March 23, 2017

June 15, 2010


The Filioque Controversy and the ACNA

Last week the ACNA decided to omit the filioque when saying the Creed in ecumenical worship with Orthodox Christians. It is certainly a generous gesture—after all, the west did add the words “and the Son” to the Creed without input from the East which was not very nice. At the same time I think the filioque, as it is understood in the west, is theologically correct and should be retained and I do not like the precedent of dropping it in shared worship. There are many ways to signal cooperation and friendship and a wide variety of subjects on which Christians of different persuasions can bend and compromise and show themselves not to be stubborn. But I don’t think worship is one of those ways or subjects that lends itself to easy compromise. Few things, in fact, matter more than the way we address God and to decide over the course of one week to simply drop a phrase that has been used for over 1500 years in the west seems to me a bit hasty and premature.

During seminary Eucharists at VTS, there was a great deal of social pressure to replace the word “him” with the word “God” at the opening responses of the Great Thanksgiving rite II. So when the priest would say, “Let us give thanks to the Lord.” the seminary congregation would respond, “It is right to give ‘God’ thanks and praise”. Nowadays I’ve heard they omit both “God” and “him” and simply say “It is right to give thanks and praise.” It’s all very ridiculous in my book but at the time, to the discomfort of those standing near me, I refused to say anything other than “him” in that section of the prayer because while I know very well that God is not a “male” in his essential nature, he has most fully revealed himself in and through a human male, Jesus, and in the book he inerrantly inspired and superintended, the bible, the male pronoun is almost exclusively used when he is referenced in the third person. So even though the use of the word “God” in place of “him” is theologically correct and even though it might be friendly to use the word “God” so as not to offend those bent on emasculating our worship, it was important enough, in light of the implications of the omission, not to compromise that one little word.

Below I’ve copied an excerpt from a piece I wrote about three years ago on the 5th Article of Religion, “Of the Holy Ghost”. In it I explain briefly and no doubt incompletely the controversy between east and west and lay out in fairly neutral terms the issues involved. Since that time, my opinion has solidified a bit behind keeping the filioque. With their insufficient view of the extent and effect of the fall on human nature and their resulting soteriological deficiencies, I am not at all interested in a rapprochement with the Orthodox (especially after Metropolitan Jonah’s characterization of Calvinism as heresy at last year’s synod). But even more importantly, I think it crucial in a culture beset by religious pluralism to confess that the Holy Spirit does not come to indwell apart from being sent by Father through the Son. I certainly understand that the word “procession” is problematic (as I explain below) and I think a compromise with regard to that word would be possible, but as I point out below, “the inclusion of the filioque clause affirms the relational role of the Holy Spirit both within the Godhead, within the Church, and between the Church and her Lord and it secures the principle that without the Son one cannot be related to God through the Spirit…” And so I think we must keep it, even in the context of ecumenical worship. Here’s the article:

For centuries Christians in the west and Christians in the east have disagreed over the wording of the Nicene Creed as it relates to the Holy Spirit.

Originally, the Nicene Creed said this about the Holy Spirit:

And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets.


But sometime after the 4th Century, in the West, the words “and the Son” (Latin: filioque) were inserted into the Creed after the words, “who proceedeth from the Father…” so that the western Creed, the Creed with which most westerners were likely raised, reads:

And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets.


To understand the “filioque controversy” aright requires grasping two important principles.

First, the Father is the ground of divinity. During our discussion of Article 2: “The Word, or Son of God, which was made very Man” we noted that the Son is “eternally begotten” of the Father. The Father is the “source” of the Son’s divinity. This does not mean that the Son became divine at a certain point in time. The Son is “eternally” begotten. He has no beginning nor does he have an end. Nor does it mean that the Son is any less divine than the Father. The Father and the Son are of one substance, one nature, one being. It does mean that the Father is “the Father”. Divinity is grounded in his Person. He is the eternal source of divinity. The Son is eternally begotten of the Father. In the same way and by the same reasoning, you will notice above that the Holy Spirit, originally, was described as eternally “proceeding” from the Father alone. The Son is eternally “begotten” of the Father and the Spirit eternally “proceeds” from the Father. Both formulations and this is the point, set apart the Father as the source of divinity.

Second, in the west, the Holy Spirit has been understood primarily in relational terms. This is quite biblical. The Spirit indwells the believer and by virtue of this indwelling the Christian is spiritually bound at once to the Church and to the Lord. The Holy Spirit establishes and, over time and for eternity, deepens the bond of love between you, God, and your fellow Christian. This is why it is often effective to pray about conflicts among believers. Because we share the same Holy Spirit, we can expect that God can work conflicts out spiritually that we cannot resolve naturally. The relating function of the Holy Spirit is not, at least according to St. Augustine of Hippo in his work on the Trinity, limited to human interpersonal relationships nor to human-divine relationships but it reflects the eternal source of the Holy Spirit within the Godhead. The Holy Spirit is the eternal bond of love between the Father and the Son. In this “relational” way, the Holy Spirit is described in the west as proceeding from the Father “and the Son.”

Dr. Alister McGrath, in his Introduction to Christian Theology (p.285) points to this passage from St. Augustine ’s De Trinitate (On the Trinity):

“Scripture teaches us that he is the Spirit neither of the Father alone nor of the Son alone, but of both; and this suggests to us the mutual love by which the Father and the Son love one another…Yet Scripture has not said: “the Holy Spirit is love.” If it had, much of our inquiry would have been rendered unnecessary. Scripture does indeed say: “God is love” (1st John 4:8,16); and so leaves us to ask whether it is God the Father or God the Son, or God the Holy Spirit or God the Trinity itself who is love.”


St. Augustine goes on to argue, based primarily on 1st John 4:7 for the identification of divine love with the Person of the Holy Spirit.

Now, perhaps, you can grasp the disagreement. To eastern Christians, the addition of the filioque clause seemed and seems to undermine the Nicene emphasis on the Father as the source of divinity. But in the west the clause seems to be understood as properly descriptive of the function or role of the Holy Spirit but not necessarily indicative of the “source” of his being.

In fact, as Dr. McGrath goes on to point out in his summary of the controversy (pp 313-316), St. Augustine’s argument from 1st John, identifying the Holy Spirit with Love, assumes that the Father is the lone source of divinity. The passage from which he argues reads:

“7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (1st John 4:7-12)


St. Augustine argues that the Holy Spirit is the Person in whom divine love is grounded. It is one of the Spirit’s functions to “love” as it is one of the Son’s functions to “Redeem” but it is not simply a function. The Spirit is love. He is the Love between Father and Son and that “proceeds” from or out of this love.

How does St. Augustine come to this conclusion?

1st John 4 teaches that God is love and love is from God. Since the text reveals that God is “love” (v.8) St. Augustine reasons that “love” must be located or grounded within the Trinity and, specifically located in a single Person of the Trinity.

But, and this is important, since love is “of” or “from” God (v.7) the person from whom or out of whom Love flows cannot be the Father.

Why?

Because, as Dr. McGrath explains (p.315), St. Augustine believes that the Father is the source of all divinity. Love must proceed from him to the Son. He cannot proceed from love. McGrath points us to the following passage, again from On the Trinity:

“There is good reason why in this Trinity we speak of the Son alone as the Word of God, of the Holy Spirit alone as the Gift of God, and of the Father alone as the one of whom the Word is begotten and from whom the Holy Spirit principally proceeds. I add the word ‘principally,’ because we learn that the Holy Spirit proceeds also from the Son. But this is again something given by the Father to the Son—not that he ever existed without it, for all that the Father gives to his only begotten Word he gives in the act of begetting him…”


Whether St. Augustine’s exegesis of 1st John 4 is valid and regardless of whether his reasoning above is universally accepted, at the very least we can recognize that St. Augustine affirmed the place of the “Father alone” as the eternal source divinity.

It seems then that in the west the emphasis following Augustine has been to describe the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the love relationship Father and the Son and, flowing out of that, to understand the Holy Spirit relationally as the bond of love between believers and between the Lord and his Bride. But, in so far as the west rightly follows Augustine, this relational emphasis does not imply a denial of the Father’s place as the lone source of divinity.

One final note in defense of the filioque clause this time from Dr. David Scott, former professor at Virginia Theological Seminary. In a lecture given during his last year at the seminary Dr. Scott argued that with regard to the Spirit’s “role” or “function” (as opposed to being) within the Godhead and the created order, the western addition of the filioque clause points to and grounds the biblical principle that the Holy Spirit cannot be known apart from Christ. This is not to say that the Holy Spirit cannot and/or does not act where Christ is unknown. Obviously, he can and does. It is to say that the Spirit only “indwells”, makes his home, within those who have come to a living faith in the Son. Biblically speaking, the Spirit comes to human beings from the Father through the Son. Without the filioque, Dr. Scott suggested, the Church risks a descent into a compromised pluralism wherein the Father might be experienced through the Spirit apart from the Son.

I think it best for Christians at this point not to come down too firmly on either side. I do think the following can be said and affirmed:

1. Ontologically speaking (ontology is the study of “being”), the Creed without the filioque clause secures the principle that God the Father is the source of all things; that the Father is the ground of divinity.

2. Functionally speaking the Creed with the inclusion of the filioque clause affirms the relational role of the Holy Spirit both within the Godhead, within the Church, and between the Church and her Lord and it secures the principle that without the Son one cannot be related to God through the Spirit. 


This does not, of course, settle the disagreement. The debate over whether the Spirit, even in a derivative or secondary way, proceeds from the Son as well as the Father remains unresolved.

But at the very least, I believe, the first clause of 5th Article of Religion, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, can be affirmed with regard to his function or role within the Godhead and within the Church.


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122 comments

This is kind of discouraging. I think you are absolutely right, Matt, about the importance of the filioque. IT’s fine to compromise on small things in the interests of friendship and cooperation, but on on the basics. And things like this do tend to become liek the hole in the dike. I also agree about the “him” business. There are many things that don’t seem all that important on the face of it, but if you think about the implications, they’re far more significant. I think that’s true, for example, of the kind of hymns and worship styyles that have crept in. The Catholics’ new feel-good hymns tend to ignore concepts like “sin” and “redemption” and the Real Presence in favor of concepts like love and peace and justice and sharing a sort of happy meal with each other in brotherhood. Often the language of hymns and of worship services is made more everyday and ordinary, presumable to reach the people better. While there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this, there’s also nothing wrong with worship being special, and somewhat more than everyday.

[1] Posted by Nellie on 6-15-2010 at 10:35 AM · [top]

I think you’ll find that there will be fierce opposition in the ACNA to the idea of giving up the filioque clause in the Nicene Creed, and our bishops need to consider that when they talk with the OCA bishops.  There would need to be some very extensive theological education throughout the entire province….beginning in seminaries….of bishops, clergy and laity….before anyone will accept this, and that process will have to go on for many years before the change is fully accepted.  Personally, I doubt that it will be accepted.

[2] Posted by Cennydd on 6-15-2010 at 10:47 AM · [top]

The Nicene Creed was never intended to cover each and every aspect of the faith.  And the original did not have the filioque.  I therefore think dropping the filioque during services with Orthodox is a good gesture that does not diminish the faith.

[3] Posted by Newbie Anglican on 6-15-2010 at 10:51 AM · [top]

I sure hope it won’t be, because the ACNA, it seems to me, is a refuge for Anglicans in America.

[4] Posted by Nellie on 6-15-2010 at 10:52 AM · [top]

I didn’t see the previous comment to my last one before I posted, and was responding to Cennydd’s comment. I think the filioque is indeed important. I don’t think we should be making gestures about things that we deeply believe. A “gesture” would be more like not being so elaborate in terms of vestments or incense or whatever if we’re trying to be considerate of Protestants in a joint service, or using different music, or things liek that. Changing the creed you say every Sunday is a bit more than a gesture, regardless of when the phrase originated that you arbitrarily drop.

[5] Posted by Nellie on 6-15-2010 at 10:57 AM · [top]

Newbie Anglican, I think that if we do this, then we need to explain our reasoning very thoroughly to the Orthodox bishops and their clergy and people before we agree to do it, and we need to make sure that they understand that this change would not be an easy one for us Anglican Christians to make or to get used to.

[6] Posted by Cennydd on 6-15-2010 at 11:02 AM · [top]

As I recall foggily from church history, the East and West agreed on a Creed that didn’t include the filioque. They also agreed that the Creed wouldn’t be changed. Then, the West changed the Creed. The typical imperialistic Roman attitude of “primacy.” The East has never agreed that they had the authority to make the change, or that the change is an accurate description of the inner workings of the Holy Trinity.

As I understand it, also foggily, the ACNA is mostly made up of individuals and parishes who, under certain circumstances, will leave a branch of the Church over major theological disagreements. I’m not part of ACNA, so it’s really none of my business. But, I’d sure be careful out there, picking battles very, very carefully - and keeping unity in the forefront of one’s thinking.

For example, should we say, “I believe…” or “We believe…”. Now, THAT’S important.

grin

[7] Posted by Ralph on 6-15-2010 at 11:02 AM · [top]

And I agree with you, Nellie.

[8] Posted by Cennydd on 6-15-2010 at 11:03 AM · [top]

Ralph, both are important.

[9] Posted by Cennydd on 6-15-2010 at 11:04 AM · [top]

Thanks for addressing this Matt. I will have to spend some time later on what you wrote. My big concern was the way in which a substantive theological issue was simply announced as set aside. Theological decisions must be made for reasons of theology. On the other hand, if ACNA is simply agreeing to say the Orthodox version (with fingers crossed or not) then it seems a little disingenuous. This is all subjective musings as I don’t really know what the conversations were, nor how the decisions were made, nor why. We simply have a short sentence in a larger pronouncement which I find a little unsettling. Again, thanks for addressing the issues with theology.

[10] Posted by Mana Holman on 6-15-2010 at 11:06 AM · [top]

Yawwwwnnnnn…..sounds like a CEC replay!

