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Carol Van Drie: Letter to a Critic

Jim Martin was kind enough to forward your letter to me. I pray with all my heart that you will consider what I am about to write to you, and ask God to show you the truth. First let me say to you that the Jim Martin's of the world do what they do because the Word of God commands us to do so.

2 John 1:4 I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.

Our God and our Father commands that we walk in truth. If there are lies about the gospel, then we SERVE God by exposing these lies as He calls us. We MUST tell the truth about the gospel of Jesus Christ! I was a member of The Way for six years, Jeff. If you would go back to Jim's web site, you can read a portion of the book I wrote about my experience on his web site. It should be posted as of this writing. If not, it will be soon. Please read it, Jeff. But I wish to discuss with you some others things not included in that experiences Jim will be posting for me. You said that Jim lied about "so many things" on his web site, and that the people who wrote of these things also lied. While I can not personally verify every single thing Jim posted at his web site, I can say from my experience that I have been able to personally experience much of what is posted there, and know what is there is the truth. I want to show you how Wierwille is a liar, and this you can verify easily for yourself, you don't have to just take my word for the following things I'm about to tell you. Despite the fact that The Way does not call Wierwille a "prophet," by all definitions, he is one. And if he is a liar, than the things he taught are false, and not of God. If the things he taught are not of God, then they are of Satan. The Bible clearly tells us:

Deu 13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, Deu 13:2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Deu 13:3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Deu 18:20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. Deu 18:21 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? Deu 18:22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

Jer 28:9 The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the LORD hath truly sent him.

Clearly, Wierwille spoke with authority from God, or so he claimed. But is this true? If Wierwille would lie about the very manner in which The Way was founded, what else did he lie about? I have a book called "The Teacher -- Dr. Victor Paul Wierwille." If you've been affiliated with The Way for over 25 years, then you probably own this book. If not, then I'm certain you've heard the following story. It appears on page 5 of the above mentioned book. "The early phases of his search brought him to a missionary by the name of Rosalind Rinker, a strong, vivacious woman who jarred his thinking when she challenged him to lay aside all other reading material and study the Bible as the Word of God -- a truth Dr. Wierwille had lost during his theological studies. Though he took her advice and started intensely studying God's Word in the late summer of 1942, Dr. Wierwille did not find his answers, even after a month of serious Bible study. At this point...Wierwille sat in his office in Payne, Ohio, and prayed to God. He said he was going to quit the ministry unless God would give him answers that he would never have to back down on. That is when God spoke out loud to Dr. Wierwille and promised him:

'I will teach you the Word as it has not been known since the first century, if you will teach it to others.'

The next day in his office, because he could hardly believe that God had talked to him, Dr. Wierwille closed his eyes and prayed again. He asked God to show him if He had really spoken to him; he asked God to make it snow. Then he opened his eyes. Where he had seen a crystal blue, autumn sky, Dr. Wierwille now saw a sky so thick with snow that the gas pumps only seventy-five feet from his office window were not visible. He was thrilled. Though he did not fully understand this phenomenon, Dr. Wierwille knew that God had spoken to him. He knew that God would teach him His Word as it had not been known since the first century as long as he would teach it to others. This incident set in motion the events that led to Dr. Wierwille's founding of The Way...."

If this were "late summer of 1942" as this book claims, and after a month of serious Bible study this sudden snow storm happened, we are looking at September 1942 following the time scale in the book. To further verify this time-line, in a following paragraph on that same page it says: "Approximately one month after God audibly spoke to him, Dr. Wierwille began a weekly radio broadcast on October 3, 1942." So it looks very likely that this snow storm occurred in September. Well, I made a phone call to the Paulding County Library which is the county that Payne is in. I stayed on the long distance call quite awhile with the librarian, because she searched the microfiche files for any news whatsoever about any snowstorm happening in September. Such a freak storm would have had to been reported in the local papers. The fact is, this "miracle" never occurred. Dr. Wierwille lied. And so did many who continued to tell of this so-called "sign" and then who finally published this total fabrication. Many blindly believed the story (as I certainly did). I perpetrated the lie because I believed everything Dr. Wierwille said was from God, no less something as significant as the founding of the only organization with "true" believers in it. Dr. Wierwille also lied, or in the very least, taught a very wrong teaching about many things. But I will tell you of two more that I personally discovered quite by accident, myself. The following is an excerpt from my book. Please read it carefully. The events as described are absolutely true.

