The early Christian church in the second century was vulnerable to heresy, misguided doctrine and false teachers. It was debated whether one of the earliest nominally charismatic movements of the early church was inspired by the Holy Spirit, or by a spirit not sent by God. Montanism had teachings both in and out of agreement with the mainstream church, but was overshadowed by the controversy of prophecy and the biblical standard by which it was approved.
Montanism, also known as the New Prophecy, was founded circa 160 AD (Montanism, 2014), in the region of Phrygia, now modern day Turkey. Traditionally, the Phrygian people were polytheistic, worshipping many deities. One of their main deities was the goddess Cybele, associated with the wild, nature and fertility. There is evidence of her worship as far back as 8th century BCE (Elizabeth Simpson, 1996), and was eventually adopted into the Roman pantheon circa 204 BC (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2007). Her cult was characterized by a eunuch priesthood and ecstatic worship practices. The priests of her following believed that self-castration and emasculating themselves gave them a level of prophetic power (Roscoe, 1996).
The Christian church would have been approximately 130 years old, counting from the time of Jesus’s death. For a religion, 130 years is considered quite young, especially when one is looking back from nearly 2000 years in the future. The church at the time was occupied with several debates and issues. The early Christians did not have a canonized New Testament to reference and they were still confirming what we would consider basic theology today, such as the exist...
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...eology, derived from selected New Testament, but then added to by this spirit, is also not consistent when compared to the New Testament, or the Bible as a whole. The Holy Spirit would not contradict the message of the Bible, considered as God’s word. Therefore, it is abundantly clear, that if there was a spirit speaking through Montanus, Priscilla and Maximilla, it was not the Holy Spirit, or any form of the Lord. The Lord is consistent, he is a God of peace and order. There is too much biblical evidence that contradicts with the accounts and descriptions of the prophecies. It is also possible that Montanus had brought the worship practices of his previous faith with him, and colluded with the prophetesses to prophesy from their own understanding, with no spiritual influence present. The movement’s lack of ability to find another prophet, could indicate towards this.
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