Filioque - Distinguishing the Essence and Person of the Holy Spirit

Dogmatic definitions were actually what I meant. In theory, Eastern Catholics are not supposed to object to dogmas defined by the Latin Church, but what I’ve noticed in practice is a lot of cognitive dissonance amongst Eastern Catholics on issues like papal infallibility, the filioque, and the IC. I think that there is a real difference in worldview which causes this, although I’m not sure if most people on this board (myself included) can even explain what it might be.

Dear brother Cavaradossi,

I think the dissonance comes from non-Latins trying to understand Latinese (the theological language in which these dogmas are couched) according to non-Latin presuppositions. If one tries to understand Latinese according to the Latins, there shouldn’t be any dissonance. It’s just a matter of trying to comprehend what the Latins are actually trying to say by their theological language that seems strange - even heterodox - to non-Latin ears or minds.

I’ll give an example in real life. In my wife’s Filipino dialect, the word “querida” means a mistress trying to break up a marriage - a very bad connotation indeed. But in Spanish, it simply means one who is dear. The same word, two different meanings.

Similarly, “Original Sin” has different connotations to Latins than it does to Easterns. Instead of Easterns trying to impose their understanding onto the Latins, Easterns should try to understand what the Latins themselves mean when they use the term.

Again, with regards to filioque. Latins distinguish between “source” and “cause.” When they say that the Son is “cause,” they do not intend to say that the Son is “source.” However, Easterns don’t distinguish between “source” and “cause,” and to Easterns they basically mean the same thing. Instead of imposing your views on them, try to listen to what the Latins are saying. Let the horse speak for itself.

The same principle of understanding and humility should be applied to all issues between Easterns, Westerns, and Orientals.

Blessings,
Marduk

But then what is meant by cause? Does Latin theology teach that the Holy Spirit has its subsistence (or hypostasis or person) derived in any way from the Son? That is the main Eastern objection to the filioque, that the Father could somehow be an immediate cause with the Son as a mediate cause, such that the Holy Spirit hypostatically must have its existence from both the Father and the Son (this is the implication of procession as if from one principle, the formula used both at Lyons and Florence).

Dear brother Cavaradossi,

I know the cause of the debate is the use of the term “cause” by the Council of Florence. In the same text, the Decree of Florence specifically calls the Father the SOURCE of both the Son and the Spirit, distinct from the later statement where it states that the Son is “cause” along with the Father.

One needs to look at the original text to understand what the Latins mean. The original term used in reference to the phrase translated into English with the word “cause” as “subsistence” is not hypostasis, but hypartzia (we have our EO brother Mickey to thank for this information). Hypartzia does not refer to the PERSON (i.e., hypostasis) of the Holy Spirit, but to His ESSENCE. So the Decree of Florence does not at all say that the Son is a cause of the hypostasis of the Holy Spirit, but rather is a cause (along with the Father) of the ESSENCE of the Holy Spirit. It is the unanimous teaching of the Fathers that the Essence of the Holy Spirit is derived from the Son. There is no heterodoxy nor heresy in the Decree of Florence. It was just a misunderstanding caused (IMO) by the scholastic differentiation between “source” and “cause” that was evident to the Latin mind, but not to the Eastern mind. That was the mistake of the Latins (they should have been more careful of their theological language). But the Easterns are not blameless in this misunderstanding. Easterns should have read the Decree more carefully, and realized that the term “cause” (aitia) was not referring to the hypostasis (the PERSON of the Holy Spirit), but to the hypartzia (the ESSENCE of the Holy Spirit). Unfortunately, we debate mostly in English, and the nuances of the original text is often lost on us (and, again, we have our EO brother Mickey, to thank for pointing out this distinction; ironically, he had quoted the original text in order to prove that the Decree of Florence was heretical, but his efforts had the opposite effect).

Blessings,
Marduk

And to add a fine point, the derivation is the communication of the essence, since essence is uncreated and the divine Persons are eternal.

