I’m studying the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity and about the Filioque and how it was a factor in the East-West Schism. I’m curious, are there any Protestant sects that reject the Filioque? What lead them to that decision?
The Moravian Church rejects the Filioque. The reason dates back to the Hussite movement in which its founder, Jan Hus, desired the Church’s shift to more Byzantine-like practices (which included rejection of the *Filioque *clause). The Hussites themselves eventually died out but their traditions, rejection of the Filioque included, were and still are retained in the Moravian Church today.
The Pentecostal denomination in which I grew up didn’t think about it one way or the other. In all my decades in that denomination and later as a Southern Baptist, while listening to the radio messages of a number very educated speakers from several different streams of Protestantism, I never heard that issue brought up.
I have heard that claim before but I think it is disputed. There are several aspects to the notion. First is that the ancient Moravian Church rejected the filioque. Second is that the modern Moravian Church rejects the filioque. Finally is that the early Moravian Church sought to shift to Byzantine practices.
Regarding returning to Byzantine practices I have heard that claim made but have not read any scholarship on the subject. It could be a legend. Likewise I’m not aware of the liturgical practices of the ancient Moravian Church. However I am aware of some scholarship on the issue as it pertains to the modern Moravian Church. Regarding the modern Moravian Church’s rejection of the filioque a Moravian theologian has researched this and his conclusion is:
“the filioque was omitted from the Nicene Creed as a nod to a supposed historical continuity between the Unitas Fratrum and the Orthodox Church which in fact did not exist.”
Additionally the Moravian Church is in full communion with the ELCA and Episcopal Church. Both of these churches do use the creed with the filioque. So it would seem to me even if the modern Moravian Church does not use the filioque they don’t ‘reject’ it.
Mainstream Protestants have traditionally never questioned the Filioque. The doctrine is present in the confessions of the Lutherans, Reformed and Anglicans. The biggest push to remove the phrase from the creed is within Anglicanism.
[The conference] requests that all member Churches of the Anglican Communion should consider omitting the Filioque from the Nicene Creed, and that the Anglican-Orthodox Joint Doctrinal Commission through the Anglican Consultative Council should assist them in presenting the theological issues to their appropriate synodical bodies and should be responsible for any necessary consultation with other Churches of the Western tradition. (Lambeth Conference 1978, Resolution 35.3)
However, for the Anglicans, this is not on a doctrinal, but purely ecumenical basis. I do not know how widespread this change is at the moment among Anglicans, but it is definitely far from universal. At any rate, they do believe in the Filioque, and it is in the Thirty-Nine Articles.
I didn’t know that about the Moravians. That’s fascinating, even if it isn’t based on a principled theological objection. Actually I don’t think any Protestant traditions (the term “sects” is usually pejorative, and when not so used refers to small, strict groups in tension with the dominant version of their religion) have such an objection (unless the Moravians do). One can believe in it theologically (or be undecided/indifferent on the matter, which tends to be my position), while thinking that it shouldn’t have been added to the Creed. The Episcopal Church formally resolved in 1994 to drop the Filioque from the next edition of the BCP. (I actually didn’t know that until I looked it up just now–the resolution was taken shortly before I became an Episcopalian and I thought the matter was still more tentative than that.) The supplementary liturgical materials called “Enriching Our Worship” don’t include it (they also use “inclusive language” for God, which I’m sure will also be a feature of the next BCP). I don’t see a new BCP anywhere on the horizon, although I may just not be up to speed (as my ignorance–or perhaps forgetting–of the 1994 resolution shows).
The more conservative ACNA, which recently broke away from the Episcopal Church, also discussed dropping the Filioque. Given that it is more conservative, I think union of elements of the ACNA with the Orthodox would be a somewhat more realistic prospect. But the more Reformed elements of the ACNA shot the proposition down, unfortunately (in my opinion).
But, if you asked a Southern Baptist or a (Trinitarian) Pentecostal pastor if the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the both the Father and the Son, they would say yes because Scripture tells us that both the Father and the Son are involved in sending the Holy Spirit.
Pentecostals and Baptists generally inherit and receive the Trinitarian theology of the wider Western Church as articulated in the Ecumenical Creeds. It’s not really something they discuss or feel the need to argue over because to them, it’s basic Christianity as drawn from Scripture.
However, it’s not something we go out of our way to talk about because for 1) it is one of the best examples of theological hair splitting ever devised and 2) it’s not one of “our” theological controversies. It’s an issue between East and West, and we generally read the Bible with a “Western” lens, but it’s not something we feel the need to defend.