The Study of the Montanists, Novantianists and Donatists Essay

Liberty University The Study of the Montanists, Novantianists and Donatists and Their Chronological Procession A research paper submitted to Dr. david alexander In Partial Fulfillment of the requirements For The course chhi 520 Liberty baptist Theological seminary By Lita p. Ward Lynchburg, Virginia Sunday, march 8, 2009 Table of Contents Title Page The Study of Montanism and their Chronological Procession………………….. 3 Chronology of Montanism………………………………………………………. 5 The Study of Donatists and their Chronological Procession……………………. Donatian Schism………………………………………………………………… 6 The Study of Novantianists and their Chronological Procession……………….. 11 Novation Schism………………………………………………………………… 12 Conclusion……………………………………………………………………….. 14 Bibliography……………………………………………………………………… 15 The Study of Montanism and their Chronological Procession Montanism was a rigorous religious movement that emerged in the second century with Christianity and developed from a prophetic phenomenon. Tertullian of Carthage, a defender against heresy, became a Montanist. According to Gonzalez, he became “attracted by Montanist rigorism.

His legal mind sought after perfect order, where everything was properly done. ”[1] Montanism taught that Christ’s second coming was imminent and that one fallen from grace could not be redeemed. Followers were instructed to seek and not flee persecution and even martyrdom. Montanism found adherents at the time that the state’s opposition to Christianity was waning. The church was becoming a part, rather than a foe, of the contemporary world. Montanists shunned the secular, concentrating on preparations for Christ’s return. The Prophecy

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Montanism had three leaders who believed solely there was a God who revealed to them how the church disciplinary should be. Montanus and two female prophets Maxmillia and Prisca had some deep in-thought utterances that were believed to be oracles of the Holy Spirit. These three people never believed in the Catholics faith of, “A Christian can be restored to grace after repentance”. They strongly opposed this, as they believed that what they said came from divine inspiration and they had the superiority of the divine inspiration.

According to the two prophets and Montanus, a Christian fallen from grace, has no chance of being redeemed. Montanists were encouraged to hunt for persecution while Catholics were told to run away from it. These kinds of contradictions led to the Catholics denouncing the movement at the time when Montanists set up their hierarchy. This movement continued to the seventh century. [2] Montanus The founder of Montanism according to several sources is said to have been an inhabitant of Phrygian where Montanism existed to the eighth century.

Originally, he was a pagan until his Christian conversion in A. D. 155. [3] Montanus began to preach about a new prophecy which he believed was revealed to him in the year A. D 130. This founder of Montanism movement claimed that he had the prophetic powers to act as God himself. He claimed that in his speaking, it was the divine superiority, and so it was not him speaking to the people, but God. His partner and prophet Priscilla bored the same claims. Montanus preaching spread not only through Asia Minor but through Rome and Carthage too.

His opponents declared this founder mad before he died and his remains are said to have been exhumed by an Asiatic Bishop. [4] Prophetesses and Disciples Montanus’ followers in Asia were the two women who were not only his followers but also shared the spiritual gifts he claimed to have had. Prisca and Maximilla are the two greatest influencers of Montanism. Occupying an authoritative position in the Montanists movement, Maximilla’s prophetic utterances were quoted by the Tertullian proving that she was one of the spiritual instructors.

The other prophetess and follower of Montanus is Quintilla who formed her own sect entitled Quintillianism. Male followers included Alexander, Alcibiades, Theodotus, Theimos, Lucius, Eschines and Proclus. Pertpetua and Felistas were also noted to have received the divine revelations linking them to the sect. [5] Chronology of Montanism The beginning of Montanism in the second century had a new prophecy that believed in outpouring of the spirit. This prophecy brought the appearance of a new, authoritative prophecy with different demands on disciplinary to the churches from already existing church disciplinary demands.

