The “Filioque” Clause

This post is a response to this post by my good friend Ben Mancini. In his post Ben asked two questions about the filioque clause:

1. Do you think there’s a significant difference between the two Trinity conceptions?

2. Is the Western conception of the Trinity rooted in Augustine and in conflict with “Sola Scriptura”?

To answer, I would like to provide an outline from Robert Letham’s book The Holy Trinity, which deals with this issue in chapter 10. I read the book for a class on the Trinity, and (being single at the time) outlined the whole thing (or close to it).

The “filioque” clause was an addition by the Western church to the Nicene Creed, which states that the Spirit proceeds from the Father “and the Son” (“filio” is “son” in Latin; “que” is “and”).

East and West: The Filioque Controversy

i) Communion ruptured in 1054—anathemas withdrawn in 1965

b) The Filioque Clause

i) More a development than a change

ii) However, East felt such a change required an ecumenical council

iii) East also objected on theological grounds

iv) At stake was truth of Christian salvation

c) Biblial Teaching on the Procession of the Holy Spirit

i) Locus classicus is John 15:26 – Jesus says he will send Spirit who proceeds from Father

ii) All agree that Spirit proceeds from Father, but from Son also?

(1) John 20:22 – Son shares in sending Spirit

iii) Overall, Bible paints a complex picture

iv) Relation between Son and Spirit not one-directional by mutual and reciprocal (204)

v) Spirit called Spirit of God, but also Spirit of Christ, etc

d) The Trinity according to the Eastern Church

i) Primary stress on the Father as source of personal subsistence of Son and Spirit

e) The Trinity according to the Western Church

i) Overpowering Augustinian influence

(1) makes divine essence, not person of Father foundation of doctrine

ii) Church sought to undergird consubstantiality of Father and Son with the filioque clause

f) The Western Church according to Photius

i) Intended was to assert that Father causes existence of the Son and Spirit

ii) Saw filioque as asserting Spirit’s procession from two separate principles

g) The Origin of the Western view in Augustine

i) Spirit proceeds from Father and Son as one principle of Origination

ii) Augustine starting with divine essence made filioque almost inevitable

h) The Western View according to the Eastern Apologists

i) Filioque compromises monarchy of the Father, and confuses Father and Son

ii) West never intended to compromise monarchy and does not in Augustinian context, but does unintentionally in Cappadocian context

i) The Eastern View according to Western Apologists

i) Repudiation of filioque leaves no clear relation between Son and Spirit

ii) Problem w/essence of God being unknowable—opens chasm between economic and ontological Trinity—becomes a quaternity: three persons plus unknowable essence

j) The Early Eastern View

i) Differed radically from later Eastern view

k) Problems of East and West (211)

i) Both positions face problems

(1) Relations far more subtle than either side’s simple formulas (Pannenberg)

(2) West says East tends toward tritheism (little evidence for this)

(3) Eastern split between God’s essence and energies a problem, certainly after John of Damascus… one cannot posit temporal Trinitarian relations with economy of salvation which are not grounded in primal Trinitarian relations

(4) West faces danger of modalism—most Western Christians are practical modalists (212)

(5) Filioque clause misleading for three possible reasons

(a) Clause lends itself to undermining monarchy of Father

(b) Distinction between Father and Son blurred

(c) Tendency to subordinate Holy Spirit

ii) Both sides have serious weaknesses

l) Toward Solutions (213)

i) Mutual Recognition

ii) Historical Reconstruction

(1) go back to Athanasius—Spirit never apart from Word

(2) three persons mutual indwell each other

m) Recent Developments (215)

i) Moltmann—“from the Father of the Son”

(1) Spirit precedes Son

(2) emphasizes reciprocal relations

ii) Pannenberg

(1) rejects filioque

iii) Gerald Bray

(1) different positions indicate different views of salvation

(a) East—deification by Spirit; risen Christ delivers human race from death; unadequate connection between Son and Spirit

(b) West—work of Christ central—Cross and Resurrection, applied by the Spirit; a holy God delivers his people from sin

iv) Torrance

(1) Agreement between Orthodox and Reformed churches

(a) w/in parameters (see p.182 in Letham)