[11] Posted by seraph on 6-15-2010 at 11:08 AM · [top]

Fr. Kennedy:
ACNA’s recommendation is in line with the 1978 and 1988 Lambeth resolutions.

Lambeth 1978 recommendation regarding the Filioque is found in point 3 of Resolution 35:
http://www.lambethconference.org/resolutions/1978/1978-35.cfm

Lambeth 1988 raised the issue again in section 5 of resolution 6:
http://www.lambethconference.org/resolutions/1988/1988-6.cfm

[12] Posted by moheba on 6-15-2010 at 11:12 AM · [top]

This seems to me an exercise is straining at a gnat.  Here we are wondering whether it’s wrong or right to delete one phrase in a man-made creed in order to facilitate harmony in ecumenical worship when the actual really important question hangs as yet unasked in mid-air right before our eyes.  Given the substantial and essential differences that exist between Protestant and Orthodox, why is there ecumenical worship in the first place?  The implications of this question are far more grave and long-lasting than the inclusion or exclusion of a single phrase in a single sentence of the Nicene Creed.

carl

[13] Posted by carl on 6-15-2010 at 11:33 AM · [top]

Moheba,
I think you have misread the Lambeth resolutions you cite - they call for the Anglican Communion to CONSIDER omitting the Filioque (1978, para. 3) and that “further thought be given” to it (1988 para. 5).
I personally agree that the Creed ought not contain the Filioque, but this attitude that the Creeds as we have received them can be subject to “cut and paste” editing, with the best of intentions, smacks of “In those days there was no king in Israel, and every man did what was right in his own eyes.”
By what authority does the ACNA propose to do this?! Was it voted on at their recent Synod? The ACNA Constitution Article I Sections 4 and 6 seem to adopt the Creeds with the Filioque.

[14] Posted by dwlock1 on 6-15-2010 at 11:41 AM · [top]

I agree with Matt that we need to be concern about theological compromise in the name of unity, but I would venture that the Filioque clause is the least of Anglican-Orthodox problems. They’ve got some disagreements about the nature of the Church, and salvation, which are anything but trivial. I would worry about these differences before worrying about an obscure, complex, and esoteric squabble over three words in a creed.

Even if a creed compromise is reached (and that’ll happen the day we agree on a universal date for Easter wink), it would be an illusory unity in light of the aforementioned debates on salvation, and the church, which have always divided Anglicanism and Orthodox Christianity.

[15] Posted by LDW1988 on 6-15-2010 at 11:49 AM · [top]

While I might be personally inclined to agree with what the ACNA has decided, I am disappointed at the way they went about this.  The Anglican diaspora outside of TEC needs to model genuine theological deliberation.  A commitment of orthodoxy is not enough to make a healthy church.  Instead, the utter absence of public, theological discussion, let alone education across ACNA and her partners sets a very dangerous precedent.

[16] Posted by Steve Lake+ on 6-15-2010 at 12:07 PM · [top]

Where is the controversy? Omitting it during one worship service to use another orthodox version? Or is there a theological discussion of changing the creed to permanently omit it? I don;t see the controversy.

[17] Posted by Festivus on 6-15-2010 at 12:09 PM · [top]

Ralph (#7)

As I recall foggily from church history, the East and West agreed on a Creed that didn’t include the filioque. They also agreed that the Creed wouldn’t be changed. Then, the West changed the Creed. The typical imperialistic Roman attitude of “primacy.” The East has never agreed that they had the authority to make the change, or that the change is an accurate description of the inner workings of the Holy Trinity.

As you say, the specific wording of the Creed was agreed on by East and West in an ecumenical council.  The Eastern Church believes that nothing less than an ecumenical council has the authority to change it.  It was not, however, the ‘imperialistic Roman attitude of “primacy”’ that inserted the offending phrase.  It was a local council in Toledo.  The papacy actually used its imperialistic Roman attitude of primacy to fight against its inclusion for about 3 centuries (also according to foggy recollection) before finally yielding to allowing it. 

The Orthodox put a lot of stock in John 15:26.  They believe it is the word of God, so is true.

[18] Posted by Warren M on 6-15-2010 at 12:10 PM · [top]

At the risk of broadening this thread, there is a larger thing going on.  We must look at some other ecumenical questions that were mentioned in writings describing the 2010 ACNA Assembly.  Yes, the Filioque and the Orthodox question was one.(And, for the record, my parish and others have deleted its use.  Lord willing, a compromise will come between Rome and Constantinople…but until then.) 

The NEXT ecumenical question is about the Lutherans, both ELCA and LCMS.  Without much explanation, we are told that there may be future Eucharistic sharing between the ACNA and LCMS.  Also we are told, without much explanation, that there are ELCA parishes considering moving into ACNA.  This presents a problem that can be solved, but is no less a problem.  With the exception of the revisionist Churches of Sweden and Finland, no other major Lutheran bodies maintain The Apostolic Succession and Historic Episcopate.  ELCA grafted in TEC bishops into consecrations…but that is spotty at best.  The LCMS do not have The Historic Episcopate at all.  Will ELCA clergy be grafted into the Apostolic Succession through conditional ordination?  Will LCMS clergy be ordained into the Succession as well? 

Another question that is indeed ecumenical, is the maintenance of the “two-integrities” model of ordination.  There was not much public explanation here, even after a 2 hour discussion by the College of Bishops.  This question will have much bearing with LCMS, Orthodox, Roman, FACA, Reformed, and even some ELCA folks. 

So…it is, indeed, something larger.  The Filioque, Apostolic Succession, and Women’s Ordination are ALL important questions that are not settled in our ACNA Ecumenical conversations…and even amongst ourselves.

[19] Posted by TXThurifer on 6-15-2010 at 12:19 PM · [top]

#17 Festivus: to decide without debate that we may omit the filioque when worshiping with the Orthodox (or to do so already, #19) is to assume that it is not a matter where debate and consensus within ACNA is necessary.  There are reasons here of theological integrity and catholic order that suggest we not move forward with such changes without a public debate and wider education throughout ACNA.

Matt+, I’ve now had a chance to read your full article above.  It’s been a while since I’ve thought through the issues of the filioque, and I hope I am understanding you correctly, but here’s a rejoinder I’d like to run past you. 

Logically speaking, it seems quite possible (to me at least) to affirm your conclusion #2 about the functional role of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity while yet omitting the filioque.  You do not need a theory of double procession to ground functional roles since procession is about ontology, not function.  So the Orthodox could (and indeed I seem to recall reading orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart making such a claim) who would agree with the point about the Holy Spirit and love.

If I am right about this, then the main advantage you claim from the Western version of the creed evaporates, does it not?  O.k., you still have Dr. Scott’s claim about religious pluralism (which I find quite debatable—the exclusivity of Christ is THE ground for Christian exclusivism, not the West’s double procession doctrine). But really, is there no other reason to reaffirm double procession than that?

[20] Posted by Steve Lake+ on 6-15-2010 at 12:32 PM · [top]

Fr. Kennedy’s opening sentence is “Last week the ACNA decided to omit the filioque when saying the Creed in ecumenical worship with Orthodox Christians.” Many comments expressed dismay that such a decision was made without broad discussion.

I cannot find any reference to a decision on the ACNA web site. My understanding is that this was a RECOMMENDATION of the Ecumenical Taskforce to the ACNA College of Bishops and that no decisions were made. Did I miss something?

[21] Posted by moheba on 6-15-2010 at 12:57 PM · [top]

A few scattered reflections in response to various earlier posts:

Matt,
I’m glad you raised the issue.  While you aptly cite Augustine and his classic treatment of the doctrine of the Trinity as the standard view in the Latin/western Church, it’s worth noting that the first major Father to take up and explain the double procession of the Holy Spirit from both the Father and the Son was Hilary of Poiters (circa 300-368).  Hilary, like Irenaeus before him, was raised and educated in the East but ministered in the West/Gaul and is thus a major bridge figure, uniting East and West.  FWIW, both western and eastern theologians have always agreed that it would be acceptable to say that the Spirit proceeds from the Father THROUGH the Son.

Ralph (#7),
Delightful humor, helping to lighten things up here.  IIRC, “We believe” is the form of the original creed adopted at Nicea in AD 325, while “I believe” was the revised form adopted at Constantinople in 381.  Obviously, both are appropriate.  And I’d say that both forms of the Creed, with and without the Filioque, are likewise permissible.  But as others have noted above, we must be clear on exactly what we’re doing and most importantly, why.

Thanks to TXTHurifer for his informative #19,
I agree that there are many important issues at stake in establishing ecumenical relationships with various groups, whether Eastern/Oriental Orthodox, Lutheran, Baptist, or whatever.  The ACNA is so young and new that we haven’t had time yet to sort these things out, but I’m glad if the necessary discussions are beginning.  But, as you’d probably agree, many of the same tough, controversial issues are also implicitly there within Anglicanism as well.  For example, I myself (as a “3-d”, evangelical-catholic-charismatic Christian) find the Pro Ecclesia crowd of Lutherans who are proudly both evangelical and catholic far more congenial than the one-dimensional Sydney brand of ultra-Protestant Anglicans.  Yet, ironically perhaps, I find myself in communion with ++Peter Jensen and David Ould+, etc., but sadly not in communion with some of my Lutheran friends whose theological views and liturgical practices are much more compatible with my own.

David Handy+

[22] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 6-15-2010 at 12:57 PM · [top]

Hi Steve Lake, the question comes down to what is meant by procession which is why I would be content, and I’ve heard this suggested elsewhere, to change the clause to “through the Son” which, I believe, would settle the entire issue.

I would not agree to omit it completely…as if it were up to me smile

[23] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-15-2010 at 12:59 PM · [top]

Matt,

The Roman Catholics have been doing this for years. In fact, Dominus Iesus, the most important ecclesiological document of the last 20 years and written by Joe Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI) specifically omits the filioque clause without comment. Who has more to lose in relinquishing the filioque: tiny ACNA or the Big Red Machine? Since the addition of the filioque was in the 6th century and is obviously an example of the development of Christian doctrine over time, do we have a case in which MATT KENNEDY is being more Catholic than the Pope? Jean Cauvin, J.D. is rolling in his biblically predestined unmarked grave right now!

[24] Posted by Dick Gwyn on 6-15-2010 at 01:01 PM · [top]

Hi Moheba,

My understanding is that it was an actual decision. Here is the Living Church write up:

“Dialogues with the Orthodox Church in America have reportedly knocked down one of the centuries-old barriers that have kept Anglican and Orthodox Christians from sharing Eucharist. The big concession: when sharing Eucharist, the ACNA would confess that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and not add the phrase and the Son, as Western Christians traditionally do in a formulation called the Filioque.”

That seems pretty final to me. But perhaps the report is incorrect.

[25] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-15-2010 at 01:02 PM · [top]

Hi Dick Gwyn,

We Calvinists have always been more catholic than the Catholics ; )

[26] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-15-2010 at 01:04 PM · [top]

carl (#13),

Thanks for a typically provocative and insightful contribution, brother.  There are indeed immense issues at stake between Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy, and the gulf between them often seems to make the Grand Canyon look small.

But what has that to do with those of us who are Anglicans?  Since many of us would decline to identify ourselves as merely (or one-sidedly) Protestant?

Certainly there are, and always have been, Anglicans who were proud of the Protestant and indeed Reformed nature of the Church of England and set great store by the 39 Articles, seeing Anglicanism as thoroughly anti-Catholic and simply the English form of the Protestant movement.  But as you know, my esteemed sparring partner, there are also lots of us, myself included, who prefer to see the Anglican heritage as a hybrid that’s both Catholic and Reformed, and seeking to distance ourselves just as far from Geneva as from Rome, if not indeed farther.

David Handy+
3-D Anglican

[27] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 6-15-2010 at 01:10 PM · [top]

Right.  We wouldn’t want to offend someone because of our view of the Trinity;  so it’s best that we blend in, chameleon-like, to our current surroundings. 

Typically Anglican.

[28] Posted by J Eppinga on 6-15-2010 at 01:35 PM · [top]

Has the ACNA in stating the possibility of future sharing with Lutherans gotten around to wrestling with, or at least noting the issue with, Article 29, which I believe was added specifically to reject the Lutheran view of the Eucharist? 

XXIX. Of the Wicked, which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord’s Supper.
The Wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as Saint Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ: but rather, to their condemnation, do eat and drink the sign or Sacrament of so great a thing.

[29] Posted by Aidan on 6-15-2010 at 01:39 PM · [top]

John 15:25 indicates that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father alone but is sent by the Son. If we dropped the filioque, or qualified it to say the the HS proceeds eternally from the Father and temporally at the request of the Son, or from the Father through the Son, things would be clearer.

There is nothing new about Anglicans using the creed sine filioque. If ACNA did indeed choose to drop the filioque on the occasion of ecumenical worship such a decision would be fully in keeping with the Dublin agreement, the provision of an ecumenical version of the Nicene Creed in Common Worship (and the Canadian BAS)  and the recommendations of Lambeth Conferences. Roman Catholics have done the same in some instances. The version of the Creed displayed at the Vatican by Leo iii omitted the filioque.

Reconciliation with the eastern church will require repentance on our part. I believe that the chief error of the western church was and remains unilateralism, with its product being fragmentation.  Unilaterally altering the Creed was one such action, as was the elevation of the Papacy to a role not previously approved by the other patriarchates. It is important to remember that Rome only changed the creed under duress at Charlemagne’s insistence as part of his political machinations over the title of Holy Roman Emperor. The simple fact is that the western church was wrong to unilaterally alter what was the common faith of the universal church.

There should be no problem with Anglicans using the Nicene-Constantinololitan creed in its original form (since we recognize at least the early ecumenical councils) given that it is the common heritage of the whole church. Doing so is an important gesture of good will and a tacit act of repentance.

[30] Posted by emoyeni on 6-15-2010 at 01:44 PM · [top]

For what it’s worth, the Athanasian Creed says “The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.”

Of course, the Athanasian Creed has cloudy beginnings and there is no record of its being written or approved by a catholic Council.  It dates from the 6th Century, and may have been composed in southern Gaul, the region where the filoque was added.

