March 2000: Volume 22, Number 3



Continuing our discussion of Progressive Dispensationalism, I would like to talk about the relevance of correct doctrine. Dallas Seminary, Moody Bible Institute, Biola College, Talbot Seminary, and other institutions have undertaken an erroneous doctrinal view, and we, frankly, want to shine a bright light on what they're doing. They are posturing as the fine old-time Bible schools they always were, but in reality, they are obeying the dictum our friend, Moishe Rosen, supplied: "All institutions devolve." The rest of our letter will present reactions to this subject.

Does It Really Matter?

By Zola Levitt

Does it really matter what we believe about dispensations, End Times prophecy, Israel, and so forth? Is it really important that we have one or another kind of understanding on each of these matters?

On the subject of dispensations, I think it certainly does. A dispensation is a kind of spiritual organizing principle presented to man by God. The dispensations in the Bible follow in very orderly fashion. To rightly divide the Word of God, we simply need to understand these changing spiritual economies and their progression from the Garden of Eden to eternity. Since there are dispensations in the Bible, and since they progress, I suppose that's where the term "progressive dispensationalism" came from, but the doctrine is full of error, as we have shown. Its results are disastrous. Borrowing a term like dispensationalism to form some convenient, new Scriptural doctrine is not a good thing, but a very bad thing, when it gets the kind of results we are seeing.

As to our understanding of End Times prophecy, it is everything to the believing Christian. After all, if it is possible that we may be Raptured tonight (or before you finish reading this paragraph), then that is something very important to know. And if, on the contrary, the church is going to go through the entire Tribulation period with all of its judgments and calamities, then that is important to know, too. After nearly 30 years of intensive Bible study and consultation with expert theologians, I firmly believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, which is to say that the Rapture is imminent and, in any case, will occur before the coming Tribulation period. That makes me actually live my life in a different way and look at the world in a different way.

During this past year, we had a very down-to-earth example of how our understanding of prophecy affects our behavior. Most of the people who held to views of the church going through the Tribulation period expected throughout 1999 that the problem called Y2K would be the beginning of the end. While all prophecy teachers had some responsibility to discuss that subject (and this ministry did that, too), those who feared impending disaster really trumpeted the problem. Dr. Gary North was one who taught that the Y2K problem was to be a judgment of God on the whole world. On his website, he said,

The Y2K crisis is systemic. It cannot possibly be fixed. I think it will wipe out every national government in the West. Not just modify them — destroy them. I honestly think the Federal government will go under. I think the U.S.A. will break up the way the U.S.S.R. did. Call me a dreamer. Call me an optimist. That's what I think. This will decentralize the social order. That is what I have wanted all my adult life. In my view, Y2K is our deliverance. Just don't be in a city when deliverance occurs.

Dr. Thomas Ice, vice-chairman of the Pre-Trib Research Center and a commentator on our TV program in the past, placed the fault very skillfully on Dr. North's odd views of End Times prophecy:

I pointed out that Dr. North's theological views of postmillennial preterism [the idea that there will be no Kingdom and all End Times prophecy was fulfilled in the past] greatly impacted his analysis of the Y2K computer problem. Since he was looking for the collapse of America and Western civilization, he has grasped at every potential crisis and proclaimed each event as a judgment of God. Who would be foolish enough to continue following his advice? I noted many of his past failures even before his Y2K fiasco. It makes a difference what you believe the Bible teaches. It makes a difference what you believe or don't believe the Bible teaches about Bible prophecy. Dr. North's postmillennial preterism is not only unbiblical, it cannot stand the test of practical significance. However, the beliefs of those of us who take Bible prophecy literally are coming into focus with each passing day.

Gary North, and others like him, make fun of those of us who are looking for the Lord's return at any moment. This is what the New Testament teaches. We are looking for a person, whom we love, to return and take us to be with Himself, not for the collapse of Western civilization. That will come one day during the future seven-year Tribulation period. Until our Lord returns, we are to be found faithfully preaching the Gospel throughout the world and discipling converts in the Word of God.

So famous a Christian as Pat Robertson sponsored conferences during the year in which post-Tribulationists like Robertson held similar views, panicked listeners, confused these warnings with the Word of God, sold an enormous amount of expensive survival supplies, and held prayer vigils and the like.

Our view of End Times prophecy is certainly important to how we are living, especially in the pressurized and unpredictable world of today.

A previous case of a lack of prophecy knowledge affecting many people was the publication of the Rapture-prediction book in 1988, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be on September 11. I believe we all can recall the prediction that the Rapture would occur on the Feast of Trumpets that year, and that we'd better prepare ourselves. The book was everywhere, although it was given away rather than purchased. After the noise died down, in the following year, I was asked by Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas to teach a six-week series on "89 Reasons Why We Can't Predict the Rapture!"

The problem with predicting the date of the Rapture is that it would, of course, cause people to believe in something "seen" rather than as faith is described in Hebrews 11:1, "... faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Truly, we live in an age of faith, and not an age of evidence, at least not worldly evidence.

And now, the important subject of Israel — I should say the crucial subject, since the whole church will be going there for the 1,000-year Kingdom, and I don't believe any professor at any evangelical seminary would dare contradict that very Biblical view. Furthermore, the restoration of the Jewish people to the Promised Land comes in fulfillment of 3,500-year-old prophecies (see Deut. 30:1-5). One could have lived at any time in the past 35 centuries and not understood that prophecy was seeing its literal fulfillment, and yet, in the very generation that sees the Chosen People start coming back to their land, we turn against that land and invent new doctrines that, in effect, make it unimportant. Progressive dispensationalism de-emphasizes Israel to the extent where, as we pointed out elsewhere in this letter, there is almost no point in trying to discuss affairs in the Promised Land with graduates of any seminary teaching that doctrine. They are, in effect, cursing Israel, and may well come under Genesis 12:3, "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee..."