(i) homoousion of all three persons

(ii) full mutual indwelling

(iii) equal ultimacy of one being of God and the three persons

(iv) rejection of impersonal divine essence and concurrent recognition of personal, living, dynamic being of god

(v) order and relationality of three persons

(vi) fall w/in Gregory Nazianzen’s teaching of whole Trinity as monarchy

v) Bobrinskoy

(1) points to perichoretic relations as way out of the dilemma

vi) Letham likes phrase “from the Father in the Son”

vii) Filioque problems are symptoms of underlying and alternative ways of understanding the Holy Trinity

Advertisements

About Danny Slavich

I am a Christian husband, father, pastor, and poet. I lead Pembroke Road Baptist Church a multi-cultural, multi-generational church in urban South Florida.
This entry was posted in Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to The “Filioque” Clause

  1. Ben says:

    Obviously (not being single) I haven’t gotten a chance to produce such a thorough outline of any books on anything tangentially related to the Trinity, but one of the points brought up (by the outline at least) is one that had been a kind of unspoken point of contention betwixt myself and my perception of Reformed thought … that is, the erosion of what you called “the monarchy of the Father”. In reading various passages of the Bible, I had felt that the Trinity as it had been taught to me in my biblical education didn’t seem to allow much leeway for the Father being above the Son; and yet, the passages I read seemed to indicate the “monarchy of the Father”, etc. Particularly, I was thinking about this when reading Paradise Lost, as Milton had a more Arian view of Christ and expressed it in that work.

  2. Lee says:

    Isn’t the “monarchy” really one based in the submission of the Son and the Holy Spirit? Not in terms of practical or actual differences in person or glory? Or am I, in making that very distinction, showing how I’ve unknowingly succumbed to this Augustinian construct?

  3. Lee says:

    BTW, at some point, hopefully soon, I’ll be reading a lot by Owen on our communion w/ the individual parts of the Trinity – maybe something relevant to this discussion will pop up along the way…

  4. dslavich says:

    Ben, I think you’ve hit an important point. Because there does seem to be an eternal submission of the Son to the Father. However, that submission is a submission of “role” and not of “nature” or “divinity”. What Letham points out in his book is that both Eastern and Western conceptions of God have problems. In the East, the tendency is toward denigrating the Son to being less than divine. Or that his deity is somehow derived from the Father.
    The problems in the West tend toward modalistic conceptions of the Trinity.

    Lee,
    You’re definitely influenced by the Western conception of the Trinity. But that doesn’t mean you’re wrong, only that you need to realize your assumptions 🙂

  5. Ben says:

    Hm … and yet, the opposite side is, as you outlined, practical modalism. Since the East is not going to go so far as to deny the deity of Christ, I would say the West has the more precarious position here. Personally, I have been confused lately about how we do separate the persons of the trinity in the West … before running across this idea again, I had been thinking … “Do I really distinguish between the persons of the Trinity in my relationship, and how could I?” I’m not really expressing myself completely, but I had basically fallen into this modalistic trap. That is, Christ seemed to lose His identity through my Western understanding of the Trinity, and it made me wonder how to relate to God, or Christ, etc.

  6. Lee says:

    Danny – in your response to Ben, didn’t you just say the same thing I did?

    Also, could you define modalism in this context? I’d like to fully understand my assumptions 😉

    Thanks!

  7. Ben says:

    Tangentially, I think the outline said that the Eastern perspective could create confusion by introducing a fourth person, the unknowable “divine essence” — thereby making God less “immanent”, perhaps? But I sort of feel that the unknown quantity is more unknown in the Western view, because it is the Trinity itself that is the unknown quantity … in the West, we know the “divine essence” but we don’t know the persons that, strictly speaking, should be in front of it. But that may just be my own perspective.

  8. dslavich says:

    Lee,
    I think I said something similar to you. And that’s because I am too a product of the Augustinian approach to the Trinity. I was trying to say that you were indeed articulating an Augustinian-based Trinitarian concept, but that it doesn’t mean you were wrong 🙂

    “Modalism” is saying that there is one God, and the Father, Son and Spirit are all God but that they are not distinct. That is, each are different “modes” that the one God revals himself as, etc. This is most common today in Oneness or “Jesus only” Pentecostals.

