Reply To: [Orthodoxy] Filioque

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[quote:d2l71vvs][quote:d2l71vvs]You mean practical repercussions or theological ones? The biggest practical repercussion is, of course, the Great Schism. [/quote:d2l71vvs]

True;although you know that the finger can’t only be pointed at the West. East had just as much to do with the Schism as the West. And it wasn’t only on the issue of the filioque as you already know.

[quote:d2l71vvs]Theological repercussions are more open to argument (as they can be seen as opinions) but I think as a direct consequence of the filioque western Christians tend to concentrate more on the Essence than the Persons of God;.[/quote:d2l71vvs]

We do? I think we do both. I would even say that some Orthodox tend to get more philosophical about the Trinity, while still maintaining the essence of the God Head. In the short time that I have been reading about Orthodox material I would say that much of it tends to focus more on the Holy Spirit, but I wouldn’t conclude that it distorts the doctrine and essence of the Trinity. I know full well that if I asked you “who is greater in the Trinity?” You would answer accordingly. So why push something that I know the answer too, even if the writings that I read seem to put more focus on one?

[quote:d2l71vvs]and that he logical consequence of the dual procession idea is to make the Holy Spirit ontologically inferior – in other words you distort the nature of God. [/quote:d2l71vvs]

James, I am trying hard to see how dual procession does what you say. And I can’t see it. It’s not the way you word it. It could be simply because I am trying to grasp the Trinity beyond my capabilities.

[quote:d2l71vvs]A related, though tangential, outcome of taking Bl. Augustine’s tradition of philosophising the relations in the Trinity is the tendency, which we certainly see as harmful, to over-rationalise the faith in western Christendom, especially amongst your Scholastic theologians. It seems to me that everything in the RCC seems to revolve around legalistic definitions and you seem to miss the Mystery. A couple of cases in point are your incredibly legalistic canonisation process (which I just found out the details of re. John Paul II) and the doctrine of Transubstantiation. It’s probably more appropriate to see the filoque and Scholastic theology as two fruits of the same spirit of rationalism which invaded the west, though.[/quote:d2l71vvs]

But James don’t you see that St. Gregory Palamas did over philosophize when he developed the notion of the energies of God in the 14th century? And this indeed have much Eastern Patristic support. Why was that allowed and but not the filioque?

[quote:d2l71vvs]As for your source, a reliable source for what? A reliable source for the reunification talks in North America, certainly. I would, however, say that many, probably the vast majority of, Orthodox Christians I know strongly disagreed with some of those findings and that, other than perhaps in the very ecumenicalist Patriarchate of Constantinople, you’re unlikely to find non-American churches agreeing wholeheartedly (though everyone will in part). Like the Roman Catholic church, we have liberals in our western churches (I know one who seems more Protestant than Orthodox) and they can tend to skew perceptions of Orthodoxy. I’d rather go with the Fathers, the Councils and the saints of Orthodoxy, who consistently condemned the dual procession. Until the Roman catholic Church can do the same and admit that it was a tragic mistake (shouldn’t be too hard given the number of pre-Schism Popes who taught categorically that it was wrong – and aren’t they supposed to have been infallible even though they hadn’t defined that yet?) then I think we ought to be realistic and admit that any reconciliation between our two Churches is as far away as at any point between the 11th century and now – probably further than in some periods.


So a conference of Bishops in the West doesn’t weigh heavy on you? You see what I mean now about trying to get reliable sources from you guys?
Maybe if this came from the East you would be more hesitant to submitting, who knows.



To a great extent I agree with you on this post. I’m well aware that what I see as theological ramifications of the filioque will not be viewed the same by you. That’s why I was reluctant to state them. On the Schism, I wasn’t trying to play the blame game – you are correct that there is blame on both sides – but had it not been for the filioque I doubt that the Schism would have happened when it did. We’d have all probably just gone on ignoring the grandiose claims of the Popes as we had done ever since they’d been made. It probably would still have happened, but I feel it is unlikely to have been so long or divisive, but that’s enough of the what ifs.
The two issues I do have with what you write are on St. Gregory Palamas and the SCOBA commission. St. Gregory Palamas didn’t develop the doctrine of the energies of God – you can see it in St. Gregory of Sinai in reference to the hesychast tradition and in various Church Fathers well prior to this – he just developed the language used to describe, much like Nicea and Constantinople developed Trinitarian language. That’s not the issue I have with what you’re saying though, the fact is you say this was down to philosophising. This is clearly not the case. Palams’ language comes out of a very long and experiential tradition called hesychasm amongst eastern monastics. It was not at all a rationalisation based on logic but an attempt to describe what monks ever since the Desert Fathers had experienced and what was revealed on Mt. Tabor. This is a revealed truth, not a rationalised one. Even if you disagree with us on this, I’m sure you understand the distinction I’m making.

As for the commission between SCOBA and the RCC in North America, it was (at least on the Orthodox side) comprised almost entirely of academic theologians and not heirarchs, so the conclusion comes across as more like a consultative document provided to SCOBA rather than a decision made by them. I’d be surprised, given how disunified SCOBA appears to be (even though I’m not in the US I’m aware of issues with it) if they could come up with a consensus on this issue. In any case, there opinion holds little canonical weight with anybody. This is not to be anti-Western, because there’s only one western Orthodox Church in SCOBA (the OCA – which is the only western church I’m even aware of). Almost all those represented in SCOBA are from eastern Patriarchates. It is being realistic.

If the Americans ever sort themselves out and come up with single jurisdiction, then SCOBA will probably become the kernel of their Holy Synod, but at the moment it’s little more than a talking shop for smoothing out intra-Orthodox relations, which seems to serve very little purpose. We have the same jurisdictional issues as the US but we have nothing like SCOBA and we still seem to have less friction between the local churches. For instance, I’ve never heard a single Orthodox Christian here call ROCOR schismatic, but I know loads of Americans who do. Odd that. Until SCOBA becomes more than a talking shop their opinions will never be likely to gain greater weight. I’d take my own Holy Synod’s decisions (which incidentally is about as pro-Roman Catholic as any in the Orthodox world – look at how Patriarch Teoctist greeted John Paul II, much to many Romanians’ horror) over those of any SCOBA commission any day, and I’d trust my church’s monastics to protect the truth of Orthodoxy over just about anyone.