11 February 2008

Patristic Quote of the Day

The Holy Spirit, then, proceedeth from God the Father as from the fountain; but He is not foreign from the Son; for every property of the Father belongeth to the Word, Who by nature and verily was begotten of Him. -- St. Cyril of Alexandria, *Commentary on Luke* Homily 65.


Christopher Palo said...

Still does not prove the filioque or justify its continued use in the Western Creeds. Notice Cyril does not say that He proceeds from the Son, too. Cyril here is reaffirming the Trinity of God as a communion of love wherein all are lover and beloved.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

The east when speaking of procession looks more towards existence/divine economy. The west when speaking of procession looks more towards the Spirit activity - the Son who gives the Spirit, the Spirit who accompanies the Word.

Procession is being used in two different ways - one Greek, one Latin.

Andrew said...

Pastor Brown,

Could you please elaborate more on this?


Pr. Lehmann said...

Cyril doesn't need to prove the filioque or justify its continued use. The New Testament does a fine job of that all by itself.

William Weedon said...

If you guys start a filioque flame war on my blog, I'm gonna smack you! ;)

Seriously, I think Pastor Brown hits the nail on the head exactly. What the Latin West hears in procession filioque is NOT that the Son is some sort of a second "source" for the Spirit. The Holy Spirit has one ultimate "source" and that is the Father. But the Son emits the Spirit which emission He has from the Father. The way I always try to show my classes is to hold my hands apart and say: "from the Father and the Son could be understood like this" (indicating the Father for one hand and the Son for the other). But that's NOT what we understand by the word. Rather, it's like this: And the Father hand is put behind the Son.

To US the Holy Spirit proceeds from Father and the Son, because He comes to us from the Father through the Son. And we see this in the economy to be a reflection of that eternal manifestation of the Spirit from the Son (that St. Maximos spoke of, showing that the doctrine of procession from the Son, properly understood, was not false).

But we're obviously treading here into deep waters, and here adoration is called for more than anything else.

Still, I will say that I wish that the troublesome word had NEVER been added to the Creed, even though - correctly understood - it confesses something absolutely true. And so we're sort of at loggerheads now - because as long as it's denial is understood to mean that the Son has no role in the emission of the Spirit, we can't let it go; but there are some Orthodox scholars who recognize beyond the Photian polemics what the West was confessing with it. Weird to think of the many Western saints that the East commemorates, many of whom sang the filioque with the Creed, and yet nowadays they'd be under the anathema of some.

Well, you guys can post away, but that's really all I have to say on this.

Christopher Palo said...

Pr. Lehmann,

You must have the teacher's edition of the NT since mine in no way supports what you claim as doctrinally correct. :)

orrologion said...

I like what you have to say on the topic, Pastor W. In the end, we are talking about two different words that mean two different things. The Latin addition, in Latin, doesn't imply the Son as a second source or that there is a confusion of source with the Father and the Son somehow more "homoosion" than is also the Holy Spirit, but when the Latin addition is translated back into Greek, the Greek term that must be used means exactly the heretical thing the Westerners say they don't mean.

This is where we come doen to conciliarity and humility in how sure we are that 'our expressions' are 'right'. At the same time, it must be acknowledged that the Creed and the faith of Constantinople I was formulated in Greek. An understanding of the bare text can arise, in the same way that the Cappadocians' trinitarian understanding of the purposefully hazy triadology of the Nicene Creed has become "the" understanding of the Creed - but without adding or subtracting to the text of the Creed itself. In fact, it was the Western understanding that their defense of the filioque was a defense of the original text of the Creed, so the West was also trying to hold to the canonical prohibition against changing the Creed - a canonical understanding on both sides that the lack of change referred to the text itself.

There are more basic difference between East and West, especially between East and Protestantism, that we need not get light headed in the rarefied air of triadology.

Andrew said...

Pr Weedon,

'What the Latin West hears in procession filioque is NOT that the Son is some sort of a second "source" for the Spirit.'

I mentioned what you said to a friend of mine last night who is more conversant with these sort of triadological issues, and he said that the Latin West does indeed see the Son as a source for the Spirit -- 'as from one principle and a single spiration'. As a Lutheran you are obviously not bound to such dogmatic pronouncements like the Fourth Lateran Council -- so you are free to 'spin' the Filioque in a way more agreeable to the Eastern Church -- but going so far as to say that the Latin West does not see the Son as a cause of the Spirit seems a bit much.

While on the topic of the Filioque, I thought you guys might find this interaction between two philosophers -- one Orthodox and the other Catholic -- interesting.