    Ben,
    In all fairness, your “falling into a modalistic trap” does not mean that the Western conception of the Trinity is more wrong than the Eastern. For example, as an Eastern Orthodox believer, you could easily be falling into the trap of tri-theism, or, as you said, creating a fourth “divine essence” to the Trinity. Both sides have flaws and dangers, and both sides have commendable aspects. I think a healthy view of the Trinity is possible under the Western conception, especially when the danger is understood. I find myself easily distinguishing between the persons of the Trinity in my relationship with God.

    I think the Western conception is slightly more preferable, because God first revealed himself as a Unity, and only later do we find that that Unity is actually a Unity that is not “simple” — it is a “tri”-unity.

  9. Lee says:

    Danny – yes, I got the 2nd part (about what I was articulating and that it didn’t necessarily mean that I was wrong). Thanks for the definition of modalism. I’m not sure how one would think that it is supported, however.

    Ben – it seems like you may not be drawing the distinction here between a loose understanding/conceptualization of (and hence loose practical relationship with) the members of the Trinity, and an adherence to modalism. I don’t think the two are the same. Would you be interested in reading Of Communion with God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost in a mini-NOBC fashion?

  10. dslavich says:

    If you’re interested, Crossway is doing a blog review promotion for the new edited edition of Owen’s “Of Communion…”

    You get a free copy of the book in the process.

    Go here:
    Between Two Worlds: Blog Review Opportunity

  11. Ben says:

    Lee said: it seems like you may not be drawing the distinction here between a loose understanding/conceptualization of (and hence loose practical relationship with) the members of the Trinity, and an adherence to modalism

    Hm, no, I meant (and said) practical modalism. I’m not saying that the Western conception of the Trinity leads parishioners everywhere to declare that the persons of the Trinity are merely different expressions of the same being. And yet, our beliefs can have repercussions on our outlook and can effect us in ways we don’t realize. In my case (and presumably many others, if Mr. Letham put it in his book) the Western view had a tendency to make me confuse the persons of the Trinity, if not in word, then in practice.

    Would I read OCwGtFSaHG? I’d probably be up for it … although I’ve avoided reading John Owen so far … I make it a point not to read the writings of known Roundheads. Seriously, though, here is a guy whose major goal in life was to promote Calvinism. I’m sure he was intelligent and a great guy, and I could get stuff out of his books. But do I really want to take the time to read them if the only reason he is popular today is because of his zealous Calvinism?

  12. Ben says:

    btw, I don’t know what eBook reader you use, Lee … but I use plucker, because you can get plucker files straight from PG. Therefore, I converted OCwGtFSaHG into Plucker format, and when I did, I cleaned it up a little bit so it’s easier to read on a small screen. Let me know if you want this file and I will email it to you.

  13. dslavich says:

    Ben,

    I don’t you’ve characterized Owen fairly. Sure, he was a staunch and adamant defender of Calvinistic theology. He even articulated some things better than Calvin did himself. However, to say that his whole life was to promote Calvinism is wrong-headed. I don’t think “Calvinism” was his goal, as much as was rightly understanding and teaching Scripture and bringing glory to God. Also, don’t judge too quickly someone who buried 10 of his own children in his own lifetime. That’s a person who might warranting listening to, even if you disagree with his theology.

  14. Lee says:

    Well, my Cavalier friend, perhaps it’s time to start reading some Roundheads 😉 As Spurgeon said: “The doctrines of original sin, election, effectual calling, final perseverance, and all those great truths which are called Calvinism—though Calvin was not the author of them, but simply an able writer and preacher upon the subject—are, I believe, the essential doctrines of the Gospel that is in Jesus Christ.”

    I won’t be reading OCwGtFSaHG on my PDA – I have to be able to take copious notes in the margins for any book by Owen… but thanks!

  15. Lee says:

    Well said, Danny.

