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TESTS OF A PROPHET

 

If God communicates His intention through His servants the prophets, and Satan counterfeits the messages of God through false prophets, then it is vital that we test the prophets to see if the message is indeed from God.

 On one hand, the Scriptures admonish us to "Despise not prophesyings" (1 Thessalonians 5:2) and to
"Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper" (2 Chronicles 20:20).

On the other hand, there are warnings against false prophets:

For false christs and false prophets will rise and will show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:24).

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1).

False prophets claim to have dreams and to see visions, then how can we discern between the  true and the false prophets. so the Scriptures must provide criteria whereby the authenticity of the prophets' statements may be tested.  They do clearly ennunciate them.

Do not despise prophecies,
test all things;
hold fast what is good"
(1 Thessalonians 5:20-21).

A true prophet of God will meet all the Biblical criteria, which can be summarized as follows:

1. The Law of Harmony
A true prophet's message will be in complete harmony with the word of God and the law of God.

To the law and to the testimony! If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (Isaiah 8:20).

There are absolute basic principles of the already revealed Word of God. There are the laws and Prophecy - A prophet cannot negate what God has revealed in His Word, and
all the precepts of the law are binding (James 2:10).
When the law is not observed, the gift of prophecy is withdrawn (Lamentations 2:9).

 2 Peter 1:20

 "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation."

A true prophet does not give his own interpretation of scripture. Every prophecy he or she proclaims will agree with already established truth. Isaiah 8:19-20

"And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."

If they receive new light, it must agree with the old light God has already given.  If it does not we need to be careful.

2. Fulfilment of prophecy in itself is not an evidence of the validity of the prophet.
 

.Jeremiah 28:9  "The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him."
When a prophet gives his or her prophecy, it should contain a prophecy for the immediate future which will stand as a test.  If it comes to pass it is a sure test of validity.

If it does not come to pass - it is not an invalidation of the prophet.
when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him" (Deuteronomy 18:22 NKJV

If it does not “just don’t worry”  It does not prove him a false prophet.

Deuteronomy 18:21-22  "And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."

This is because forthtelling of future is not the function of prophecy. It is done in order to correct and to guide.  Hence the prophecy in human history by the Prophets were always conditional whether stated or implied and depends on the reaction of the people to the prophecy for correction.  One solid example is the prophecy of Jonah against Nineveh. Jonah was angry because when his prophecy of destruction of the city did not happen due to the repentence of the people, that made him look like a false prophet.

Even when the prophecy come true, it does not in itself provide evidence of the proof of the prophet. “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying 'Let us go after other gods'—which you have not known—and let us serve them, you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him“ (Deuteronomy 13:1-4 NKJV).

Evidently Signs and wonders do not prove a prophet's validity. As in the above Scriptural example, prophets' words are not always in harmony with the law of God. Satan will work miracles in the last days to deceive many (Revelation 16:14). As such fulfilment or non fulfilment of a prophecy in itself is not a conclusive proof for a prophet.  

3. Purpose of Prophecy is correction, edification and building of the church

But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification and exhortation, and comfort...but he that prophesieth edifieth the church (1 Corinthians 14:3-4).

A true prophet will not condone sin (1 John 3:4).

True prophets will exhort the church to a higher standard, and will exemplify God's principles in their own lives. In other words, a true prophet gives direction to God's true church. And a true prophet's messages will cover all of these three areas:

Edification -- to instruct morally;
Exhortation -- this means to strongly advise; and
Comfort -- to soothe in distress or sorrow, to console.   

4. Confession of Christ
A true prophet will exalt Christ as the Son of God and the Saviour of humankind

1 John 4:1-3 "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they, are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is in the world."

5. Speaks with authority not of his own but of God

The true prophet will speak with authority (Matthew 7:29).

He does not speak of his own authority

 2 Peter 1:21 "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."

So, a true prophet prophesies in the name of the Lord, not in his own name. A true prophet will manifest the fruits of that same spirit because he or she speaks through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The usual Old Testament manner was to prefix “Thus saith the Lord….”  But in the ecstatic state of full take over of human soul as in the claim of Montanus group was to start by stating “I am the Father who has come …”  or “I am the Holy Spirit who is speaking….”  These are the authority assignments and not a claim of they becoming God as is usually brought in by the opponents of the Montanists. You cannot be God the Father some times and God the Holy Spirit another time gives the clear answer.

6. The true prophet will bear good fruit.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them (Matthew 7:20).

Matthew 7:15-16 "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. . ."

Galatians 5: 22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace,
forbearance, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Fruit of the Spirit - The Nine Biblical Attributes

The fruit of the Spirit is a physical manifestation of a Christian's transformed life. In order to mature as believers, we should study and understand the attributes of the ninefold fruit:

 

 

7.  Two forms of reception

Prophet may receive his word from the Lord as a vision or as a dream

Numbers 12:6 "And he said, hear now my words: if there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream."

8.  Special forms of experience may be there.

He can receive the vision with his eyes open - that is fully awake.
Or it may be associated with physical experiences that are not normal

The utterance of him who hears the words of God, who sees the vision of the Almighty,

who falls down, with eyes wide open (Numbers 24:4 NKJV).

