Defending Tertullian's Orthodoxy: A Study on Third Century Christianity

Kevin Gift, Liberty University

Document Type Article


Scholars have attempted to place Tertullian into two or three distinct schools of thought. Some, such as Pope Benedict XVI, state that Tertullian turned his back on the church. Others, like Andrew McGowan, posit a more complex timeline. McGowan claims Tertullian left the church only to return at a later date. The reason for such speculation was Tertullian's interest in the Montanist, a second to third century heretical group. The goal of this study is to provide sufficient evidence that Tertullian never made the complete move to Montanism and never separated form the church of Carthage. A careful analysis of Tertullian's rule of faith, theology and the variances between Asia Minor and North African Montanism will provide the proof to support this claim. It will become apparent that Tertullian's interest in the Holy Spirit and a rigorous faith life were not enough for him to abandon the church he dearly loved.