Why Talk About V. P. Wierwille's Death?
©1997, John Juedes
Followers of The Way International often think it is mean-spirited when critics mention founder Victor Paul Wierwille's death of liver cancer in 1985.
Even so, many of them are not aware of the facts behind Wierwille's death. The Certificate of Death filed with the Ohio Department of Health states that the immediate cause of death was metastatic liver cancer which set in a month before his death. It began with eye cancer about 18 months before, which then spread to his liver.
Most public figures (such as the U. S. President, evangelist Billy Graham and the Pope) publicly announce significant illnesses which affect their work. However, Wierwille's illnesses were not publicly announced. Many followers thought there was some kind of problem, but didn't know what. Some noticed that Wierwille wore an unexplained eye patch for a time, and that he didn't look quite right in some posed pictures in The Way Magazine. Witnesses at the Rock of Ages 1983 reported that Wierwille's speech began to slur during a hymn-sing, and he had to leave the stage during a teaching because he was having trouble communicating. Although rumors suggested Wierwille had two strokes, no specifics were generally announced. Why not?
The Way has long taught "the law of believing." Because Wierwille acquired this idea from men like Albert Cliffe (who was a spiritist, not a Christian), he used a lot of jargon which cannot be found in the Bible, such as "believing equals receiving," "get your needs and wants parallel," "believing works for saint and sinner alike," and "positive," and "negative" believing. It is a purely human effort, since God is not involved (it is even practiced effectively by atheists). The person is believing that something will happen, not that God will cause something to happen.
Wierwille told the story of a young boy who was struck and killed by a car. He blamed the child's mother for the accident, saying she caused it by her negative believing. The death ws not really an accident. He had to happen simply because she feared ("believed") it would.
Since The Way sees Wierwille as "the man of God," their Father in the Word, the Patriarch, and the greatest Teacher since the Apostle Paul, they believe him to be a master of believing. Yet, this Patriarch suffered strokes, eye cancer, terminal liver cancer, and finally death at only age 68 (short of the 70 years that Psalm 90 suggests as average). How could followers accept this? Did Wierwille cause his death by negative believing? If so, it shows that Doctor is spiritually lacking and full of fear and negative believing. How could the man of God who taught them how to believe be so full of fear for so long a time? Wierwille's followers are trapped between a rock and a hard place. They either have to admit that Wierwille was not the spiritual giant they think, or admit that the teaching on the "law of believing" is false. Either the Teacher or the teaching has to fall, and unconsciously they know that both would go together since one depends on the other. Christopher Geer, who was Wierwille's protegee, driver and bodyguard for years, tried to deal with this inconsistency by saying that Wierwille actually caused his body to die: "There were two points when I felt that he might change his mind and decide to go on living....I am fully convinced that he believed to stop the functions of his body" (Passing of a Patriarch, pp. 67, 68). He seems to believe that Wierwille chose to commit suicide using his spiritual weapon of "believing," rather than to continue fighting the spiritual decline of the trustees.
Geer took this inconsistency seriously, though did not have the perception to see the obvious-- that Wierwille is judged by his own standard and both are found wanting.
The Fallacy Of Faith Versus Belief
On the surface, Wierwille's teaching on the law of believing sounds good. But a closer look shows that it does not righty divide the Word of God. The book The Integrity and Accuracy of The Way's Word, pages 29-31, deals with several of the problems in some detail.
Further Suggested Readings by John Juedes
All publications available. For information email John Juedes.
From "Vesper Chimes" to The Way International, John Juedes and Douglas
Milwaukee, WI: CARIS, 1983. Reviews the founder, history and activities of The Way. Explores
Wierwille's claims of hearing God's voice,
snowfalls and scholarly education. Includes evidence of VPW's
and textual changes in his books.
Traces VPW's departure from his denomination, sources and evolution of
teaching. Many details on the
group's numbers, Corps training, outreach, publications, wealth and
locations. Describes sensitive topics like
the exodus of top Way leaders and The Way police force. This book won
Cornerstone magazine's "Book of the
Year" (new religion category) award in 1984.
Will the Real Author Please Stand Up? John Juedes & Jay Valusek.
St. Louis: Personal Freedom Outreach, 1987.
Outlines V.P. Wierwille's use of transcribed sermons and other's writings
to produce his books. Shows how
VPW plagiarized at least 8 books by at least 3 authors. Prints
writings alongside VPW's writings for easy comparison.
The Integrity and Accuracy of The Way's Word, John Juedes & Douglas
St. Louis: Personal Freedom Outreach, 1980.
Describes many aspects of The Way's teaching and refutes it from the
Christian perspective. Topics
include the deity of Christ, the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, tongues,
sufferings of Christ, nature of man, believing
death and the claim that the New Testament was first written in Aramaic.
Details many examples of VPW's
contrived definitions of words, abuse of the Greek text and language,
altered translations and Bible
interpretation. Six pages of comparisons of VPW's writings with E.W.
Bullinger's work in parallel columns show
Trinitarianism-- a Pagan Creation? John Juedes, Milwaukee: CARIS,
Summarizes and critiques chapter one of Wierwille's book Jesus Christ is
Not God, showing that his
documentation was often misread or misused. Discusses three main
questions: Was Trinitarianism a pagan
creation? Did the early Church consider Jesus inferior to the Father?
When did Trinitarianism become doctrine?
