You are hereTodd Dennis unable to wait for “last leg”
Todd Dennis unable to wait for “last leg”
About two years ago Todd Dennis wrote, “[I] wait until Planet Preterist was on its last leg & then come in & deliver the death blow.” As I previous wrote, I have no idea what Todd’s motivation was in writing such a sentence, or why he would want to deal a “death blow” to this website, but judging by a recent article written by Todd, he seems to be out of ideas and out of touch with the emergent eschatology gaining ground among most young Christians. Todd’s criticism of Preterism sounds more like the broken records played for years by the nearly defunct dispensational critics, which yet have to submit meaningful criticism to a Preterist audience. In a recent article written on a website called “The Hyper Preterist Archive,” Todd Dennis is claiming that Preterism is at odds with historic Christianity because it claims that the New Covenant was not fully established until A.D. 70 rather than making the cross the central point of the faith. Todd Dennis concludes that Preterism is fundamentally different from Christianity, as it has always been known. This is “attack Preterism 101:” We’ve never believed things this way, and because you are different, you must be heretics.
According to Todd Dennis, by focusing on A.D. 70, Preterism destroys the centrality of the Cross and it is an “attack on the very foundations of Christianity.” I assume that as a result of this, all Preterist are damned heretics that will likely stoke the fires of hell.
Once we look past Todd’s obvious fear mongering, we realize that there is nothing new and nothing of substance to be found in his article. In fact Dennis got it wrong on several levels. First, Preterist eschatology usually focuses on the resurrection of the dead, not on A.D. 70 or the destruction of the temple. Preterism places all these events in the first century regardless of what year, month or day they happened. The only reason for which the Jewish Temple even comes into the picture is due to the fact that the animal sacrifices performed in the temple were representative of a separation between man and God, which could only be bridged by Christ, and not just Christ’s death, but also his resurrection. The temple served as a symbol of a present reality, a present time that ultimately negated the cross. It is ultimately the importance, or if he so desires, the centrality of the cross which necessitates the destruction of the temple; of all people, Todd Dennis should understand this.
Should we understand that because Todd Dennis considers the cross to be at the center that he minimizes the importance of the Resurrection? That would be nothing short of an attack on the very foundation of Christianity, and after all, what is the death of Christ without the resurrection of Christ? By focusing on the cross, Dennis ignores the life-giving power of God and destroys the hope of life and resurrection of all believers. Without the resurrection of Christ, the storyline is irrelevant; after all Jesus said, “I AM the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.” Why is Todd Dennis focusing on death rather than life? The resurrection of Jesus is at the very core of the Christian faith and doctrine. I am certain Todd Dennis knows this as well, so his attempt to use the centrality of the cross as a means to attack Preterism is (in my opinion) disingenuous at best. At the very least he should have put the cross and the resurrection together and claimed that Preterists minimize both, but alas, the article is already out and it is too late to edit it. Sorry Todd.
The third point to be made is the fact that Todd Dennis is seemingly unable to shed his traditionalist and modernist approach to the biblical narrative. When he looks at the scripture he sees a line with a beginning and an end in the cross and death of Jesus. The Biblical narrative is however not a story that ended with the death of Jesus on the cross. The beauty of the narrative approach to the Scripture is that the story not only continues to be told or even experienced by each one of us on a daily basis (we die, we are resurrected and brought to life in Christ), but it is also a communal story: we experience the narrative as God’s people, corporately living, dying and being resurrected in Christ. Todd’s approach would apparently have us die, because the death (the cross) is according to him central to Christianity?
I think not, and I beg to disagree with Todd’s narrow approach to the Biblical narrative. Even with the stranglehold that modernism has on Christianity today, I would suggest that most Christians would still disagree with Todd’s assertion and suggest that what is central to our faith is not the death of Jesus, rather his resurrection from the dead.
I would also suggest that the Biblical narrative is not one in which a literary climax is the end in and of itself; the critical points of the narrative are plural and rather strongly interdependent: the cross means nothing without the resurrection while the resurrection means nothing without the cross. In a similar way the destruction of the temple is strongly connected with the death and resurrection of Jesus and would mean little without them. Likewise, a standing temple with operating sacrifices would contradict the atoning sacrifice of Christ and would likely be an offensive sight in the eyes of God. This is why the author of Hebrews clearly wrote, “the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time.” Again, it is the centrality of Christ's death and resurrection which necessitate the destruction of the Temple; from the perspective of the narrator, God, all those events are critically connected in that they give us a complete picture of God's desired end and renewal for this world. Therefore God's plan and narrative extends beyond the mere first-century end pictured by Todd, and it is just as real today, to all of us; today humanity becomes the protagonist and the partner with God in the new creation. Preterism is successful in delivering that story to a contemporary audience. Todd's futurism is not.
One last point to be made, which is particularly offensive, is that Todd Dennis would also have us believe that theologically getting the timing of all these events wrong constitutes heresy of the highest degree! How illusory! Not only that, he fails to explain why getting the timing wrong is such a horrible heresy. Preterists still subscribe to the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, they profess Him as their savior and profess the faith required for salvation. So even if Dennis is correct about us getting this timing of the covenants wrong, why is getting the timing right trumping faith in Christ? Because Dennis says so? Because it contradicts the majority that gets to say “it is so?” And what is the result of getting all this timing wrong? Is Dennis is in fact implying that getting some theology wrong in itself minimizing the importance of the cross? That is an astoundingly contradictory position to hold; either the work of the cross is such a huge theological event that cannot be trumped by any sin or human event, or it is not, in which case Preterists getting a few verses wrong are just hell-bound and wished-well by people like Dennis anyways.
To conclude this, I must say that I am very disappointed in the path Todd Dennis has chosen to take. What makes this whole thing even more sad is that Todd’s own journey seems to be leading him to some conclusions which I find interesting if not compelling, however Todd’s sour and outright destructive attitude hardly motivates anyone to even give a consideration to what he has to day.
Worse yet, it is a well-known fact that for over a year now Todd Dennis and Scott Thompson have been teaming up in creating a number of supposed “anti-preterist” blogs and web sites which are aimed at promoting and distributing personal attacks against anyone and everyone who is a “Preterist” and smearing people like Don Preston, William Bell and other men of God who have been ministering and serving the Church for virtually their whole lives.
Todd claims that he is praying that we listen to his criticism and reconsider it on merits alone; this is a bit difficult to do when he is casually tossing around the word “heretics” and when he is teaming up with people creating websites specifically directed at ruining lives and promoting personal attacks.
That is not how you get people to listen to what you have to say Todd; especially not by telling them that you'll deal them a "death blow."