Filioque Debate

The name is in the title so ill get things going.

for all who don’t know , the filioque is the Roman Catholic belief that The Holy Spirit proceeds from the father and the Son.

The concept is simply this :

[In some crazy world where water systems work like this] There are three components to this system namely The Sea, The Rivers and The Ponds. Now the Sea (Father) is the ultimate source of all water(Divinity). The water in the sea is not fixated in the sea but flows to the rivers and ponds. How this happens is that the water(Divinity) flows from the seas into the rivers (Son). The rivers then in turn allow for the water to flow to the ponds (Holy Spirit). Now it can be said that the source of the water in the pond is the sea. This is true as all water in this system finds its ultimate origin/source in the sea. However it can also be said that the water in the pond finds its source from the river because without the river, the water from the sea could not reach the pond. It is from the river that the pond receives its water. Thus it is true to say the water in the pond is from the sea and the river. The sea and the river are both components in the flow (Spiration) of water and thus they are one principal from which the pond received its water.

So the Filioque does not deny the Father’s singular role as the Cause (Aition) of the Spirit; but merely acknowledges the Son’s necessary Presence (i.e., participation) for the Spirit’s eternal procession. The Father and Son are thus collectively identified as accounting for the Spirit’s procession. This is all that the Filioque was ever intended to address; and it was included in the Creed by the Western fathers at Toledo in order to counter the claims of the 6th Century Spanish (Germanic) Arians. These Arians were of course denying this essential and orthodox truth, that is, the Son’s eternal participation in the Spirit’s procession and thus the Son being somewhat less divine than the Father

The filioque claims that the Holy Spirit also proceeds from the Son which if understood, is equivalent to the eastern formula " from the Father through the Son". The Catholic Church simply teaches that all 3 persons are eternal. They are equally God and only differs in rank according to relationships. The Father is the Father becasue he begets the son. The son is son because he is begotten of the father. The Holy Spirit does not beget nor is he begotten, but proceeds from the father and the son as from one principle. The main issue is the understanding of “as from one principle”. The Father is the ultimate origin of the Holy Ghost alone. However the procession of the the Holy Ghost involves the Son as the father gave everything to the Son except being the father. That is except the property to Beget. So the son inherits the Spirit of the Father as his own and the spirit is manifested through Son. As the Father is the origin of deity and in having the Holy Ghost proceeding, the son is a participant in transmission of being. Thus it is by way of the son that the spirit proceeds from the Father. He gets his being from the father and the Son as from one principle. That is what is meant to proceed from the son. The only reason the Holy Ghost proceeds from the son is because the Son is begotten of the Father. As such monarchy of the father is still maintained as everything is only becasue it has ultimate origin in the father.


“I believe that the Spirit proceeds not otherwise than from the Father through the Son” (Against Praxeas 4:1 [A.D. 216]).

Fulgence of Ruspe

“Hold most firmly and never doubt in the least that the only God the Son, who is one person of the Trinity, is the Son of the only God the Father; but the Holy Spirit himself also one person of the Trinity, is Spirit not of the Father only, but of Father and of Son together” (The Rule of Faith 53 [A.D. 524]).

“Hold most firmly and never doubt in the least that the same Holy Spirit who is Spirit of the Father and of the Son, proceeds from the Father and the Son” (ibid., 54).


“We believe, however, that there are three persons: the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and we believe none to be unbegotten except the Father. We admit, as more pious and true, that all things were produced through the Word, and that the Holy Spirit is the most excellent and the first in order of all that was produced by the Father through Christ” (Commentaries on John 2:6 [A.D. 229]).

Maximus the Confessor

"By nature the Holy Spirit in his being takes substantially his origin from the Father through the Son who is begotten (Questions to Thalassium 63 [A.D. 254]).

Gregory the Wonderworker

“[There is] one Holy Spirit, having substance from God, and who is manifested through the Son; image of the Son, perfect of the perfect; life, the cause of living; holy fountain; sanctity, the dispenser of sanctification; in whom is manifested God the Father who is above all and in all, and God the Son who is through all. Perfect Trinity, in glory and eternity and sovereignty neither divided nor estranged” (Confession of Faith [A.D. 265]).