Vatican I, 1869-70, Dogmatic Constitution on the Principal Mysteries of the Faith

For from all eternity the Father generates the Son, not in producing by emanation another essence equal to his own, but in communicating his own simple essence. And in like manner, the Holy Spirit proceeds, not by a multiplication of the essence, but he proceeds by a communication of the same singular essence by one eternal spiration from the Father and the Son as from one principle.

(Latin Church) Fr. John Hardon, Dictionary: Uncreated Grace

God himself, insofar as in his love has predetermined gifts of grace. There are three forms of uncreated grace: the hypostatic union, the divine indwelling, and the beatific vision.

In the first of these, God has communicated himself in the Incarnation of Christ’s humanity (the grace of union) so intimately that Jesus of Nazareth is a divine person.

In the second and third communications, the souls of the justified on earth and of the glorified in heaven are elevated to a share in God’s own life.

All three are created graces, considered as acts, since they all had a beginning in time. But the gift that is conferred on a creature in these acts is uncreated.

Wow, that’s deep. I kind of got lost. All I really get is that the cause of the HS is from the Father, and that because the Father has given everything to the Son, the Son can give the Holy Spirit. So the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son. :shrug::o:)

This is the main clash, I would say, on the issue of the filioque. Cause is viewed as being a hypostatic property of the Father alone in the East. Hence, while you will see many Eastern Fathers say that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, or that the Holy Spirit is communicated by the Son (St. John of Damascus), but not caused.

I don’t understand the difference between the Person of the Holy Spirit and the essence of the Holy Spirit. When I think I understand the procession of the Holy Spirit (i.e consubstantial with the Father and Son, therefore proceeding from both of them), I get confused about how the Holy Spirit could originate only with the Father. When I think I understand it a different way (the origin of the Holy Spirit is from the Father alone), I get confused about how he could also be consubstantial with the Father. This is when I try to understand it, but other times, it seems like there isn’t a contradiction. :blush::o:mad:

It is difficult to understand because we are created, but neither the divine essence nor the Persons are created.

But the thing is, is if the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit receives part of its essence from the Son, wouldn’t that make the Holy Spirit have two origins? Or is it that because the Son originates from the Father, the Holy Spirit originates with the Father, because although the Son gives the Holy Spirit, it is only because of the Father? I guess the main problem is I don’t get how the Person of the Holy Spirit could be only from the Father if the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. Yet the Holy Spirit has to be consubstantial with the Father and the Son (which I get). Ugh. :mad::o

No one said nor claimed that the Holy Spirit receives PART OF His Essence from the Son. The unanimous teaching of the Fathers is that the Holy Spirit derives His Essence or Substance FROM the Son (though the Son is not the Source, only the Father) or from the Father THROUGH the Son.

Or is it that because the Son originates from the Father, the Holy Spirit originates with the Father, because although the Son gives the Holy Spirit, it is only because of the Father? I guess the main problem is I don’t get how the Person of the Holy Spirit could be only from the Father if the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. Yet the Holy Spirit has to be consubstantial with the Father and the Son (which I get). Ugh. :mad::o

A great Mystery indeed! All we need to know (imo) is that the Fathers distinguished between the hypostasis (Person) and the ousia (Essence of Substance). The main concern of the Easterns is that the Father remains the sole cause of the hypostasis. And any attribution of “cause” to the Son by the Latins is only with regards to the ousia, NOT the hypostasis. I do not see what is hard to understand about that, so I do not understand what the issue is from the Eastern Orthodox side. It appears that where the filioque is concerned, it is the EO who are failing to distinguish between the ousia and the hypostasis.:shrug:

As explained earlier to my brother in Christ Cavaradossi, the Council of Florence used the term hypartzia, NOT hypostasis, when it stated that the Son is “cause” along with the Father. The difference between hypartzia and hypostasis is exactly the distinction between ousia and hypostasis - hypartzia refers to WHAT a thing is, while hypostasis refers to WHO a thing is.

I hope that helps.

Blessings,
Marduk

The problem you present seems to be almost the same question that Photius asked when he first encountered the Latin teaching of the filioque. Byzantine theology, drawing from the work of the Cappadocian Fathers considers the monarchy of the Father (that is, the origin of the Holy Spirit and the Son from the Father with the Father as the sole cause) to be an inviolable principle, so surely it was quite a shock when Eastern theologians encountered a teaching which seemingly contradicted that principle. I too am curious to see how this is dealt with in Latin theology.

