In both respects the reflex action of the Novatianist and Donatist controversies upon Catholicism was disastrous to the earlier idea of church-fellowship. Formal and technical tests of membership, such as the reception of sacraments from a duly authorized clergy, came to replace Christ's own test of character.
For the later influence of the Donatist controversy upon the sacramental development see Donatists).
In the 4th century the Donatist party was in open schism; the orthodox party had the upper hand in the time of Aurelius and Augustine; the regular meeting of the councils further increased the corporate cohesion of the African Episcopal body.
An article by him on the Donatist schism appearing in the Dublin Review in July 1839 made a great impression in Oxford, Newman and others seeing the force of the analogy between Donatists and Anglicans.
About 348 a synod of Catholic bishops, who had met to record their gratitude for the effective official repression of the "Circumcelliones" (Donatist terrorists), declared against the rebaptism of any one who had been baptized in the name of the Trinity, and adopted twelve canons of clerical discipline.