What is now The Way International began with the radio ministry of Victor Paul Wierwille in 1942. Wierwille was a minister in a very traditional denominational church, the Evangelical and Reformed Church, a group which now is part of the United Church of Christ. The Way formally began in 1955. The church is called “The Way” since this was an early name for the first century followers of Christ. The Way became very popular in 1970’s, especially among college students. Many have become followers of The Way through its introductory Bible study, once called The Power for Abundant Living, and now known as The Way of Abundance and Power.
The Way has appealed to those who like to think and reason about their faith. A common witnessing technique is to cause church people to question the teachings of their pastor. For example, a classic approach is to ask a question like this: “How many men have you been taught were crucified with Christ?” The anticipated answer is two. The follower of The Way will respond, “No, there were four. The Bible says there were two thieves (Matthew 27:38 KJV), and two malefactors (Luke 232:32 KJV). That makes four men crucified. Now, since your preacher is wrong when he tells you something this simple, do you think he might be wrong about other things also?” Once a bit of doubt enters a person’s mind, he is then ready to question other, more weighty matters.
The heretical beliefs of the The Way cover a broad spectrum. They deny the Trinity. Jesus did not exist before he was created in Mary’s womb. The Holy Spirit (with capital letters) is another name for God the Father. The holy spirit (with small letters) is the name for the power of God at work (much like Watchtower doctrine). They do teach that Christ was a perfect, sinless man. But he is not divine.
The Way teaches the necessity of the new birth. However, this is accompanied by the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, including all of the charismatic gifts, e.g. tongues. Therefore, if you do not exercise the gifts, e.g. tongues, then this is an indicaton that you are not truly born again. They do not believe in water baptism, as the Spirit baptism is the only baptism needed. They also teach that your soul is not immortal. When you die, you cease to exist. There is no eternal hell. The wicked are annihilated.
They accept the Bible, but interpret the Scriptures through a hyper-dispensationalist perspective. Thus, they view the Old Testament, the Gospels, Acts, Hebrews and James as part of the pre-Pentecost scriptures, and not necessarily binding on believers. The primary documents for understanding all theology, especially about the nature of grace, is found in the later Pauline epistles. The later the date of writing, the more authoritative it is believed to be.
The Way is essentially a mixture of Arian heresy, Pentecostal influence, and hyper-dispensationalist teaching. Thankfully, its influence has been waning in recent years.
God: No Trinity. A Monarchian form of theology.
Jesus: A created being. He is perfect, but not divine.
Salvation: By “grace” through the new birth, including Spirit baptism and speaking in tongues.
Sin: Man is sinful by nature.
Man: Man is a soul, and ceases to exist upon death.
Afterlife: Heaven for the Christian believer, annihilation for the unbeliever.
Scriptures: The Bible, but most especially the later writings of Paul.
Truth: Truth is absolute, but as interpreted by Wierwille and The Way. Wierwille is believed to have received a divine vision to begin his work.