    And Ben – if you are going to read any Owen at all, I’d actually highly recommend starting with Of the Motification of Sin in Believers.

  16. Lee says:

    BTW, Owen buried all 11 of his children. Ten died in infancy; the one who survived infancy and childhood returned home after an unhappy marriage only to die shortly thereafter of TB….

  17. Ben says:

    My comment was not necessarily about Owen, but about why people are reading him. I think he’s in vogue with this crowd because he was very Reformed. My hesitation would be similar to the hesitation one of us might have about reading a book that Oprah highly recommended. Could it be good? Yes, some of them certainly have been. Do you want people thinking you read a book because Oprah recommended it, though?

    Does that make sense? You associate yourself with something when you read a book like that … unless you’re reading it with the intention of disagreeing with it, which I’m not too excited about either.

    Basically, I’m not all that Reformed. I’m probably never going to be very Reformed. And I just wish people would stop trying to “convert me”, as if anyone who didn’t toe the Reformed line was a lesser form of Christian. Hence my hesitation.

    I’ll probably still read it anyway.

  18. Lee says:

    Ben – sorry – I must have missed the “practical” in “practical modalism” somehow! I agree 100% with your statement about our beliefs having practical repercussions.

  19. Lee says:

    Ben – for the record, I don’t think you should read Mortification so that you will be “converted” – I think you should read it because it’s a profound treatise on killing sin that could literally change the life of every believer who reads it.

  20. Perry Robinson says:

    The anathamas were only for individual persons and hence revocation of them don’t heal the schism. “Development” is ambiguous and the Orthodox don’t think doctrine develops in the sense that say Newman did. There is no conceptual discovery to be had. Such a change not only required a council but was forbidden by multiple councils. A council 120 years prior to 1054 condemned the filioque which had papal approval.
    Jn 20:22 is the economic sending of the Spirit, the filioque is about the generation of the PERSON of the Spirit from the Father in eternity. If reciprocity were a quality of the persons then the Son and the Spirit should cause the person of the Father, which is absurd. God is not reducible to rational principles of opposing relations. “Of” doesn’t mean of, otherwise the God of Jesus Christ would mean that the Father was caused by the Son, again absurd.
    The Trinity in the west after Augustine is mainly, though not only conceived along the lines of Platonism, of a single mind relating to itself in three different eternal modes. The inevitability is a function of the platonism and not Christian theology. The Spanish sought to fight Arianism by granting the Arian premise that the divine essence was definable and so in terms of causality. So to prove that the Son was full deity, they made the Son an eternal cause of the Spirit. Then who does the Spirit cause in order to be God too? You have only replaced one kind of subordinationalism with another. The East never granted the Arian premise that the divine essence was definable.
    It is irrelevant what the West never intended. No heretic I know of intended to be so. In any case for Protestants, the question is, does it comport with Sola Scriptura? The obvious answer is “no.” And it is quite right that there is no clear hypostatic relation between the persons and this is true for all of the persons, for “relation” only applies to being and God is beyond being. There is nothing “between” the persons anyhow which is why the East held the practice of trying to find it out to be insane.
    Letham is simply confused in his objection, since God is beyond being there is no consistently rational analysis of the relation of the persons to the essence so there can be no “fourth” entity. Secondly, Protestants themselves often argue that we are limited to what God reveals and not to his essence. If Protestants can point to a passage that says God reveals the divine essence in Scripture, I’d like to see it. So I am not sure what Latham and others are complaining about. The Orthodox merely say we are limited to what God reveals.
    I simply take the claim that the early Eastern view is radically different to be false and unsupportable. The energies or activities of the divine Trinity are not cut off from either the divine essence or the divine persons whose divine acts they are, anymore than the raise of the sun are something separate from the sun. And you can find the essence/energies distinction in Athanasius since the entire Arian controversy turned on that distinction, not to mention much earlier in say Ireneaus and others. And the bald claim that one cannot posit temporal Trinitarian relations which are not identical with the eternal hypostases is just to fist pound. Why? Because it violates the platonic gloss on divine simplicity, yet another doctrine that has no scriptural support. You can only support the filioque with divine simplicity. There is no other way to argue that the economic and the theologia have to be identical. But divine simplicity as Augustine understood it is a product of platonism and not the bible. And thinking that the Son is eternally begotten of the Father and subsists in the Father’s essence (mono-archia-single source) doesn’t denigrate the Son, for derivation doesn’t imply inequality or insubordination. If it did, women would be unequal to their husbands. You only get this result when you import a platonic notion of causation, as Arius did where causes are individuated based on causal inequality.

