O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

David Wilkerson Predicts the Apocalypse!

Oh my. Here we go again. David Wilkerson, author of The Cross and the Switchblade and the pastor of Times Square Church in New York City, let loose a wild blog post on Saturday in which he claimed — while “compelled by the Spirit,” of course — that we were on the verge of an “Earth-shattering calamity.”

I don’t dare summarize what he wrote, though. I’m going to quote it verbatim. Just so you can get the all-caps drama of it:




For ten years I have been warning about a thousand fires coming to New York City. It will engulf the whole megaplex, including areas of New Jersey and Connecticut. Major cities all across America will experience riots and blazing fires—such as we saw in Watts, Los Angeles, years ago.

There will be riots and fires in cities worldwide. There will be looting—including Times Square, New York City. What we are experiencing now is not a recession, not even a depression. We are under God’s wrath.



Sigh. Are you trembling yet? Pronouncements like this are a big reaon why I wrote Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse: because they just beg to not be taken seriously.

This is also as good a time as any, I guess, to rehash my views on Christians predicting the End Times, the Second Coming, the Apocalypse, or whatever you want to call it. In almost every case, I think these predictions are crap. Pretty much always.

Oops. Did that come off too strong?

You wouldn’t know it from the all-time Christian best-sellers list, but there are more important parts of Christianity than trying to decode Revelation, figuring out what 666 means, or figuring out which date to mark “Jesus returns!” on your calendar. LOTS more important parts. Life is too short — and there are too many hurting people in the world — to scare the rest of us with breathless predictions of apocalypse. Things like loving your neighbor, caring for the least of these, and living out the Gospel of grace.


Blogging in ALL CAPS about the possibility of “riots and fires worldwide” as a result of our sinfulness is not one of those things. Not at all.

After having written that first Pocket Guide, and after having learned a few things about biblical prophecy and mankind’s very sorry 0-for-million batting average when it comes to predicting the end of the world, my stance on The End is this: I call myself an eschatological agnostic. I don’t pretend to understand what Revelation means. I don’t know what will happen at the end, or when it will be, or what it will look like. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. To say anything other than that, I believe, is too arrogant and presumptive for my tastes.


If I say the Spirit prompted me to write the previous paragraph, does it counteract Wilkerson’s warnings? Just wondering.

David Wilkerson has done some admirable things for the Kingdom in his long career. But this isn’t one of them. He just earned himself a place in any future reissue of Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse (if, indeed, there IS a future…). Cue scary music.

[H/T: iMonk, who makes some excellent points in a post about Wilkerson.]


Update: John Piper responds to Wilkerson’s ranting. His advice? “Stick with the Bible, David. It is scary enough.” Brilliant!

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posted March 9, 2009 at 9:36 pm

Jason, thank you for saying what needed to be said – and thank you for the Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse – I’ve been using it for the past year to help guide people past their short-sighted view of the world coming to an end and the fact that pretty much every generation for more than 2,000 years has been predicting the end.Of course, what’s really disturbing is the fact that so many leaders in the faith (Wilkerson, Robertson, etc.) seem to be using the same methods as shoddy astrologers (um, not implying that there are non-shoddy ones) – where you just make a whole bunch of vague predictions about disasters. If said disaster doesn’t come true, no one remembers, but if there is some calamity, well, then these people jump up and down pointing to the fact that “they told us” this was going to happen.Sorry, but anyone wanting to play the “prophesy” game with me is going to have to be pretty darn specific with their “predictions” and be ready to admit that they are misguided and/or a complete fraud when said specific prediction fails to occur (none of this “God changed his mind” crap).This is one area where I really wish we would apply some OT law – if you claim to be a prophet of God and your prophesies fail, even once, then you are pretty much out of the prophesy business – and the breathing business for that matter. Oh, one can wish.OK, enough of my rambling – here’s my prediction – I’m going to enjoy my breakfast in the morning, no matter what some singers say about there not being any breakfast in heaven – you can pretty much bet on that one.

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posted March 10, 2009 at 9:17 am

To be fair to apocolypse addicts, didn’t Jesus himself start the grand tradition of premature end-times prophesy? “Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.”You’ve probably addressed this in the book, so I’m just betraying the fact that I haven’t read the Pocket Guide to the Apocolypse.

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posted March 10, 2009 at 9:23 am

We talked in Sunday school last summer about Christian trends, eschatology being a major one in the past few years. People will move on. Those Left Behind books don’t really sell anymore. My teacher predicted that dream interpretation will be the next big thing. So get ready to blog about that. …(I did jump on that eschatology boat there for a while. In middle school I read 35 of the “Left Behind: the Kids books.” Loved them. It made me not want to get raptured, actually. Hmm.)

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Jason Boyett

posted March 10, 2009 at 9:30 am

An excellent point, Matt. I wouldn’t say Jesus started it — the Old Testament prophet Daniel gets credit for that — but Jesus definitely fanned the flames with his “shall not taste death” statement on the Mount of Olives. And unless you do some linguistic and/or interpretive gymnastics with the passage, it seems like Jesus was off-target in his predictions.Of course, Jesus acknowledged the difficulty of date-setting and put a lid on apocalyptic speculation, in theory, when he said in Matthew 24:36 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”So if Jesus himself admits all this stuff is unknowable, and easily mistaken, then why do we mere humans think we can figure it out? That’s a very good question. I personally don’t have an answer, but feel free to ask David Wilkerson his thoughts on the matter. Apparently the Spirit is telling him things Jesus doesn’t even know.

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