Sunday, July 22, 2007

Montanism, Pentecostals & Speaking in Tongues

I don't have enough interest in this subject to really dive too deep into it but I wanted to point out a few quick things. (If you're interested in deeper reading try Robert Sungenis' article on Speaking in Tongues) or for a much shorter snap-shot of the issues, try's article on the same issue.

I've heard that Pentecostalism and Catholicism (the two polar ends of what would widely be considered legitimate Christianity) are the only two groups of Christianity which are growing (in ratio to the others). In my limited experience around Pentecostals, I get a very uneasy feeling. There's a spirit of confusion - unwarranted confidence - and baseless fundamentalism (you either agree with my opinions or you're disagreeing with God's truth).

Although Pentecostalism is very new (early 1900s) the underlying heresies on which the sect is based go back some 1800 years to the Montanist heresy. Listen to what Eusebius (quoting a contemporary of Apolinarius of Hierapolis) says of Montanus:

There first, they say, when Gratus was proconsul of Asia, a recent convert, Montanus by name, through his unquenchable desire for leadership, gave the adversary opportunity against him. And he 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.
And later...
But others imagining themselves possessed of the Holy Spirit and of a prophetic gift, were elated and not a little puffed up; and forgetting the distinction of the Lord, they challenged the mad and insidious and seducing spirit, and were cheated and deceived by him. In consequence of this, he could no longer be held in check, so as to keep silence.

Thus by artifice, or rather by such a system of wicked craft, the devil, devising destruction for the disobedient, and being unworthily honored by them, secretly excited and inflamed their understandings which had already become estranged from the true faith. And he stirred up besides two women, and filled them with the false spirit, so that they talked wildly and unreasonably and strangely, like the person already mentioned. And the spirit pronounced them blessed as they rejoiced and gloried in him, and puffed them up by the magnitude of his promises. But sometimes he rebuked them openly in a wise andfaithful manner, that he might seem to be a reprover. But those of the Phrygians that were deceived were few in number.

"And the arrogant spirit taught them to revile the entire universal Church under heaven, because the spirit of false prophecy received neither honor from it nor entrance into it.
So I was not too surprised when I found this article from a Pentecostal believer who feels that the Church fell into heresy immediately after the apostles. But at least this guy has a grasp on history - he (like the Mormons and the Muslims) knows that the very early "Catholic Church" held explicit doctrines to be part of the deposit of faith which contradict his (and other Protestant) beliefs.
Who were these heretics that departed from the oneness Pentecostal Church? They were Ignatius (AD 90), Clement of Rome (AD 90), and other of that ilk. Therefore, somewhere around AD 90, these bishops and their deceived followers, and other bishops of other cities, apostatized and departed from God’s oneness Pentecostal Church. As a result, they came together and formed the first ministerial organization in history; they called it the Catholic Church. The main Catholic Nicolaitan heretics of the second and third centuries are Justin Martyr (AD 150), Tertullian (AD 180), Clemens of Alexandria (AD 200), Origen (AD 220), Hippolytus (AD 225), and Cyprian (AD 255). All of these heretics loved the writings of the Greek philosophers, especially Plato, and the allegoric method of interpreting the scriptures that was used by Philo.
Nevermind his nonsensical idea that the very definition of 'heresy' somehow does not include the "Catholic Church" as the principal and only real Church one can apostatize from...(even if that 'Church' were to be the invisible - imaginary body of believers that Calvin preached). Also nevermind that he apparently has almost no concept of Platonism if he thinks the aforementioned Church fathers borrowed from it while modern day Protestants do not...