Hilary of Poitiers

“Concerning the Holy Spirit . . . it is not necessary to speak of him who must be acknowledged, who is from the Father and the Son, his sources” (The Trinity 2:29 [A.D. 357]).

“In the fact that before times eternal your [the Father’s] only-begotten [Son] was born of you, when we put an end to every ambiguity of words and difficulty of understanding, there remains only this: he was born. So too, even if I do not g.asp it in my understanding, I hold fast in my consciousness to the fact that your Holy Spirit is from you through him” (ibid., 12:56).

Didymus the Blind

“As we have understood discussions . . . about the incorporeal natures, so too it is now to be recognized that the Holy Spirit receives from the Son that which he was of his own nature. . . . So too the Son is said to receive from the Father the very things by which he subsists. For neither has the Son anything else except those things given him by the Father, nor has the Holy Spirit any other substance than that given him by the Son” (The Holy Spirit 37 [A.D. 362]).

Epiphanius of Salamis

“The Father always existed and the Son always existed, and the Spirit breathes from the Father and the Son” (The Man Well-Anchored 75 [A.D. 374]).

Basil The Great

“Through the Son, who is one, he [the Holy Spirit] is joined to the Father, one who is one, and by himself completes the Blessed Trinity” (The Holy Spirit 18:45 [A.D. 375]).

“[T]he goodness of [the divine] nature, the holiness of [that] nature, and the royal dignity reach from the Father through the only-begotten [Son] to the Holy Spirit. Since we confess the persons in this manner, there is no infringing upon the holy dogma of the monarchy” (ibid., 18:47).

Ambrose of Milan

“Just as the Father is the fount of life, so too, there are many who have stated that the Son is designated as the fount of life. It is said, for example that with you, Almighty God, your Son is the fount of life, that is, the fount of the Holy Spirit. For the Spirit is life, just as the Lord says: ‘The words which I have spoken to you are Spirit and life’ [John 6:63]” (The Holy Spirit 1:15:152 [A.D. 381]).

“The Holy Spirit, when he proceeds from the Father and the Son, does not separate himself from the Father and does not separate himself from the Son” (ibid., 1:2:120).

Which religions do not believe in this?


The more official definition of the filioque was given at the Council of Florence:

For when Latins and Greeks came together in this holy synod, they all strove that, among other things, the article about the procession of the holy Spirit should be discussed with the utmost care and assiduous investigation. Texts were produced from divine scriptures and many authorities of eastern and western holy doctors, some saying the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, others saying the procession is from the Father through the Son. All were aiming at the same meaning in different words. The Greeks asserted that when they claim that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, they do not intend to exclude the Son; but because it seemed to them that the Latins assert that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as from two principles and two spirations, they refrained from saying that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. The Latins asserted that they say the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son not with the intention of excluding the Father from being the source and principle of all deity, that is of the Son and of the holy Spirit, nor to imply that the Son does not receive from the Father, because the holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, nor that they posit two principles or two spirations; but they assert that there is only one principle and a single spiration of the holy Spirit, as they have asserted hitherto. Since, then, one and the same meaning resulted from all this, they unanimously agreed and consented to the following holy and God-pleasing union, in the same sense and with one mind.

In the name of the holy Trinity, Father, Son and holy Spirit, we define, with the approval of this holy universal council of Florence, that the following truth of faith shall be believed and accepted by all Christians and thus shall all profess it: that the holy Spirit is eternally from the Father and the Son, and has his essence and his subsistent being from the Father together with the Son, and proceeds from both eternally as from one principle and a single spiration. We declare that when holy doctors and fathers say that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, this bears the sense that thereby also the Son should be signified, according to the Greeks indeed as cause, and according to the Latins as principle of the subsistence of the holy Spirit, just like the Father.