And lastly, the seminaries themselves become all the poorer spiritually for adopting doctrines that simply will not stand the test of ordinary Bible exposition. Personally, I am not really a theologian, but I can easily see the errors in this doctrine, and my heart goes out to the young men and women being trained for important church work, including the pastorate, who will graduate in ignorance of some of the most vital doctrines of Biblical learning.

No wonder our churches are insipid, and our support of the Holy Land is so flagging. No wonder no voice was raised when Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, was given to Moslems, who have turned it into a typical Arab town hardly fit for pilgrims to visit. Really and truly, I shudder to think what some of the conversations in the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ will be like. We must keep in mind that each of us will face the King of the Jews when we get to heaven, and we will account for our attitude toward the Chosen People and their land. As our Lord will say to the Tribulation period souls in His Throne of Judgment, "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren [the Jews], ye have done it unto me" (Matt. 25:40).

This theological complaint about our major seminaries is not mere quibbling. This is a very serious problem which can only be solved by a concerted Christian effort to oppose those who teach false doctrines and, in effect, clean our own house. Paul made the point that, when we support a ministry, we have a part of that ministry and its accomplishments in heaven. That point may have a reverse side; if we support false teachings, we may have to account for those in heaven also.

Please think about that. Here are those seminary addresses again. Why not write them and give them your views?

President Charles R. Swindoll
Dallas Seminary
3909 Swiss Avenue
Dallas, Texas 75204

President Joseph Stowell
Moody Bible Institute
820 N. La Salle Boulevard
Chicago, Illinois 60610-3284

Dr. Clyde Cook, President
Talbot School of Theology
13800 Biola Avenue
La Mirada, CA 90639

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Letters to Zola

Dr. John Walvoord has been on our television program a number of times. He is a rare soldier for Christ. The chancellor of Dallas Seminary, he nevertheless takes time to come to our small program. Over 80 years old, he showed up once on crutches. Our cameramen helped him in. He responded to our call despite having a broken leg.

He wrote to us concerning Dallas Seminary and progressive dispensationalism. Tom McCall, a doctoral graduate of that seminary, replies after Dr. Walvoord's letter.

Dear Mr. Levitt:

Recently, I listened to your telecast on Sunday, February 13, in which you made remarks along with Dr. McCall about Dallas Theological Seminary.

From my point of view, some of these remarks were not quite accurate, and I would like to submit what I believe to be the true situation.

As you noted, some teachers at Dallas Theological Seminary are advancing what they call progressive dispensationalism. This is an unfortunate word because dispensationalism has always been progressive, because beginning with the Garden of Eden, the moral code required of believers changes as additional revelation is given. The Book of Genesis records a series of dispensations, one following the other. In each case, some of the moral code of the preceding dispensation is incorporated in the new dispensation. Some requirements are canceled and other new requirements are added, and that continues as long as there is additional revelation from God. Dr. Ryrie's analysis that the main point of progressive dispensationalism is that Christ is presently on the throne of David in heaven is true. A departure to amillennialism is not true.

In the Old Testament, the major dispensation was the Mosaic Law, which incorporated more than six hundred regulations covering almost every phase of human conduct, which was imposed on the nation Israel but never on the whole world. In the New Testament as John 1 records, grace and truth came by Jesus Christ; that is, in our present age we were in an age of grace where the Mosaic law is no longer operative.

While some factors in the Mosaic law are continued, others are canceled; for example, we do not go to Jerusalem several times a year and offer animal sacrifices. On the other hand, the ten commandments are continued in the sense that nine of them are repeated. The only one omitted is the fourth commandment dealing with the Sabbath, and Christians are not under the regulation to observe Saturday as the day of rest.

I personally disagree with so-called progressive dispensationalists, because they argue that because Christ is the appointed Son of David to rule over Israel, that His throne in heaven now is the throne of Israel, which I do not believe is true. A throne is not a chair, but a sphere of rule. This is illustrated in David himself, who was appointed king many years before he began to reign and assume the throne. The same is true of Christ. While He has all the authority and power over Israel, He is not exercising it at the present time. Even though they assert that He is ruling over Israel, the facts are that there is no support for this, and non-Christian Jews would be very much surprised if they were told they were under the rule of Christ. When the millennial kingdom comes, Christ will set up His throne in Jerusalem, and He will rule over Israel and over the whole world in an absolute sovereignty, and any who oppose Him will be punished. This is in contrast to our present day of grace where God permits many to rebel against Himself without immediate punishment.

I have talked to those who hold the progressive dispensational position and have asked them what their position is on other doctrines.

They have affirmed that they are pre-millennial; that is, they believe there will be a thousand-year reign of Christ on earth following His Second Coming. They are still pre-Tribulational in that they believe the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation. They distinguish between God's program prophetically for the Church and for Israel and recognize that, in the millennial kingdom, Israel will be restored as a nation and exalted and honored by Christ in a way that is not true today. They also affirm that, while they are holding to progressive dispensationalism, they are still dispensationalist and can sign the doctrinal statement of Dallas Seminary, because it really does not cover the issues involved in progressive dispensationalism. A teacher at the Seminary is judged entirely on the basis of how he relates to the doctrinal statement. All of the faculty and board members sign a statement each year affirming their faith in the doctrinal statement and their acceptance of it. There has been no change in our doctrinal statement. It is not true that the Seminary officially supports progressive dispensationalism, as none of the officials in the administration hold that position. In the light of these facts, it is not true that Dallas Seminary is leaning toward amillennialism, as this would involve taking non-literally the many passages on the millennial kingdom. It is not true that we are leaning to post-Tribulationism, because that would require spiritualization of the Tribulation, which we do not do.

