Home Forums Everything Else [Orthodoxy] Filioque Reply To: [Orthodoxy] Filioque


[quote:3lox1bba]If I remember correctly, today we are quite content to allow the Orthodox to omit the filioque. We don’t make it a dividing point. But many Orthodox will not budge, and insist on severely criticizing those Christians who do incorporate the filioque into the Creed.

Dogmas do develop, while maintaining their essence; so do creeds. St. Gregory Palamas (Orthodox) developed the notion of the energies of God in the 14th century. Why is that development of theology properly allowable and perfectly acceptable, while the filioque is not? One might submit that this is a double standard. Not intended as an attack but an honest observation of a discussion I had with one of the local priests.

Let me know your thoughts.


Putting aside the fact that we believe the filioque distorts theology (you must understand that the Creed talks of eternal procession, i.e. the origin of the Holy Spirit, not His temporal mission, which is why you appear to be misunderstanding the eastern Fathers who you quote) the main issue we have is one of authority. I guess this might all boild down to papal supremacy again, though you’d have a hard time defending the [i:3lox1bba]filioque[/i:3lox1bba] based on that alone given the number of Popes vehemently opposed to it.

The fact is that it was the authority of two Ecumenical Councils that not only set the contents of the Creed but forbade anyone to alter it. Nobody Orthodox would ever say that the Creed could never be changed or added to, but we would say that nobody but a new Ecumenical Council could ever have the authority to do this. There is no double standard here whatsoever, surely you can see that? The standard is that a canon set by a Church body can only be altered by another Church body of equal or greater authority. As Ecumenical Councils are the highest authority we have in the Church, nobody but an Ecumenical Council can alter the Creed, particularly when such alterations were specifically banned.

You, presumably, would argue that the Popes are above the Ecumenical Councils and therefore could alter the Creed (which makes no sense to me or how could a Pope be anathematised by an Ecumenical Council?), which is, of course, where we disagree. Then, of course, I’d have to ask you which Pope’s opinion you think is weightiest given the fact that you had Popes who specifically forbade the filioque in the Creed and who accepted what many Orthodox (myself included) call the Eighth Ecumenical Council, recognising it at the time as Ecumenical, including its condemnation of the filioque. Of course, you later had Popes who reversed both these positions, adding the filioque and rejecting the Ecumenical Council (otherwise there’d probably be no Schism).

We simply cannot accept the filoque in the Creed ever, then. Not only do we have Ecumenical Councils condemning further changes, we have an Ecumenical Council condemning this change in particular (whether you recognise it or not). On your side, you have a local council in Toledo that is responsible for the filioque in the first place, followed by a unilateral decision of the Pope at a later date. We clearly must put the authority of the Ecumenical Councils above any other body in the Church and you prefer the opinion of the Pope. The simple fact is that no reunified Church would ever have the filioque in the Creed – if that is a condition of reunion there will be none. I would certainly never place myself voluntarily under the anathema of an Ecumenical Council by using it and nor would any other Orthodox I know, and I fail to see how reunion could be anything more than political opportunism if we can’t even confess the same Creed (which, of course, means faith). I, and the vast majority of Orthodox, would never accept such a false union either. It is a mistake to underestimate the importance of the two issues that caused the Schism in the first place as they are still the two major points on which we are divided.



Oh, and St Gregory Palamas didn’t ‘develop’ the idea of the energies/essence dichotomy if by that you mean he came up with something new, you can find all of his ideas in Church Fathers well before his time. He did develop the language and better define the theology (and in doing so fought off the rationalism that led, ultimately, to the Reformation), but he most certainly did not come up with new dogma. That is quite different from the filioque issue. St. Gregory Palamas was defending the faith against an external heresy brought into the Church from the west by better defining existing Orthodox spirituality – he was not adding new and previously forbidden teachings into the body of the Church.