Tuesday 21st October 2014

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:

Cardinal Burke: The “Relatio Synodi” Is “A Significant Improvement Over The Text Of The ‘Relatio Post Disceptationem'”

In a third short interview with CWR, conducted by e-mail late yesterday, Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, offers his impression of the Relatio Synodi, comments on reports that the Synod has…Continue Reading

Synod Final Document Reaffirms Church Teaching

The final document of the Extraordinary Synod was released Saturday as the Synod Fathers voted to approve all 62 paragraphs, but with three paragraphs not receiving the normally required two-thirds majority vote. The three paragraphs, which in the past would…Continue Reading

Catholic Synod: Gay Rights Groups ‘Disappointed’

Catholic gay rights groups say they are disappointed after bishops rejected proposals for wider acceptance of gay people, which had the Pope’s backing. The call to “accept and value” homosexuals was in a draft report, but failed to win the…Continue Reading

">

Cardinal Burke Confirms: Yes, Pope Has Demoted Me.

“Pope has done a lot of harm by not saying openly what his position is” Synod “designed to change Church’s teaching“ We post here for the record of current events all the quotes published by BuzzFeed from their interview with…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke’s Major Interview to Il Foglio on the Synod

The world likes Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke very little or not at all.  And , if it is possible, the Church likes him even less than does the world.  On the other hand, this 66-year-old American from Richland Center, Wisconsin,…Continue Reading

Pope Paul VI to be beatified Oct. 19, 2014

popep6

Pope Francis will officially declare Pope Paul VI Blessed on Sunday, Oct. 19, during the closing ‎Mass of the 3rd Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family.  Pope Paul VI was cleared for ‎beatification when Pope Francis on May 9…Continue Reading

Church Militant . . . Synod On The Family

Houston, we have a problem

Angry over voter lawsuit, city demands to pick through sermons, other communications from pastors who aren’t involved Monday, October 13, 2014 HOUSTON – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys have filed a motion in a Texas court to stop an attempt by…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: Synod’s mid-term report “lacks a solid foundation in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium”

Yesterday’s presentation of the mid-term report (Relatio post disceptationem) of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family was met with a remarkable level of interest among both Catholic and non-Catholic media outlets. The Vatican Radio site, in its introduction to…Continue Reading

Having Patience for the Sausage-Making Synod

The midterm report on the deliberations of the Synod on the Family has appeared and there is a fair amount of hysteria all around. John Thavis, a veteran Vatican reporter who should know better, has declared this statement “an earthquake,…Continue Reading

Advice for the Pope in Light of the Synod

The Holy Father has been very good in lecturing priests and telling us what to do. We are to go out into the world and “make a mess.” We are to “smell like the sheep.” We are to welcome all…Continue Reading

Catholic Church in Minnesota Settles Sex-Abuse Claim

MINNEAPOLIS—The Catholic Church in Minnesota and a lawyer for victims of sexual abuse on Monday announced the settlement in the first-of-its-kind lawsuit claiming that clergy abuse and subsequent inaction by church leadership constituted a “public nuisance.” The settlement also laid…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

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope To Consistory: We Are Witnessing A Phenomenon Of Terrorism

In Briefing, Fr. Lombardi Says Interventions Reaffirmed That You Cannot Kill in the Name of God Vatican City, October 20, 2014 (Zenit.org) Deborah Castellano Lubov Dedicating this morning’s Consistory of Cardinals to the Middle East, and particularly the region’s Christians, Pope Francis has called on the international community to do their part as well as his fellow prelates to protect…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Middle East Without Christians Unthinkable

pope562

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis convened a Consistory of Cardinals on Monday morning in the Vatican. Originally scheduled in order to proceed with the causes of candidates for beatification, the Holy Father expanded the agenda of the meeting to include discussion of the ongoing crisis in the Middle East. In remarks to the gathered Cardinals at the morning session of the…Continue Reading

At Closing Mass For The Synod Pope Francis Beatifies Paul VI

pope561

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday celebrated the Closing Mass for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. During the Mass in Saint Peter’s Square, the Holy Father beatified his predecessor, Pope Paul VI, whom he described as a “great Pope,” a “courageous Christian” and a “tireless apostle.” Below, please find the complete English text of Pope Francis’s homily for the…Continue Reading

Pope At Santa Marta: Heaven In Our Hands

pope560

(Vatican Radio) The Holy Spirit is the “seal” of light with which God has placed Heaven in Christians’ hands. Often, however, Christians avoid this light in preference of a life spent in the shadows, or worse still, in a false light, that sparkles with hypocrisy. Pope Francis’ homily at Mass Friday morning, followed the First Reading from St. Paul who…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . Is The Church In The U.S. Unwittingly Helping To Promote The Secularist-Leftist Agenda?