And since the Father gave to his only-begotten Son in begetting him everything the Father has, except to be the Father, so the Son has eternally from the Father, by whom he was eternally begotten, this also, namely that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Son.

We define also that the explanation of those words “and from the Son” was licitly and reasonably added to the creed for the sake of declaring the truth and from imminent need.

the council of Florence, when the Greeks were struck with the unanimous testimony of the fathers in the west as well as the eastern fathers brought forward by the Latins, their only argument that they could really come up to excuse such an evident teaching in the texts was that the Latins must have “corrupted” them

Even Mark of Ephesus admitted that the passages of the Latin Fathers the Catholics cited in favor of Filioque taught a hypostatic, and not merely energetic or temporal, procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son; his only way out of accepting the union was to maintain the absurd hypothesis that all these passages were spurious.

Further, testimony from two Greek bishops about the filioque debate at the Council of Florence:

Bessarion’s (Bishop of Nicaea who left the Council a Roman Cardinal) summing up of the Greek defense, though sweeping, is not really unjust.

’They brought forward passages not only of the western teachers but quite as many of the eastern… to which we had no reply whatsoever to make that they were corrupt and corrupted by the Latins.

They brought forward our own Epiphanius as in many places clearly declaring that the Spirit is from the Father and the Son: corrupt we said they were. They read the text mentioned earlier in Basil’s work against Eunomius: in our judgment it was interpolated. They adduced the words of the Saints of the West: the whole of our answer was ‘corrupt’ and nothing more. We consider and consult among ourselves for several days as to what answer we shall make, but find no other defence at all but that…’

We had no books that would prove the Latin texts to be corrupt, no Saints who spoke differently from those put forward. found ourselves deprived of a just case in every direction. So we kept silent ’ (.G. 161, 358CD).

George Scholarius, however, though he was by no means unacquainted with the philosophy of the Latin Church, had not, as far as is known, been assailed by any previous doubts about the orthodoxy of his own Church, yet he shared Bessarion’s views as to the solidity of the Latin presentation of their doctrine and the complete inadequacy of the Greek reply :

But you all see that the Latins have contended brilliantly for their faith so that no one with a sense of justice has any reason to reproach them

… They brought forward from the common Fathers of the Church the six most renowned in dignity, wisdom and the struggles for the faith (I pass over the others) as witnesses of their doctrine, each of whom must be judged the equal of all the men in the world, and those not just incidentally and casually but as if they were for us judges of the present dispute.

They argued so precisely and clearly, expressing the question in exact words and as befits teachers, appending also the reasons and the texts of Holy Scripture from which they had drawn that doctrine as an inevitable conclusion, just as they culled others from other texts… . . Besides, they put forward others from the common Fathers, those of the East I mean, adorned with an equal wisdom and honor, who also said just the same as those others, though not so plainly, if their words are examined in a spirit of truth and wisdom, and they offered in proof of their doctrine no merely specious reasoning, no coercion, but everything straightforwardly and as flowing from the divine Scriptures and the Fathers. On our part nothing was said to them to which they did not manifestly reply with wisdom, magnanimity and truth, and we have no Saint at all who clearly contradicts them.

If indeed there were such, he should in some fashion or manner be made to harmonize with the majority much more justly than that the multitude of the Teachers should be forced into his mould… Nor shall we say that the Doctors are mutually contradictory, for this is to introduce complete confusion and to deny the whole of the faith. Who is so simple-minded as to believe that the Latins wish to destroy the faith and to adulterate the trinitarian theology of all the Doctors? Surely a man who affirms this deserves nothing but ridicule, for no accusation would be disproved by more numerous, more weighty and more truthful arguments than this one.’ (Speech, ‘On the Need of Aiding Constantinople’, addressed to the Greeks by Scholarius in Florence, in Schol. I, pp. 297-8, 299).

“And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father” - The Universal Symbol of Faith

“But when the Comforter comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me” - Jesus Christ

That’s all you need to know. :wink:

Amen we Catholics believe this :thumbsup: It is contained in our theology of the filioque. We bring forth was was implicit, and made it explicit. A teaching evident in the fathers.

