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Author Topic: St. Ambrose: Procession of the Holy Spirit  (Read 1687 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: August 02, 2013, 01:03:51 PM »

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The Spirit is sent to all, and passes not from place to place, for He is not limited either by time or space. He goes forth from the Son, as the Son from the Father.

Quote
He proceeds from the Son

Quote
The Holy Spirit also, when He proceeds from the Father and the Son, is not separated from the Father nor separated from the Son.

Quote
The Spirit, then, so comes as does the Father, for where the Father is there is also the Son, and where the Son is there is the Holy Spirit.

Quote
The Spirit, then, so comes as does the Father, for where the Father is there is also the Son, and where the Son is there is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, therefore, is not to be supposed to come separately.

Quote
Thus, then, comes the Spirit in Whom, when He comes, is the full presence of the Father and the Son.

Quote
But who can separate the Spirit from the Father and the Son, since we cannot even name the Father and the Son without the Spirit?

How are we to understand St. Ambrose's comments?

Isn't this quote contrary to the Orthodox understanding of the procession of the Holy Spirit? If not, what explanation would you give to the contrary? Is St. Ambrose's opinion on the Holy Spirit a radical view?
Are there other Patristics that contend against St. Ambrose's view, enough to draw a consensus that the Orthodox view of procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father alone is accurate?

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Thank you for your time.
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« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2013, 01:10:10 PM »

How are we to understand St. Ambrose's comments?

"You cite Western Fathers. But this simply pours the West down into the abyss, because it contends against the whole world. For my part, I will kindle for you from the West a never-setting and noetic light of godliness, whose brilliance your darkness cannot resist and can only fade. Ambrose might have said: The Spirit proceeds from the Son. But the evil is wrought by your tongue. But then this is in turn contradicted by the Orthodoxy of the luminous, thrice-blessed Damascene and thus your darkness is destroyed before it came to be. For by confirming the Second Ecumenical Synod, whose dogmas are affirmed to the ends of the world, he resplendently confesses and understands that the Spirit proceeds as Light from the Father. But then you say that Ambrose or Augustine taught otherwise. But again more murk pours forth from your tongue because Clement did not say it, nor hear of it, nor assent to it. On the contrary, he dissipated the blindness of your statements by the luminous radiance of Orthodoxy."

-St. Photius the Great, Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit
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« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2013, 01:14:43 PM »

How are we to understand St. Ambrose's comments?

In light of:

Quote
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.  John 15.26

I'm not sure if St Ambrose originally wrote in Greek or Latin (I presume the latter).  If the Latin for "proceed" is really a more general term than the Greek for "proceed", as is claimed, that might explain a lot.  Anyway, only the first three quotes really seem to apply to your point, the others don't seem to deal with "procession" at all, at least to me.  
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« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2013, 01:19:02 PM »

St. Photios also said:
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If certain Fathers had spoken in opposition when they debated the question [which] was brought before them and had fought it contentiously or had maintained their opinion and had persevered in this false teaching, and when convicted of it, had held to their doctrine until death, then they would necessarily be rejected together with the error of their mind.  However, if they spoke badly or for some reason not known to us, deviated from the right path but were not strictly questioned, no question was put to them nor did anyone challenge them in order to learn and clarify the truth, we admit them to the list of holy Fathers as if they had not said it, because of their righteousness of life, their distinguished virtue, and their faith, and their being faultless in other respects.  We do not, however, follow their teaching in which they stray from the path of truth.  We, though, who know that some of our holy Fathers and teachers strayed from the faith of true dogma, do not take as doctrine those areas in which they have strayed, but we embrace the holy men. So also, in the case of any who are charged with teaching that the Spirit proceeds from the Son. We do not admit what is opposed to the word of the Lord, but we do not cast them from the ranks of the holy Fathers.

This is quoted in the following article:  http://www.oodegr.com/english/papismos/understanding_filioque_controversy.htm

So, some of the early Fathers spoke incorrectly on certain points, but were never corrected.  We believe, an account of their holiness and humility, that they would have corrected their teaching had they been confronted and so we excuse them.  
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« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2013, 01:35:07 PM »

Quote
Anyway, only the first three quotes really seem to apply to your point, the others don't seem to deal with "procession" at all, at least to me.

Well, when pro-Filioque advocates try to stake the claim that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, they generally frame it as separating them in some way, the Spirit from the Son or Father, something like that.

Quote
"You cite Western Fathers. But this simply pours the West down into the abyss, because it contends against the whole world..."

That's what I predicted the adequate response would be but, if possible, I would like to see it demonstrated from more of a variety of Patristic references.

And please don't get the impression that I agree with the Filioque clause, I don't. Christ never said the Holy Spirit proceeded from Him, and I don't confess in the Nicene Creed the "and the Son" bit either.

I just want some constructive discussion on an issue that came up when I was reading the Fathers.

When I was at a Catholic Church recently, I recited the Creed without the "and the Son" clause during the Mass so, I don't take issue with it being absent from the Creed.
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« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2013, 01:42:34 PM »

What is the context of these quotes? For me they seem to speak of the economy of salvation, of the coming of the Spirit sent by the Father and the Son to the world. Some of them speak just about the indivisibility of the Trinity, which the Orthodox often proclaim e.g. just before the Confession of Faith during the Liturgy, when the Faithful are called to confess "the Trinity consubstantial and indivisible".
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« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2013, 01:49:13 PM »

Well, when pro-Filioque advocates try to stake the claim that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, they generally think of it as separating in some way, the Spirit from the Son or Father, something like that.

