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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary


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Novatiani, a sect of ancient heretics that arose towards the close of the third century; so called from Novatian, a priest of Rome. They were also called Cathari, from pure, q.d. Puritans. Novatian first separated from the communion of pope Cornelius, on pretence of his being too easy in admitting to repentance those who had fallen off in times of persecution. He indulged his inclination to severity so far, as to deny that such as had fallen into gross sins, especially those who had apostatized from the faith under the persecution set on foot by Decius, were to be again received into the bosom of the church; grounding his opinion on that of St. Paul: "It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, &c. if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance, " Hebrews 6:4-6 . The Novatians did not deny but a person falling into any sin, how grievous soever, might obtain pardon by repentance; for they themselves recommended repentance in the strongest terms; but their doctrine was, that the church had it not in its power to receive sinners into its communion, as having no way of remitting sins but by baptism: which once received could not be repeated. In process of time the Novatians softened and moderated the rigour of their master's doctrine, and only refused absolution to very great sinners. The two leaders, Novatian and Novatus, were prescribed, and declared heretics, not for excluding penitents from communion, but for denying that the church had the power of remitting sins.

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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Novatians'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. 1802.

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