A TV-Obsessed Millennial’s Apology to David Wilkerson

As a follower of Jesus Christ, who was called as one of the elect from a later time in life, I often meditate on my younger days as a raging hellspawn and realize how innocent, dumb, and completey nieve a sweet sweet Summer child I was. I think as Millennials who were raised during the golden age of the free internet, and the height of gross product marketing, we have a different perspective on life then most generations before us. There is certainly a gap between the generations, largely due to technology and the rise of social media. But just like how God visits the iniquities of the father to the son, there is one common bane that boomers and late millennials have: that is the pollution of the mind thanks to mainstream entertainment.

I remember a time in the early 90s when the internet was only a thing true level 50 incel-wizard overlords can access and the only thing you did on your PC was play old DDOS games, or get your satanist on with DOOM. Kids still played outside before everyone magically became a creepy pedo. Kids went to school where they taught the American Revolution instead of the Gay Revolution of the 1960s. We went to the library to read Nate the Great and Boxcar Children instead of browsing on 4chan and Reddit for 6.66 hours a day. Porn, while there, was hard to come by and was regulated to magazines and grainy satellite channels. McDonalds still served beef instead of wonder meat made out of not-so-kosher bugs. The women shaved their armpits and did not have green hair or consumed copious amounts of SSRIs. It was a wholesome era, the best of times. We were of the last generation to know what it meant to be a kid and have innocence. I guess looking at the 90s with rosy glasses for a millennial is easy. But the common denominator all kids of the 90s experienced, along with Baby Boomers, is the Television.

Television has long been a boogie man when it comes to polite Christianity. As 90s kids, we have long heard the cries from the dreaded church ladies and insufferable boomers that television is the devil and even watching just one minute of Power Rangers will send you to hell. Often, we just roll our eyes and continue filling our minds with the wonders MTV and early 90s anime had to offer. To be frank, this proclamation against my precious stupid-box was incredibly annoying to a very rebellious kid and often resulted in back biting.

I know one of these women that believed TV was Satan inside a magical rectangle was none other than my Grandmother, who was a very pious follower of Christ. As a kid who did not believe, you always had to walk on eggshells around her when it came to the topic of TV. Then there was a preacher that I’ve heard from time to time that my Grandmother would listen to fanatically, that was none other than David Wilkerson. 

When listening to David Wilkerson as a rebellious consumer-of-products, a couple of things will run through your head and some perspectives will bubble up. The first might be fear, because David Wilkerson knew how to scare the hell (literally) out of a sinner. The man railed and plowed against sin and called men to repentance in his rural Pennsylvania twang. The next thing will be hatred, as David Wilkerson knew how to get under the skin of an unrepentant man living in his sin and refusing to come to Christ. Finally, you’ll think him crazy, or mean-spirited, or any other excuse in your wicked heart that you can think of, and turn him off. This man was the classic hellfire-and-brimstone, hard preaching type of minister you think of out in the wilderness of America. 

What was particularly annoying about Wilkerson was his constant preaching against TV and movies. Telling whoever unfortunate to listen to him that TV was “filthy” and it was going to send you to hell. One sermon, he claims that he gathered a bunch of his congregation’s tv sets and destroyed them in an open field. The thought of my TV set getting destroyed by some crazy christian horrified my gunk-filled gamer brain. After all, TV was life for my generation. Nickelodeon was my Baal, and Cartoon Network was my Molech. 

As I grew into an adult and became a follower of Christ. I can’t help but chuckle comically at my immaturity. Because eventually I came to the conclusion that David Wilkerson was right. 100%, completely on the point when it comes to TV and entertainment in general.

Still waiting for my apology…

David Wilkerson himself is quite an interesting character. Born in 1931, David Wilkerson comes from a line of preachers, with himself the 4th generation. Wilkerson claims that he was baptized in the spirit by the age of 8. So while Wilkerson was getting trained in the Bible when he was a toddler, I am pretty sure I was getting trained in the doctrines of Playstation and Super Nintendo when I was that age, but I digress. After a career preaching in rural Pennsylvania, Wilkerson moved his operations to New York City where he started preaching to street gangs and young drug addicts. He eventually started Teen Challenge, a ministry based in Brooklyn, New York, designed to help teens who are involved in gangs and drugs. Most of his work in New York City is detailed in his most famous work The Cross and the Switchblade. Wilkerson also started up the non-denominational Times Square Church, which is still open today and preached by Wilkerson protégé Carter Conlon. Wilkerson unfortunately died in a head-on automobile collision in 2011. He was 79.

