David Wilkerson (1931-2011) appeared to be one of the most serious and sincere ministers of his generation. He was an evangelist and a pastor, most notably at Times Square Church in New York City. He was also considered a prophet. He preached against sin often and prophesied about the future occasionally. None of his prophecies were what you can easily find today, soft and comforting. They were typically about judgment for sin.

You might have been inclined to believe his prophecies because he seemed so committed to God, so serious about God, and so focused on His will on the earth. But he did make some false prophecies; some of them were very extreme.

The Vision Prophecies

His book The Vision (1973) was full of prophecies but they were false.

In 2000, Amazon reviewer Daniel J. Elmore wrote: “This book is so full of mis-predictions and obvious extrapolations that it should forever have ruined Wilkerson’s status as a man to be listened to. . . . he did say was that the US would suffer an enormous earthquake outside of the usual quake areas that would be so severe that earthquakes would become the leading cause of fear in the general population, that the economy would become so unstable that no one would ever feel confident in it again, and that rural property would so sky-rocket in price that only the syndicates would be able to afford it. . . did ANY of that happen?” Daniel J. Elmore, “Trust me, it’s kooky,” Mar. 24, 2000.

Another commented: “I read the English version back in the 70s and so respected & trusted Rev. Wilkerson that I was afraid to invest for years because I thought an economic collapse was surely coming at any time. My challenge to David Wilkerson is to come clean with this stuff and either update it or admit that he missed it.” Anonymous, “Why is this book still in print?” Apr. 7, 2000.

The End of Gospel TV Prophecy

Prophecies are not always made before or after a sermon, or even prefaced as prophecies. Sometimes they get mixed in with the message. In December of 1994 at a church he visited Wilkerson prophesied: “Right now I sense in my spirit that in less than five years there will be no more so-called gospel television networks. They will all fall into bankruptcy and absolute ruin.”

This never happened. Over 20 years later it still had not been fulfilled and there was no sign it would be fulfilled in the foreseeable future. Wilkerson was 63 at the time in ’94. He had been a minister since 1952 (42 years). It is more evidence that age and experience does not guarantee prophetic accuracy.

Economic Holocaust Prophecy

In later years he did not prophesy very much, but still failed. The following is a written exchange between Wilkerson and a person who wrote to him.

“Your last book warned of a coming depression,” said a reader. “You have been saying for a long time that the stock market is going to blow and America would be chastened by an economic holocaust. I believed you, even though you say you are not a prophet. But there seems to be no sign of a crash. Will you apologize if it doesn’t happen reasonably soon?”

“I do not understand God’s mercy to America,” answered Wilkerson. “It could only be his extended mercy that has caused God to not yet chasten our nation. I do not want it to happen. We have a ministry to many needy people, and an economic collapse would affect all we do.

“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. But I know how diligently I seek God. I know what it’s like to weep and groan before the Lord as the Holy Spirit shows me what is coming.

“No matter what others think, I cannot shake off the urgency of the Holy Spirit to warn God’s people. Every time I am shut in with God, fasting and praying, I hear the trumpet blowing. I hear God’s still, small voice saying, “It is coming. It will happen suddenly. Forget the criticism – warn the people.”

“I believe what I have been warning about – more than ever! The speculative boom is almost over. The balloon is about to burst. No matter how high the market goes, it is going to collapse. I don’t know when but I do know it is certain. God will not delay much longer. The next American president is going to preside over a deeply troubled economy.”

David Wilkerson, “Cover Letter,” May 22, 2000. www.tscpulpitseries.org/english/cover_letter/wc000522.html

See also: “What You Need to Know about David Wilkerson’s ‘Urgent Message, Christianity Today, Mar. 16, 2009.

The common denominator of David Wilkerson prophecies was calamity or judgment for sin. His motivation was rarely doubted but his prophetic skills never matched his preaching power. He could preach strong sermons against sin but when he prophesied the consequences of sin his prophecies typically failed.
His prophecies were more consequential than many because some Christians actually believed them and made decisions based on them; for example, the person cited above who did not invest in the stock market.
Despite the risks it is assumed he typically did not submit potential prophecies to reputable leaders or anyone else for review or prayer before going public. There is also no easily found public record of Wilkerson apologizing for his false prophecies or offering restitution to the people who lost money because of them.

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