CHARTS FOR FULL PRETERISTS TO
Credit Where Credit Is Due (2006)
Todd Dennis is a soft-spoken man; in fact when I spoke with him he seemed to be much more willing to listen rather than say much in return, and his overall gracious attitude and kindness is readily shown throughout every corner of his well-known website, The Preterist Archive. Todd was kind enough to take precious time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions, and I am very much thankful for his generosity throughout this interview.
Virgil Vaduva: Your website is one of the first sites I ran across when I started to study Preterism. Can you tell us a little about what prompted you to start Preterist Archive and how it all came about?
Todd Dennis: While pastoring a Dispensationalist church in the mid 1990s, the Spirit was leading me into greater undestanding of the history and context of the New Testament period. What was unexpected, though, was that the closer my perspective became to that of the New Testmanet period and the expectations of the people in that era, the more alientated I became from the beliefs and expectations of the Futurist Christians in my own era.
As the differences between what I had been taught by men and what was being revealed from Above became more pronounced, I sincerely wondered if I was the only one in the world who was being shown such things. Immediately upon coming online at the start of 1995, my goal was to find anyone else on the Internet who was being shown the same first century fulfillment of eschatology. Failing to find anyone else, it seemed important to make a website which could serve as a beacon to reach out to the theologically-minded world, and also to support likeminded refugees from Futurism that might be found online.
It was about a month or two after starting the website that a brother emailed me to share that the view I was presenting was historically called "Preterism". Armed with that term, my search for materials intensified and began to yield large quantities of writings during, and even prior to, the Christian era which associated the fall of Jerusalem with the fulfillment of eschatology. As a result of these finds, it seemed natural to strategically organize the website into a posture for the propagation of the Preterist view, and also as a means of comforting and organizing the large number of persecuted Preterists who were contacting me into a united and viable theological front.
Virgil: How is Preterist Archive doing now and what new projects are you working on?
Todd: Though the project is now over ten years old, these same two goals have generally been maintained. However, over time many other goals have been added - especially the organization of preteristic literature into clearly defined categories. This year has been quite busy in this regard. Most notably, the website has ceased being a mouthpiece for the "Full Preterist" movement it helped sculpt, and no longer places that view up on a pedestal. Having seen the goal of Preterism's acceptance to the theological round table fulfilled, and with the advent of many other websites which present and defend a "Full Preterist" view, there is no longer the urgency to present that particular view as there was in 1995. Instead, PreteristArchive.com is now offering a more broad "Encyclopedic" approach, serving as a clearinghouse for the study of all aspects of fulfilled eschatology.
Virgil: What do you think about the demographics of Preterism? What one characteristic is important and common to your audience on Preterist Archive?
Todd: I'm not that interested or involved with the nuts and bolts of the "ism" aspect of the Preterist approach. However, it is impossible to ignore the trends that present themselves from many angles, such as through the reception of emails.
What seems to be the distinctive angle of the archive is that the overwhelming majority of readers are of Futurist persuasion. Though Preteristic minded people often visit and contribute materials to the site, the average visitor is only "pret-curious", in both positive and negative ways. This is particularly satisfying to me personally (and explains the increasing shift toward a completely balanced approach), as a great number of the people who come to the website in an antagonistic mindset, seeking anything to discredit the view any way possible, leave their quest forever affected for the better. There are a large number of such people now in leadership roles of the "Modern Preterist Movement".
One focus of the website, that tends to cater to the common between Futurists and Preterists alike is appreciation for proof of the historicity of Christianity and its approaches to eschatology. Seeing as how ever modern system is the result of development throughout the Christian era, all can enjoy archeological or papyrological revelations which point to the beliefs and practices of the ancient era of the faith. When this approach is tied into to the historical events surrounding the Roman-Jewish war, the pursuit takes on a powerful dimension that unites history and theology.
Virgil: As one who runs a major Preterist website, do you see Preterism as an "Internet-only aberration" as it has been often labeled by detractors?
