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Author Topic: Could somebody explain the filioque issue between the Orthodox and Roman Catholi  (Read 671 times) Average Rating: 0
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rko
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« on: June 01, 2012, 10:55:12 AM »

Hello,
I am a cradle Catholic considering conversion to Orthodoxy.  My question is maybe too simplistic, and potentially mildly offensive, but be assurresd i don't intend it to be so!

Could you explain why the filioque issue is theologically a bad thing? I understand well the potential for arrogance when a pope unilaterally inserts "and the son," without any consultation of the other Churches.

But is there something theologically WRONG with saying the Holy Spirit proceeds from the father and the son. I the trinity is one, don't they all proceed from each other?

Now that I put this on "paper" this question and the answer may be too advanced for a theological rookie like me.
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« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2012, 11:26:42 AM »

In tiny sum, and I hope I'm getting this right:

The Orthodox objection is that from the way the filioque sounds, it appears to change the definition of the Trinity. They will tell you that Scripture says the Spirit proceeds from the Father.

The RCC may say that the filioque really means the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, which is not a separation of the Persons but a more distinct definition of what the Persons do. However, they didn't use the word 'through' at the time, they used 'and,' which was supposedly a little more confusing. The RCC believes that they know what they mean, but the Orthodox prefer the original wording because you don't have to add a disclaimer to explain the extra part.

The last two Popes of the RCC have shown some degree of greater cordiality toward the Orthodox, so there is some chance, no matter how slim, that someday the RCC may do something in regard to the phrasing so that there is no longer any confusion. There are strong feelings on both sides. It's one of those things that will be a huge relief if it is ever solved... but who knows.
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« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2012, 12:25:28 PM »

I will add this too:  the idea of someone being left out of major decisions goes both ways.  The Romans were not present at Constantinpople I.  They accepted the proceedings some 50-60 years later.  It goes both ways. 
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« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2012, 01:08:48 PM »

The Orthodox objection is that from the way the filioque sounds, it appears to change the definition of the Trinity. They will tell you that Scripture says the Spirit proceeds from the Father.

That makes more sense than anything I've heard or read so far. Thanks!
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« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2012, 01:31:52 PM »

The RCC believes that they know what they mean, but the Orthodox prefer the original wording because you don't have to add a disclaimer to explain the extra part.


Are you really sure they know what they mean?



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« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2012, 01:41:22 PM »

It comes down to linguistics and lack of communication on both parts. You have to keep in mind that the West used Latin and the East used Greek. At the first Ecumenical Council (I think it was the first) when the Nicene Creed was formulated, Rome was not present therefore they were probably unaware of the significance of the Creed and making even minor changes to it because the East was struggling with Arianism so much. About two centuries later in AD 589, tables turned and now the West was struggling with Arianism, so they added the Filioque, which is '...and the Son' to the Creed in hopes of defeating Arianism. And they did this without consulting the East.

There are a few things wrong with this because if I recall, either the third or fourth Ecumenical Councils declared that NO changes could be made to the Creed unless another Ecumenical Council was held and decided upon it; Rome just did this in Toledo without consulting anyone else. However, it is understandable because it was a knee-jerk reaction to Arianism and because the decrees from the Ecumenical Councils may not have traveled all the way to Rome yet by that time. So communication is a very big factor. It is also fair to mention and the language barrier really confuses things. In Latin, the Filioque sounds find, there is nothing wrong with it, but in Greek it sounds heretical, which is why many Orthodox theologians accuse it of being semi-Seballian.

Despite all of this though, the East actually allowed the West to use the Filioque and the Churches still remained in communion. It wasn't until Charlegmane that the West became dogmatic in the Filioque and in AD 1014 Rome officially adopted the Filioque in everything because the papacy was weak and gave into the request of the German emperor. Around the time of the Schism which was like AD 1050 to AD 1054, Rome even went as far as to try to force the Filioque on us and accuse us of heresy for not using it! So it is fair to mention that we actually tolerated the Filioque for a long time, but Rome is the one that tried to dogmatically force it on us.
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« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2012, 02:41:10 PM »

The RCC believes that they know what they mean, but the Orthodox prefer the original wording because you don't have to add a disclaimer to explain the extra part.


