The Filioque Addition; its Consequences and
		          Influence in the Early Church.
		              By Petros Presbeftes
		                 Copyright 1989
		              All Rights Reserved

The filioque addition to the Nicene Creed was the decisive dividing  factor
over which the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church parted
company and which led to the Great Schism of 1054.

The filioque  addition,  having  had  such  dire  effects  upon  the  Early
Christian  Church,  still evokes feelings that the matter is only a trivial
Theological concern and holds little or no meaning  to  the  Faith  of  the
individual  Christian  Believer.  An attempt in writing this paper, will be
to show how there is every reason  to  be  concerned  over  this  important

Many find this issue to be so technical and obscure that they  are  tempted
to  dismiss  it  as utterly trivial.  But succombing to this temptation, as
inviting as it is, would be a dis-service to our  beloved  fellow  brothers
and sisters in the Faith, because it is certainly not a trivial issue being
a Trinitarian theological question.  The outcome of this issue is certainly
going to affect how we perceive God, since a tiny difference in Trinitarian
theology is bound to have repercussions touching every aspect of  Christian
life and thought.  Let us try then to understand the issues involved in the
filioque addition.

The filioque addition makes the statement that 'the  Holy  Spirit  proceeds
eternally  from  the  Father  and the Son', whereas the Nicene Creed in its
unaltered form states that 'the Holy Spirit  proceeds  eternally  from  the

To help us grasp the axioms of the pros and cons of the filioque  addition,
let us investigate the attributes of the Holy Trinity:

    1.  One essence in three persons.

God is one and God is three:  The Holy Trinity is  a  profound  mystery  of
unity  in  diversity,  and  of  diversity  in unity.  Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit are 'one in essence' (Homoousios), yet each  is  distinguished  from
the other two by personal characteristics.

     'The Divine is indivisible in its divisions' - Gregory of Nazianzus

for the persons are

     'United yet not confused, distinct yet not divided' - John of Damascus

     'Both the distinction and the union alike
				 are paradoxical' - Gregory of Nazianzus

But if each of the persons of the Holy Trinity are distinct,  what  is  the
holding  bond  or  force?   Here  the  Holy  Orthodox Church, following the
Cappadocian Fathers, answers that there is one God  because  there  is  one
Father.  In the language of theology, the Father is the 'cause' or 'source'
of Godhead, He is the principal (arche) of unity among the three; and it is
from  this principle that Orthodox Theologians talk about the 'monarchy' of
the Father.  The other two persons of the Godhead trace their origin to the
Father and are defined in terms of their relation to Him.  Therefore, as it
was decided in the Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 325 AD,

      The Father is the source of Godhead, born of none and proceeding from
      none; the Son is born of the Father from all eternity ('before all
      ages', as the Creed says); the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father
      from all eternity.

However, a quite different view  is  presented  to  us  with  the  filioque
addition,  which states that 'the Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father
AND the Son'.  Under this statement, the Father ceases  to  be  the  unique
source  of Godhead, since the Son is also a source.  Since the principle of
unity in the Godhead is no longer the person of the  Father,  Rome  through
the  filioque  addition  finds  its  principle of unity in the substance or
essence which all three persons of the Holy Trinity share.

In order to push on to the core of the issue and the merits of  each  side,
the term 'proceed' needs to be understood, otherwise nothing is understood.

The Church believes that Christ underwent two births:  one eternal, and the
other  at  a specific point in time.  He was born of the Father 'before all
ages', and born of the Virgin Mary in the days of Herod, King of Judea, and
of  Augustus,  Emperor  of  Rome.  In like manner the Holy Spirit proceeded
eternally, plus in the temporal mission, He was sent to the  world  by  the
Father  and  the Son.  Two unifying factors concern both the Father and the
Son.  The first factor concerns the relations existing  from  all  eternity
within  the  Godhead,  and  the  other  concerns the relation of God to His
creation.  Thus when Rome and the West says that the Spirit  proceeds  from
the  Father  and the Son, and when Constantinople and the East says that He
proceeds from the Father alone, both sides are referring not to the outward
action  of  the  Trinity towards creation, but to certain eternal relations
within the Godhead.