Daniel 10:7-9 describes several of the physical state of the prophet Daniel while receiving the prophecy as a vision.

“And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men that were with me saw not the vision;

but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.

Therefore I was left alone and saw this great vision,

and there remained no strength in me; 

for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.

Yet heard I the voice of his words;

and when I heard the voice of his words,

then was I in a deep sleep on my face,

and my face to the ground (Daniel 10:7-9).

We cannot really say what was this corruption.  It is an indication certainly of total loss of control of mind and bodily functions. Daniel had "no strength," and he must have fallen to the ground as he lay with his "face to the ground." Daniel 10:18

    "Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me."(Daniel 10:10-11).

     "For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me."Daniel 10:17

While in vision, Daniel did not breathe. And suddenly one having the likeness of man (evidently suggestive of Jesus)  touched my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke, saying to him who stood before me,

My Lord, because of the vision,

my sorrows have overwhelmed me,

and I have retained no strength.

For how can this servant of my Lord talk with you my Lord?

As for me, no strength remains in me now,

nor is any breath left in me.

Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me (Daniel 10:16-17).

Habbakuk also mentions similar reaction in his body on vision:

Hab 3:16  When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice; rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in my seat, ……

 In summary, a prophet in vision shows these signs:

       i) Falls down weak

       ii) Is raised up and strengthened by God

       iii) Has the eyes wide open during the vision

       iv) Does not breath, even when speaking

He can receive it in a sleep as a dream

 

Numbers 12:6

    "And he said, hear now my words: if there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream."

He can be in a trance with his eyes open

So there is really no specific description of the form, what where, how and when in the prophetic vision or dream or the physical or psychological state of the prophect can be fixed.  This cannot be used as a criteria.

Numbers 24:4 and 16  "He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open...He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open:"

It is certainly wrong to consider prophecy from a purely spiritual approach. All religious experience cannot be seperated as a Spiritual experience alone. God created us as physical beings. That we are created with the breath of God (giving us a spiritual dimension) with a physical body. The physical world is part of the religious experience.  Thus we should not suppose that someone who goes through a powerful spiritual experience do not go through some form of  physical experience as well, in the same way as person who goes through a powerful emotional experience has physical manifestations.  We are spiritual beings in a physical body.  They are by creation connected as a united form which the Bible calls a “living soul”.  Physics affects the Chemical and Spiritual parts in just the same extent as the Spiritual affects the Physical and Chemical parts of man.

The spirit can and is expected to fall on all believers irrespective of age, social status or sex. It may or maynot be accompanied by signs and wonders.

 And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
and your
sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your
old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions;
and also upon the
servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit.
And
I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth; blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come” (Joel 2:28-31).

Pentecost, then, was a foretaste of the manifestation of the Spirit. All sorts of cosmic, personal and social wonders can be expected without any limitation.

 

 
 
Thus there are only two positive tests given in the bible regarding prophets and their validity:

Test One 

 

Test Two

 

 
 
These are the only two tests as far as I can see that will show whether an act or a prophecy is from the Holy Spirit or not.  

Both Holy Spirit and Evil Spirits are Spirit beings.  Evil spirits emulates the acts of the Holy Spirit.  So the only way we can know the difference is to use the Scriptural tests.

According to what is reported of the Montanists, if we can believe the reports of both Esuebius and Tertullian they have conformed to these two tests.

Yes they were not conformed to the behavioral standards of the then powerful Churches of the period and were therefore excommunicated and called heretics.  But were they?  It is upto you to decide.  We may not like their ways.  But that would not make them heretics.  This is more so during that early period when canon was never even thought of.  

There may be difference of opinion about their rituals, regulations, extreme insistence of certain moral codes, and even their codes.  We could find that in every denomination of Christian Churches even today. Roman Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, Baptist, Pentecostals, Charismatic, Mormons, SeventhDay Adventist, and you name them, you analyse them too.  Are we all unChristian.  Why are they different at all. The interpretations are based on contextual situations.  In that sense Montanists were also unChristian.  But if the criteria is based on the fundamentals of faith, they are as bad or as good as any denomination today.  They were tagged heretics because of intolerance and failure to understand them.

That is not surprising.  It is being repeated even today. There is an ongoing revival of Montanism even now.

These forms of worship and rituals are actually evolved out of the context in which the faith is embeded. Certainly the Montanists fitted perfectly into the then existing culture.  The main question is, “Were they Christ centered or not?” “Did they take their members into idol worship?
Was there any error in their doctrines?”

The Only Certain test “The Law and the Testimony”

Wesley preached at the Fish-Ponds on June 22, 1739 thus:

  “They were not to judge of the spirit whereby any one spoke, either by; appearances, or by  common  report,  or  by  their  own  inward feelings:  No,  nor  by  any  dreams,  visions,  or revelations,  supposed  to  be  made  to  their  souls; any more than by their tears, or any involuntary effects wrought upon their bodies. I warned them, all  these  were,  in  themselves,  of  a  doubtful, disputable, nature; they might be from God, and they might not; and were therefore not simply to be  relied  on,  (any  more  than  simply  to  be condemned,) but to be tried by a farther rule, to be brought to the only certain test, the Law and the Testimony.”
 