Todd: That is an easy charge to make, considering the high visibility of the Internet; I feel certain, though, that the number of people out there who are being led by the Spirit in isolation far outnumber those currently online. These people are sadly isolated, and in most cases are completely unaware of terms such as "Preterism". In due time, and as the world increasingly gets wired, I'm sure they will be able to likewise find comfort and fellowship online.
Besides, the literary world, independent of the Internet, has become highly involved with preteristic thought. And even more significant seems to be the converging of all disciplines of scientific and theological inquiry, and the recognition of the role the events of AD70 have had in the formation of the modern world.
Virgil: As you well know, there are many differences between Full Preterists and other eschatological positions that are Preteristic in nature. Do you think these differences are reconcilable, and if so how?
Todd: These different views are all reconcilable in Christ. I believe that the Grand Truth is not Preterist or Futurist.. but that it is spiritual in nature represented by the person of Jesus Christ. Therefore, as we will share a focus on things above, we will find our earthly differences diminishing. Though some may feel more comfortable looking below and pointing out the weaknesses of others, I believe we are called to seek the healing of the Body of Christ by pointing at our King and pointing out His power and glory.
Virgil: You recently made an interesting proposition regarding the semantics of Preterism, namely renaming Full Preterism as Modern Preterism. When I think of the word "Modern" I think in philosophical terms associated with 20th century thought, as opposed to "Postmodernism" for example. How do you use these terms and why do beneficial to refer to Full Preterism in terms of "Modern Preterism?
Todd: This move was strictly for the organizational purposes of the website. Though some have tried to take these terms and use them in theological conversation, that was not the intention behind the shift in terminology. The main goal of the reclassification of terms was to form a more clear spirit of inquiry at the site -- one which doesn't enter into the tug of war over the typical terminology. Utilizing terms such as "full" or "consistent" or "hyper" in association with "Full Preterism" -- or, even worse, the tendency to use of the term "Preterism" to organize "Full Preterist" though really missed the mark. People feel passionately about this topic on all sides, so I wanted to find organziational terminology that was above all else fair.
"Historical Preterism" is used to organize to all developed forms of "Partial Preterism" throughout the centuries, whereas "Modern Preterism" is used to organize those strictly "Full Preterist" views developed popularly in the 20th Century.
Associating the term "Modern" with 20th Century seems very appropriate and fair to all sides -- particularly considering how incredibly recent is the literary origin of this approach. In my decade of intense searching, it appears that the middle of the 20th century is the earliest era of a published consistent fully (Christian) preterist approach. That is not to say that one is not to be found earlier (or was not held earlier, as a developed approach was almost certainly held by someone prior to then), just that the popular systematized form of "Full Preterism" as we know it today is of modern origin. On a side note, there actually is a pre-Christian form of Full Preterism that is Jewish in origin, and dates back to the first century B.C., but that is categorized under "Jewish Sources".
Virgil: In my personal interactions I have observed that semantics often get in the way of constructive dialogue. For example, Partial Preterists call us "Hyper Preterists," (in a somewhat derogatory manner). What descriptive term do you use to describe Preterism in your interactions in order to avoid conflict and create an atmosphere conducive to dialogue?
Todd: I tend to use the term "preteristic" when speaking of an approach of fulfilled prophecy relating to "end things", because so much is typically added to the rudimentary "Preterist" idea. As we strip away all of the other aspects of theology that we add to the idea of first century eschatological fulfillment, a certain rudimentary, embryonic form appears -- one that is very much in line I think with the First Century Palestinian idea. If it is given that there is a 'kerygma' form of the gospel, then this idea would be that for end-times fulfillment. To me, this 'kerygma' form is actually the *true preterism*, and is shared by both partial and full preterists alike.