“And he showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”
**Revelation 22:1
Revelation of Jesus Christ given to John the Apostle **

If it was evident the fathers would have included it when they formulated the Creed. I understand why it was added and the phrase itself can be understood in an Orthodox manner. But it can also be understood in heterodox manner and it has caused many issues in the Roman Catholic Church and Christendom as a whole. Even today 75% of Roman Catholics believe that the Holy Spirit is a force and not a person. That’s a serious issue and I personally wonder if the apparent subordination of the Holy Spirit in the Creed has anything to do with it.

Only some of the Greeks were struck this way. The votes before the final vote were quite divided. Indeed, on May 30 (just days before the final vote), a vote was take which rejected the Latin teaching on the filioque by a 17-10 majority. The entire reason for Scholarios’ speech, which you cite in another post was precisely because so many of the Greek bishops did not find the Latins to be convincing.

Do you have a citation for this? I am skeptical, to say the least, because the essence-energies distinction was strictly off the agenda, and St. Mark was thus forbidden from introducing or debating the topic by the Emperor (at one point during the council, one of the Latins even attempted to debate St. Mark on this point, and he in deference to the Emperor declined to discuss the topic, and when his opponent persisted, the Emperor intervened to make sure that the topic was not discussed). In other words, St. Mark could not have argued that the procession of the Holy Spirit was energetic in the first place. Furthermore, during the session when Montenero presented his evidence from the Latin Fathers, St. Mark of Ephesus was absent. It is true that St. Mark believed some of the Latin Codices were forged, but this suspicion was understandable given that the Latins introduced a falsified version of the seventh ecumenical council at Florence, and it was not his main line of reasoning.

False. St. Mark believed that the Latin Fathers and Greek Fathers could be reconciled by the witness of St. Maximus the Confessor (whose letter to Marinus the Latins rejected as a forgery), but he did not believe that the teaching of the contemporary Latins concerning the filioque matched the teaching of St. Maximus. In the words of St. Mark himself (concerning the time around the final vote):

But I boldly explained my opinion in words, and showed that the words of the Eastern and Western fathers can only be reconciled to each other by means of the explanation given them in the epistle of Maximus, that is, that the Son must not be thought to be the cause of the Spirit.

Scholarios evidently did not find the Latins all too convincing, nor did he evidently find the testimony of the Greeks to be all that inadequate, because when he returned home, he eventually aligned himself with St. Mark of Ephesus, and rejected the union, becoming one of its fiercest opponents. His speech may have had some sincere elements in it, but it clearly contains some rhetorical exaggerations. I should also note that your characterization of Scholarios’ words as the words of a Greek bishop are inaccurate. Scholarios was not a bishop until he was ordained to be the bishop of Constantinople after the fall of Constantinople, over a decade after Florence. The words of Scholarios which you quote were in fact the words of a well-educated layman, who never signed the union decree, and who quickly repudiated the union when he returned to Constantinople.

One mistake I make is to minimize the debate as a trivial change in one of the creeds. To be brutally honest, it seems to me to be much ado about nothing.

I’d like to be a bit wiser about it - as many people that I respect here on CAF have strong arguments that go right over my little head.

Cavaradossi or anybody else, would you have a recommendation for a book (or two) for me to begin to understand?

I’d love to know how to fully appreciate the arguments.

I’m sure someone can recommend some newer material but St Photios’ Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit is a definitive work. You could also read the Answers of Patriarch Jeremiah to the Lutherans. Some of the letters address the procession of the Holy Spirit. If you scroll past the introduction the answers are just a little ways down the page.

And when did you take the time to poll all catholic in the world about their Trinitarian beliefs dear sir? I don’t remember such a poll ever coming to my diocese.