VI

 
 
http://www.iccrs.org/_files/files/Resources%20English/Questions%20for%20Doctrinal%20Commission/QDC33_En.pdf 

Glossolalia, Xenolalia and Xenoglossia

The gift of tongues is one of the many charisms given by the Holy Spirit for the upbuilding of the Church. The Scriptural basis for this gift is found in the risen Jesus’ commission to proclaim the gospel in Mark 16:17 and in two other books of the New Testament: Acts and 1 Corinthians. The gift of tongues has been the subject of many studies, and various terms are associated with it, including glossolalia, xenoglossia and xenolalia. What is the distinction among these terms?

The word glossolalia is derived from the Greek phrase glossais lalein, which literally means "to speak in tongues". In Christian theology glossolalia usually refers to speechlike sounds given by the Holy Spirit for use in private or public prayer.

The term xenoglossia comes from the Greek words xenos, "foreign", and glossa, "tongue" and means "speaking in a foreign language". Similarly, xenolalia comes from xenos, "foreign", and lalia, "speaking", and also means "speaking in a foreign language". These terms are often used synonymously, and refer to speaking or writing in a human language that one has not acquired by natural means. In the New Testament, Paul and Luke do present the gift of tongues in different ways. Luke depicts tongues as a sign of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost, when they "declared the wonders of God" in different languages and dialects (Acts 2:1-13). It is sometimes argued that the real miracle at Pentecost was one of hearing, and that the "tongues" were in fact a form of ecstatic utterance rather than an identifiable language. But this seems to be an incorrect reading of Acts, which records a "speaking in other tongues" as well as a hearing in the "native language" of those present. Luke thus regards the Pentecost phenomenon as xenolalia, speaking in actual human languages unknown to the speakers.

Luke records further utterances in tongues in Acts 10:46, when the Spirit comes upon the gentile household of Cornelius, and again in 19:6, when the Ephesian disciples of John the Baptist receive the Spirit. On these occasions there is no suggestion that the tongues were languages actually recognized by any of the hearers.

But the content of the speech in tongues in all three texts is the mighty works of God. Although the term "mighty works" is used only in Acts 2:11, the related verb "extol" is found in 10:46 and 19:17, and it suggests that what they spoke in tongues was praise of God.

Paul lists tongues among the gifts of the Spirit in his instructions to the Corinthians about the charismatic gifts (1 Cor 12:10; 14:2, 5). Paul seems to have in mind two different forms of the gift: tongues as a public message for the assembly and tongues as a form of prayer. Tongues in the first sense is a prophetic gift whose understanding requires the presence of an interpreter (1 Cor 14:26- 28). The interpreter does not translate the message but rather is moved to convey its general meaning. Paul sees a variety of functions to be fulfilled by this gift, including praise of God and revelation to the congregation.

In the second sense, Paul says tongues is directed to God not to the neighbor, for it is a gift of prayer rather than of preaching (1 Cor 14:2). It is a gift for inspired charismatic praise and perhaps for communicating inner groanings and longings which the person cannot put into words (see Rom 8:26-27). Thus we are told in 1 Cor 14:14-17 that this is a gift of prayer, of praise, and thanksgiving. Its primary function is not, therefore, intelligible communication. Such a prayer involves words and sounds that do not belong to any existing language.

Even though the one who speaks in tongues does not know the content, the person is aware that he or she is saying it. But it is to be noted that the person is in control and is able to decide when to start and when to stop, and is not involuntarily carried away by the gift. The value of this kind of prayer of praise lies precisely in its non-rational character, which allows the Holy Spirit to bypass the mind and to move the human spirit to pray as depth speaking to depth (Rom 8:26-27).

In the charismatic renewal today, the second kind of tongues is by far more common, although there have also been many reported instances of the first kind. It should be noted that glossolalia and xenoglossia are not a guarantee that a speaker is being moved by the Holy Spirit, since Satan attempts to counterfeit every gift of the Spirit. Paul therefore cautions the Corinthians to discern every spiritual gift based on the criteria of truth (1 Cor 12:1~3) and love (1 Cor 13:1-3), and he reminds them that the gifts have value only insofar as they are exercised in right order for the building up of the body of Christ (1 Cor 14:39-40).  <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Glossolalia

Glossolalia: In general coming from the Greek, "glossolalia" can refer to

1) speaking in either a variety of different languages or

2) speaking in incomprehensible sounds/gibberish/non-real languages.

In English they are referred to with different words:

Xenolalia: Speaking in the languages one does not know meant for mission purposes.

"xenolalia" refers to speaking in many real languages. (xenos, "foreign", and glōssa, "tongue" , lalia ”speaking”) thus giving "speaking in a foreign language" as its meaning.  In apostolic times, this would refer to  having an infused gift/learning of a language/number of languages (see Acts 2).   It can be considered a subcategory of the general term "glossolalia," but for specific usage, "glossolalia" and "xenolalia" denote two different things.

and

Glossolallia:  speaking in languages under the influence of the Holy Spirit. “Glossolalia" in common English properly refers to

1) making noises, including bodily noises, sighs, moans, etc., or

2) speaking in gibberish/non-real languages

At Pentecost, Jesus’ Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to “speak in other tongues.”  They could be understood by people from other nations (Acts 2:1-12).

