Debate : Latins made up the filioque

Do Orthodox really believe this? Can you honestly believe that the teaching is not found in the fathers, especially the western fathers?? Any cursory reading of the fathers from St Hilary onwards will evidence and explicit and unanimous affirmation of the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son

Those are the polemics, yes.

You must understand that most Orthodox are not too concerned about this topic, and so just accept the skewed tales of their tradition. The ones who are more educated and more interested in communion (like most on this blog) are much more aware that the Schism isn’t a white hat, black hat situation (like most of history).

Anyway, are you interested in the Orthodox story regarding the fililoque, or the Western understsnding?

Christi pax,


Having looked into the issue a very small amount, it appears to me the original issue was not so much one of believing the filioque was “made up” but that the creed was changed without the action of a council and this was done while the debate over the orthodoxy of the statement was still being discussed.

The Council of Ephesus declared it anathema for any man to change the faith as given in the creed from Nicene and Constantinople. The Council of Chalcedon affirms and restates this.

So the question becomes multifaceted:
Is the doctrine of the filioque orthodox?
Did the addition of the filioque change the faith declared in the creed?
Did the pope have the authority to change the words of the creed to add the filioque, or could such a change only be done by a council?

I think appealing to the eastern fathers of the Church would hold more weight in the argument than the western fathers. The position of the western fathers can too easily be dismissed as supporting the pope.

Saint Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, Cyril of Alexandria, Epiphanius of Salamis all have teachings supporting the position that the filioque is orthodox and part of the faith.

This is an excellent question. I will answer as I answered an Orthodox Christian I was debating on YouTube before:

The Filioque controversy has a few key points I’d like to discuss: first, the third ecumenical council of Ephesus, held in 431, quoted the creed from the first ecumenical council of Nicaea (held in 325, which doesn’t mention anything related to procession) and NOT the creed as stated in the second ecumenical council of Constantinople (held in 381, which does mention procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father), so using the seventh cannon of the third ecumenical council in the most orthodox and rigid interpretation would mean you also have to reject the creed of 381 stated in Constantinople. This clearly hasn’t been the case, as the East readily adopted the 381 creed liturgically.

Second, even as early as 410, before the council of Toledo of 447, in the East we find that the Council of Seleucia-Ctesiphon had already introduced “and the Son” into the Nicene Creed, so to say this is a Western “heresy” is a bit far-fetched, I am afraid.

Third, a heresy is a departure from a de fide infallible teaching. A case first can be made that the expressions “from the Father and the Son” and “from the Father through the Son” are equivalent because of the Son’s own procession from the Father. Everything the Son has is from the Father. The Father remains the sole origin of the Persons of the Trinity, so both statements contain the same theological truth yet just use different words to convey that one same truth. This can be seen in the writings of multiple early Church Fathers, both Latin and Greek, who use both forms. There was a brief reunion of sorts in 1439 at the council of Florence based on this profession of the same faith using different wording,

“The Greek prelates believed that every saint, precisely as a saint, was inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore could not err in faith. If they expressed themselves differently, their meanings must substantially agree …] The Greek Fathers necessarily meant the same; the faiths of the two churches were identical; union was not only possible but obligatory”

Furthermore, his grace, bishop Kallistos Ware, an Eastern Orthodox bishop, has come to state,

“The filioque controversy which has separated us for so many centuries is more than a mere technicality, but it is not insoluble. Qualifying the firm position taken when I wrote The Orthodox Church twenty years ago, I now believe, after further study, that the problem is more in the area of semantics and different emphases than in any basic doctrinal differences”

Fourth, there is a difference in how the Latin and Greek languages are actually used which has caused more confusion on this issue: the Greek verb ἐκπορεύεσθαι and the Latin verb procedere are both commonly translated in English as “proceed”. The Greek verb ἐκπορεύεσθαι seems to indicate that the Spirit takes His origin from the Father in a principal and immediate manner. The Latin verb procedere, however, also leaves open the possibility of a procession from a mediate channel; this correponds to the Greek verb προϊέναι rather than ἐκπορεύεσθαι.

Fifth, the Eastern Churches in full communion with the bishop of Rome, the Eastern Catholic Churches, which perhaps you’d identify as the “Uniate” churches, do not use the Filioque in the Creed, yet they are in full communion with the Holy See.

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