Montanists

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by mark, May 10, 2002.

  1. mark

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    It seems like there is no definiteive history to early "Baptist" groups. How's that for opening a can of worms. Fred G. Zaspel wrote in his paper: Baptists: Their Historical Relation to the Protestant Reformation And the Roman Catholic Church
    by Fred G. Zaspel, 1985
    Montanists
    The Montanists were a fanatical religious sect of Phrygia (western Asia Minor), the followers of Montanus and his two prophetesses (Prisca and Maximilla). A former Priest of Cybele worship, after converting to Christianity, he attempted a reform of the formalism which had set into the Church, the rise in authority of the one bishop in the local church, and the lack of dependence upon the supernatural workings of the Holy Spirit in this age. His prophetesses spoke for him; he spoke for God and this often in the first person. He established Spirit-led communities at Pepuza and Tymion in Phrygia (naming them "Jerusalem") and predicted that Christ would return to establish His earthly kingdom at Pepuza; then inspiration and prophecy would cease. The Montanists' most illustrious adherent was the great church father, Tertullian. They practiced a rigid church discipline, banned remarriage even after the mate had died, approved of desertion of one's mate for the sake of chastity--all in an effort to holiness. Serious sins after baptism could not be forgiven. Montanism (begun in the mid second century) survived only into the fifth century in northern Africa and into the sixth century in Phrygia.
    I find this very interesting, what about these guys? Also can it be argued that Montanus is every bit as Baptist as Peter was Catholic.
     
  2. DocCas

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    The second century of the Christian era saw the rise of a group of Christians called Montanists. In most church histories the Montanists are classed as heretics (as were all groups that tended to hold doctrines that did not agree with the writer of the history book, most of which were either Catholic, or liberal Protestant). However, a careful study of their beliefs and practices reveal they were orthodox, and a part of our Baptist heritage. Montanism was the first general stand against the drift away from church purity and spirituality.

    The Montanists were named because of the preaching of a man named Montanus. He had been a priest of the pagan cult of Cybele, but was converted to Christ about 150 A.D. Montanism began in central Phrygia (now called Asia Minor) in a town called Ardabau, but its teachings quickly spread to Europe and Africa. Montanism was found in Rome, and Lyons, France, in 177 A.D. Montanus began preaching in 156 A.D., and gathered many followers, including two women of prominence, Maximilla and Priscilla.

    Soon after the apostolic age, great changes began to occur in many of the churches. Some of these changes were: 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 in reality a crusade to restore churches to their spiritual simplicity - to get them back 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 and religion.

    Apart from emphasizing the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Montanists held the following beliefs and practices: a regenerate church membership; believers baptism, by immersion only, and re-baptized those who came to them from the "established" churches; holiness of life, opposing second marriages, laxity in fastings, and flight in persecution; 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 in trinitarian theology; the complete word of God, accepting all the Scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments; premillennial eschatology, looking for the soon return of Christ to set up His millennial kingdom on earth. These chiliastic views were also held by Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian. It may be that the unpopularity of the Montanists contributed to the demise of premillennialism in the early years of the church.

    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." It is claimed that Montanus said he was the Paraclete, and that his followers claimed extra-Biblical revelations. Unfortunately there is no proof to support these charges. The spirituality and life of Montanist churches so contrasted with the formality and deadness of the main-stream churches, that such conclusions may easily have been drawn. If a Roman Catholic or High Anglican came to a Bible-believing Baptist church today, he would probably think it was very emotional too, what with strong preaching, and an invitation at the end!

    The Lutheran historian Mosheim accuses Montanus of calling himself the Paraclete, but the translator of his history, McLean, adds the following footnote: "Those are undoubtedly mistaken who have asserted that Montanus gave himself out that he was the Holy Ghost" (Church History, Mosheim, Volume I, Page 188). Armitage concludes, "For this reason Montanus was charged with assuming to be the Holy Spirit, which was simply a slander" (Armitage, T.; A History of the Baptists, page 175). W. A. Jarrell cites Tertullian's explanation of an "ecstasy" and concludes that he probably meant nothing more than what David said- "My cup runneth over."

