The Donatists were a schismatic sect of especially rigorous Christians in North Africa from the fourth to the seventh centuries. Donatism was essentially a response to alternating periods of persecution followed by toleration, culminating in the beginning of the fourth century by the formal legalization of Christianity by Constantine. The Donatists held that Christians who had caved in to persecution were no longer fit to occupy positions of leadership in the Church, and, perhaps more importantly, had lost the grace of the Holy Spirit to effectively administer sacraments.
A description, short history and timeline of the movement.
A concise description of the theory and the schism.
A history of the response of Augustine to Donatism.
A Wikipedia article on the history of the movement and a list of the Carthaginian bishops involved in it.
An extensive Catholic Encyclopedia article on the schism, with great detail on the people involved and the response of the Church.
An article by Albrecht Vogel in "A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology."
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