Filioque in time

I was just wondering, is the filioque seen as something in the economic Trinity or ontological/imminent Trinity?

Simple question, thanks guys!

THAT’s a “simple” question??? Dood, I would like to see what you consider a “hard” question.

Filioque is part of the ontological Trinity. It is the nature of the Trinity itself.

The Holy Spirit is also ontological, but is also economic. The source of the Holy Spirit (the Father and the Son) is ontological only. The Father cannot exist without the Son, and the Son cannot exist without the Father, but the Holy Spirit cannot exist without both the Father and the Son (filioque) and proceeds from the mutual love between the Father and the Son (not from a one-sided love of the Father for the Son).

The more I read on this site, the more I realize what I don’t know.

What is economic trinity?

The economic trinity refers to God’s actions in history, particular in regards to salvation.

Immanent Trinity. In fact, one of the main arguments for the Filioque is that it is obviously true of the economic Trinity (Jesus speaks of sending the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John). The Eastern Church distinguishes more sharply, I think, between the two than the West does, so they aren’t phased by this.

In other words, everyone agrees that both the Father and the Son participate in sending the Holy Spirit into the world in time. The question between East and West is whether this “economic Filioque” can be read back into the eternal relationship between the Persons of the Trinity.


The Roman Catholic Church is actually one with the Eastern Orthodox on the question of the “filioque.” Much ado is made about it because it is so easily misunderstood. However, the Roman Catholic Church, is united with the Eastern Orthodox Church in the belief that the Father is the source of generation. The Roman Catholic Church added the filioque in defense of the Divinity of the Son, which was far more problematic in the West, at the time it was added. However it was never intended to imply that the Father AND the Son are the source of the generation of the Holy Spirit, but rather that the Father is the source and the Son is United with the Father. Some have said that maybe saying “who proceeds from the Father through the Son,” would be more accurate. However, it adds some other difficulties, so it is just left as it is. Knowledgable Eastern Orthodox Theologians understand this, and have no problem with the “filioque” per se. However some EO DO have a problem with the Roman Catholic Church “daring” to add a word like this to the Creed. IOW, more of a political disagreement than a theological one.

Hi Ambrose: Great post!

Plenty of knowledgeable Eastern Orthodox theologians do have a substantive problem with the Filioque. Vladimir Lossky would be the most famous example. It’s true that other theologians don’t necessarily have a problem with it theologically, but do object to the way it was added (David Hart, for instance). In my experience most Orthodox are somewhere in the middle. Their main objection is to how it was added, but they are pretty dubious about the theology of it too.

When two sides differ on whether they disagree, then by definition they disagree.

Many Anglicans argue that we do not differ with you guys in sacramental theology. For instance, I don’t think that consubstantiation and transubstantiation are meaningfully different, and I don’t even think that the language of “spiritual presence” is necessarily talking about something radically different from what Aquinas was talking about.

But if Catholics disagree with this view, then obviously Catholics and Anglicans disagree, if only on whether they disagree or not.


I challenge anyone to read Augustine, Aquinas and Calvin on the Eucharist and not be surprised by some of the similarities. There are some pretty clear differences too, but I was really quite struck by the symbolic language of Augustine, and the ‘high’ sacramentology of Calvin.

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