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Separate but Equal

"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.. Whether they view that prognosis of the Teacher of Ecclesiastes as license, rationale, or inevitability, several founders of contemporary religions have each fallen prey to one application of it: plagiarism.

To wit, Paul Twitchell of Eckankar, who borrowed liberally from Julian Johnson’s The Path of the Masters to frame his new religion. Indeed, "it provided Twitchell with page after page of verbatim content for his teachings. (SCP Journal, September 1979, p. 9). Researcher David Lane found 416 paragraphs in Twitchell’s The Far Country which had been lifted from Johnson’s original writings. In Lane’s opinion "Paul’s work, The Far Country, is almost entirely copied from The Path of the Masters and other assorted Occult works" (ibid, p. 24).

Another example, recently brought to light yet predating Twitchell is Seventh-day Adventist Prophet Ellen C. White. While researching a Ph.D. dissertation (later published under the title The White Lie), Rev. Walter 1. Rea uncovered writings from "forgotten divines that matched huge swatches of Prophet White’s books. (Time, 2 August 1982, p. 34). In their magazine for clergy, the Adventists admitted "Sometimes she used material nearly word for word without giving credit. She utilized the words of prior authors in describing words she heard spoken while in vision. (ibid).

In the January-March 1983 issue of Personal Freedom Outreach Newsletter, Lutheran pastor John Juedes discloses yet another plagiarist--The Way International founder, Victor Paul Wierwille. Wierwille first spoke in tongues under the ministry of Rev. John Edwin Stiles, Sr., "an important figure in the American charismatic movement, whose book The Gift of the Holy Spirit has been something of a classic in that circle. Wierwille not only spoke in tongues but went on to literally steal the words from Stiles’s mouth. Juedes queried why Wierwille never cites Stiles as a footnote reference, especially in light of his personal intimacy with him. But "the similarities between portions of Stiles’s (book) and Wierwille’s Receiving the Holy Spirit Today (1954 edition) suggest one reason for the silence."

J. E. Stiles

The Gift of the Holy Spirit, 1948

And someone may say, "Yes, we admit that the apostles were able to minister the Holy Spirit to others, but who are you?" (p. 110)

Opening the mouth and breathing in constitutes a step of faith that God will honor. (p. 120)

When we suggest to earnest Christians that they may get something false, when seeking more of the fulness of God, we sinfully dishonor God and His Holy Spirit. Where, we ask, is there the slightest suggestion in the Bible that the Christian, whose heart longs for more of God, may get false tongues or a false spirit? If such a thing could happen, it would have to be true that, either God was too careless and indifferent about the welfare of His children, or else he was too weak to protect them from the power of the enemy. (pp. 122-129)

V. P. Wierwille

Receiving the Holy Spirit Today, 1972

People have said to me, "Yes, I know the apostles could and did minister the holy spirit, but who are you?" (p. 59)

Opening your mouth and breathing in deeply is an act of believing which God honors. (p. 60)

Receiving the Holy Spirit Today, 1957

When someone suggests to earnest Christians that they may get something false, when believing for more of the fulness of God according to God’s Word, he sinfully dishonors God and the Holy Spirit. Where is there a chapter and verse indicating that a Christian can get false tongues? If this happened, God would either be too careless and indifferent about the welfare of His children or else He would be too weak to protect them from the power of the enemy. (pp. 135-142)

How do members of new religions react to disclosures of such guile and lack of integrity? Some, like the Adventists, defend their founder. Adventist Church President Neal Wilson argues that parts of the Bible are also compiled from pre-existing sources. Others find no moral base within the movement from which to evaluate the rightness or wrongness of such a practice. Still others, convinced of the authenticity of their subjective experiences within the group, dismiss the dishonesty as irrelevant. The leaders too can so bolster themselves with ideas of self-importance and their status in inaugurating Cod’s kingdom that they believe their words to be original.

To those men and women the Teacher speaks a further word, this time in warning. "Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and Cod will call the past to account."