You are hereTodd Dennis and his Cult of Personal Destruction
Todd Dennis and his Cult of Personal Destruction
Since I became a Preterist I only spoke with Todd Dennis twice on the phone, so I don't really know the man very well at all; I also don't keep track of everything happening out there in the Preterist netherworld, of who hates who and who shanks who in order to get up to the top. I was therefore quite surprised when a few days ago someone sent me a note with a quote from Todd Dennis: "[I] wait until Planet Preterist was on its last leg & then come in & deliver the death blow." Does it sound like Todd Denis is the kind of guy that would kick someone when he is down? It does to me.This made me even more curious, so I started looking into what is happening with Todd and his website, and even attempting to understand the system he invented called “preterist idealism.” I sent out a few emails to folks asking what is going on with him and about these statements he is making towards people he barely knows, then I was even more surprised when someone wrote back with this response:
Todd blames the loss of his family and the divorce on full-preterism, and particularly universalism (which he believes is inherently rooted in full-preterism)...Todd blames you and a few other full-preterist promoters for his family tragedy.
Ok, is your mouth still hanging open?
Now, I will be happy to take the blame for the Castro-looking coffee stain on my shirt, the times when I cut people off in traffic and even my attempt to trademark Preterism, but to be blamed for someone's divorce is really a new one for me. I've had people blame me for anything and everything related to theology, but was never blamed for a divorce, and while I don't want to poke fun at Todd's situation, I assure him and everyone else that I have never met his ex-wife nor was I ever alone in a room with her.
Now, with that said, Todd Dennis does not seem to be the guy to go face someone like a man. I called him yesterday to discuss these newfound revelations and he did not respond or called back. Granted I am a little slow and I may be behind the times and dates regarding his "masterful plan" to destroy Preterism, but he could at least take my calls and say hello. So I don't know what is more troubling: the arrogance of a stranger who sees himself as powerful and important as to being able to destroy relationships and people, or the cowardice of a stranger who is unable to face the people he is attempting to destroy?
Whether or not Todd sees the wrong in what he is doing can be debated, but is that even the point? Is it not true that throughout the past 6 years or so, this place, Planet Preterist has been one of the most open, generous and growing places for Preterists online? Looking back at all the gathering places for us Preterists, this website has been growing steadily and surely. When we started in 2002 the website received a little over 5,000 page views and had about 75 registered users. Only in 2008 so far the website received 1.8 million page views and it looks like we will crack the 2 million views mark for the first time with 4,640 registered users as of today, and most readers of the website are non-registered users. Not bad for a place on its last leg.
Another one of the en vogue accusations thrown at Preterists now is that “Preterism is a cult.” I noticed this being thrown around by a couple of Todd's followers. Let me address this very quickly. Doctors Lanja Lalich and Michael Langone with the American Family Foundation created a checklist of fourteen characteristics of a cult. Rather than going into the whole list in detail (you can read it all yourself here: http://www.csj.org), there are three characteristics which immediately jump out:
Questioning, doubt and dissent are discouraged or even punished – About two years ago, Planet Preterist hosted a month of doubt, where we encouraged everyone to openly and anonymously if necessary express doubt in public. This really irked the certainty police to the point of sending out mass emails warning folks about Planet Preterist encouraging Christians to doubt and ask questions. I get the feeling that we are overdue for another session of expressing our doubts and questions openly and without fear.
The group is elitist – Since the very beginning, Planet Preterist has accepted anyone and everyone willing to write, comment and participate here and in our conferences; all we ever asked was to respect other opinions and do not personally attack others. In opposition to that, Todd Dennis wrote: “Consistency within the system is really what sets the newbies apart from the more experienced, generally speaking. Just like with Dispensationalism, one can believe that Jesus is King now, but if the system will not allow it, then they are just inconsistent, and inexperienced within their own hermeneutic, not really representing it for what it teaches. The same is true, in my opinion, with that form of full preterism (most notably found among the Reformed) which teaches that everything was fulfilled historically by AD70, and yet that not everyone in the world enjoys its benefits.” Elitist and arrogant? You be the judge.
The leadership dictates in great detail how members should think, act and feel – besides the fact that Preterism has no leader or leaders that I know of, here we encourage Christians to do the exact opposite: question the status quo, be different, do not ever buy what others tell you, measure everything against the word of God.
With all this said, you the reader are probably asking: who is Todd Dennis, and why do I even care about any of this? To give you an answer, I will quote a good friend: “The most dangerous people are those who are motivated by a zeal that cannot be rationally explained or controlled.”
I do not believe that Todd Dennis is dangerous, but he seems to be motivated by an irrational zeal which is clouding his mind and controls him and all he does. Good people and ideas are judged by their fruits, and so far, the fruits of “preterist idealism” seem to be hate, injustice and elitism. The very fact that a guy uses his divorce and personal life to rationalize attacking other people should tell you enough about his theology and his relationship with the Creator so that we can only pray for him to recover and do what’s right in relation to those around him, his family and people he is using to further whatever agenda he has created in his mind. Please either reach out to Todd if you know him, or pray for him so that he is redeemed and healed of his hate and evil plans.