Sunday 23rd November 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:

TOP CATHOLIC BISHOPS AIDE ON EXECUTIVE AMNESTY: OBAMA’S ‘LAST CHANCE TO MAKE GOOD ON PROMISE’

In a statement last Friday in the New York Times, the top aide on immigration for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said that executive amnesty is President Barack Obama’s “last chance to make good on his promise…Continue Reading

Catholics Want To Learn More About Their Faith, Bishops Report

BALTIMORE – For three and a half years, members of several U.S. bishops’ committees have been trying to pinpoint what Catholics in the pew are thinking and why they accept or reject church teachings. To this end, they have conducted…Continue Reading

Vatican cardinal: Catholic charity ‘is not only giving food … but giving God’

The Vatican cardinal who oversees the Church’s charitable initiatives has emphasized again that Catholic charities cannot be satisfied with meeting the material needs of those they serve. “Charity is very linked with the proclamation of the Gospel, and doing charity…Continue Reading

Prof at Catholic university tries to justify same-sex ‘marriage’ acceptance from Scripture

Professor Gerald Schlabach of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota recently published a piece for The Christian Century utilizing the writing of St. Paul to create an argument legitimizing acceptance of same-sex marriage. In light of Schlabach’s article, The Cardinal Newman Society…Continue Reading

Pro-Life Group: “We Will Not Obey the Obamacare HHS Mandate, Not Today, Not Ever”

The pro-life group Priests for Life was one of the earliest organizations to file a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its HHS mandate. The mandate compels religious groups to pay for birth control drugs and drugs like ella that…Continue Reading

Court Says Obama Admin Can Force Pro-Life Group to Obey Pro-Abortion HHS Mandate

The pro-life group Priests for Life was one of the earliest organizations to file a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its HHS mandate. The mandate compels religious groups to pay for birth control drugs and drugs like ella that…Continue Reading

Where Are Our Young People Going?

During the 10:30 Mass in my parish a couple of Sundays ago 32 boys and girls stood in front of the altar, faced the congregation, and formally affirmed their desire to be confirmed. It was part of the preparation for…Continue Reading

US Bishops Elect New Secretary, Discuss Health Care Ethics Guide

Baltimore, Md., Nov 11, 2014 / 08:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted Tuesday on several committee leadership positions, also considering several liturgical proposals and moving forward with a New York canonization cause. At their fall…Continue Reading

Fidelity to Bishop of Rome crucial to evangelization, US bishops say

Baltimore, Md., Nov 10, 2014 / 12:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a message to Pope Francis on Monday, the U.S. bishops vowed fidelity to the Holy See and voiced hope that Pope Francis will attend the World Meeting of Families…Continue Reading

Nation’s Catholic bishops gather in Baltimore Monday

Nearly 300 bishops from across the nation will determine the coming year’s agenda for the American Roman Catholic church when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops begins its annual fall meeting Monday in Baltimore. The bishops will spend four days…Continue Reading

Pope names new ‘foreign minister,’ prefect of Apostolic Signatura; Cardinal Burke given new position

The Holy See Press Office announced on November 8 that Pope Francis has named Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, as the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. Archbishop Mamberti replaces Cardinal Raymond Burke, who has served…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: Church Risks Serious Tensions in Months Ahead

Cardinal Raymond Burke has said he is at the service of Pope Francis, has no personal animosity towards him, and those who claim the American cardinal is an opponent of the Pontiff are trying to discredit him. The head of…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: All Christians Called To Be Missionaries, ‘Not Just The Few’

pope668

(Vatican Radio) All Christians and “not just the few” are called to intensify their missionary spirit and go out to proclaim the joy of the Gospel, said Pope Francis.He issued the call on Saturday in speaking at the Vatican to a group of more than 700 participants in Italy’s National Missionary Congress, which was organized by the Italian Episcopal Conference…Continue Reading

Pope Francis Pays Tribute To Blessed Paul VI’s Devotion To Mary

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis paid tribute on Thursday to Blessed Pope Paul the 6th and his great love for the Mother of God, saying he always turned to Mary at crucial and difficult moments for the Church and humanity. The Pope’s words came during a message which was read on his behalf by the Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin…Continue Reading

