In this post I share my experiences engaging with a Christian Ministry calling itself The Path of Truth. Accused by some for being a cult and challenged by others for theological error they are without doubt a divisive lot. My assessment is that contrary to their many detractors they ARE indeed a valid Christian Ministry but in their uniqueness they err with extreme judgmentalism, essentially born out of self-confidence that has clearly slipped into arrogance.
I stumbled upon the Path of Truth website and was initially mesmerised by the writers’ supreme confidence when engaging with others, especially in conflict situations. I was particularly intrigued with their ultra-direct communication style and extensive quoting of adversaries’ written material along with their own ‘words of wisdom’.
It is rare that conflict is focussed on issues and rare that those in conflict are prepared and willing to expose their entire words/conduct, unless of course they are speaking the truth and have nothing to hide. Victor and his offsider Paul do this, even listing those who are false-teachers, an activity similar to my Hall of Shame.
Their terms for quoting and linking are pretty solid too:
You may link to our site, friend or foe. The Truth speaks for Himself and will acquit Himself gloriously. Blessed be His Name!
From a theological perspective my interest was also piqued with an affinity to some of the leaders’ core teaching, slightly off-centre of mainstream Churchianity. They certainly have a holier-then-thou attitude and tend to have an elevated view of their personal revelation experiences but as I have said to them directly, our paths of learning have matched to quite some degree, and it is unusual for me to find others whom I can agree with on more than a single issue or two.
I found it very interesting to be able to connect with much of their teaching materials, despite their sustained and vocal opposition.
The principal of The Path of Truth ministry is a Ukranian born [ex-]Catholic, Victor Hafichuk and he has a committed off-sider Paul Cohen who has been with him since 1979. There is also a team of others who have rallied around Victor’s vision, teaching and leadership but Victor, and more actively Paul are they key writers/teachers.
A lot of the early days of Victor’s life and Ministry are laid out in quite a wordy online biography, reading as a part biography, part spiritual diary and part reminiscing/musings. It’s a tome but the key players also have quite readable and simple bios online.
Their Online Ministry
When people write like the following, I listen, for I could have, indeed I have written words similar to these:
It [their website] is not about religion but about reality. Jesus Christ did not come to give us “church” or religion or even Christianity, as most have known it. He came to give us life. We represent no religious organization or system of belief or doctrine. We have His life and testify to you what we know to be true.
They are an active organisation engaging across the board on forums, emails and producing a large body of text.
The core doctrines and teaching of this ministry are essentially the mainstream Christian message, with a strong emphasis on a personal living relationship with Jesus (through the Holy Spirit) today in the here-and-now. This is the essence of my life and teaching as well, hence my interest and personal connection.
Some of the sacred cows such as the Trinity, Eternal Damnation, Nature and Source of Evil are explained and dealt with in non-conventional ways, and I respect and agree with much of their teaching. Others certainly don’t and I too have concerns paralleling this detractor’s comments on self-aggrandisement, but some of their more ‘whacky” ideas (according to detractors) I do agree with.
They have a leaning towards healthy living, both teaching and practice of organics and natural living. I too appreciate the wisdom in living with nature rather than the blind use and abuse of man-made substances and undertaking the harmful unhealthy living practices pushed by big-business.
They have two areas that concern me, one relating to their blind belief in Holocaust story (more on that shortly) and the other a distinct lack of teaching or reference to the true nature of money, and the evil of usurious practices. Of course they are not alone in either of these issues but nonetheless their ministry is incomplete without reference to this latter vitally important subject (the true nature of money), one that I call the second most important question in life, aside from the one of the identity of Jesus.
Conflict & Division
Victor and Paul combine in an effective ‘tag-team’ against detractors, sometimes calling upon others on their team to contribute supporting comments/assessment; more on that one later.
As mentioned before their supreme confidence is mesmerising, and I cannot recall any other Christian source that calls a spade a spade anywhere near as directly as these guys; their efforts in this regard exceeding mine by a country mile and I thought I was pretty direct!
One technique that they use with lethal accuracy is public exposure. Their attitude to exposure is elucidated well when discussing online conflict:
These Blog Wars are public correspondences for a very good reason. While the children of darkness love to trumpet their goodness before men, they hate to have their sins and evil ways exposed publicly. Yet this is the way of the Lord, Who is no respecter of the privacy of men that they might do evil privately while performing their good works openly so that they can be seen by others as righteous.