I love what he says about Montanus though:
Montanus was a second-century Catholic ascetic, who considered himself to be a prophet. He, like Luther, tried to reform Catholicism, but later gave up after being excommunicated in AD 177. It was at this time, he started his own denomination. Therefore, in a real sense, he was the first Protestant Reformer.
Yea, that sounds about right. And on Eusebius he says:
Eusebius, a Catholic Bishop and one of the early Catholic Church historians, wrote against Montanus in no doubt very exaggerated terms; that is, he claimed that Montanus, Maximilla, and Priscilla claimed to be the Lord Jesus Christ, and sometimes the Holy Spirit. This is nothing but foolishness. For anyone who knows anything about the spirit of prophecy or the interpreting of tongues, knows when God speaks through any of His children, in either of these gifts, He always speaks in the first person and not the third person!
(As mentioned above, Eusebius was actually quoting another author on the Montanist heresy)...later...
Therefore, when we read Eusebius, or any ancient Catholic priest’s writing, who wrote against their enemies, we should bear in mind he is speaking from a heart that is full of bias and hate.
Just remember, only Oneness Pentecostals have the ability to write without any bias and in perfected love.


Timothy said...

>" the very early "Catholic Church" held explicit doctrines to be part of the deposit of faith which contradict his (and other Protestant) beliefs.

Who were these heretics that departed from the oneness Pentecostal Church? They were Ignatius (AD 90),"

Bad choice. Ignatius was a disciple of both Christ and John.

Good blog post on the subject here:

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Thats right. He was definitely a hearer of John and a contemporary of John's other famous pupil - St. Polycarp. There is also a tradition (albeit a late one) that he was the young boy Jesus picked up in Mark 9:36. His nickname is Theophorus which can mean God-bearer or 'borne by God'.

Anyway, that post is really interesting. Thanks for the link.

Anonymous said...

I am a Penticostal with two problems with the article. First, please distinguish between oneness Penticostals and Penticostals which believe in the trinity. The majority of Penticostal denominations whole heatedly believe in the trinity (i.e. assemblies of God, Church of God, Four Square, etc.) Second, while I agree that most Penticostals ignore history, Penticostals can find tremendous evidence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit at work within the Great Catholic Orthodox Church of the first five centuries. For instance, Eusibius quotes Ireneus as having a thriving charismatic church in Gaul while he was bishop. In fact, in my own studies I can only find two early church fathers (until 430 ad) who believed the that power gifts of the Holy Spirit had "ceased" including speaking with other tongues (John Chysostom and Augustine, although Augustine is debatable). For further reading from a catholic perspective please see Baptism with the Spirit: Evidence from the first eight centuries by Montague and McDonnell.

joe said...

Matthew 28:19 says to be baptized in the name [singular] of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38 says to be baptized in the name [singular] of Jesus Christ.

Some Oneness verses:
"I and my Father are One"
"Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath"
"Before Abraham was, I AM"
"I am the Root and Offspring of David"

These clarify to me that Jesus is God manifest in the flesh, in the same way Acts 2:38 clarifies Matthew 28:19.

I'm Oneness Pentecostal, but I know some awesome Catholics, Methodists, etc. In defense of my faith, I can only say that the infilling of the Holy Ghost changed my life. Amen.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Joe, I'm not contesting at all that the God-head is not one. I'm not sure why you brought that up????

As for the changing of your life, I have no doubt whatsoever that God has worked in a real way in your life through the Pentecostal ecclesial community. He has changed my life as well. There are Muslims whose lives have been changed (for the better) by converting to Islam.

God works good even in false religions (like Islam) and sects of Christianity which have broken away from the true Church (like Pentecostalism) or rather have broken away from heretical groups. Don't think I'm calling you a heretic - you're not (unless you were baptized Catholic of course).

This whole situation is akin to the disciples seeing others work miracles in Jesus' name. Jesus tells them not to step them for whoever is not against us is for us. Jesus also said "I have other sheep not of this flock" while immediately it's probably a reference to Gentiles, it can also be seen as a prophecy of the aftermath of the Reformation and the many Christians separated from full communion with the Church.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Not to *stop* them rather.

joe said...

I guess I brought it up because Anonymous mentioned the trinity. I'm sorry for going off the topic.