History of the Trinity, Part 9

History Of The Doctrine Concerning The Nature Of God In The Early Centuries Of Christianity

Part 9

Montanism And The Opposing Catholic Church

Montanism originated in Asia minor about the middle of the second  century where Paul and his pupils had planted congregations. Scenes  took place similar to those under the preaching of the first Quakers,  and the glossolalia and prophesying in the irvingite congregations. They called themselves spiritual Christians in distinction from the carnal catholic church.

The spread of the movement threw the church into commotion. The bishops and synods of Asia minor, though not with one voice, declared the new prophecy the work of demons, and cut off the montanists from  the fellowship of the church. All agreed that it was supernatural — a  natural interpretation of such psychological phenomena being then  unknown — and the only alternative was to ascribe it either to god or  to his great adversary. Prejudice and malice invented against them.  Charges of immorality, madness, and suicide, which were readily believed. [11]


(In the mind of Phillip Schaff), the Montanists were not,

Originally, a departure from the faith, but a morbid overstraining of the practical morality and discipline of the early church. It was excessive supernaturalism and puritanism against gnostic rationalism  and catholic laxity. It is the first example of an early and well  meaning, but gloomy and fanatical hyper-Christianity and hyper- spiritualism. Montanism sought a forced continuance of the miraculous  gifts of the apostolic church, which gradually disappeared as  Christianity became settled in humanity.


The Montanistic prophecy related to the approaching heavy judgements of god, persecutions, etc. The catholic church mistrusted them all the more for their proceeding, not from the regular clergy,  but in great part from unauthorized laymen and fanatical women. The Montanists asserted the universal priesthood of Christians, even of  females, against the special priesthood in the catholic church, which  from the time Ignatius had more and more monopolized all ministerial  privileges and functions. The Montanists found the true qualification and appointment for the office of teacher in direct endowment by the  spirit of god. The Montanists were regarded by some orthodox, by others heretical, in the doctrine of the trinity [11] (some being anti-Trinitarians).


(there seems to be little question but that this spiritual group did fall into excesses. False teaching, and legalism, but tried to preserve the heart of Christianity, and many were martyred for their faith.)


(it is important to see that the forced ecumenicism by constantine resulted in a roman catholic church — which opposed the charismatic gifts of the spirit and the teaching that god is one person in three  manifestations. The theologians of this system were courted by Rome while the montanists, monarchians, and other followers of Christ were  hunted down by imperial decree. Historians talk about “the church” and “the church fathers”, but they mean, for the most part, the  ecclesiastical system that Rome allowed to remain above ground {out of  the catacombs and off of the stakes in the arenas}. Are we to defend  the doctrines of this carnal church against the plain truths of the  bible? Shall we accept their teachings of the trinity, infant baptism,  papal infallibility, the adoration of Mary, celibacy, lent, limbo,  purgatory, penance, and other non-scriptural doctrines?


Surely, we must be willing to reinvestigate our concepts — this time from the bible, without the help of those schooled by the grandsons of Rome!)