I imagine most people have already read this statement, but I thought I would post a few paragraphs in it that are particularly relevant to this discussion. (You can read the whole thing here: http://www.geocities.com/trvalentine/orthodox/consult_agreed_statement.html
)The Filioque: A Church-Dividing Issue?An Agreed Statement of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation
Saint Paul's College, Washington, DC
October 25, 2003
2) The Substantive Issues
Clearly two main issues separate the Eastern and Western Churches in their history of debating the Filioque: one theological, in the strict sense, and one ecclesiological.
If theology is understood in its Patristic sense, as reflection on God as Trinity, the theological issue behind this dispute is whether the Son is to be thought of as playing any role in the origin of the Spirit, as a hypostasis or divine person, from the Father, who is the sole ultimate source of the divine Mystery. The Greek tradition, as we have seen, has generally relied on John 15.26 and the formulation of the Creed of 381 to assert that all we know of the Spirit's hypostatic origin is that he proceeds from the Father, in a way distinct from, but parallel to, the Son's generation from the Father (e.g., John of Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith
1.8 ). However, this same tradition acknowledges that the mission of the Spirit in the world also involves the Son, who receives the Spirit into his own humanity at his baptism, breathes the Spirit forth onto the Twelve on the evening of the resurrection, and sends the Spirit in power into the world, through the charismatic preaching of the Apostles, at Pentecost. On the other hand, the Latin tradition since Tertullian has tended to assume that since the order in which the Church normally names the persons in the Trinity places the Spirit after the Son, he is to be thought of as coming forth from the Father through the Son. Augustine, who in several passages himself insists that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, because as God he is not inferior to the Son (De Fide et Symbolo
9.3), develops, in other texts, his classic understanding that the Spirit also proceeds from the Son because he is, in the course of sacred history, the Spirit and the gift of both Father and Son (e.g., On the Trinity
4.20.29; Tractate on Gospel of John
99.6-7), the gift that begins in their own eternal exchange of love (On the Trinity
15.17.29). In Augustine's view, this involvement of the Son in the Spirit's procession is not understood to contradict the Father's role as the single ultimate source of both Son and Spirit, but is itself given by the Father in generating the Son: the Holy Spirit, in turn, has this from the Father himself, that he should also proceed from the Son, just as he proceeds from the Father (Tractate on Gospel of John
Much of the difference between the early Latin and Greek traditions on this point is clearly due to the subtle difference of the Latin procedere
from the Greek ekporeuesthai
: as we have observed, the Spirit's coming forth is designated in a more general sense by the Latin term, without the connotation of ultimate origin hinted at by the Greek. The Spirit's procession from the Son, however, is conceived of in Latin theology as a somewhat different relationship from his procession from the Father, even when Ã¢â‚¬â€ as in the explanations of Anselm and Thomas Aquinas Ã¢â‚¬â€ the relationship of Father and Son to the Holy Spirit is spoken of as constituting a single principle of the Spirit's origin: even in breathing forth the Spirit together, according to these later Latin theologians, the Father retains priority, giving the Son all that he has and making possible all that he does...
The Greek and Latin theological traditions clearly remain in some tension with each other on the fundamental issue of the Spirit's eternal origin as a distinct divine person. By the Middle Ages, as a result of the influence of Anselm and Thomas Aquinas, Western theology almost universally conceives of the identity of each divine person as defined by its relations of opposition Ã¢â‚¬â€ in other words, its mutually defining relations of origin - to the other two, and concludes that the Holy Spirit would not be hypostatically distinguishable from the Son if the Spirit proceeded from the Father alone. In the Latin understanding of processio
as a general term for origin, after all, it can also be said that the Son proceeds from the Father by being generated from him. Eastern theology, drawing on the language of John 15.26 and the Creed of 381, continues to understand the language of procession (ekporeusis
) as denoting a unique, exclusive, and distinctive causal relationship between the Spirit and the Father, and generally confines the Son's role to the manifestation and mission of the Spirit in the divine activities of creation and redemption. These differences, though subtle, are substantial, and the very weight of theological tradition behind both of them makes them all the more difficult to reconcile theologically with each other.
The other issue continually present since the late eighth century in the debate over the Filioque is that of pastoral and teaching authority in the Church Ã¢â‚¬â€ more precisely, the issue of the authority of the bishop of Rome to resolve dogmatic questions in a final way, simply in virtue of his office. Since the Council of Ephesus (431), the dogmatic tradition of both Eastern and Western Churches has repeatedly affirmed that the final norm of orthodoxy in interpreting the Christian Gospel must be the faith of Nicaea. The Orthodox tradition sees the normative expression of that faith to be the Creeds and canons formulated by those Councils that are received by the Apostolic Churches as ecumenical: as expressing the continuing and universal Apostolic faith. The Catholic tradition also accepts conciliar formulations as dogmatically normative, and attributes a unique importance to the seven Councils that are accepted as ecumenical by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. However, in recognizing the universal primacy of the bishop of Rome in matters of faith and of the service of unity, the Catholic tradition accepts the authority of the Pope to confirm the process of conciliar reception, and to define what does and does not conflict with the faith of Nicaea and the Apostolic tradition. So while Orthodox theology has regarded the ultimate approval by the Popes, in the eleventh century, of the use of Filioque in the Latin Creed as a usurpation of the dogmatic authority proper to ecumenical Councils alone, Catholic theology has seen it as a legitimate exercise of his primatial authority to proclaim and clarify the Church's faith. As our own common study has repeatedly shown, it is precisely at times in which issues of power and control have been of concern to our Churches that the question of the Filioque has emerged as a central concern: held out as a condition for improving relations, or given as a reason for allowing disunity to continue unhealed.
As in the theological question of the origin of the Holy Spirit discussed above, this divergence of understanding of the structure and exercise of authority in the Church is clearly a very serious one: undoubtedly Papal primacy, with all its implications, remains the root issue behind all the questions of theology and practice that continue to divide our communions. In the continuing discussion of the Filioque between our Churches, however, we have found it helpful to keep these two issues methodologically separate from one another, and to recognize that the mystery of the relationships among the persons in God must be approached in a different way from the issue of whether or not it is proper for the Western Churches to profess the faith of Nicaea in terms that diverge from the original text of the Creed of 381.