References about 25 times the early Church wrote on the deity of Christ
about 20 times the Trinitarian
reading of Matthew 28:19 was used before 330 A.D. Also address VPW's
misuse of Martin Luther's words.
AUDIO VISUAL PROGRAM
The Way International: The Christian View, John Juedes & Douglas Morton
St. Louis: Personal Freedom Outreach.
Examines The Way's teachings, history, indoctrination program, and
scholarship and offers witnessing
suggestions. Photos of Pike's Peak Seminary Way police car, locations,
plagiarism, old publications, activities
and more. Thorough, visual introduction and partial critique of The Way
A Special Report: Sweeping Changes in The Way International; News Watch,
Christian Research Journal, Summer
Describes Pres. Martindale's efforts to replace VPW as TWI's authority,
including the end of WOW
Ambassadors, PFAL classes and other classes. Notes the effect of
groups and the content of Passing of
a Patriarch, which prompted much of TWI's divisions.
The Way Tree Is Splintering, J. Juedes, Christian Research Journal.
Reports widespread defections due to Chris Geer's attacks,
authoritarianism, plagiarism, adultery and false
teaching and describes splinter groups.
George M. Lamsa: Christian Scholar or Cultic Torchbearer? J. Juedes;
Christian Research Journal.
Lamsa's teachings, interpretations, Nestorian culture, translations and
claim to authority as well as use of Greek
in 1st century Israel.
Wierwille Borrows...A Challenge to the Originality of His Teaching on
"Receiving the Holy Spirit Today," J. Juedes, Personal Freedom
Outreach; (PFO) Journal.
Overviews the work of J.E. Stiles and prints Stiles' writings next to
Wierwille's writings in parallel columns,
showing VPW's plagiarism.
Which way does it read? V.P. Wierwille's Erroneous Translation of
J. Juedes, PFO Journal.
Describes various ways Wierwille and Way leaders attempt to retranslate
Hebrews 1:2 in order to escape its
teaching on the deity of Jesus Christ. Shows inaccuracies, manipulations
and attempts to cover up these errors.
From the Mailbox--Questions on The Way International, J. Juedes, PFO
Answers 7 questions often asked by followers and ex-followers of The Way
What Do Ex-Members Do? What's Wrong with the Church? What's wrong with
Denominations? J. Juedes, PFO
Three editorials which answer misconceptions common among followers and
ex-followers of The Way such as
distrust of Christians outside The Way and the forming of Way splinter
An Open Letter to You Who Are Disillusioned with The Way Ministry, J.
Juedes PFO Journal.
Heart-to-heart sharing with those who have felt betrayed by The Way Int.
Are Wierwille's Translations Literal? J. Juedes, PFO Journal, 1988.
Background on what VPW once called "free translations according to
their misuse and his contradictory
renderings of some Bible passages.
Is the Trinity a Pagan Idea? J. Juedes, PFO Journal, 1981.
Overviews the teaching on the Trinity in early Church fathers and
Scripture. Briefly critiques ways cults reject
the Trinity and offers ideas on how to talk with them about the Trinity.
Aramaic Publications by The Way International, J. Juedes, PFO Journal,
Overviews research books in Aramaic by The Way Int. and notes Aramaic
passages which support traditional
teachings on Christ and the Trinity.
Looking at Lamsa, J. Juedes, PFO Journal, 1987.
Overviews the life, teachings, work and background of Lamsa, who
quotes as an authority. Includes
his gnostic/new thought views, egotism and misinterpretation of
Eisegesis and Plagiarism, J. Juedes, PFO Journal, 1987.
More evidence of VPW's plagiarism of Kenyon and Bullinger.
The Way International, J. Juedes, Lodestar Review.
Brief, basic introduction to The Way Int.
Were Four Crucified with Christ? J. Juedes, 1996.
Detailed answers to TWI's claim that four, not two, men were crucified
Christ. Arguments apply to similar
Way claims, such as Peter's "six denials."
The Way Purges Ranks, J. Juedes, P. F. O. Journal, Winter 1996.
Describes Martindale's efforts to purge large numbers of Wayers who do
accept his total authority, are in
debt, have material by ex-members, or support homosexuality.
Is Christian Educational Services Like The Way International? J.
Examines CES, the largest splinter group of TWI (led by John Lynn), and
finds troubling similarities to TWI.
All of the tracts below are published by Personal Freedom Outreach.
- "Mathematical Accuracy and Scientific Precision," J. Juedes.
- A quiz tract asking readers to choose Wierwille's claim or the
accurate position on five topics: what
"thoroughly" means, what "the Son of God" means, whether snow fell in
Tulsa in Dec. 1951, the quality of
VPW's education, VPW's plagiarism of Stiles. One underlying issue is the
reliability of Wierwille's words.
- "The Word Must Fit Like a Hand in a Glove," J. Juedes.
- Exposes Wierwille's corrupt scholarship by examining his repeated contradictory statements on Biblical
words. Highlights some textual changes initiated to cover his
- "The Way of Private Interpretation," J. Juedes.
- Documents how VPW omitted words from, added words to, and
words in the Biblical text
in order to support his teachings.
- "The Way International: The Christian View," J. Juedes.
- This outline matches the audio visual program by the same name
An encompassing but sketchy overview of The Way Int.
- "The Deity of Christ According to the Scriptures," J. Juedes.
- Cites over 200 Bible references to support 12 major ways the deity
Christ is taught in the Bible.
Refutes VPW's "straw man" view that only a handful of verses