Monday 2nd March 2015

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

A Protestant Views The Filioque

June 27, 2014 Frontpage No Comments

By JAMES LIKOUDIS

A recent article in Christianity Today (January-February 2014) by a Protestant of Lebanese descent, Bradley Nassif, a professor of biblical and theological studies at North Park University in Chicago, attracts attention to one of the major historical and dogmatic differences between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, namely whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father alone (as the separated Orthodox hold) or from the Father and the Son (as Catholics believe with their inclusion of the word “Filioque” [“and the Son”] in the Latin text of the Creed).
Over a thousand years of theological controversy regarding the orthodoxy of the “Filioque” has served to embitter relations between Catholics and Orthodox to this very day and to justify the breaking of full communion between them, marking the most tragic ecclesiastical schism in the history of the Church.
Professor Nassif asks if the controversy over the Filioque is but a trivial one and fundamentally unimportant, or has that “one small change [in the Creed] affect[ed] the whole of Christian life and thought,” as some Orthodox have claimed. Does the “Filioque” destroy a proper understanding of the mystery of the Trinity? He notes that “the Protestant Reformers of the 16th century, including Martin Luther and John Calvin, supported the Filioque.”
Our author gives a fair assessment of the Eastern Orthodox side of the controversy. There are “two camps, one strict and one moderate. Many strict thinkers regarded the Filioque as dangerous and heretical — a view held by people such as Photius (ninth century), Mark of Ephesus (15th century), and Vladimir Lossky (20th century). They claim the Filioque confuses the eternal relations among the divine Persons and destroys the priority of the Father within the Trinity. If both the Father and the Son are sources of the Trinity, then the Spirit is subordinated to both, leading to a belief in two gods. Lossky has even blamed the Filioque for the Catholic emphasis on papal supremacy (a position today’s more moderate Orthodox writers find farfetched)….
“‘Strict’ theologians think Filioque creates an imbalance among the members of the Trinity, destroys the Father as ‘sole source’ of the Son and Spirit, and violates church unity.
“. . . Meanwhile moderate Orthodox think the Filioque can be true if we say that the Spirit proceeds from the Father ‘through the Son.’ Only if, in other words, the Son mediates — not causes — the Spirit’s procession from the Father alone. Regardless of the strict or moderate positions, Eastern theologians agree that there are two issues at stake in the Filioque debate: the truth of the doctrine itself, and unilaterally altering a creed that was accepted by an earlier ecumenical Council [the Council of Constantinople, AD 381].”
What the above exposition reveals is the doctrinal conflict among Orthodox theologians who condemn the Filioque doctrine as blatantly heretical, those willing to accept the Filioque if properly explained as conforming to the Orthodox teaching that the Father alone is the origin of the Spirit, and those other “moderates” (not mentioned by our author) who accept the Filioque as it is taught and defended in Catholic theology. Those in the last group candidly acknowledge that it represents an acceptable clarification of a revealed truth that was taught by such Greek Fathers as St. Epiphanius and St. Cyril of Alexandria, such Latin Fathers as Saints Augustine, Jerome, Hilary, Ambrose, and such Roman Pontiffs as Saints Leo the Great, Hormisdas, and Gregory the Great.
The doctrine that the Holy Spirit proceeded from both the Father and the Son, and expressed in the formulation of the Filioque, was upheld by the entire Western Church long before the Orthodox consummated the schism in the 13th century.
In reply to Byzantine Greek dissent, the Western Church’s greatest theologians (Saints Peter Damian, Anselm, Bernard, Albert the Great, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, and Blessed John Duns Scotus) taught in accordance with Scripture and the Tradition handed down from the apostles that the Eternal Son of God cannot be excluded from His active role in breathing forth the Spirit from all eternity.