Part of my 2006 classification shift has been to be more specific in the identification of full preterist views. Though many "Full Preterists" speak of "we preterists" or "us preterists", believing that there is a cohesive form of that approach, it seems to me that there really is no such thing as a systematic "Full Preterism" that stands on its own without resort to other aspects of one's theology. In every case, that end-times view is tied to one soteriology or another, creating a "Hybrid Preterism" between the two.
So to me all "Full Preterists" are "Hybrid" to some extent. My own personal "Hybrid Preterism" connects fulfilled eschatology with a Spiritual Idealist point of view. (For those who are interested there are materials being gathered on this view at the site, and I'll be presenting it formally at the New Creation Ministries conference at the end of July in Arizona.) Others are more comfortable in a Reformed/Calvinistic Hybrid approach, whereas others may be more comfortable operating in an Hybrid of Preterism and "Emergent" theology. I think it is very important though, for the sake of clarity and honesty, not to confuse any of these hybrids with the fundamental Preterist idea itself. Eschatology is about "last things" for a reason, as we are defined much more by our soteriology more than our eschatology. If the cross of Christ isn't the focal point of our fellowship, then we are certain to find disappointment and despair in trying to unite around anything else.
So, in the spirit of "fair play" and "full disclosure",I feel like it is the responsibility of "Full Preterist" to present their own view as simply a hybrid of Preterism, clearly stating the other aspects of theology that truly define their view.
Virgil: You mentioned the surge of Preterist eschatology within the controversial Emergent Church. At least one solid Preterist book has come out of the Emergent Church, and Brian McLaren has been a strong proponent of Preterist eschatology. What do you think about these developments, and how do you think they are affecting the Preterist movement?
Todd: Emergent Preterism is just one of the many hybrids out there. There are hybrids of emergent, calvinism, arminianism, universalism, christian identity, and probably any other system available out there. It has just as much right to exist as any does any other system of religious thought. Ultimately, though, I believe that all systems fall short of the mark, and only serve to comfort us in our general ignorance of the eternal, invisible, spiritual system within the Kingdom of Christ and God.
Virgil: Todd, thanks again for taking time to answer these questions. May God continue to bless your ministry! Do you have any closing comments for the Planet Preterist readers?
Todd: My best advice to all Christians is to love one another. As we think and talk about Preterism it is important to keep the exercise in its proper perspective. If we can keep the basis of our fellowship on conforming to the image of Christ, then we will manifest much more brotherly love towards the body. If, however, we insist or expect others to conform to our image and our theology, then we sow the seeds of dissapointment, anger and division.
We really mustn't take ourselves or our ideas too seriously. I truly believe that the magical thinking of "A Preterist Reformation" has taken the idea backward instead of foreword. It is so easy to focus on AD70 that we can easily forget about AD30 -- or for that matter what it means for us in AD2006.
Re: Credit where credit is due: An Interview with Todd Dennis
by amie on Sunday, June 04 @ 15:23:10 PDT
"Ultimately, though, I blieeve that all systems fall short of the mark, and only serve to comfort us in our general ignorance of the eternal, invisible, spiritual system within the Kingdom of Christ and God."
If "all systems fall short of the mark", then there would truly be no reason to dismiss any one for another - nor would one be justified in declaring any other "wicked" imo.
"Love one another" sounds great as does the non-insistence and non-expectation of others conformity to our image and our theology (referring to Mr Dennis's last reply). Certainly demanding such inspires people to divide, and cast off others in the name of said theology and image.
Re: Credit where credit is due: An Interview with Todd Dennis (Score: 1)
by psychohmike on Sunday, June 04 @ Thank you Virgil, And thank you Todd.
Re: Credit where credit is due: An Interview with Todd Dennis (Score: 1)
by EWMI on Sunday, June 04 @ 17:12:50 PDT
Thank you both for this interview. Many have come to appreciate Todd's hard work and even handed attitude to all.
