Credit Where Credit is Due
Full Preterism vs.
Todd Dennis, Former Full Preterist
It is more than a little amusing
to see how dramatically my public reputation shifted
once it became clear that I had really left full
preterism and intended to oppose it. For
years I have kept my mouth shut in the face of many
libelous smears, and have tried very hard not to
defend myself (this is usually pointless when one
has already been found guilty without a trial.).
Whereas those in positions of leadership within the
scope of Full Preterism had been saying very nice
things about me publicly before my departure, such
positive opinions became noticeably more sour.
Now, I certainly harbor no hate
towards any of my former colleagues. Nor do I have
evil plans (although people have put words into my
mouth to the effect that I do). What I do have is a
sincere desire to point out the errors of
interpretation I went along with over the decade I
was a Full Preterist...
while continuing to point out the errors of
interpretation I went along with while a
By the way, the term "Hyper Preterism" is not
a pejorative to me. It is an actual, doctrinally
descriptive term for that form of preterism
which goes too far in fulfillment. Nearly every
full preterist believes that fulfillment can be
taken too far in a "hyper" sense, although most
choose not to define it. What I have done it
taken the time to classify where I believe that
"hyper" line to be.
Clearly, it makes the natives a
bit restless when a former chief (PreteristArchive.com
started the online full preterist movement back in
1996, in case that fact wasn't known to the reader -
knowing this helps put the severity of the responses
to me in much better context, it seems) starts
hanging around with a new tribe. But the smear
pieces written by those who assumed that I was acting
in bad faith are just so over the top, as to invite
questions about the spiritual walk of the authors.
Thankfully, more than one of those people have seen
the error of their past behaviors for themselves,
and have apologized for their ungodly smears.
As in all things, may the Holy Spirit guide our
hearts and minds in all holiness and purity.
For the fun of it, I will be archiving the various
comments on my repudiation of full preterism to show
the amazing change in opinion towards me in just a
short time. If I find any relating to my repudiation
of Dispensationalism, I will post those too.
PRIOR TO PUBLICLY LEAVING FULL
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
An Interview with Todd Dennis
Interview Conducted By Virgil Vaduva
[Admin Note: Though I officially left Full Preterism at
the 2006 NCMI Conference (Within a few weeks of this
publication), all comments accurately reflect my current
beliefs... aside from an identification within the
confines of "Fulfilled Eschatology."]
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
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
understanding 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
Testament period and the expectations of the people in
that era, the more alienated I became from the beliefs
and expectations of 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 into a united and
viable theological front the large number of persecuted
Preterists who were contacting me.
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 in nor 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 effected 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 ground between Futurists and Preterists is
appreciation for proof of the historicity of
Christianity and its approaches to eschatology. Seeing
as how every 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
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
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
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 looking above and
pointing at our King and 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
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 the term
"Preterism" to organize "Full Preterist" thought) really
misses 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. [Note, Full Preterism is
no longer classified with "Modern Preterism"]
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 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
Preterism that is Jewish in origin, and dates back to
before 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 taken for granted 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 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
So, in the spirit of "fair play" and "full disclosure",
I feel like it is the responsibility of "Full Preterists"
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
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 forward. 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.
Todd Dennis (email@example.com)
And then, upon leaving Full Preterism (but not
leaving my charitable attempt to reach people for the
truth which goes beyond systems), the headline was thus:
Todd Dennis and his Cult of
What do YOU think ?
Submit Your Comments For Posting Here
..Will Be Spam
Filtered and Posted Shortly..
Date: 01 Apr 2009
I've been reading Preterist material for about 5 years and Preterist Archive
was my favorite because it consolidated all variations under one cover.
About 1 year ago, I took a hiatius from Preterism because I saw so many
diverging variations developing and it rather overwhelmed me.
I decided I'd give it a rest until I saw some sign of a uniting of beliefs,
or at least a sifting out of the more radical views.
Going back to P.A, I saw with horror the apparent downsizing of full
preterism to it's own section, apparently on a lesser level. This upset me,
because I was more and more convinced that F.P was the light at the end of
the tunnel, even with it's many unanswered questions.
I, by chance,after clicking onto "Virgil Veduva", hit this particular
website, and NOW understand what happened at your site. Now, if I can just
find the FullP section in P.A.....
Here it is.. and every bit as large as
before.. if not larger now. The difference that that full
preterism is now classified within hyper preterism, though it is but one
of many hyper preterist systems (e.g. Universalists, Noyes, Russell, and
other "resurrection past" teachers. There is a lot of meat
here, as it relates to full preterism... dig in!
"Every student of the Epistle to the Hebrews must
feel that it deals in a peculiar degree with the thoughts and trials of our
own time. The situation of Jewish converts on the eve of the destruction of
Jerusalem was necessarily marked by the sorest distress." (B.F. Westcott)
The Epistle to the Hebrews was written by the eternal
Spirit for the whole Church of God in all ages. It shows us on what
footing we are to stand before God as sinners; and in what way we
are to draw near as worshippers. (Horatio
The Rent Veil
There are various types of "Hybrid Preterism".. the term doesn't mean to imply that the hybrid view of this
website (which is very idealistic in its focus on spiritual realities now)
is the ONLY hybrid view. I know of many Hybrid Preterists who are following
down similar paths of discovery.