[31] Posted by AnglicanXn on 6-15-2010 at 01:54 PM · [top]

#20 - Would you insist on wine when Baptist were present? Or insist upon a Creed being included in the order of worship knowing it offended Baptists?

I can understand it this was a binding decision on the ACNA as a whole, but that was not the case. The omission of “and the Son” does invalidate the remaining Creed nor the Articles. I see the action as gracious to the Orthodox more than a shift in theology.

[32] Posted by Festivus on 6-15-2010 at 02:02 PM · [top]

emoyeni (#30),

As I recall, the purpose of the brass plate of the Creed that Leo III had made was to emphasize that the official and acceptable wording of the Creed did not include the filioque, as he was fighting against its inclusion.

I believe the Eastern Catholic churches in communion with Rome do not include the filioque.  If Eulogos is reading this thread she could tell us for certain.  So, if I am remembering correctly, Rome actually does not have a serious problem with leaving it out in certain circumstances, even apart of ecumenical liturgies. 

Does anyone else recall that the ECUSA trial liturgies and prayer books from 1967 on, leading up to the 1979 version did not have “and the Son” in the Creed.  Even the “Draft BCP” (Blue) omitted it.  Only the actual final version, currently in use, put it back in.

[33] Posted by Warren M on 6-15-2010 at 02:10 PM · [top]

#31, I think the filioque was added in Spain at the Council of Toledo in 589.

[34] Posted by Warren M on 6-15-2010 at 02:13 PM · [top]

#30 Well there is something new about it. The first Lambert Conference, to my very imperfect knowledge, to suggest consideration of such was 1978. That is 32 years ago. The first official liturgies omitting the filioque are more recent still. Common Worship in the COE dates ot about 10 years ago. Not only that but in the COE the BCP 1662 remains the normative liturgy of the church. Hence whatever one is to make of the optional omission of the filioque in England (and various new Anglican liturgies) at the least, in England it’s theological content must be identical to the creed with the filioque (that is the Nicene Creed as contained in BCP 1662).

[35] Posted by driver8 on 6-15-2010 at 02:14 PM · [top]

A little bit of background context:

The Nicene Creed was originally written in Greek.  In Greek, the verb for proceeding (ekporeuo) has a clearly understood meaning in Cappadocean theology (the theology that formed the language of the final third of the Nicene Creed dealing with the Holy Spirit).  It means eternal origin.  Thus, a Greek would never say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (in the original Greek), because that would be an express statement that the Father is not the unique source (arche) of the Trinity.  The Father alone is the source of origination, the Son is begotten of the Father (and alone incarnates), while the Holy Spirit alone proceeds from the Father in the sense of eternal origin.

St. Augustine is very profound but he was not fluent in Greek.  He lacked an understanding of the Cappadocian theology that formed the context for the choice of terms used in the Creed.  I admire his works greatly but they cannot be used to provide insight into how the terms of the Nicene Creed were originally defined.

No ecumenical council (and there have only been seven) has approved of the extra tag line “proceeds from the Father AND THE SON”.  Several popes forbade the use of the tag line.  After Charlemagne, with a Frankish papacy that lacked a fluent knowledge of Greek, Rome began to use the filioque clause which was used earlier in Spain as a local western reaction to a local western resurgence of Arianism.  The original intent of western innovators (to preserve the divinity of the Son) was good, but it was done as an ad hoc attempt to combat one error without knowledge of the formal definition of the Greek terms used in the Nicene Creed.

The Pope’s legate excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople in 1054 A.D. for refusing to use the filioque clause which had never been used in the East (and was not used in Rome for the first 800 years).  Essentially, the question boiled down to whether one bishop (the Pope) could unilaterally and rapidly declare an interpolation into the Creed or whether pronouncements of dogma needed to proceed slowly, deliberately, and with ecumenical consensus.

The Eastern Church recalled that doctrine in the 7 Ecumenical Councils was always pronounced by collegial consensus while western Europe by the end of the first millenium had begun to view the Pope as having a unique ability to declare doctrine.

Today, the Catholic Church agrees with the Orthodox Church that the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father alone, and is sent temporally by the Son.

Most traditional western Christians also agree that the Holy Spirit is not merely relational (the sort of “spirit” glue that joins the Father and the Son together in love) but is a third person with a separate hypostasis.

Roman theologians have even agreed that in an ecumenical service with Greeks, the filioque clause should be omitted because the meaning in Greek of inserting this term has a meaning that Rome (like Eastern Orthodoxy) rejects as heretical.

Given that context, why do we continue to use the words that an 11th century Pope decided to interpolate by fiat, after earlier successors to the Papacy rejected the filioque clause?  If we can approve the insertion of the filioque without an ecumenical council, what else can we add to the Creed unilaterally by local fiat?

Summary:  the ACNA has said they would omit the Nicene Creed if they did a joint ecumenical service with the Orthodox.  Roman Catholics omit the Nicene Creed if they participate in a joint ecumenical service with the Orthodox (specifically because of how the vocabulary must be understood in the original Greek).

If the Pope, whose 11th Century successor unilaterally inserted the filioque clause into the Nicene Creed, understands and is ok with this, how can we as conservative Anglicans argue that it is wrong?

If the filioque clause is mandatory and must remain in the Creed, that is an argument for becoming Roman Catholic because it means that the Pope’s unilateral pronouncement trumps ecumenical consensus.  If the Pope does not have doctrinal authority over Anglicanism, the filioque clause should be omitted unless and until an ecumenical council votes (after extensive debate and with precisely defined terms that do not contradict the original creed) to provide clarifying clanguage distinguishing between eternal procession and temporal economic procession.

To lessen the tension, however, I would observe that all traditionalists agree with the Eastern Orthodox that the Cappadocian definitions are correct (i.e., the Father is the sole arche or source of the Trinity).  The Eastern Orthodox do not so much disagree with the western explanation of what the filioque means (in Latin, to post-schism westerners), as they disagree with the use of the clause in the Creed because its placement creates a heterodox meaning using the original terms and definitions.

The tension, if any, may arise from concerns that even if it is appropriate to remove interpolated language that was improperly (whether right or wrong) inserted without debate into the Creed, it may create a bad trend if the language is then quickly omitted without debate and without a clear understanding of the reasons.  Many people remember when modernising the 1928 prayer book led to modifying the theology of historical Anglicanism.

But I suspect most traditional Anglican clerics with a background in Cappadocian theology would support a well-reasoned elimination of the filioque clause (based on absolutely no change in theology and based on the inherently conservative and stabilizing principle that dogma is defined by ecumenical consensus).

[36] Posted by John Clay on 6-15-2010 at 02:18 PM · [top]

So you are saying that the omission of the filioque has theological significance - that is, it is identifying a change in Anglican doctrine?

[37] Posted by driver8 on 6-15-2010 at 02:27 PM · [top]

33…I just checked the Trial Book(Blue Book)...the Filioque is omitted in Rite II, but left in Rite I.  If you look also at The Anglican Service Book, the Traditional Language revamped Anglo-Catholic ‘79, by Good Shepherd Rosemont, they have the Filioque in brackets.

[38] Posted by TXThurifer on 6-15-2010 at 02:29 PM · [top]

#36 The normal western argument is that the filioque can be inserted because (1) it is true and because (2) the western churches have the authority to do so. I understand that you disagree with (2). Do you also disagree with (1)?

[39] Posted by driver8 on 6-15-2010 at 02:34 PM · [top]

Personally, I find that single procession is the only doctrine with explicit scriptural warrant.

“Dialogues with the Orthodox Church in America have reportedly knocked down one of the centuries-old barriers that have kept Anglican and Orthodox Christians from sharing Eucharist. The big concession: when sharing Eucharist, the ACNA would confess that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and not add the phrase and the Son, as Western Christians traditionally do in a formulation called the Filioque.”

That seems pretty final to me. But perhaps the report is incorrect

That is this is all about?  Then, if you ask me, this is Much Ado about Nothing.

It is about like me agreeing with you that if I ever set up a plantation on Mars, I’ll split the profits with you 50-50.

[40] Posted by AndrewA on 6-15-2010 at 02:36 PM · [top]

Hi AndrewA,

Subsequently a delegate has confirmed that the TLC article should have said sharing “worship” rather than the “eucharist”—since, as you note, the latter will never happen.

[41] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-15-2010 at 02:42 PM · [top]

[42] Posted by Athanasius Returns on 6-15-2010 at 02:46 PM · [top]

From Fr Kennedy’s original post:

I think the filioque, as it is understood in the west, is theologically correct and should be retained

The difficulty with this statement is in the qualifier as it is understood in the West, because in fact the doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit is widely misunderstood in the West.  As John Clay ably pointed out above, the Greek ekporeuo has a distinct and specific meaning—viz. pertaining to ultimate and fundamental origin—that the Latin procedere does not quite convey.  And I would not limit it, as John Clay did, to what ekporeuo means in the context of Cappadocian theology.  It is simply is what the Greek verb means, not only as the Cappadocians used it, but as St John used it when reporting the words of our Lord in his Gospel.

While it may be true that the Western understanding of what the phrase ex Patre Filioque procedens means is not incorrect, the fact is that this “Western understanding” is saying something quite different from what the Greek phrase ek tou Patros ekporeuomenon actually means.  If, when we recite the Creed, we don’t mean the same thing that the Councils meant when they wrote the Creed, then we are not saying the Creed of the Church, but a Creed of our own devising.  And there is no doubt that “Who proceeds from the Father and the Son” means something quite different from what the bishops of the 2d ecumenical council meant by ek tou Patros ekporeuomenon.

I have always found it quite ironic that, when faced with the choice between the original Nicene Creed and the Latin interpolated Creed, Protestants who claim to follow Sola Scriptura reject the original Creed, which simply quotes the words of the Saviour from the Gospels, in favour of an interpolated Creed imposed on the Church by Papal authority.  Whatever happened to Scripture Alone?

[43] Posted by Chris Jones on 6-15-2010 at 02:59 PM · [top]

Poke a Calvinist and he’ll find a reason to complain, eh, Matt?  ;>)

[44] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 6-15-2010 at 03:00 PM · [top]

One of my favorite books is The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church by Valimir Loskey.  In it he describes the difference between eastern and western approaches to the Trinity.  Western Christians see the unity first and the three persons second.  We see “God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”  This is shown in the classical western heresy of Modalism where there is one God, but three masks or modes.  The east sees the three persons first and the unity second.  “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God.”  This is shown in the classical eastern heresy of Arianism.  The West constantly combats Arianism and the east constantly combats modalism.  So the east sees the filioque as modalistic and the west sees the filioque as a defense against Arianism. 

If I were to worship with Eastern Orthodox Christians, I would omit the filioque because understand that it offends them and, more importantly, why it offends them.  Were they to worship with me, I would not omit the filioque and I would ask them to understand why I say it.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

[45] Posted by Philip Snyder on 6-15-2010 at 03:16 PM · [top]

From #36:  “The normal western argument is that the filioque can be inserted because (1) it is true and because (2) the western churches have the authority to do so. I understand that you disagree with (2). Do you also disagree with (1)?”

To address your question, the filioque clause can be interpreted in two ways in western languages—it can mean (A) that Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father (alone) through the Son (temporally) into the world, which is an orthodox statement and this is really the type of language one finds in patristic references when they talk of movmement of the HS from the Son.  Or it can mean (B) the Holy spirit proceeds eternally from the Son (i.e., not just into the created world through the Son but the HS eternally derives its existance/ousia from the Son.  Meaning B is heterodox.  I do not agree with it.  I have not met a traditional Anglican who does.  Meaning A is orthodox and true.

In Greek, to say the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, using the same word (“exporeuo”) does not mean either A or B.  It means only B (eternal procession).  There is a well developed body of patristic vocabulary about these terms, in Greek, written before second ecumenical council.  Therefore, the filioque clause is by definition false in Greek.  Fortunately, our prayer books are in English.  The Roman Catholic Church, for this very reason, omits the words “and the Son” from the Nicene Creed when the original Greek is recited.

To summarize:

1. “and the Son” (temporal sending of the HS into the world) would be a true statement. 
2. “And the Son” (eternal original/source of the Holy Spirit) would not be a true statement.
3.  “And the Son” (in the original Greek) would never be a true.  You would have to add extra clarifying words (like “ek Patrou dia tou Yiou”—“from the Father through the Son”) to be correct in the original language.

As for whether the “the western churches have the authority” to insert the filioque clause, they have not done so yet.  Instead, one church (singular) did (Rome), in isolation from the four other ancient patriarchates, and today’s western churches (in the plural) have inherited Rome’s interpolation. 

Using languages other than Greek, we can debate whether western churches should retain the interpolation or remove it while using (in either case) the same correct and consistent understanding of the distinction between eternal origin and temporal procession.  But councils and churches can err so their dogmatic pronouncements must be supported by Scripture. 

As a result, something we cannot do (even if an ecumenical council were to attempt to “change” the dogmatic proclamation of the Nicene Creed in explicit violation of the canons of the third ecumenical council in 431 AD) is to take the position that the Holy Spirit eternally originates from the Son as its source (as if the Father and Son are each persons but the Holy Spirit is like impersonal electricity flowing from them).  That is a position that is not supported by Scripture and no church, or collegial body of bishops, has the “authority” to require as dogma what is not supported by Scripture.

[46] Posted by John Clay on 6-15-2010 at 03:18 PM · [top]

Sorry, I meant to write ““ek Patros dia tou Yiou“—genitive nouns from two different declensions…

[47] Posted by John Clay on 6-15-2010 at 03:22 PM · [top]

The Bonn Agreement of 1931 is a document that established full communion between the Church of England and the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht, including the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands. This full communion has since been extended to all members of the Anglican Communion through the synods.

