As a young adult, I attended the Times Square Church in New York City with the fire-and-brimstone-preaching minister, David Wilkerson. Brother Dave authored the famous book The Cross and the Switchblade made even more famous with its film staring Pat Boone as David Wilkerson, and a hunky underwear-clad Eric Estrada as gang member Nicky Cruz.
Brother Dave presented himself an Old Testament Prophet cross-bred with a Colonial Puritan pastor in modern garb and big thick 1980s-style glasses. Several times a week he stood at the pulpit to remind us that the USA was going to hell in a hand basket because of our iniquities–these included abortion, divorce, sex on TV, secular humanism, and of course homosexuality. As a result, an angry God was going to rain down vengeance on us in the form of economic distress, weather disasters, and naked dancing in the church (no joke.)
Since 1973 Brother Dave issued his dire warnings often using fire imagery to get his point across. His last major prophecy in 2009 uttered shortly before he retired, moved back to Waco, TX, and then tragically swerved died in a head on collision with a tractor trailer truck, speaks of fires and violence in New York City.
An Earth-Shattering Calamity is About to happen. It is going to be so frighting. We are all going to Tremble, even the godliest among us.
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 in August, 1965. 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
I sat under a steady diet of these types of messages including warnings of marauding gangs of homosexuals prowling the streets looking for young prey (which sounded more like what we did during our street evangelism outreaches and abortion clinic protests than anything I witnessed in any gayborhood.)
Yet with all these warnings of sins and consequences, I do not remember Brother Dave speaking out against our flamboyant, impure fossil-fuel lifestyle that has brought about dire consequences for God’s creation and all life on the planet. While he warned of increasing floods, tornados, hurricanes, and earthquakes, his prophecies never spoke of the natural consequence from overloading the atmosphere with greenhouse gases warming the planet leading to a disruption in ecological harmony. The sin was almost always sex, and the result was God’s wrath with lots of fire.
While he missed the details of how Earth-Shattering Calamity was about to happen, he no doubt felt something big coming. Pastor Dave highlighted an important principle of cause and effect, sin and consequence, indulgence and the resulting pain. Recently I wrote about Generational Curses, something Pastor Dave stressed often–how the sins of the parents will live on in their ancestors up to the seventh generation. What a fitting metaphor for exactly what has happened on the planet for the past 150 years as our ancestors stockpiled greenhouse gases in the atmosphere delivering a crushing blow on us their children and grandchildren. Like many addictions, the fossil-fuel addiction cycle continues, so that we add to the buildup started by our ancestors leading to genuine end-of-the-world scenarios.
Brother Dave ended each sermon with an altar call–Repent. Turn away from your filthy deeds. Start Anew. It is not yet too late. Again fitting words for the current crisis we have inherited. It is not yet too late to find solutions, to radically reduce our fossil fuel emissions, but as Pastor Dave often reminded us, individual repentance is not enough. We need revival–the nation and all nations turning to something new and leaving off the old.