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Montanism

Montanism (mŏnˈtənĭzəm) [key], apocalyptic movement of the 2d cent. It arose in Phrygia (c.172) under the leadership of a certain Montanus and two female prophets, Prisca and Maximillia, whose entranced utterances were deemed oracles of the Holy Spirit. They had an immediate expectation of Judgment Day, and they encouraged ecstatic prophesying and strict asceticism. They believed that a Christian fallen from grace could never be redeemed, in opposition to the Catholic view that, since the sinner's contrition restored him to grace, the church must receive him again. Montanism antagonized the church because the sect claimed a superior authority arising from divine inspiration. Catholics were told that they should flee persecution, Montanists were told to seek it. When the Montanists began to set up a hierarchy of their own, the Catholic leaders, fearing to lose the cohesion essential to the survivial of persecuted Christianity, denounced the movement. Tertullian was a notable member of the movement, which died (c.220) as a sect, except in isolated areas of Phrygia, where it continued to the 7th cent. But the puristic anti-intellectual movement had many descendants—Novatian, the Donatists (see Donatism), the Cathari, and even Emanuel Swedenborg and Edward Irving.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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