The Orthodox position is based on John Chapter 25, Verse  26  where  Christ
says:   'When  the  Comforter  has  come,  whom I will send to you from the
Father - the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father - he  will  bear
witness  to  me.' Christ sends the Spirit, but the Spirit proceeds from the
Father:  so the Bible teaches, and so Orthodox Christians  believe.   Never
at  any  time does the Bible or the Orthodox Church teach what Rome and the
West adopts in the filioque addition.

In looking at the Orthodox objections to the filioque addition, a  question
which has far reaching consequences is posed:

      If the Son as well as the Father is an arche (a principle or source
      of Godhead), are there then two independent sources, two separate
      principles in the Trinity?

Obviously not, since this would be tantamount to belief in two  Gods.   One
can  see quite readily from this type of a posed question that the filioque
leads either to di-theism or to semi-Sabellian-ism.  Sabellius,  a  heretic
of  the  second century, regarded Father, Son, and Holy Spirit not as three
distinct persons, but simply as varying 'modes' or 'aspects' of the  deity.
In  reunion councils held in Lyons (1274) and Florence (1438-9) wording was
composed carefully to state that the Spirit proceeds from  the  Father  and
Son  'as  from  one principle', tanquam ex (or ab) uno principio.  From the
Orthodox point of view, however, this is equally objectionable:

       di-theism is avoided, but the persons of Father and Son are merged
       and confused.

The Cappadocians regarded the 'monarchy' as the distinctive  characteristic
of the Father:  He alone is a principle or arche within the Trinity.

But Western Theology ascribes the distinctive characteristic of the  Father
to  the Son as well, thus fusing the two persons into one; and what else is
this but 'Sabellius reborn, or  rather  some  semi-Sabellian  monster',  as
Saint Photius put it?

To Orthodox Theologians the persons are OVERSHADOWED by the common  nature,
and God is thought of not so much in concrete and personal terms, but as an
essence in which various relations are distinguished.  This way of thinking
about  God  comes to full development in Thomas Aquinas, who went so far as
to  identify  the  persons  with  the  relations:   personae   sunt   ipsae
relationes.  Orthodox thinkers find this a very meagre idea of personality.
The relations, they would say, are not the persons - they are the  personal
characteristics  of  Father,  Son, and Holy Spirit; and (as Gregory Palamas
put it) 'personal characteristics do not constitute the  person,  but  they
characterize the person'.  The relations, while designating the persons, in
no way exhaust the mystery of each.

Latin Scholastic theology, emphasizing  as  it  does  the  essence  at  the
expense  of  the  persons, comes near to turning God into an abstract idea.
He becomes a remote and impersonal being, whose existence has to be  proved
by  metaphysical  arguments  -  a  God  of the philosophers, not the God of
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Orthodoxy on the other hand, has been far less  concerned  than  the  Latin
west to find philosophical proofs of God's existence:  what is important is
not that a man should argue about the deity, but  that  he  should  have  a
direct and living encounter with a concrete and personal God.

In summary, Filioquism  confuses  the  persons,  and  destroys  the  proper
balance  between  unity  and  diversity in the Godhead.  The oneness of the
deity is emphasised at the expense of His threeness; God  is  regarded  too
much  in  terms  of  abstract  essence  and too little in terms of concrete

Many Orthodox Christians feel that, as a result of the  filioque  addition,
the  Holy Spirit in western thought has become subordinated to the Son - if
not in theory, then at any rate in practice.  The  West  pays  insufficient
attention  to  the  work  of the Spirit in the world, in the Church, in the
daily life of each man.  Further many argue that these two consequences  of
the filioque - subordination of the Holy Spirit, over-emphasis on the unity
of God - have helped to bring about a  distortion  in  the  Roman  Catholic
doctrine  of the Church.  Because the role of the Spirit has been neglected
in the west, the Church has come to be regarded too much as an  institution
of  this  world,  governed in terms of earthly power and jurisdiction.  And
just as in the western doctrine of God unity was stressed at the expense of
diversity,  so  in the western conception of the Church unity has triumphed
over diversity, and the result has been too great a centralization and  too
great an emphasis on Papal authority.

In fact, one might readily see how Papal Authority and Papal  Infallibility
could be explained away through the application of filioquism, and how they
fail to stand up under the Orthodox Theological Dogmas as clarified in  the
Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 325 AD.

May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of  the  Father,  and  the
Good  and  Life-Giving  Holy Spirit be with you, now and for ever, and from
all Ages to all Ages.  Amen.

Love in Christ,
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