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and Faith Movements
2 - Decline of Orthodox Gifts
and Rise of Counterfeit Gifts
Background and Objectivity
Comparing Modern Tongues to Biblical
Basic Introduction to the Charismatic
Opening Remarks and Introduction
to the Gifts
Survey 1 - Continuity of the
Gifts in the First Few Centuries
Survey 2 - Decline of Orthodox
Gifts and Rise of Counterfeit Gifts
Survey 3 - A Change in Tune Regarding
Survey 4 - From the Renaissance
to the Modern Era
An Introduction to the Gifts
in Modern Times
The Origins of the Modern Charismatic
Section 1 | Section
2 | Section 3 | Section
| Section 5
our last section of the survey, we left off with Irenaeus.
We will pick up this section of our study right where we left
off with two more quotes from Irenaeus.
CHAP. XIII.--THE DECEITFUL ARTS AND NEFARIOUS PRACTICES OF
MARCUS. 1. But (2) there is another among these heretics,
Marcus by name, who boasts himself as having improved upon
his master. He is a perfect adept in magical impostures,
and by this means drawing away a great number of men, and
not a few women, he has induced them to join themselves to
him, as to one who is possessed of the greatest knowledge
and perfection, and who has received the highest power from
the invisible and ineffable regions above. Thus it appears
as if he really were the precursor of Antichrist.
Here Irenaeus speaks of "magical impostures" among the heretical
Gnostic sects. Two paragraphs later, Irenaeus goes on to describe
what these "magical impostures" were.
CHAP. XIII.--THE DECEITFUL ARTS AND NEFARIOUS PRACTICES OF
MARCUS. 3. It appears probable enough that this man possesses
a demon as his familiar spirit, by means of whom he seems
able to prophesy, (6) and also enables as many as he counts
worthy to be partakers of his Charis themselves to prophesy.
He devotes himself especially to women, and those such
as are well-bred, and elegantly attired, and of great wealth,
whom he frequently seeks to draw after him, by addressing
them in such seductive words as these: "I am eager to make
thee a partaker of my Charis..."
Here we see Irenaeus has recorded for us the practice of the
Gnostic heretics of his day. One of their leaders, a man by
the name of Marcus, was able at least to make it "seem" as
though he were prophesying. Notice that the Gnostics even
incorporated the word "Charis." This is very close to the
Greek word "carisma," (Strong's No. 5486), which is translated
"gift" all 17 times it occurs in the New Testament. And while
this word referred to other gifts besides the miraculous gifts
mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12, in the setting and context
spoken of by Irenaeus, it was most certainly that particular
usage of "carisma" that the Gnostics were mimicking.
After Irenaeus, all the mentions of charismatic gifts are
in reference to heretical sects. Mentions of these gifts among
orthodox Christians falls from the scene until it is picked
up in the next section of our survey where it has a dramatically
and significantly different content (as we will see.) For
now, we will continue with more quotes demonstrating the description
and rise of the counterfeit gifts.
As encyclopedia.com records around 172 AD there arose in Phrygia
a group known as the Montanists. The Montanists received their
name from their leader, Montanus who worked in company with
two female prophetesses by the names of Prisca and Maximillia.
Eventually the orthodox Tertullian himself also became a member
of this group.
The teachings and issues surrounding Montanus are recounted
in the work The Church History by Eusebius Pamphilus. We should
note that Eusebius himself "favored the semi-Arian views of
Eusebius of Nicomedia, and he once gave refuge to Arius."
Thus, Eusebius was not without heresy of his own.
However, this fact alone does not erase the record of Montanus
provided by Eusebius, partially because Eusebius' description
is not his own, but rather is borrowed from the record of
an earlier writer named Asterius Urbanus (who lived during
the second century AD). It should be noted that while Eusebius
is categorized among the Post-Nicene writers (those who wrote
after the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, Asterius Urbanus is
considered part of the Ante-Nicene writers who wrote before
the Council of Nicaea. And we should also note that Eusebius
lived around 263-339 AD, well over a hundred years after the
rise of the Montanists. For this reason, Eusebius' work should
be viewed as an attempt to chronicle history and not mistakenly
viewed as criticism of a contemporary figure. And since Eusebius'
record of the Montanists is borrowed from an earlier Christian
writer, Eusebius' semi-Arian views should not be used to discredit
this description of the Montanists.
Consider the following excerpts from Book V of Eusebius' work
The Church History.
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." (Chapter XVI. The Circumstances
Related of Montanus and His False Prophets.)
One of the novel ideas proclaimed by the prophet Montanus
appears to have been that he declared the towns of Pepuza
and Tymion in Phrygia would be the location of the New Jerusalem.
Additionally, Montanus seems to have found a way to entice
men to become teachers of his doctrine by providing financial
incentive. So we see that financial gain was tied into the
lure of teaching the Montanus' views.
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."
(Chapter XVI. The Circumstances Related of Montanus and
His False Prophets.)
Here is the passage as written by Asterius.
