Witness: John Lynn
March 30, 1988
Dearest Way Believer:
God bless your wonderful heart super-abundantly in the precious and powerful name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
I love you very much, and I love God and His Word also. I know that you too love God and want to do His will. Thus I am writing you this letter which I pray will speak to your heart. Remember, you have within you "the spirit of truth," and I believe it will confirm to you that what I say, though perhaps not all pleasant, is true. And it is the truth that makes us free. This is not an easy letter to write, but what else can I do but speak the truth in love?
I would guess that as a Way believer you probably recognize my name. During nearly 20 years of working for The Way, I was privileged to serve in just about every capacity except Trustee and Trunk [regional] Coordinator. I wrote three books which you may have read. Via these and thousands of live and tape teachings, it was my privilege to interact with tens of thousands of fabulous people like you.
I basically "got in on the ground floor" in 1967 and was near "the top" all along. This afforded me many, many personal encounters with all the original and current Trustees and other top leadership. I was a loyal employee and worked hard to teach and serve God's people. I certainly made my share of mistakes but I always tried to treat all believers kindly and believe in them.
On April 1, 1987, I was fired by the Board of Trustees from my position as Limb ["state"] Coordinator of The Way of Washington, D.C. Why? That's a good question, and one I asked Howard Allen that day. He refused to give me a reason.
Despite The Way's leadership's attempt to cover up, it's no secret to most followers of The Way that there are major problems. Many have been aware of them long before April 1986 when Chris Geer first read "The Passing of a Patriarch" and publicly exposed some things. Yet even that did not begin to expose the root of the evil.
In February of 1987, in conjunction with Ralph Dubofsky, Tom Reahard, Robert Belt and my wife Pat, I participated in writing a 37-page letter which we sent first to the Trustees. In it we confronted them with God's Word as to where they were in error, and called for a meeting of leadership to get things out in the open and resolve them biblically.
We gave the Trustees ten days to respond, which they did not. Then we went "to the church," sending out about 500 copies to as many leaders and believers whose addresses we had. Since then we have continued to send them out, along with other pertinent and enlightening literature and tapes.
We mailed the letter to the Trustees February 26, and they did not respond until March 30, when Craig [Martindale, The Way Founder Wierwille's successor] and Howard called me and asked me if I had heard Chris Geer's tape of March 25 to all The Way Corps [an inner-circle cadre], and if I still thought they were in error. Of course I did, because they had not specifically handled from the Word [biblical scripture] even one issue we brought up, and to this day they have still not done so. That was the whole conversation, which was taped.
What was Chris Geer's tape about? Beside accusing all the USA Way Corps of being at "enmity with God," he condemned our letter and us. How many Bible verses did he read? None. How many specific issues did he handle from the Word? None. Where was our letter biblically wrong? He didn't say. He did say that he had told the Trustees they were "the most qualified men on the face of the earth to handle the responsibilities that God had called them to," and "the only exception is that they haven't yet turned back to the One True God."
You say you don't know what "The Passing of a Patriarch" is about, and that you haven't read our letter, or heard Chris Geer's tape. Well then, how about John Schoenheit's paper showing from the Bible that adultery is sinful (not a shock to most people)? Because of it, he was fired from the Research Department of The Way. Shortly thereafter, four clergy, Bo Reahard, Franklin Smith, Bob Mirabito and Dennis Hickman, were also fired for their "involvement" with the paper, and told they'd never run anything more than a Twig [a local congregation] again.
Haven't seen it? OK, surely your leadership informed you about the November 1986 clergy meeting where Chris Geer told the Limb Coordinators that over half of us were "under the direct influence of evil spirits." How many Bible verses did he read in 90 minutes of talking? None. How much open discussion was there as in Acts 15? None.
Since being fired, I have taught in 50 cities across America, seeing incredible healing and deliverance in the lives of God's people. Meanwhile the Trustees have publicly condemned Ralph and me, saying that we are bitter, angry, vicious, butchering the Word and hurting people, and that we are trying to destroy The Way ministry. But they have not yet addressed one Scriptural issue, or shown from the Word that anything we are teaching or saying is not true.
They continue, with the help of a growing number of fear-riddled yes-men in top leadership positions, to try to keep you in the dark about the truth that would topple the system of error they want to maintain. Thousands of precious believers like you have honest questions, and can get no honest answers. More often than not, you are all made to feel guilty for even asking. Fear is causing many full-time leaders to rationalize by saying that the problems are not affecting them or their people. Chapter and verse? I Corinthians 15:33?
