Full Text for Dogmatics 3- Volume 38 - The Filioque Controversy (Video)

No. 38 Please forgive me if my memory of early church history is faulty, but I seem to recall that a later council in the Western Church � Was it around the year 600? � adopted the words �and the Son� to describe how the Spirit �proceeds.� We speak these words when we confess the Nicene Creed. I don�t think the original Nicene Creed had this wording, did it? I also seem to remember that the phrase ignited bitter controversy between the Christian Church of the East and the Church of the West. Am I recalling all of this correctly? Oh, I remember: this is called the �filioque,� I think. What is the status of the phrase throughout the Christian world today? >>DR. LEOPALDO SANCHEZ M.: Eric, that's an excellent question. Originally the Nicene Creed or we may say the Nicene Constantinopolitan Creed drawn in the east confess the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father. So the ***phileoquae, the clause "and the Son" was not there in the original creed. So that is true. The language, the Spirit who proceeds from the Father came directly from John 15:26 which reads: When the advocate, the paraclete, the Spirit, comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. Later on in a Council celebrated in Toledo, Spain, in 589, the phrase "and the Son," phileoquae in Latin, was added to the creed in the west. Luther, being part of the western church adopted the western phileoquae. Now, in the west the additional phileoquae was meant to say -- and you're right about this, was meant to say more about the Son than about the Holy Spirit. The phileoquae was an anti-Aryan move to affirm the divinity of the Son. So by saying that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, the fathers at Toledo meant to say basically that the Son is equal to the Father. This is still a most salutary reason for confessing the phileoquae in our congregations today. So oddly enough the main reason is really to say something about the divinity of the Son and his quality of the Father than something specific about the Holy Spirit. We should, however, also understand where the east is coming from in their opposition to the phileoquae. Besides the objection that the east always brings up that the phileoquae was unilaterally added to an ecumenical creed, an ecumenical council, eastern theologians also have an important theological reason for opposing the phileoquae. Their concern is not about the Holy Spirit again but about the Father. So just like the west likes the phileoquae to say something about the Son, the east doesn't like the phileoquae because they want to preserve something about the Father. And what is that? Well, in the east the Father is the origin, is the source. He is the one from whom the Son is eternally begotten and the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds. Theologians in the east feel that if the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, also, this will inevitably take away from the Father what is unique to his person. And what is that? That the Father is ultimately origin. To mitigate this criticism, theologians in the west often point to St. Augustine who was a theologian in the west. Augustine could affirm a couple of things. He could say on the one hand that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. And yet Augustine could admit that the Holy Spirit proceeds principally from the Father. Theologians in the west also recognize that while it is true that the biblical language of procession is only applied to the Holy Spirit's proceeding from the Father in John 15:26, it is also true that there are other places in Scripture where the Spirit is spoken of as the Spirit of the Son and the Spirit of Christ. So you could say that the Spirit is from the Father. But you could also say that the Spirit is from the Son. In particular in the west, the ***Johylan language of aspiration or breathing has been used to describe the Holy Spirit's procession from the Son, also. Since in the text from John 20, the Son is the one who breathes the Holy Spirit on the disciples. So even in John, the Holy Spirit may be said to be from the Father as the guys in the east like to say. But the Holy Spirit may also be said to be from the Son, as western theologians like to point out. The phileoquae I think in the end reminds us that just as the Holy Spirit is sent by the Son in the history of salvation, remember, we've talked about Christ being the bearer but also the giver of the Spirit, the one who sends him. Just as you can talk about the Holy Spirit being sent by the Son in history so we may also speak of the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Son in eternity. Here again we must think of the Son and the Holy Spirit as inseparable companions. Just as there is no historical sending of the Spirit in which the Son is not involved, so also there is no eternal procession of the Spirit in which the Son is not involved. In a sense then, the phileoquae reminds us that we just cannot think of the Holy Spirit in history or eternity apart from the Son.