Zola Levitt

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Zola Levitt (December 3, 1938 – April 19, 2006) was a Jewish convert to evangelical Christianity who founded a church, Zola Levitt Ministries, in Dallas, Texas.

Ministry and life[edit]

Levitt's church's main goal is to convert Jews to evangelical Christianity.[1] He was one of a number of fundamentalist ministers to realize that there was an economic and spiritual niche in "missions to the Jews." With his visits to evangelical churches dressed as an ancient Levite, he was quite successful between the 1960s and the 1980s in raising funds to support the multimillion dollar budget of his organization.[2] Levitt wrote a large number of books. He also produced and starred in his own radio and television shows, many of which were broadcast on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.[3] Levitt's radio shows, because of their intention to convert Jews to Christianity through the use of Jewish scripture, were a locus of "vehement protest from the Jewish community, who object to what they feel is a distortion of Jewish teachings."[4] In 1994-95, The Dallas Morning News reported that two employees of his church had filed civil suits claiming sexual harassment.[1][5][6] He died of lung cancer in April 2006.[7]

Theology[edit]

Levitt was a classical dispensationalist, believing that the nation of Israel would play a crucial role in signalling the beginning of the end times. In 1975, he announced that the Yom Kippur War was the beginning of the end of the world; Thomas S. Kidd, in his book American Christians and Islam, states that Levitt "among others" (pg 132) "did leave open the possibility" that Henry Kissinger might be the antichrist because of the peace deal Kissinger brokered ending the Yom Kippur war.[8] Levitt used his print publication The Levitt Letter, to criticize progressive dispensationalism. His main targets were theologians at the Dallas Theological Seminary, the Moody Bible Institute, and the Talbot Theological Seminary. The gist of his quarrel with the brand of dispensationalism putatively taught at these institutions was, according to Levitt, that they claimed that aspects of the Millennial Kingdom were present in the modern world. Levitt strongly opposed such a stance because he believed that it minimized the role of Israel in God's plan for the world.[9] For much the same reason, Levitt was opposed to efforts to bring a negotiated peace to the Middle East.[10] As an expression of his dispensationalism, Levitt sponsored a grove in Israel to which his followers could donate trees, the stated purpose being to make that country green in preparation for Christ's return.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Randall Herbert Balmer. Encyclopedia of evangelicalism. p. 337. Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  2. ^ Ariel, Yaakov Shalom (2000). Evangelizing the chosen people: missions to the Jews in America, 1880-2000. UNC Press Books. p. 283. ISBN 978-0-8078-4880-7. Retrieved 28 September 2011. 
  3. ^ Smith, Robert O. (Autumn 2004). "Between restoration and liberation: theopolitical contributions and responses to U.S. foreign policy in Israel/Palestine". Journal of Church and State 46 (4): 833ff. 
  4. ^ Sterling, Christopher H.; Keith, Michael C. (2004). The Museum of Broadcast Communications encyclopedia of radio 2. Fitzroy Dearborn. p. 787. ISBN 978-1-57958-432-0. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  5. ^ Everbach, Tracy (January 8, 1995). "2nd harassment suit filed against religious TV host". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Everbach, Tracy (September 18, 1994). "Ex-Zola Levitt worker alleges sex harassment". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  7. ^ "Preacher Zola Levitt dies". WorldNetDaily. 19 April 2006. Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  8. ^ Kidd, Thomas S. (2009). American Christians and Islam: evangelical culture and Muslims from the colonial period to the age of terrorism. Princeton University Press. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-691-13349-2. Retrieved 28 September 2011. 
  9. ^ Hannah, John D. (1 November 2009). An Uncommon Union: Dallas Theological Seminary and American Evangelicalism. Zondervan. p. 243ff. ISBN 978-0-310-30302-2. Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  10. ^ Gorenberg, Gershom (2002). The end of days: fundamentalism and the struggle for the Temple Mount. Oxford University Press. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-19-515205-0. Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  11. ^ Feldman, Jackie. "Abraham the Settler, Jesus the Refugee: Contemporary Conflict and Christianity on the Road to Bethlehem". History & Memory 23 (1): 62–95. 

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