The filioque does not subordinate the Holy Spirit but actually maintains the equality of the persons in the trinity. It also provides an explicit explanation as to the difference between the Son and the Holy Spirit . Something that strict Photian theology confuses as there really is no clear difference in the persons of the Son and Holy Spirit

You didn’t see me? I was in your parish just last week. Really tall, bald, good looking fella? :smiley:

New Research: Americans believe in heaven, hell, and a little bit of heresy

As to your point, Photian theology, or the theology of the ecumenical councils, is perfectly clear. The Son is begotten and the Spirit proceeds. I personally would be a little more hesitant to admonish the fathers of the ecumenical councils and all of popes who approved them as someone being unclear and difficult to understand on this question. :wink:

Many times I’ve seen EO advocate a strict Photian theology of Monarchy that it actually subordinates the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The only difference between the Three persons is their relation to one another. That is, the Father is the Father because begets the Son. The Son is the Son because he is Begotten of the Father. These two are the same in everything else except this distinction. The Holy Spirit is neither begotten nor begets but is proceeding from the Father and the Son as from one principle.

The Athanasin Creed sums this up best :

The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father, and of the Son neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

The truth is the Catholic Church understands that the Greek ekporeuomenon signifies only the relationship of origin to the Father alone as the principle without principle of the Trinity. The Latin processio, on the contrary, is a more common term, signifying the communication of the consubstantial divinity from the Father to the Son and from the Father, through and with the Son, to the Holy Spirit

The filioque speaks of this consubstantiality. It does not proclaim the Holy Spirit to have ultimate origin in the Father and the Son but rather in the **Father alone ** as otherwise that would be in contradiction of the monarchy of the Father. The west speaks of the Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son in that it is saying He proceeds from the father by way of the Son. The Father having this procession exist and happen this way only as nothing is done without the word bit everything through the word (John Chapter 1). Thus by way of the Son or through the Son the Spirit is manifested. The son cannot be separated from this procession as that is the way it happens. Thus the Father and son are one principle in action of spiration and nature, one communion. One God, one principle. Thus we say he proceeds from the Father and the son to highlight this idea.

The clarification he has asked for, which has been undertaken by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity

The fact that in Latin and Alexandrian theology the Holy Spirit, proceeds (proeisi) from the Father and the Son in their consubstantial communion does not mean that it is the divine essence or substance that proceed in him, but that it is communicated from the Father and the Son who have it in common. This point was confessed as dogma in 1215 by the Fourth Lateran Council: “The substance does not generate, is not begotten, does not proceed; but it is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, the Holy Spirit who proceeds: so that there is distinction in persons and unity in nature. Although other (alius) is the Father, other the Son, other the Holy Spirit, they are not another reality (aliud), but what the Father is the Son is and the Holy Spirit equally; so, according to the orthodox and catholic faith, we believe that they are consubstantial. For the Father, generating eternally the Son, has given to him his substance (…) It is clear that, in being born the Son has received the substance of the Father without this substance being in any way diminished, and so the Father and the Son have the same substance. So the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from them both, are one same reality” (DS 804-805).

In 1274 the Second Council of Lyons confessed that “the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, not as from two principles but as from one single principle (tamquam ex uno principio)” (DS 850). In the light of the Lateran Council, which preceded the Second Council of Lyons, it is clear that it is not the divine essence that can be the “one principle” for the procession of the Holy Spirit. The Catechism of the Catholic Church interprets this formula in n. 248 as follows: “The eternal order of the divine persons in their consubstantial communion implies that the Father, as the ‘principle without principle’ (DS 1331), is the first origin of the Spirit, but also that as Father of the only Son, he is, with the Son, the single principle from which the Spirit proceeds (Second Council of Lyons, DS 850)”.

For the Catholic Church, “at the outset the Eastern tradition expresses the Father’s character as first origin of the Spirit. By confessing the Spirit as he ‘who proceeds from the Father’ (“ek tou PatroV ekporeuomenon” cf. Jn 15:26), it affirms that he comes from the Father through the Son. The Western tradition expresses first the consubstantial communion between Father and Son, by saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (Filioque). (…) This legitimate complementarity, provided it does not become rigid, does not affect the identity of faith in the reality of the same mystery confessed” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 248). Being aware of this, the Catholic Church has refused the addition of kai tou Uiou to the formula ek tou PatroV ekporeuomenon of the Symbol of Nicaea-Constantinople in the Churches, even of Latin rite, which use it in Greek. The liturgical use of this original text remains always legitimate in the Catholic Church.

