Dave Wilkerson’s false prophecy

Dave Wilkerson’s false prophecy
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The false prophesy of David Wilkerson

 In the Twentieth Century there was the very interesting case of David Wilkerson’s 1973 false prophecy. The Rev. Wilkerson (1931-2011) was truly one of the heroes and pioneers of the Charismatic Renewal. He began as a small town Pentecostal preacher (Assemblies of God) in the coal fields of Pennsylvania. Through a series of promptings from the Holy Spirit he went to New York and was led to minister to delinquent and gang teenagers in the slums of New York City. This eventually led to a marvelous and effective ministry in New York and other cities for the evangelization and rehabilitation of inner-city teenagers called “Teen Challenge.”  The story of the beginnings of this ministry is told in his book, The Cross and the Switchblade.[1] That book had a special anointing in its power to inspire people and was translated into many languages and sold more than 50,000,000 copies world wide.

But in April of 1973, when Wilkerson was already known worldwide for his teen ministry and first book, he received a series of visions. They were prophetic visions and dealt with the supposed coming events of the next decade (1973-1983), with special attention to events in the United States. It was published as The Vision, and became a best seller among Evangelicals and charismatics.[2] Wilkerson first publicly proclaimed the vision in a conference of Lutheran charismatics in August of 1973. The tape of that session is an amazing document in the history of Christian false prophecy.[3]

Although the book contains all the prophecies, one can best appreciate Wilkerson’s state of mind by listening to the tape. As he spoke at the Lutheran assembly he asserted time after time that his message was directly from God, and that it was the “clearest vision I’ve ever had.” He assured the audience that the Spirit behind the vision was the same that guided him to the teen ministry. Several times during his delivery he was practically overwhelmed by emotion and said, “Never have I felt such an anointing,” or “I predict in the Spirit!” and so on.[4]

Wilkerson warned of five major calamities that were surely coming on the world by 1983. In economics, the “next few years” would be prosperous (he missed the recession of 1974-1975), followed by a deep depression brought about by financial collapse. The depression was to start in Germany and the Arab countries will suffer the most. Actually, none of that happened. At the same time there would be severe earthquakes in the United States and world wide food shortages. That also did not happen, but that was scary to those who heard the prophecy. On the moral front, the United States was to be invaded by a flood of pornography never before seen, and the courts will take an even more permissive stand on this issue. This turned out to be generally true, but one did not need to be a prophet to see the trend already apparent. There would also be a major wave of disobedience by children towards their parent (a constant, but no noticeable jump in this sin area).

The most important and dramatic part of the vision pertains to the churches. According to Wilkerson, there would arise a new Church, really the Church of the anti-Christ, made of a liberal Protestant and Roman Catholic amalgam, in which the Pope will be recognized as the political head. The “true” Church of God, a new union of all authentic Spirit-filled Christians, will of course oppose this Church and in turn suffer persecution.

Wilkerson especially warned Catholic charismatics to expect persecution from their own hierarchy. They would eventually be forced to choose between their Catholicism and the Spirit-filled life. As a practical measure he warned all Christian churches to put their financial houses in order so as to weather the coming hard times. Specifically, no new buildings or borrowing should be initiated in the immediate future. All through the delivery of this prophecy Wilkerson provided ample Biblical quotations to give it a sense of Biblical validation.

That The Vision was a false prophecy is now obvious. Was it merely a subconscious concoction of the beliefs, fears and prejudices of a Pentecostal preacher raised in the tradition that the Catholic Church was the “whore of Babylon?”  Certain elements in the prophecy suggest that they may have had a deeper, demonic influence. The very shrillness and lack of humility in his assertions was itself a sign of that. The prophecy did not call Christians to prayer or repentance, nor did it console, edify, or exhort; it frightened and condemned. There was not a single suggestion that might have been useful, such as might have prepared Christians for the energy crisis of 1975 when Saudi Arabia stopped oil exports to our country to protest our support of Israel.

Further, the only practical suggestions were destructive. The separation of Spirit-filled Christians into “one true Church” would have resulted in a new Montanism with results perhaps as destructive to the Church as the old Montanism. Even the minor point of financial conservatism most probably had a demonic source, for many churches in the 1970s did in fact continue to flourish and to build in response to their growing needs. In my own city, Atlanta, several large charismatic churches arose, borrowed some money for construction, grew tremendously and repaid their debts.

