The Filioque: What Is at Stake?

 Avery Dulles, S.J.  (CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY, Volume 59: Numbers 1-2)

stakeThe Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, together with the Apostles’  Creed and the Athanasian Creed, is one of the “three chief symbols” recognized in the Lutheran Book of Concord. In many churches, including the Roman Catholic, the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (which will henceforth be called simply the Nicene Creed) is publicly sung or recited in the eucharistic liturgy on Sundays and feast days. The Apostles’ Creed is used at baptism. The third creed, the Athanasian, traditionally formed part of the divine office in the Roman Catholic Church. Although it was dropped from the liturgy following the Second Vatican Council, it still belongs to the creedal and dogmatic heritage of the church.

I. Historical Background

The Nicene Creed exists in two forms: the form commonly in use in various Eastern churches and the Western form. The Eastern form is the text of the creed attributed to the Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381) and found in the proceedings of the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451). It affirms simply that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father-a statement taken from John 15:26, where the Lord Jesus promises: “When the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me.” The Western form, familiar to both Lutherans and Roman Catholics, includes, besides several minor variants, one major variant-the addition of the filioque, that is to say, the assertion that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

Even before Chalcedon the doctrine of the twofold procession of the Spirit was taught by a number of Western fathers, including Tertullian, Hilary, Marius Victorinus, Augustine, and Leo the Great, who was pope at the time of the Council of Chalcedon. From then on, the doctrine became universal in the West. It was affirmed by the so-called Athanasian Creed, a fifth-century Western composition which was later erroneously attributed to Athanasius. Probably under the influence of the Athanasian Creed, the filioque was inserted into the Nicene Creed when it began to be sung in Spain, late in the sixth century, about the time of the Third Council of Toledo (A.D. 589). The filioque also served to emphasize, against Arians and Priscillianists, the perfect equality between the Son and the Father. From Spain this form of the Nicene Creed spread to England and Gaul, where it was strongly promoted by the Holy Roman Emperors, beginning with Charlemagne. The Council of Aachen (A.D. 809) ordered the solemn chanting of the creed in the then current form, with the filioque, throughout the Holy Roman Empire.

For more than two centuries the popes stood up against the Western emperors in refusing to have the creed chanted in the mass and in adhering to the unmodified text of the creed, which Leo I had inscribed in Greek and Latin, without thefilioque, on two silver shields and hung on either side of the “confessio” in the Basilica of St. Peter. But the popes also defended the orthodoxy of the double procession against some Eastern objections. Although precise information is lacking, historians commonly assert that the filioque was introduced into the Roman liturgy by Pope Benedict VIII in deference to the desires of the Emperor Henry I1 that the creed be chanted in the mass when Henry came to Rome for his coronation in A.D. 1014.

The Eastern fathers, although they were aware of the currency of the filioque in the West, did not generally regard it as heretical. Some, such as Maximus the Confessor, a seventh-century Byzantine monk, defended it as a legitimate variation of the Eastern formula that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son.’ In the ninth century, the Patriarch Photius, who had a number of other reasons for quarreling with the Latin West, complained that the filioque was heretical. Rome’s subsequent action in sanctioning the filioque in the Latin form of the creed heightened the tension, preparing the way for the mutual anathemas issued by the Patriarch Michael Caerularius and the papal legate Humbert of Silva Candida in 1054.

The Fourth Lateran Council (A.D. 1215) affirmed thefilioque both in its creed and in its defense of the trinitarian doctrine of Peter Lombard against Abbot Joachim. In 1274 the Second Council of Lyons, in its Profession of Faith for the Eastern Emperor Michael Paleologus VIII, insisted on the Western formulation. To meet some Eastern objections, the Second Council of Lyons explained that the Spirit proceeds not from two principles but from the Father and the Son as one co-principle. In 1439 another union-council, that of Florence, achieved a fragile accord with the Greek delegation in which the formulas “from the Father and the Son” and “from the Father through the Son” were recognized as equivalent. But this accord, like that of Lyons, was never received in Greece and Constantinople, which fell under Turkish domination a few years later (A.D. 1453).