More often the New Testament refers to the second aspect where saints under the influence of the Spirt spoke in other tongues as a means of prophesying. (Acts 10:46; 19:6).  This is a sign for those unbelievers. If it is a prophecy, someone must interpret it for the public who has that gift.  Ofter it is considered as the language of the angels in various heavens.

Since New Testament was written in Greek they are both referred to as “Glossalalia”.

New Testament Speaking in Tongues:

There are five places in the New Testament where speaking in tongues is referred to explicitly:

·Mark 16:17, which records the instructions of Christ to the apostles, including his description that "they will speak with new tongues" as a sign that would follow "them that believe" in him.

·Acts 2, which describes an occurrence of speaking in tongues in Jerusalem at Pentecost, though with various interpretations. Specifically, "every man heard them speak in his own language" and wondered "how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?"

·Acts 10:46, when the household of Cornelius in Caesarea spoke in tongues, and those present compared it to the speaking in tongues that occurred at Pentecost.

·Acts 19:6, when a group of approximately a dozen men spoke in tongues in Ephesus as they received the Holy Spirit while the apostle Paul laid his hands upon them.

·1 Cor 12, 13, 14, where Paul discusses speaking in "various kinds of tongues" as part of his wider discussion of the gifts of the Spirit; his remarks shed some light on his own speaking in tongues as well as how the gift of speaking in tongues was to be used in the church.

 Despite these commonalities, there are significant variations in interpretation.

Universal.

The traditional Pentecostal view is that every Christian should expect to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, the distinctive mark of which is glossolalia.[38] While most Protestants agree that baptism in the Holy Spirit is integral to being a Christian, others[39] believe that it is not separable from conversion and no longer marked by glossolalia. Pentecostals appeal to the declaration of the Apostle Peter at Pentecost, that "the gift of the Holy Spirit" was "for you and for your children and for all who are far off" (Acts 2:38-39). Cessationists reply that the gift of speaking in tongues was never for all (1 Cor 12:30). In response to those who say that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a separate experience from conversion, Pentecostals appeal to the question asked by the Apostle Paul to the Ephesian believers "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" (Acts 19:2).

One gift.

Different aspects of speaking in tongues appear in Acts and 1 Corinthians, such that the Assemblies of God declare that the gift in Acts "is the same in essence as the gift of tongues" in 1 Corinthians "but different in purpose and use". They distinguish between (private) speech in tongues when receiving the gift of the Spirit, and (public) speech in tongues for the benefit of the church. Others assert that the gift in Acts was "not a different phenomenon" but the same gift being displayed under varying circumstances. The same description – "speaking in tongues" – is used in both Acts and 1 Corinthians, and in both cases the speech is in an unlearned language.

Direction.

The New Testament describes tongues largely as speech addressed to God, but also as something that can potentially be interpreted into human language, thereby "edifying the hearers" (1 Cor 14:5,13). At Pentecost and Caesarea the speakers were praising God (Acts 2:11; 10:46).

Paul referred to praying, singing praise, and giving thanks in tongues (1 Cor 14:14-17), as well as to the interpretation of tongues (1 Cor 14:5), and instructed those speaking in tongues to pray for the ability to interpret their tongues so others could understand them (1 Cor 14:13). While some limit speaking in tongues to speech addressed to God – "prayer or praise", others claim that speech in tongues is revelation from God to the church, and when interpreted into human language by those embued with the gift of interpretation of tongues for the benefit of others present, may be considered equivalent to prophecy.

Music.

Musical interludes of glossolalia are sometimes described as singing in the Spirit. Some hold that singing in the Spirit is identified with singing in tongues in 1 Corinthians 14:13-19,  which they hold to be "spiritual or spirited singing", as opposed to "communicative or impactive singing" which Paul refers to as "singing with the understanding".

Sign for unbelievers (1 Cor 14:22).

Some assume that tongues are "a sign for unbelievers that they might believe", and so advocate it as a means of evangelism. Others point out that Paul quotes Isaiah to show that "when God speaks to people in language they cannot understand, it is quite evidently a sign of God's judgment"; so if unbelievers are baffled by a church service they cannot understand because tongues are spoken without being interpreted, that is a "sign of God's attitude", "a sign of judgment". Some identify the tongues in Acts 2 as the primary example of tongues as signs for unbelievers

 

VII

Church History
Eusebius Pamphilius

(Trans. from Albert Cushman McGiffert,

Eusebius Pamphilius: Church History, Life of Constantine, Oration in Praise of Constantine

New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co,1890).

http://biblehub.com/library/pamphilius/church_history/chapter_xvi_the_circumstances_related_of.htm
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf201.iii.x.xvii.html
http://philipharland.com/Courses/Readings/4825/P%20Eusebius,%20EH%205.14-19%20Montanists.pdf
  

 

“NPNF2-01. Eusebius Pamphilius: Church History, Life of Constantine, Oration in Praise of Constantine

Chapter 16

The Anonymous Author and his Source, Miltiades, on the Heresy of the Phrygians

1. Against the so-called Phrygian heresy, the power which always contends for the truth raised

up a strong and invincible weapon, Apolinarius of Hierapolis, whom we have mentioned

before, and with him many other men of ability, by whom abundant material for our history has

been left.  