It was during this time that I had been listening to a local radio station in L.A.. Sunday nights I faithfully tuned to 'Religion On The Line' with Dennis Prager. I had always been a letter writer and had already gotten a handful of my opinionated letters published in the letters section of the local paper. I decided to write to Dennis Prager one night after calling into the Sunday program. I was trying to convince the panel of guests he had in the studio that Jesus Christ was not God. The group of various clergy from churches in the area completely dismissed my suggestion, claiming I was therefore, not a Christian. The only caller to back me up concerning the truth as I knew it at the time, was from someone who described themselves as a Mormon. Realizing my beliefs coincided with a Mormons disturbed me. This was a group considered a cult by most main stream Christian organizations, including The Way (interestingly enough), but I brushed it off at the time. Instead, I set about to write a six page letter to Dennis Prager detailing why Jesus Christ could not be God. My letters started in April 1986.

In one of my first written contacts with Mr. Prager, I quoted from numerous books, especially the book by Wierwille, Jesus Christ Is Not God. In my closing, I even went so far as to say that my husband was a member of The Way. I am very humiliated to admit that I lied. My self esteem was always at a low, and using Mark's credentials as a graduate of USMA at West Point was a method, or so I believed, of lending credibility to my letter. I was merely a housewife, and felt I needed verification by my husband in order to be taken seriously. I touched upon many points in my letter, however one point that obviously caught the eye of Mr. Prager was a section concerning what Jesus said on the cross. An excerpt from my letter is as followed, lifted almost entirely form Power For Abundant Living, pg. 154: Let me explain some inaccuracies I noted during your recent radio broadcast. It is important to correctly divide the Word of God, the Bible. Your guests quoted from Matthew 27:46, or Mark 15:34 when Christ said on the cross: "Eli Eli. lama sabach thani? that is to say My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" King James version. The translation in the King James version and obviously other Bibles has been from the Greek. However this is an erroneous translation. Christ spoke in Aramaic or more accurately Syro-Chaldee. When the words are translated form Christ's language it is: "Eli - God - but there is no Aramaic word like the word lama. There is a word Lmna. Lmna is always a cry of victory, a declaration of "for this purpose" or "for this reason." The root of Sabachthani is Shbk. Shbk means "to reserve," or "to leave, to spare or to keep." So the actual translation is "My God, My God, for this purpose was I reserved, for this purpose was I spared." If we go by the Greek translation, then Christ believed God would forsake him. This contrasts with God's Word.

Mr. Prager wrote to me in a letter dated 4-21-86:

I'm afraid King James is right. I know Hebrew/Aramaic and Lama means "Why." So I suspect Jesus, as a man, was asking God some question. (See Psalms 22:1).

I was totally stunned when I read his letter. I was also doubtful that this radio personality could be right and the "Dr." mistaken. As quoted directly from the PFAL book:

The word eli means "my God," but there is not an Aramaic word like the word lama.