At the time of the Reformation the filioque was not an issue. It was accepted as part of the Nicene Creed by Lutherans, Calvinists, and Anglicans. The question was raised in new form in 1875, when the Old Catholics sought to restore communion with the Orthodox by conceding that the term filioque had been illegitimately added to the creed, while affirming that the doctrine was admissible as a theological opinion. In the Anglican communion, the Lambeth Conference of 1978 accepted the recommendation of those involved in the Orthodox-Anglican dialogue to suppress the filioque, but the resolution of the conference could only be implemented by the various provinces of the Anglican communion, which generally have made no change. In 1979 a theological consultation sponsored by the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches unanimously recommended that the creed should be restored to its original form, as approved by the Council of Constantinople. In 1990 the Faith and Order Commission issued a document, Confessing One Faith, which encourages Christians to confess together the creed in its original form.3

In the Roman Catholic Church the status of the filioque is currently under discussion. Paul VI, in his Profession of Faith of 1968, intended for all Catholics, asserted: “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the untreated person who proceeds from the Father and the Son as their eternal love.” John Paul 11, in his encyclical of 1986 on the Holy Spirit, Dominum et Vivificantem, affirms in passing the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son (42). But the Holy See retains the original wording, without thefilioque, when the creed is recited in Greek. John Paul I1 authorized it to be said in this form in 1981, at the celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica of the sixteenth centenary of. the Council of Constantinople. Again in 1987, when Patriarch Demetrios visited Rome, he and the pope together recited the creed with the wording of Constantinople.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) reproduces the Nicene Creed with the added phrase (8 184) and in the text explains that this Latin formulation does not contradict the Eastern formula that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, provided that neither formula is rigidly understood ($248). A number of prominent theologians, including Yves Congar, have expressed themselves as favoring the deletion of the filioque even in the Latin as an ecumenical gesture, provided that it be recognized that the doctrine is not heretical and provided, furthermore, that the faithful of both sides be pastorally prepared so that the “legitimate sensibilities” of all are respected4

II. Present Options

Three principal options seem to present themselves to the Western churches at the present time:

(1.) They could insist on acceptance of the filioque as a condition of full ecclesial communion, while rejecting the formula “from the Father through the Son.”

(2.) They could allow two or more alternative forms of the creed. These might include the form that affirms the double procession, the form that asserts the procession simply “from the Father,” and the form that declares “from the Father through the Son.”

(3.) They could suppress the filioque and revert to the wording of the creed as approved in A.D. 381.

Several theologians have proposed mediating positions, but these proposals do not seem to have eventuated in new practical possibilities regarding the wording of the creed.’

A. Three Levels

The issues involved in the filioque are complex. In order to sort them out it will pay to consider three levels of affirmation: the basic Christian faith, official church teaching, and theological affirmation.

(1 .) The basic Christian faith concerning the triune God, as taught on the basis of Scripture by the ecumenical councils of the early centuries, holds the reality of the one God, eternal and sovereign, who exists as three eternal persons, inseparably united, each possessing the fullness of the divinity, and hence equal in dignity and majesty. The Father is the fontal source from whom the other divine persons ultimately proceed. This faith, simultaneously monotheistic and trinitarian, is common to all the principal Christian churches, Western and Eastern.

(2.) Over and above this basic faith, official ecclesiastical doctrine in the Western tradition affirms the filioque on the basis of a virtually unanimous consensus since the fourth century. Creeds, councils, and popes have authoritatively taught that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. This consensus has been accepted in the confessional documents of the Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglican churches. Without wishing to judge how the matter stands for other churches, the filioque may be said, from a Roman Catholic point of view, to have achieved the status of irreversible ecclesiastical dogma. This status, however, does not necessarily imply that the dogma has to be explicitly professed in the creed. Indeed, the filioque is not mentioned in the most ancient Western creed, the Apostolicurn. A creed is not intended to declare the whole of Christian dogma but only certain cardinal points.