The statement was made that we are silent on the subject of prophecy at the Seminary and do not hold prophecy conferences. This is not true. In the Fall of 1998, the Seminary held a six-day prophecy conference in Prestonwood Baptist Church. The public was charged $50 for a registration fee and attended six nights. Two thousand people attended and paid the fee. The lectures given were later incorporated into a book and published by Word Publishing. The book entitled The Road to Armageddon, which has had a wide sale, is the official statement of the Seminary's position on prophecy, which is premillennial, pre-Tribulational and dispensational. After the conference at Prestonwood, there was a demand for additional instruction, and an all-day seminar was arranged at the Seminary. Dr. Stephen Bramer and I taught eight major subjects during the seminar and answered many questions from the floor. It was a reaffirmation of the Seminary's traditional position on eschatology.

The Seminary is also publishing a series of leadership books by the faculty, and sixteen of these will be in doctrinal areas. I was assigned to write on the subject of eschatology and wrote the book, End Times, which is a detailed affirmation of the Seminary's position on premillennialism, pre-Tribulationism and dispensationalism. It also has had a wide sale. Recently, I completed an eight-week Bible study at Northwest Bible Church in which End Times was used as a textbook, and I taught the section for each night in eight sections covering the entire book. About two hundred fifty people enrolled in this course and bought the book.

In addition to these declarations of our eschatological point of view, I am continually holding Bible conferences around the country in the area of prophecy and will be leaving shortly for a week in Florida. Recently, I spoke to four different groups in Dallas in one week on the subject of prophecy. It simply is not true that the Seminary is silent on the subject of prophecy or that we have changed our position.

It is always difficult for an institution to maintain doctrinal harmony, especially when it has more than sixty scholars who are independently studying the issues. It is our goal at Dallas Theological Seminary to require agreement on all major doctrine, but there is room for difference of opinion on minor things where even the best of scholars disagree.

It is possible for faculty members to depart from orthodoxy and teach contrary to the doctrinal statement. Through the years, we have had to dismiss some faculty for this purpose. There was one faculty member who was not clear on the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy, and his contract was not renewed. Another professor taught for years but then adopted the idea of limited atonement, that Christ died only for the elect, which is contrary to our doctrinal statement. He was not rehired. In the first year of Dr. Campbell's presidency, three faculty members were dismissed. One of them was outspoken against dispensationalism, the other two had unrelated problems. In other words, when we find a faculty member seriously out of step with our doctrinal position, he is dismissed. But the judgment has to be based on difference with our doctrinal statement, not on things which our doctrinal statement does not cover.

If you have any evidence that any of our faculty disagrees with our doctrinal statement, we would appreciate it if you would give their name to me and the evidence, and I will see what I can do to find out the truth.

I have no desire for controversy with you and do not want to make this a public issue. I do not want this letter to be quoted unless you quote it in its entirety. But I think you should know that what you presented as the truth was not describing the actual situation.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
John F. Walvoord

Tom McCall
Thomas McCall

Response to Dr. Walvoord's Letter
By Thomas S. McCall, Th.D.

We appreciate very much Dr. Walvoord's letter on the problem of Progressive Dispensationalism at Dallas Theological Seminary. He is one of the heroes of traditional Dispensationalism, is one of the greatest living prophecy teachers, and is currently serving as the Chancellor of the seminary. He has been on our television program on several occasions and is a true friend of the Gospel of Christ and of Israel. He has asked us to print his letter in its entirety, if we print any of it, and we have done so for your information and edification.

Dr. Walvoord explains with excellent clarity the Scriptural errors of Progressive Dispensationalism. He shows that the idea that Christ has assumed the throne of David and is ruling over Israel at the present time is obviously false and unscriptural. He indicates that he and Dr. Charles Ryrie are in agreement on the fact that this teaching of Progressive Dispensationalism is in error. The only question is how serious it is for professors in influential positions in seminary classrooms to be teaching this erroneous doctrine to future ministers of the churches. Dr. Walvoord states that, when professors have deviated seriously from the doctrinal statement of the seminary, they have left.

Does Progressive Dispensationalism conflict with the doctrinal statement of Dallas Seminary? What does a plain reading of the doctrinal statement (available on the DTS website) indicate? In Article 5, on Dispensationalism, it states:

We believe that three of these dispensations or rules of life are the subject of extended revelation in the Scriptures, viz., the dispensation of the Mosaic law, the present dispensation of grace, and the future dispensation of the millennial kingdom. We believe that these are distinct and are not to be intermingled or confused, as they are chronologically successive. [emphasis ours]

Do you think that the concept that an emphatically millennial event such as the assumption of Christ on the throne of David at the present time is a confusion or intermingling of the current dispensation of grace and the future millennium? It would be interesting to know what our readers think of this. Can a professor who teaches Progressive Dispensationalism honestly sign the above doctrinal statement without reservation? Most of our readers are not trained theologians, but many are astute at evaluating Biblical truth. What observation would you make?


