Montanism, also called Cataphrygian heresy, known by its adherents as the New Prophecy, was an early heretical Christian sectarian movement of the late 2nd century, later referred to by the name of its founder, Montanus, that arose in the Christian church in Phrygia, Asia Minor, in the 2nd century.
Montanism was the earliest serious heresy that cropped up in Christian history. It appeared rather suddenly in the middle of the second century, in central Anatolia, where Montanus, formerly a priest of Cybele, claiming to be a convert to Christianity, declared that the Holy Spirit was giving new revelations to the church, and named himself and two women, Priscilla and Maximilla, as prophets, although there were others. Montanism held views about the basic tenets of Christian doctrine similar to those of the wider Christian Church. The Orthodox Christians, however, regarded his teaching to be heretical for its belief in new prophetic revelations. He claimed not only to have received a series of direct revelations from the Holy Spirit, but personally to be the incarnation of the paraclete. This prophetic movement called for a reliance on the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit and a more conservative personal ascetic ethic. Subsequently it flourished in the West, principally in Carthage under the leadership of Tertullian in the 3rd century.
An anonymous anti-Montanist writer, cited by Eusebius, addressed his work to Abercius Marcellus, Bishop of Hieropolis, who died about 200. Maximilla had prophesied continual wars and troubles, yet no war, general or partial, had taken place, but on the contrary the Christians enjoyed permanent peace through the mercy of God—but this writer declared that he wrote more than thirteen years after her death .
Montanists, Pentecostals, and Charismatics
A Montanist was (and is) an adherent of the tenets of this heretical millenarian and ascetic Christian sect that set great store by prophecy, stressing apocalyptic expectations, the continuing prophetic gifts of the Spirit, and strict ascetic discipline.
- Eusebius, Church History V.16.19