Re: Credit where credit is due: An Interview with Todd Dennis (Score: 1)
by Dana_Nathan_Salsbury on Sunday, June 04 @ 21:07:12 PDT
I'm so glad to see Virgil & Todd united in this movement. The two sites have their strengths via the personalities of their authors. I think Todd is an incredible servant, and his borderline obsessive-compulsive research provides the validation of preterist claims. He has left the gate open for people to fairly investigate preterism, which represents us as transparent.
When my wife saw Van Impe stuff on Todd's site, it really set her at ease that I wasn't luring her into cultish thinking. Then when we went through the Virgil's outline, it convinced her.
God bless you both!
Re: Credit where credit is due: An Interview with Todd Dennis (Score: 1)
by Flakinde on Monday, June 05 @ 07:38:54 PDT
I am always so blessed whenever I hear or read my brother Todd. As a person, he is a true example for my life, as I believe he shines a Christ-centered attitude, which as he very well states, disintegrates all our petty wars against each other.
Thank you Virgil, for giving some attention to this dearest brother. To all, please don't pass off Todd's call to pay attention to the first things.
Blessed in His rest,
What do YOU think ?
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"I enjoy your website. It is one of the few, if indeed there are any others, that allow a person to freely study the fulfilled eschatological view."
Date: 21 Feb 2013
Dear Todd Dennis,
Thank you so much for Preterist Archive. Some years ago, I went to a class that was a Bible College by extension. I had to choose between Pre, Mid, and Post Trib Rapture as an essential part of the class requirement. I chose post trib since it made the most sense of the three to me, but at that time my teacher admitted that there are "kingdom now" people who believe in none of the above options. That was news to me. Later, people were trying to say that Jesus was going to come back because of the fig tree "prophecy". So I read it, and found the fig tree did not actually represent the nation of Israel, it was just a parable talking about watching the signs of the time. Then I began to read other scriptures which were supposedly speaking of the second coming to see if they had been mis-taught to me as well. To my surprise they all spoke of the destruction of the Temple and defeat of Jerusalem by the Romans. By the time I was done, I was a preterist. Your site helped me understand all the old testament prophecies about the "end" times. I love that you explain the differences in types of preterists. It helps me a lot to understand how to explain to others what I believe. It is so freeing that I cannot put it into words. Simply, I am very happy to be a "partial" preterist. I do not fear antichrist or some dreaded 3 1/2 year period of demonic terror. I am not superstitious. I am at peace, knowing my role in the world is to gain territory for my king against the adversary, and when it is over, after resurrection, there will be no more need of a kingdom for there will be no more opposition, and all will be turned over to the Father. I explain this to people based on scriptures, and it helps them to be less fearful too. It is so good to help my brothers and sisters in Christ to not have a victim mentality any more. Most of the time I keep my mouth shut, in groups, but one on one I share my views when it seems appropriate. Well, I probably sound like I'm gushing. God bless.
Date: 04 Jul 2013
Fantastic website! It must be the best Preterist resource on the net. It has been very fairly done and as you say rightly 'balanced.'
Thank you for your diligence, thoughtfulness and industry.
Date: 17 Feb 2013
Todd... Great work. Dual fulfillment, futurism... Or simply idealistic understanding that how God deals with man... And how independent Christian remnants have always been the ones to deliver the truth through the centuries... This church and state battle.. Where both are fighting the truth (priests and Rome vs. Christians who fled) is always how it will be. With AD 70 like culminating events... All throughout history.
Date: 18 Feb 2013
Very nice Todd. Downright eloquent!
Date: 26 Dec 2010
I just want to say a BIG "Thank You" to Todd Dennis for all his help. I am a 66-y-o Bible teacher, and try to always be accurate and honest in how I interpret Scripture. I accept the AD 70 judgment on the "old order", but a lot of other stuff seamed cold and hopeless and un-personal. Reading Todd Dennis' articles REALLY helped me find my way back to center. I am shocked, however, to see his picture. I thought he was an old man! A WISE, OLD MAN! Instead, he is very young for having such wisdom. My hat's off to you - for not letting the oldsters intimidate you, and for standing up for the Truth. And for your meekness, humility and honesty.