(3.) The faith and doctrine of the church inevitably raise theological questions. Reflective Christians seek to understand how it can be that the one God exists as three persons, each of whom eternally possesses the fullness of the divinity. Theology attempts to cast some light on the matter. According to a view that is widely current in the West, the divine persons are subsistent relations, and the two processions-those of the Son and the Holy Spirit-take place according to the analogies of intellection and volition. In their explanatory statements theologians deliberately go beyond the dogmatic teaching of the church, while at the same time seeking to interpret it. Conversely, theological reflection contributes to the maturation of official doctrine. The Western councils in the Middle Ages drew on the work of theologians such as Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Bonaventure and endorsed some of their insights

B. Theological Grounds

The theological question about how to reconcile the plurality of persons with the unity and simplicity of the godhead was discussed both in the East and in the West. Eastern fathers such as Gregory Nazianzen laid the groundwork for a solution by distinguishing between the divine essence and the three hypostases and by making use of the philosophical doctrine of relations. Building on these elements, a series of Western theologians from Hilary and Ambrose, through Augustine, Anselm, Richard of St. Victor, and Thomas Aquinas, gradually perfected a systematic theology of the Trinity that has satisfied many rigorous thinkers. The filioque is an essential ingredient in that system. The following summary will be based primarily on the Summa Theologiae of Thomas Aquina.

In the first place, the theory affirms that the three divine persons are subsistent relations, a unique and mysterious category that cannot be known except through reflection on the data of revelation (S.T., 1.29.4). Only in God can relations exist according to the category of substance.

Secondly, the persons are distinguished by their relations of origin. There are four such relations in God: paternity, filiation, active spiration, and passive spiration. The Son is constituted by the first pair of relations, the Spirit by the second (S.T., 1.28.4).

Thirdly, the system holds that the three divine persons are identical with one another in all things except the mutually opposed relations of origin (S.T., 1.30).8 Fatherhood and sonship are mutually opposed; active and passive spiration are mutually opposed.

From these three premises the procession of the Spirit from Father and Son necessarily follows. The Father and Son are identical in everything except the mutually opposed relations of fatherhood and sonship. According to the famous dictum of Athanasius, “the same things are said of the Son as are said of the Father, except His being said to be ‘Father.”‘9 The only thing that the Father alone can do is to be Father, that is, to generate the Son. Since the Father does not act alone in spirating the Spirit, the Spirit must proceed from the Father and the Son as from a single co-principle. The Holy Spirit is distinguished from the Son by a different relation of origin. The double procession of the Spirit can be established also by recourse to the psychological analogy, which became standard in trinitarian theology with Augustine. The processions are correlated with the acts of intellection and volition, the two modes of action proper to spiritual beings. The Son proceeds by way of intelligence as the Father’s concept or mental word. The Father contemplates all truth in the Word whom he conceives or engenders intellectually. Since the Son fully expresses the Father’s mind, there is no room for a further procession by way of understanding.

Spiritual beings can act, secondly, by way of love, the primary act of the will. The will never acts blindly, since it is impossible to love what one does not know. The act of love follows from, and involves, the concept through which the object is known (S.T., 1.27.3). Hence it follows that the love from which the Spirit proceeds comes not only from the Father but also from the Son, the engendered Word, and is the expression of their mutual love. The most perfect love, that of friendship, involves distinct personal subjects who are conjoined in a fruitful communion of love. The Holy Spirit, then, results from the friendship between the Father and the Son (S.T., 1.36.4, ad 1).

This psychological analogy helps to clarify the difference between the generation of the Word and the procession of the Holy Spirit. Intellectual conception produces a mental word or image, in which the mind contemplates the real object. Love, however, does not produce an image; it is an impulse going out to the beloved in itself. The Spirit, arising through love, is not a word or image, as is the Son (S.T., 1.27.4). Combining the psychological analogy with the personal, many theologians teach that the Spirit, as the fruit of the love of the Father and the Son, is the bond of peace and unity between them. This theological systematization, although it is too technical and speculative to attain dogmatic status, manifests the inner intelligibility of the revealed mystery, which otherwise might appear as a sheer conundrum. This intelligibility presupposes the truth of the filioque.

A further asset of the filioque is the harmony it establishes between the inner constitution of the Trinity and the missions by which the Son and the Holy Spirit accomplish their saving work in history. In the New Testament the Son is frequently said to be sent by the Father (John 5:23; 6:38-39; 7:28; Galatians 4:4). The Holy Spirit is said to be sent by the Father (John 14:26; Galatians 4:6) and by the Son (John 15:26; 16:7; 20:23; Acts 2:33), and in many of these texts the Father and Son are mentioned together as being involved in the sending of the Spirit. The Father, however, is never said to be sent.