They are wrong.  It's not like the Spirit is automatically another Son unless he proceeds from both Father and Son.  Their argument is with Jesus' words, not simply with the Orthodox.    

But again, if Latin is semantically more "loose" than Greek when it comes to the technical words used for procession, maybe that is part of the problem.  Maybe the Latins have to clarify what they believe, and/or what they don't believe, since they made the change.  But really the burden is on them to justify their position and not simply to come up with an idea and cherry pick from the Fathers in order to defend an idea foreign to them.  Any Protestant can do the same.    
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« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2013, 01:58:24 PM »

Quote
Their argument is with Jesus' words, not simply with the Orthodox.   

Maybe the Latins have to clarify what they believe, and/or what they don't believe, since they made the change.  But really the burden is on them to justify their position and not simply to come up with an idea and cherry pick from the Fathers in order to defend an idea foreign to them.   

I agree.

Quote
Any Protestant can do the same.

I've seen that before. I own a Protestant tract about the inerrant nature of the Bible, and it claims that since St. Jerome and Origen had rejected the Deuterocanonical books therefore, they weren't Scripture.

They neglected to mention that St. Clement of Alexandria and St. Augustine defended their canonicity however.
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« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2013, 02:01:54 PM »

Maybe the Latins have to clarify what they believe, and/or what they don't believe, since they made the change.

They did and their explanation is highly problematic.
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« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2013, 02:02:36 PM »

Where?  When?  Why?  Tongue
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« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2013, 02:05:35 PM »

Where?  When?  Why?  Tongue

The Council of Florence. Because the Orthodox asked them for a clarification.
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« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2013, 02:27:24 PM »

Where?  When?  Why?  Tongue

The Council of Florence. Because the Orthodox asked them for a clarification.
Fr. Erikson has shown that the texts the Latins produced were corrupted, and supported St. Mark's contention.

When a "clarification" needs a clarification, you can be sure that it is muddling things.
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« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2013, 02:29:48 PM »

Fr. Erikson has shown that the texts the Latins produced were corrupted, and supported St. Mark's contention.

That's true but I was talking about how they clarified what they believed about the filioque by defining it in the Decree of Florence. 
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« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2013, 11:55:04 PM »

Don't know if this answers the question in this case, but The Spirit proceeds from The Father as far as origin of existence, but He is The Spirit of The Son as far as operations because The Father works through The Son and by the power of The Holy Spirit. Sometimes He is even called The Spirit of Christ because He fulfills the work of Christ (but He is really The Spirit of The Father as well as His "own person")
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« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2013, 01:27:44 AM »

Well, when pro-Filioque advocates try to stake the claim that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, they generally frame it as separating them in some way, the Spirit from the Son or Father, something like that.
There is no division in distinction, unless one is a monad-worshipper.
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« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2013, 01:14:29 PM »

St. Photios also said:
Quote
If certain Fathers had spoken in opposition when they debated the question [which] was brought before them and had fought it contentiously or had maintained their opinion and had persevered in this false teaching, and when convicted of it, had held to their doctrine until death, then they would necessarily be rejected together with the error of their mind.  However, if they spoke badly or for some reason not known to us, deviated from the right path but were not strictly questioned, no question was put to them nor did anyone challenge them in order to learn and clarify the truth, we admit them to the list of holy Fathers as if they had not said it, because of their righteousness of life, their distinguished virtue, and their faith, and their being faultless in other respects.  We do not, however, follow their teaching in which they stray from the path of truth.  We, though, who know that some of our holy Fathers and teachers strayed from the faith of true dogma, do not take as doctrine those areas in which they have strayed, but we embrace the holy men. So also, in the case of any who are charged with teaching that the Spirit proceeds from the Son. We do not admit what is opposed to the word of the Lord, but we do not cast them from the ranks of the holy Fathers.

This is quoted in the following article:  http://www.oodegr.com/english/papismos/understanding_filioque_controversy.htm

So, some of the early Fathers spoke incorrectly on certain points, but were never corrected.  We believe, an account of their holiness and humility, that they would have corrected their teaching had they been confronted and so we excuse them.  

Indeed, we moderns take instantaneous exchanges of thoughts for granted. We assume a common "lingua franca" or we use a translator program.

In the Fathers' time, letters took.months to Cross the borders, meetings were infrequent and books/schools a rare thing indeed.


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« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2013, 01:31:35 PM »

Glory to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit both and now and ever unto the ages of ages Amen
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« Reply #17 on: August 04, 2013, 01:36:43 PM »

Glory to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit both and now and ever unto the ages of ages Amen

Amen!  angel
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« Reply #18 on: August 04, 2013, 01:41:26 PM »

For the entirety of what St. Photius said, see especially chapters 66-72 of the Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit (available here).
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« Reply #19 on: August 04, 2013, 01:51:31 PM »

^^

The over-the-top Byzantine rhetoric makes it hard to read.
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