Can you speak to the beliefs of those who follow a group called "The Way"?

Michelle, it is so good to have you here. One of my favorite class in the Core Module was your talk on the Trinity.

I have a friend who has been close for over 50 years. He is in a group called The Way. When I saw him last week, I asked His position on Jesus - was He God? His response was, "How long do you have?’’ My reply to him was that I did not see the need for a discussion on Jesus because He was God. His reply was a hesitating agreement. I love him and his wife dearly and he wants to be called a Christian but I can’t put my finger on why I think we aren’t on the same page. Could you speak to The Way?

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Hi Tim,

Thank you for your question. There is an important trend in some of the questions that have come in this week, in that many of them stem from a friendship or professional relationship. One of the most important aspects of everyday evangelism is that we remained focused on the person behind the question. You have 50 years of friendship with this many, this will be the most influential aspect of how future conversations of faith develop with him.

It is common for people who are followers of sects such as Mormons, or Jehovah’s witnesses, and The Way to describe themselves as Christians. Often this stems from the lack of sound theological teaching and explanation of foundational Christian doctrine. The best way to help people understand the important differences between true Christianity and their sect is through on-going relationship. I will go into some of the important problems with The Way below, but it is so important to make sure that your future conversations with this beloved couple are characterized not by arguments and differences but by genuine questions and good listening. You want to communicate to them that you care about them and that you are willing to learn about what they believe. After they trust this it will be much easier to draw out differences between true Christianity and what they have been taught.

If you do a quick search online for The Way, the results can be confusing. Firstly, even google will not bring up any results if you just search 'the way", you have to search for an older name the sect was known by “The Way International.” On their own website, they describe themselves as a site for non-denominational Biblical research, teaching and fellowship," which sounds innocuous. What can be further misleading is the encyclopedia Britannica lists it as “Christian, Evangelical, and Pentecostal” and Wikipedia lists it as a “Christian ministry”. However, it only takes a little bit of further reading to identify why The Way is actually a sect or cult and cannot be categorized under any historic Christian branches of the church or within modern protestant denominations. By the end of the Britannica article it says “Although he had at first taught traditional Christian doctrine, Wierwille eventually came to believe that the Trinity was a pagan intrusion into the church. His understanding of the Trinity led him to deny the related belief in the divinity of Jesus. These doctrinal divergences separated The Way International from the main body of the Christian community.” Equally, a closer read on Wikipedia defines The Way as a “non-trinitarian” Christian ministry. I cite both of these ‘sources’ to show that even a quick search at the popular level of research will show that there are important doctrinal differences that separate The Way from Christianity.

If you dive deeper into the sect’s own website, both in their statement of beliefs and their listing of foundational Biblical teaching, you will find two of the most common doctrinal errors that distinguish a cult or a sect from true Christianity. On the website the both “Jesus Christ is Not God” and “One God” are listed as core doctrinal beliefs with a myriad of Bible verses taken out of context to argue that Jesus is not divine and that God is not eternally existent as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Way was founded in 1942 by a man named Victor Paul Wierwille who claimed that God spoke to him and told him that he would be able to interpret scripture more accurately than anyone since the age of the apostles. The Way is characterized by these ‘new interpretations of scripture’ that Wierwille felt he personally received. Although in the statement of beliefs the sect says that Jesus is Lord and that the Bible is fully inspired, Wierwille and his later successors believed that because of flaws in the original translations of scripture, much of the Bible needs to be reinterpreted or disregarded in order to weed out bad teachings such as baptism, trinitarian theology and the deity of Jesus Christ. They believe that fully spiritual regeneration comes from confessing Jesus as Lord AND passing through the sect’s biblical course on “The way of abundance and Power.”

The theological errors about the deity of the Jesus Christ, God as Trinity, and Salvation being dependent upon anything outside or in addition to Jesus Christ are enough to show biblical grounds for placing this sect outside of the Christian faith. Since you are so close to this man, you may want to do some further research. Here is a helpful article that went into the history of the movement, where it is now, a listing of major theological errors as evidenced in scripture and a practical list of how to move forward in conversation and relationship with someone who is a follower of the way. Whatever Happened to The Way International?

May God bless your conversations with your friend and his wife and may they be brought to the glorious truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Michelle

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