From these texts it seems evident that the processions underlie the missions. The Father cannot be sent because He does not proceed. The Son can be sent by the Father because He proceeds from the Father. The Spirit can be sent by both Father and Son because He proceeds from both. According to Thomas Aquinas the missions are the processions, insofar as the processions connote an effect outside of God (S.T., 1.43.2, especially ad 3). The external term in the case of the mission of the Son is the hypostatic union, and in the case of the Holy Spirit it is the inhabitation by which the creature is sanctified.

C. The Stakes

In appraising the importance of the filioque, one must compare it with two other positions regarding the origin of the Spirit. The first, the so-called “monopatrist” position, affirms the procession of the Spirit from the Father alone. This was the formula preferred by Photius and his strict disciples, although it has little basis in the earlier Eastern tradition. The other Eastern formula, that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, is found in many Eastern fathers, including Epiphanius, Ephrem, Cyril of Alexandria, and John Damascene.” This formula was also employed by the Patriarch Tarasius at the Second Council of Nicea (A.D. 787).11

The first Eastern alternative, “from the Father alone,” if asserted in a rigid and exclusive way, has many disadvantages in comparison with the filioque. It may be asked, most fundamentally, whether the monopatrist position can account for the terminology of the New Testament regarding the Holy Spirit. Admittedly we do not have any New Testament text which teaches formally that the Spirit proceeds from the Son, but a number of texts, read in convergence, seem to imply this. John 5:19, for example, says that the Son does only what He sees the Father doing-a statement which seems to refer to the externally existing Son and hence to imply that the Son, together with the Father, breathes forth the Spirit. In John 16:14 Jesus says that the Spirit of Truth will take from the Son what is the Son’s and declare it to the believing community. This “taking” is often understood as referring to the procession. Then again, in the Revelation to John, the river of the water of life is said to flow from the throne of God and of the Lamb (Revelation 22:l). Read in conjunction with Ezekiel 36:25-26, John 3:5, John 4:10, and 1 John 5:6-8, this river of living water may be understood as the life-giving Spirit.

What is merely suggested by these texts is impressively confirmed by the titles given to the Spirit in the New Testament. He is repeatedly called the Spirit of the Son (Galatians 4:6), the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7), the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:17), the Spirit of Christ (1 Peter 1:11), and the ‘Spirit of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1: 19). It is not enough to declare that the Son sends the Spirit, as most monopatrists do, since it must be explained how the Son gets the power to send the Spirit as His own. Correctly insisting that the temporal truth must have an eternal ground, Karl Barth holds that the Spirit of the Son eternally proceeds from the Son.12

This first criticism leads to a second. The monopatrist position invites an unfortunate split between what God is in Himself (the “immanent Trinity”) and how He acts in the history of salvation (the “economic Trinity”). Barth rightly protests against the separation sometimes made between the immanent Trinity and the economic Trinity, or between the divine being and the divine energies.13 Reacting against such dichotomies, Barth maintains that the sending of the Spirit by the Father and the Son implies His origin from both.’* God cannot manifest Himself in His historical action as anything different from that which He is antecedently in Himself.

A third weakness in the monopatrist position has already been suggested above. If the Spirit proceeds from the Father alone, it is hard to see how the Son and the Spirit differ. Many Eastern fathers confessed their inability to give a satisfactory answer to this question. They sometimes describe the procession of the Spirit as a prolongation of the generation of the Son, as though the latter were in need of completion in its own order. In the Western theory, however, as already explained with the help of Thomas Aquinas, it is luminously clear why the procession of the Spirit is different in kind from the generation of the Son. If the Holy Spirit had the same relation of origin as the Son, the two could not differ from each other.

Fourthly and lastly, the monopatrist position runs the risk of portraying the Son and the Spirit as two autonomous and competing agencies, so that what is given to the Son is subtracted from the Spirit and vice-versa. This portrayal imperils the unity of the economy of salvation, according to which all.grace and sanctification are from the three divine persons operating in unison-from the Father as sending, from the Son as sent by the Father, and from the Holy Spirit as sent by both the Father and the Son. Just as the Holy Spirit is at work in the incarnation of the Son, so the Son is present in the indwelling of the Spirit. In some Eastern theologies one gets the impression that an independent sphere of action is being allotted to the Spirit. This tenet would compromise the unity of the godhead and the universal efficacy of Christ’s redemptive mediation.