    In any case, I’d put Letham down. He doesn’t grasp the basic structure of Orthodox thinking. There is no “being” of God with respect to the divine essence, which is why Tri-theism is not even a conceptual possibility. He doesn’t seem to know what “esse” or “being” is in western theology, let alone the east. The question for Protestants is this, is the doctrine of the filioque in the bible or not? If it isn’t, why do you profess it in practically every major Protestant confessional statement?

  21. Ben says:

    Lee: I know, I’m being ridiculous. Just trying to explain my ridiculous behavior. I still say down with the Roundheads, though.

    PR: Yeah, I’d like to see an examination of Scriptural support for the filioque as well, although I’ve certainly benefited from the results and dangers aspect of the discussion.

  22. dslavich says:

    Wow, first of all, thank you for your thoughtful interaction with the subject.

    Secondly, I would like to ask you something.

    How can the biblical evidence used to support the eternal generation of the Son by the Father, not be used in the same way of the Son to the Spirit?
    Or even the Spirit to the Son?

    It seems that we know of the Son’s relation to the Father only through the economic relations described in Scripture. For example in Psalm 2 and various places in John’s Gospel we see the Son referred to as “begotten”. But these must be references to the Incarnate Christ, and not the eternal Logos.

    Why then is it legitimate to say that this refers to the immanent Trinity, but not to say that passages like John 14:26 and 20:22 refer to both the economic and immanent Trinity.

    Also, why not say that Luke 1:35 speaks of the Son as proceeding from the Spirit in some way?

    Saying that based on the economic revelation of the persons of the Trinity the Father begets the Son and spirates the Spirit, but that the other passages are “economic only” is wanting to have your cake and eat it too.

    Origen first articulated the notion of “eternal begetting”, but that in no way obligates us to keep it. The language of “begetting”
    and “procession” seems to be unnecessary. I know you’ll probably take issue with my Western presuppositions here, but Calvin taught that the Son is “autotheos” — “God of himself”. Why must the Son be ontologically dependent upon the Father? If he truly is co-eternal and co-divine why not simply say that he is God in every way like the Father, except that he is not the Father?

    Basically, in a nutshell, what obligates us to preserve the (for lack of a better term) “ontological monarchy” of the Father?

  23. The monarchy of the Father is essential for the following reason(s).

    If the three hypostases of the Trinity are completely equal with no real distinction between them then either it would be impossible to distinguish between them and you collapse into one God with three names, modalism, which is Scripturally wrong because only the Son is Incarnate and not the whole Trinity, or you would have three hypostases with no unifying factor and fall into tritheism but there is only one God, again according to Scripture.

    Either way the names of the Trinity would be meaningless. For the names to have relevance then there needs to be a real and unique distinction between each of the hypostases. Thus the Father is Father because He is the cause of the Son and the Spirit. The Son is begotten, as is signified by the name Son, and gives the primary sense to the name Father. The Spirit is not the Son so proceeds and is not begotten. He proceeds from the Father alone because there is one God and Father of all, that is cause of all, and rests in the Son the object of His procession, so it can be said that He proceeds through or by the Son. It is meaningless to talk of procession from the Son eternally because there is no “from” or “out of” an hypostasis of the Trinity other than to another hypostasis of the Trinity; God is everywhere. (There are many other reason provided by Saint Photius.) The Father is distinguished as being the cause, the Son in being begotten, and the Spirit by procession. The Son nor the Spirit cause because they would then be confused with the Father. The Father and Son do not proceed because they would then be confused with the Spirit and the Father and Spirit are not begotten because they would be confused with the Son. These distinguishing features are unique to each hypostasis while everything else is one and the same coming from the one source the hypostasis of the Father. The hypostasis takes the name Father so it is the cause, which cannot be said of the essence apart from this hypostasis else all three hypostases would be the cause or the name Father does not belong to His hypostasis again confusing the hypostases and creating inconsistencies with the Scripture.