2. A certain one of these, in the beginning of his work against them, first intimates that he had contended with them in oral controversies.

3. He commences his work in this manner:

"Having for a very long and sufficient time, O beloved Avircius Marcellus, been urged by you to write a treatise against the heresy of those who are called after Miltiades, I have hesitated till the present time, not through lack of ability to refute the falsehood or bear testimony for the truth, but from fear and apprehension that I might seem to some to be making additions to the doctrines or precepts of the Gospel of the New Testament, which it is impossible for one who has chosen to live

according to the Gospel, either to increase or to diminish.  

4. But being recently in Ancyra in Galatia, I found the church there greatly agitated by this novelty, not prophecy, as they call it, but rather false prophecy, as will be shown. Therefore, to the best of our ability, with the Lord's help, we disputed in the church many days concerning these and other matters separately brought forward by them, so that the church rejoiced and was strengthened in the truth, and those of the opposite side were for the time confounded, and the adversaries were grieved.

5. The presbyters in the place, our fellow-presbyter Zoticus of Otrous also being present, requested us to leave a record of what had been said against the opposers of the truth. We did not do this, but we promised to write it out as soon as the Lord permitted us, and to send it to them speedily."

6. Having said this with other things, in the beginning of his work, he proceeds to state the cause of the above-mentioned heresy as follows:

"Their opposition and their recent heresy which has separated them from the Church arose on the following account.

7. There is said to be a certain village called Ardabau in that part of Mysia, which borders upon Phrygia. 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.  (Here the contention is the manner in which the prophecy was delivered in babble and was not in the traditional form.  Because of this they concluded that it is the evil spirit that was in that church MMN)

8. Some of those who heard his spurious utterances at that time were indignant, and they rebuked him as one that was possessed, and that was under the control of a demon, and was led by a deceitful spirit, and was distracting the multitude; and they forbade him to talk, remembering the distinction drawn by the Lord and his warning to guard watchfully against the coming of false prophets. 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.

9. 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 and faithful 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.

10. For the faithful in Asia met often in many places throughout Asia to consider this matter, and examined the novel utterances and pronounced them profane, and rejected the heresy, and thus these persons were expelled from the Church and debarred from communion."

11. Having related these things at the outset, and continued the refutation of their delusion through his entire work, in the second book he speaks as follows of their end:

12. "Since, therefore, they called us slayers of the prophets because we did not receive their loquacious prophets, who, they say, are those that the Lord promised to send to the people, let them answer as in God's presence: Who is there, O friends, of these who began to talk, from Montanus and the women down, that was persecuted by the Jews, or slain by lawless men? None. Or has any of them been seized and crucified for the Name? Truly not. Or has one of these women ever been scourged in the synagogues of the Jews, or stoned? No; never anywhere. (Here it says that there were no martyrs from among them which is contradicted by the auther himself in 20.  Some people confirm that they sought martyrdom and refused to run away and escape MMN)

13. But by another kind of death Montanus and Maximilla are said to have died. For the report is that, incited by the spirit of frenzy, they both hung themselves; not at the same time, but at the time which common report gives for the death of each. And thus they died, and ended their lives like the traitor Judas.

14. So also, as general report says, that remarkable person, the first steward, as it were, of their so-called prophecy, one Theodotus who, as if at sometime taken up and received into heaven, fell into trances, and entrusted himself to the deceitful spirit was pitched like a quoit [a ring in a ring-toss game], and died miserably.

15. They say that these things happened in this manner. But as we did not see them, O friend, we do not pretend to know. Perhaps in such a manner, perhaps not, Montanus and Theodotus and the above-mentioned woman died."

16. He says again in the same book that the holy bishops of that time attempted to refute the spirit in Maximilla, but were prevented by others who plainly co-operated with the spirit.

17. He writes as follows: "And let not the spirit, in the same work of Asterius Urbanus, say through Maximilla, 'I am driven away from the sheep like a wolf. I am not a wolf. I am word and spirit and power.' But let him show clearly and prove the power in the spirit. And by the spirit let him compel those to confess him who were then present for the purpose of proving and reasoning with the talkative spirit, those eminent men and bishops, Zoticus, from the village Comana, and Julian, from Apamea, whose mouths the followers of Themiso muzzled, refusing to permit the false and seductive spirit to be refuted by them."

18. Again in the same work, after saying other things in refutation of the false prophecies of Maximilla, he indicates the time when he wrote these accounts, and mentions her predictions in which she prophesied wars and anarchy. Their falsehood he censures in the following manner:

19. "And has not this been shown clearly to be false? For it is to-day more than thirteen years since the woman died, and there has been neither a partial nor general war in the world; but rather, through the mercy of God, continued peace even to the Christians." These things are taken from the second book. (They prophesied war but it never came to pass.  But fulfilment of prophecy in itself is not a proof of the prophet. MMN

20. I will add also short extracts from the third book, in which he speaks thus against their boasts that many of them had suffered martyrdom: "When therefore they are at a loss, being refuted in all that they say, they try to take refuge in their martyrs, alleging that they have many martyrs, and that this is sure evidence of the power of the so-called prophetic spirit that is with them. But this, as it appears, is entirely fallacious.