That Catholic Charismatics did not follow the deadly advice of The Vision was due in great part to the intelligent and quick response of other, more mature leaders. David du Plessis, the elder statesman of Pentecostalism, and who had seen first-hand the birth of the Catholic charismatic movement, quickly denounced the prophecy as not coming from the Lord. He compared it with many a false prophecy he heard as a young man which claimed the coming world rule of Stalin and the Papacy.[5] Ralph Martin, one of the best-known and respected Catholic charismatics quickly spread the warning of “false prophecy” among fellow Catholics. Indeed, as time has shown, Catholic charismatics never suffered persecution from their bishops, and although the movement slowed down in the U.S after the 1980s, there are many Catholic Charismatic fellowships in the United States that are doing fine. Further, in Africa and South America the Catholic Charismatic movement has been instrumental in bringing millions of nominal Catholics to become true disciples of Jesus Christ.

Wilkerson’s prophecy goes to the core of the discernment problem. His false prophecy no way negated his splendid early and later ministries. Wilkerson did nothing wrong in reporting his prophecy. As a matter of fact, according to traditional Catholic theology, he would have sinned from cowardice had he not spoken. Perhaps he should have sought verification from older, mature Christians. The famous Catholic theologian Karl Rahner, in a brilliant work, Inquiries, made clear that, the prophet is in a poor position to discern his own revelation. This is because if it is of demonic origins or contamination it will play upon the fears, prejudices, and belief structure of his own subconscious mind and those in his immediate faith community.[6]  It is the task of the Church to judge prophecy, not the prophet. This again is Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians. 14:29.

It is clear that Wilkerson’s original ministry was blessed by God and bore much good fruit, yet The Vision was demonic. This is a modern example of Peter’s “multiple inspirations.”  Specifically, when Peter declared that Jesus was the messiah, (Matthew 16:17) but later urged Jesus not to continue to Jerusalem and His crucifixion (Matthew 16:23). It is also important to realize that while Wilkerson delivered his address to the Lutheran conference, he was probably functioning as a partial medium for an evil spirit. Yet in no sense did he commit the sin of mediumship. Rather it is in the nature of the mature spiritual life to be an instrument of either the Holy Spirit or other spirits.[7] Advanced spiritual life is by nature risky – but not as fatal as a mediocre spiritual life, for our Lord makes it clear that he abhors those who are neither “hot or cold” (Rev. 3:15). The major failure with Wilkerson and his vision was that he did not seek an elder or mature spiritual director with whom to discuss his visions before he went to the public with them.

[1] (Old Tappen: Spire Books, 1963.

[2] David Wilkerson, The Vision (New York: Pyramid, 1974).

[3] David Wilkerson, “The Coming Persecution,” Tape #DW-8, Springs of Living Water tape library. In author’s possession.

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Persecution for Charismatic Catholics?” New Covenant, (Jan. 1974) 13.

[6] Karl Rhaner, “Visions and Prophesies,” in Inquiries (New York: Herder and Herder, 1964).

[7] I am of the opinion, which the French Christian philosopher, Blaise Pascal, first put forth, that the pineal gland is the brain’s portal to communication with the spiritual world, either the Holy Spirit of unholy spirits. Thus the demonic can use the same portal and brain circuitry to suggest his diabolical messages as the Holy Spirit can give us inspiration.

William DeArteaga

William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major works include, Quenching the Spirit (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), and Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He and his wife Carolyn continue in their healing, teaching and writing ministries. He is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations.

31 Comments

  • Tim Anderson
    Reply August 8, 2020

    Tim Anderson

    “Now we see through a glass darkly.” Brother Wilkerson did so much more for the Pentecostal movement and gospel, Teen Challenge, etc. The Word says don’t rebuke an Elder… Post is fault-finding and dis- unifying. Please…

    • Troy Day
      Reply August 9, 2020

      Troy Day

      but the prophecy is sees through false

    • Tim Anderson
      Reply August 9, 2020

      Tim Anderson

      Troy Day is it or has it yet to be. Isaiah prophesied 750 years in advance….just a thought – no intention to debate.

    • Troy Day
      Reply August 9, 2020

      Troy Day

    • Tim Anderson
      Reply August 9, 2020

      Tim Anderson

      Troy Day sorry these are are in house for each Congregation. I see no need to put out where weaker believers stumble . if Churches put True decipling classes for new believers would not be mislead. Just me perhaps – thank you and blessings my Brother.
      Besides Getting prepped for my Middle Schoolers Class.

