Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Montanism - Nothing to do with Montana

St. Mary's Lake in Glacier National Park Montana
I've noticed that the word "Montanism" was appearing quite often in the WatchBlogosphere lately. When you see that happening it may be the Holy Spirit using Watchbloggers to spread a word that God needs spread, so I pay attention to these occurrences.

As I said,the word that I've seen being used is "Montanism" which at first I thought was an overly complex word that Christian theologians like to invent and smack about like a badminton shuttlecock. The next thing that came to mind was 'Montana' as in the state, or 'Montaña del Norte' which was the original Spanish name for the entire Rocky Mountain area (mountainous country of the north). But, of course, Montana and 'Montaña del Norte have nothing to do with Montanism. Nor is Montanism one of those 4+ syllable words that theologians love to invent, Montanism is actually a heretical form of Christianity and has been around for quite a while.

Montanism was known by its followers as the New Prophecy and to its adversaries as the Cataphrygian Heresy. It started as an early Christian movement in the late second century and was named after its founder, Montanus. Little is known about Montanus, and what documents that survive do not paint a complimentary picture. This is probably because the beliefs of Montanus and his followers contradict orthodox Christianity. Followers of Montanism unbiblically recognized women as bishops and presbyters (overseers and priests/elders) and also unbiblically claimed that apostles, prophets, bishops and presbyters had the the power to forgive sins. Even the Apostolic Church at the time realized that only God has the power to forgive sins (however confession has to be performed through a bishop or priest) But there's more, much more.

No one knows when Montanus was born, a good guess is around 140-150 AD, in Phrygia which is now Central Turkey. What is known is that he was a priest of the pagan goddess Cybele, an Anatolian mother goddess, the goddess of fertility. In this cult Montanus claimed to have the gift of prophesy. He appeared at Ardabau, a small village in Phrygia, in the year 172. There he fell into a trance and began "prophesy under the influence of the Spirit". Claiming to be the voice of the Holy Spirit, he announced the fulfillment of the New Testament promise of the Pentecost and the imminent Second Coming of Christ. He was soon joined by two young women, Prisca (or Priscilla) and Maximilla, who left their husbands to follow Montanus and also began to prophesy.

Contemporary writings show that there were others that followed Montanus and claimed to have the gift of prophesy, but it was "The Three" that is spoken primarily of in the historical record. "The Three" spoke in ecstatic visions and urged their followers to fast and to pray, so that they might share these revelations. Their followers claim that their gift of prophesy was part of a line of prophetic succession stretching back to the daughters of Philip the Evangelist (Acts 21:8-9)

Eventually Priscilla and Maximilla became more popular that Montanus and the rites of this "New Prophecy" began to spread throughout the Christian world, even in to Africa and Gaul (Western Europe). The churches of Asia Minor declared the New Prophesy profane and excommunicated adherents of the New Prophecy. Eventually all Orthodox churches declared Montanism to be heretical.

We have no direct record of what of Montanus' teaching, nothing survives of what he wrote or that of any of his followers. All we have is accounts of Montanism and what went on in their services.  Montanus taught that any believer could become a “prophet” just like he was, because Christ had promised the Holy Spirit to all believers. He also taught that all believers are equal, men as well as women using Priscilla and Maximilla as examples.

The essential principle of Montanism was that the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit whom Jesus had promised in the Gospel according to John, was manifesting himself to the world through Montanus along with the prophets and prophetesses associated with him. However it soon became clear that the claim of Montanus to have the final revelation of the Holy Spirit implied that something could be added to teaching of Christ and the Apostles and that, therefore, the Church had to accept these "revelations" coming from Montanus and his flock of prophets.

Official criticism of Montanus and his movement emphasized the New Prophecy's unorthodox ecstatic expression and his neglect of the bishop's divinely appointed rule. Another feature offensive to the orthodox churches was the admission of women to positions of leadership. The Roman church didn't like this at all, soon the church turned against Montanus, Priscilla, and Maximilla. Charges of immorality, madness and suicide were made against them. Epiphanius and John of Damascus tell the absurd story, that the sacrifice of an infant was a part of the mystic worship of the Montanists, and that they made bread with the blood of murdered infants. That's quite over the top, all they would have to do is show where Montanus, Priscilla, and Maximilla deviated from scripture. This is before the Roman church banned scripture from the common worshiper so something else had to be going on here.

Montanus did agree with the Roman church on essential points of doctrine and held very firmly to the rule of faith. He opposed infant baptism because he believed that mortal sins could not be forgiven after baptism; but infant baptism was not yet a dogma of the Roman church. This was a time of high infant mortality so infant baptism makes a bit of sense, and at this time it only occurred at the discretion of the parents.

As I research Montanus I find it interesting that much of their beliefs are very orthodox with strict andherence to biblically sound doctrine. For the most part. They lived each day like Jesus was going to return that night. However the belief that their vague and nebulous prophecies were divine inspiration stamps them as heretical. Eusebius witnessed Montanus in action and reports
And he [Montanus] became beside himself, and being suddenly in a sort of frenzy and ecstasy, he raved, and began to babble and utter strange things, prophesying in a manner contrary to the constant custom of the Church handed down by tradition from the beginning. - (Eusebius, “16”, Ecclesiastical History, Book 5)
 From this spastic babbling which was inspired, no doubt, by his history in pagan worship Montanus insisted that his vague utterances carried as much weight as old testament prophets, new testament Apostles, and Jesus Christ himself. In other words Montanus is the father of modern Charismatics. Montanism did not go away when Montanus, Priscilla and Maximilla died, their brand of heresy has stayed with us taking foothold and leading the doctrinally weak away from God. Back in 1559 John Calvin was railing against Montanism
And worth remembering is that praise with which he adorns Scripture, that it “is useful for teaching, admonishing, and reproving in order that the servants of God may be made perfect” (2 Tim. 3:16–17). What devilish madness is it to pretend that the use of Scripture, which leads the children of God even to the final goal, is fleeting or temporal? —John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1559
And later Charles Haddon Spurgeon shouted it from the pulpit:
Brethren, fall not into this common delusion. God's word to us is in Holy Scripture. All the truth that sanctifies men is in God's Word. Do not listen to those who cry, "Lo here!" and "Lo there!" I am plucked by the sleeve almost every day by crazy persons and pretenders who have revelations. One man tells me that God has sent a message to me by him; and I reply, "No, sir, the Lord knows where I dwell, and he is so near to me that he would not need to send to me by you." 
Think about it, every time a Neo-Montanist, a Charismatic opens his or her mouth and lets fly another extra biblical "prophesy"- one that contradicts what God revealed to us in the bible - what they really are saying is that "the word of God is not sufficient". What could possibly be more satanic than that?
The comparison to modern charismaticism cannot be overstated. Modern practitioners of the Montanist heresy include practicing Continuationists, often Word-Faith ministers, and the New Apostolic Reformation. Individual Montanists include Kenneth Copeland, Mike Bickle, Beth Moore, Sarah Young and Ronnie Floyd (JD Hall)


  1. Uh ... yeah ... and now you're going to tell me that romaine lettuce doesn't come from Romania?

  2. Neo-Montanism is pretty much the Word of Faith, although I think they are farther off the orthodox path than was Montanus.