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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 Morton. 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 plagiarism and textual changes in his books. Traces VPW's departure from his denomination, sources and evolution of his 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 plagiarized writings alongside VPW's writings for easy comparison.

The Integrity and Accuracy of The Way's Word, John Juedes & Douglas Morton. 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 Wierwille's plagiarism.

Trinitarianism-- a Pagan Creation? John Juedes, Milwaukee: CARIS, 1981. 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 and 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.


The Way International: The Christian View, John Juedes & Douglas Morton St. Louis: Personal Freedom Outreach. Examines The Way's teachings, history, indoctrination program, and invalid 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 Int.


A Special Report: Sweeping Changes in The Way International; News Watch, Christian Research Journal, Summer 1996. 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 splinter 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 Hebrews 1:2 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 Journal. Answers 7 questions often asked by followers and ex-followers of The Way Int.

What Do Ex-Members Do? What's Wrong with the Church? What's wrong with Denominations? J. Juedes, PFO Journal, 1990. 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 groups.

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 usage," 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, 1990. 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 Wierwille quotes as an authority. Includes his gnostic/new thought views, egotism and misinterpretation of Scripture.

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 with 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 not accept his total authority, are in debt, have material by ex-members, or support homosexuality.

Is Christian Educational Services Like The Way International? J. Juedes, 1997. 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 errors.

"The Way of Private Interpretation," J. Juedes.
Documents how VPW omitted words from, added words to, and substituted 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 (noted above). 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 of Christ is taught in the Bible. Refutes VPW's "straw man" view that only a handful of verses support the teaching.

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