Zola's answer to Walvoord letter:

To Dr. Walvoord's letter, I can only say that I was honored to receive it, and I certainly expect him to defend the seminary to which he has given his life's work. And I sympathize with the fact that some seminaries are divided these days. With that said, I cannot help but go by results. I had many a joyous conversation about the progress of Israel and the mighty works of God there with Dallas Seminary graduates in the 1970s. In the '80s, some of them began to contend with me about Israel's importance, and sometimes about End Times prophecy in general. More recently, in the '90s, I found there was little point in trying to talk to a DTS graduate about Israel or prophecy because they seem to have little interest or grasp in those subjects. Whatever the fine points, the graduates are changed, and they will change the churches and the missions that they will ultimately lead. That seems very serious to me.

— Zola

Dear Zola Staff,

Thanks for the ministry you do. You put a lot of sincere effort into your work, and that is to be commended.

Yesterday's show on progressive dispensationalism was quite interesting. It was intriguing to hear your perspective about why notoriously dispensational institutions of higher education are turning away from classic dispensationalism. There are some reasons you neglected to indicate, however.

These institutions like Dallas Theological Seminary and Moody Bible Institute find direction from, first of all, I believe, God's Word. I do not see them faltering from that commitment whatsoever. Yet, they also are driven by two other powerful factors which cannot be ignored. I don't find these factors to be in conflict with God's Word, either. In fact, just as churches must factor in surrounding circumstances to discern God's voice (always in submission to God's Word first of all), seminaries have to look at the surrounding circumstances to hear God's leading for their future.

One plain, clear factor seminaries must examine is enrollment inquiries. These institutions were getting more and more negative responses to enrollment inquiries than ever. Much of it had to do with the rigidity of the dispensational course of study offered. Prospective students were looking for much more freedom to develop their own convictions, not simply accept the "party line." With that freedom of exchange of ideas has come more openness and acceptance of hermeneutical constructs from across the spectrum of evangelicalism. Dallas and Moody have finally seen that they need to loosen up and adapt if they are to have any students in the classroom.

Secondly, and this goes in tandem with the enrollment factor, scholarly works are just not being produced under a dispensational banner. Few, if any, books of major significance in the academic realm are being published by dispensationalists. The popular books and fiction currently being produced by dispensationalists are simply not of the caliber of solid scholarly work. Check the major commentary series or other NT and OT studies selections. Dispensationalism is nearly extinct at the academic level. Dallas and Moody understand this trend quite well. So do their prospective students as well as prospective faculty. It's hard for an institution to remain academically credible if hardly any of its faculty's books are being published with serious scholarly scrutiny.

Do you see these two huge pincers applying tremendous pressure to the traditional stance the dispensational schools have held? Something had to budge, and it appears as if Moody and Dallas are sluggishly trying to revamp and broaden out their views —if not for the survival of the institution (that would be a poor reason alone), then for the strength of the church, taking part of training young pastors for ministry, and, of utmost importance, heeding the voice of God.

I think the questions you asked at the end of the show about selecting a seminary need to stop at #2 — the inerrancy of Scripture. One's belief in inerrancy is not in question simply because one holds a differing view about the timing of the Rapture. Let's not be so boorish as to label other views as "wrong." We must have convictions on the issue, but not exclusive dogmatism. Our common ground in Christ is much more important.

I'm sure you'll receive a lot of email and letters about your show. I hope you don't take offense at the tone of them, if they are truly written in a constructive manner and with love and grace.

Romans 15:5-7
Shalom, brothers and sisters.

Tom McCall
Thomas McCall

Response to R.H. Letter
By Thomas S. McCall, Th.D.

The letter from R.H. is considerably different, being from a non-Dispensationalist. It is gracious in style, obviously from someone who is familiar with theological discussion, but it proves one of our main points, that the non-Dispensational people are welcoming the movement of the schools away from traditional Dispensationalism and consider the change a great improvement. They think that the movement is more significant than some of our own Dispensational theologians do, and that Progressive Dispensationalism is a harbinger of enlightenment and healthy academic freedom. It is obviously considered a great victory by the non-Dispensationalists. Should we consider the change to be without significance?

Also, R. H. is concerned that we single out the teaching of the Pre-Trib Rapture as one of the features of a reliable Bible school or seminary. For us to consider other Rapture interpretations as wrong is "boorish" according to his view.

We do believe there are strong Scriptural reasons for the Pre-Trib Rapture, but actually, there is also an integrity issue involved. If a seminary or school is founded openly as a Post-Trib institution, that would be one thing. But if a school is founded as a Pre-Trib ministry, begins to change to something else, but still represents itself as Pre-Trib to the supporting public, where is the integrity?

As our readers can see from the above letters, these issues are important, and demand far more attention from people and professors alike, if we are going to be faithful to the Lord and to "the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). In a very significant way, too, these aberrant doctrines have an adverse effect on how the Church relates to Israel, which has always been a major concern of this ministry.


Zola's response to R.H.:

I might simply ask how much compromise will be enough. After all, we could get still more students by broadening the Scriptures even more until, like some secular universities, we have "dumbed down" so much that anyone can come. For increased enrollments and popularity, nothing will work like broadening the way of doctrine.

But then, as our Lord pointed out, "Narrow is the way..."

And finally, I would like to say a word to Dr. McCall's excellent point about the integrity of the seminaries. While our large seminaries are still doing a wonderful work in training future leaders, their emphasis has subtly changed. They have become large financial organizations, emphasizing the business side of Christian education. Indeed, they strive for enrollments and for donations, too. As the administration promotes long-term investments, professors teach the imminent coming of the Lord! Many seminaries construct expensive new buildings and do extensive fund-raising. Moody Bible Institute has founded its own bank! At the same time, much of the faculty —sometimes intimidated by the fiscally conscious administration—teaches the virtues of Christian poverty and the soon coming of the Kingdom.