It incorporates three statements:

  1. Each Communion recognizes the catholicity and independence of the other and maintains its own.
  2. Each Communion agrees to admit members of the other Communion to participate in the Sacraments.
  3. Full Communion does not require from either Communion the acceptance of all doctrinal opinion, sacramental devotion or liturgical practice characteristic of the other, but implies that each believes the other to hold all the essentials of the Christian faith.

Now I may be wrong..but if my memory serves me right, then another discussion that was accepted by the Orthodox, Anglican and Old Catholic faiths at Bonn centered around the Filioque clause.  The agreement was that the Old Catholics and Anglicans supported the Orthodox teachings on the clause and agreed to omit it from the Creed…the Old Catholics did, the Anglicans never followed through.

Also, I was told that the prayer book for ACNA was going to have the clause in parentheses…but again, I don’t know.

[48] Posted by padreegan on 6-15-2010 at 03:44 PM · [top]

I hope that I am not repeating something already added.

The Greek (Byzantine) Catholic Churches do not include the filioque in their liturgy.  I know from worshiping in my wife’s church and from visiting other Greek Catholic parishes of various jurisdictions.

I do have a question: in what context would ACNA members and Orthodox be worshiping where this is and issue?  Unless ACNA is going to convert en masse to Western Rite Orthodoxy there will be no shared eucharist, period.

I wish you were all of a mind and heart to come back to Catholicism via Anglicanorum Coetibus, but till that happens I suggest you take care of matters in house before you go chasing after love and recognition from apostolic churches.  The whole matter sharing of communion with LCMS shows that this is a conservative, confessional Protestant movement and clearly out of its league suggesting intercommunion with the Orthodox.

That said, you are still my brothers and sisters and remain my favorite Protestants.  Hope to see in the Anglican Use soon!

—no longer interested in being loyal opposition

[49] Posted by loyal opposition on 6-15-2010 at 03:48 PM · [top]

Matt+

I think you are barking up a very wrong tree with the filioque and the VTS connection. Other than dealing with the Third Person of the Trinity in the Creed, the two are VERY different. In fact the argument against filioque would also forbid ANY altercation of the Creed.

VTS is one of trying to fit the Creed to personal preference.

Filioque is that ONLY another council would have the authority to change the Creed and the Pope is not it.

1 Cor. 8 would give the ACNA more than enough reason to omit a word that causes issue, in fact, if Scripture be true and you know the reason for our Orthodox brethren issue, that that same passage may bind you and this post would be out of line.

Not that Orthodox could not agree with just about everything in blockquote, but the nature of the history and their reservation on the modification of the Creed. I’m sorry but here I think your wonderful power of logic fails based on Scripture and our commands of love for our brothers (thus into a clanging gong). I think the VTS comparison is out of line!  mad

[50] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 6-15-2010 at 03:54 PM · [top]

There seem to be several views here:

1. The western churches (Anglicanism included) had no authority to include the filioque - even if it is true.

2. The western churches were wrong to include the filioque because it is false. (That is Anglicanism, along with the entire western tradition, has taught, in some respect, falsely about the eternal being of God).

3. The western churches should omit the filioque in some or all circumstances (even if it is true and even if they had authority to include it) because it offends the Orthodox.

My thoughts:

1. Requires some consideration for it will raise the question from RCs and Orthodox about all sorts of other doctrines long held within Anglicanism - such as a reformed understanding of justification. As I recall such were indeed raised by Orthodox at the recent gathering at Nashotah House.

2. Requires consideration - since it seems to imply the Anglican tradition is heretical on this matter - such may be true - and for Orthophiles, to to say, who consider the filioque heretical, the question of how and whether to remain in Communion with those who do uphold the filioque, such as reformed calvinists, will become a pressing matter.

3. Seems unobjectionable to me - as it defers both the authority and the truth questions - and simply focuses on hospitality.

[51] Posted by driver8 on 6-15-2010 at 03:59 PM · [top]

I haven’t yet read this whole thread, but wanted to add a great resource for consideration by both sides of the question:  ‘The Holy Spirit in the Holy Trinity’ by Tom Smail in Nicene Christianity: The Future for a New Ecumenism edited by Chris Seitz (Brazos, 2001).  I read it in preparation for Pentecost this year, and it was a mind- and heart-blower!

[52] Posted by Libbie+ on 6-15-2010 at 04:12 PM · [top]

Hi Hosea,

I think you misunderstood my comparison. I was not suggesting that the ACNA is like the seminary congregation.

I was suggesting that even when you agree that a particular theological word or set of words might be correct, changing practice from one correct word to another correct often has some important theological implications that go beyond the words themselves. The VTS example was a case in point.

[53] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-15-2010 at 04:20 PM · [top]

Matt+

I guess I’d ask if you’d include that second paragraph (or one like it) if this were in context of ecumenical worship with some very devote Sola Scriptura folks who did not what to say the doxology at the end of the Lord’s Prayer because it’s not found Matthew 6:9-13 [most of the uses the version from the Didache] - then going on a lengthy defense of the doxology (which I think is perfectly defensible and in accord with Anglican Tradition), which in implication is that this Sola Scriptura brother does not believe in the doxology (when their issue would be desiring to keep to the text of Scripture, may very well believe every word of the doxology, but that’s not the point).

If Scripture is our guide, John 17:21 or 1 John 3:11-21 for positive admonishment and 1 Cor 13:1-3 and 1 Cor 8 as negative - then it would be best to leave the doxology off for that context. [I do think it is a given that the Lord’s heart is broke about all the division in His Church, so while maybe an underlying subtext, I think it honors Christ when we can have ecumenical worship].

That second paragraph does color this that you are accusing the ACNA of compromise of principle, instead of accommodating other for reasons other than compromise.

More than what books make up the Cannon (which oddly I think would more be on this end), or other doctrinal issues, I think filioque would be comparable to the doxology at the end of the Lord’s Prayer. I’ve not met any purest Sola Scriptura brother in Jesus (usually King James ONLY {hey, as an Anglican, I shouldn’t have an issue with that, it truly was the last “Authorized Version” right?}) that didn’t seem to agree with every word of doxology. So if it’s a stumbling block, I can omit the doxology (or a filioque), for the reason is not doctrinal but proceedural.

That is the issue I have with the VTS comparison, this article does not highlight or inform as to what the Orthodox have an issue with (that it was added without a council) but you go on to defend as if the doctrine was the issue (which I do not find evidence it is in this case).

——

My personal take is I wish for John 17:21 that there could be a meeting (I dare not say council for that is too explosive of a term) in which Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics and all Creedal Protestants could get together and agree that this should not be an issue that divide us (note what I said and did not say ... I’d be happy if the Greek side of the Church remained as it is today omitting filique and the Latin side used it, just it should not be such a big deal. If in an ecumenical worship, I still think it is easier to omit something (on procedural grounds, like the Matthew 6:9-13 version of the Lord’s Prayer or minus one filique, than to add [hey, agreeing on “trespasses,” “debts” or “sins” is trouble enough trouble]).

[55] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 6-15-2010 at 05:20 PM · [top]

Hi Hosea,

I am not sure I understand what you are getting at in 55 with regard to my post.  I certainly understand that you are not happy with my comparison. But I stand by my post above that I think you are missing the point of it.

Also, I count about 3 places in my original post in which I indicate that the west went ahead without eastern input…

[56] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-15-2010 at 05:25 PM · [top]

Hi Matt+

The structure of your post as I understand it is such:

Paragraph One: Problem Statement in last sentence

Paragraph Two: Comparison with VTS issue (looks similar, I’d say VERY different, I am connecting to last sentence in paragraph one as problem statement). [FYI - yes this paragraph, in my thinking, is the gist of your point, because of the defense and it being 1/3 of your words, verses the blockquote article, if in error, I’m sorry, but that is why I think it is].

Paragraph Three: Begins to make a case for filique (with maybe an insight with “Metropolitan Jonah’s characterization of Calvinism” in accord with 1672 Synod of Jerusalem {remember he said 7 councils not 8, so while he may have issue with your favored school of theology, other than maybe iconoclasm, I don’t see where that is an issue [I’ve met folks who ascribe to Calvinist thought who were NOT iconoclast, so not sure an issue]}

Then a very good defense in blockquotes (which oddly other than the tone or “rawness” of the issue, I’ve not found much that my Orthodox friends would disagree theologically).

This is where I think my doxology analogy is very apt. I think those I’ve met from a more strict Protestant school, don’t disagree with the Didache version of the Lord’s Prayer, but want to be pure to Scripture.

In the context of ecumenical worship, I think your post is out of line. If you fear that the bishops are trying to unify all matters between East and West, then I think filique is the least of your concerns [said though recognizing it was seven councils and minus one filique that Metropolitan Jonah said divided us, I am unsure as an Anglican Calvinist (verses maybe a Presbyterian or other form of Calvinist {which I see, as an outsider, being freer to be “true blue” to some doctrines}) what would be the issue on the surface? [Thinking there maybe many other than seven councils and procedural filique].

I know Archbishop Ramsey really made strides in those directions or Nashotah House and St Vlad’s have signed cooperative agreements, but this post seems to put things much farther along than they are in relations.

So a push back if you really think filique is the most important things that divide us (I personally could give up filique of the doxology, not happy about either, but a sacrifice, I guess—being a “Reformed Catholic” bridge that I am, but I am a bit Augustinian, which is not a seven council or a filique issue - so far none of my Orthodox friends or Ancient Faith Radio has given me a viable argument {to be honest, in talking, they seem to deny original sin while affirming it at the same time}). There we may have agreement.

I do think the second paragraph taints this article to as if this is doctrinal division (on filique) instead of procedural. That I think is unfair.

[57] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 6-15-2010 at 06:11 PM · [top]

So, here’s a question… When we have a ecumenical service with the RC, should we insist on “thine is the kingdom etc”?  I wouldn’t think of entering this conversation because its way above my pay grade.. Its just a question OK?
Grannie Gloria

[58] Posted by Grandmother on 6-15-2010 at 06:17 PM · [top]

I may be wrong put didn’t Metropolitan Jonah say that full interommunion (which of course is not the subject of Fr. Matt’s post) would require rejecting the “heresies of the Reformation” which included “Calvinsim”. Of course, he set this in a very positive context and one surely would want to hear quite what the Orthodox considered was heretical. But if one were persuaded of the truth of his argument the pressing issue would not be full communion with the Orthodox but full communion with the reformed members of the Anglican family.

Typically, when western theologians have discussed eirenically with the Orthodox - and there were several significant attempts during the Middle Ages - they have wanted to argue that the filioque can be interpreted in a way that is consonant with Orthodox thought. To this point, the Orthodox have not been persuaded.

[59] Posted by driver8 on 6-15-2010 at 06:27 PM · [top]

Incidentally, I believe that in the present Pope’s encyclical (i>Dominus Iesus</i> the filioque clause was quietly omitted. Without the filioque clause we have a truth, if not the whole truth.

[60] Posted by Adam 12 on 6-15-2010 at 06:31 PM · [top]

[57] Hosea6:6

I’ve met folks who ascribe to Calvinist thought who were NOT iconoclast, so not sure an issue

Reveal them to us so that we may condemn them to the Island of Perpetual Tickling.

Inquisitor carl

[61] Posted by carl on 6-15-2010 at 07:09 PM · [top]

subscribe. . .

[62] Posted by Steve Lake+ on 6-15-2010 at 07:41 PM · [top]

What’s the problem? The so-called Filioque is ipso facto heretical. Period.

[63] Posted by A Senior Priest on 6-15-2010 at 08:31 PM · [top]

I ought to add that there is a straight line from the Filioque to the ordination of women to the ordination of Gene Robinson to LGBT weddings.

[64] Posted by A Senior Priest on 6-15-2010 at 08:35 PM · [top]

#47 John Clay

I am curious to know what your reply would be to the following argument:

Augustine reasons from the principle that the missions reveal the processions.  Since the Father and the Son together give and send the Spirit, their giving and sending reveal that the Spirit proceeds from both. In Scripture the Spirit depends upon the Son for his mission, but the Son also depends upon the Spirit for his mission.  Either these dependencies are based upon an eternal relation of origin, which is uncreated, or they are based upon a created relationship.  Yet only the Son assumes a created nature.  Therefore, since the Spirit does not have a created dependence on anyone, he must have an uncreated dependence on the Son.  While the Son has a created dependence upon the Spirit, as man who receives grace, but everyone denies that the Son has an uncreated dependence on the Spirit.

Further, if the missions do not reveal the processions, then we have no revelation of the essential Trinity only the economic.

Thanks for any reply you might have.

[65] Posted by Viator2 on 6-15-2010 at 08:39 PM · [top]

The Anglican-Orthodox dialogue theoretically settled this question back in 1976. From the Moscow Agreed Statement:

21. The Anglican members therefore agree that:
(a) because the original form of the Creed referred to the origin of the Holy Spirit from the Father,
(b) because the Filioque clause was introduced into this Creed without the authority of an Ecumenical Council and without due regard for Catholic consent, and
(c) because this Creed constitutes the public confession of faith by the People of God in the Eucharist, the Filioque clause should not be included in this Creed.

Of course, as we all discovered soon after, no one can authoritatively speak for Anglicans as a whole; as a result, hope of substantive dialogue has pretty much died out, only to be carried on between smaller, local groups like the OCA and the ACNA.

[66] Posted by Peter C. on 6-15-2010 at 10:28 PM · [top]

Here’s a thought: Why is it we who must omit the filioque in order to be “gracious” to the Orthodox? How about the Orthodox includingthe filioque in order to be gracious to us? Another thought: Is there any difference between being “gracious” to the Orthodox by doing this and TEC being gracious and welcoming to everyone including practicing homosexuals? Seems to me that compromise is just intrinsically Anglican.

[67] Posted by Nellie on 6-15-2010 at 10:29 PM · [top]

#65,

Good questions.  My short answer would be that Augustine has a tendency to define the Holy Spirit as the uncreated energy (activity) of God in the world.  Whereas the uncreated energy of the Godhead at work in the world is the activity of God, not the third person of the Trinity.  Augustine, in using definitions inconsistent with Nicene theology, uses language that tends to demote the Holy Spirit to a non-person.