The filioque must also be compared with the other Eastern formula, that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son. Here a more nuanced judgment is required. The formulas using “and” and “through” may be seen not as contradictory but as complementary. Approaching the same mystery from different points of view, both formulas fall short of encompassing the full reality that is intended. In the seventh century, as mentioned above, the Byzantine monk Maximus the Confessor maintained that the filioque was a legitimate variation of the doctrine that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son. Thomas Aquinas, in the thirteenth century, maintained that the expression “through the Son” was orthodox and did not contradict what he himself understood by the filioque (S.T., 1.36.3). The Council of Florence, as we have seen, admitted the legitimacy of both formulas.

Some prefer the formulation using “through” because they think that it better preserves the so-called “monarchy” of the Father-namely, the fact that the Father is the fontal source of all divinity. Augustine, while prefemng the filioque, concedes that the Spirit proceeds principally (principaliter) from the Father, in the sense that the Father alone is the underived source (principium sine principio), whereas the Son is the derived source (principium principatum).15

Yet the expression “from the Father through the Son” labors under one major difficulty. It gives the impression that the Spirit is differently related to the Father and to the Son, as though the Father were only a remote rather than an immediate source. The “through” can easily be understood as though the Son were a mere instrument used by the Father, somewhat as a person might speak by means of a microphone. Thomas points out that the Son does not receive the capacity to spirate as a superadded power, but as a power that pertains to Him by His very being as Son. The Spirit, therefore, proceeds immediately and equally from both Father and Son (S.T., 1.36.3, ad 2). The filioque formula indicates more clearly that the Father and the Son have the same identical relationship to the Spirit. If this case were not so, the Son would not be one with the Father in all things except in being Son.

D. An Objection to the Filioque

At this point an objection arises against the Western formula. If the Son’s equality with the Father depends upon His being co-principle in actively spirating the Holy Spirit, does not the inability of the Spirit to originate or send any other divine person make the Spirit inferior? Eastern theologians often accuse the West of subordinating the Spirit to the Son.

This difficulty, however, arises even against the Eastern theories, since they insist on the prerogatives of the Father as the person who proceeds from no other. The Eastern tradition, heavily imbued with neo-Platonism, has always been in danger of embracing an emanationist view in which the Father alone has the fullness of the divinity, with the Son and the Spirit being subordinated at least to the Father as the fontal source. To avoid this pitfall, it is necessary to insist that the persons who proceed are not inferior provided that they receive the fullness of the divinity as their Own. Both the Son and the Holy Spirit, although they proceed from the Father (or from the Father and the Son), possess the entire divine being by way of identity. Hence neither of them is inferior to the other or to the Father. The procession of the Spirit from the Son as well as from the Father does not subordinate the Spirit to the Son any more than, on the Eastern theory, the procession of the Son and the Spirit subordinate them to the Father.

E. Choosing an Option

The options regarding the creed, as already indicated, are basically as follows: either to impose one formula as the only legitimate one or to admit two or more concurrent formulas. Three formulas are in question concerning the procession of the Holy Spirit: from the Father alone, from the Father through the Son, and from the Father and the Son.

The extreme Eastern position would be to insist on the original Constantinopolitan wording, with the understanding that it be interpreted as meaning “from the Father alone.” The filioque would be branded as heretical. This approach is the one which has been called here the Photian or monopatrist position.

The extreme Western position would be to insist on the filioque as the only legitimate way of reciting the creed. This was the position of the Carolingian theologians of the eighth and early ninth centuries, who rejected the validity of the formula that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son.

A third option is that adopted by the Roman Catholic Church in recent centuries-to retain the filioque in the Latin creed while allowing Eastern Catholics to recite the creed according to the Eastern custom, without the filioque. Eastern Catholic churches are today free to omit the filioque, and some do omit it. If this policy is continued, Eastern churches coming into union with Rome in the future will not be required to add the filioque to the creed, even though they would be held to recognize the orthodoxy of the expression.

A fourth proposal, currently favored in many ecumenical circles, is to delete the filioque from the creed, while insisting at the same time that the Western formulation is not heretical. In favor of this option one may say that it would give all major Christian groups, whether Eastern or Western, a common creed by which they could express their adherence to the basic Christian faith, even while recognizing disagreements about certain issues not settled by the creed.