The Cross and the Switchblade is a decent read worth your while if you are getting into ministry. I think what strike me the most about Switchblade was how wholesome the origin of Wilkerson’s New York City ministry was and how it progressed. According to Wilkerson, he was in his study one night and read a story from a magazine about 7 teenaged gang members involved in a murder trial. Wilkerson had nothing but compassion for these young kids and was compelled to drive from his rural Pennsylvania town to New York City and preach to them. After some hijinks involving a court procedure, he eventually started preaching in the streets to gang members, and the ministry bloomed from there. 

There is no magic formula in Switchblade. There was no master plan or blueprint. A simple rural preacher of the truth had compassion for a group of young men and simply followed the Lord and the Great Commission. Through perseverance, fasting, and praying for direction, Wilkerson planted the seeds to let the Holy Spirit grow the young men and women involved in Teen Challenge. It is a strange thing a little compassion and a desire to spread the good news can do and what even the simplest of rural bumpkins can accomplish when God is on your side. 

What made me really grin about Switchblade is it tells the origin of how Wilkerson got rid of his TV. He simply noticed that it was taking a lot of his time away from prayer. He did something of a Gideon test where he put up his TV for sale in a newspaper ad. If the Lord wanted him to be rid of his TV, it would be sold quickly the next day. The box was indeed sold in such fashion the next day and Wilkerson has been on a warpath against TV ever since. There are also other accounts and legends (not in the book) in Wilkerson’s career of taking expensive TV sets out in his backyard and basting them with a shotgun. There is also an incident of Wilkerson confronting Leonard Ravenhill, accusing him of having an idol in the form of TV, in his house. The point is that Wilkerson valued his time and what goes through his eyes and cared deeply about what his congregation put in their minds.   

It is a shame and a wonder why David Wilkerson is not talked about or remembered in evangelical circles. Wilkerson was a one-of-a-kind type of preacher, who preached hard and preached passionately while also having strong compassion. He was not afraid to talk about sin, hell, and repentance. For comparison of how hard he preaches: Imagine Paul Washer and times that by 10 and you would get Wilkerson. I found as I grew more and more in the Lord that I desire the hard preaching that Wilkerson brought to the pulpit. I guess no one in the western world wants this type of preaching. Long are the days of suit-wearing preachers who shepherd and protect the flock from goats and wolves. Now we have T-shirt wearing shepherds who want to entertain goats and dance with wolves while the sheep starve and sin is crouching at their door. No one wants a preacher that tells them the hard truth about tv, internet, movies, social media, Netflix and other programming material. Most of polite christianity wants to be just that; Polite. We want to be comfortably numb as we let sin run rampant in our lives. Wilkerson did not march to the beat of any denomination’s drum. He instead was non-denominational, and marched to the beat of Christ’s trumpets and preached straight from the scripture. It also did not help that Wilkerson had the spirit of Jerimiah and would often make doom-and-gloom prophetic statements that would make even the most even keel follower of Christ nervous. A whole deep-dive can be on Wilkerson’s prophecies and there is simply not enough strength in one’s fingers to type them all out or analyze every detail. What is evident is that Wilkerson was an unapologetic, frank, and powerful voice for the Lord. 

Out here in the streets of New York, looking for my apology….

Wilkerson always made me chuckle when it came to his hatred and conviction regarding the boob tube. But then again, nothing is new under the sun. After all, even Charles Spurgeon railed against magazines and other forms of entertainment in his time. The same can be said about oldie movies, radio, and even books themselves. Satan will always find a way to distract you. 

Still, something can be said about TV and how insidious it can be. While books and radio force you to use your mind and imagination, TV is much more different. It is designed to indoctrinate and program your mind (hence watching “programs”). You sit there, eyes glazed over, and allow stuff into your brain. It takes out the imagination and does the work for you. It is designed to mold you into whatever image it wants you to be, what you watch is what you are by the way. Watch enough reality TV, and you end up having insane drama in your life. Simple jingles and marketing ploys are spewed out of the TV set, designed to brainwash you to buy rubbish. Soulless, mindless, and meaningless is the true language of Television. Everything is a show and entertainment, even if the show is horrifying. The mainstream media can’t make money from their advertising overlords with wholesome news, but news about wars and rumor of wars? That brings in the mega bucks. 

I can go on and on about how TV rots your mind. I will end up sounding like the pious church ladies that I used to scoff at. But these things are important to look back at as the television medium as we know it is dying and streaming services are at the apex of our daily lives. While Spergeon had the magazines, and Wilkerson had the TV set, in today’s generation we have the smart phone screen. Nothing is new under the sun.