I think by mission that you refer to the temporal, economic activity of God in the world.  Based on that definition, our Lord Jesus Christ is eternally the Son of God but is not eternally incarnate.  That is, there was a point in time when the Son did not have a physical nature but there has never been a time when the Son was not the Son of God.  So the economic activity of Jesus Christ reveals the relationship of the Godhead (we know God through how he interacts with us, relating to his creation) but that does not by necessity prove eternal origin.

Like the incarnation, there was a time when the Holy Spirit was not sent into the world by God the Father through God the Son; namely, before creation existed.  Thus, while God eternally exists, the Holy Spirit is not eternally sent by God into the world because the world is not eternal (there was a point in which God existed but the world did not).  Further, the Holy Spirit’s temporal procession into the world does not innately establish the source of his eternal procession.

I greatly admire Augustine’s anthropology and ecclesiology.  Augustine’s descriptions of the Trinity, however, have a tendency to be kataphatic (affirmatively describing God, moving from economic activity of God in the world to defining God in ways more limiting than Scripture itself) where the Nicean fathers were apophatic (defining God’s essence as that which is beyond description and the created order).  Nicean language comes from apophatic theology that distinguishes more clearly between essence (ousia) and God’s economic activity in the world (energia).  Apophatic theology is an important check to kataphatic descriptions when describing the Trinity because it is a problem relationship of ecstatic union between three hypostases that defies Aristotelian descriptive catagories.
Demote the Holy Spirit to the economic activity (energia) of the Father and Son in the world and one is a short step away from the theological abuses that swept through post-schism medieval catholicism.  The west developed (for a time) a weak pneumatology (understanding of the Holy Spirit) and God’s work in the church came to be viewed more like a faucet of created grace that could be turned on or off in discrete parcels.  Then it is possible to begin weighing mortal and venial sins against deposits of grace and so on in a sort of dispensation of mechanistic units.  In contrast, the East retained the concept that the Holy Spirit guides the church in ways that define economic chunks of mediated grace.

Traditional Anglicanism, which would eschew the excesses of western scholasticism, has a greater kinship to the Cappodocian fathers and Nicean trinitarianism in this respect than to a parochial variant of the western viewpoint that would over-emphasize Augustine (and later Anselm and Thomas Acquinas) to the exclusion of the terms and understanding of the actual authors of the Nicene Creed.

I still find Augustine quite profound.  For anyone familiar with classical Latin, he is the first modern author in that tongue, with a sort of fresh and very personable, deeply touching spirituality that moved beyond the dryer impersonal language of most ancient writers.  My comments are not meant as a diatribe against his writings.  But too much Augustine unbalanced by the eastern fathers such Basil, Gregory Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, etc., is like consuming too much dessert on an empty stomach.  It all settles nicely with a full meal but leads to heart burn and indigestion if taken by itself with nothing else.

[68] Posted by John Clay on 6-15-2010 at 11:05 PM · [top]

1. Chris Jones wrote at #43,

I have always found it quite ironic that, when faced with the choice between the original Nicene Creed and the Latin interpolated Creed, Protestants who claim to follow Sola Scriptura reject the original Creed, which simply quotes the words of the Saviour from the Gospels, in favour of an interpolated Creed imposed on the Church by Papal authority.  Whatever happened to Scripture Alone?

A good question. To which the response is: sola scriptura does not mean scripture alone (despite the literal meaning of the latin!) but scripture supreme. Why do I bring this up? Because the primary issue for any Christian should be not ‘what did the council of Nicaea intend?’, but ‘what do the Apostles teach us?’.

To put it another way, if my beliefs and practices are consistent with the teachings of the Apostles, then no other christian has a right to criticise me.

2. On the filioque question, I do not see why it matters. We western Christians (and Anglicans in particular) are entitled to conduct our services as we please. Christians from other traditions are only entitled to object if they can point to a clear violation of apostolic (i.e. scriptural) teaching in our liturgy, and I don’t see anything remotely like that involved with the filioque. I am also quite happy for the Orthodox to omit it if they choose.

3. I agree with the concern expressed by Matt+, that there is no particular reason why Anglicans should modify their services for the sake of the Orthodox. The unity we are directed to hold is one of spirit and truth, not arguing over remote points of doctrine. I am not going to change the Anglican baptism service just to make my Baptist friends happy, but I can still have true unity with them.

4. I notice a lot of exegesis (or attempted exegesis) of Greek and Latin on the thread. The most accurate summary I have seen so far of the issues is that of Phil Snyder at #45, which I think shows due respect for the different historical views of East and West. Each have good reason for their view. Phil wrote in part:

Western Christians see the unity first and the three persons second.  We see “God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”  This is shown in the classical western heresy of Modalism where there is one God, but three masks or modes.  The east sees the three persons first and the unity second.  “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God.”  This is shown in the classical eastern heresy of Arianism.  The West constantly combats Arianism and the east constantly combats modalism.  So the east sees the filioque as modalistic and the west sees the filioque as a defense against Arianism. 
If I were to worship with Eastern Orthodox Christians, I would omit the filioque because understand that it offends them and, more importantly, why it offends them.  Were they to worship with me, I would not omit the filioque and I would ask them to understand why I say it.

5. A Senior Priest at #64 wrote:

I ought to add that there is a straight line from the Filioque to the ordination of women to the ordination of Gene Robinson to LGBT weddings.

Brilliant irony! Many thanks.

[69] Posted by MichaelA on 6-15-2010 at 11:07 PM · [top]

Sorry, too many unintentional mistatements because I left out words by typing too quickly.  For the comments below, I meant to say:

“Apophatic theology is an important check to kataphatic descriptions when describing the Trinity because it is a problem [trying to define the] relationship of ecstatic union between three hypostases [when this relationship] defies Aristotelian descriptive catagories.”
. . .

and

“In contrast, the East retained the concept that the Holy Spirit guides the church in ways that [defy or surpass mere] economic chunks of mediated grace.”

[70] Posted by John Clay on 6-15-2010 at 11:14 PM · [top]

Well we got a bit of Vladimir Lossky et. al. (whose writings I have, in fact, in my time, loved and FWLIW upon whom the ABC did his doctoral thesis) which nevertheless IMO is a caricature both of Augustine and the scholastic tradition and the pre-slavophile Orthodox encounter with and critique of western Trinitarian thought. To counterbalance in a serious way try to read some of the stuff by Lewis Ayres. His big book on Augustine and the Trinity is due out later this year. He has argued cogently that Augustine stands solidly with the Cappadocians in the mainstream of Nicene Christianity. Not of course that Augustine knew their thought but that he reasons and reflects in ways that place him alongside them at the heart of Nicene orthodoxy.

To counterbalance in a fun way read the essay by David Bentley Hart (an Orthodox theologian) in the collection, “Orthodox Readings of Augustine”. He is witheringly critical of the stereotypical assertions often made about the “Greek” and “Latin” traditions of Trinitarian thought.

And if you are truly keen then you’ll want to know more about the scholastic reflection upon the Trinity which itself is astonishingly diverse, Russell Friedman’s, “Medieval Trinitarian Thought from Aquinas to Ockham” is a great introduction. Expensive - but then it’s not exactly going to be selling like Jackie Collins.

[71] Posted by driver8 on 6-15-2010 at 11:46 PM · [top]

Driver8 at #71,

What does all that mean? Its nice to know that X academic disagrees with Y academic about what one of the patristic authors might have meant, but how is that relevant to the article by Matt+?

If I go into Fisher Library at my Alma Mater I can find whole shelves of books on this topic, one agreeing or disagreeing with another on various sub-issues, and so on…

[72] Posted by MichaelA on 6-16-2010 at 12:44 AM · [top]

Fair point - I’ll leave you to have at it.

[73] Posted by driver8 on 6-16-2010 at 01:04 AM · [top]

[67] Posted by Nellie,
The creed without ‘and the Son’ is true (and perhaps ‘more true’ as the Holy Ghost came to us from the Father at the request of the Son, best I can read the Scripture).

The ‘TEc’ compromises are not about the expression of Truth.

Reduction towards minimum truth, in search of visible unity in worship is not a bad thing, to my mind.  I think the ACNA should continue to preach and teach the fullness of truth as it has recieved it, while allowing for joint worship with as many of those who preach Christ and Him crucified, buried, and raised from the dead.

[74] Posted by Bo on 6-16-2010 at 02:11 AM · [top]

The creed without ‘and the Son’ is true (and perhaps ‘more true’ as the Holy Ghost came to us from the Father at the request of the Son, best I can read the Scripture).

The ‘TEc’ compromises are not about the expression of Truth

That is pretty much my view.  Procession from the Father has explicit scriptural warrant and is true.  While one might go through a great deal of exercise to argue that “and the Son” is true from a certain point of view, it is easier to simply drop the unnecessary clause.  I suspect that the gymnastics being offered to defend it have more to do, perhaps at a subconcious level, with a desire to defend the English Reformers then a desire to defend Scripture.

I think that those conservative Anglicans that are pushing toward dropping the filoque aren’t doing so to be nice to the Orthodox.  They are doing so because they think the Orthodox are right on this.

[75] Posted by AndrewA on 6-16-2010 at 07:26 AM · [top]

I suspect you are right, AndrewA, that some conservative Anglicans simply agree with the Orthodox.  Two priests who are professors at Trinity School for Ministry have commented to me that whenever they recite the creed they simply leave it out.  From what some others have said, I would guess that there are more than just those two who do this.

[76] Posted by Warren M on 6-16-2010 at 07:40 AM · [top]

“I think that those conservative Anglicans that are pushing toward dropping the filoque aren’t doing so to be nice to the Orthodox.  They are doing so because they think the Orthodox are right on this.”

But then there is no way to justify or reject that suspicion because the decision was simply announced with no explanation at all…

[77] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-16-2010 at 08:07 AM · [top]

#75 - I don’t know about the Anglicans doing the dropping because they think the Orthodox are right on this. WHO among the Anglicans think that? The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith? The Pope? A Council? The Archbishoip of Canterbury? What structure do Anglicans have that decides?  WHO exactly decides what “Anglicans” - whatever that now means - believe? Do Anglicans now decide theological points individually? Why don’t we all just joint the Church of What’s Happening Now? (Oops! I forgot - I’m already in that church - the TEC.)
The filioque clause says the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and from the Son. To my mind, that indicates a unity in the Trinity, which is intrinsic to the concept of the Trinity. In any case, the theological correctness was not the main point of Matt’s original post, I think. This thread has become a discussion of the filioque, but I think the point here is that dropping the clause was done to appease, gratify, be gracious to - whatever - the Orthodox without regard to doctrine. I don’t see that it was in any way right for the ACNA group that did this to just drop the clause without serious theological discussion and consideration and the involvement of major theologians.

[78] Posted by Nellie on 6-16-2010 at 08:16 AM · [top]

Father Matt,

I think of myself as being as traditional as they come and am one of those who still sings the old words of hymns. But sharing communion with the Orthodox is an exceptionally important step and under those limited circumstances using a creed as originally agreed upon by the Church Universal in a Church Council I find to be an acceptable concession for the sake of fellowship. I would not, however, want to omit the Filioque clause in regular worship not involving Orthodox participation. Also I think a word of explanation in the printed program would be helpful. That being said, if the Roman Catholic Church were to declare that the original Creed was an adequate (if not comprehensive) [removed]c.f. my comment about a Papal encyclical above) I might change my mind about use of the Filioque clause. Creeds after all are an outline of hard-fought-for and agreed points of established truth. They do not contain every truth of God or fully develop the verities expressed within them or expressed/amplified in Scripture. They keep us on track and protect us from error.

[79] Posted by Adam 12 on 6-16-2010 at 09:36 AM · [top]

Driver8 at #71,

I understand your point and appreciate the reading suggestions.  The west also has a rich patristic tradition that cannot be dismissed with a Lossky-esque critique that all problems stem from the filioque clause or (a la John Romanides) from the claim that the Franks replaced a Roman patriarchate with a more parochial Frankish legacy that was too dependent on Augustine.

Back to the main topic, I think Fr. Matt’s comment a few posts ago put the thread back into perspective.  While maintaining the exact same creedally orthodox perspective (the HS eternally proceeds from the Father alone, the Son temporally sends the HS into the world, and the unity of the Trinity is safeguarded by having one essense with three hypostases/persons as opposed to an attempt to preserve unity by making the HS an impersonal force that emanates from Father and Son), there are justifications for retaining the filioque clause (properly understood) at this juncture in the west and there are reasons for omitting it (not to appease another group but in recognition of the distinction between an ecumenical creed and a papal interpolation). 

But Fr. Matt’s point is that it is hard to tell from a press announcement or cursory explanation from a distance what the motivation or thought process was for the statement about omitting the filioque clause.  We all share the common concern that traditional Anglicanism should not jettison its theological heritage in the name of unity like Esau giving up his birthright for a mess of pottage.

I do not think that was the case with the recent ACNA statement but I understand the concern and support the idea that theological statements should be conciliar, conservative (in the original and modern sense of the word), and deliberate.

[80] Posted by John Clay on 6-16-2010 at 09:37 AM · [top]

MichaelA,

A good question.

Indeed it is, precisely because the real meaning of Sola Scriptura is so unclear (and, frankly, unhelpful).  Surely both St Augustine and St Photios would agree with “Scripture Supreme,” and each of them would claim that his explanation of the Trinity comes from a faithful exegesis of Scripture as “supreme.”  And yet both cannot be right.  (It is possible, of course, that both are wrong.)

sola scriptura does not mean scripture alone ... but scripture supreme

I think that this would come as a surprise to most conservative Protestants (Anglican or otherwise).  Sola Scriptura in common parlance means that Scripture is the only source of Christian teaching, not merely that it is the highest and most authoritative source among many different sources of Christian teaching.  I think that for true Protestants it has to be that way.  Apart from a robust notion of Apostolic Tradition (which Protestants reject), the notion of Scripture as “one supreme source among many sources” opens the door wide for heterodoxy—if for no other reason than that all the other “sources” will colour how the supposedly “supreme” source is to be read.  The “supreme” source thus is not truly independent of the other sources, and its very supremacy is vitiated.

the primary issue for any Christian should be not ‘what did the council of Nicaea intend?’, but ‘what do the Apostles teach us?’