Also, this exact teaching was taught in all of the PFAL classes. If it was an error, why was it still being taught? Not being comfortable at the time with calling Dan Moran, I called The Way International headquarters in New Knoxville, Ohio. I was eventually patched through to Bruce Mahone in the research department. I had had other encounters with Bruce when I sought material about The Way's stand on abortion (pro) and capital punishment (pro). His tone changed from its usual friendliness when I told him of my recent discovery, and asked if it was true. He confirmed my greatest fears, and after a brief conversation, suggested I take this up with my local leadership. Oh sure. As if the great Reverend Moran would just be a tremendous wealth of information concerning this topic! I called Bill and Darlene, and Jim and Diane. They all expressed surprise, but they too were reluctant to believe that Dr. was capable of making such a grave blunder. I quickly sat down and wrote Natalie a letter dated April 27th. In it I explained everything that happened. It was clear that this was not welcomed news. My mother, who called frequently, called soon after Natalie had received the letter. Apparently Natalie was furious and embarrassed that her prodigy had stirred this whole thing up. My Mom told me that I should stop contacting Natalie completely. She tried to soften the blow by telling me how busy Natalie was with her local Twig etc., called at that time The Way of New York, and that my constant need for advice was a burden on Natalie. Of all the things that had happened to me concerning The Way to date, this was by far the most devastating. I was crushed. Not only was I unable to fit into the chosen family of God, but now a lifelong friend of the family was rejecting me! I asked Mom if Natalie had told her to say this, and she said yes, but in not exactly the same words. I was completely heart broken. Soon I received a letter from Vince Finnegan (head of the NY ministry. Natalie had apparently passed on my letter), on Way stationery addressing my concerns. He admonished me for causing dissension and division, although he did not deny that error. He told me to be like-minded and to put my focus on these matters instead of the negative. Once more, a finger-wagging correction. I didn't speak of this again until years later, when I came to the realization that being like-minded with Way believers meant believing doctrine contrary to God's written Word.

The last thing I wish to share with you, and I know this will be the toughest thing for you to swallow, and the only one of the three examples I can't "prove" to you. However, it too is the truth. If something as fundamental as the founding of The Way was fabricated, and if something as simple yet significant as this PFAL teaching was wrong, what else did he teach that wasn't true? Believe me, there are numerous other errors in Wierwielle's doctrine. And yes, it IS doctrine, because as I painfully discovered, Wierwille taught doctrine, not the truth of God's Word. One of his biggest errors and one that could possibly mean the difference between salvation or not is that Jesus Christ IS most definitely GOD. Let me make clear to you that while I was in The Way, I practically memorized page for page "Jesus Christ is Not God." I felt surer of that teaching than I had about anything else in my life. Being brought up Catholic, I always had trouble with the Trinity. I felt it to be utterly confusing, and then along came Wierwille to verify what I suspected all along. Following is one last excerpt from my book I would like to share with you. I'm so sorry this is such a long message, but please, please just read what I've written to you. I pray the seeds of truth can be planted, and you will see The Way International for what it is, Satan's lie.

So after Daphanie gave me some suggestions (my phone bill becoming quite huge in those days due to the numerous calls to my bud), I went out and started my collection of selections by Michael English, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Janet Paschall, Amy Grant, Sandi Patti and many other contemporary artists who were singing about God and His effects. At that time in particular, Michael English spoke to my heart and ministered to me in a BIG way. It was such an unparalleled joy to once again listen to music and know these lyrics didn't lead to thoughts of sin. This was so uplifting! God used the incredible, powerful voice of Michael English, in particular, to reach into my heart, clear to my soul to begin the road back as the prodigal son. The sound of his voice, the words he chose in the songs he sang pierced the darkness that once surrounded my heart. I couldn't listen to a song of his, even after the tenth time, without weeping, or the very least, getting goose bumps. By this steady musical influence, and reading the Bible, I was back, but I needed healing and transformation. I certainly needed a steady stream of Christian influence weaving through my life each day because I still hadn't been able to correct a certain portion of my life yet. It was this way of thinking, that needed changing the most.

I still believed that Jesus was not God.

For Pastor Mike, this just wouldn't do. He and Daphanie continued to gently prod me, each in their own unique way. I swiftly became very weary of this, although my attitude honestly was: If God wants me to change this very deep seeded belief, then He'll have to show me, because I honestly do not see how it is possible that Jesus is the Son and also God. I respected Pastor Mike so much, that I even tried praying to Jesus in church one day, but couldn't. I honestly believed if I did, I would be committing idolatry. I believed I could only worship God, and that although I should be grateful to His Son, I absolutely should not worship Him. But there was a meekness in my heart that wasn't present before. It was at this crucial time that I believe Satan himself used one last ditch attempt to keep my mind stayed on Wierwille's false teaching that Jesus Christ was not God. Without knowing who Jesus truly was, I couldn't become the servant that my Lord would have me be. It was on a country road, outside Ft. Drum one day, that Satan manifested himself to me while driving in my car.

. . . .