Dear brother in Christ Cavaradossi,

The Latin theology complements the Eastern theology in two ways:

  1. The Latins distinguish between different types of “cause” (according to Aristotelian principles). So the Latins completely adhere to the principle that the Father is the SOURCE of the Son and the Spirit (in Aristotelian language, this would be termed as “First Cause”).

  2. The Latins, in keeping with the patristic teaching, utilize the language of “cause” (as it applies to the Son) only with the ousia of the Spirit, not the hypostasis of the Spirit. As the Scriptures and the Fathers teach, all that the Holy Spirit has, He receives from the Son (or from the Father through the Son).

Blessings,
Marduk

Are the concepts of being from and through the same? I’m not sure how one can draw the conclusion that the Spirit is from the Son from the statement that the Spirit is from the Father through the Son. Almost all of the Eastern fathers who speak of the Spirit being from the Father through the Son will state in the same passage that the Spirit is clearly not from the Son (st. John of Damascus for example says that the Spirit is projected from the Father through the Son, but that while it is the Spirit of the Son, it is clearly not the Spirit from the Son).

In the Eastern line of thought at least, the formula from the Father through the Son (but not from the Son) seems to be interpreted as meaning that the Spirit proceeds from the Father hypostatically (in this way the Spirit can be neither from nor through the Son), but that the uncreated energies of the trinity are manifest in or shine forth in the Spirit from the Father through the Son. The idea of the Son causing the ousia of the Spirit looks very foreign in Byzantine theology because the act of generation (either begetting or procession) involves the Father generating a hypostasis with the same divine essence which he possesses (that is hypostatic and essential procession or generation are the same act).

The thought, then, that essence can proceed from or be caused by any but the Father looks like total nonsense because the justification for the idea (the consubstantiality of the trinity) would then have the inverse implication that either the Son is begotten essentially of the Father and the Holy Spirit (because they are coeternal and consubstantial) or worse yet indicate that there was a time when the Father and Son were but the Spirit was not (that the Spirit is not coeternal).

That at least is my major obstacle to ever being able to understand the filioque as an Orthodox teaching. I’m not sure how the filioque can not violate the monarchy of the Father, especially when the procession through the son is said to happen in essence.

Edit: I fear we are digressing from the topic of this thread, perhaps it would be best to take this filioque tangent elsewhere.

Orthodoxy does not define the internal procession as the Latin Church does. The Monarchy of the Father, and the mission of the Holy Spirit through the Son are maintained.

forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?p=8347621&postcount=11

From the Latin pov, only in terms of second causes. In terms of First Cause, there is only one (the Father), and the term “through” does not come into the equation.

I’m not sure how one can draw the conclusion that the Spirit is from the Son from the statement that the Spirit is from the Father through the Son.

Latin theology does not claim - nor has ever claimed - that the Spirit is from the Son in terms of hypostasis. When the Fathers (Latin and Eastern) say that the HS is from the Father through the Son, they refer either to the Mission of the HS, or the Substance/Essence of the HS, not the Person of the HS.

Almost all of the Eastern fathers who speak of the Spirit being from the Father through the Son will state in the same passage that the Spirit is clearly not from the Son (st. John of Damascus for example says that the Spirit is projected from the Father through the Son, but that while it is the Spirit of the Son, it is clearly not the Spirit from the Son).

Yes. Florence does NOT say that the Son is the cause of the hypostasis of the HS(which is equivalent to saying that the Person of the HS is from the Son); rather it says quite plainly that the Son is the cause (along with the Father) of the hypartzia of the HS (which is equivalent to saying that the Essence/Substance of the HS is from the Son).

In the Eastern line of thought at least, the formula from the Father through the Son (but not from the Son) seems to be interpreted as meaning that the Spirit proceeds from the Father hypostatically (in this way the Spirit can be neither from nor through the Son), but that the uncreated energies of the trinity are manifest in or shine forth in the Spirit from the Father through the Son.