The word "two-faced" is not always a bad word; it just refers to two different images from the same entity. The face shown to supporters of seminaries is often very religious, modest, Godly, etc. The face we have come to see involves terrific tensions behind the scenes, summary firings of professors, and a subservient, dutiful staff doing the daily labors.

I honestly would assert that these things were not the case when Dr. McCall and I attended and taught at Bible schools.

Dear Zola,

I watched your two programs on the teachings of the seminaries. I must admit you have really put it on the line. From my past experience, I am sure that you are going to take some licks on this one, but I want you to know that I am proud of you for telling the truth regardless of losing some funding or following.

In some of the churches we have attended, we have seen that the pastors have been more interested in treating their ministry as a business, which pleases men instead of pleasing God by telling the truth at any cost. I do feel that you may have stopped short only directing your programs at the seminaries. It also has great importance in the individual Christian life, which should be examined as God has convicted my heart. I am a Christian Arab with a great love for the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. Keep up the good work.

Shalom in Yeshua,
D. and L.T.

Dear Zola,

I got saved reading Hal Lindsey's book, The Late Great Planet Earth, in 1974. We went to Israel in 1994 with Hal and then again in February 1996 with the late Dr. Lester Sumrall. Each time, the Holy Spirit makes the Bible come alive with the truth of the importance of Israel in relation to the soon coming of the Messiah.

Hal had mentioned in the past about the changes in the Dallas Seminary teaching regarding Israel.

My question is have you contacted Chuck Swindoll himself regarding the difficulties expressed on your recent programs? Perhaps a direct talk with him about what is happening could help this distressing situation. One can attend church week in and week out and never hear about Israel or the Rapture today, and I'm afraid this will only continue.

Keep putting Israel on the TV when you can as it will balance what is coming out from those who are blind to Israel's place in God's economy.

Looking up, Luke 21:28


Dear M.P.,


We are in contact with the seminaries mentioned on a pretty constant basis. Swindoll is the president of DTS, but you will see a letter from the chancellor in this newsletter. We have been in touch with President Joseph Stowell of Moody Bible Institute for the past five years via correspondence. Your remark about never hearing about Israel or the Rapture today exactly states the problem. Why should anyone be "blind to Israel's place in God's economy" at a time when even the secular world is interested on a daily basis? Keep looking up, and we'll be together soon!


Dear Zola and Dr. McCall,

I just read your (Dr. McCall's) letter concerning the teachings at various seminaries across the country. I want to ask you about your views, if any, about St. Paul's School of Theology at Kansas City. The reason I value your views is my membership is in a United Methodist church (but my heart belongs to Christ), and in that church are a few graduates of that seminary, one of which I think is a nice man to talk to but is not a conservative thinker as you two are. This man once told me that Jerusalem does not belong to the Jews, but to everyone. This man has a Ph.D. from that seminary. When he said to me what he did, I put my hand on his shoulder and politely said, "Forrest, I'm sorry, but I respectfully disagree." Nothing more was said just then, but his eyes were as big as tennis balls when I responded with what I said. A few days later, I wrote him a letter defending my opinion that, according to the Bible, God made an everlasting covenant with Abraham to give him all the land of Israel and pointed out the very borders of Israel. My friend has yet to respond to my letter via correspondence or verbally. I know I shocked him when I, a mere layman in our church, disagreed with this preacher with a Ph.D.

At any rate, I would like to know if you have any opinion about this particular seminary which many pastors/ preachers come from in the United Methodist church. I enjoy your television program so much, as well as your monthly letter. My wife and I have enrolled in your correspondence course and are really looking forward to its arrival so we can begin your study.

One last thing: the U.M. church is pushing a study all over the country and, indeed, around the globe, called Disciple. It is written by a retired bishop of the U.M. church. I have taken two of the four Disciple courses and, although the bulk of the course is Biblically correct, I am suspicious of some of the teaching. I am suspicious enough of it that I no longer am teaching it as I have for the past three years. If I send you one of the study guides, would you look it over and tell me if my suspicions are valid?

Because of Calvary,
P. P.

Dear P. P.,


A Christian educator who says Jerusalem doesn't belong to the Jews is not a Christian educator. At the very least, he has never read God's "everlasting covenant" with Abraham about the ownership of the Promised Land. While I get in trouble addressing individual denominations, yours is one of the first to come to mind when we use the term "liberal" in the sense of having departed from Scripture. Please send your study guide to Todd Baker, theologian at our ministry, and he will evaluate it for you. I'm glad you're enrolled in our correspondence course.


...not just automatically pre-trib.

I was watching a recent program discussing choosing a seminary. The graphic came up 3. Eschatology pre-trib rapture. I was wondering why the addition of pre-trib rapturism? What about all of the other possibilities, some with greater Biblical support? Sure, pre-millennialism, but not just automatically pre-trib.

I think the four qualities to look for in choosing a seminary are right on, just think pre-trib is added as if it is the right understanding to have. This truly limits the spirit of Biblical inquiry concerning this aspect of eschatology. Take a long look at the pre-wrath rapture position: Robert Van Kampen: The Sign; Marven Rosenthal: The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church.

P. W.

Dear P.W.,

The book, Raptured, by Dr. McCall and me, takes up the various possibilities of the time of the Rapture. We think that Biblical evidence overwhelmingly supports the Pre-Trib view.

In view of the fact that the Rapture is a surprise (" the twinkling of an eye," " lightning across the sky," " such a time as ye think not" in our Lord's words), I've never been able to see how it could be after other noticeable prophetic events. Many Scriptural reasons are discussed in our book.


