The second century AD saw the rise of a group of Christians called Montanists. The Montanists are considered heretics by many liberal Protestant and Roman Catholic churches. However, a study of their beliefs and practices reveal they were orthodox, and part of our Baptist heritage. Montanism was the first stand against the drift away from church purity and spirituality. The Montanists were named for the preaching of a man named Montanus. He had been a priest of a pagan cult, but was converted to Christ about 150 A.D. Montanism began in what is today Turkey but its teachings quickly spread to Europe and Africa. Montanism was found as far away as Rome, and France, by 177 A.D. Montanus began preaching in 156 A.D., and gathered many followers, including some of prominence. Soon after the apostolic age, great changes began to occur in many of the churches including: a drift toward ritualism; the rise of a clergy class; a lack of spirituality, and a developing laxity in discipline and church membership standards. Montanism was a crusade to return churches to the New Testament basics. The Montanists were sarcastically called "Spirituals." Montanus laid great emphasis upon the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of believers and the churches, and declared that the clergy had no franchise on the Gospel. He was an enemy of worldly philosophy. In addition to emphasizing the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Montanists held the following beliefs and practices: a saved church membership; baptism by immersion only; holiness of life, opposing second marriages and laxity in fastings. On church discipline, their creed stated "Against a mortal sin the church should defend itself by rightly excluding him who committed it, for the holiness of the church was simply the holiness of its members." They believed the complete word of God, accepting all the Scriptures. The Montanist churches were not popular with the "established" churches, so, much of what was said about them was unkind, to say the least. Recent historians in general have sided with the opponents of Montanism, and several charges have been laid against them. The most common charge was that the Montanists were "ancient holy-rollers." Montanist churches may have held some questionable or unscriptural practices, such as ordination of women. Because of their belief that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are dispensed to Christians regardless of condition or gender some churches may have allowed women to preach. Some of the Montanist Pastors may have remained celibate, but no conclusive statement to that effect can be found, however, it may have been the more practical precaution in time of persecution. On a light note, it seems that the Montanists used cheese in communion. They were accused of harsh practices and stern church discipline by those who lived very liberal life styles. Because most records of the Montanists have been destroyed by the established churches we don’t know much more about them or about their persecution. We do, however know that twelve Montanists, including a woman named Perpetua,were martyred for their faith in Carthage (North Africa), in 180 AD. The preaching of the Montanists had far ranging results. Tertullian was a noted convert to Montanist ideals, who helped to refine those teachings and left a legacy in North Africa (Tertullianists) Several church councils were called against the Montanist movement, and it was finally officially condemned by the "established" churches. The influence of this movement may be seen in the Novatians, the Donatists and the rise of the Paulicians.