Yes. That is the same thing that the Latins teach, EXCEPT that while the Latins (like the Easterns) distinguish between the hypostasis and the Essence, Latins do not distinguish between the uncreated Energy and the Essence. The difference between the Latin teaching and a certain polemic in modern EO’xy is that (I have noticed) many EO today claim that the manifestation of the Spirit through the Son is a merely temporal activity of the Godhead, whereas the Synod of Blarchanae and St. Palamas both teach that it is an ETERNAL activity of the Godhead. In this, the Latins are closer to the medieval Easterns than modern EO are to their forebears.

The idea of the Son causing the ousia of the Spirit looks very foreign in Byzantine theology

That should present no problem. The Latins do not teach that the Son is the Source of the ousia of the Spirit. The Son is cause (along with the Father) of the ousia of the Spirit, but the Source of the ousia is the Father alone. Please realize and remember that. Just remember that what the Easterns understand as “cause” is more nuanced in Latin theology.

because the act of generation (either begetting or procession) involves the Father generating a hypostasis with the same divine essence which he possesses (that is hypostatic and essential procession or generation are the same act).

Hypostatic and Essential procession/generation are NOT the same acts, though they both occur at the same moment of eternity. When the Fathers unanimously teach that “all the Holy Spirit has He receives from the Son,” the Fathers are obviously distinguishing between the hypostatic generation and the attribution of properties (including Divinity, which Easterns would call the Essence). The idea presupposes a subject Who is receiving from the Son. So the hypostatic generation of the Holy Spirit occurs distinctly from the attribution of divinity and other properties from the Son.

The thought, then, that essence can proceed from or be caused by any but the Father looks like total nonsense because the justification for the idea (the consubstantiality of the trinity) would then have the inverse implication that either the Son is begotten essentially of the Father and the Holy Spirit (because they are coeternal and consubstantial)

Do you notice the mistake in your syllogism? Your rhetoric depends on the phrase “be caused by ANY but the Father.” But the Latins don’t claim that ANY can be “second cause.” The Latins teach that ONLY the SON is “second cause” in the Trinity. The property of being “second cause” (or, in more Eastern terms, the property of being “through”) is a hypostatic property of the Son. So the implications you propose are invalid non-sequiturs because it depends on an invalid premise.

or worse yet indicate that there was a time when the Father and Son were but the Spirit was not (that the Spirit is not coeternal).

That’s the same argument that Arians and Pneumatomachi used against the orthodox Fathers, so I don’t think we need to entertain such thoughts.

That at least is my major obstacle to ever being able to understand the filioque as an Orthodox teaching. I’m not sure how the filioque can not violate the monarchy of the Father, especially when the procession through the son is said to happen in essence.

It’s easy once you accept that the Latins distinguish between “Source” and “cause.” Just because the Latins consider the Son a “cause” does not mean that they regard Him as “source.”

Edit: I fear we are digressing from the topic of this thread, perhaps it would be best to take this filioque tangent elsewhere.

Agreed.:thumbsup: If the Mod is reading this, perhaps she can split off the appropriate posts to another thread entitled “Filioque - Distinguishing the Essence and Person of the Holy Spirit.”

Blessings,
Marduk

I take donations of chocolate. :wink:

Catherine

I don’t understand the difference between cause and source in this discussion, and I think that’s where my problem lies. Could anyone comment on this?

I also have a difficult time understanding it, but from Mardukm’s posts, it seems to me as follows;

The Holy Spirit must proceed from the Father through the Son, so the “through” the son is of necessity for the Holy Ghost and is therefore second cause of the Holy Spirit; Cause- something that makes another to be (as of necessity) a certain thing or a certain way, even when/if it’s not itself the source or origin of the thing.

I understand that it’s the Father’s sole movement that brings about the person of the Holy Spirit as he does that of the Son- But that the divine being or nature or essence, which is common to all three persons of God, is possessed by the Holy Spirit or taken by him as his own from the Son, who himself possesses/takes as his own, the one same exact Divine nature/essence from the Father. (forgive the apparent failure of language on my part, here).