    On a general note, the Orthodox Creed has been tested over centuries and yet stands today as the only completely consistent summary of the Faith expressed in the Scriptures. Trying to rethink the issue for oneself either ends with the same Creed or in an incoherent and dangerous mess that is either internally or Scripturally inconsistent. The question as to the importance of the Creed at all comes from understanding salvation as a holistic union with God by theosis and thus with the Truth. There is no lie in the Truth and false opinions (lies) regarding God, if held as being the truth, cannot be forced into the Truth because God is free and those united to Him must be so freely to be as He is. If one does not accept the need of and faithfulness to the Creed then one does not share the same Faith of those who have always done so and in effect preaches another Gospel.

    This link (and blog) may help with the discussion:
    http://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2007/09/10/st-john-of-damascus-on-divine-names/

  24. The monarchy of the Father is essential for the following reason(s).

    If the three hypostases of the Trinity are completely equal with no real distinction between them then either it would be impossible to distinguish between them and you collapse into one God with three names, modalism, which is Scripturally wrong because only the Son is Incarnate and not the whole Trinity, or you would have three hypostases with no unifying factor and fall into tritheism but there is only one God, again according to Scripture.

    Either way the names of the Trinity would be meaningless. For the names to have relevance then there needs to be a real and unique distinction between each of the hypostases. Thus the Father is Father because He is the cause of the Son and the Spirit. The Son is begotten, as is signified by the name Son, and gives the primary sense to the name Father. The Spirit is not the Son so proceeds and is not begotten. He proceeds from the Father alone because there is one God and Father of all, that is cause of all, and rests in the Son the object of His procession, so it can be said that He proceeds through or by the Son. It is meaningless to talk of procession from the Son eternally because there is no “from” or “out of” an hypostasis of the Trinity other than to another hypostasis of the Trinity; God is everywhere. (There are many other reason provided by Saint Photius.) The Father is distinguished as being the cause, the Son in being begotten, and the Spirit by procession. The Son nor the Spirit cause because they would then be confused with the Father. The Father and Son do not proceed because they would then be confused with the Spirit and the Father and Spirit are not begotten because they would be confused with the Son. These distinguishing features are unique to each hypostasis while everything else is one and the same coming from the one source the hypostasis of the Father. The hypostasis takes the name Father so it is the cause, which cannot be said of the essence apart from this hypostasis else all three hypostases would be the cause or the name Father does not belong to His hypostasis again confusing the hypostases and creating inconsistencies with the Scripture.

    On a general note, the Orthodox Creed has been tested over centuries and yet stands today as the only completely consistent summary of the Faith expressed in the Scriptures. Trying to rethink the issue for oneself either ends with the same Creed or in an incoherent and dangerous mess that is either internally or Scripturally inconsistent. The question as to the importance of the Creed at all comes from understanding salvation as a holistic union with God by theosis and thus with the Truth. There is no lie in the Truth and false opinions (lies) regarding God, if held as being the truth, cannot be forced into the Truth because God is free and those united to Him must be so freely to be as He is. If one does not accept the need of and faithfulness to the Creed then one does not share the same Faith of those who have always done so and in effect preaches another Gospel.

    This link (and blog) may help with the discussion:
    http://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2007/09/10/st-john-of-damascus-on-divine-names/

  25. dslavich says:

    Thank you for this post,

    I understand that the language of “begotten” and “procession” is an attempt to preserve distinctness within the Trinity.

    However, I am not convinced that the Father as the “source” of the Son and the Spirit is necessary to preserve distinction within the Trinity. It comes, I think, dangerously close to pronouncing the Son and the Spirit as having a derived divinity.

  26. Perry Robinson says:

    Dslavich,

    If the Father is not the source, one wonders though why he is called “Father.” The roots of the biblical names are then pulled out making it acceptable to invent new names, and this is exactly the line of reasoning that Feminists have used.

