Author Topic: The Eastern Fathers' Trinitarian Grounds for Repudiating the Filioque  (Read 3438 times)

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Offline ambrosemzv

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I submitted the following to the "Orthodox-Catholic" Board, where it immediately got submerged by political commentary and facile attempts to defend the filioque by rejecting all application of reasoning to the Holy Trinity.  I think the Eastern Fathers' reasoning on the question, as described by J. Pelikan, deserves a more thoughtful response than that.  Anyone care to comment?

Jaroslav Pelikan, in his volume on the history of the Eastern Church, does a great job of explaining the reasoning behind the general consensus among the Eastern Fathers that the filioque should be repudiated.

To risk putting it in the form of a crude syllogism:  The Holy Spirit must proceed either from the Essence (Ousia) of God, which is shared in by the three Persons (Hypostases) of the Godhead, or from one of the Persons of the Godhead.  

That which is shared among the Persons is of the Essence, and must be shared in by all three Persons, not merely by two of the three.  Therefore, if the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son, then He must proceed from the Divine Essence (from the Ousia of God).  In that case, if one speaks of this in terms of the Persons of God, He must proceed from each of them equally, including from the Holy Spirit Himself.  But, that is absurd; the Holy Spirit obviously cannot be said to proceed from Himself.

Therefore, the Divine cause of the Holy Spirit's procession is found, not in God's Essence, but is personal/hypostatic.  In other words, the cause of the Holy Spirit's procession must be a Person of the Godhead, not God's interpersonal Essence.  And the Scriptural witness and Tradition make it clear that, among the Persons, it is the Father from Whom the Holy Spirit most clearly proceeds.  To suggest otherwise would be to attack the monarchy of the Father within the Holy Trinity.

The Eastern Fathers who wrote against the filioque argued that those scriptural passages such as that in which Jesus breathes on the apostles must be read as as symbolic references to Jesus' identity with the Father (not, of course, a literal, hypostatic identity, but an identity stemming from Jesus' absolute conformity to His Father's will), but not as "procession" in the same sense in which the Conciliar Fathers spoke in the Creed in affirming that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father."

Succinctly put, the filioque is inconsistant with Trinitarian theology.  According to Pelikan, the fine points of that theology were not fully grasped by Western theologians, who were less adept at, or familiar with, philosophical reasoning than were their Byzantine counterparts.
Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne comprend pas.  -Pascal

Offline Brendan03

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Re:The Eastern Fathers' Trinitarian Grounds for Repudiating the Filioque
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2004, 01:46:24 PM »
I agree that this is illuminating.  It reminds me of some of the discussion of the same topic in Lossky's "Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church".  The filioque in general strikes me as an interpolation that was inserted to combat Arianism in Spain, but not as a result of any substantial degree of theological reflection.  Much of the theological reflection relating to the filioque in the West came later, and was in the vein of trying to justify it, or reconcile it with the formulation in the Nicene-Constantopolitan Creed, so I think that Professor Pelikan (a Lutheran when he wrote this) may be correct in his suppositions about the Western theological support for the filioque.

Brendan
B

Offline Fr. David

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Re:The Eastern Fathers' Trinitarian Grounds for Repudiating the Filioque
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2004, 03:43:00 PM »
The basic idea I've come to is this:

The Filioque was initiated to "ensure" the divinity of the Son, thereby saying that One had to be a Source of the HS to be divine, that it was insufficient for the Father to merely "share an essence."

What, then, of the HS?  If nothing proceeds from Him (as the RCC says is the case), is He not divine, or at least, AS divine as are the Father and the Son?

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Offline ambrosemzv

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Re:The Eastern Fathers' Trinitarian Grounds for Repudiating the Filioque
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2004, 04:22:12 PM »
Dear Brendan, Pedro,

Christ is risen!
El Christo a resucitado!

