Posted by: L. E. Barnes | October 29, 2010

Unholy Laughter

In the following video, David Wilkerson–an evangelical minister who has worked in New York City for years–addresses some of the extreme doctrines, practices, and “signs” that have become popular in some charismatic circles:

I’ve mentioned before that I grew up attending charismatic churches, and I’ve seen the kind of stuff that David Wilkerson is condemning. In fact, I’ve experienced some of it. Yes, it can provide some intense euphoria, but as soon as that euphoria wears off (and believe me, it wears off all too quickly) you’re left with nothing. Or I’ve seen some Christians avidly pursue these so-called “signs and wonders”, while neglecting the most important aspects of the Christian life, such as love and humility. It is tragic that so many Christians get wrapped up in some of this tomfoolery, thinking that they’re experiencing some special anointing from the Lord or that they’ll prosper financially if they give to a certain preacher or ministry. I don’t blame Mr. Wilkerson for expressing grief over this.



  1. When I hear your story I think of how blessed you are to have found the Catholic Church. God has a special job for you. Keep on truckin’!

    Also, I appreciate your insights into the evangelical and charismatic phenomenon. It’s good to hear from someone who’s been there – stuff I never think about but which can come in handy some time.

    • Yes, I am blessed to be in the Church. While there are some aspects of my charismatic evangelical background that I appreciate, I’m glad to be in the Church with unbroken theological and ecclesiastical stretching all the way back to ancient times, rather than some denomination that’s only been around for a few decades. And the charismatic movement, for all its ardor, is very prone to shallow, flaky doctrines and practices. To be fair, not all charismatics are into the kooky stuff that David Wilkerson describes here, but far too many buy into it hook, line, and sinker. (I did for a while too, but I got over it!)

      God bless!


  2. […] Unholy Laughter […]

  3. I listened for five minutes … does Wilkerson get around to preaching the gospel or saying anything spiritual edifying in this clip? If not, he’s as bad as the ones he criticizes.

    One thing I appreciate about Catholic homilies is there’s hardly ever a bad word said about others. Now, I don’t visit many Protestant churches on Sunday, but on those rare occasions when I do, there’s almost always something critical said about other groups.

    • Apparently he felt the need to warn people about what he saw as a serious problem that had infected many charismatic evangelicals. And there’s nothing wrong with speaking out against heretical/harmful teachings or practices. After all, just read the Bible! The Old Testament prophetic books are full of rebukes and warnings against the Israelites for their religious apostasy and corruption as well as gentile nations for their pride and violence. Likewise, the New Testament contains plenty of such examples. Our Lord Himself delivered a lot of stinging rebukes against the Pharisees and others for their pride, hypocrisy and corrupt religious traditions. The apostle Paul’s epistles also devote space to criticizing those who taught heretical doctrines or who engaged in disruptive or otherwise inappropriate activities. So the speaker in this video clip actually has plenty of biblical precedent for criticizing some of the things going in some charismatic circles. And I agree completely with what he’s saying. As I said in my post, I’m from a charismatic background, and I’ve seen plenty of the kind of junk that David Wilkerson condemns in his talk. I’m sorry to say I even started to get sucked into some of that stuff, though thankfully I’ve gotten away from it and am now in the Catholic Church.

      But I understand your point too. If all a preacher ever does is criticize others, he’s missed the mark! However, there are times when it is not only appropriate but even necessary to speak out against abuses or other sins. And as Catholics, we would do well to keep in mind the basic idea that David Wilkerson is espousing here. That is, not all “signs and wonders” are from the Holy Spirit, and we need to learn to exercise sound judgment and not be taken in by something just because it sounds good or seems spiritual on the surface. As the saying goes, “not all that glitters is gold.”

      Thanks for commenting!

  4. the speaker in this video clip actually has plenty of biblical precedent

    I’ve heard this before …

    I’m from a charismatic background,

    So maybe you can’t see that, unlike the writers of Scriptures, he’s not inspired.

    Have you read the Foreword to one of Wills’s books, What Jesus Meant? There’s something in that.

    Just my opinion, no offense.

    • Of course I wouldn’t regard his ideas as being on the level of scripture. I’m just saying there are times when it may be necessary for a preacher–Protestant or Catholic–to speak out against certain things, even to criticize others. Anyway, I simply uploaded the clip to provide some food for thought and basis for discussions.
      I do think his criticisms are right on target, and I hope the charismatic extremism that he seeks to expose does not infect the Catholic Church. (After all, there has been a charismatic movement in the Catholic Church for several decades, and I wouldn’t want it to fall prey to some of the lunacy that is discussed in the video clip.)


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