Are you really sure they know what they mean?





That's a core problem with the filioque--it's ambiguity.

There are plenty of Fathers (Western *and* Eastern) who have used the term 'through', and while we would still object to its addition to the Creed (which in its original form is simply quoting Christ, the most authoritative possible voice), Orthodox have no problem with 'through the Son' as a theological opinion. And for the first millenium this was largely how the West defined the 'filioque' which was why it remained a minor issue and not one to divide the churches.

But since the filioque doesn't actually say 'through', it could mean something closer to the diagram above. And this ambiguity was something that concerned multiple Eastern Fathers.

In 1054, when the filioque became an important part of the schism between Rome and Constantinople, what the West meant by it was still ambiguous and it was not the filioque itself which was the cause of the final rift but the West's attempt to force it on the East (I don't have the native familiarity with either language to have a personal opinion, but apparently in Greek, the filioque is much less ambiguous and much more clearly something like the diagram above as opposed to Latin). Then in 1245, Rome made the problem much worse by finally concilliarly defining the filioque--and what they defined is definitely not "through". I don't think the above diagram is a particularly good representation of what they defined either, as the definition of Lyon emphasizes a 'single spiration' but both the Lyonine definition and the above diagram are completely unacceptable to Orthodox not merely as an issue of process (i.e., Rome's unilateral introduction of the term) but as an issue of faith.

As noted, Roman Catholics under the last two popes have seemed to go back to the first millennium ambiguity/"through", but it's unclear how they can do so without jettisoning Lyons (and Florence) as authoritative councils (which would have far-reaching implications to claims of Papal authority well beyond simply its impact on the filioque debate).
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« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2012, 02:51:17 PM »

I will add this too:  the idea of someone being left out of major decisions goes both ways.  The Romans were not present at Constantinpople I.  They accepted the proceedings some 50-60 years later.  It goes both ways. 

But Constantinople I didn't actually try to make decisions for the whole Church. Originally, it was explicitly a council of the eastern half of the empire, not a council of the whole Church as Nicea had been. The West's decision to accept it was a voluntay move on their part recognizing how perfectly the Council had expressed Christian dogma. And it was at Ephesus I, an explicitly ecumenical council with full representation for the Pope, that the Church first forbade any further changes or alterations to the Nicean-Constantinoplean creed.

(In other word, up to 431 when Ephesus was held, the West would have been free to tailor the creed to local tastes. But after 431, they had participated with the rest of the Church in declaring such alterations forbidden).
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« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2012, 02:53:39 PM »

The Orthodox objection is that from the way the filioque sounds, it appears to change the definition of the Trinity. They will tell you that Scripture says the Spirit proceeds from the Father.

That makes more sense than anything I've heard or read so far. Thanks!

Thank you.
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« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2012, 03:04:26 PM »

I will add this too:  the idea of someone being left out of major decisions goes both ways.  The Romans were not present at Constantinpople I.  They accepted the proceedings some 50-60 years later.  It goes both ways. 

But Constantinople I didn't actually try to make decisions for the whole Church. Originally, it was explicitly a council of the eastern half of the empire, not a council of the whole Church as Nicea had been. The West's decision to accept it was a voluntay move on their part recognizing how perfectly the Council had expressed Christian dogma. And it was at Ephesus I, an explicitly ecumenical council with full representation for the Pope, that the Church first forbade any further changes or alterations to the Nicean-Constantinoplean creed.

(In other word, up to 431 when Ephesus was held, the West would have been free to tailor the creed to local tastes. But after 431, they had participated with the rest of the Church in declaring such alterations forbidden).

That's an interesting take on it.  Never thought to take the historical data to its fullest.  Thank you for laying that out, well done. 
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« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2012, 03:06:12 PM »

It comes down to linguistics and lack of communication on both parts. You have to keep in mind that the West used Latin and the East used Greek. At the first Ecumenical Council (I think it was the first) when the Nicene Creed was formulated, Rome was not present therefore they were probably unaware of the significance of the Creed and making even minor changes to it because the East was struggling with Arianism so much. About two centuries later in AD 589, tables turned and now the West was struggling with Arianism, so they added the Filioque, which is '...and the Son' to the Creed in hopes of defeating Arianism. And they did this without consulting the East.