True, but those two things are not unrelated (to say the least).  We confess the Creed defined at the councils of Nicaea and Constantinople because we have every reason to believe that the bishops who gathered at those councils were faithful witnesses to the authentic Apostolic Tradition.  The Creeds are more than “summaries of Scripture” as people sometimes say.  They show us how Scripture is to be properly understood.  If there is a conflict between what the Creed says and what you think Scripture says, it is your interpretation that has to give, not the Creed.

The Fathers and the Councils are our elders in the faith, our teachers and spiritual fathers.  If we disregard their authority, and if we subject the treasure they have bequeathed to us to the test of our own judgment of “what the Apostles teach us,” we do so at our peril.

In short, if we confess the Creed only because it comports with our own judgment of what the Scriptures teach, we might as well chuck the Creeds and be Baptists.  No thanks—I will stand with the Apostolic Tradition, and with what the Creed was intended to mean by the saints who wrote it.

[81] Posted by Chris Jones on 6-16-2010 at 10:37 AM · [top]

Hi Chris Jones…i don’t think it wise for a Catholic minded person to go down the road of “what people in the pews actually understand” about the teachings of their church.

Why don’t we deal with what the doctrine of sola scriptura actually means rather than what some people may believe it means.

[82] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-16-2010 at 10:45 AM · [top]

Fr Matt,

Why don’t we deal with what the doctrine of sola scriptura actually means

I think that would be great.  As I said in my comment, the real meaning of Sola Scriptura is not clear to me.  If you would like to explain it to me, I’m all ears.

[83] Posted by Chris Jones on 6-16-2010 at 11:04 AM · [top]

[84] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-16-2010 at 11:21 AM · [top]

You might find this one helpful also.

[85] Posted by Jackie on 6-16-2010 at 11:23 AM · [top]

Re #82 and #83,

Fr. Matt,

Just as a suggestion, it may be worthwhile at some point to do another “What did Sola Scriptura mean to the Reformers” type of article to spark an irenic discussion and the clarification of terms.  As one example, it would be interesting to hear views on how, if at all, sola scriptura differs from the “canon of faith” in patristics, i.e., the concept that that without eschewing forms of written and unwritten apostolic tradition, Scripture is the measuring stick (canon) for the Christian faith.  In other words, if one concedes that apostolic, catholic tradition recognized forms of written and unwritten apostolic tradition but viewed Scripture as God’s word written and the infallible rule of faith (uniquely standing apart and above other forms of tradition), it would be interesting to have a separate thread on how (if at all) this differs from the classical reformed concept of Sola Scriptura.  I know this issue has been batted around quite often on SFIF, but I do not recall often seeing a comparison between Scipture as “The Rule of Faith” in patristics and Sola Scriptura.

Just a suggestion for a future topic…

[86] Posted by John Clay on 6-16-2010 at 11:34 AM · [top]

Why am I not getting follow-up comments on this thread?  I have contributed myself to it, then came back & entered ‘subscribe’ but to no avail.  What gives?

[87] Posted by Steve Lake+ on 6-16-2010 at 12:43 PM · [top]

Steve

When you submit a comment, make sure you tick the box below the Submit button that says “Notify me of follow-up comments.”  That’s what controls whether e-mail notification occurs or not.  The word “subscribe” has no special meaning; all that matters is ticking the box.

You can set your profile so that the box is ticked by default; at the top of the page click “Account”, then “Personal Settings/Edit Profile”.

[88] Posted by Chris Jones on 6-16-2010 at 01:52 PM · [top]

I know, Chris.  It is ticked.  And I am still not getting notified of follow up comments.

[89] Posted by Steve Lake+ on 6-16-2010 at 02:55 PM · [top]

Steve,

I’ll ask the obvious, have you checked your email settings in your account.  If you have not done so in a while they may have gotten reset for one reason or another.

[90] Posted by BillB on 6-16-2010 at 03:18 PM · [top]

I’ve checked them, too, Bill.  They show email notifications “on” and me subscribed to this thread.  Odd.

Greg?!

[91] Posted by Steve Lake+ on 6-16-2010 at 03:22 PM · [top]

There is a primary issue and a secondary issue to discern here.  Firstly, does the western church have the authority to add something to the Universal Creed of the Church unilaterally?  The answer is, “No”.  The Creed belongs to the whole Church and is begotten of the Ecumenical Councils (which also state that the Creed can not be altered).  The Nicene Creed is by definition, the Creed of the Whole Church.  As Anglicans we profess the Biblical Faith as articulated in the first Four (and I would argue the first Seven, but that is a matter for another day) Ecumenical Councils.  The principle of the English Reformation is to return the Church of England (and subsequently those in Communion with her) to the Faith and Order of the undivided Catholic Church under the authority of Holy Scripture as God’s Word.  Therefore, even if many in the west believe the filioque to be theologically correct, it is simply an illicit addition to the Nicene Creed.  I believe innovation and a lack of Catholic ecclesiology has gotten the Western Church (Rome, TEC, etc) where it is today.  The second issue is whether the filioque is theologically correct.  The very fact that Christians can not agree on this point (not to mention that the only reference in the Scriptures to the Spirit’s eternal procession mentions that it is of the Father) is more than enough reason not to add it to the Creed of the Universal Church.  If the theological opinion of many in the west (or a particular interpretation of the Scriptures) can override the Ecumenical Councils of the ancient Church than we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.  Change the Creed once and you can change it again. The fact is, the English Reformers did NOT claim a Faith of their own, but the Catholic Faith of the Primitive Church.  We have no Faith (i.e., no creed), no Ministry, no Sacraments, of our own.  We uphold the Catholic and Biblical Faith and Order of the Undivided Church under the authority of Holy Scripture.  If you wish to believe the filioque as a matter of personal belief, you are welcome to it.  But it has no place in the Creed of the Universal Church and if we think that it does then we have no understanding of that which is truly Catholic.  In the Catholic Faith of God’s holy Word I wish you all every blessing and grace.

[92] Posted by Fr. Michael+ on 6-16-2010 at 04:16 PM · [top]

WHOA! Fr. Michael…..Best post I have read…on this thread

[93] Posted by TLDillon on 6-16-2010 at 05:13 PM · [top]

Chris Jones at #81,

1. You wrote:

“Indeed it is, precisely because the real meaning of Sola Scriptura is so unclear (and, frankly, unhelpful).  Surely both St Augustine and St Photios would agree with “Scripture Supreme,” and each of them would claim that his explanation of the Trinity comes from a faithful exegesis of Scripture as “supreme.”  And yet both cannot be right.  (It is possible, of course, that both are wrong.)”

I don’t think I follow your argument. You appear to be saying no more than that faithful Christians disagree about the interpretation of scripture (just as they disagree about the interpretation of tradition and many other things). The fact that two Christians disagree about what Scripture means does not mean that Scripture is objectively either unclear or in error.

2. You also wrote:

I think that this would come as a surprise to most conservative Protestants (Anglican or otherwise).  Sola Scriptura in common parlance means that Scripture is the only source of Christian teaching, not merely that it is the highest and most authoritative source among many different sources of Christian teaching.

No, it doesn’t. Sola Scriptura is a phrase extensively used by Luther and other early reformers (although it probably originated before them, with pre-protestant reformers like Wyclif and Hus). Anyone who is remotely familiar with Luther knows that he did NOT believe in Scripture as the only source of Christian teaching. The same applies to the other reformers.

It may be a fairly common myth these days that Sola Scriptura means scripture is the sole source of Christian teaching, but it is nevertheless a myth.

3. You also wrote:

I think that for true Protestants it has to be that way.  Apart from a robust notion of Apostolic Tradition (which Protestants reject), the notion of Scripture as “one supreme source among many sources” opens the door wide for heterodoxy—if for no other reason than that all the other “sources” will colour how the supposedly “supreme” source is to be read. The “supreme” source thus is not truly independent of the other sources, and its very supremacy is vitiated.

I appreciate the irony that you are now telling protestants what they must believe! I suppose we should be grateful. But you are in error. Sola Scriptura means that Scripture is the supreme source of authority. Contrary to your assertion, it does not open the way for heterodoxy (unlike for example, a belief in “apostolic tradition”). For Anglicans, the doctrine is summarised in the following Articles of Religion:

VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation.
Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. [a list of books of scripture follows]

XX. Of the Authority of the Church.
The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.

XXI. Of the Authority of General Councils.
General Councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of Princes. And when they be gathered together, (forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God,) they may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of holy Scripture.

These articles make proper provision for tradition and reason, all in their proper place. I hope that reading them may be of assistance to you in understanding what protestant doctrine is, and what it is not.

4. You also wrote:

We confess the Creed defined at the councils of Nicaea and Constantinople because we have every reason to believe that the bishops who gathered at those councils were faithful witnesses to the authentic Apostolic Tradition.  The Creeds are more than “summaries of Scripture” as people sometimes say.  They show us how Scripture is to be properly understood.  If there is a conflict between what the Creed says and what you think Scripture says, it is your interpretation that has to give, not the Creed.

Notice how you assume that the Creed is objective and that Scripture is not (you contrast “what the Creed says” with “what you think Scripture says”). In fact, there is more likely to be a conflict between what Scripture says and what you *think* the Creed says! It is after all Scripture which is objective.

In any case, the Anglican Articles of Religion reflect true Apostolic teaching:

VIII. Of the Creeds.
The Three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’s Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.

5. You also wrote:

The Fathers and the Councils are our elders in the faith, our teachers and spiritual fathers.  If we disregard their authority, and if we subject the treasure they have bequeathed to us to the test of our own judgment of “what the Apostles teach us,” we do so at our peril.

The Fathers and the Councils were ordinary men, just like us. They did not have Apostolic authority. We honour them and respect them as our forebears in the faith, and for their (usually) excellent example to us, but we do not elevate them to a position that they were never granted and never claimed, i.e. equivalent to Apostles. 

The true situation is the reverse of what you write: those who elevate the authority of the Fathers and Councils above what God has decreed, do so at their peril.

6. You also wrote:

In short, if we confess the Creed only because it comports with our own judgment of what the Scriptures teach, we might as well chuck the Creeds and be Baptists.  No thanks—I will stand with the Apostolic Tradition, and with what the Creed was intended to mean by the saints who wrote it.

Its not an issue of “our own judgment”, any more than its an issue of the Church Council’s own judgment. Your entire post is “your own judgment”.

If the Apostles had bequeathed their authority to Church Councils, I would believe differently. But they did not. The Apostles were appointed by the Lord himself to exercise His authority within His church. We Anglicans follow Apostolic authority, and we also follow the saints who wrote the Creeds, because they believed as we do.

[94] Posted by MichaelA on 6-16-2010 at 07:34 PM · [top]

Fr. Michael wrote at #92,

The Creed belongs to the whole Church and is begotten of the Ecumenical Councils (which also state that the Creed can not be altered).

As always with anything involving the Fathers and Councils, it is more complex than that. The version of the Creed adopted at Constantinople in 381AD differs substantially from that adopted at Nicaea in 325AD. The Council of Ephesus in 431AD declared that it was unlawful for anyone to promulgate a faith contrary to the earlier Creed (i.e. that adopted at Nicaea). There are a number of controversies over this, in particular whether it amounted to a rejection of the version of the Creed adopted by the Council at Constantinople.

I note you also don’t deal with the point made by Matt+: Regardless of whether the filioque is right or wrong, should some in ACNA decide to omit it, without debating it at some official level within ACNA?

[95] Posted by MichaelA on 6-16-2010 at 07:48 PM · [top]

Regardless of the complexities you mention, michaelA, the filioque was added without benefit of ecumenical council.  The same cannot be said of the additions made at Constantinople, for instance.

Frankly, I don’t understand why omitting the filioque is even an issue.

[96] Posted by AnnieV on 6-16-2010 at 08:09 PM · [top]

#95
Blessings.  The Creed produced by the first two Ecumenical Councils was received by the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Councils (indeed by the Whole Church east and West).  Even the Popes for many centuries decreed it illegal for anything to be added to the Universal Creed of the Church.  In fact, the Creed without the Filioque Clause is found in St. Peter’s in Rome.  The Creed of the first two Councils is the Creed which has been received by the Church.  The Oriental Orthodox churches, the Eastern Orthodox churches, The Roman church and Anglicanism all acknowledge the evolution of the Creed within the first two Councils.  No-one excepts just the Creed of the First Council as the Creed of the Church.  Thus, the only question here is whether or not the western church (one part of the Church Catholic) has the authority to add something unilaterally.  The answer remains, “No”.  The very fact that this addition to the Creed has caused such controversy over the centuries is proof that its acceptance is NOT Catholic and therefore can not be added to the Creed of the Universal Church.  Much Peace to you!

[97] Posted by Fr. Michael+ on 6-16-2010 at 08:12 PM · [top]

ooops…meant #94

[98] Posted by Fr. Michael+ on 6-16-2010 at 08:13 PM · [top]

The version of the creed which we use should be that adopted by the ecumenical councils concerned. To recite a parochial version of the creed while claiming to be catholics is a gross contradiction. Western christendom had no right to change the creed unilaterally. Whatever happened to Calvinist indignation with the presumptions of the bishops of Rome to act as if they had the final word on everything?

[99] Posted by Chazzy on 6-17-2010 at 03:08 PM · [top]

Chazzy at #99 wrote:

“The version of the creed which we use should be that adopted by the ecumenical councils concerned.”

I respectfully disagree. We are entitled to use anything in our liturgies that is consistent with Apostolic teaching. Remember that as Anglicans we believe that the ecumenical councils are “an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God” (Article XXI).

Similarly, we believe that the Ecumenical Councils “may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of holy Scripture.”

