Thursday, February 24, 2011
The Montanists of Familiarity
The second century A.D., just after the apostles was one of noted changes in the Lord's churches. Some unfortunate changes were the result mostly of what would become the Catholic church. The rise of the 'clergy' class, ritualism, a lack of spirituality and a drift towards ritualism. Churches had become most pitiful places as they had left the doctrine of and practices taught in the New Testament. Churches were accepting 'any baptism.' Communion was open to anyone. The world's entertainment, arts, sciences, and education was establishing itself in churches. Divorce and remarriage were allowed without second thought. Church discipline was ignored and, as a result, holiness a thing of the past. Teaching against the Trinity was becoming more prevalent, and the true working and spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit taught against. Some books of the Bible were being disputed (James, 2 Peter, Jude, 1-2 John...perhaps because of their teaching against a false faith and heresy?). Churches had become dead with no power of the Holy Ghost working in lives.
There arose one around the year A.D. 150 named Montanus. Montanus was from the area of Phrygia in Asia Minor. He was, before his salvation, a priest of the pagan cult of Cybele. To the glory of God, around the year 150, he was converted to Christ. The Lord began a mighty work in his life, and soon he undertook a ministry of restoring the faith to what it once was just years ago. Montanus preached and taught the error of allowing the world into the church, and soon "Egyptian symbols, oriental customs, and philosophic notions" (History of Baptist-Hammett) were removed from that local church.
His preaching began a mighty moving of spiritual restoration. By A.D. 177, Montanism (as it was so named after Montanus) was found in Rome and France. The 'established' church began calling the Montanists "Spirituals" sarcastically due to his teachings on the work and gifts of the Holy Spirit and strict teaching on the purity of communion, proper baptism, holy life, and church discipline. Montanist said "Against a mortal sin the church should defend itself by rightly excluding him who committed it, for the holiness of the church was simply the holiness of its members." (A History of Baptist by J.T. Christian).
The church the Lord started there at Jerusalem with His disciples held proper doctrine-the apostle's doctrine (Acts 2:42). That church begat other churches that begat other churches that compiled and protected the Scriptures and served as the Pillar and Ground of Truth (1 Tim. 3:15). Unfortunately, in less than 100 years, the church had allowed itself to be corrupted with false teaching and laxity. Thankfully, there was a man named Montanus who the Lord used to again point people back to Truth. For years, "Montanists" churches would spread and continue standing for Truth. Though one can find error in some 'Montanists" churches through history (just as one can find error in 'Baptist' churches currently), the teachings of Montanus were used to protect the Truth and Baptist Faith. There was no 'denominational name' of Baptist at this point; for there was no other church but that the kind our Lord started. But as churches corrupted, men would rise up whom the Lord would use to pass the torch down of Truth and faith.
Today, such churches are true Baptist, and we will examine where this name came from in lessons ahead. One does not have to be 'Baptist' to go to Heaven (You must be saved by Repentance and Faith to go to Heaven!); but a study and knowledge of Scripture and doctrine will lead one to join a true baptist church.
In our time today, churches are become most pitiful places as they have left the doctrine and practices taught in the New Testament. Churches are accepting 'any baptism.' Communion is open to anyone. The world's entertainment, arts, sciences, and education are established in churches. Divorce and remarriage are allowed without second thought. Church discipline is ignored and, as a result, holiness is a thing of the past. Teaching against the Trinity is becoming more prevalent, and the true working and spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit taught against. Scripture is being corrupted and disputed. Churches have become dead with no power of the Holy Ghost working in lives. We need more men like Montanus who will stand in the face of corruption and preach and stand for Truth and doctrine. There are many such men, and we pray they will keep standing; but we need more!