We were born and raised in the religious group which calls itself the “way” or the “truth”. We each had professed for 50 years. We had always heard preached or insinuated that this group was of apostolic origin, continuing until current time. There was no founder.
Our experiences within the group led us to desire more information. A simple Google search revealed the facts about William Irvine and the group’s beginning in 1897.
We attended one more Sunday meeting. Because of previously made plans, we were away from home for a few weeks. Upon return, we requested an explanation of this information from the head worker in the field, Carol Stephens, and Irving Ross, the overseer of Ohio.
Following is our email correspondence.
September 24, 2018
After professing for 50 years, we have recently discovered information regarding William Irvine. We would deeply appreciate an explanation about Mr. Irvine and the origins of our religion.
In love and gratitude,
September 26, 2018
I’m sorry but I can’t tell you anything about William Irvine. I have heard his name in the past but I can’t tell you now anything that was said about him, it’s been too many years ago.
As far as the origins of truth, it all goes back to God. It’s He who planned the way of truth & sent Jesus to show us the way by both living it & by his word. We don’t have a date that we can trace back to the beginning of when it all started. Sorry I can’t be of any more help to you. I hope this finds you both and the rest of your family well.
All the best to you,
September 26, 2018
If you can’t tell us anything about William Irvine, would you please pass our email on to someone who is able to respond to our request for an explanation? Perhaps Irving Ross or Barry Barkley* or Dale Shultz.
*Overseer of the Eastern US, including Irving Ross.
September 30, 2018
I have left a message on your phone suggesting a visit we could have with you and also Carol and Rebecca*, being present. Possibly you have not got the voicemail so I shall write this just to help confirm what I left on your phone. That I would be happy Dear [sic] to answer your request to talk to you about the questions that have arisen in your minds regarding the foundation for our belief in Christ etc., also questions you may have about the ministry. I am presently on convention rounds but would be free sometime in the early part of November to have this visit. I will look forward to a reply to this suggestion.
Yours in His care,
September 30, 2018
We respect you and your advice. We also respect the validity of documented facts. There are many facts that substantiate William Irvine as the founder of our religion. This is contrary to what we have believed our entire life.
We do not have any questions regarding the subjects you mentioned. We are attaching our email with Carol to reemphasize our request for an explanation regarding the following:
- William Irvine
2. The origin of our religion and if Mr. Irvine had a part in it.
We have experienced two months of emotional and physical stress over this discovery. Six more weeks without an explanation will further our pain.
If possible, a reply by email or traditional mail will expedite an answer.
Our only purpose and desire is to be right with God.
October 3, 2018
I have received your email and I will try to answer your questions to the extent that I feel I can at this moment.
Your first question was regarding Irvine Weir [sic]. I have heard his name mentioned and I would think that he was one of the several at first that were moved to inquire of God regarding a way in the earth like we read of the Bible and the New Testament teachings and ministry that Jesus ordained. I do not know when he’d decided to separate from others that God also was dealing with at that same time.
We are glad that God ordained a Way for people to believe in His Son before the world began. We read of Jesus being the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world in Revelation. So, we understand that after he was begotten of His Father, as His Father’s Only Begotten Son, He immediately began to surrender and be a servant to His Father’s plan. In first Timothy chapter 2 we read that it is the will of God that all men would have an opportunity to be saved. That was His will before mankind was put on the earth.
Wonderful to read in the Old Testament how God, as needs arose, was able to raise up individuals to prophesy about His plan. There was no continuity of prophets in the Old Testament. And we have no proof nor need any proof that there was a continuity from the days of Scripture too more recent time, or that there were always God’s true ministers in the earth.
But we do believe and have evidence given to us by the result of that kind of ministry in our day to see a body of believers that give evidence that they are part of that same body of Christ that others were in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments. As we read in Hebrews 11 it was by faith God dealt with individuals and gave them this revelation of His plan He promised through His Son. Jesus could say of Abraham, he rejoiced to see my day and he was glad.
We read in Galatians that God preached the gospel to Abraham. So, we would have the same assurance that through the ages of time and in our present age God is still able to fulfill his promise that everybody have a chance to hear. It would not necessary be they would have to hear a preacher, but God would preach the same gospel to them as he did Abraham.
We can see the need that God had for the ministry to help find those that were seeking Him, and after they were found were able to bring them into fellowship with others of a like precious faith. That is how the churches we read about in the New Testament were formed.
God is the only founder of the doctrine of salvation through His Son. So people, when they would be raised up by Him, would not be beginning something new as a founder, but rather continuing to extend His plan to others in their day.
I feel this email should be suffice for the present time. If you still would like to try to understand more or have additional questions, we would be glad to have the visit like was mentioned in my email to you.
Yours for the gospel’s sake,
October 3, 2018 (30 minutes later)
Correction: I meant William Irvine not William Weir [sic]
October 8, 2018
Thank you for replying to our request for an explanation.
At this time, we do not feel a follow up visit is necessary.
Comments: Carol admits hearing William Irvine’s name, but in her short email she twice states she cannot say anything about him. She claims God “planned the way of truth and sent Jesus to show us the way”, ignoring Jesus as the Way. Her statement is without scripture reference. Carol let us know she would not help any further.
Irving turned our straight forward request for an explanation regarding William Irvine into an accusation that “questions had arisen in our minds” about the ministry and a loss of faith, or belief, in Christ. He desired a six week delay before responding to us. His second email erroneously referred to William Irvine as Irvine Weir, a worker who accompanied Irvine and George Walker to the US in 1903 as the first workers to this country.
This mistake revealed Irving knew more group history than he was admitting. He quickly corrected himself in a follow up email.
We found Irving’s explanation of the group’s origin to be spiritually deceptive. Of greatest concern, similar to Carol’s comment, Irving separated the Way from Jesus. Jesus IS the Way. We do not need a “way” to believe in Jesus.
We were unable to remain a part of this religious group which deliberately hides its history and deceives members.
Our thankful praise goes to God who has given us freedom through Christ!