Dear Brother,

I tuned into TBN, Sunday, February 20, 2000, and watched the program. How happy I am to hear others defending the faith! I am a missionary to Old Mexico and am tired and disgusted with the new doctrine that is of old! I appreciate you taking a stand, even though you know that it hurt the offering. I am tired of hearing "brother, just let God sort them out!" If we do not stand against "another gospel," who will?

I feel very alone much of the time since I have such radical views. The only views that I have are what has been preached for the previous 50 years! I believe in Dr. McCall's "DIET" and preach and teach this doctrine.

There are so many fable-weavers that I am constantly asked, "What about this or that brother?" When I tell the Bible-truth, all hell breaks around me. I am a contender of the faith and will be until Jesus raptures us or death comes. Thank you for buoying my spirit in these tumultuous days.

Co-laborer, — S.R.

Dear Sandra [Zola's wife],

After reading this month's Levitt Letter, I wanted to encourage Zola to keep on. I know he's fighting a difficult battle, and it breaks my heart that these highly esteemed seminaries are choosing to change their doctrinal positions on Israel. How can it be that Israel must be defended in these trusted institutions? I am just sick. What puzzles me is who, and why and how this happened. On what authority have they dared to tamper with the long-held beliefs of pre-millennialism and God's sovereign work in Israel's history? Such arrogance is appalling to me.

I shudder to think of the future ramifications in pulpits if this continues to be taught and bought. I also tremble to think of the responsibility before God for such deception. May God help Zola and Tom to keep on, and to be strengthened as heralds for Him. It hurts me to read of the way they have been flippantly brushed off. I am so very sorry. I also commit myself to pray for them and for repentance to come quickly.

Well, here we are [in Bible Study Fellowship] to Romans 11! I am so thrilled to be privileged to teach these lessons. Will you pray that God will use me to educate our class about Israel these next three weeks? There is so much I would love to share with them. I do plan to encourage the entire class to pray for BSF in Israel.

Who knows what God will do when all those women begin to lovingly embrace the Jewish people and pray for the gift of Bible study for them? I want so much to disarm anti-Semitism in every form in our women. I know you hear my heart. Thanks in advance for your prayers.

God bless you, and Shalom!
In the love of Jesus, —K.S. [BSF Teaching Leader]

Dear Zola and staff,

Thank you for bringing this information about seminaries to your listeners' attention. I'm sure that you will be receiving all kinds of "heat" for doing so. But since these schools are starting to turn away from the Truth, you are doing the right thing. I, for one, will continue to support your wonderful teaching ministry. You have taught me so much, and I am thankful for you. I don't know how to spell that wonderful Shalom closing, but I do pray for the peace of Jerusalem.


It's Sha'alu Shalom Yerushalayim, but God is happy to hear it in English.

Dear Zola,

I just viewed part 1 of your Progressive Dispensationalism program and was surprised. I often use your shows to teach Bible principles in Sunday School and in Bible study groups, as they are well thought out, well presented, and very effective! For the first time, in my humble opinion, you created a show that I do not think I would want or could use in like manner.

What came across to me was two angry men trying to drive home a point. This is not the same Zola who, in the past and in love, has pointed out many errors on other subjects. There didn't seem to be a systematic approach to the subject. It had the appearance of two men sitting at the coffee table discussing anything and everything about a subject as the thoughts crossed their minds.

Please understand my comments are intended to be constructive, as I do support your view of Progressive Dispensationalism and its impact on Israel, the Church, and Christians in general. Thanks and God bless you and your staff!


We were not angry, but just weary of a difficult task. We had one hour to correct the errors of 20 years. At least we agree. Thanks for your honesty.

— Zola


I also believe the four (4) criteria aired on today's television broadcast that should be used to identify a seminary teaching God's truth, now. Please send me a list of those seminaries you believe are teaching the whole truth right now. I go back and forth at times thinking about whether or not the Lord God is leading me to learn the Bible at a seminary. If He does lead me there, I certainly don't want to pick one that is or is beginning to teach false truth.


Dear D.,


We gave the four criteria because we believe it is up to each person to examine a seminary he or she is considering. We did mention the names of a few excellent schools in our newsletter, led by Philadelphia College of the Bible. I hate to put it in such plain words, but if I were sending my sons to seminary today, I would not choose Dallas or Moody Bible Institute. They would have been my first choices in the 1970s.


Dear Zola,

I just watched your program on TBN. I'm an old, uneducated Baptist. Well, I did go through high school, and I'm 82 years old. For many years, I've read the Bible (King James) through each year. I have no problem understanding English. I read that Israel was given to the Jews for an everlasting possession. God's firstborn nation, He began with the Jews and He will end with the Jews. God says He changes not. They are His Chosen People.

The church was not mentioned by the prophets of old. If Satan had known about the church, he would not have persuaded the Jews to ask for Christ to be crucified.

Paul writes that at some point in time the "Gentile Period" will end — not the Jews.

If people would read the Bible for themselves, they would not believe these wacky teachers. It is certainly clear to me. The Bible says pray for Israel, so I do. He will bless those that bless Israel. I want God's blessings.

I just cannot understand how people can come up with something different, unless some Bibles are translated differently from the King James version. If God could create this world, He certainly must be able to watch over His Word.

Zola, I like your program and newsletter.

Don't let these educated nuts discourage you. I think you are a great teacher of our Lord's Word.

May God's grace and love abound with you.

A Christian,
R. F.

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Zola's Bulletin Board

Last Call for Israel!

