Filioque clause/Talk

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What does exactly mean "proceeds from the Father and the Son"?

This must have been a source of heated theological debate where we barely understand even the question nowadays.

Could somebody elaborate this a bit please?

sure. will do when I get some time this (Easter Daylight Time) afternoon. It's a big topic.


is 'heresy' npov? Only if you're accusing someone of it. The term itself becomes merely descriptive, like 'schism', of groups which are not part of the larger church. You can, if you like, refer to them as 'Arian Christians,' but they were a separate body and recognized themselves as such. Lutherans and Calvinists did factually become separate from the Catholic church - schism would be an entirely appropriate term.

I think that heresies in this case is NPOV -- one of the primary focuses of the early church was to define orthodoxy, which necessitated defining the non-orthodox, i.e., the heretical. I'm fairly sure that Arians were considered heretics rather than schismatics at the time.

On another note, are Calvinists really schismatic? I thought it was just the Lutherans and the Anglicans...


Did this really originate in the fourth century?? Just found two different online sources that say the filioque clause was first formally adopted at the Synod of Spain in 589, and gradually spread to the Franks. Also, while some Popes may have approved of its usage elsewhere, Pope Leo III had the Nicene Creed engraved in Greek and Latin without the filioque clause and placed on St. Peter' tomb as late as the early 800's, perhaps to avoid schism with the Eastern patriarchs. I can provide references if need be, but it does look like this history could be expanded and some dates adjusted.

Also, I don't think the Eastern view is that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father "through the Son", as the article says. Their view is what the Nicene Creed said, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. The Athanasian Creed says that the persons of the Trinity can be differentiated by their relationships to each other: the Father begets the Son, the Son is begotten of the Father, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. The Father and the Holy Spirit are not begotten of anyone, the Son and the Holy Spirit do not beget anyone or have anyone proceeding from them, and the Father is not begotten and does not proceed from anyone. They are God, neither confused with each other or divided, sharing one Divine Nature, one Divine Essence.

--Wesley


Feel Free to expand the entry - it's wikipedia, after all.
It's all a lot less clear cut, as you're finding out, than controversialists like to admit. And also, notice that in the Eastern Rite Churches in union with the papacy the filioque is not said. So, it hasn't been (for at least the last 500 years) the make-or-break issue that some controversialists would like to make it. The standard explanation the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Rite Churches gives for lay people (which is all I am - not a theologian) is that the difference in formula does not express a difference in belief. I leave the fine points to the professionals, though, and just deal with the histories. One other thing to check is the actual creed of Nicaea vs. the Creed of 381. There are differences. --MichaelTinkler

I certainly agree that it's a complex issue. I believe that some East Orthodox theologians would agree that the difference in wording does not represent a difference in belief, but others of them would insist that the difference reflects a fundamentally different understanding of the Trinity. What is more clear is the issue of the pope insisting on the right to edit a creed which had been established by the whole church at Nicaea I in 325, edited by the whole church at Constantinople I in 381 to expand on the definition of the Holy Spirit. (Thanks for inspiring me to research that.  :-) The Third Ecumenical Council in 431 expressly forbade any further changes in the creed, or the composition of any new creeds. At any point, I think the role of the Pope in the church continues to be a much larger obstacle to reunification than the filioque clause itself; if East and West were to agree that it should consistently be one way or the other, the significance would be that they would have resolved how to settle differences between them, whether by all deferring to the Pope, or the Pope and everyone else deferring to Ecumenical Councils of the entire church.

The existence of the Eastern Rite churches is a current point of contention between Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and Pope John Paul II. Pope John Paul II wanted to visit Moscow earlier this year, but was refused by the Patriarch, partly because the Catholic Church is continuing to invite Russian Orthodox churches to convert to Catholicism and come under the Pope without making substantial changes to their prayers. This is viewed as something of a 'sweetheart deal'. Jurisdictional disagreements in Europe between East and West have been source of contention since at least the ninth century.

In the interests of full disclosure, I suppose I should mention that I'm a recent (2-3 years) convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, and part of a parish that is slowly moving into communion with the Orthodox Church in America. I grew up in a variety of protestant denominations, one after the other, including one that was "non-denominational." I'm certainly biased in editing these articles, but I'm doing my best to retain a NPOV in what I write and edit. I hope others will continue to correct me when I fail to do so, as I'm aiming for accuracy, not necessarily persuasion or proselytizing. I'm also using the process as a chance to research and learn.

--Wesley, a sinner


nice to meet you, Wesley - I'm glad you're here; in interest of disclosure (not that you couldn't find it if you trolled long enough, because it's come up before), I'll say that I am a cradle-Presbyterian-turned-Roman-Catholic, and I actually have family members who have become Orthodox (OCA - one's in seminary now) and friends who are Melkhite and Maronite priests. I think we can keep the entries npov - I agree with your historical summary above - after all, it's clearly true. The difference, whether or not it's irreconcilable, needs to be presented clearly but in a non-inflammatory way - including the inflammatory interventions of those across history (Photius, Humbert of Romans, Michael Caerulius, etc., etc.) who have made the difference less easy to reconcile because so unpleasant to review. On the other hand, we shouldn't be afraid to call spades shovels sometimes, either (I think Humbert was a hand-trowel of the spirit, though a fine public speaker). Let me take up one sentence in your response to show how hard npov on jurisdictional niceties is:

because the Catholic Church is continuing to invite Russian Orthodox churches to convert to Catholicism and come under the Pope without making substantial changes to their prayers

Russian Orthodox churches - meaning parishes? or some of the several Russian Orthodox bodies? Or the whole shooting match (by the way, i'm sure the Pope would be delighted if they all came over at once) - or are we talking about th situation in the Ukraine, which is truly unpleasant and leads from statement to accusation immediately? I would rewrite it to say "because the Patriarch of Moscow perceives xxxx (spelling it out) as an invitation to Russian Orthodox (parishes/communions/whatever) to submit to Papal authority, the invitation sweetened with the promise that they would not have to alter their liturgy." I'm not certain that it's better, but I hope it is. So, are you going to start working on the big entry for Eastern Orthodox? --MichaelTinkler


It's good talking to you too, Michael. Yes, npov gets sticky when we talk about the nature and causes of the continuing schism between East and West. FWIW, I don't think the differences are irreconcilable, even in my lifetime. How they'll be reconciled, who knows, I just follow my bishop. But my guess would be it would need increasing informal cooperation and friendship at the local level, in lots of places, followed perhaps by more formal steps toward reunion. In the section you quoted, I was mostly referring to parishes in several parts of Russia and Eastern Europe, and especially to the mess in the Ukraine. I just found what seems to be a decent summary of the problem from the Russian Orthodox pov: http://www.russian-orthodox-church.org.ru/ve110771.htm. Sometime I need to go see what the Vatican has to say about it. The only reason I brought it up at all in this section was to point out that, from the East, allowing eastern rite churches to omit the filioque might be seen as less conciliatory if it seems to go along with taking over Russian Orthodox church buildings and parishes. I don't know that any of this discussion belongs in the article about the filioque clause itself. And yes, I have started thinking about working on the Eastern Orthodox entry, but I'd rather wait a couple weeks until I have time to do it justice, even as a beginning.