Women were given chances to lead as prominent church leaders and this received some resistance from the catholic representatives who questioned the new prophecy’s nature, its exercise of authority and its interpretation of Christian writings. The Catholics could not find the importance of the new prophecy in salvation history, but these arguments against the new prophecy did not stop it from diversifying and spreading until later it became Montanism. After overcoming the arguments against the Catholics, this movement spread faster to other parts of Rome to the eight century[6].

Montanism was condemned in 381 by the Constantinople council, which concluded that they should be called Pagans. [7] Montanism’s Progress in Asia Minor, Rome and Africa This sect started in Asia Minor as early as A. D 130. These Montanists spread their opinions, which gained more supporters making many faithful people to convene in synods and decide on what to do with Montanists. One council held by the bishop of the town, Apollinaris, with 26 other prelates condemned Montanus and Maximilla. Another synod that condemned Montanism was that of Bishop Sotas with twelve others held at the Black Sea.

Montanism entered Rome during the episcopasy of Anicetus. This was around the middle of the second century and spread in the provinces. It was then condemned by the Bishop Victor of Rome forced out of Rome at the end of second century. Montanism then spread to Africa. [8] In Africa, this new prophecy was received with a lot of interest where a great writer, Tertullian came to believe that it was a genuine prophecy. This strong member of the church wrote books against those who opposed the church and defended the church in his writings very strongly.

In his writings, he fiercely attacked the people who condemned the new prophecy and claimed the other church authorities were only interested in political powers rather than listening to the Spirit. They then lingered in Asia Minor for some centuries before becoming extinct. The fathers of the church in Asia wrote an occasional Poleic against the Montanists and by the end of 3rd century, only a section of Montanists, the Tertullianistae remained and may have stayed as a mark of the sect’s existence. 9] The Study of Donatists and their Chronological Procession Donatian Schism The Schism, which led to the formation of Donatism, started in the church of Carthage. Everything started after Diocletian persecution making most Christians enthusiastic for death and suffering just for their faith. During this period of persecution, Christians were demanded to surrender their sacred books, something they did not comply to at all. Some of them even boldly confessed they had books and boasted of their strength in the Christian faith.

This act made the Carthage Bishop Mensurius oppose the fanaticism of the Christian voluntary martyrs, and ordered his archdeacon, Caecilianus to send away the crowds at the prisons where the confessors of holding sacred books were. In 305, in a Synod convened in Cirta, Bishop Secundus of Tigisis anticipated an investigation to find out if in his presence there were traitors, those who accepted to surrender their bibles. The result showed that almost everyone around him at the assembly was a traitor. It forced him to drop the investigation and instead resolved to be a Church’s discipline guardian.

When this Bishop heard about the events that took place in Carthage, he cautioned both Bishop Mensurius and his archdeacon Caecilianus. According to the laws by that time, the archdeacon was to succeed the Bishop if incapacitated. In 311, Mensurius died and Caecilianus succeeded him. [10] Secundus of Tigisis was not invited to conduct the consecration, neither were the Numidian Bishops invited when Caecilianus was elected. This led to the excommunication of Caecilianus after refusing to appear before a synod summoned by Secundus.

Elected in Caecilianus’ stead, Majorinus became the Carthage Bishop until 313 when he died. Once again, another was elected to his place. At this point, Donatus the Great took the position of Carthage Bishop in 313; here the schism began. Many people in the country and some Bishops supported Donatus while Caecilianus had support from outside Africa. There were two congregations and two Bishops. Yet, Donatus’ congregation was considered schematics of the Catholic Church. At the beginning, they were referred to as the pars of Majorini, then the Donatis, then lastly the Donatists or the Donatianists.

Reconciliation of the two movements to form one church again was made difficult as Constantine the Great gave imperial favors to one group making the other group feel left out again. Constantine made a promise of offering security to the church of Africa while the Donatists were not considered. This action caused the Donatists to beg for his consideration of their complaints against the Bishop of African church, Caecilianus. The emperor appointed a committee to resolve the case but Donatus was not lucky. Caecilianus was acquitted and Donatus deposed even after Donatus presented all his exertions.