Instead of changing the massive doctrinal and practical error rampant in The Way, the Trustees have made it into 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 loved Dr. Wierwille very much, and I am very thankful for all he taught me that is biblically accurate, but what he taught was not "God-breathed [revealed]." If you read the work of E.W. Bullinger, B.G. Leonard, E.W. Kenyon and J.E. Stiles you can see where he learned the majority of it, and where he was right about some things, and wrong about some things.
We were told that PFAL [Wierwille's Bible-study course] was to give us the keys to working God's Word. Now it has become a virtual catechism for The Way Corps, many of whom mechanically attempt to impose upon God's people what amounts to Way tradition. Victor Paul Wierwille has been made into an idol, and anyone who contradicts his words is out of a job.
At Corps night last November 4, Craig said that any Way Tree personnel who give any credence to what Ralph and I are saying are to be removed from their positions. This is honesty? This is biblical research? This is love? No, this is religion.
Thus far, the Trustees attempts to enforce their tyranny through fear have been somewhat successful, because many Way folks have unthinkingly given their allegiance to and put their trust in men rather than God. And now, even though they know The Way is falling apart, many believers are afraid to turn away as the Bible directs because they see no alternative. There most certainly is an alternative, as we shall see.
Remember that it is God who saved you, not a man, a class or an organization. Neither God nor His Word has changed. It has not been PFAL which has worked for you, it has been the rightly divided Word of God you heard in PFAL. The doctrinal error in PFAL does not negate the truth in and God is faithful to honor any of His Word which anyone believes.
I understand that all this, and especially what I'm about to share, is hard to swallow. I understand that it causes emotional pain like a divorce or losing a loved one. Well, you're human, and you have emotions because God gave them to you. It's OK to be angry, to hurt, and to not have all the answers. Grief is part of life, and its stages [based on psychologist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross], including shock, anger, denial of reality, hurt and moving on are normal.
Truth, however, cannot in reality damage people. Doctrinal and practical error hurt far more. Truth makes people free, and thousands of ex-Way followers are experiencing this deliverance as they listen to the facts and the truth and decide for themselves. Wouldn't you rather know the truth than be kept in the dark because you're "not spiritual enough" to handle it?
The whole issue comes down to DOCTRINAL ERROR. The Way International is wrongly dividing [sic] the scriptures on many points, starting with Session One of PFAL on the so-called "law of believing". Obviously, I cannot in this letter cover them in depth, but I want to cite and briefly expand upon the three doctrinal errors I believe are primarily responsible for the demise of The Way International as far as an effective vehicle for spiritual truth is concerned.
Because of these three points I do not believe that any parallels between The Way and the first century Church are valid. I do not believe that there ever were any "good old days," in The Way, nor that "if we can get back to the way things were five years ago we'll be OK." These three seeds of destruction were all planted as doctrinal error by Victor Paul Wierwille, and to the best of my knowledge, by the end of the 1960's. The categories and wrong doctrine are (1) church government, (2) money, and (3) sex.
First, church government. In Acts and the Church Epistles, there is no such linear chain of command, or corporate hierarchy as "The Way Tree." The Way Corps has in practice become a Royal Priesthood. Power and authority have become centralized in the hands of five men who control what doctrine is taught, who gets paid, how much, all meaningful policy-making, etc., etc. They are unaccountable to those they lead, and now they seem to be under the thumb of Chris Geer, who is accountable to no one.
This religious "caste system" has resulted in unhealthy competition, strife, ladder-climbing, currying favor, intimidation, and an abuse of people to the end that it has squelched the spiritual initiative of thousands. It is a big reason why today, for the most part, Way believers, who know much rightly divided Word, are bored with the Bible and living far below the walk of power available to every son of God.
Idolatrous allegiance to men has, in practice, cut believers off from THE MAN OF GOD Jesus Christ, who is the the Head of the Body. In our zeal to proclaim the truth that Jesus Christ is not God, we relegated him to a "seated" position of virtual inactivity. He wasn't allowed in the "Athletes of the "Spirit" production, even at the Gathering Together! Instead, it was "the minister" who was the mediator between God and men, and the believers served and worshipped him. It is only "holding the Head" ("Col. 2:19") that will enable believers to live the mystery, and in The Way, because of this doctrinal error, we've never really been able to do so.
Second, money. I Timothy 6:10 makes it plain that wrong doctrine regarding money will have very detrimental effects on God's people. The [Wierwille] booklet "Christians Should Be Prosperous" absolutely contradicts the Church Epistles and its destructive effects on people's lives cannot be calculated. Dr. Wierwille was confronted about its error in the early '60s but refused to change it.
Work it for yourself. By page 3 one already believes he will "take the consequences" if he "withholds the rightful portion from God," and that he certainly wouldn't do less than tithe if he desires God's blessing. Ephesians 1:3? On the last page of the book it says, "Don't pray for prosperity if you don't tithe."