The remedy for this charade is the Truth spoken publicly. In this manner others may also be encouraged to acknowledge “the emperor has no clothes,” and come out of an illusion that permits great evils.
Their desire to bring deception into the public arena is identical to mine. I agree with them that bringing truth into the open is constructive and healthy – a godly thing in fact. It’s a lesson that I have learned well having developed a blog that successfully exposes various fruit-loops, shysters and con-artists.
We differ in HOW this is done, they have a direct, accusatory and judgmental style whereas mine is to write much more generously, but our heart is the same – to deal with the truth (aka THE Truth).
The Style of a Cult
The Ministry acknowledges that their beliefs and practices are “in some cases quite contrary to nominal Christendom” and as a result is often condemned as a cult. (Search “The Path of Truth Cult” for detractors). I know the feeling. All you have to do is stand and question certain things in the mainstream Christian scene and the knives will come out quick smart, even before you pronounce a definitive position!
This is sadly the norm within Christendom, and Victor defends his position very well, essentially stating that Jesus Himself was accused of being a cult, therefore they stand guilty before their accusers with pride!
There are however a few little things that DO indicate cult-like behaviour, ignoring the larger issues, for the moment. Paul and the others do have a highly elevated opinion of their leader Victor. When people overly esteem others it is VERY hard to stop an unnatural relationship developing. It’s hard as a leader to prevent others from looking up to you, I know this all too well myself, and it takes enormous effort and discipline to push back on others’ respect of your strength. I have observed many times little clues that Victor does have a following of people dedicated to lapping up his every word.
A little thing but yet another indicator of the mindset of the followers is their united use of the spelling “red” for the past tense of “read”. An idiosyncrasy of Victor’s making, they all follow it, despite normal English usage. Loss of independence of thought and compliance with a little unique thing like this can be surface indicators of deeper issues.
Their united aggression towards others at a personal level is also a uniqueness that can be traced back to Victor’s personal aggressive/defensive style too. While this is perfectly natural to mimic the style of a leader, in this Ministry’s case it is a major character flaw as I will shortly detail.
I do not make the claim that Victor Hafichuk’s ministry is a cult (other than what Victor himself acknowledges it is by his identifying with Jesus’ core message and ministry as a socially abnormality) but there are definitely signs that show me they are not so clean in this sense as they might think.
The primary failing and the main reason for me going public with this analysis is an insidious personalisation and the spiritualization of topics into judgmentalism. Paul, Victor and others have undertaken the role to judge others according to their own knowledge of Christ.
The scriptures caution us against doing this, and I DO agree that we as Christians have the right and indeed responsibility to judge others to some extent and in some circumstances. Victor and his team however take this right WAY too far in my opinion.
This is the guts of it: As believers who are walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the wisdom to be able to discern truth and error in the world around us. This doesn’t make us better than others, it is simply fact that when we humble ourselves and walk in His strength, He can and does reveal truth to us. Some of this comes from experience; some of it from direct revelation; some derived from knowledge of His word and understanding of His ways but this all combines to give us wisdom.
Now when those in error attempt to hoodwink us, fool us or to deceive us, it is our responsibility to stand up against that deception and evil for our own good and for the good of those under our care or in our centres of influence. That’s simply being the salt and light that Jesus spoke about.
In this regard I find Victor and his team extraordinarily effective, committed and brave. BUT taking things further than this into direct condemnation is dangerous and can border on arrogance. In this regard I also find Victor and his team in grave error. Having been on the end of their concerted tongue-lashing myself I am free to condemn this ministry for it’s error of brazen arrogance, and side with those who claim that their aggression is ungodly.
If I was to use the same approach to them, I would accuse them of being complicit with Jewish world domination by lapping up and perpetuating the Holohoax story, and totally away from any meaningful relationship with the Lord because they want, use and profit from immoral, ungodly debt-based systems of enslavement using modern money – all of which is totally contrary to the word of God. Even more disgusting would be the foolishness of their defence of interest-bearing systems when the bible is perfectly clear that participating in usury is a sin. How can they claim to be in Christ and yet at the same time attempt to benefit from the stock market where a lucky few gain at the expense of other suckers, and to benefit from interest bearing investments as Christians who are supposed to care – do they not realise that somebody has to pay for increased indebtedness as a result of their greed? Now these two accusations I DO NOT make and NEVER have but if I was doing what they do to others then I WOULD.