If it is correctly situated, the Filioque of the Latin tradition must not lead to a subordination of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity. Even if the Catholic doctrine affirms that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son in the communication of their consubstantial communion, it nonetheless recognizes the reality of the original relationship of the Holy Spirit as person with the Father, a relationship that the Greek Fathers express by the term ekporeusiV.5

In the same way, if in the Trinitarian order the Holy Spirit is consecutive to the relation between the Father and the Son, since he takes his origin from the Father as Father of the only Son,6 it is in the Spirit that this relationship between the Father and the Son itself attains its Trinitarian perfection. Just as the Father is characterized as Father by the Son he generates, so does the Spirit, by taking his origin from the Father, characterize the Father in the manner of the Trinity in relation to the Son and characterizes the Son in the manner of the Trinity in his relation to the Father: in the fullness of the Trinitarian mystery they are Father and Son in the Holy Spirit.7

The Father only generates the Son by breathing (proballein in Greek) through him the Holy Spirit and the Son is only begotten by the Father insofar as the spiration (probolh in Greek) passes through him. The Father is Father of the One Son only by being for him and through him the origin of the Holy Spirit.8

If you didn’t know, most of the worlds Catholics aren’t American. Secondly this poll is really an effort at proving nothing as I’m pretty sure most American catholic did not even participate in this poll. Polls are problematic for various reasons and this is one of them
…the fallacy of composition

It may be a fallacy of composition or it may not. But we can definitely agree there’s a big problem somewhere.

Be Johnson , another work that discusses this issue is jaroslav Pelikans, on eastern spirituality the 2nd volume in his magnum opus on the history of catholic doctrine. It’s heavy reading but you’ll find its heavily sourced ( helps with looking up quotes) and one of the few books that talks about the eastern churches with real depth. From what I gather there are many reasons why the Filioque was such an important issue. The biggest being the Greek church being surrounded and swallowed by the Islamic empire, so the Greek church had to deal with critiques from Judaism and islam. Then there is the political situation where the Greek church wanted the emperor to have the same standing in the council which is never a good idea. For it is God who appointed the apostles ie bishops to lead the church not an emperor. Pelikan’s book is quite good.

I hope that helps


The Filioque: A Church Dividing Issue?: An Agreed Statement

We are convinced from our own study that the Eastern and Western theological traditions have been in substantial agreement, since the patristic period, on a number of fundamental affirmations about the Holy Trinity that bear on the Filioque debate:

*]both traditions clearly affirm that the Holy Spirit is a distinct hypostasis or person within the divine Mystery, equal in status to the Father and the Son, and is not simply a creature or a way of talking about God’s action in creatures;
*]although the Creed of 381 does not state it explicitly, both traditions confess the Holy Spirit to be God, of the same divine substance (homoousios) as Father and Son;
*]both traditions also clearly affirm that the Father is the primordial source (arch‘) and ultimate cause (aitia) of the divine being, and thus of all God’s operations: the “spring” from which both Son and Spirit flow, the “root” of their being and fruitfulness, the “sun” from which their existence and their activity radiates;
]both traditions affirm that the three hypostases or persons in God are constituted in their hypostatic existence and distinguished from one another solely by their relationships of origin, and not by any other characteristics or activities;
*]accordingly, both traditions affirm that all the operations of God - the activities by which God summons created reality into being, and forms that reality, for its well-being, into a unified and ordered cosmos centered on the human creature, who is made in God’s image – are the common work of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, even though each of them plays a distinctive role within those operations that is determined by their relationships to one another.
Nevertheless, the Eastern and Western traditions of reflection on the Mystery of God have clearly developed categories and conceptions that differ in substantial ways from one another. These differences cannot simply be explained away, or be made to seem equivalent by facile argument.

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