I guess we all need to mature as followers of Jesus. Maybe it is time for us to finally cut the cord. Maybe it is finally time to stop giving Netflix your shekels, or maybe put up an ad blocker when viewing YouTube, or maybe stop listening to carnival barkers like Alex Jones and Glenn Beck. One could accuse us of being fuddy-duds who want to ruin all the fun. And while it is annoying and cringy for a preacher to attack the usual tattoos, piercings, and R-rated films, there is a certain progression and cleansing of the heart that the Holy Spirit does when you first truly believe on the name of Jesus.

Being a hell-raising man in my 20s, I would listen to so much filth and degeneracy on the radio and TV that I would cringe just thinking about it. Then I became a follower of Christ. And one day, as I was listening to Howard Stern talk about panties and bras for the 666th time, the Holy Spirit grabbed ahold of my heart and told me that this was stupid and unfruitful to listen to. There was no rebellion in my heart as I switched off the radio and agreed with the Holy Spirit. Another time I was watching a freak show called Hoarders, about mentally ill people and their hoarding problems. I was very entertained until the Holy Spirit came into my heart and asked me why I was mocking these poor people on this show? Maybe I should tell them about the Son of God instead of making fun of them. I was thoroughly convicted, and switched the program off, never to watch it again. This happened with a lot of shows and programs I used to watch regularly before Christ saved me. 

I can no longer watch shows that blaspheme Christ or mock Him. I can no longer watch shows that are gratuitously violent or have no substance. Even sportsball and pro wrestling have lost its taste as I find myself doing something else. What is even more amazing is, as I grow with the Lord and study scriptures, I cannot watch Fox News or listen to pundits like Rush Limbaugh or Ben Shapiro anymore. The Lord points out when I am being manipulated by news outlets, and when something is just BS and contradicts the scripture. Debates have become nauseating to me. And lets not mention how the Lord protects my eyes from the Gay Commission of CNN, MSNBC and other libtard outlets. Even the podcasts, streamers and other thought-provoking content creators have lost their appeal to me. The pattern is the same, I listen for a season, and come to the conclusion that they do not align with the scriptures, and I find myself not listening to them all of a sudden. This is not me being pious or holier-than-thou in the vein of a church lady. This is just the work of the Holy Spirit. Who is sanctifying me daily. And who is giving me a natural dislike of the entertainment I used to consume. Slowly, very slowly, sinful entertainment is losing its taste.

I used to scoff at Wilkerson, and now I am becoming just like Wilkerson. It seems everyday, the entertainment you watch on Netflix or stream sites is getting worse and worse. Instead of wholesome degeneracy like Saved by the Bell, we get shows like Euphoria which glorify teenage drug use, transexualism and teen sex. Instead of Dexter’s Lab, we get Dexter which glorifies a serial killer. South Park is my generation’s Peanuts. Then there is Netflix’s show (which shall not be named on this blog) that glorifies pedophilia. I guess America is not too far off from Sodom and Gomorrah. There are no more heroes or men of valor. Instead, the media overlords glorify extremely evil characters such as The Sopranos’ Tony Soprano, and Breaking Bad’s Walter White. Even the cartoons are getting more insane. The gold standard of all superhero animation in my day was Batman: The Animated Series which had very mature and thought provoking stories and character arcs. Now we have animation like Invincible, an incredibly violent and shocking superhero cartoon with some of the most gratuitous blood and gore I have ever seen, with no real story or substance. It is just there to shock your system and make you more numb to violence as we approach the days of Noah

I wonder what David Wilkerson would have thought of the filth going on in our media landscape if he was alive to see it. I guess his death was a mercy, because if he saw the level of degeneracy going on in the year of our Lord 2022, he would have gone insane. 

So what is the solution to all these problems? TV paved the way and laid the groundwork for many of the social issues we see today. Now the fruits of this evil tree is evident as we see a bountiful harvest of degeneracy from Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, Snapchat, Tiktok, Netflix, Youtube, Twitch, and others. I guess there is really no way to combat this dystopia we now live in. The problem is so visceral, so deep, and so complete, that we are just like Israel in the days of Jerimiah. We have passed the point of no return and God is giving us over to our sins as we spiral down the Mouse Utopia

There is only one solution, and one red pill out of this Matrix. That is a mass repentance. We need to stop and turn back to God. Instead of selling our computers, we might need to delete our netflix accounts. Instead of shotgunning our smartphones, we may need to delete some apps that are causing our perception of reality to be warped. Instead of switching the channel off, we need to close the tabs of news sites that provoke us to fear, hatred, anxiety, and envy. No matter they be liberial or conservative.