"In Christ alone I place my trust And find my glory in the power of the cross In every victory let it be said of me My source of strength My source of hope Is Christ alone."
--From "In Christ Alone," sung by Michael English, written by Shawn Craig and Don Koch, The Michael English Album.

So many cults use the trick of telling their converts to pray for a sign or they are told there will be a demonstration of some type of supernatural manifestation to convince them that the cult and it's teachings are of "God." I am here to tell you this day, and believe this because it is the truth: SIMPLY BECAUSE ONE EXPERIENCES A SUPERNATURAL OCCURRANCE DOES NOT MEAN IT IS FROM GOD. I pray this message gets through -- the Bible tells us that signs and wonders aren't always from God, it could be a trick of the devil. I have previously given one example, and that was the speaking of tongues in The Way sessions. The devil can counterfeit this. Simply because this happens does not mean that God, the Father of us all, has given a sign. This next example is clearly another case of a supernatural experience that was absolutely NOT of God.

I took our little Ford Escort and went for a drive to the mall. There is a country road right outside the Fort Drum Army post, and I loved the time it took, approximately 15 minutes, because it was a pretty stretch. There were some farms, and open fields. It was late fall, and the leaves were still breathtaking. I popped in a Michael English tape and began to pray to God, thanking Him for the progress Mark and I had been making. Also, due to a recent telephone conversation with Dapahnie and separately, Pastor Mike, I went before the Lord asking about the Trinity. I asked Him to show me if I was wrong, because if I was, I wanted Him to make it right. Suddenly (when I say "suddenly," I don't mean shockingly, it was just instantaneous), a large scroll appeared before me as if a huge movie screen was in front of my eyes. The scroll was unfurled at first, but then it opened. On it was listed all the reasons that Jesus Christ was not God. This scroll probably contained at least one or two type written pages of information, but the "vision," to include my reading of the writing on the scroll, took at most, two seconds. Ironically, the listed reasons were exactly what Victor Paul Wierwille had taught. With this phenomenal occurrence, I became convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus Christ was not God. I also realized that defending this belief would be a battle, most likely, for the rest of my life. But if it must be, it must be, because there couldn't be any doubt in my mind that this was a sign from God. I even went so far as to tell Pastor Mike that I wouldn't discuss this subject any further. At about that time, I wrote a letter to Daphanie and told her where I stood concerning the Trinity, and asked her to accept this, or we would have to part as friends. I was weary from the many months that sin had taken it's toll, and didn't want to battle anything else anymore. I told her she had to accept me the way I was, for who I was, or not accept me at all. In Daphanie's meek service to the Lord, she merely loved me back, and told me that she would indeed accept me for just exactly who I was. I needed that at that time from her in particular. I had hardened my heart a bit, expecting her to distance herself from me (understandably so), but instead, she called with words of acceptance, love and caring. I must admit to being a bit surprised, but grateful we did not have a confrontation, and it seemed our friendship weathered yet another storm. Although I had asked Pastor Mike to discontinue attempting to convince me that Jesus Christ was God; explaining that this vision had made up my mind completely, once and for all -- he persisted. Soon after I told Pastor this, he wrote me a very nice, long letter, lovingly explaining why I should reconsider. It is only because of the great respect that I had for this man that I decided to "humor" him. I agreed I would allow him to continue our talks concerning the Trinity. Pastor and I had several meetings where he gave me books to read (which I dutifully read, believing all along it was a complete waste of time), and then we would meet to discuss what I had read. During one of these sessions, I explained that I was very willing to change my mind (and in my heart, this was true), but I just couldn't see what he and Daphanie saw. I really wanted to change, in a sense, because I believed Pastor when he told me how crucial this was to my "recovery." One Sunday again, I almost felt like praying to Jesus, but had to stop short because if they were wrong, I'd be committing idolatry. I absolutely had to be sure they were right before I could do something like that. The vision I had, now becoming a faded misty reminder of what I believed, began feeling wrong. Pastor Mike also told me one day, as I tried to see the things he was telling me, that if I did change my mind, that it would effect my relationship with Betty. I received this with a calm understanding. At this point in my life, I knew my relationship with God had to be settled, regardless of the fact that I may lose a friend. Betty