There are a few things wrong with this because if I recall, either the third or fourth Ecumenical Councils declared that NO changes could be made to the Creed unless another Ecumenical Council was held and decided upon it; Rome just did this in Toledo without consulting anyone else. However, it is understandable because it was a knee-jerk reaction to Arianism and because the decrees from the Ecumenical Councils may not have traveled all the way to Rome yet by that time. So communication is a very big factor. It is also fair to mention and the language barrier really confuses things. In Latin, the Filioque sounds find, there is nothing wrong with it, but in Greek it sounds heretical, which is why many Orthodox theologians accuse it of being semi-Seballian.

Despite all of this though, the East actually allowed the West to use the Filioque and the Churches still remained in communion. It wasn't until Charlegmane that the West became dogmatic in the Filioque and in AD 1014 Rome officially adopted the Filioque in everything because the papacy was weak and gave into the request of the German emperor. Around the time of the Schism which was like AD 1050 to AD 1054, Rome even went as far as to try to force the Filioque on us and accuse us of heresy for not using it! So it is fair to mention that we actually tolerated the Filioque for a long time, but Rome is the one that tried to dogmatically force it on us.

Just wanted to correct the historical bits:  the Romans were missing in Constantinople I (2nd Ecumenical Council), and they all agreed to NOT change the creed unless EVERYONE was present in Ephesus (3rd Ecumenical Council)

I still contend that the main issue is that all of these things were declared Dogmas & therefore necessary for salvation.  If they hadn't been, we wouldn't be having this conversation. 

A more indepth convo on that can be found here:  http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,45039.0/topicseen.html
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« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2012, 03:27:08 PM »

I will add this too:  the idea of someone being left out of major decisions goes both ways.  The Romans were not present at Constantinpople I.  They accepted the proceedings some 50-60 years later.  It goes both ways. 

Yet this was before filioque was even invented.
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« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2012, 08:08:15 PM »

I will add this too:  the idea of someone being left out of major decisions goes both ways.  The Romans were not present at Constantinpople I.  They accepted the proceedings some 50-60 years later.  It goes both ways. 

Yet this was before filioque was even invented.

And also right before the council where they decided that everyone had to be at the same table in order to make changes to the Creed. 

Was there something in particular you were insinuating here though?
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« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2012, 09:19:34 PM »

But is there something theologically WRONG with saying the Holy Spirit proceeds from the father and the son. I the trinity is one, don't they all proceed from each other?

This pretty much sums it up. It's from a RC document defending the use of the filioque that acknowledges our theological reasons for excluding it from the creed. I hope this helps.

On the basis of Jn. 15:26, this Symbol confesses the Spirit "to ek tou Patros ekporeuomenon" ("who takes his origin from the Father"). The Father alone is the principle without principle (arche anarchos) of the two other persons of the Trinity, the sole source (peghe) of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, therefore, takes his origin from the Father alone (ek monou tou Patros) in a principal, proper, and immediate manner.

...

This origin of the Holy Spirit from the Father alone as Principle of the whole Trinity is called ekporeusis by Greek tradition, following the Cappadocian Fathers. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, the Theologian, in fact, characterizes the Spirit's relationship of origin from the Father by the proper term ekporeusis, distinguishing it from that of procession (to proienai) which the Spirit has in common with the Son. "The Spirit is truly the Spirit proceeding (proion) from the Father, not by filiation, for it is not by generation, but by ekporeusis" (Discourse 39. 12, Sources chretiennes 358, p. 175). Even if St. Cyril of Alexandria happens at times to apply the verb ekporeusthai to the Son's relationship of origin from the Father, he never uses it for the relationship of the Spirit to the Son (c.f. Commentary on St. John, X, 2, P.G. 74, 910D; Ep 55, P.G. 77, 316D, etc.). Even for St. Cyril, the term ekporeusis as distinct from the term "proceed" (proienai), can only characterize a relationship of origin to the principle without principle of the Trinity: the Father.