The Ecumenical Councils held the same view of themselves.

Your proposal would treat something adopted by an Ecumenical Council (a creed) as equal in authority to scripture, as though it had been penned by the apostles themselves. It isn’t, and we must not treat it as though it is. Rather, we are required to be faithful to the deposit handed down to us by our Lord, his Apostles and Prophets.

[100] Posted by MichaelA on 6-17-2010 at 05:35 PM · [top]

Sorry, hit send too early. Chazzy at #100 also wrote:
“To recite a parochial version of the creed while claiming to be catholics is a gross contradiction.”
Why? “Catholic” does not mean that everyone has to use identical liturgies. That has never been a part of true christian tradition. We Anglicans are truly Catholic.

A creed is not scripture. It is a short *summary* of our essential points of belief.

As the Anglican Reformers point out in the preface to the 1549 Prayer Book, there has never been a universal “use” in the Christian church. Even in Augustine’s day, there were a plethora of uses. We follow the creeds and use them in our liturgies because we believe they are faithful to Apostolic teaching, not because they have authority of their own.

Chazzy also wrote:
“Western christendom had no right to change the creed unilaterally.”

Why not? The real issue (indeed the only issue) is whether the Creed (i.e. a statement of belief) truly reflects our Lord’s teaching. Why should a council of church leaders at a particular point in time be given authority equal to that of our Lord?

[101] Posted by MichaelA on 6-17-2010 at 05:45 PM · [top]

Sorry, I meant #99, not #100

[102] Posted by MichaelA on 6-17-2010 at 05:51 PM · [top]

AnnieV at #96 wrote:

Regardless of the complexities you mention, michaelA, the filioque was added without benefit of ecumenical council.  The same cannot be said of the additions made at Constantinople, for instance.

I think you may have misunderstood my point. Someone on the list claimed that the Council of Ephesus ordered that no-one could add to the Creed, implying that this meant the Creed as we say it today. I pointed out that the Council of Ephesus was referring to the version of the Creed adopted at Nicaea, not the different version adopted at Constantinople. If one views these councils as many Orthodox apologists argue we should, then they lead to the position that the Council of Ephesus contradicted the Council of Constantinople.

But for the Anglican, there is no contradiction. We believe that these were Ecumenical Councils, no more and no less. They could only make decisions for the church as it was in their day, and in relation to situations that they confronted at the time. They did not purport to decree, e.g. that a particular statement of faith must be used in all services for the Church of God in every place and every time from now until Judgment. Nor did they have any authority to do so.

To put it another way, after the empire was effectively split, the western churches had every right to make their own decisions on matters of doctrine, so long as they remained true to Apostolic teaching.

You also wrote:

“Frankly, I don’t understand why omitting the filioque is even an issue.”

Its an issue because of the question I posed in my last post #94 (a question which those who get agitated about the filioque are conspicuously refusing to answer): If ACNA has the filioque in its version of the creed, should that be altered unilaterally by a few bishops or clergy, or should a decision like this be debated within ACNA according to its due processes?

I’ll keep waiting for an answer.

[103] Posted by MichaelA on 6-17-2010 at 07:29 PM · [top]

MichaelA at #103 wrote:

“To put it another way, after the empire was effectively split, the western churches had every right to make their own decisions on matters of doctrine, so long as they remained true to Apostolic teaching.”

You have the sequence of events backwards: the filioque was the issue over which the Church “was effectively split.” The Roman Church unilaterally adopted the filioque and then demanded that the Eastern Church also adopt it. When they refused, the Romans excommunicated them, which began the Great Schism.

MichaelA at #103 wrote:

“If ACNA has the filioque in its version of the creed, should that be altered unilaterally by a few bishops or clergy, or should a decision like this be debated within ACNA according to its due processes? I’ll keep waiting for an answer.”

Your question is based on an incorrect premise. ACNA’s Creed has NOT been “unilaterally by a few bishops or clergy.” Please reread the first line of the story: “Last week the ACNA decided to omit the filioque WHEN SAYING THE CREED IN ECUMENICAL WORSHIP WITH ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS.”

padre

[104] Posted by padre on 6-17-2010 at 08:25 PM · [top]

Padre,

1. Respectfully, I did not write that the church was split, but that the empire was split - I choose my words carefully (well usually, anyway!).

2. Nor do I have the sequence backwards. The Roman Empire was split on cultural and linguistic lines long before the “great schism” of 1054. The Churches in each part of the empire also grew apart, i.e. religious alienation kept pace with linguistic and cultural alienation. This process was an on-going one, but was clearly apparent by the 5th century AD, i.e. 600 years before the “great schism”.

3. Nor is it correct to say that the church was split over filioque, even in 1054. Historians rightly consider the dispute over filioque to have been one of the contributing factors, but not by any means a sole cause.

4. If we are going to argue about the history of this theological dispute, then lets get some of our facts straight:

* The filoque is first known in Spain in the 6th century AD. As Phil Snyder rightly observed above, it was introduced specifically to combat Arianism.

* Use of the filioque spread to other parts of the church (mainly but not exclusively in the western half of the empire), but it wasn’t universal, nor does its use seem to have occasioned much comment for about 300 years. Indeed several eastern leaders defended the practice.

* Early in the 9th century, the (western) Emperor Charlemagne called a council at Aachen which upped the ante, by insisting that use of filioque was an article of faith and threatened excommunication over the issue. 

* Later in the 9th century, the (eastern) Emperor Basil I called a series of councils which included bishops from eastern and western parts of the empire. These councils dealt with a plethora of issues, but on the issue of filoque: the 867 council rejected it; the 869 council reinstated it, and the 879 council rejected it again.

* By the end of the 9th century, the growing sense of alientation (linguistic, cultural and religious) between east and west of the empire was being crystalised in a number of issues. Filioque was one of the crystallising issues and it became widely so seen at this time, i.e. in 879, not 200 years later at the great schism.

5. As can be seen from the above account, the church across the whole empire did not see the use (or not use) of filioque as a communion-breaking issue for some 300 years. It was only in the 9th century that people on both sides started to threaten ex-communication over it. It is a great shame that some in the church still make such an issue of it today, to the detriment of true unity.

6. You also wrote: “Please reread the first line of the story:...”

I suggest we all need to read the entire article. The issue posed by Matt+ (if I understand it correctly) is whether ACNA should drop the filioque without properly debating the issue.

I am still waiting for a reasoned response to that question.

[105] Posted by MichaelA on 6-17-2010 at 10:24 PM · [top]

I don’t think the filioque should be part of any creed in the whole of Christendom.  It wouldn’t be a unilateral change so much as the undoing of something that should never have been done.

But that’s not going to happen.

[106] Posted by AnnieV on 6-17-2010 at 10:44 PM · [top]

MichaelA,

Since you actually meant to write that the Empire was split, please explain how that provides a justification for “the western churches ... to make their own decisions on matters of doctrine.” How is deciding “to make their own decisions on matters of doctrine” different from deciding to split? Sounds like splitting hairs.

The split in the Empire was a factor in the split of the Church, but the gradual change in how the Roman Church perceived itself in relation to the other Churches was more significant. That shift resulted in the Roman Catholic Church and it is the major impediment to reunification. The root of the problem is Rome’s belief that the Pope is the sole heir of St Peter and the Vicar of Christ, so it can do whatever it wants without consulting anyone else. That’s the attitude that resulted in the addition of the filioque. It’s also the attitude that resulted in the corruption and doctrines which brought about the Reformation. I don’t understand how you can accept the filioque and then object to the Mariology, Purgatory, etc.

Regarding your question: no, ACNA shouldn’t “drop the filioque without properly debating the issue.” But that’s not what ACNA is doing. ACNA is only dropping the filioque “when saying the Creed in ecumenical worship with Orthodox Christians.” That’s very limited in scope, so yes, it’s fine without debating the issue—we don’t need to micro-manage.

padre

[107] Posted by padre on 6-17-2010 at 11:54 PM · [top]

Padre,

The first two paragraphs of your post are built on a series of false premises. I strongly urge that you read carefully my earlier posts about the history of this issue.

1. You wrote:

The root of the problem is Rome’s belief that the Pope is the sole heir of St Peter and the Vicar of Christ, so it can do whatever it wants without consulting anyone else. That’s the attitude that resulted in the addition of the filioque.

That is not remotely true. I am no friend of Rome’s claims to supremacy, but this is just plain wrong. As I wrote above, the filioque was added to a version of the creed at a regional council in Spain in the 6th century. It was directed towards combatting heretical (Arian) beliefs among the Goths. It had nothing to do with Rome, and nothing to do with any claim of primacy/supremacy.

Also, the filioque was not controversial nor was it even a major issue for some centuries after this. Again, as I wrote above, some leaders both in east and west agreed with it, and some did not. Many don’t seem to have cared.

2. You also wrote:

How is deciding “to make their own decisions on matters of doctrine” different from deciding to split?

In the same way that chalk is not cheese. Regional councils made decisions on particular issues like liturgy and doctrine on a regular basis. Everyone did it. Look at the disputes between the African church, the Western European churches and the Alexandrian church over the Donatist controversy in the 5th century. There are numerous other examples. They are quite different from a “split” (although of course they may in some cases eventually give rise to one).

3. You also wrote:

“The root of the problem is Rome’s belief that the Pope is the sole heir of St Peter and the Vicar of Christ, so it can do whatever it wants without consulting anyone else.”

If you want to apply this argument to the later period (say 11th century) then it might have some validity. But the dispute existed long before then, and as I wrote above, it was not always a dispute. Even when it was, in 9th century there were three councils in Constantinople that included bishops of both east and west, and one of these voted to accept the filioque. 

4. You also wrote:

I don’t understand how you can accept the filioque and then object to the Mariology, Purgatory, etc.

I don’t necessarily accept it, I just don’t think it is important. Just as the church fathers in the 6th to 9th centuries didn’t think it was all that important. One can argue about all sorts of quibbles and points of doctrine, and in the process generate much heat but very little light.

However, what I do think is important is that some try to teach that “an Ecumenical Council” has authority equal to the Apostles. That I regard as false teaching. That is all the more so when some churches insist that only THEY know which councils are ecumenical, and only THEIR private interpretation of the decisions of such councils can be listened to.

If there is a problem wtih the filioque, it must be found in the Apostolic writings, i.e. scripture. It is interesting to see how little scripture (i.e. virtually none) seems to be cited in argument by those who want to make the filioque a faith-breaking issue.

5. Thanks for your third paragraph - that’s the sort of thing I was looking for, rather than some of the other posts which have been along the lines of: “My church regards it as wrong, so the question put by Matt+ is irrelevant”.

[108] Posted by MichaelA on 6-18-2010 at 12:39 AM · [top]

one more time…

[109] Posted by Steve Lake+ on 6-18-2010 at 11:52 AM · [top]

MichaelA,

I’ve already read your earlier posts and rejected them because they are so strongly biased to the Roman point of view—to the point of historical revisionism. Some of your errors seem relatively minor, but can have serious implications. For example, in #105 you assert that, “The filoque is first known in Spain in the 6th century AD.” However, in 410 a regional council in Persia adopted one of the earliest forms of the filioque, specifying the the Spirit proceeds from the Father “and from the Son.” One of the implications of this is that the dispute over the filioque can’t accurately be portrayed as simply being a conflict between East and West.

In #108 you argue that the filioque “had nothing to do with Rome, and nothing to do with any claim of primacy/supremacy” because it was adopted by a regional council in Toledo. That’s a non sequitir—it does not follow from its adoption in Toledo that the filioque has nothing to do with Rome and its claims of supremacy. It also ignores a lot of history to the contrary.

Although the filioque became popular in the West, the Church of Rome continued to reject it. Pope Leo III forbid use of the fillioque at the Council of Aix-la-Chapelle in 809 and had the Creed without the filioque engraved on silver tablets and displayed at the tomb of St Peter to emphasize the point. The 8th Ecumenical Council condemned the filioque by anathematizing anyone who changed the Creed. However, when Henry II came to Rome in 1014 to be coronated as Holy Roman Emperor and found out that the Creed wasn’t included in the Mass, he asked the Pope to add it. The papacy was very dependent upon the German army and the filioque was popular in Germany, so the Pope added the Creed with the filioque to the Mass for the first time.

Tensions had been building between the East and the West for quite awhile. There had been differences over language, culture and liturgy, but as the power of the papacy grew, the basic disagreement became papal authority, which led to disputes over jurisdiction—Pope Leo IX asserted authority over the four Eastern Patriarchs. This came to a head when the Ecumenical Patriarch, Michael Cerularius, sent a letter to all the bishops of the West, including the Pope, in which he denied the Pope’s authority over the other Churches. Humbert of Mourmoutiers, the cardinal-bishop of Silva Candida, translated the letter into Latin and brought it to Pope Leo IX, who had him prepare a response defending papal supremacy. In the spring of 1054, Cardinal Humbert set out for Constantinople, arriving in April.

Cardinal Humbert and the other legates got a very cool reception in Constantinople, so they gave Michael Cerularius the papal response. The seals on the letter had been tampered with and the legates had published a draft of the uncivil letter for the people of Constantinoble to read, so the Patriarch questioned their authority and refused to have anything further to do with them. The legates retaliated on July 16 by going into the Church of the Hagia Sophia in the middle of the Divine Liturgy, placing a papal bull of excommunication on the altar, and leaving for Rome two days later. The Ecumenical Patriarch responded by anathematizing the legates and the Great Schism began.

The papal bull accused the Eastern Churches of heresy for deleting the filioque from the Creed. Since the Eastern Churches didn’t delete anything—the Roman Church itself had only added the Creed with the filioque to the Mass 40 years earlier—it is clear that Pope Leo IX (who died on April 19, 1054) and Cardinal Humbert used the filioque as an excuse to break away and create the Roman Catholic Church, ie, the filioque itself wasn’t the main issue. The main issue was the nature and extent of papal authority—the purpose of Cardinal Humbert’s visit was a response to Patriarch Michael Cerularius’ letter attacking the Roman Church’s assertion of papal supremacy. When he was rebuffed, Cardinal Humbert used the filioque to assert the Pope’s universal and absolute authority—even to change the Creed unilaterally without the approval of an Ecumenical Council. The Eastern Churches rejected and still reject this assertion of papal supremacy because they believe it undermines the collegiality and right of the episcopacy. Therefore, as I previously wrote, the Roman Church’s claim of papal supremacy is at the root of the controversy over the filioque.

