing One must give %10 of Gross income. As well as Abundant sharing. This is done to keep away sickness and ensures prosperity and wealth.
Ultimate Concern The group’s concern was to receive salvation through studying the True word of God so that they may live life abundantly and go back with Jesus when he returns on the day of Pentecost to receive eternal life.
Violent Group? • TWI not a violent group • Wierwille was a charismatic leader: claimed to be God’s Spokesman and acted as a father by calling all the members his children • Tried to socially encapsulate members. • Similar to other Christian groups such as the Pentecostalists, the Presbyterians and the Evangelical Reform Church. • Apocalyptic Belief: That Jesus will return on the day of Pentecost.
Beginnings • October 3, 1942 Lima, Ohio • Victor Paul Wierwille: Founder • Came about because of Vesper Chimes Radio Show: Combined beliefs, music, and God’s Word • Headquarters: Remodeled farm, New Knoxville, Ohio • Considered itself to be a biblical research, teaching, and household fellowship ministry
Organization: Tree • Headquarters and similar rep.: “Roots” • National Organizations: “Trunk” • Individual States and Provincial Institutes: “Limbs” • Local Groups: “Branches” • Household Fellowships: “Twigs” • Individual Followers: “Leaves”
Recruitment • Jesus People: Steve Hufner, Jimmy Doop • Wierwille changed teachings: Direct youth outlook • Way Corps: 4 year Christian leadership training program; Life=better physically, mentally, and spiritually • Word Over the World Ambassadors or WOW : Spread teachings of the bible • Rock of Ages: Annual gathering of Way members; Christian Woodstock
Membership Decline • Craig Martindale: took over after Wierwille • Way officials challenged leadership and mortality of founder • Purged members due to Homosexuality; Homosexuals and Simpathetics • Sexual Misconduct: Adultery and Child Abuse • Lawsuits: Woman-alleged “treated like girlfriend, and Wierwille raped her” • Investigation from IRS: Using tax-exempt funds for political reasons
Currently • Still established in New Knoxville, Ohio • 500 Employees and Volunteers • Own property in seven states: Two colleges, family ranch, and a camp ‘worth 8 million $’ • Martindale resigned 1998; due to allegations of sexual misconduct • Rosalie F. Rivenbark