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly]. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society…Continue Reading

Our Judicial Dictatorship

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Do the states have the right to outlaw same-sex marriage? Not long ago the question would have been seen as absurd. For every state regarded homosexual acts as crimes. Moreover, the laws prohibiting same-sex marriage had all been enacted democratically, by statewide referenda, like Proposition 8 in California, or by Congress…Continue Reading

The Government And Freedom

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO This past week, FBI Director James Comey gave an interview to 60 Minutes during which he revealed a flawed understanding of personal freedom. He rightly distinguished what FBI agents do in their investigations of federal crimes from what the NSA does in its intelligence gathering, when the two federal agencies are…Continue Reading

Religious Freedom In Belarus . . . Strict Controls, “An Invisible Ghetto,” Continue

By FR. JOHN FLYNN, LC (Editor’s Note: Fr. John Flynn, LC, wrote this commentary for ZENIT News Agency. Fr. Flynn, a regular ZENIT contributor, holds degrees from the University of New South Wales and from the Pontifical Gregorian University.) + + + Current events in the Middle East have drawn attention to the plight of…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “The Crisis Pregnancy Center Movement”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995.) + + + “Speak, yourself, on behalf of the dumb, on behalf of all the unwanted; speak, yourself, pronounce a just verdict, uphold the rights of the poor, of the needy” (Prov. 31:8-9). + +…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World . . . Being Exposed To Synod’s Deliberations Is Not For The Fainthearted

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out — he will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25). “Peering into freedom’s ideal law,” as St. James’ letter exhorts and as the fathers of…Continue Reading

Debunking The Myth… Sola Scriptura Is Unscriptural

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 3 Evidently, Jesus did not stay with the apostles and disciples for long after the Resurrection. He founded a Church, His Church. Now, did He found it as a visible Church, with authority to guide, teach, and sanctify the people? Or didn’t He? Either He did or He didn’t. It is one or the…Continue Reading

Divine Revelation: Gradual And Progressive

By DON FIER We left off last week reflecting on God’s motive for revealing Himself to us in a supernatural manner. In a word, His sole motive was that of boundless love for mankind. God gratuitously and unconditionally chose to “communicate His own divine life to the men He freely created, in order to adopt them as His sons in…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: R.H.T. of Florida writes to say that “this week’s question [The Wanderer dated October 16, 2014] about Doctors Without Borders caught my attention. If R.B. from Michigan is interested in supporting an organization like Doctors Without Borders, but one that is absolutely committed to strict adherence to the Catholic Church’s rules on things like abortion, contraception, etc., I…Continue Reading

Union With The Afflicted

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Thirtieth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Exodus 22:20-26 1 Thess. 1:5c-10 Matt. 22:34-40 In the second reading today St. Paul commends the Thessalonians for the way they received the Gospel and for the manner in which they lived it out. First he says that they received the Word in great affliction, then he reminds…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anthony Mary Claret

By CAROLE BRESLIN St. Anthony Mary Claret has something in common with at least three other saints. Like St. Peter Claver, he was born in northeastern Spain — over 200 years later. Like St. Pio of Pietrelcina, when he heard Confessions, he frequently could read the souls of the penitents, asking them about a sin that they had not confessed.…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Ignatius Of Antioch

By CAROLE BRESLIN Who are the fathers of the Church? They were holy men of God; most were bishops, although some were priests and one man, St. Justin the Martyr, was a layman. They lived primarily in the first three centuries of Christianity, but one of the fathers died in 750, generally considered the end of the Church fathers’ era.…Continue Reading

What to Do If Your Boyfriend Wants You to Get an Abortion?

by Krisi Burton Brown | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 2/20/14 4:00 PM Washington, DC (LiveActionNews) — Note: This article is for any girl or woman who is feeling pressured into having an abortion. If you are a guy who is trying to find out how to stop an abortion, please see this article written for dads. 1.  Stand your…Continue Reading

It’s Time to Build Schools, from the Ground Up

February 13, 2014 by Anthony Esolen   It might have been worth repairing, if it had once been noble and beautiful, or at least conceived in an orderly way, for ordinary human purposes. But it wasn’t. It was constructed upon false principles. Its walls looked like those of a bad factory. It smelled like a warehouse. It could be terribly…Continue Reading

Why I am Pro-Life

February 4, 2014   Pro-Lifers   By Therese Recinella   Editor’s note. This tribute was posted on Therese Recinella’s Facebook account. She is graciously allowing us to reprint it in NRL News Today.   There are many things that I could say about my Dad, but what I want people to know is this: My parents faithfully raised 8 children…Continue Reading

Fathers . . . The Essential Role of the Father

Posted on February 10, 2014 by The Catholic Gentleman 13 Comments   Divorce rates skyrocketing; adultery rampant; non-married cohabitating couples; children abandoned by their fathers or mothers; “same-sex unions” adopting children and calling this the “modern family”; pornography invading homes, leading to powerful addictions and total alienation from other members of the family: all of this is a bird’s eye view…Continue Reading

How Much is One Billion Dollars?

This article appeared in the March 20, 1941 issue of The Wanderer. (Well, 70 years later we can add 15 trillion into the example.) Here’s a simple and homely illustration of what one billion dollars amounts to: Suppose we take an imaginary boy, aged 15 years, and assign to him the task of counting one billion dollars in one-dollar bills.…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood

This article appeared in The Wanderer, April 3, 1941.  (WOW, Look what we have 70 years later.) A group which calls itself the National Committee for Planned Parenthood has begun a nationwide campaign to have the promotion of birth control included in State and national health programs. The committee—which, according to propaganda sheets reaching our desk has a branch in…Continue Reading

Questions of Non-Catholics . . . Answered by Father Richard Felix, O.S.B.

Reprinted from The Wanderer April 10, 1941 Why Does God allow us to be tempted? God allows us to be tempted so that we may prove our attachment to him and merit a higher place in heaven. Temptations are the lot of all men; they are the battle ground upon which heaven is won or lost. “The kingdom of heaven…Continue Reading