This fourth option presents severe difficulties for Western Christians who are convinced of the truth and legitimacy of the filioque. In the absence of a solemn and binding declaration from the Eastern Churches that they accepted the orthodoxy of the filioque, the gesture of striking the term from the creed would short circuit the ecumenical process by failing to confront the question whether the Latin church had been guilty of heresy for the past fifteen hundred years. The suppression would be taken in some quarters as an admission that the term was illegitimately added, or even false. The reversion to the earlier form of the creed would diminish the intelligibility of the revealed mystery, so brilliantly elucidated by theologians such as Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. The action, moreover, would obscure the intimate connection between the immanent and the economic Trinity, between the processions and the missions. In the end it would raise questions about whether the gift of the Spirit who is poured out into our hearts is really the same as the Spirit who exists from all eternity in the godhead.

If the Eastern churches were to make it clear that they could accept the filioque as a legitimate theological opinion, the consequences of the change would be less damaging, but in that case there would be no imperative reason why the West should abandon its long-standing tradition. If the orthodoxy of both the Eastern and Western formulations is clear, both may be tolerated without divisiveness, the one for the creed in Greek and Slavic liturgies, the other for churches of the Latin rite. I6

By no means, to be sure, should the insertion of a Western interpolation into the creed be made a condition of reunion with the East. A number of ecumenical experts, indeed, have declared that it ought not be added to the creed in Greek, on the ground that the Greek term unlike the Latin procedit and the English “proceeds,” carries with it the notion of proceeding from an original source-a source that has no prior source.”

The problem of the filioque is in the last analysis inseparable from that of the development of dogma. Much of the Eastern opposition was occasioned by the view that the creed of Constantinople was not subject to any modification. The Greek theologians at the Council of Florence argued that the addition of the filioque was a violation of the decree of Ephesus (A.D. 431) that “no one should profess, write, or compose any faith other than that defined by the holy fathers who were gathered at Nicea with the Holy Spirit” (D.S. 265). The Latin theologians, replied that these words were intended to prevent any change of the faith, but not any change in the words of the creed. This interpretation was surely correct, because the Nicene Creed, to which the fathers at Ephesus were referring, did not yet have the words about the procession of the Holy Spirit that were added at Constantinople and were still to be approved by Chalcedon. The Council of Florence decided that the filioque had been licitly and reasonably added to the creed in order to make its meaning more explicit in the face of misunderstandings (D.S. 1302).

Just as it was proper for the Council of Nicea to add the homoousian to the earlier wording of the creed, and as it was proper for Constantinople to insert a clause regarding the procession of the Spirit from the Father, so, according to the Western view, it was proper for later councils and popes to make a further modification to clarify the relation between the Spirit and the Son. Nothing can deprive the church of its power to retouch the creed provided that its meaning is not deformed. Before it was approved by Rome, the filioque had been universally accepted in Western theology; it had been sanctioned by local councils in several countries and had entered into the liturgical usage of many, if not most, Western churches. The Holy See was not imposing anything new, but simply confirming what was already deeply ingrained in the sense of the faithful. While the filioque is not the only orthodox way of expressing the procession of the Holy Spirit, it embodies a profound truth that should not be sacrificed out of indifference, agnosticism, or ignorance, nor be discarded for the sake of a merely apparent unity. The toleration of different wording in the Eastern and Western churches seems, then, in this writer’s judgment, ecumenical-y appropriate at the present time. The one faith may be expressed in different formulations that are compatible and mutually complementary.


Maximus the Confessor, Letter to the Cypriot Priest Marinus, A.D. 655, in his Opuscula Theologica el Polemica, PG 91:136.

Congar quotes at length from this letter in his I Believe in the Holy Spirit, volume 3 (New York: Seabury Press, 1983). 52-53.

Readers are also referred to Michael A. Fahey, “Son and Spirit: Divergent Theologies between Constantinople and the West,” in Conflicts about the Spirit, ed. Hans Kting and Jiirgen Moltmann
(Concilium 186; New York: Seabury Press, 1979), 15-22, at 17.

