April 24, 2007

FILOQUE means “and the Son”

John 16:7
If I do not go away
the Counselor will not come to you
but if I go

John 16:15

CREDO ... in Spíritum Sanctum,
Dóminum et vivificántem:
Qui ex Patre Filióque procédit;
Qui cum Patre et Fílio simul adorátur et conglorificátur;
Qui locútus est per Prophétas
I BELIEVE ... in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the Giver of life,
Who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the prophets.

From Catholic.com
The Western Church commonly uses a version of the Nicene creed which has the Latin word filioque ("and the Son") added after the declaration that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. Scripture reveals that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. The external relationships of the persons of the Trinity mirror their internal relationships. Just as the Father externally sent the Son into the world in time, the Son internally proceeds from the Father in the Trinity. Just as the Spirit is externally sent into the world by the Son as well as the Father (John 15:26, Acts 2:33), he internally proceeds from both Father and Son in the Trinity. This is why the Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of the Son (Gal. 4:6) and not just the Spirit of the Father (Matt. 10:20).

[...] early Church Fathers, both Latin and Greek, recognized the same thing, saying that the Spirit proceeds "from the Father and the Son" or "from the Father through the Son."

These expressions mean the same thing because everything the Son has is from the Father. The proceeding of the Spirit from the Son is something the Son himself received from the Father. The procession of the Spirit is therefore ultimately rooted in the Father but goes through the Son. However, some Eastern Orthodox insist that to equate "through the Son" with "from the Son" is a departure from the true faith.


Today many Eastern Orthodox bishops are putting aside old prejudices and again acknowledging that there need be no separation between the two communions on this issue. Eastern Orthodox Bishop Kallistos Ware (formerly Timothy Ware), who once adamantly opposed the filioque doctrine, states: "The filioque controversy which has separated us for so many centuries is more than a mere technicality, but it is not insoluble. Qualifying the firm position taken when I wrote [my book] The Orthodox Church twenty years ago, I now believe, after further study, that the problem is more in the area of semantics and different emphases than in any basic doctrinal differences" (Diakonia, quoted from Elias Zoghby’s A Voice from the Byzantine East, 43).

The Scriptures cited by Catholic.com above
John 15:26
But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me

Acts 2:33
Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, Jesus has poured out this which you see and hear.

Gal. 4:6
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"

Matt. 10:20
For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

246 The Latin tradition of the Creed confesses that the Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque)". The Council of Florence in 1438 explains: "The Holy Spirit is eternally from Father and Son; He has his nature and subsistence at once (simul) from the Father and the Son. He proceeds eternally from both as from one principle and through one spiration.... And, since the Father has through generation given to the only-begotten Son everything that belongs to the Father, except being Father, the Son has also eternally from the Father, from whom he is eternally born, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son."[75]

247 The affirmation of the filioque does not appear in the Creed confessed in 381 at Constantinople. But Pope St. Leo I, following an ancient Latin and Alexandrian tradition, had already confessed it dogmatically in 447,[76] even before Rome, in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon, came to recognize and receive the Symbol of 381. The use of this formula in the Creed was gradually admitted into the Latin liturgy (between the eighth and eleventh centuries). The introduction of the filioque into the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed by the Latin liturgy constitutes moreover, even today, a point of disagreement with the Orthodox Churches.

248 At the outset the Eastern tradition expresses the Father's character as first origin of the Spirit. By confessing the Spirit as he "who proceeds from the Father", it affirms that he comes from the Father through the Son.[77] The Western tradition expresses first the consubstantial communion between Father and Son, by saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque). It says this, "legitimately and with good reason",[78] for the eternal order of the divine persons in their consubstantial communion implies that the Father, as "the principle without principle",[79] is the first origin of the Spirit, but also that as Father of the only Son, he is, with the Son, the single principle from which the Holy Spirit proceeds.[80] This legitimate complementarity, provided it does not become rigid, does not affect the identity of faith in the reality of the same mystery confessed.

[75] Council of Florence (1439): DS 1300-1301.
[76] Cf. Leo I, Quam laudabiliter (447): DS 284.
[77] John 15:26; cf. Ad gentes 2.
[78] Council of Florence (1439): DS 1302.
[79] Council of Florence (1442): DS 1331.
[80] Cf. Council of Lyons II (1274): DS 850.


Anonymous Bob Farrell said...

My understanding of the role of the filioque in the Great Schism is that the opposition to it in the Nicene Creed was not so much based upon theology as it was based upon authority.

The Eastern churches contended that Pope Leo IX's addition of the filioque to the Nicene Creed violated the agreement of the Council of Constantinople. When Pope Leo responded that he had the authority to make such changes, the other Patriarchs then said they've had enough of the Western church.

If my understanding is correct, would theological agreement concerning the filioque's inclusion in the Nicene Creed have any effect on potential reconciliation? Isn't papal authority still the big bugaboo?

10:00 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

With the Vatican's agreement, Eastern Catholic Churches do not have the Filioque in the Creed.

The split between the Latin (more precise than "Western") Church and the Orthodox (more precise than "Eastern") Churches is more complex than Papal authority.

Nonetheless, Papal authority is the issue at the center of discerning how to go about reconciling the Orthodox and the Latins.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous E. George said...

I noticed (unless I overlooked it) that John 20:22 is not cited in your post. ("And when he said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'.")
This seems to me to indicate a direct proceeding of the Spirit from the Son, although I suppose one could still argue that the Spirit is still proceeding through instead of from the Son.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

E. George, THAT passage is THE Gospel for Pentecost Sunday. (There is an alternative, Jn. 14:15,16,23-26.)

By virtue of the Incarnation and the Resurrection, the Holy Spirit is the Breath of Christ in himself and in his Church (his Body).

11:05 AM  

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