The followers of Donatus, that is; the Bishops were forced to change into the Catholic faith; if not lose their place of work and distinctions. [11] The conflict was worsening; these Bishops refused to comply with what they were told and instead argued that the verdict was not just. Requests were made by the Donatist Bishops for more evidence to be gathered from Africa and still, Caecilianus won after a decision made by imperial commissioners in the Carthage. The Donatists did not give up and instead approached the emperor himself to make an appeal.

The emperor was not pleased with this appeal since he was a pagan. He wondered why the Donatists involved him in church internal affairs. Caecilianus and his accusers were summoned by Constantine in 316 when the emperor decided to resolve the issue. Donatus was still found guilty of calumny and was not allowed to put forward further complains. Any further complaints were considered a crime to the Emperor. The Donatists were defeated but still refused to submit making the status of having two Bishops and two congregations go on until 330.

Even though the Donatists refused to submit to the African church, the emperor did not pay much attention to the church wrangles in irrespective of the condition since further complaints would mean an insult to the imperial majesty. In 330, a synod was held and the emperor decided on a policy to ignore the church affair. This seemed to work until the emperor died and his son, Flavius Julius Constans took over the imperial majesty. Constans did not continue with the policy that his father had implemented and the Schism never ended.

The church experienced strange effects of Constans’ treatment and this lead to a suffering from Circumcelliones (vicious ascetics) by Africa. [12] In 345, some steps were made to reunite the church, but the pride of the Donatists could not allow them to go back and be one church with those who had defeated them before. Caecilianus had died and this presented a good opportunity for the church to be reunited and a Donatist Bishop be allowed into the Catholic Church again, but the Donatists refused.

In the same year, some association was also developed between the Circumcelliones of Africa and the lower elements of Donatists sect but this too was not accepted. Caecilianus was succeeded by Gratus as the Catholic Bishop and the schism continued. In 348, the emperor decided to change things by sending Paul and Macarius to Africa to reconcile the Donatists and the Caecilianians by means of liberal support since the Donatists were found to be very poor and penniless. Donatists did not accept this seduction and declared with violence against it. In retaliation, Donatus of Bagai was sent to meet the negotiators with armed Circumcelliones.

However, this commotion was quickly suppressed and Donatus of Bagai was decapitated. The Donatists churches were also closed and their Bishop, Donatus the Great banished. [13] Another emperor took over the throne and brought back the Donatists. This emperor, Julian had a policy, which was meant for fighting the Catholic Church through schematics and heretics. Donatists churches were immediately reopened and their banished Bishops allowed back into their places of work. By this time, Donatus the Great had died and Parmenianus was the church Bishop as appointed by Julian.

Since Julian’s aim was to destroy the Catholic Church, he established Parmenianus in the Carthage by force. This was a very good time for the Donatists but this did not work for long. In 373 and 375, Valentinian and Gratian issued very severe laws against them. Donatists had also started experiencing problems within their movement as disagreements occurred. Tychonius, one of the much respected people in the movement, eminent for his great learning and treasured for his Regulas septem ad investigandion intelligentiam Sacrarum Seripturarion, did not agree with the Donatists’ Novatian views. 14] He also did not accept the showy superiority of his party. The sect ended up being divided into moderate sect and extremist sect with other differences in views about the sect. In 393, the Bishop of the church died and was succeeded by Primianus of the moderate side of the sect. Since this bishop was of the moderate side of the sect, conflict arose over who headed the deacon Maximianus of the extreme sect. Bishop Primianus then tried to excommunicate Maximianus. His rivals, the extremists, conveyed a synod and disposed him instead. Maximianus was then elected as the Carthage Bishop. 15] In 405, Augustine changed his system of fighting against the Donatists. He had been fighting against these people by writing so many books against them just as Tertullian did, but this never worked. He now resolved to force and the emperor of the time, Honorius was petitioned by a synod of Carthage to issue penal laws against the Donatists. This petition went through making the clergymen to be banished, laymen fined and churches closed. However, in 409, the emperor decided to issue an edict of toleration for fear of losing more people.