Are we living in the end times? I don’t know. A dark thought is that things could be a lot worse. What I do know is that we need to be aware of the signs of the times and always be prepared for the coming of the Lord Jesus. It is now important, more than ever, how we spend our time and how we go about our daily lives with the Lord. Are we studying scripture? Are we praying? Are we fasting? Are we in a solid church family? Are we partaking in the Great Commision? This all might sound like a broken record and preaching to the choir, but my brothers and sisters, can we honestly say we even do this in the current era? Instead of reading the word of God and meditating on its word, our generation has the attention span of a gnat and must be fed Tiktok-levels of 5-second content. Instead of praying to God, we pray to someone like Santa Claus. And fasting has become a real struggle thanks to fast food chicken tendies. I think we should have listened to David Wilkerson and heeded the warnings of our fathers in the past that could see this degeneracy coming.

But, even with all this going on and as I sit in a late-stage capitalist dystopia. I am hopeful, happy and blessed. Because I know the truth about the whole matter and the truth about the current state of the world. And the truth has set me free from anxiety about the future or what will happen in the end as the judgment is poured out from heaven to the unrighteous. These things take place, and trials happen because God is trying to point out that this world is broken and that there is no type of war, no type of political messiah, and no type of philosophy that can solve the problem that is the human heart. Only God, and God alone can save mankind from His final judgment through the blood of His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I wonder if Jesus Christ would have watched TV if He had it during His time on Earth? Yeah, we can blubber out that Jesus would have watched the 700 club or Veggie Tales or the original Superbook anime with a very, very white European Jesus. And in a way, He is watching TV as He is omnipresent. But really. If we are really honest with ourselves, do we honestly believe the Lord of Glory would sit down on His sapphire throne and watch degeneracy like Jackass or some random anime with kawaii 2-D Waifus? Come on now. The Bible clearly says that we are not to set our eyes on anything worthless. Bad company ruins good morals, so why should we sit down and get our parasocial activity on by watching a twitch thot or some crazed streamer on Youtube. The eyes are the lamp of the body. If our eyes are healthy, our whole body will be full of light. How can we have healthy eyes when we watch so much unrealistic filth? Imagine the darkness in someone’s body that consistently watches some of the more darker stuff on netflix. No brother, no sister, no mother, Jesus Christ would have not watched TV or Netflix.

Instead of being great Americans and consuming media, we should be transformed by the renewal of our mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. The only way we can test correctly what is good is through diligent study of scripture and consistent prayer (and fasting) to the Father in the name of the Son. 

I should point out that this melting away from watching TV and the loss of taste in certain shows could not have come, if not from the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a strange feeling being under the power of the Spirit. The conviction I feel is not from a screaming banshee of a church lady, but that of a loving Father, telling me in a gentle yet powerful voice that it is unfruitful and I should move on, that it is causing me turmoil and harm to my heart. That there is forgiveness of letting evil things into my heart, because His Son paid the price for that sin on the cross. That my eyes can be washed, and open to greater and much wiser things. I am not saying that when you receive the Holy Spirit, that you will burn your TV set Wilkerson-style, everyone’s walk with God is different. What I am saying is that the life of a follower of Christ Jesus is one of repentance, growth, renewal and regeneration. Everyone will have a different walk and to some, watching certain shows will not cause them to stumble. But is a certain show causing you to stumble? Maybe you should pluck out your eye

It is a really beautiful thing being at the feet of Jesus Christ and learning His ways and growing in Him. The fact is, this freedom from TV and mainstream media is right there, paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. Anyone who accepts that name will receive the Holy Spirit to fully free them from the tyranny of the electric stupid box. When I was a young boy, I was just that, a boy. I had no idea what preachers like David Wilkerson were talking about when it came to television and its bastard sons, streaming sites and social media. God gave me over to the sin for a long season, He found me again, and I believed in His Son. Now as I grow older, and wiser, and see the tea leaves of the time, I cannot believe how immature I was to the state of things. Can the next generation heed our warnings in the future? Or will they inherit the sins of their fathers and scoff at us? Just as we scoffed at the Wilkersons of the world? Only time will tell. But it is time for an apology. From a millennial to a boomer. David Wilkerson, on behalf of the children of the late 80s and 90s, we deeply, sincerely, and humbly apologize to you. You were right. TV is indeed Satan.

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