Remember that the essence which they all possess fully and absolutely, each as his own, (That is: what God is or his being/nature) is in fact just one single essence, the exact same essence, unlike the three persons of God that are distinct from each other.

That’s the best I can make of it. :wink: I hope Mardukm or someone else sheds more light or gives corrections.

Peace!

Is this second cause idea the same as being a mediate cause? If I recall, the Tomus of Gregory II from the Synod of Blachernae condemns the idea of any sort of mediate causation of the Son, along with the idea that through and from are equivalent (largely in response to Beccus, who argued both of these things).

Latin theology does not claim - nor has ever claimed - that the Spirit is from the Son in terms of hypostasis. When the Fathers (Latin and Eastern) say that the HS is from the Father through the Son, they refer either to the Mission of the HS, or the Substance/Essence of the HS, not the Person of the HS.

Yes. Florence does NOT say that the Son is the cause of the hypostasis of the HS(which is equivalent to saying that the Person of the HS is from the Son); rather it says quite plainly that the Son is the cause (along with the Father) of the hypartzia of the HS (which is equivalent to saying that the Essence/Substance of the HS is from the Son).

I think one point of legitimate disagreement (you actually mention this in the next paragraph), is that Gregory of Cyprus at Blachernae and Gregory Palamas would argue that the eternal manifestation of the Spirit through the Son is only energetic (that is, it concerns the external being of the trinity), but that the hypostatic and essential procession (because it concerns the internal being of the trinity) can only come from the Father.

Yes. That is the same thing that the Latins teach, EXCEPT that while the Latins (like the Easterns) distinguish between the hypostasis and the Essence, Latins do not distinguish between the uncreated Energy and the Essence. The difference between the Latin teaching and a certain polemic in modern EO’xy is that (I have noticed) many EO today claim that the manifestation of the Spirit through the Son is a merely temporal activity of the Godhead, whereas the Synod of Blarchanae and St. Palamas both teach that it is an ETERNAL activity of the Godhead. In this, the Latins are closer to the medieval Easterns than modern EO are to their forebears.

This ties into what I said above, Both Palamas and Gregory II would have likely argued that it is not the essence (for the essence relates to the unknowable internal being of God) that is from the Father through the Son, but the energies (relating to the knowable and external being of God) which are manifest in the Spirit from the Father through the Son. Most of the EO I know, by the way, would probably be comfortable with the formulae put forth by Palamas and Gregory II. The only ones you’ll find who insist that through the son can only refer to the economy are the converts who recently flipped through Photios’ Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit. :wink:

That should present no problem. The Latins do not teach that the Son is the Source of the ousia of the Spirit. The Son is cause (along with the Father) of the ousia of the Spirit, but the Source of the ousia is the Father alone. Please realize and remember that. Just remember that what the Easterns understand as “cause” is more nuanced in Latin theology.

This seems to be confusing multiple people reading this thread (myself included). Could you explain this for us?

Hypostatic and Essential procession/generation are NOT the same acts, though they both occur at the same moment of eternity. When the Fathers unanimously teach that “all the Holy Spirit has He receives from the Son,” the Fathers are obviously distinguishing between the hypostatic generation and the attribution of properties (including Divinity, which Easterns would call the Essence). The idea presupposes a subject Who is receiving from the Son. So the hypostatic generation of the Holy Spirit occurs distinctly from the attribution of divinity and other properties from the Son.

So then the Holy Spirit receives his divinity from the Son? :confused: Again, this seems very foreign to the Eastern conception where the Spirit proceeds (receives his being and divinity from) the Father, who is the only source and cause within the trinity. St. John of Damascus, for example, in the one passage in his Exact Exposition on the Orthodox Faith where he mentions the Spirit proceeding from the essence of the Father neglects to make any mention at all of the Son’s participation in this process, while in subsequent passages he makes mention of the Spirit proceeding from the Father and being communicated through the Son and of the Spirit proceeding from the Father through the Son. I’m still not so sure that the act of generating a hypostasis is separable from the attribution of an ousia to it, nor am I sure that if it is a separable process that we can attribute it to being through the Son without undermining the monarchy of the Father.

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