That is why the Orthodox Orient has always refused the formula to ek tou Patros kai tou Uiou ekporeuomenon [an unwisely proposed translation of "who proceeds from the Father and the Son"] ...

The Orthodox Orient has, however, given a happy expression to this relationship with the formula dia tou Uiou ekporeuomenon (who takes his origin from the Father by or through the Son). St. Basil already said of the Holy Spirit: "Through the Son (dia tou Uiou), who is one, he is joined to the Father, who is one, and by himself completes the blessed Trinity" (Treatise on the Holy Spirit, XVIII, 45, Sources chretiennes 17 bis, p. 408). St. Maximus the Confessor said: "By nature (phusei) the Holy Spirit in his being (kat'ousian) takes substantially (ousiodos) takes his origin (ekporeuomenon) from the Father through the Son who is begotten (di Uiou gennethentos)" (Quaestiones ad Thalassium, LXIII, P.G. 90, 672 C). We find this again in St. John Damascene: "ho Pater aeien, echon ex eautou ton autou logon, kai dia tou logou autou ex eautou to Pneuma autou ekporeuomenon," in English: "I say that God is always Father since he has always his Word coming from himself, and through his Word, having his Spirit issuing from him" (Dialogus contra Manichaeos 5, P.G. 94, 1512 B, ed. B. Kotter, Berlin 1981, p. 354; c.f. P.G. 94, 848-849 A).

...

The Filioque is, in fact, situated in a theological and linguistic context different from that of the affirmation of the sole Monarchy of the Father, the one origin of the Son and of the Spirit. ...

The Greek ekporeusis signifies only the relationship of origin to the Father alone as the principle without principle of the Trinity. The Latin processio, on the contrary, is a more common term, signifying the communication of the consubstantial divinity from the Father to the Son and from the Father, through and with the Son, to the Holy Spirit.

Just for the record, our stance on the issue regarding the creed is based on how the creed was originally formulated and decreed by the council, which was in greek. What I mean is the creed says "ekporeusis" so we understand the creed to mean "ekporeusis" and nothing else because that is what was decreed in the council that formulated the creed.
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« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2012, 09:39:17 PM »

The Father is unoriginate, the Son is begotten, the Spirit proceeds. The Father, being alone unoriginate, is the "arche" or beginning/source of the divinity of the Trinity. This doctrine is called the "monarchy of the Father." From Him alone the Son is begotten and the Spirit proceeds. Saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Son also makes the Son a source of the divine nature and threatens the monarchy of the Father.

Some Roman Catholics embrace this interpretation, saying the Son does indeed eternally spirate the  Spirit. Others say that the filioque does not mean that, it really means "through the Son." The former is, according to Orthodox theology of the Trinity, heretical. The latter is not but still problematic for canonical reasons.
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« Reply #15 on: June 01, 2012, 09:53:52 PM »

Another theological point: I believe it was St. Basil who said that any characteristic of the Trinity must be common to all three Persons or unique to one. The spiration of the Spirit thus cannot belong to two members of the Trinity. It has belong to one (the Orthodox understanding) or all three (which can't be because the Spirit cannot proceed from Himself).
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« Reply #16 on: June 02, 2012, 07:47:34 AM »

It comes down to linguistics and lack of communication on both parts. You have to keep in mind that the West used Latin and the East used Greek. At the first Ecumenical Council (I think it was the first) when the Nicene Creed was formulated, Rome was not present therefore they were probably unaware of the significance of the Creed and making even minor changes to it because the East was struggling with Arianism so much. About two centuries later in AD 589, tables turned and now the West was struggling with Arianism, so they added the Filioque, which is '...and the Son' to the Creed in hopes of defeating Arianism. And they did this without consulting the East.

Plus, it appears that the Council of Toledo thought that the filioque was in the Creed to begin with. (They were, of course, wrong on that point.)
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