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Part 3 of 5, One-time 'Limb Coordinator' claims Way teachings contain 'doctrinal errors'

The Wapakoneta Daily News
By: David Coehrs
It is not the same organization that once attracted followers with its logical approach to the Scripture.

It's not the same organization John Lynn grew to love.

As a member of The Way International leadership for 20 years, as well as a friend of president Craig Martindale, he knew the operation from the inside out.

Fired from his position as Limb (state) Coordinator of The Way of Washington, D. C., on April 1, 1987, Lynn has since established his own ministry, Christian Educational Services, in Indianapolis.

And despite their unceremonious parting of the ways, Lynn still exposes some of The Way's teachings within his variegated doctrine.

He also authored a widely distributed letter in March 1988 that challenged the veracity of his termination from The Way and rebuked New Knoxville-based organization for what he and other followers consider errors in doctrine.

It's a paradox Lynn doesn't apologize for.

He views the current Way leadership as a "horribly authoritarian hierarchy," and confirms that sexual promiscuity within the organization ran "absolutely rampant" during his affiliation. But he nonetheless respects and demonstrates loyalty to the seminal teachings of The Way, which he feels are buried under mounds of autocracy.

"The Way teaches a lot of things from the Scripture that are true," he said. "This is what attracted me -- a very rational, logical approach to Scripture."

The Beginnings

Lynn was introduced to The Way in December of 1967 while a student at Kenyon College in Ohio. By September of 1968 he has joined as chairman of the Development Department, a recruiting position. It was a ground floor opportunity in an organization boasting a scant few hundred followers.

"It was awesome, absolutely fabulous," Lynn, 53, recalled last week in a telephone interview.

Lynn ascended through the ranks in the 1970s, tending to Way ministries in California, New York and North Carolina.

His duties included operating a college outreach program in Greenville, N.C., for two years, starting The Way of Indiana in 1971 and operating it for five years, operating chapters in New York and the New England states into 1980, and acting as Chief Executive Officer for The Way Corps for five years at The Way Bible College in Emporia, Kansas.

In his 1988 letter to ex-followers, Lynn said his downfall came in Washington, D.C., after he, his wife, Pat, and others in The Way leadership -- including Ralph Dubofsky, Tom Reahard and Robert Belt -- began questioning the board of trustees about what they considered doctrinal error.

Their concerns were listed Feb. 26, 1987, in a 37 page-letter which also called for a meeting of the leadership and gave the trustees 10 days to respond. When they didn't, Lynn and the others distributed about 500 copies of the letter to other members of the leadership and to followers.

Lynn said Martindale responded to the letter on March 30 of that year by referring to a taped address produced five days earlier by follower Chris Geer. According to Lynn, Geer's recorded message to the Way Corps members "condemned our letter and us" without support of applicable Bible verses.

Lynn was dismissed two days later. No explanation of his termination was ever provided.

Doctrinal Errors?

In his 1988 diatribe, Lynn wrote, in part: "Instead of changing the massive doctrinal and practical error rampant in The Way, the Trustees have made it into a little more than a historical society, designed only to preserve the works of Victor Paul Wierwille, whose words they have elevated far above the written Word of God. I love Dr. Wierwille very much...but what he taught was not "God-breathed (revealed)."

He also wrote that Wierwille, The Way founder, "has been made into an idol, and anyone who contradicts his words is out of a job."

Lynn still defends The Way's core teachings, but decries the organization's methods of spreading God's Word.

"There is a lot of truth in The Way." Lynn said. "I think there still is with the words on the page. I think the heart behind it is manipulative."

He said reports of liberal sexual practices among The Way leadership are true, and that he participated.

"A lot of it stemmed from Wierwille." Lynn said. "He was very promiscuous."

He said Wierwille taught the inner circle of Way Leadership that sex outside of marriage was acceptable if the motive was to help someone. "That is where he was coming from, and it rubbed off on a lot of people, and marriages were ruined." Lynn said.

"This is a guy who taught all of us things on one else in our lives had ever taught us before, and that gave him a certain amount of credibility. Unfortunately, he abused it."

In his letter to ex-followers, Lynn wrote that Wierwille "told people that without broadening their sexual activities beyond marriage, they would never be able to handle the things of God."

He also claimed Martindale admitted having sex with at least one follower and told leader Ralph Dubofsky sex had been initiated. "thousands of times" to minister "God's healing wholeness and deliverance to people."

Dubofsky, of Franklin, Mass., confirmed the conversation with Martindale did indeed take place.

An ex-follower since December of 1986, Dubofsky said The Way leadership "told me I was out of control of my mind because I wasn't in line with any of their baloney dogma."

Hesitant to discuss his past with The Way, Dubofsky said, "What I did 10 years ago and what I am doing now are two totally different things. And I want to keep it that way."

Lynn said his own marriage failed, in part, due to his sexual indiscretions.

He said followers acquiesced to the leaderships sexual appetite due to "the mindset, the groupie mentality." Way Corps members were extensively involved in the sexual escapades because "they were closest to the fire."

Lynn, however, did scoff at reports of paramilitary activity within the Way Corps.

He also called such rumors "baloney..., all that stuff is such a complete fabrication from anti-cult witch hunters."

And he laughed at claims that Way Corps trainees were subjected to food deprivation to make them stronger and tougher.

"Actually, the food was pretty good." he said.

Lynn's long friendship with Martindale was severed upon his dismissal, but the former Way leader still feels a familial bond with The Way president and said he would offer his services to help revert the organization to its earlier luster.

"The Way is hardly and outreach organization," these days, Lynn said.. "It looks like they're circling their wagons. They're very authoritative and controlling. You have to believe what they believe or you're out."

"They don't practice what they preach, and a lot of what they preach, in my opinion, is not correct."

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