Yes, I think the desire of the Church in Spain to resist Arianism was understandable, given the powerful influence of the (Arian) Visigoth conquerors, but that the Spanish Church did not understand the full implications for our understanding of the Holy Trinity.
Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne comprend pas.  -Pascal

Offline Fr. David

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Re:The Eastern Fathers' Trinitarian Grounds for Repudiating the Filioque
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2004, 04:39:38 PM »
-íEn verdad, ha resucitado!

Classic example of doing a good thing in a bad way.

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Offline Rho

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As an EvProt, of course, some would think me chained to the Filioque, but I must say that the reasoning laid out here by Pelikan is quite convincing.  Think I'll join the East on this one.  

Now for my fellow thinking EvProt friends!

iCristo ha resucitado por el poder del Esp+¡ritu Santo!

"I have taken my good deeds and my bad deeds and thrown them together in a heap. Then I have fled from both of them to Christ, and in Him I have peace." --David Dickson

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Offline Fr. David

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As an EvProt, of course, some would think me chained to the Filioque, but I must say that the reasoning laid out here by Pelikan is quite convincing.  Think I'll join the East on this one.  

Ah, so you're back on our side now, eh?   ;D  ;)
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Offline Jakub

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I seriously doubt that the Filioque is that big of a issue to JPII, the Creed used & signed off on by him in his Dominus Iesus proclamation, which is minus it.

In fact he has said the Creed many times without it.

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Offline Ben

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I find nothing wrong with the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church not using the Filioque in their litrugy. As long as they except it as a legitimate way of explaining the procession of the Holy Ghost, which they have.

However, the filioque is apart of the rich theological and historical background of the Latin church, I agree with Anthony Dragoni from ewtn.com on his one, the RCC should keep the filioque in their liturgies.

The important thing though, is that Catholics remember the Filioque is Church dogma, whether recited or not, it is essential for Salvation, as all dogmas of the Church are. This is official Catholic Church teaching.
"I prefer to be accused unjustly, for then I have nothing to reproach myself with, and joyfully offer this to the good Lord. Then I humble myself at the thought that I am indeed capable of doing the thing of which I have been accused. " - Saint

Offline Brendan03

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The important thing though, is that Catholics remember the Filioque is Church dogma, whether recited or not, it is essential for Salvation, as all dogmas of the Church are. This is official Catholic Church teaching.

Do you really believe that?  If that is really the case, I doubt there will ever be unity because while the most moderate Orthodox may, at some point, be willing to accept that this is a legitimate Latin formulation (and even that seems unlikely to me, but there are some like Metropolitan John of Pergamon who my lean in that direction), I don't believe that Orthodoxy will ever accept that the Filioque is a dogma which essentially must be believed for salvation.  If that really is the Catholic position (and I'm not sure that it is), then we should roll up the ecumenical discussions and stop wasting time.

Brendan
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Offline Ben

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Re:The Eastern Fathers' Trinitarian Grounds for Repudiating the Filioque
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2004, 11:46:37 PM »
Bendan...

The Filioque is Catholic dogma, there is no question about this.

The Catholic Councils have declared that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, as one source. This is 100% offical Catholic dogma, not just my interpretation. If you wish I can post quotes from Papal Bulls, and declarations from Catholic Ecumenical Councils, that state this clearly.

The Catholic Church believes that every dogma of the Church is truth, and is essential for slavation, this includes Papal Infallibilty, the Filioque, the Immaculate Conception...etc.

This is why I have a problem with so many Catholics so eager to dismiss the Filioque. I mean, as I said I don't have a problem with it not being used at Mass, but Catholics too often forget that it is Church doctrine.

In Christ,
Ben
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Offline ambrosemzv

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Re:The Eastern Fathers' Trinitarian Grounds for Repudiating the Filioque
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2004, 08:16:05 AM »
Of course, the Orthodox don't accept the validity or accuracy of most what you've said; principally, because we believe the Roman patriarchate and those yoked to it to be in schism from the Catholic, Orthodox Church.  I just thought that reminder might be needed, this being an Orthodox forum, and all.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2004, 08:16:47 AM by ambrosemzv »
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Offline Fr. David

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Re:The Eastern Fathers' Trinitarian Grounds for Repudiating the Filioque
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2004, 04:42:23 PM »
Ben,

So, since the Roman Church has declared the filioque to be dogma, with the Fr. and Son as one source of the Spirit, is it therefore closed to defining it further as perhaps from the Father THROUGH the Son?  I know some Orthodox would have an easier time with that.