“The Filioque Clause in Ecumenical Perspective,” in Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ: Ecumenical Reflections on the Filioque Controversy (Faith and Order Paper 103; Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1981), 3-18.

Confessing One Faith: An Ecumenical Explication of the Apostolic Faith as It Is Confessed in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (Faith and Order Paper 153; Geneva: WCC Publications), p. 79.
Yves Congar, I Believe in the Holy Spirit, 3:204-209.

For a variety of suggestions see the account in Congar, I Believe, 3:199-203. Walter Kasper remarks that it might be possible to adopt “from the Father through the Son” as a common formula, but he personally prefers the proposal to tolerate different formulations in the East and the West. Readers are referred to his The God of Jesus Christ (New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1984), 222.

Juan-Miguel Garrigues suggests a rather complex formula that in his opinion might satisfy both Eastern and Western churches: “The Holy Spirit who comes forth in his personal originality as Spirit from the one only Father of the Only-Begotten through and by reason of this unique Begotten, proceeds in origin from the two in the consubstantial perichoresis of the Trinity, while being, by his relation to the Son, what the Son is, just as the Son, by his relation to the Father, is what the Father is, that is to say God.” Readers are referred to his essay, “A Roman Catholic View,” in Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ, 149-163, at 162-163. In the same volume Jurgen Moltmann recommends that the text of the creed be interpreted: “The Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father of the Son, and receives his form from the Father and the Son.” Readers are referred to his “Theological Proposals Towards a Resolution of the Filioque Controversy,” ibid., 164-173, at 171.

On the Latin developments in the patristic period and the Middle Ages, readers are referred to Congar, I Believe, 3:49-54.79-127.

An excellent presentation, emphasizing the personalism of Thomas, is A. Malet, Personne et Amour duns la Thtfologie Trinitaire de Saint Thomas d’Aquin (Paris: Vrin, 1956). He deals with the procession of the Holy Spirit on pages 124-149.

This statement, of course, applies to the divine persons as existing within the gadhead. It is quite true that certain things are said of the Incarnate Son that are not said of the Father-for instance, that He died on the cross. These statements, however, presuppose the “interchange of properties” (communicatio idiomatum) between the two natures of Christ, a christological question that goes beyond the purview. of the present paper.

Athanasius, Contra Arianos 3:3-4; as quoted by Thomas F. Torrance, The Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1988). 313.

On the teaching of the Greek fathers, readers are referred to Congar, I Believe, 3:24-48; Torrance, Trinitarian Faith, 302-340; more briefly, Dietrich Ritschl, “Historical Development and Implications of the Filioque Controversy,” in Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ, 46-65; idem, “The History of the Filioque Controversy,” in Conflicts about the Holy Spirit, 3-14.

On Tarasius and the Second Council of Nicea see Congar, I Believe, 353-54, with references to original texts reproduced in J. D. Mansi, ed., Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio, 12: 1 122 and 1 154.

Barth, Die Kirchliche Dogmatik, 1:1 (ninth ed.; Zurich: Theologischer Verlag, 1975). 504-505; Church Dogmatics 1:l (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1936). 550.

Limitations of space prevent consideration in this paper of the doctrine of the divine energies as expounded by Gregory Palamas.

Karl Barth, Kirchliche Dogmatik, I:1:503; Church Dogmatics, I: l:S48.

See Augustine, De Trinitate, 15:17:29. This and several other texts from Augustine are quoted by Congar, I Believe, 3:93, note 25.

In his critique of the fourth option the author fully agrees with the wise observations of Walter Kasper, The God of Jesus Christ, 22 1-222.

This position is subject to the objection that the river of life in Revelation 221 is asserted to be “flowing” or “proceeding” (~mope~pevov) from the throne of God and the Lamb-an objection that is especially acute if this text is understood in a trinitarian sense. The problem of finding a term in Greek that accurately corresponds to the Latin procedit as applied to the Son is discussed by a number of authors in Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ, mentioned in note 5 above. The Romanian Orthodox theologian Dumitru Staniloae, following several other authors, suggests the term xp6etcn, but does not favor its introduction into the creed for fear of confusion between the various terms.

Readers are referred to his “The Procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and His Relation to the Son, as the Basis of our Deification and Adoption,” 174- 186.

Avery Dulles, S.J., is Lawrence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society in Fordham University, Bronx, New York.

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