Do not pass Go; Do not collect $200. If you wish to join our April tour, please telephone Diana immediately at (214) 696-9760. Departing April 19, our Grand Tour includes a relaxing, yet educational, Mediterranean cruise. Our Deluxe Tour leaves on April 24. Both tours will return on May 4. Our Kibbutz Tour, june 7-16, lower priced than our standard tours, will give you a chance to experience digging for archaeological treasures (tools provided). For your color tour folder, please call Diana or Becky at (214) 696-9760 during office hours or 1-800-WONDERS anytime.

Our New Receptionist, Tonie

Tonie Tonie regularly attends Shalom, Shalom, our weekly Messianic congregation. When she learned about our job opening through a mailing limited to the local area, she gave notice at her higher paying job that she was leaving to work for the Lord. Thankful to be a part of our mission here, Tonie's exuberance is readily apparent to callers and co-workers alike. Thanks, Lord, for Tonie.

Zola's Discussion Board

At, Zola's chat room has its peaks and, lulls, but Zola's Discussion Board is always active. You can post articles, comments, responses and questions. Like Zola's Israel Slide Show, Zola on Internet TV and our searchable newsletter archive, Zola's Discussion Board is free. You can get to it by visiting While you're there, you may wish to go to our newsletters page and click to be emailed each time we add a newsletter to our web site. You may be reading our latest news and commentary before our hardcopies go to press!

God's Yellow Pages

Wouldn't you like to let your fingers do the walking when you're afraid, bereaved, defeated or lonely? Where can you go shopping for Christian virtues such as courage, diligence, happiness and kindness? If only there was a mall of boutiques with teachings about life's problems like anxiety, greed, lust and worldliness. Zola's web site of the month is, and you will need your Bible, not your wallet.

50 Booklets — Only $49!

Some of you love our $3 study booklets, such as The Seven Feasts of Israel, The Miracle of Passover and A Christian Love Story so much that you buy dozens to circulate to friends and acquaintances. What a terrific way to amplify our outreach and affordably enrich the spiritual walk of those you care about. For a limited time, if you order at least fifty of any of our $3 study booklets all at one time, mix and match, you can have them for only $1 apiece plus shipping. Particularly recommended: give a set of the three titles mentioned above to seventeen neighbors, Sunday School classmates or anyone who wishes to unveil the beauty of God's plan for eternity.

Airing Updates

WTSF in Ashland, KY, now airs Zola Levitt Presents on Sunday evenings at 6:00. TBN will preempt our program on Sunday, April 9 at 2:30 ET, 1:30 CT, 12:30 MT and 11:30 PT. The DayStar network will resume normal broadcasting on March 21 on Tuesday evenings at:

7:00 — WDTA-53 in Atlanta
6:00 — KMPX-29 in Dallas
6:00 — KLTJ-22 in Houston
5:00 — KRMT-41 in Denver

CTN will preempt our program on Monday, March 20 at 7:30 PM in Largo, Florida. For a free copy of our national airing schedule, please write to our P.O. Box or visit

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A Note From Zola

Dear Friends,

As you will see, the letters we received on the situation with Dallas Seminary, Moody Bible Institute, etc., were highly varied. It is challenging when we receive so many letters, and we have limited publication space. Let me try to digest some of the complaints and compliments in the letters we had no room to run in this issue.

Many letters gave us commendations and wished us Godspeed with this difficult mission. It seems that people are tired of going to churches where the pastor is not knowledgeable of God's work in Israel or of End Times prophecy. Many of these pastors were trained in the seminaries we mentioned, or those like them. (If you haven't seen our last issue, we complained about Progressive Dispensationalism, a new doctrine which leaves Israel out until the Kingdom and muddles the rest of End Times prophecy. We mentioned the above seminaries and several others, but there are Biblical errors in seminaries throughout the land. Our emphasis was on those schools people have always trusted. They seem to have changed greatly.)

Many letter writers told us that we'd picked a difficult fight this time and that, as worthy as the cause was, we probably wouldn't be able to affect this situation very much. The tendency for men to turn away from Scripture is almost as prevalent as the law of gravity.

Then, there was the usual take-me-off-your-mailing-list group who prefer a church in which there is never a word of dissension or complaint whatsoever. They sail in a boat that never rocks, and they expect to cash in their salvation like a money market certificate on the day it falls due. If you get on our mailing list, please know that, as our Lord put it, " shall have tribulation" (John 16:33).

And finally, there were letters giving cogent arguments and reasons for the situation we disclosed, and we have run the best of those in this issue. We were glad to hear from Dr. John Walvoord, a friend of our ministry and a top administrator with Dallas Seminary. We have not as yet heard from Moody Bible Institute, but they may use the ostrich defense ("Let's pretend they're not out there"). We've seen that one before.

And I guess I might as well say that there were stray remarks in various letters about "Zola's rather overblown commitment to Israel and the Chosen People" being the cause of all this complaining. Well, in terms of supporting Israel and the Chosen People, I plead guilty as charged. What mystifies me is why Christians anywhere would not be interested in Israel, where they're going to live for 1,000 years (and that could get started tonight!). I cannot really have a rational conversation with Christians who tell me Israel is irrelevant when I see God's handiwork there being carried out in precise accordance with voluminous Bible prophecy every time I go there. And as to the Jewish people, they've had enough persecution, derision, and garden-variety hatred. It's about time we learn to love those whom God loves and put our personal biases aside. After all, the first thing each of us will do in Heaven is an interview with the King of the Jews, and that could also happen tonight.

If blessing Israel is a curse, I'll exclaim with Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, "Then let the Lord smite me with it!"

