The Donatist Controversy Podcast

The Donatist Controversy

Though they now reside thousands of miles from one another, Jonathan and James are face-to-face today, broadcasting from the West Coast and discussing the Donatist Controversy. 


In the early fourth century, the Roman emperor authorized a final wave of persecution of the Church that caused some bishops and pastors to leave their churches, while some gave in to pressure from Rome. When Constantine became emperor and stopped the persecution, the bishops who fled returned to duty and encountered their replacements. And here we have the crux of the issue. Were these returning pastors and bishops legitimate? What about those that gave in to Rome? Is the efficacy of the sacraments dependent upon the holiness of the bishop? Were the sacraments invalid if performed by an “illegitimate” bishop? Are the issues raised by the Donatist Controversy still present in the Church today?

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Jonathan Master