David Wilkerson: False Prophecies & Unscriptural Teaching

Note: Below is an article that I had originally written about eight or nine years ago. I have since updated it several times. Out of all my articles this is one of the three pieces that I get the most response to (the other two being the ones on, respectively, AW Tozer and Hannah Hurnard). Since I have been getting a lot of feedback on this Wilkerson article.

David Wilkerson
False Prophecies & Unscriptural Teaching

I have a hard time writing about David Wilkerson for two reasons:

1. He is a mixed bag. Some of his sermons and writings have a lot of good points.
2. His book, “The Vision” is the one that I had just finished reading when I first turned to Christianity. This was in 1975, in my bedroom in the village of Langenselbold, West Germany. So, for the longest time it was hard for me to be impartial. Yet when assessing teachings and teachers of our faith, we need to hold them to the same Biblical standard (Acts 17:11).

This article will look at David Wilkerson’s prophecies and teachings. After we have seen examples, we can make conclusions based on our open-Bible policy.

PROPHECIES

1. NO MORE GOSPEL ON TV BY 1999?

He preached this in the Solomon Church in December of 1994:

“Right now I sense in my spirit that in less than 5 years there will be no more so-called gospel television networks. They will all fall into bankruptcy and absolute ruin.”
(Solomon Church Dec. 12, 1994)

2. 1000 FIRES IN NEW YORK CITY DUE TO RACE RIOTS IN 1993?

From a prophecy of September 7, 1992:

“I have had recurring visions of over 1,000 fires burning at one time here in New York city. I am convinced race riots will soon explode! New York City is right now a powder keg-ready to blow!…federal and State Welfare cutbacks will be the spark that ignites the fuse. Next year, New York City could have over 100,000 angry men on the streets, enraged because they have been cut off from benefits….Federal troops will have to move in to restore order. New York City will have tanks running down its avenues….Churches will be closed for a season because it will be too dangerous to travel about. Fires will rage everywhere.” (Sept. 7, 1992)

Although Wilkerson set the expiration date of this prophecy himself – ” Next year” (i.e. 1993), he now says that this is yet future. This is a common expedient for those who assume themselves to be prophets, moving the goal-posts, hoping that others will forget by then.

3. FINANCIAL CRASH IN 2000?

On April 15 of that year, Wilkerson prophesied this:

“For the last two years I have been crying aloud, warning all who would hear that America is receiving her last call and that judgment is at the door. I did not say this was the end of the nation, but the last call before a financial crash.”“I am writing this letter to you on Saturday, April 15, 2000. I have on my desk the headlines in yesterday’s paper: “BLACK FRIDAY – BIGGEST ONE-DAY DROP IN HISTORY.” The Dow fell 618 points – the Nasdaq fell 355. I do not know what is coming in the next sixty days. If the market bounces back, I can assure you it will be temporary. THE CRASH IS INEVITABLE – NOTHING CAN STOP IT.”

To his credit, he admitted his mistake after the non-event, after the market instead of crashing, reached a record high on May 22 of that year:

“In prayer, I have told the Lord I am ready at any time to confess I am wrong – that I must have spoken from my own fears or that I have spoken unadvisedly. Recently, when the market reached record highs, I wondered if those calling me a false prophet were right.”

He admits that he was motivated by fears when he gave this warning. I am not advocating that we kick a man when he is down, or that none of us are human. It is good that he admitted his mistake. But let me ask you this: When times get rougher than they are now, do you want to consult a prophet/teacher who is motivated by fears the next time he says “Thus says the Lord”. I don’t. We need to tear our eyes and hearts away from all authority figures and look to the Bible. If we listen to teachers and preachers, it must be the same way that the Bereans listened to Paul and Silas – with open Bibles and a determination to use them intelligently. In my mind, Wilkerson has already lost credibility by his mis-prophesying.

TEACHINGS

1. TWO PENTECOSTS

“God’s last-day church …will be even greater than that [the first-century church,] … mightier, stronger, and even GREATER revelation of Jesus. A greater unction from the Spirit than ever, GREATER EVEN THAN PENTECOST….As I see it, the gospel of Jesus Christ has not been fully preached in this generation!”
(God’s Vision for the Last Day Church 5-23-94)

There are plenty of verses that tell us that this just isn’t so. In the last of the last days we will face ever greater apostasy and confusion. To expect a mighty revival is to set yourself up for major deception.

2. SUFFERING GOSPEL

This is a hard aspect to write about because a lot of this is subjective. You may read this and say – “So what?” In fact I weeded out a lot here that I could not substantiate to my satisfaction. At any rate, this is where Hannah Hurnard comes in. Personally, I see a lot of her “suffering is the way to heaven” teaching influencing Dave Wilkerson. In his book “Hungry for more of Jesus”, he says that personal suffering and cleansing is the way “we win His eternal Love” and “win His heart.” But this is not Scriptural. We can never win God’s heart. We love Him only because He first loved us (1st John 4:10, 19). There was nothing in any of us that could have made God choose any of us over anyone else. It is true that Peter says that if we suffer according to the will of God we glorify Him (See 1st Peter 4 as well as 2:18- 25). But this does not win His love for us. It is only our reasonable service. It is an outworking of what God has worked in us. It is nothing less than Christ being formed in us, our sanctification.

This has been a kind of incomplete appraisal of Dave Wilkerson. Hopefully it is enough to give us a good view of the man. I don’t put him in the same class as Hannah Hurnard, or as some of the others I plan to write about. But I believe that he has greatly deviated from where he started out. I felt he was worth writing about for this reason.

I am thankful for the continued feedback I receive on this article. Be assured that I consider all information given and modify my writing accordingly. I understand that, because we are to speak for the truth, these tough issues must not be ignored. On the other hand, incorrect zeal for the truth causes us (certainly has caused me in the past) to write more scathingly than is warranted. Please pray for me that, especially writing about those who name the name of Christ, that I treat firmly yet fairly. We all stand before the Bema.

About asterisktom

I breathe, therefore I blog.
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