Rose Kendall, Minnesota
Date: 17 Mar 2010
I will be moving to Alaska soon, I'm looking for a Real PRETERIST church body. I have studied with preterists all of my born-anew-life, 31 years! They lead me to Christ, so I have got THY real deal early on!
Date: 28 Feb 2010
What do I think? Let me ask a question: Are you serious? You have missed the point completely.
Date: 02 Feb 2009
This is deep, and more than just physical, My heart was touched. I have already begun to see these things, as I do my own studies in His word. Thank you for your concern for the souls of others.
Although you and I do not really know each other I believe that our
interaction has been both positive and brotherly over the past few years. I
have always maintained a great deal of respect for you and for your
convictions even though I may not always agree with your conclusions about
You invested your heart and soul into gathering the resources that went into the founding and formation of "The Preterist Archive" as a place where students of the word could gather to discern the truth and to look at various aspects of preterism from an objective standpoint. I respect that goal and intent.
I wish you well and that God's blessings will follow you where ever your journey takes you. My personal thanks and admiration to you for all that you have done!
Even if you have moved past preterism you have devoted a considerable
amount of time and energy researching the history of the doctrine and I just
could not stand to see it all just disappear into cyberspace. You are doing
a great job and I appreciate your work.
Date: 2 Feb 2008
Been away for a while and I felt moved to see where you were at. Your recent essay on Matthew 16:27-28 and what it means strikes me as a deeper, truer understanding of what Jesus was promising (not merely prophesying, but promising... well spotted, Todd!)
Date: 28 Jan 2008
A friend told me that you had renounced hyper preterism. I praise God for His work in your life to lead you out of that heresy! You are a blessed man! : )
I am elder of a church in (Midwest), and a few years ago we had a dreadful time dealing with some hyper-preterists that were among us. As Paul predicted in 2Ti 2:17-18, their teachings severely harmed the faith of several of the saints before it could be stopped. Some have still not recovered.
Anyhow, I truly rejoice when I hear of someone leaving the hyper preterist camp. Congratulations!
Jesus Is Wonderful!
Date: 28 Jan 2008
Todd, Ten minutes ago I read your announcement of renouncing hyperpreterism, and it took my breath away. I had to force back tears. For several years, those people made my life miserable. I can't tell you how good it feels to see you take your principled and courageous stand. God bless you!!!!
Date: 24 Feb 2007
Where do I start? I found your web site and what a find indeed....full of material that gives a scholastic foundation to eschatology. I turned away from futuristic thought years ago. It didn't have the ring of truth to me. Preterism captivates my attention but the extreme forms can and will lead to a quiet despondency and indifference if not checked. Your presentation of Jerusalem as an image of the heart brought me a deep sense of God's presence with me. I wept as I read your presentation leading up to Psalm 46 and applied it to my sometimes tumultuous life situation. Thank you my friend. I haven't sensed the beginning of a reformation of my heart quite like this for sometime. The words of Isaiah " Comfort ye, comfort ye my people" does indeed speak to me unlike it ever has before.
Date: 20 Sep 2006
Thanks Todd, You have been an ongoing inspiriation to me and PA is a regular landing pad. Curiously the other day I was struggling with similar issues to yours. I seem to have landed at something like the Idealist/Preterist position.
For what it is worth, be encouraged to steer away from the need to criticise hardcore MPMer's. I think we are all heading to some form of idealism.
I think you're wrong. And I remind you that misinterpreting Gods word is a dangerous thing. You are walking on thin ice when you try to change what God is saying......... The truth is clear as crystal, it's too bad your hatred and anti-semitism won't let you see it......
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If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me back. Keep up the amazing work!
Email PreteristArchive.com's Sole Developer and Curator, Todd Dennis
(todd @ preteristarchive.com)
Opened in 1996