No explanation of the Father as the ultimate source in the Holy Trinity is acceptable which denies that the Son is one and equal with the Father in the procession of the Holy Spirit. The doctrine stressing the divine equality of the Son with the Father had been denied by Arian and Adoptionist heretics and it was soon grasped that the divine equality of the Son with the Father could not be maintained without affirming that the Spirit receives His existence simultaneously from the Father and the Son and proceeds eternally from both by a single spiration as from a single principle.
To avoid a serious misinterpretation of the Filioque, the famous Council of Lyons (1274) defined that the Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and from the Son, not as from two principles or causes but as from one single principle or cause. That is to say, the Son receives from the Father the power to be together with Him the one cause or principle of the Spirit who proceeds principally from the Father.
The great Reunion Council of Ferrara-Florence (1439), attended by a special delegation of Byzantine theologians, witnessed exhaustive discussion and debates concerning the Filioque and the trinitarian doctrine it embodied. Agreement was finally reached that “everything that belongs to the Father, the Father has given to His Son by begetting Him, except the fact of being Father; consequently, the Holy Spirit’s proceeding from the Son, this the Son has eternally from the Father who eternally begets Him.” It furthermore defined that “it was for the purpose of declaring the truth and under stress of necessity that those words ‘and the Son’ were added to the Creed by way of explanation, both lawfully and with good reason.”
Professor Nassif refers to “what the global church has been debating for the past 1,500 years.” This “global church” of Protestants does not exist; it is a mere abstraction without form or content. He ignores that the Catholic Church is the only “global church.” It was her fathers, saints, and councils who defended and expounded the orthodox doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
It is not surprising that Professor Nassif concludes his article by leaving it up to the reader to decide for himself whether “the East or West,” who have disputed for 1,500 years with the most subtle arguments involving an article of faith, was faithful to divine Revelation! As is known, some Protestants have proved all too ready to junk the Filioque for the sake of a false ecumenism. The Protestant reliance on private judgment of Scripture and/or Tradition to deal with questions affecting the awesome mystery of God’s unity in the Trinity of Persons can only lead to chaos and cannot arrive at religious certitude.
We can also see how ecclesiastical separation from the infallible See of Peter by the patriarchs and bishops of the 16 autocephalous Byzantine Greco-Slav churches has only led to confusing variations in their doctrine concerning the procession of the Holy Spirit, and a departure from the patristic teaching of their own Eastern tradition. Even the ecumenical-minded Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople not too long ago deplored “the addition to the Symbol [Creed] of one and only word: the familiar ‘Filioque,’ to create new caco-doxies and schisms and heresies, which, to this day holds Western Christianity a long way from the Orthodox East” (quoted in Orthodox Press, May 11, 2010).
Other hard-core “anti-Catholic Orthodox” have not hesitated to excoriate “the isolationist, anti-trinitarian doctrine known as the ‘filioque’.” Thus a Russian Orthodox priest in England has indulged in fantastic allegations concerning “the ideology of papism, this ideology known as the filioque and stating that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Pope of Rome.” (!)
Catholics cannot give sufficient thanks to our Lord for having established an infallible and unerring magisterial (teaching authority) for His Church in the Successor of Peter the Rock and the bishops in communion with him so that the Church could not fail to be the “Teacher of Truth.”

