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On The Way International
Editor’s Note: this is the second in a three-part series of thoughtletter articles addressed directly to those of our readers who are affiliated with either Christian Science, The Way International, or Scientology-three religious traditions that significantly depart from the doctrine of historic orthodox Christianity. The following original article is Robert Pardon, Th. M., Executive Director of the New England Institute of Religious Research, Box 878, Lakeville MA 02347-0878. Phone: 508-947-9571.
This article is an open letter to members of The Way International–inviting them to compare the teachings of their organization with the teachings of Scripture. It is Scripture that undergirds all true Christian doctrine, and it is Scripture that encourages us–and warns us–to “…examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (I Thessalonians 5:21).
The problem today is that there are many diverse groups that claim total allegiance to the authority of the Bible, and yet teach that their doctrine alone is the only true explanation of the Scriptures. What is confusing to the average person is that each of these groups differ drastically from one another on the essentials of Christianity and claim that the others are in error. Thus, in evaluating the truth claims of any group or teaching, two questions must be asked.
The first question is, “By what authority is this new understanding of Scripture being taught?” In The Way International, God supposedly spoke to Victor Paul Wierwille in 1942. Wierwille is the founder and former leader of the organization. In that revelation Wierwille was informed, “He (God) would teach me the Word as it had not been known since the first century, provided that I would teach what He taught me to others.”
What is extremely problematic is that numerous other individuals have claimed the same basis for their authority. Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, claimed to have been visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ. Rev. Sun Myung Moon also claimed to have been specially commissioned by God for end time revelation. Since each of these organizations (The Way International, Mormonism, Unification Church) teach vastly different doctrines, they cannot all be correct at the same time. They can all be wrong, but logically they cannot all be true at the same time. The Scriptures consistently teach us that Satan can masquerade as an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14-15), and that we must beware of supernatural manifestations that reveal knowledge contrary to the revelation of Scripture (Galatians 1:6-9).
It is also of no value for members of The Way to point to the “fruit” of their organization (growth, humanitarian projects, evangelism, financial success) as proof of their correctness and God’s obvious blessing. If we were to apply these same standards to determine the authentic authority of other groups that teach opposing doctrines, we would also conclude they were true. Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Baha’is are growing at accelerated rates worldwide.
The second question is always the most critical for determining the genuineness of any group or teaching from a Biblical perspective. “Does the new revelation/teaching conform to the teachings of the rest of Scripture?” An evaluation of Way doctrine reveals major departures from Biblical Christianity. Way theology teaches: 1) God is not a triune Being. Therefore, God is One by nature and person. Christian Response: Matthew 28:19; Luke 3:21-22; II Corinthians 13:14. 2) Jesus is not God. He is the Son of God, but not God the Son. God provided the sperm necessary to impregnate Mary and bring Jesus’ life into existence. Therefore, Jesus was sinless and God was his Father. Jesus also could not have been God because then God died on the cross. Christian Response: John 1:1,14; Colossians 1:15-19; Titus 1:3-4. 3) The Holy Spirit is perceived as an impersonal force. Since God is Holy and God is Spirit, the Holy Spirit is a divine attribute. Christian Response: Acts 5:3-5; Matthew 28:19; John 14:16-17. 4) Because man lost his spirit at the Fall (prior to the Fall man was tripartite: body, mind, and spirit), salvation is the regaining of the spirit. It is through the spirit that one knows God. Evidence of salvation is manifested by speaking in tongues. You must orally confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to regain the spirit. Christian Response: Romans 3:28; Ephesians 2:8-9.
The challenge is for The Way member to reconcile the clear teaching of Scripture, and what the Church has understood for two thousand years, with the doctrines of The Way. If the interpretations of Victor Paul Wierwille are put aside, can the doctrines of The Way stand the scrutiny of objective evaluation?