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The Montanists of 170 AD and Charasmicits of Today

The saying 'history repeats itself' is true for false teachings and pseudo-Christian movements.  A perfect example is Montanism and the Charasmatic, Word of Faith movements.   First lets took at what the Montantist believed and taught in the late 2rd century then we will look at what the Word of Faith and charismatic movements are teaching now.

Montanus, a self described Christian around 160 AD jumped to fame when he started teaching that he had visions from God.  He teamed up with two other followers, Maximilla and Priscilla, who also claimed to be receiving visions and messages form God.  Their visions were so energetic and grand that it drew a large crowd and soon become a movement.
What they taught:

  • They would have prophetic utterances about Jesus' impending return, the apocalypse, and a new out pouring of the Spirit that has never been seen sense a hundred years earlier when the church was founded. 
  • They spoke in ecstatic visions and urged their followers to fast and pray, so that they might share these revelations. 
  • They described themselves as spiritual people who prophecy under the influence of the holy spirit.
  • Their prophecies and messages from God claimed to carry with it the authority of God himself despite not being founded in the scriptures. 
  • They claimed to completely agree with the apostles but also add more to the teachings of the apostles. 
  • They were very legalistic in how they lived their lives in public. 

Their History:

After the apostles were gone, the church had not seen a teacher who would prophecy as if God was speaking through them and can do signs and wonders in a hundred years.  Then Montanus shows up and the church watched and listened to see if this is truly from God or just another movement like the Gnostic movement that was spreading during the same time.  A popular Christian teacher of that day and early church historian, Tertullian, ultimately become a Montanist follower.

The churches in Asia Minor ended up breaking fellowship with them and in 177 AD their teachings were condemned.  But because of their popularity and the churches difficulty in testing their teachings as orthodox or not; the other churches wrote letters of support to keep fellowship in their attempted to stay unified.  After the persecutions of Marcus Aurelius, circa 161 AD to 180 AD their numbers fell and they become more of their own sect than part of orthodox Christianity. 
Eusebius of Caesarea said this: "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."  Followers of Tertullian carried Montanist ideals but ultimately it died off around the 8th century.

Now here we are today:

Charasmatic groups teach that The Holy Spirit grants the gifts of prophecy, utterances of the spirit, and 'speaking in tongues' to this day.  Pentecostalism share these teachings as well and claims to bring the church back to the original church.  Because of the teaching in utterances of the spirit, the Trinity was questioned and in a lot of Charasmatic and Pentecostal groups is doubted and not taught.

The movement came out of The Holiness Movement and the teaching of the impending second coming of Jesus in the early 1900s.  A 'revival' movement in California brought Pentecostalism to the front and into the orthodox churches.  In the 'new teaching' frenzy, missionaries were sent with the impression that the gift of tongues will be granted to them to reach the world.  They went to other countries with no training or knowledge or understanding of the distant culture or their language.  The missions failed and missionaries were confused as to why they could not communicate when using their 'gift of speaking in tongues'.  After bad press for years to come, 'the gift of the speaking in tongues' changed into more of gibberish, babbling, and lacked the interpretation and became 'self interpreted' by the person babbling. 

Eusebius of the 4th century perfectly describes the mannerisms of the movement now in the 21st century.  The frenzy, the babbling and uttering strange things and prophesying things contrary to the orthodox truths passed down from The Prophets and The Apostles in scripture. 

What's The Problem?

Everyone becomes their own apostle and prophet that interprets scripture as they feel then adds new teachings equal to scripture because of 'what god told them' in new visions and feelings. 

But why is all that a problem? 

It is man centered at its core.  It teaches people to rely more on their own sinful corrupted feelings and efforts than on scripture and the gospel.  It deceives people into worshiping works and signs and wonders instead of Christ Jesus.  It deceives people into trusting and putting faith in a spirit, that may not be and in most cases can not be The Holy Spirit.  1 John 4 and Matthew 24:24 are ignored or avoided.  The end result is not worshiping God in spirit and truth but worshiping man's feelings and works by using the name of God in vain.

What Is The Solution?
  1. Focus on, teach, preach, and have your mind and heart set on The Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  2. Trust in The Holy Spirit through The Gospel and His Holy Scripture to change hearts and minds.
  3. Trust in The Holy Scripture as the source of divine truth revealed to mankind for all time.
  4. Do NOT believe every spirit or look for signs and wonders for proof of God (1 John 4, Matt 24:24), you will be deceived because even false teachers and prophets can do signs and wonders and Satan himself quoted scripture.
  5. Have Faith that Jesus Christ himself, who he is, what he said, and what he did IS THE sign and wonder from God for all eternity.

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