Jesus Christ is more than a 90% Redeemer. You do not have to spend 10% to buy protection from a "God-father." Then we were taught [in The Way] that 15% gets you spiritual insight. And of course there's Craig's famous line that if you give less than 10%, "God won't even spit in your direction." You do not give in order to get. You give because God has given to you.
We are not under the law. Malachi is not to us. II Cor.9:6-8 is. And the Bible plainly says that if you do choose to give of your abundance (not your need), the way to do it in this administration is to give to other believers who have needs. I have a 3 hour tape on this subject, and a number of us are collaborating to write a very comprehensive book on it. When God's people believe and apply the truth of His Word in this area, they will prosper far beyond what we have yet seen.
Third, sex. Now this is perhaps more sensational than the other points, but keep in mind that again the root of the problem is doctrinal error, not human weakness. More than one woman has personally told me that Dr. Wierwille taught her, verbally and by example, that sex outside of marriage is not only permissible, but profitable.
Ralph Dubofsky told me that in September 1986, after a woman had come to him, he confronted Craig Martindale about having sex with her. Craig admitted it, and told Ralph that Dr. Wierwille had told him that unless he loosened up in this category of life, he would never be a great leader or lover of God's people." I know this sounds unbelievable, but it is true.
Dr. Wierwille told people that without broadening their sexual activities beyond marriage, they'd "never be able to handle the things of God." A friend of mine told me Dr. Wierwille told her he thought that "a woman gets eternal rewards for blessing a man of God like this." Craig told Ralph that there have been "thousands of times it has been done in the love of God and ministered God's healing wholeness and deliverance to people." And I have a copy of a phone conversation on this past November 24 between Craig and a Corps grad in which he told her that there was not a straight answer from the Word on adultery, and that sex is in the category of need, like food on the table, and God supplies our needs. Where did he learn this? Not in the Baptist church, I dare say.
This esoteric doctrine has permeated the leadership structure of The Way to the end that believers all over the country know about it. This is the real reason why John Schoenheit and others were fired. Chris Geer and the Trustees are trying to cover up for Dr. Wierwille and themselves. Here's a good question: If it is spiritually beneficial, why isn't it being taught publicly?
If you want to, you can look up the definitions of "allegation," "accusation," "rumor" and then "fact." These statements are facts and what I have just told you about this issue is "the tip of the iceberg." I have another 3 hour tape entitled "Overview of Events: 4/85-10/87" in which I do my best to chronicle the key events from the time Dr. Wierwille stopped to see Ralph in Boston en route to Scotland, up until this past fall. In it I go into more detail about the adultery issue. I believe it is important because this wrong doctrine strikes at the heart of the Mystery, and it has ruined countless Way marriages and wreaked havoc on hundreds of other men and women.
The Bible is to be our only rule of faith and practice. So, do I have the biblical right to say all I'm saying in this letter? Obviously the Old Testament prophets yelled their heads off at the leaders who had rejected God's Word. I worked Romans through Jude also and found numerous places where God named the names and the sins of those hurting His people.
The Word of God sets forth His standard of Justice, that is, what is right and what is wrong. The top leadership of The Way has collectively rejected this standard. I speak out, as do others, because I feel it is my spiritual responsibility to expose evil which is hurting God's people (Matt. 18: 15-18; Gal. 2:11-14, etc.) I speak to you because I believe you are one who has "hungered and thirsted after righteousness" to a great degree, and you deserve to know the truth.
The Way leaders will tell you I should love them, forgive them, believe in them, stop "slandering" them and stop promoting division. Those are not the issues, because at the same they willfully continue to disobey God's Word at the expense of God's people. The World clearly says that those who practice and teach biblical error are the real cause of division.
So far no one has shown Ralph or me Scriptural error in what we are teaching on abundant sharing, adultery, Athletes, "The Way Tree", "sonship rights", the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the faith of Jesus Christ, the "law of believing," unity and division, interpretation of tongues, ""Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani" ['My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?']," fellowship with God, the "higher powers" of Romans 13, the Mystery, the believers perfect standing in Christ or the Hope. The Way is teaching doctrinal error on every one of these subjects, and doctrinal error will not work, no matter how sincerely it is practiced.
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences [sic] contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
Why didn't I speak up before this? Because I didn't really see these things until early in 1987 when I finally began to wake up from the slumber of "group-think" mentality. I apologize for not doing so long ago.
Around the country I have found lots of folks who have had questions on many of these subjects, but who were made to feel that asking questions somehow indicates dis-loyalty [sic], so they put them on the shelf and hung in there, knowing they would not find as much Word anywhere else.