21. For some of the heresies have a great many martyrs; but surely we shall not on that account agree with them or confess that they hold the truth. And first, indeed, those called Marcionites, from the heresy of Marcion, say that they have a multitude of martyrs for Christ; yet they do not confess Christ himself in truth."

A little farther on he continues:

22. "When those called to martyrdom from the Church for the truth of the faith have met with any of the so-called martyrs of the Phrygian heresy, they have separated from them, and died without any fellowship with them, because they did not wish to give their assent to the spirit of Montanus and the women. And that this is true and took place in our own time in Apamea on the Maeander, among those who suffered martyrdom with Gaius and Alexander of Eumenia, is well known."

Chapter 17

1. In this work he mentions a writer, Miltiades,  stating that he also wrote a certain book against the above-mentioned heresy. After quoting some of their words, he adds: "Having found these things in a certain work of theirs in opposition to the work of the brother Alcibiades, in which he shows that a prophet ought not to speak in ecstasy, I made an abridgment."

2. A little further on in the same work he gives a list of those who prophesied under the new covenant, among whom he enumerates a certain Ammia and Quadratus, saying: "But the false prophet falls into an ecstasy, in which he is without shame or fear. Beginning with purposed ignorance, he passes on, as has been stated, to involuntary madness of soul. 3. They cannot show that one of the old or one of the new prophets was thus carried away in spirit. Neither can they boast of Agabus, or Judas, or Silas, or the daughters of Philip, or Ammia in Philadelphia, or Quadratus, or any others not belonging to them."

4. And again after a little he says:

"For if after Quadratus and Ammia in Philadelphia, as they assert, the women with Montanus received the prophetic gift, let them show who among them received it from Montanus and the women. For the apostle thought it necessary that the prophetic gift should continue in all the Church until the final coming. But they cannot show it, though this is the fourteenth year since the death of Maximilla."

5. He writes thus. But the Miltiades to whom he refers has left other monuments of his own zeal for the Divine Scriptures, in the discourses which he composed against the Greeks and against the Jews, answering each of them separately in two books. And in addition he addresses an apology to the earthly rulers, in behalf of the philosophy which he embraced.

Chapter 18: Apollonius on the Heresy of the Phrygians

(These are essentially accusation of collecting money and livind luxuriously MMN)

1. As the so-called Phrygian heresy was still flourishing in Phrygia in his time, Apollonius also, an ecclesiastical writer, undertook its refutation, and wrote a special work against it, correcting in detail the false prophecies current among them and reproving the life of the founders of the heresy. But hear his own words respecting Montanus:

2. "His actions and his teaching show who this new teacher is. This is he who taught the dissolution of marriage; who made laws for fasting; who named Pepuza and Tymion, small towns in Phrygia, Jerusalem, wishing to gather people to them from all directions; who appointed collectors of money; who contrived the receiving of gifts under the name of offerings; who provided salaries for those who preached his doctrine, that its teaching might prevail through gluttony."

3. He writes thus concerning Montanus; and a little farther on he writes as follows concerning his prophetesses: "We show that these first prophetesses themselves, as soon as they were filled with the Spirit, abandoned their husbands. How falsely therefore they speak who call Prisca a virgin." 

4. Afterwards he says: "Does not all Scripture seem to you to forbid a prophet to receive gifts and money? When therefore I see the prophetess receiving gold and silver and costly garments, how can I avoid reproving her?"

5. And again a little farther on he speaks thus concerning one of their confessors: "So also Themiso, who was clothed with plausible covetousness, could not endure the sign of confession, but threw aside bonds for an abundance of possessions. Yet, though he should have been humble on this account, he dared to boast as a martyr, and in imitation of the apostle, he wrote a certain catholic epistle, to instruct those whose faith was better than his own, contending for words of empty sound, and blaspheming against the Lord and the apostles and the holy Church."

6. And again concerning others of those honored among them as martyrs, he writes as follows: "Not to speak of many, let the prophetess herself tell us of Alexander, who called himself a martyr, with whom she is in the habit of banqueting, and who is worshiped by many. We need not mention his robberies and other daring deeds for which he was punished, but the archives contain them.

7. Which of these forgives the sins of the other? Does the prophet the robberies of the martyr, or the martyr the covetousness of the prophet? For although the Lord said, `Provide neither gold, nor silver, neither two coats,' these men, in complete opposition, transgress in respect to the possession of the forbidden things. For we will show that those whom they call prophets and martyrs gather their gain not only from rich men, but also from the poor, and orphans, and widows.

8. But if they are confident, let them stand up and discuss these matters, that if convicted they may hereafter cease transgressing. For the fruits of the prophet must be tried; `for the tree is known by its fruit.'  