I don’t do this because personalising ISSUES like they do is immature and low-level conduct unbecoming of men of God. Life is a learning experience and none of us are yet perfect.
I also wish to highlight their extreme judgmentalism and mention techniques that they use in the process of passing judgement.
I would note that to my way of thinking, not all their judgments are in error – I have been impressed with their capacity to divine error in others many times BUT having been subjected to judgment that I believe is in error, I can speak with confidence.
The tools that they use in the excessive judgmentalism are words such as “you have been exposed”; “you have stumbled upon our stone/rock”; “you are like the Emperor, vain, without substance”; and their common claim, “you are not in Christ [and we are]”. This polarising approach is an error. Many aspects of life, living and faith are not binary issues. Yes the Truth is, but life and living in the present dispensation is NOT. Jesus explained away less than perfect life and living as the consequences of sin; mankind’s hardness of heart and a temporary less-than-ideal situation, such was His pragmatism.
Even a cursory read of Victor’s biography will reveal many a situation where he has struggled with his flesh; grown into greater knowledge and understanding of the Lord and His ways, and the same (although there are less references to him of course) with Paul’s journey of faith where they have clearly undertaken the same process of learning and coming into greater knowledge and understanding of Jesus that we all do.
Forcing others into a black and white binary situation where individuals are condemned for areas of sin in their life is the very thing that Jesus avoided, until or unless there was deliberate rebellion. Now in this situation I certainly agree with Victor and his teams approach that they have the authority as mature believers to pass judgment, but when doing so, we must always be gracious and willing to accept that others may be in the process of working issues through. I find this ministry lacking in this area, as exemplified by their extraordinary and I believe, foolish engagement with me . . .
The Holocaust Engagement
In Q1 2015, I commenced email communication with Paul Cohen, which then grew to include Victor himself and later a third person called in to provide commentary about (i.e. supporting evidence against) me.
The entire email communications can be read online, but the essence of the communications is:
Me: You refer to six million Jews killed at the hands of the Nazis in WW2. I’ve yet to see evidence of this figure, can you validate this?
Paul: No and I’m not interested in digging into it all. I accept the mainstream story, God has confirmed to me personally that any text change on our website is not required and anyway anti-Semitism is an ugly thing.
Me: Well perhaps you should research it all a little more because not everyone accepts the six million figure.
Paul: OK We’ll alter the website wording to make it a little more general but you’re on thin ice as a Holocaust denier
Victor: Here’s a link to someone who was there and we believe his story
Me: His story and approach is not credible
Victor & Paul: You’re not credible
Victor: One of our team also reckons that you’re a fraud and not credible too
Me: Deal with the issues and leave out the personal stuff – you’re the ones out of order.
Now that’s thousands of words paraphrased pretty roughly but it’s the gist of it. The actual emails are incredible and interesting reading BTW if you’ve got the time.
The point is this . . . Victor and his team have personalised the subject and then spiritualised the matter so that they have deliberately avoided the actual issues of contention (verification of the claimed Holocaust event); then turned them into a personal credibility issue (whether or not I have done the research or have any valid grounds to question the core Holocaust story) and then spiritualised it (claiming that they know the Lord and that I don’t).
This is unbiblical judgmentalism based on arrogance.
Granted, most of their past and public confrontations have been over other more theological/biblical issues in which they CAN stand close scrutiny on their judgment, but in my case I believe their power-play has backfired on them badly, revealing their true colours. They do not handle criticism well nor like being challenged, defaulting quickly to aggression.
First, the fact that they don’t even know the core issues that Holocaust deniers raise speaks volumes about their blind faith in the mainstream story. Basically they are out of their depth and have to resort to ad hominem attacks;
Secondly their distinct unwillingness to explore the issue in the face of sustained questioning from an intelligent source that constantly claims to have done the research speaks volumes. They are fools, granted they have good company but this is a blase foolishness nonetheless;
Thirdly my resistance equal to their spiritual judgment only exists because of my strong faith and self-confidence equal with theirs. They will resent this and deny it of course, which they are free and very welcome to do; and
Lastly their operational style, to bring powerful guns of spiritual judgment on those who disagree with their position is shown for the high risk conduct which it is. Fine if they are right, but a dangerous place to be when they are wrong themselves.
And in this case I believe that they are!
