Heresies: Montanism

Montanism is a 2nd Century heresy, still prevalent today, named after its founder, Montanus. Those who engage in the Montanism heresy sometimes speak of it as “The New Prophecy.” Montanists hold to most orthodox doctrines in their most generic forms (except the Sufficency of Scripture), but believe in new prophecies that are outside of Scripture. Montanus and his followers believed that the Holy Spirit, it He were active in the life of believers, would continually give them new prophecies, even after the closing of the Biblical canon.
Like modern-day charismaticism, many of Montanist prophecies were vague and nebulous in nature, and categorizing them as either true or false were difficult. However, because of the eventual testing of such claims of direct, divine revelation, the first recorded notion of “false prophecy” relating to the Montanists was in 193, in an anonymous letter written about Montanism in Galatia. Eventually, the church recognized Montanism as a heresy in Carthage in 203, although some Church leaders – like Tertullian – defended the sect. Eusebius spoke of Montanus as thus:

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.1

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.

1.  Eusebius, “16”, Ecclesiastical History, Book 5.

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