+    +    +

(James Likoudis has written many articles on Catholic-Eastern Orthodox relations. See his website: www.jameslikoudispage.com.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Hit job on Card. Pell because he’s doing his job

His Eminence George Card Pell was appointed by Pope Francis to oversee cleaning up the finances of the Holy See. He is doing his job. And so as Pell drills into the financial corruption and is getting closer to the…Continue Reading

Oil company hit man has Archbishop Cordileone in his sights

San Francisco, Calif., Feb 27, 2015 / 05:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Sam Singer’s public relations firm spun a Chevron oil refinery disaster in California and fought back a legal ruling in Ecuador that could have awarded billions of dollars to…Continue Reading

What about Henry VIII?

Interestingly, Jesus’ hard teaching that “what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder” (Mt 19:6) follows not long after his insistence to Peter on the necessity of forgiveness (see Mt 18:21–35). It is true that Jesus did…Continue Reading

Sacrificing Priests on the Altar of Insurance

Fr. Bob (that’s what we’ll call him) was a faithful parish priest for more than 25 years. One day, a process server showed up at the rectory door and handed him a summons and complaint. The complaint alleged that some…Continue Reading

Catholic Colleges Must Save Students from Pornography Epidemic, Says Counseling Expert

Catholic colleges and universities owe it to their students to do everything within their power to help combat the destructive effects of pornography, argued Dr. Peter Kleponis in a recent interview with The Cardinal Newman Society. Kleponis, a licensed clinical…Continue Reading

Imagine: A Catholic Archbishop!

If it weren’t so predictable, it would be infuriating, but because of that, it is infuriating to thinking people. It’s happening again as San Francisco drops the hammer – again – on the Catholic Church and especially Archbishop Cordileone. He’s…Continue Reading

As storm brews, San Fran archbishop strikes back at school guideline critics

San Francisco, Calif., Feb 20, 2015 / 03:19 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Politicians have targeted San Francisco Catholic schools’ teacher standards, but Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone says they are a matter of Catholic mission and common sense. “Would you hire a campaign…Continue Reading

University of Scranton to end all abortion coverage

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) – The University of Scranton plans to end employee health care coverage for abortions in cases of rape, incest and to preserve the life of the mother. The Times-Tribune of Scranton (http://bit.ly/1JstU9i ) reports Thursday that the…Continue Reading

Notre Dame Scandals under Fr. Jenkins Are Rooted in Diminished Catholic Faculty, Alumni Say

February 20, 2015, at 11:02 AM  |  By Kimberly Scharfenberger  | Following the election of University of Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins, C.S.C. to his third term, Notre Dame alumni spoke with The Cardinal Newman Society to share their…Continue Reading

Cardinal Napier: African Bishops Have Higher Priorities Than Communion for Divorced and Remarried

by CNA/EWTN NEWS 02/19/2015 Cardinal Wilfrid Napier speaks at the Vatican Press Office on Oct. 14, 2014. – Bohumil Petrik/CNA ROME — A leading African cardinal says the continent’s bishops want the upcoming Vatican synod to zero in on strengthening…Continue Reading

LGBT Catholic group gets special seating during Pope’s weekly address

(CNN)Members of New Ways Ministry — an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Catholics — have made three pilgrimages to the Vatican, under three different popes. But only once have they been treated like VIPs. That’s the treatment…Continue Reading

Cardinal Wuerl attacks “brother bishops” as “dissenters”

It is an open secret in Washington, D.C., that Donald Cardinal Wuerl has effectively banned Raymond Cardinal Burke from entering the Archdiocese of Washington.  Several sources have confirmed this to Rorate over the years, stemming from Wuerl’s disdain for any priest…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope At Santa Marta: Judge Not

pope730

(Vatican Radio) It is easy to judge others, but we can only progress on our Christian journey in life if we are capable of judging ourselves first, said Pope Francis at Monday morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta. The readings of the day focused on the subject of mercy. The Pope, recalling that “we are all sinners” – not “in theory” but in reality – said that the ability to judge oneself is “a Christian…Continue Reading

Pope Angelus: Prayers for Syria, Iraq and Venezuela

pope276

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis following the recitation of the Marian Prayer on Sunday remembered the people of Syria and Iraq saying “Unfortunately, there is no cessation in the dramatic news about violence, kidnapping and harassment against Christians reaching us from Syria and Iraq. The Pope went on to say that those facing these situations were not forgotten and prayed that the intolerable brutality of which they are victims would soon be at an end.  …Continue Reading

Pope Francis at the close of the Spiritual Exercises – With a piece of Elijah’s mantle

2015-02-27 L’Osservatore Romano The meditations this morning, Friday 27 February, in Ariccia were the last of the Spiritual Exercises in which the Pontiff and members of the Roman Curia participated. Meditations were led by Carmelite, Fr Bruno Secondin, in the chapel of the House of Divin Maesto belonging to the Pauline Fathers. At the end of his reflection Friday morning, Pope Francis wanted to thank the preacher. “On behalf of everyone, myself included,” the Pope…Continue Reading