Birds of a Feather
There is one final topic of concern which I mention, and it is that of referring to the opinion of others (so-called saints) on their team for validation of their stated position. This is actually a logical fallacy [appeal to authority] and a very dangerous practice used effectively by Victor and his team quite frequently.
I noted in my response to Victor and his team that their supporting opinion lacked credibility and simply towed the party line (that anybody who contradicted the leaders’ stance was out of order). The danger is that when in a closed group that is essentially defensive, self-supporting validations are natural; they may feel right but entrench that very exclusiveness that prevents openness and honesty. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as can be seen by the example I give with the issue of validating the Holocaust.
This ministry is used to defending themselves against some pretty horrible accusations. They close ranks and defend furiously. They seek self-validation from within and as a result truth can be buried under accusations and relationship breakdowns.
In my case, I questioned a quoted figure, sought verification, the questions (and my strong opinions) seen as an attack on their credibility; they were handled as an attack and the groups defense mechanisms kicked in to support the Holocaust story even calling another believer a fraud for daring to think differently about a matter of secular history!
In an environment of openness and willingness to seek truth, it matters not what one person thinks about another. We deal with facts, issues, evidence and logic. When birds of a feather flock together and support each other in the status quo, deception can and I believe in this ministries case has entered.
It is my conclusion that Victor Hafichuk’s Ministry errs in their method and extent of passing judgment on others, regardless of the validity of their opinions or otherwise. I accept much of what they say however do not agree with their operational style which I consider to be right outside of Christ’s example and teaching.
To those who have been or will come under their accusations, I would be seriously looking at the content of what they said, because they often have the wisdom that comes from a close walking relationship with the Master, but I would attempt to ignore their style which is overly confrontational, exceedingly judgmental and often based on arrogance.
In a nutshell, I’m advising people a victim of their tongue-lashing and judgementalism to attempt to divine the message from the messenger.
I’d also avoid discussing monetary/economic or Holocaust matters with them, two areas in which they fail to impress.
Fixing the Problem
There is a way to fix problems such as this, but I first wish to admonish the many Christians who have and continue to attack Victor Hafichuk and his team. Entering into aggression may be a natural response to their arrogance and judgmentalism but making an issue black and white (technically called a false dilemma) is yet another logical fallacy and simply polarises. Calling people a cult, writing them off in Christ is the MISTAKE that I’ve highlighted in Victor’s approach to life’s challenges. Repeating that same error by those offended is foolishness in the extreme.
The way to fixing the problem is what I do – bringing the issues to the surface, putting prayerful thought and time into the issues and working things through logically from the beginning. You have to remove the personalities and the emotional stuff; deal with the issues, and facts and evidence; go right back to the beginning if necessary and extend grace by working really hard to keep relationships alive. This is the art of ‘turning the other cheek’ outworked.
This does not mean that we have to agree on all matters, nor that we even have to agree at all, but you can never fix a problem when goodwill does not exist. Having been shown in this post to have erred, Victor, Paul and the others have the opportunity to rectify the matters at hand so that they can fix the problem. I suspect that they are too proud to do this, but knowing that the door is open to do this and that I am ready and willing to engage constructively should they do, is a vital Christian characteristic, sadly lacking in much online conduct.
- Analysing Victor Hafichuk’s Ministry - the orginal post of May 2015 in which my call is "Yes, Christian but excessive judgementalism"
- Path of Truth Emails - the evidence
- More from Victor Hafichuk - analysing a third party communication
- “Path of Truth Cult” – Vanity Search - An adherent supports PoT but challenges following a vanity search
- Aquatechnology.net – Victor Hafichuk - A longstanding third party analysis
- Path of Truth – Logical Fallacies - Exposing multiple logical fallacies in an adherent's communications
- Path of Truth IS a cult - Analysis following claims PoT is a cult
- Victor Hafichuk – The Other Side - A Christian Ministry
- Victor Hafichuk “Nobody Is Perfect” - Confusing Perfected in Christ with Perfect
- Analysing A Path of Truth Detractor - Correcting a Disillusioned PoT follower
- Handling the Path of Truth - Leaving the PoT can be hard
- Path of Truth – Ripped Asunder - Victor fires his long-term 2IC
- Paul Cohen After the Path of Truth - Paul's opportunity/challenge
- Maturity in overcoming Path of Truth - An ex-PoT adherent bares all
- Victor Hafichuk – False Claim Analysis - Exposing 'Delusions of Grandeur'