The Schismatic Reaction: Donatism (Part 2)

The History of Christianity #107

Our History of Christianity Scripture passage today is Ephesians 4:4 which reads: “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Cyprian of Carthage. He said: “He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the church for his mother.”

Last time, in the History of Christianity, we looked at “The Schismatic Reaction: Donatism (Part 1)”.

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “The Schismatic Reaction: Donatism (Part 2)” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

On the other hand, there were many Christians who remained firm in their faith, and as a result suffered imprisonment, torture, and even death. As earlier, those who survived imprisonment and torture were called “confessors,” and were particularly respected for the firmness of their faith. In Cyprian’s time, some of the confessors had been too ready to readmit the lapsed, without any consultation with the authorities of the church. Now, after Constantine’s conversion, a significant number of confessors took the opposite tack, insisting on greater rigor than the church was applying. These more demanding confessors claimed that the lapsed were not only those who had actually worshiped the gods, but also those who had handed the scriptures to the authorities. If changing a tittle or a jot in scriptures was such a great sin, argued the confessors, is it not an even greater sin to turn the sacred text over to be destroyed. Thus, some bishops and other leaders were given the offensive title of traditores – that is, those who had handed over or betrayed, a title often applied to Judas.


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