    Tertullian, referring to visions and extra-Biblical revelations said: "But truly according as the Scriptures are read, or Psalms are sung, or addresses are given, or prayers are offered, thence, FROM THAT MEDIUM are materials by which we are ASSISTED by visions." The context of this statement clearly indicates what we would call "illumination" today. Nothing "extra-Biblical" about that!

    It is generally admitted that the Montanist churches accepted the received doctrines of the "established" church - their only differences being that of emphasis and practice. It is POSSIBLE, but not conclusively PROVEN, that SOME Montanist churches did hold to questionable or unscriptural practices, such as ordination of women. Some churches MAY have allowed women to preach because of their belief that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are dispensed to Christians of every condition and sex, without distinction. Triune immersion may have been practiced in some Montanist churches. 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 according to 1 Corinthians 7:26-29 (compare to verses 8 and 9). They were accused of practicing harsh asceticism by those who lived very liberal life styles, and that they practiced harsh church discipline. It should be noted that each of these practices, even if true, are not unknown in some Baptist churches today.

    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) which would later give rise to the Donatists. 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 Novatian schism, the Donatus schism, and through its contacts in Armenia and the rise of the Paulicians. Several defenders among historians may be found for the Montanists, some of whom are cited here: (1) "The conclusion of an early historian, Dr. William R. Williams, is that it was hard to find doctrinal errors in their teaching. Their emotionalism stemmed from their belief that a true experience of grace is evident in the believers life, as many other teachers have stressed in much later periods of reform. (2) Dr. Dorner wrote of their movement that it was a democratic reaction of the church members against the movement to install church leaders as overlords in the church body. (3) Moller, contributor to the Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia, wrote, "But Montanism was, nevertheless, not a new form of Christianity; nor were the Montanists a new sect. On the contrary, Montanism was, simply a reaction of the old, the primitive church, against the obvious tendency of the day, to strike a bargain with the world and arrange herself comfortably in it." (Quoted from : Griffith, J. W., A Manual of Church History: Volume II, page 36).
     
  3. mark

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    Good post Thomas!!!!!
     
  4. DHK

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    Thank you Thomas,
    Sometimes one doesn't know which historian to believe anymore. John McArthur believes Montanism was a heretical sect. And I have been coming across the same point of view in many other sites as well.
    DHK
     
  5. mark

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    That is just it DHK, it is long gone history, mostly secondary sources, often from RC sources. Who really knows, but I WANT to believe they were genuine Christians.
     
  6. rsr

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    MacArthur at one point calls the Montanists heretics, but
    http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/CHAOS3.HTM

    "Charismatic Chaos - Part 3, Does God Still Give Prophecies? Copyright 1991 by John F. MacArthur, Jr.

    MacArthur's objection is that he considers them to be charismatics -- and it's apparently true that many charismatics consider Montanists to be their spiritual forerunners.

    [ June 04, 2002, 01:34 PM: Message edited by: rsr ]
     
  7. tyndale1946

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    From Church History by C.B. & Sylvester Hassell 1886... These persecuted people of God have had, since the first century, a variety of names, generally given them by their enemies, and derived from their location, or from some of their leading ministers, or from some doctrine or practice of theirs which distinguished them from worldly religionists. Until the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century, they were known as Montanists, Tertullianists, Novatians, Donatists, Paulicians, Petrobrusians, Henricians, Arnoldists, Waldenses, Albigenses, United Brethren of Bohemia, and Lollards; many of these were called by the general name of Ana-Baptists (or Re-Baptizers), because they did not acknowledge the scripturalness or validity of infant baptism, and therefore baptized (Paedobaptists said they baptized again) those who joined them on a profession of faith. While these various classes of people differed in minor particulars, and while some of them were in much darkness and error on certain points of truth, they yet held substantially to the same general doctrine and practice- insisting, above all, upon the spirituality of the church of God and her heavenly obligation to walk in humble and loving obedience to all His holy commandments, both in an individual and a church capacity, and not in obedience to the unscriptural traditions and commandments of men. For the last 365 years (since A.D. 1520) they have been called Baptists (for about the first 100 years of this period, also Ana-Baptists), because they baptized (that is, immersed in water, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost) all who, upon a credible profession of their repentance towards God and faith in Christ, desired to unite with them in a church capacity... Brother Glen [​IMG]
     

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