He did not want to make more enemies than he already had. This edict was however repealed immediately after receiving resistance from the Catholic Church. In 411, Collatio cum Donatistis was arranged in Carthage to try to resolve the issues between the two sides of the church, but no resolution was reached. Donatism ended with the imperial commissioner declaring the Donatists Vanquished. The Donatists lost their civil rights in 414 and were prohibited from worshiping in their churches in 415. However, Saracens took over the country in the seventh century and the African church was destroyed. 16] The Study of Novantianists and their Chronological Procession Novatian Novatian was a roman presbyter who was an antipope. In 251, this theologian made himself sanctified as Bishop of Rome opposing the election of Pope Cornelius. Novatian did not agree with the Pope’s idea of accepting back into the church, those who had fallen from grace during the persecution of Decian. According to him, these people had compromised their Christianity and would not be allowed back into the church without more rigorous standards.

Because of his belief, he gained many followers who remained to form a schismatic sect even after he was excommunicated. This sect stayed for many centuries. Novatian had a very important work, which was referred to as the DeTrinitate, which was interpreted by the early church doctrine orthodox from the Trinity. At the beginning of St. Cyprian Carthage, most of the church accepted Cornelius while the Novatians formed their own hierarchy and maintained it for two to three centuries, after which the sect merged with Donatism. 17] Novation Schism In the third century, a division in the Christian church arose due to different views people had over the treatment of Christians who had denied their faith during persecution. This division began due to Pope Cornelius’ actions of reacceptance of such Christians without any restrictions. Novatian a priest by then, was opposed to this and proposed that Christians who had denied their faith should not be allowed back into the church. In January 250, Pope Fabian was executed and his successor elected in 251.

Cornelius was the preferred candidate, but since some people never agreed with the way he favored full acceptance of Christians who had denied their faith, Novatian was consecrated. It is at this time that Christendom had two rival Popes. These two Popes both believed they were right in what they decided on and so the division widened. The cause of the disagreement was the action taken by some Christians, including Bishops. Christians bought magistrate false certificates showing that they had performed a sacrifice to the pagans yet they did not.

The Novatians did not consider this as an act of standing strong with one’s faith. Pope Cornelius on the contrary, argued that these people could only be saved when they belonged to the church. A representative of the church by then, Cyprian argued that salvation was not possible outside of the church. Novatians however maintained that only God could forgive such an act and felt that the church should be kept in its purity, without defilement by the sinners. Novatian and his supporters went further to refuse forgiveness for other serious offenses as they considered for example, idolatry and fornication after a

Christian was baptized. Pardon was only given to those close to death. [18] This sect was excommunicated by Bishops from Rome and formed their own hierarchy with their own bishops. They had a strong support in Phyrgia mostly from the Montanist group and continued to be a church for some time before merging with Donatism after 325. The work of the sect’s chief which was rejected by the Theodotians, Gnostics and the Sabelians was later accepted and regarded as an ante-Nicene Doctrine orthodox of expression. It is only the last chapter about the Trinity that talked about or predicted Aranism. 19] In Paphlagonia, these Novanists slew soldiers who were sent to implement compliance by the emperor. After the emergence, the sect continued for some centuries and was later disfavored by the emperor, Constantine and declared vanquished. These people were not allowed to pray in their churches, they were denied there civil rights and their books destroyed. Constantius’ death led to Novatists’ happiness when Julian took over as the emperor and protected them. This did not continue as hoped; Honorius soon became the emperor and included them in a law against heretics around 412.

Moreover, at this time the sect vanished. In later centuries, around 600, some people attempted to uphold the existence of this sect. Most of them went back to the Catholic Church but the church could still be identified even in the seventh century. [20] Conclusion According to Christianity, a schism is a split in the unity of the Church. Schisms of the early church were mostly due to disagreements about beliefs and selection of leaders. Montanism for example, formed due to the difference in belief about the divine Spirit and the impersonation of God.