You write in #108 that you “regard as false teaching” that “‘an Ecumenical Council’ has authority equal to the Apostles,” but you fail to state by what right you deny its authority. Denying the authority of an Ecumenical Council is tantamount to denying the Apostolic Faith itself because, if everyone has the right to accept, reject, or change the actions of Ecumenical Councils, there will no longer be one Apostolic Faith—everyone will have their own faith.

The Creed we have been discussing states “I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church.” The word “Catholic” means universal, not just in a jurisdictional sense but in the sense of the Vincentian Canon: “that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all. That is truly and properly Catholic.” So there can’t be a “Catholic” Faith if everyone has the right to choose what to believe. The word “Apostolic” in the Creed means the Faith received and taught by the Apostles, which may be determined by its catholicity—whether it “has been believed everywhere, always and by all.” The Creed states “I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church,” NOT “I believe IN one Catholic and Apostolic Church.” Therefore, the words mean “I believe what the Church teaches,” NOT “I believe in the concept of having one Catholic and Apostolic Church.” That means the Creed is incompatible with a cafeteria faith, which brings us to the issue of how we know what is “Catholic and Apostolic” when there is a dispute—who decides? In the Roman Catholic Church, there is an elaborate organization, but ultimately it’s the Pope who decides—they assert that the Pope can even override an Ecumenical Council, like he did with the filioque. The Orthodox (and Anglicans) reject this assertion of papal supremacy and infallibility, giving the highest level of authority to Ecumenical Councils. Thus, your denying that “an Ecumenical Council has authority equal to the Apostles” is like making yourself your own pope with the right to override an Ecumenical Council.

padre

[110] Posted by padre on 6-19-2010 at 12:20 AM · [top]

In response to Padre’s post at #110, I must first deal with the obvious errors:

1. “The Creed states “I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church,” NOT “I believe IN one Catholic and Apostolic Church.” Therefore, the words mean “I believe what the Church teaches,” NOT “I believe in the concept of having one Catholic and Apostolic Church.””

Its the other way around. You assert the creed as a source of faith – yet you do not know what the Creed says!

Mind you, this part of your post is an excellent illustration of the real problem - not that evil protestants adopt their own private interpretation of Scripture, but rather that Orthodox adopt “their own private interpretation” of the Creeds, Councils and Fathers!

2. “The Orthodox (and Anglicans) reject this assertion of papal supremacy and infallibility, giving the highest level of authority to Ecumenical Councils.”

Again, you have got it 180 degrees wrong (about the Anglicans). Haven’t you read anything I have written? I quoted the relevant Anglican articles above – Anglicans do not “give the highest level of authority to Ecumenical Councils, in fact they specifically reject that position.

The highest level of authority is given to Scripture. Ecumenical Councils have authority in certain areas, but always subject to Scripture.

[111] Posted by MichaelA on 6-19-2010 at 09:07 AM · [top]

Further to Padre’s post at #110:

1. “You write in #108 that you “regard as false teaching” that “‘an Ecumenical Council’ has authority equal to the Apostles,” but you fail to state by what right you deny its authority.”

I don’t have to state anything. The onus is on YOU to explain why an Ecumenical Council has authority equal to the Apostles. Its certainly not an obvious proposition – there is nothing in the Apostles’ teaching to that effect.

2. “Denying the authority of an Ecumenical Council is tantamount to denying the Apostolic Faith itself because, if everyone has the right to accept, reject, or change the actions of Ecumenical Councils, there will no longer be one Apostolic Faith—everyone will have their own faith.”

This is illogical and circular reasoning. Firstly, the Apostolic Faith does not derive from Ecumenical Councils but from the Apostles’ teaching, so a defect in authority of a Council cannot logically affect that Faith. Secondly, no-one has suggested that “everyone has the right to accept, reject or change the actions of Ecumenical Councils…”. Rather, the true situation is that Ecumenical Councils are subject to Holy Scripture.

3. “The Creed we have been discussing states “I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church.” The word “Catholic” means universal, not just in a jurisdictional sense but in the sense of the Vincentian Canon:…”

The illogic just continues – now you tell me that the church leaders at Nicaea used the word “catholic” according to something penned by St Vincent - 100 years later!

Rather than using your own private interpretation of the Council of Nicaea, I suggest we look at it objectively.

4. “The word “Apostolic” in the Creed means the Faith received and taught by the Apostles, which may be determined by its catholicity—whether it “has been believed everywhere, always and by all.””

No, this is circular reasoning. The Apostolic Faith means the faith taught by the Apostles, who were men given special authority by the Lord himself to establish the church. If the Apostles taught something, then that is Apostolic teaching. It doesn’t stop being Apostolic teaching just because part of the church at a later date decides not to follow it.

5. “Thus, your denying that “an Ecumenical Council has authority equal to the Apostles” is like making yourself your own pope with the right to override an Ecumenical Council.”

On the contrary: You are the one who has made yourself “your own Pope” by asserting that Ecumenical Councils have authority that God never granted them.

I cannot override anything - all I can do is note both the higher authority (Apostolic teaching) and the lower authority (Ecumenical Councils). Both are far higher in authority than me, but if there is a contradition between them, it is self-evident that I must follow the higher authority.

[112] Posted by MichaelA on 6-19-2010 at 09:18 AM · [top]

Continuning in my response to Padre at #110:

1. “I’ve already read your earlier posts and rejected them because they are so strongly biased to the Roman point of view”

I hope everyone else takes note of this one - I am now officially a one-eyed Roman Catholic apologist! I’ll get measured for the scapular next week…

2. “However, in 410 a regional council in Persia adopted one of the earliest forms of the filioque, ...”

Excellent. I don’t know your source but I will accept this because it emphasises even more the error in your original post when you wrote that: “the problem is Rome’s belief that the Pope is the sole heir of St Peter and the Vicar of Christ, so it can do whatever it wants without consulting anyone else. That’s the attitude that resulted in the addition of the filioque”. Such is clearly not the case if filioque was first adopted in Spain in C6 without any input from Rome, and even more so if it was first adopted in Persia in C5.

3. “In #108 you argue that the filioque “had nothing to do with Rome, and nothing to do with any claim of primacy/supremacy” because it was adopted by a regional council in Toledo. That’s a non sequitir [sic]”

No, this is taking my post way out of context. I pointed out that the use of filioque was widespread long before (and I mean centuries before) it became an issue in East-West relations.

4. “Tensions had been building between the East and the West for quite awhile. There had been differences over language, culture and liturgy, but as the power of the papacy grew, the basic disagreement became papal authority…”

Yes, I agree. This is the point I was trying to make: Filioque was a doctrinal issue that was sincerely held by many Christians and many churches long before it became an issue in arguments between the Orthodox Churches and the Papacy. And the alienation between East and West concerned a lot more than just papal authority.

5. “[After a dissertation on events in the 11th century AD]… Therefore, as I previously wrote, the Roman Church’s claim of papal supremacy is at the root of the controversy over the filioque.”

No it isn’t. Filioque has been a doctrinal positions held by some, rejected by others, since the 6th century (or, according to you, since the 5th century). The fact that various church leaders (in East and West) brought it into their unedifying power struggle many centuries later doesn’t change that.

[113] Posted by MichaelA on 6-19-2010 at 09:28 AM · [top]

Dear MichaelA,

Your responses have become so argumentative that discussion is impossible. May the Lord grant you courage to read widely, think creatively, and pray deeply.

padre

[114] Posted by padre on 6-19-2010 at 09:25 PM · [top]

Padre,
I thought he was being rather straightforward.
I learn a lot by watching the big boys discuss issues.  Sorry to see the discussion end.

[115] Posted by Bo on 6-19-2010 at 09:31 PM · [top]

[114] padre

Your responses have become so argumentative that discussion is impossible.

MichaelA is one of the most methodically disciplined commentators on SFIF.  This exit strategy does not damage his credibility.

carl

[116] Posted by carl on 6-19-2010 at 10:11 PM · [top]

Ditto Bo! I concur….I thought MichaelA was doing a great job and I was enjoying and learning as well….Oh Well!

[117] Posted by TLDillon on 6-19-2010 at 11:50 PM · [top]

Padre,

I apologise if I have been too argumentative. I may have misread the vehemence in some of your posts.

In any case, thank you for a useful discussion, and I am very happy to see that its been edifying for others as well.

[118] Posted by MichaelA on 6-20-2010 at 06:03 PM · [top]

Until I heard Metropolitan Jonah say that Anglicans would have to give up Calvinism to be accepted by Orthodox, I’d never heard that we were Calvinists!  I thought that was one big distinction from Presbyterians. I was Episcopalion from 1957, and I am sure that I had a lot more education on the theology of ECUSA than perhaps 75% more than the average faithful parishioner.  And, since I was always taught that we were NOT Calvinists,  I was not very familiar with what Calvinism is. 
I have been trying to find out ever since.  As I now understand, it is “TULIP”: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perserverance of the saint.
If I am to accept U, L, or P, some of the theological learned on this blog…or someone I can trust, must give me a better explanation of those than I have been able to find on my own.  If I was ever taught anything about them, it must have been by another name.
I’m getting “up there” in age, and I sure would like to have it settled in my heart while I’m still living.  Don’t bother with L and I; those are already settled.  L is rejected, and I has been experienced as “nag, nag, nag”.
Help?
Maxine

[119] Posted by BCPchurchmouse on 8-12-2010 at 11:26 PM · [top]

Maxine,

The word “calvinism” is used in about as many different senses as the word “catholic”, so its not easy to work out what someone means when they say they do/don’t like Calvinism!

What makes things worse is that in many discussions, different participants use the word in different ways, but without clarifying that even to themselves. Which just generates far more heat than light…

There are a few bloggers here on Stand Firm who call themselves Calvinists, including myself, and at least one of the moderators (Father Matt Kennedy). We may be able to answer some questions from time to time and we generally agree on things! There are also many Anglicans who don’t call themselves Calvinists but whose beliefs differ very little from ours on most things.

However, one thing every Calvinist will (should) tell you is that we all need to know our Scriptures better. So, if you enjoy reading your bible, that is a great place to start.

[120] Posted by MichaelA on 8-13-2010 at 03:21 AM · [top]

Well, then,  can someone tell me what Metropolitan Jonah was talking about?
Maxine

[121] Posted by BCPchurchmouse on 8-13-2010 at 07:15 PM · [top]

[121] BCPchurchmouse

I am a Calvinist.  I was not raised in a Calvinist church.  In fact, I became a Calvinist before I knew who John Calvin was.  I arrived at this position the old fashioned way - by the clear and convincing testimony of Scripture.  It’s not a word I particularly like, and I wish there was a good replacement for it, but I haven’t found one. 

At the center of Calvinism is the assertion “Salvation is of the Lord.”  All of it, from beginning to end.  We maintain that everything necessary for salvation is provided by God to man, including (most importantly) the will of man to be saved.  This is where the controversial part comes in.  If God provides the will, then the choice of man is no longer independent.  Some Christians say that man must co-operate with God in order to be saved.  They maintain that man co-operates with God by independently choosing to repent, and believe.  In this view, salvation is not all of God, but is instead a combination of God’s work, and man’s will.  The difference is commonly summarized thus:

1.  The Calvinist says that God spiritually regenerates the man, and as a result, the man repents, and believes.

2.  The non-Calvinist says that the man repents and believes, and as a result, God regenerates the man.

The “Five Points” (or TULIP) are a short-hand way of describing the Calvinist position on this matter.

Total Depravity.  This means that every aspect of man is corrupted by sin.  It doesn’t mean that man is as depraved as he could be.  Rather it means that no part of his nature escapes corruption.  Specifically, his will is corrupted to the extent that he cannot and will not choose the things of God.  He is helpless in his slavery to sin.  He is spiritually dead, and unable to do anything to change this condition.  It is impossible for man to turn and be saved in his natural state.

Unconditional Election.  Because man is incapable of his own accord to turn and be saved, we are left with the inescapable conclusion that all men would be condemned to Hell without divine intervention.  God to show His mercy and love has decided to intervene.  If He intervened in the life of every man, then we would have universal salvation.  Instead, He elected some for salvation.  Unconditional Election means that God’s choice of those whom He will redeem is not rooted in anything intrinsic to the one redeemed.  God does not condition His choice based upon some ‘good’ quality in men.  It means that redeemed and damned are morally indistinguishable absent God’s divine intervention.

Limited Atomement.  Since God chooses whom He will redeem, then Christ dies for those whom God has chosen.  It means that Christ actually made a payment of Calvary, and that the wrath of God against was actually satisfied.  It means that Christ actually saved people by His work on the cross, and did not simply make salvation possible.

Irresistable Grace.  Since man is incapable of turning and being saved of his own accord, God must intervene in the man’s life.  Man cannot resist God’s divine act of redemption anymore than Lazarus could resist being raised from the dead.  The spiritually dead do not say “No, I should rather stay dead, thank you.”  They rise because they are commanded to rise.  They have no choice in the matter.

Perseverance.  Because God has determined to save a people for Himself, He makes sure that those whom he has chosen hold fast until the end.  They do not fall away, but instead persevere.  This like everything else is a work of God in the life of the redeemed.

You will not find the will of man in this short synopsis except in response to the saving work of God.  Man freely repents.  Man freely believes.  Man freely perseveres.  But he does all these things as a response to what God has already done.  Absent the prior work of God, man would have done none of these things, and would most surely be damned.

I hope this was helpful.

carl

[122] Posted by carl on 8-13-2010 at 08:28 PM · [top]

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