9. But that those who wish may know concerning Alexander, he was tried by Aemilius Frontinus, proconsul at Ephesus; not on account of the Name, but for the robberies which he had committed, being already an apostate.  Afterwards, having falsely declared for the name of the Lord, he was released, having deceived the faithful that were there. And his own parish, from which he came, did not receive him, because he was a robber. Those who wish to learn about him have the public records of Asia. And yet the prophet with whom he spent many years knows nothing about him!  

10. Exposing him, through him we expose also the pretense of the prophet. We could show the same thing of many others. But if they are confident, let them endure the test."

11. Again, in another part of his work he speaks as follows of the prophets of whom they boast: "If they deny that their prophets have received gifts, let them acknowledge this: that if they are convicted of receiving them, they are not prophets. And we will bring a multitude of proofs of this. But it is necessary that all the fruits of a prophet should be examined. Tell me, does a prophet dye his hair?  Does a prophet stain his eyelids?  Does a prophet delight in adornment? Does a prophet play with tables and dice? Does a prophet lend on usury? Let them confess whether these things are lawful or not; but I will show that they have been done by them."  

12. This same Apollonius states in the same work that, at the time of his writing, it was the fortieth year since Montanus had begun his pretended prophecy.

13. And he says also that Zoticus, who was mentioned by the former writer, when Maximilla was pretending to prophesy in Pepuza, resisted her and endeavored to refute the spirit that was working in her; but was prevented by those who agreed with her. He mentions also a certain Thraseas among the martyrs of that time. He speaks, moreover, of a tradition that the Saviour commanded his apostles not to depart from Jerusalem for twelve years. He uses testimonies also from the Revelation of John, and he relates that a dead man had, through the Divine power, been raised by John himself in Ephesus.  He also adds other things by which he fully and abundantly exposes the error of the heresy of which we have been speaking. These are the matters recorded by Apollonius. “

 

 

VIII

 


WAS MONTANISM A HERESY?

A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church ...edited by Philip Schaff, Henry Wace

 “Montanism must not be looked upon as a heresy in the ordinary sense of the term. The movement lay in the sphere of life and discipline rather than in that of theology.

Its fundamental proposition was the continuance of divine revelation which was begun under the old Dispensation, was carried on in the time of Christ and his apostles, and reached its highest development under the dispensation of the Paraclete, which opened with the activity of Montanus.

This Montanus was a Phrygian, who, in the latter part of the second century, began to fall into states of ecstasy and to have visions, and believed himself a divinely inspired prophet, through whom the promised Paraclete spoke, and with whom therefore the dispensation of that Paraclete began. Two noble ladies (Priscilla and Maximilla) attached themselves to Montanus, and had visions and prophesied in the same way. These constituted the three original prophets of the sect, and all that they taught was claimed to be of binding authority on all.

They were quite orthodox, accepted fully the doctrinal teachings of the Catholic Church, and did not pretend to alter in any way the revelation given by Christ and his apostles. But they claimed that some things had not been revealed by them, because at that early stage the Church was not able to bear them; but that such additional revelations were now given, because the fullness of time had come which was to precede the second coming of Christ. These revelations had to do not at all with theology, but wholly with matters of life and discipline.

They taught a rigid asceticism over against the growing worldliness of the Church, severe discipline over against its laxer methods, and finally the universal priesthood of believers (even female), and their right to perform all the functions of church officers, over against the growing sacerdotalism of the Church.

They were thus in a sense reformers, or perhaps reactionaries is a better term, who wished to bring back, or to preserve against corruption, the original principles and methods of the Church. They aimed at a puritanic reaction against worldliness, and of a democratic reaction against growing aristocracy in the Church. They insisted that ministers were made by God alone, by the direct endowment of his Spirit in distinction from human ordination. They looked upon their prophets--supernaturally called and endowed by the Spirit--as supreme in the Church. They claimed that all gross offenders should be excommunicated, and that neither they nor the lax should ever be re-admitted to the Church. They encouraged celibacy, increased the number and severity of fasts, eschewed worldly amusements, &c. This rigid asceticism was enjoined by the revelation of the Spirit through their prophets, and was promoted by their belief in the speedy coming of Christ to set up his kingdom on earth, which was likewise prophesied. They were thus pre-Millenarians or Chiliasts. 

The movement spread rapidly in Asia Minor and in North Africa, and for a time in Rome itself. It appealed very powerfully to the sterner moralists, stricter disciplinarians, and more deeply pious minds among the Christians. All the puritanically inclined schisms of this period attracted many of the better class of Christians, and this one had the additional advantage of claiming the authority of divine revelation for its strict principles.

The greatest convert was Tertullian, who, in 201 or 202, attracted by the asceticism and disciplinary rigor of the sect, attached himself to it, and remained until his death its most powerful advocate. He seems to have stood at the head of a separatist congregation of Montanists in Carthage, and yet never to have been excommunicated by the Catholic Church. Montanism made so much stir in Asia Minor that synods were called before the end of the second century to consider the matter, and finally, though not without hesitation, the whole movement was officially condemned. Later, the condemnation was ratified in Rome and also in North Africa, and Montanism gradually degenerated, and finally, after two or three centuries, entirely disappeared.

But although it failed and passed away, Montanism had a marked influence on the development of the Church.