But as one, united source...yeah, we probably just need to agree to disagree and go our separate ways if that's how it's gonna be.
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Offline Father Peter

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Re:The Eastern Fathers' Trinitarian Grounds for Repudiating the Filioque
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2004, 04:45:13 PM »
Hi Ben

I thought the Pope and the Vatican WAS promoting the interpretation of the filioque as the patristic economic filioque of 'through the son'?

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Offline Ben

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Re:The Eastern Fathers' Trinitarian Grounds for Repudiating the Filioque
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2004, 05:26:24 AM »
Peter and Pedro,

The *offical* teaching of the Catholic Church is that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son, as one source. Many Catholic bishops and theologians are trying to interpret this dogma in different ways, these days, for the sake of Christian unity,  but this does not change the *offical* Catholic dogma, that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son, as one source.

In Christ,
Ben
"I prefer to be accused unjustly, for then I have nothing to reproach myself with, and joyfully offer this to the good Lord. Then I humble myself at the thought that I am indeed capable of doing the thing of which I have been accused. " - Saint

Offline Brendan03

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Re:The Eastern Fathers' Trinitarian Grounds for Repudiating the Filioque
« Reply #15 on: May 15, 2004, 07:57:55 AM »
Well I submit that if that cannot "develop" in the direction of "through the Son", then there really is no point to the ecumenical discussions.  Orthodox, Eastern and Oriental, will never sign on to the "as one source" filioque.
B

Offline Father Peter

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Re:The Eastern Fathers' Trinitarian Grounds for Repudiating the Filioque
« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2004, 08:41:22 AM »
Hi Ben

Is the Pontifical Council NOT an official mouthpiece of the Church then?

In that it states that the Father is the sole ontological source of the Holy Spirit?

?

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Offline icxn

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Trinitarian Grounds for Repudiating the Filioque
« Reply #17 on: May 15, 2004, 10:46:26 AM »
If the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son then in what way are we made in the image of God? Since, similarly to what St. Gregory Palamas says, our mind (as God the Father), begets the inner logos (God the Son) and the mouth (directed by the mind) speaks the words (God the Holy Spirit). Does the spirit of the words we speak originate from both the mind and the inner thinking? And who would be so stupid to assume this?

Quote
Gregory gives a broad and dynamic character to the much-discussed expression "according to the image". He finds image in the whole existence of man and refers it to the Trinity. Man is a creature according to the image not vaguely of God, but concretely of the Triune God, since he has been created by the energy of the whole Trinity and may receive the divine light emitted from the whole Trinity, His intellect, reason and spirit constitute an inherent unity, corresponding to the unity of the persons of the divine Trinity, i.e. Nous, Logos, and pneuma (Intellect, Reason, and Spirit). As within divinity the Nous begets the Logos, and the Pneuma precedes as the eros of the Nous towards the Logos, so within man, ` the intellect bears the reason, and the spirit is projected as the eros of the intellect towards the reason. And as the Holy Spirit vivifies the world; so the human spirit vivifies the body. Thus the image is extended to the whole man, including the body. The real meaning of Gregory’s teaching on this point is: the capability of man to be elevated into a genuine spiritual personality, as an image and symbol of the personality of God. One could call this image microtheos rather than microcosmos. This is the natural state of man.
- Panayiotis Christou, "The Teaching of Gregory Palamas on Man"

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Offline Ben

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Re:The Eastern Fathers' Trinitarian Grounds for Repudiating the Filioque
« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2004, 03:02:22 PM »
Hi Ben

Is the Pontifical Council NOT an official mouthpiece of the Church then?

In that it states that the Father is the sole ontological source of the Holy Spirit?

?

Peter

Huh?

Lol...I am a little confused.