  • Bruce Cubbedge
    Reply August 8, 2020

    Bruce Cubbedge

    He was a great man and a great preacher

  • Troy Day
    Reply August 8, 2020

    Troy Day

    Salvatore Tropea Sr Tim Anderson the author and our group member William DeArteaga has been nice enough to provide the chapter for review. Let’s read it first before making pointless comments David Tripp when you say under his ministry, you dont seem like a Nicky Cruz type of gangsta Have you met him?

  • Salvatore Tropea Sr
    Reply August 8, 2020

    Salvatore Tropea Sr

    God Bless and Prayers for our brave President Donald Trump! The Cloud of Patriots Love Him too!

    • Troy Day
      Reply August 9, 2020

      Troy Day

      GOD will NOT bless a false prophecy NO way

    • Betty Gilliam
      Reply August 9, 2020

      Betty Gilliam

      Troy Day hmmm. Who is JUDGING this as false? This sounds like we should support the camp that leads to socialism through disparaging one who defends the Christian’s rights. Sad.

  • David Tripp
    Reply August 8, 2020

    David Tripp

    no i have not met him not then but yrs later i was a back sliden preacher boy i would yes the cross and switchblade was a big part of me coming back to the Lord David Wilkerson and Nicky Cruz were my mentors

    • Troy Day
      Reply August 9, 2020

      Troy Day

      not sure how they mentor without knowing you but you know better Now what about the prophecy?

    • Betty Gilliam
      Reply August 9, 2020

      Betty Gilliam

      David Tripp good for you. I know many many who have been delivered from drug addiction through Teen Challenge even still today.

  • David Tripp
    Reply August 9, 2020

    David Tripp

    they sent me books that really helped me I wanted to be another David Wilkerson .

    • Troy Day
      Reply August 10, 2020

      Troy Day

      sounds good Now what about this here prophecy ?

  • Bruce Cubbedge
    Reply August 9, 2020

    Bruce Cubbedge

    Just for the record I was here when Dwight Eisenhower was president and I have yet to find a president since that time outside of Donald Trump that has had enough guts stickability stamina fortitude tenacity to be president of this great United States he’s not a politician thank God we finally have someone that’s not a politician I could not point to one single person I see in the political realm that would be worthy of holding this office most of them have no backbones sell you down the river in a New York second there in bed one with another if you put them in a bag shook them up I don’t know who would fall out first we better stand behind this man if we have any god-given sense whatsoever and forget all the theological cliches we’re in a fight of our life and here we stand bickering over things like this please

    • Troy Day
      Reply August 10, 2020

      Troy Day

      Ronald Reagan
      40th U.S. President?

  • Troy Day
    Reply August 10, 2020

    Troy Day

    ALL THIS sounds good Now what about this here prophecy ?

    • Tim Anderson
      Reply August 10, 2020

      Tim Anderson

      Troy Day prophets are not perfect – they prophesy according to their ability. They are seeing thru a darkened glass. An Evangelist, Pastor, Teacher, Apostle never perfected here. I will always honor the gift realizing the man/woman just the vassal.

  • David Tripp
    Reply August 10, 2020

    David Tripp

    David wilkerson was a Prophet of God

    • Troy Day
      Reply August 10, 2020

      Troy Day

      well we kind of know that But several ppl asked about the false prophecy William DeArteaga provided it dully NOW no one wants to talk about this here false prophecy

  • David Tripp
    Reply August 10, 2020

    David Tripp

    what false prophecy

  • David Tripp
    Reply August 10, 2020

    David Tripp

    since when did a Prophet of the Lord went to seek whether or not the prophecy was false or true . i will say this i never would have because the church back then would never believe that God would say such things the Prpohets in the old testament mainly preached judgement . the prophet that warned the apostle Paul not to go to Jerusalem was saying that he would be arrested . As far as the Vision Goes i remember That Book Prophets of God Never ever miss the mark If they do Than They are not hearing From the Lord . i Do not believe That David wilkerson ever missed The Mark .The church back then were very luke warm anda lot of them now still are .

  • Reply August 10, 2020

    Dennis G Berdanis

    I do not see anyone in the new covenant being able to follow the process of old covenent prophets. Expecting their every Word to be true or they should be stoned.

    I believe the model espoused by the Vineyard church under John Wimber’s leadership to be a much more new covenant model. People giving Words and saying “This is what I think I hear from the Lord…” And then letting the other people with gifts of Words of Knowledge, Words of Wisdom or Prophecy judge gently.