Another schism, which led to the formation of Donatism, was caused by disagreement about who should be the Bishop, while Novatism resulted from different views held by different Christians about how the church should treat sinners. Even though these schisms thought they were putting the church first, their main driving force seemed to be more political and egotistical than theological. Whose best interests were really being considered in each sect? If God was being glorified, the sect would have remained. Bibliography Albrecht Vogel, Donatism: Donatus & the Donatist Schism.

Schaff, Philip ed. , Philip Schaff, ed. , A Religious Encyclopedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 3rd ed. , Vol. 1. Toronto, New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894. Pp. 659-661. Retrieved on 5th March 2009, from: http://www. earlychurch. org. uk/donatism. php Church History: 155-Montanism. Retrieved on 5th March 2009, from http://www. generationword. com/notes_for_notesbooks_pg/church_history_49ad_files/psoft. masonry (1). html Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity. Vol. I. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1984.

Kroeger, R. C. and Kroeger, C. C. Elwell. Evangelical Dictionary Novation Schism, Novatian. Retrieved on 5th March 2009, from http://www. mb-soft. com/believe/txc/novation. html Soyres, John De. Montanism and the Primitive Church. A study in the Ecclesiastical History of the Second Century the Hulsean Prize, 1877: The History of Montanism: Chronology. London: George bell & sons. Retrieved on 5th March 2009, from http://www. earlychurch. org. uk/pdf/book_desoyres_book1. pdf The Montanists. Retrieved on 5th March 2009, from http://www. tertullian. org/montanism. html Trevett, Christine.

Montanism: Gender, Authority and the New Prophecy. London: Cambridge University Press, 2002. ———————– [1] Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume I. (New York: HarperCollins Publishing, 1984), 76. [2] Christine Trevett. Montanism: Gender, Authority and the New Prophecy (London: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 198. [3] Gonzalez, 76. [4] John De Soyres. Montanism and the Primitive Church. A study in the Ecclesiastical History of the Second Century the Hulsean Prize, 1877: The History of Montanism: Chronology. London: George bell & sons. http://www. earlychurch. org. k/pdf/book_desoyres_book1. pdf. (Accessed 5th March 2009). [5] John De Soyres. Montanism and the Primitive Church. A study in the Ecclesiastical History of the Second Century the Hulsean Prize, 1877: The History of Montanism: Chronology. London: George bell & sons. http://www. earlychurch. org. uk/pdf/book_desoyres_book1. pdf. (Accessed 5th March 2009). [6] Trevett, 199. [7] Church History: 155-Montanism. http://www. generationword. com/notes_for_notesbooks_pg/church_history_49ad_files/psoft. masonry(1). html (Accessed 25th February 2009) [8] John De Soyres. Montanism and the Primitive Church.

A study in the Ecclesiastical History of the Second Century the Hulsean Prize, 1877: The History of Montanism: Chronology. London: George bell & sons. http://www. earlychurch. org. uk/pdf/book_desoyres_book1. pdf. (Accessed 25th February 2009). [9] The Montanists. http://www. tertullian. org/montanism. htm (Accessed 27th February 2009). [10] Albrecht Vogel, Donatism: Donatus & the Donatist Schism. Schaff, Philip ed. , Philip Schaff, ed. , A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 3rd ed, Vol. 1. Toronto, New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894.

Pp. 659-661, (Accessed 27th February 2009). [11] Ibid. [12] Ibid. [13] Ibid. [14] Ibid. [15] Ibid. [16] Vogel, Albrecht. Donatism: Donatus & the Donatist Schism Schaff, Philip ed. , Philip Schaff, ed. , A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 3rd edn, Vol. 1. Toronto, New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894. Pp. 659-661. (Accessed 5th March 2009). [17] R C Kroeger and C C Kroeger. Elwell. Evangelical Dictionary Novation Schism, Novatian. (Accessed 4th March 2009). [18] Ibid. [19] Ibid. [20] Ibid.


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