The last thing I'll say on the seminary situation is that, whatever the technicalities or particulars of how things got this way, we simply protest the results. When people holding degrees from famous Bible institutions say things like, "God is working through the church today, but not through Israel," or "God cannot deal with the Jews, most of them aren't even saved," then I must protest. This lack of Biblical knowledge is much more typical of liberal seminaries and churches than Biblical ones, and I hate to see the one change into the other, however slowly and intelligently and cleverly that is done.

If you really want to learn about God's Chosen Land and His People, come with us on a tour of Israel! Our Spring Deluxe Tour is April 24 through May 4. You will visit all the major Biblical sites, including Mt. Carmel, Megiddo, Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, the Mt. of Beatitudes, the Jordan River, the Western Wall, the Mt. of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Upper Room, the Garden Tomb, Masada, and the Dead Sea.

You will also see the breathtaking Golan Heights and visit the Old City of Jerusalem. See the original Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum, and tour Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial and Museum. You will be reluctant to leave God's beautiful Land, but you will have gained the heartfelt knowledge that the Jews are the true inheritors of His Land.

Our Grand Tour is April 19 through May 4. Before touring Israel with the Deluxe group of pilgrims, you will visit Ephesus, Turkey, Athens, Corinth, and the Greek islands of Patmos, Mykonos, and Rhodes. Enjoy a luxurious cruise while you follow the Apostle Paul's path through Greece and Turkey, and see where it is believed John wrote Revelation. Expand your Bible knowledge while sailing some of the world's most beautiful waters aboard a "floating luxury hotel."

The Kibbutz Tour is June 7-16, and the itinerary is the same as our Deluxe Tours. You will stay in guest-houses located on kibbutzim instead of hotels in the cities, and we have an exciting addition on this tour — we are going on an actual archaeological dig! This tour is perfect for teachers, students, and the budget-minded pilgrim (it is the most economical tour we offer).

The rose-red city of Petra,
included in our September
and December Grand Tours.
This September, we are introducing the Ultra Grand Tour (September 6-24). Travel with us to Greece and Turkey aboard a luxury liner, then tour Israel with the Deluxe group, and enjoy a fascinating tour of Petra, Jordan, the "rose-red city half as old as time." You may choose to join us only for the Deluxe Tour (September 11-21), or opt for Greece and Israel (September 6-21) or Israel and Petra (September 11-24). You have several options from which to choose, and any of them are wonderful opportunities to rejoice in the lands of the Bible.

And remember to pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

Your messenger,


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Intensive Care Limbo

By Mark Levitt

Mark Levitt

I welcome death whenever Jesus wants me to come home. He has built many mansions for us, and he teaches us through trials and tribulations that this earthly existence is far from the best of all worlds.

Zola was driving a 15-year-old Pontiac and was having difficulty justifying the price of a safer car with air bags and anti-lock brakes. For his sake and that of the millions who benefit from his mortal existence, I gently pressed the issue with some philosophical scenarios.

"Imagine, Dad, that you wake up in an intensive care ward shortly after a nearly fatal car wreck. How much would it be worth to go back in time and invest in a safer vehicle?" Even the earth standing still, in this instance, wouldn't suffice.

Next, I asked him to picture himself in his safer, newer car, being driven home from the airport on a rainy night by my younger brother Aaron, an inexperienced driver. I asked him to imagine, for that one night, removing the car's air bags and anti-lock brakes to rent to someone else. "How much would you charge?" I asked him.

It was with love and concern that I persuaded him to invest in his own safety while driving. Now I turn to you in the same spirit as you navigate the roads of your mortal life. Are you among the seventy percent of Christians who may die without a will?

If you found yourself in an intensive care ward, no longer of sound enough mind and body to initiate the legacy you had always promised yourself, would you breathe easy, knowing it has been taken care of? Or suppose that your will was drafted already, taking care of your heirs and favorite charities. Wouldn't you refuse to pick certain days for the state to disregard your preferences and do as it wished with your assets?

For those who die intestate (without a will), the government has, in effect, a default will. Of course, the state misses by miles what many individuals want to do with their estates, and that's a problem most people can solve with a will that could cost as little as $200.

Please send for our free booklet, Planning Your Christian Will. Preparing a will is a matter of stewardship and a step you will be gratified to have taken. Beyond furnishing the planning booklet, we can give you contact information for attorneys from the Christian Legal Society's national directory if you either call (214) 696-8844 during office hours or write to our P. O. Box.

This ministry is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and accepts tax-deductible donations and bequests. Many of you are in no position to contribute to churches and ministries now, but your creating a will would give you the peace of mind that you have done what you can. May God guide you as plan your final good deed before meeting Him.

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Travels & Talks

Spring Festivals Prophecy Conference March 18-19, 2000
Biblical Arts Center
7500 Park Lane
Dallas, TX 75225

St. James Episcopal Church
March 26, 2000, 5 P.M.
417 Olive Street
Texarkana, TX 75504

Thy Kingdom Come, Inc.
April 5-6, 2000
7301 East 14th Street
Tulsa, OK 74112-6700

International Prophecy Conference 2000
April 7-8, 2000
God's News Behind the News
Orange County Convention Center
9800 International Drive
Orlando, FL 32819
To register call 1-800-366-1463
Hotel Reservations 1-877-766-6787

Fountain of Life Church
April 16, 2000
6800 Denton Hwy.
Fort Worth, TX 76148

Israel Tour
April 19 Through May 4

Shalom, Shalom Messianic Congregation
Every Friday Night 7:30 pm,
Biblical Arts Center,
7500 Park Lane at Boedeker,
Dallas, Texas 75225

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Copyright © 2000 by Zola Levitt Ministries, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. All rights reserved. Brief passages may be quoted in reviews or other article. For all other use, please get our written approval.