    Moreover, while your concern is legitimate it is precluded by the Orthodox view for the simple reason that God is not being so there cannot be derived being. And the idea is that their persons are generated from the Father and not their essence. Their essence is the Father’s essence in which they subsist. I hope that helps.

  27. Ben says:

    I’m not a seminary student or monk, but I don’t think that the concept of derived divinty is necessarily tied to being (as if the regular rules of logic can be applied when dealing with such esoteric and unknowable philosophical constructs). You could, for instance, have a situation where the Father creates a “hypostasis”; in this you could have begetting and procession as acts of creation, and the divinity of the Son and Holy Spirit are not fully God, not having His attribute of eternality, etc. So I would say that the mere statement “God is not being” (which I have to say, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense; the distinction between being and hypostasis seems thin almost beyond individual meaning in this context) does not imply that the dangers of possible heretical “derived divinity” beliefs are precluded.

  28. The ideas of begetting and procession being connected to creation were countered in other manners in the Creed, especially with the word homoousios, and not by denying that the Father was the source of the Son and Spirit.

    Again, the idea that the Father is the source is Scriptural, and as it is, and not invented to provide distinction, as Perry points out by the name being Father. This name also precludes creation of something of a different nature to itself because a father begets of his own nature (as far as this analogy can be taken with the Divine).

    Father and source are not only important for distinction but also for unity. We cannot think of God except as hypostasis or person, as Perry said, God is not being or essence but Father. So, we must find the unity of the Trinity in the Father because there is nothing else that can provide it. This can only be expressed if the Son and the Spirit derive their hypostases from the Father, i.e. the Son is the image of the Father, the Spirit is the Spirit of God (i.e. the Father) and not of themselves (“autotheos”). The Son could not have His hypostasis without the Father of Whom He is the image. Neither the Spirit without the Father of Whom He is the Spirit. Not that the Father can be considered apart from the Son and the Spirit.

    Our salvation is also dependent on this relationship between the hypostases. Without the Son being begotten and caused, and also the Spirit proceeding and resting in the Son, we would have no way of participating in the Life of God. Although created in time, and hence caused, we can still be adopted as sons because the Son is also caused. We can also receive the Spirit as sons because the Son also receives the Spirit from the Father. If the Son was not begotten, caused, then we could not be sons because we are caused. If the Spirit proceeds from the Son then we could not be sons because the Spirit could not proceed from us. We can receive because the Son receives, although He does so eternally and naturally while we do so in time and by Grace as adopted sons.

    So, removing the monarchy and source of the Father destroys the distinction of the hypostases, the unity of the hypostases and negates our salvation.

  29. dslavich says:

    I appreciate your thoughts here. I am not convinced wholly, but I am deeply grateful for much of the Eastern thought on the Trinity. Even Calvin (I agree with him) expressed deep delight in the Trinitarian reflections of Gregory of Nazianzus.

    Narrowing back to the “filioque” itself, how can the Spirit be the “Spirit of God”, but not also the “Spirit of Christ”? He is so designated in Scripture, and the terms “Spirit of God”, “Spirit of Christ” and “Holy Spirit” are used interchangibly.

  30. Although, I didn’t make this clear in my previous comment, the word “of” does not mean cause but possession (although I don’t want to limit its normal range of meanings). As such, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, is also the Spirit of Christ. The Spirit is as much the Spirit of the Son as the Father but He proceeds, is caused, only from(out of) the Father and rests in the Son eternally because the Spirit is the Son’s as Son. Thus, when we are in Christ, we also receive the Spirit in Him, as the Spirit of adoption, with Whom we cry “Abba Father”. The term Spirit of Christ, points to the Spirit being in God and in man, the Incarnate Word; possessed by God and man. This also precludes it meaning eternal procession/cause of the Spirit because the Word came Incarnate in time. Rather it means that we too in Christ receive the Spirit of God as sons of God. Re-read Romans 8 in this light.

  31. Ben says:

    Wow, if nothing else, this discussion has illuminated for me how truly different the Eastern perspective is from the Western perspective. Very interesting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s