Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy - Introductory Essay

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The object of this chapter is to present a rudimentary outline and summary of all that Augustin penned or spoke against those traditional North African Christians whom he was pleased to regard as schismatics.  It will be arranged, so far as may be, in chronological order, following the dates suggested by the Benedictine edition.  The necessary brevity precludes anything but a very meagre treatment of so considerable a theme.  The writer takes no responsibility for the ecclesiological tenets of the great Father, nor will he enter here into any criticism of the text and truth of the documents, upon which the historical argument was so laboriously and peremptorily built, to the utter ignoring of the Donatist archives, and the protests of their scholars against the validity and integrity of their opponents’ records.  Both parties claimed to be the historic Catholic church; both were little apart in doctrine, worship, and polity; both tended toward externalism in piety; both accused one another of fraud in inventing records.  Later Romanism in its bright spirit of selection took much spoil from either camp.