I think we were like people dying of thirst who noticed some impurities in the container of water we found but gulped it all down anyway. This is very human, and I will not kick myself for believing some error. I'm just thankful I had enough sense to drink the water and live. If you are thinking, "Was anything I was taught accurate?", the answer is yes. Much of what we were taught is very sound, due to the work of a number of people, including Dr. Wierwille.
But now Way leaders continually exalt Dr. Wierwille as your "Father in the Word", and lay a guilt rap on any who take "the first step on the road down" by turning away from "the man who taught us the Word." First of all, the phrase "Father in the Word" is not in the Bible, therefore we cannot build doctrine on it. See Matthew 23:8-11. Paul did tell the Corinthians that "in Christ Jesus" he had "begotten them through the gospel" (I Corinthians 4:15). To me that means he led them into the new birth. Did Dr. Wierwille do that for you? Praise God if he did, but read I Corinthians 4:16 and 17. Paul told them to be imitators of his ways which were in Christ, Amen. We can do the same with Dr. Wierwille. Some of his ways, however, were not in Christ, and any appeal for loyalty at the expense of truth is jaded and unscriptural.
I am not starting "a new ministry." All I want to do is teach the Bible to people who want to hear it. There's only one "ministry" -- the ministry of reconciliation, and that can only be carried out when the Word of reconciliation is rightly divided. My Bible says to first recognize doctrinal error, then confront those teaching and practicing it (with witnesses), then go to the church, and if they still refuse to change have nothing to do with them. I simply want you to know the truth so you can choose to act accordingly. If you hear all the truth that is available and decide to stay with The Way, God bless you.
Obviously this letter has raised many go questions in your mind, and I assure you that the answers are valuable. I realize you may be angry at being kept in the dark. I don't blame you. There are pertinent facts, but more important is the truth of God's Word which will genuinely satisfy your heart.
I believe you can see for yourself the rejection of God's Word by top Way leaders. How? Take the information in this letter, which is admittedly only skeletal, and start asking questions of your Way leaders. Better yet, get the biblical truth regarding what I have brought up, and confront them with chapter and verse. How can you get it? Well first, you can study the Bible, especially regarding the 3 main subjects I mentioned.
Also, believers all over the USA have tapes by Sue Pierce, Ralph Dubofsky, me and others on many of the subjects I listed. They also have our letter, John Schoenheit's paper and other literature. Ask around, and if you can't locate what you want, call me. Sue, Ralph, John, Mark Graeser, Mark Carli and I are all traveling also, so call if you're interested in one of us coming to your area.
What has happened in The Way is nothing new. Man has long been afflicted by similar religious error. Rest assured that there is life after The Way. Although many of us have been victims of wrong doctrines and practices in varying degrees, I view my involvement as a steppingstone to greater scriptural truth. I can no longer grow spiritually within The Way's tightening confines. Of the approximately 100,000 PFAL grads in the USA since 1953, about 80,000 have already disassociated themselves from the structure. Perhaps many of them felt as I do.
Local fellowships in many areas are finally "self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating," and they love it. Jesus Christ is the Head of the Body, and He is coordinating the efforts of those members who look to Him. No longer do you need to sit around like a "bump on a Twig." You can get involved any way you want to. It is wonderful to be free from answering to men, especially those enforcing a self-constructed false standard of righteousness and "spirituality" based on works of the flesh. It is electrifying to go to the Word without fear of contradicting previous teaching. It is stimulating to be able to think, question and disagree. And it is refreshing not to have to apologize for living your life the way you want to.
Here's an analogy that has blessed lots of people: WE HAVE ESCAPED FROM EGYPT WITH ALL THE GOLD! That's right -- we're free, and we have all the right doctrine we heard, and the keys to learning more. So let's spend the gold! That sounds better than sitting on it and lamenting our time in Egypt.
The Bible still encourages us to pray, read the Word, fellowship with believers on [sic] the Word, speak the truth in love and share of our material abundance. Many who have left The Way are afraid to become part of anything else. I tell them they're already a part of the only thing they can join -- the Body of Christ, and that is hardly "another bandwagon."
As we look to our true Head, knowing all that He has done (and is doing) for us, he will "choreograph" the functioning of his Body. Our hearts will be knit together in genuine love, and each of us can maximize the limitless potential of holy spirit within us. You can still live your life's dream, and help preserve the truth of God's Word for your children and grandchildren.
I love you with all my heart and will do whatever I can to help you.
Your brother in Christ,
John A. Lynn
5918 Chesterbrook Road
McLean, Virginia 22101
P.S. For your information:
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To former Way Followers: Please help get this letter throughout the Way tree by copying it and sending it to any grads you know who do not have it. Thank you.