Catholic Ecumenical Councils have delcared tha filioque a dogma of the faith, and numerous popes have done so in their papal bulls, many of which are considered to be infallible. As I said many these days are trying to re-define the dogma, and interpret it in different ways, but the fact remains that the offical dogma of the Catholic Church is that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, as one source.
"I prefer to be accused unjustly, for then I have nothing to reproach myself with, and joyfully offer this to the good Lord. Then I humble myself at the thought that I am indeed capable of doing the thing of which I have been accused. " - Saint

Offline Pharaoh714

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Re:The Eastern Fathers' Trinitarian Grounds for Repudiating the Filioque
« Reply #19 on: December 02, 2012, 08:57:02 AM »
Hi Ben

Is the Pontifical Council NOT an official mouthpiece of the Church then?

In that it states that the Father is the sole ontological source of the Holy Spirit?

?

Peter

Huh?

Lol...I am a little confused.

Catholic Ecumenical Councils have delcared tha filioque a dogma of the faith, and numerous popes have done so in their papal bulls, many of which are considered to be infallible. As I said many these days are trying to re-define the dogma, and interpret it in different ways, but the fact remains that the offical dogma of the Catholic Church is that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, as one source.


Are you speaking of Eternal Procession? if so there will never be union, I know the OO will never accept this.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2012, 08:57:25 AM by Pharaoh714 »
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Re:The Eastern Fathers' Trinitarian Grounds for Repudiating the Filioque
« Reply #20 on: December 02, 2012, 09:03:18 AM »
Hi Ben

Is the Pontifical Council NOT an official mouthpiece of the Church then?

In that it states that the Father is the sole ontological source of the Holy Spirit?

?

Peter

Huh?

Lol...I am a little confused.

Catholic Ecumenical Councils have delcared tha filioque a dogma of the faith, and numerous popes have done so in their papal bulls, many of which are considered to be infallible. As I said many these days are trying to re-define the dogma, and interpret it in different ways, but the fact remains that the offical dogma of the Catholic Church is that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, as one source.


Are you speaking of Eternal Procession? if so there will never be union, I know the OO will never accept this.

Ben hasn't been online since 2005.
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Offline ialmisry

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Re:The Eastern Fathers' Trinitarian Grounds for Repudiating the Filioque
« Reply #21 on: December 02, 2012, 10:47:16 AM »
Hi Ben

Is the Pontifical Council NOT an official mouthpiece of the Church then?

In that it states that the Father is the sole ontological source of the Holy Spirit?

?

Peter

Huh?

Lol...I am a little confused.

Catholic Ecumenical Councils have delcared tha filioque a dogma of the faith, and numerous popes have done so in their papal bulls, many of which are considered to be infallible. As I said many these days are trying to re-define the dogma, and interpret it in different ways, but the fact remains that the offical dogma of the Catholic Church is that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, as one source.


Are you speaking of Eternal Procession? if so there will never be union, I know the OO will never accept this.

Ben hasn't been online since 2005.
The OO (and EO) still won't accept it.
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Re:The Eastern Fathers' Trinitarian Grounds for Repudiating the Filioque
« Reply #22 on: December 02, 2012, 10:53:30 AM »
Hi Ben

Is the Pontifical Council NOT an official mouthpiece of the Church then?

In that it states that the Father is the sole ontological source of the Holy Spirit?

?

Peter

Huh?

Lol...I am a little confused.

Catholic Ecumenical Councils have delcared tha filioque a dogma of the faith, and numerous popes have done so in their papal bulls, many of which are considered to be infallible. As I said many these days are trying to re-define the dogma, and interpret it in different ways, but the fact remains that the offical dogma of the Catholic Church is that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, as one source.


Are you speaking of Eternal Procession? if so there will never be union, I know the OO will never accept this.

Ben hasn't been online since 2005.
The OO (and EO) still won't accept it.

True.
"Par ma foi! Il y a plus de quarante ans que je dis de la prose sans que j'en susse rien."
-Molière, The Middle-Class Gentleman.