meant a great deal to me, I believe the Lord sent her to me to fill the holes in my heart temporarily while I went through my "transition." She was there for me, through thick and thin, but when Pastor pointed out that changing my mind could cause a rift between us, I accepted this, and merely gave it to God for Him to take care of. Obviously, it was Pastor's influence as well as Dapahnie's that planted seeds of God's truth. It wasn't too much later that I sat in Faith Fellowship church, getting ready to listen to a guest Pastor. I always preferred Pastor Mike to any other minister, however, I knew any message from the pulpit could be beneficial, so I tried to pay attention. This visiting minister began his sermon by saying that day, he would be teaching about the most misunderstood book in the Bible. He continued to talk about this book, not giving any clues as to which book he was referring to, when the thought came clear into my mind as if I were hearing an audible voice. I suddenly knew that the book he referred to was the book of Revelation. I also knew I needed to turn to that book immediately. I am not one who puts much store in opening a page of the Bible randomly and automatically assuming God is trying to give me a message through the pages. Yet the first page I happened to open to was a page in Revelation in chapter one. The very first words that I saw were in chapter 1 verse 11, "...Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last..." It was as if that proverbial light had turned on in my brain. Could it be? I went back to the beginning of chapter 1, and read the whole chapter, in context. Then I happened to turn to chapter 21 and read verses 1-8. It hit me like a sledge hammer. Jesus Christ WAS God! There was no doubt that in chapter 1, John saw Christ, and then He says that He is the Alpha and the Omega! Only God is the first and the last as He said in Isaiah:2. Again, in chapter 21, those verses speak of our God, our Christ, sitting on His mighty throne. In verse 6 He says He is the Alpha and the Omega. Pastor was right! Daph was right! They all were, and I had been so very wrong! I also knew at that very moment that Daphanie was right about other things. I had been loyal all this time to a cult. That very day, my life took on an even more dramatic turn. I knew that I had to keep this new found realization from Betty, and other Way friends I was still very much in contact with. I began to explore this Jesus, the man, my God, my Savior, whom I had never really known for all those years of my life. On that day, I was delivered from the teachings of The Way International. It was the beginning of an absolutely new way of reading the Bible. Portions that I had never read (The Way taught that only the gospels were for Way believers, while we could learn from the rest, the gospels contained the scriptures we should study and concentrate on). It was literally as if I began reading the Bible for the first time. The same scriptures I had read over and over for years, now took on a new meaning. Jesus was Lord and He was my God! Because of the lies The Way taught, in particular pertaining to the deity of Christ, I believed in a different god. It was because of this that I knew my life had been terribly incomplete. I had been denied the close, personal relationship with my Jesus, the very Lord who has become the entire center of my being. As the song goes..."I can't even walk without holding Jesus' hand." I can't walk without Him, and for all those long years, I had been trying to live my whole life merely by referring to Him in a crisis. Then when I was in The Way, although I thought I had developed a "right" relationship with Jesus Christ, I still didn't know Him. I never had, until He came into my life and made me whole. Through it all, on my long journey back from a cult, I found Jesus. And it was Jesus who delivered me from my insecurities. I was delivered from my need to seek man or man's organizations in order to feel at peace. I received a peace that surpasseth ALL understanding the day I realized who Jesus WAS, who He IS and who He could be in my life! I WAS SET FREE!"

Jeff, if you only know the god of The Way, then you don't know the Jesus that can save you, DESPITE THE FACT YOU CAN SPEAK IN TONGUES. Signs and wonders are not proof of salvation as Wierwille told us. That was a lie too. Please consider these words that Jesus Himself said:

Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Tongues is not proof that you are saved. And if you take your last breath, never knowing the true Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, you may be lost eternally.

Please write back, and let's discuss how like-minded Way doctrine is with Mormonism, Jehovhah's experienceses, and other cults. What you've heard over the years is true, The Way is most definitely a Christian cult, and it's evil purpose is to KEEP you from a right relationship with Jesus Christ. If you know the Way's Jesus, then you don't know Jesus.

May the Lord Jesus Christ bless you and cover you with His Holy and mighty hand of love and power!

Carol Van Drie
"In Christ alone I place my trust..."

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