In the first place, it aroused a general distrust of prophecy, and the result was that the Church soon came to the conviction that prophecy had entirely ceased.

In the second place, the Church was led to see the necessity of emphasizing the historical Christ and historical Christianity over against the Montanistic claims of a constantly developing revelation, and thus to put great emphasis upon the Scripture canon.

In the third place, the Church had to lay increased stress upon the organization--upon its appointed and ordained officers--over against the claims of irregular prophets who might at any time arise as organs of the Spirit.

The development of Christianity into a religion of the book and of the organization was thus greatly advanced, and the line began to be sharply drawn between the age of the apostles, in which there had been direct supernatural revelations, and the later age, in which such revelations had disappeared. We are, undoubtedly, to date from this time that exalted conception of the glory of the apostolic age, and of its absolute separation from all subsequent ages, which marks so strongly the Church of succeeding centuries, and which led men to endeavor to gain apostolic authority for every advance in the constitution, in the customs, and in the doctrine of the Church. There had been little of this feeling before, but now it became universal, and it explains the great number of pseudo-apostolic works of the third and following centuries.

In the fourth place, the Chiliastic ideas of Montanism produced a reaction in the Church which caused the final rejection of all grossly physical Premillenarian beliefs which up to this time had been very common. For further particulars in regard to Montanism, see the notes on this and the following chapters. Our chief sources for a knowledge of Montanism are to be found in the writings of Tertullian. See, also, Epiphanius, Hær. XLVIII. and XLIX., and Jerome's Epistle to Marcella (Migne, Ep. 41). The fragments from the anonymous anti-Montanistic writer quoted by Eusebius ….are of the greatest importance. It is to be regretted that Eusebius has preserved for us no fragments of the anti-Montanistic writings of Apolinarius and Melito, who might have given us still earlier and more trustworthy accounts of the sect. It is probable that their works were not decided enough in their opposition to Montanism to suit Eusebius, who, therefore, chose to take his account from somewhat later, but certainly bitter enough antagonists.

The works of the Montanists themselves (except those of Tertullian) have entirely perished, but a few "Oracles," or prophetic utterances, of Montanus, Priscilla, and Maximilla, have been preserved by Tertullian and other writers, and are printed by Bonwetsch, p. 197-200. The literature upon Montanism is very extensive. We may mention here C. W. F. Walch's Ketzerhistorie, I.-p. 611-666, A. Schwegler's Der Montanismus und die christliche Kirche des zweiten Jahrh. (Tübingen, 1841), and especially G. N. Bonwetzsch's Die Geschichte des Montanismus (Erlangen, 1881), which is the best work on the subject, and indispensable to the student. Compare, also, Schaff's Ch. Hist. II. p. 415 sq., where the literature is given with great fullness, Salmon's article in the Dict. of Christ. Biog., and especially Harnack's Dogmengeschichte, I. p. 319 sq.

The fault found by the Church with Montanus' prophecy was rather because of its form than because of its substance.

It was admitted that the prophecies contained much that was true, but the soberer sense of the Church at large objected decidedly to the frenzied ecstasy in which they were delivered. That a change had come over the Church in this respect since the apostolic age is perfectly clear.

In Paul's time the speaking with tongues, which involved a similar kind of ecstasy, was very common; so, too, at the time the Didache was written the prophets spoke in an ecstasy (en pneumati, which can mean nothing else; cf. Harnack's edition, p. 122 sq.).

But the early enthusiasm of the Church had largely passed away by the middle of the second century; and though there were still prophets (Justin, for instance, and even Clement of Alexandria knew of them), they were not in general characterized by the same ecstatic and frenzied utterance that marked their predecessors. To say that there were none such at this time would be rash; but it is plain that they had become so decidedly the exception that the revival by the Montanists of the old method on a large scale and in its extremest form could appear to the Church at large only a decided innovation.

Prophecy in itself was nothing strange to them, but prophecy in this form they were not accustomed to, and did not realize that it was but a revival of the ancient form (cf. the words of our author, who is evidently quite ignorant of that form). That they should be shocked at it is not to be wondered at, and that they should, in that age, when all such manifestations were looked upon as supernatural in their origin, regard these prophets as under the influence of Satan, is no more surprising. There was no other alternative in their minds. Either the prophecies were from God or from Satan; not their content mainly, but the manner in which they were delivered aroused the suspicion of the bishops and other leaders of the Church. Add to that the fact that these prophets claimed supremacy over the constituted Church authorities, claimed that the Church must be guided by the revelations vouchsafed to women and apparently half-crazy enthusiasts and fanatics, and it will be seen at once that there was nothing left for the leaders of the Church but to condemn the movement, and pronounce its prophecy a fraud and a work of the Evil One. That all prophecy should, as a consequence, fall into discredit was natural. Clement (Strom. I. 17) gives the speaking in an ecstasy as one of the marks of a false prophet,--Montanism had evidently brought the Church to distinct consciousness on that point,--while Origen, some decades later, is no longer acquainted with prophets, and denies that they existed even in the time of Celsus (see Contra Cels. VII. 11). “

(A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church ...edited by Philip Schaff, Henry Wace)

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