Pope Francis returns to Vatican after Lenten retreat

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia have returned to the Vatican at the conclusion of their  5-day Lenten retreat held in the town of Ariccia near Rome. The spiritual exercises began last Sunday (February 22nd) and took place in the Casa Divin Maestro centre in Ariccia. In brief remarks at the conclusion of the retreat the Pope thanked Carmelite Father Bruno Secondin for leading the spiritual exercises with them. Please find…Continue Reading

Virginia Parish Calls On Catholics . . . Join In An “Affirmation Of Faith” To Pope Francis

By LISA BOURNE FRONT ROYAL, Va. (LifeSiteNews) — A Virginia Catholic parish is publicly affirming Church teaching on marriage and its fidelity to the Church, while at the same time calling on Pope Francis to proclaim and defend the same. In the wake of the October Extraordinary Synod on the Family in Rome, St. John…Continue Reading

Egalitarian Chess

By DONALD DeMARCO A high school principal, let us imagine, who is thoroughly devoted to political correctness, summoned the school’s chess coach into his office. In that venue the following conversation took place. P: I think it is time to bring the game of chess into the 21st century. C: But chess is a timeless…Continue Reading

What If The Government Fears Freedom?

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO What if the current massive spying on Americans began with an innocent secret executive order signed by President Reagan in 1986? What if Reagan contemplated that he was only authorizing American spies to spy on foreign spies unlawfully present in the U.S.? What if Reagan knew and respected the history of…Continue Reading

Our Lady And The New Evangelization

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Part 3 This article will look at the importance of the modern Marian apparitions, and particularly Fatima, and in this regard, this is what the Church, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 67) says about private revelation: “Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private’ revelations, some of which…Continue Reading

Hanging Rudy Out To Dry

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Back in 1987, this writer was invited by friends to advise them on a press conference they had called to oppose President Reagan’s signing of an INF treaty to remove all nuclear missiles from Europe. My advice: Deplore the treaty; do not attack the president. The next day, Howard Phillips declared…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

burk10

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Root Of Faith Crisis In Rupture Between Life And Love

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Quite a few years ago, I went hiking in the Alps on the border between Italy and France with a group of reformed drug addicts and their family members. One father brought his two sons who observed my delight as I ran up to the snow line ahead of the group and collected fresh snow…Continue Reading

Are Statues Idols? The Meaning Of “False Idols”

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 2 “I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath…Continue Reading

Catechesis In The Twenty-First Century

By Don Fier “In order to arrive at a systematic knowledge of the content of the faith, all can find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a precious and indispensable tool. It is one of the most important fruits of the Second Vatican Council.” With these words in his apostolic letter Porta Fidei announcing the upcoming Year of Faith…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. As a longtime subscriber to The Wanderer, I am puzzled that your writers don’t hesitate to criticize and disagree with bishops and cardinals on particular issues, but when it comes to the Pope you automatically close shop, yet he is human just like the bishops and cardinals. There is no teaching in our Church that says one cannot disagree…Continue Reading

God’s “Foolishness” Is Wisdom

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Sunday Sermon for March 8, 2015 Third Sunday Of Lent (YR B) Readings: Exodus 20:1-17 1 Cor. 1:22-25 John 2:13-25 In the Gospel reading today, we hear about our Lord cleansing the Temple because the people had turned God’s house into a marketplace. The people, naturally, were appalled at this action because the buying and selling…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Augustus Chapdelaine

By CAROLE BRESLIN Christianity has never been warmly welcomed by the authorities in China, but that did not stop the missionaries over the centuries who have gone there to save souls. Christianity has existed in various forms since the Tang Dynasty (eighth century). The first reports of Catholic priests going to China go back to the 13th century. John of…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Blessed Jacinta Marto

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the Catholic classic Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, we learn that wisdom is to be valued much more than knowledge. There is an entire book of the Old Testament called the Book of Wisdom. While holiness does not equal happiness, we can be sure that joy comes only from God. Little Jacinta Marto, the…Continue Reading