Pope At Santa Marta: Jesus Weeps

pope667

(Vatican Radio) Jesus weeps today when the doors of our hearts, those of the pastors of the Church, are closed to His surprises not recognizing the One who brings peace said Pope Francis at Mass Friday morning in Casa Santa Marta. Commenting on the Gospel of the Day, Pope Francis said Jesus weeps over Jerusalem because its people did not…Continue Reading

Pope At Audience: The Universal Call To Holiness

(Vatican Radio) “Every state of life leads to holiness, always”, but only if we are open to the grace of God’s gift, said Pope Francis Wednesday speaking of the universal call to holiness of all baptized at his general audience. Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis: Dear brothers and sisters, good morning. A great gift of…Continue Reading

The Synod And The New Evangelization

By JOHN F. KIPPLEY (Editor’s Note: John F. Kippley is the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality and other books and articles. With his wife Sheila, he is a coauthor of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach and cofounder of NFP International. This commentary appeared on his blog [johnkippley.com] of…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Detailed Studies Of Galileo

By JUDE DOUGHERTY Finocchiaro, Maurice. The Trial of Galileo: Essential Documents, translated and edited by Maurice A. Finocchiaro. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Co., 2014. Pp. xii+160. This book draws upon Finocchiaro’s previously published works, The Galileo Affair: A Documentary History (1989) and Retrying Galileo: 1633-1992 (2005), at once making those masterful works more readily accessible,…Continue Reading

Reconnecting With Mary . . . The Apparitions At L’Ile Bouchard

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Part 1 This is first of two articles about the Marian apparitions at L’Ile Bouchard, in northwestern France, near Tours, which took place from December 8-14, 1947. The situation in postwar France was very serious, and there was a real threat from Communism, and even of civil war, but, unknown to…Continue Reading

Applying Just War Theory

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK The conditions that must be present before military force can be justified, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, are as follows: “1. the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain; “2. all other means of putting an end…Continue Reading

A Parody From Hell

By DONALD DeMARCO “My symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state” — C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters. + + + Screwtape: I am proposing a new method for promoting hatred. Wormwood: There is already a great deal of hatred in the world. Shouldn’t we set our targets on something…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Reading And Interpreting Scripture

By DON FIER We ended last week’s installment by launching into a discussion on a question of critical importance: “How is Sacred Scripture to be read and interpreted?” The significance and the relevance of this question become apparent if one examines findings outlined in the 2012 “Status of Global Mission” report, a publication of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. We recently celebrated the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. Why does the Church celebrate a church building in Rome? — P.R., Massachusetts. A. Because the Basilica of St. John Lateran is the oldest church in Christendom and is the church of the Pope, not St. Peter’s Basilica. The Lateran Basilica was built in the fourth century…Continue Reading

Be Watchful And Alert

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER First Sunday Of Advent (YR B) Readings: Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b, 64:2-7 1 Cor. 1:3-9 Mark 13:33-17 In the first reading today we hear of the conflict that has tormented humanity from the very beginning. The problem is that we blame God for everything. Isaiah cries out to God in a lament, “Why do you let us…Continue Reading

In The Footsteps Of St. Paul… Bishop Conley’s Pilgrimage Teaches About Evangelizing Culture

(Editor’s Note: Below is the latest column by Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Neb., for the Southern Nebraska Register. Bishop Conley, in conjunction with Spirit Catholic Radio and others, went on an October 31 to November 9 St. Paul Mediterranean Pilgrimage Cruise. (ZENIT News Agency provided the text. All rights reserved.) + + + The ancient Christian writer and theologian…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Social Kingship Of Christ And Religious Freedom

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.” The first reading…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes… St. Cecilia

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Catholic Church has thousands of saints. For the last two millennia, people of great holiness, exemplifying heroic virtue, have been honored as saints, members of the Church Triumphant in Heaven giving honor and glory to God. Some have been formally declared saints by the Church, while others have been so honored from the beginnings of the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

By CAROLE BRESLIN Since the United States is a relatively new country compared to the rest of the world, we do not have as many canonized saints as do France, Italy, or Spain. Elizabeth Ann Seton (died 1821) was the first person born in the United States to be canonized, although she lived many years after Kateri Tekakwitha (died 1680)…Continue Reading

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