    So there may be some truth in what Wilkerson saw. It may not be a vision from a demon. He could be off on the timing. Things he saw could be symbolic rather than literal etc. And his flesh could have just caused him to miss interpret some things. It doesn’t have to be from God 100% true or from a demon if not in the New Cov.

    The church is a safe place to practice gifts and learn to hear better. David’s prophecy might have served the church better in that model rather than stating this is 100% true because God told me so.

    Just my two cents.

  • Troy Day
    Reply August 11, 2020

    Troy Day

    In 1986 David Wilkerson prophesied/predicted plague coming

    “I see a plague coming on the world, and the bars, churches and government will shut down. The plague will hit New York City and shake it like it has never been shaken. The plague is going to force prayerless believers into radical prayer and into their Bibles, and repentance will be the cry from the man of God in the pulpit. And out of it will come a third Great Awakening that will sweep America and the world.”

    A quote from a book(s) or sermon with date and place etc. You would think with so many now quoting this on Facebook and elsewhere, the reference would have been given. But Of course that hasn’t stopped people in the past…It is said to be not in a book or a sermon but on a note hidden in a Bible that had not been opened since 1986 until this day and we are yet to see it. I will believe it as soon as someone shows a picture of bro. Wilkerson eating breakfast. He was particular about his menu and fasted till lunch almost daily especially when travelling, but that’s just me. And yes, some of the prophecies mentioned above did not really happen. The 2009 disaster one comes to mind right the way…

    The red flag after the breakfast one comes from the PTL parallel prophecy, which is supposed to confirm the genuineness of the first corona/revival one. Mind you, the PTL case is well documented. Richard Dortch did not receive a letter from bro. Wilkerson but a phone call as he himself wrote in his book “Integrity: How I Lost It, and My Journey Back,” the exact words were:

    In the summer of 1986, I received a telephone call from a man whom I believe is one of the few prophetic figures of our time — David Wilkerson. In fact, I considered him then, as I do now, to be more than just a “man of God. … I have a word from the Lord. God will destroy PTL. The spirit of the Lord has departed from that place.
    ….
    What is going on at PTL is an abomination to God, and it must be stopped. … “If something isn’t done quickly God is going to write ICHABOD over the doors

    Dr. Mike Evans of the Jerusalem Prayer Team sent out an email this week with the prophecy he says Wilkerson gave to HIM in Dallas at the Embassy Suites in 1986. I know Evans and find him an honorable man.
    David Wilkerson did NOT give such prophecy in 1986 or any other time. Some SA mission fabricated it based on his sermons and posted on social media. They have apologized since it went viral…

    Wilkerson also said he saw demons manipulating everyone at a Mylon LeFevre concert and that anyone who listened to “Christian Rock” was in danger of demon possession. (don’t get me wrong, he was a great minister, I love his accomplishments with Teen Challenge, but his “prophesies” should be taken with a grain of salt). I am also skeptical as to whether he actually said this, it would need a dated reference to prove in my opinion.

    • Tim Anderson
      Reply August 11, 2020

      Tim Anderson

      Troy Day cant help that others misused his gifts – words. Would be impossible to keep that from happening since others wants to prosper from others. Again prophets need to be judged but not ridiculed- sorta like Pastors being driven by those Pharasee’s

    • Troy Day
      Reply August 12, 2020

      Troy Day

      Tim Anderson when it too much too much?

    • Tim Anderson
      Reply August 12, 2020

      Tim Anderson

      Troy Day I am recovering from Esophogeal. Cancer – let me review and get back ASAP today. thank you.

  • Daniel J Hesse
    Reply August 12, 2020

    Daniel J Hesse

    Not Dave or Perry!

  • Troy Day
    Reply August 12, 2020

    Troy Day

    YES – this word needs lots of checking out

  • Keith Day
    Reply August 13, 2020

    Keith Day

    the idea hear that David Wilkerson The Vision is a false vision stand or falls on the idea that for it to be true it must be fulfilled by 1983. I offer proof that,that idea is wrong.
    this is page 27 from David Wilkerson The Vision.
    you will notice the statement that I have underlined . I believe a misunderstand of this statement is where the idea that this vision was only for the next decade from 1973-1983. but that is not what this statement says it says ” I have received only a hazy glimpse beyond the next decade” beyond is not limited to. it means after. so David Wilkerson right hear was saying that many of the things in his vision would not be fulfilled until after 1983. as we all know many of these things where fulfilled after 1983 but many of them have not been fulfilled yet. but that dose not mean they will not fulfilled

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