12 There, they say, one of those who had been but recently
converted to the faith, a person of the name of Montanus,
when Gratus was proconsul of Asia, gave the adversary entrance
against himself by the excessive lust of his soul after taking
the lead. And this person was carried away in spirit;
13 and suddenly being seized with a kind of frenzy and
ecstasy, he raved, and began to speak and to utter strange
things, and to prophesy in a manner contrary to the custom
of the Church, as handed down from early times and preserved
thenceforward in a continuous succession. (The Extant
Writings of Asterius Urbanus, From Book I.)
The above excerpts are quite interesting in that it denotes
the quality or characteristics of Montanus' prophesying. Not
only is Montanus said to have a desired leadership role, but
his prophetic episodes are described as being a matter of
"frenzy and ecstacy" involving raving and babbling. Eusebius
and Asterius note that this style of prophesying was "contrary
to the constant custom of the Church handed down by tradition."
Or in other words, Montanus' prophetic episodes were entirely
different in character than the manner in which orthodox Christian
prophets behaved. This deviation from the "constant custom"
of the Church is what demonstrates the counterfeit nature
of Montanus' prophetic gift.
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." (Chapter XVI. The Circumstances Related
of Montanus and His False Prophets.)
Here again is the same passage as previously written by Asterius
17 And those few who were thus deluded were Phrygians. But
the same arrogant spirit taught them to revile the Church
universal under heaven, because that false spirit of prophecy
found neither honour from it nor entrance into it. For
when the faithful throughout Asia met together often and in
many places of Asia for deliberation on this subject, and
subjected those novel doctrines to examination, and declared
them to be spurious, and rejected them as heretical, they
were in consequence of that expelled from the Church and debarred
from communion.18 (The Extant Writings of Asterius
Urbanus, From Book I.)
In these excerpts we see that Montanus and his group were
eventually excommunicated by the churches of Asia and their
prophecies rejected as profane and heretical. Below, Asterius
is even more explicit in his declaration of how the form of
prophetic gifts among the Montanists deviated from the customary
manner in the Church.
"But the false prophet falls into a spurious ecstasy,
which is accompanied by a want of all shame and fear. For
beginning with a voluntary (designed) rudeness, he ends with
an involuntary madness of soul, as has been already stated.
But they will never be able to show that any one of the
Old Testament prophets, or any one of the New, was carried
away in spirit after this fashion. Nor will they be able
to boast that Agabus, or Judas, or Silas, or the daughters
of Philip, or the woman Ammia in Philadelphia, or Quadratus,
or indeed any of the others who do not in any respect belong
to them, were moved in this way." (The Extant Writings
of Asterius Urbanus, From Book III. IX.)
In the above quote, Asterius asserts that it is an identifying
mark of a false prophet to act in ecstasy. He also states
that while this begins voluntarily on the part of the prophet,
it ends in involuntary madness. Continuing, Asterius says
this type of prophecy is totally inconsistent and deviant
from the prophets of the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Therefore, when we examine the practice of the charismatic
gifts in modern practices, we can likewise determine their
authenticity by whether or not they occur in a state of ecstasy.
And we can safely conclude that such an ecstatic manner of
prophecy which included babbling and raving was indeed "contrary
to the constant custom of the Church handed down by tradition
from the beginning" by viewing Paul's words on the subject
of prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14.
1 Corinthians 14:31 For ye may all prophesy one by
one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 32 And
the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace,
as in all churches of the saints...37 If any man think
himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge
that the things that I write unto you are the commandments
of the Lord. 38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be
ignorant. 39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid
not to speak with tongues. 40 Let all things be done decently
and in order.
We should also take note that according to Britannica.com,
ecstatic prophecy was not the only charismatic gift highly
emphasized by Montanus and his followers, but the gift of
tongues was also very important.
"The greatest emphasis upon the gift in the early church
was made by followers of the 2nd-century prophet Montanus.
His excommunication about 177 and the later decline of the
sect probably contributed to a climate of opinion unfavourable
to speaking in tongues, and the practice declined." (Britannica.com,
"Tongues, gift of.")
If Montanus did engage in ecstatic prophesying, babbling,
and raving, he was certainly not prophesying in the manner
required by Paul. For Paul wrote that any man considering
himself a prophet must acknowledge that "God is not the author
of confusion," that prophecy should be done "decently and
in order," and "that the spirits of the prophets are subject
to the prophets." Ecstatic babblings and ravings would not
qualify as being in compliance with the manner, which Paul
described was present "in all churches of the saints."
What we are left with is the semi-Aryan heretics as exemplified
by Eusebius vying against the Montanist heretics and their
counterfeit gifts which were ecstatic, babbling, and "contrary
to the constant custom of the Church handed down by tradition
from the beginning." So, from both Irenaeus and Eusebius,
we see that by the end of the second century AD, while orthodox
authentic gifts including prophecy and tongues continued,
they were competing with counterfeit versions such as those
practiced by Marcus and Montanus. We also see the character
of the counterfeit gifts best exemplified by the deviant and
ecstatic prophetic mannerisms of Montanus.