Nicene Creed Question


Since filioque controversy did not “change” the faith of Nicea (as admitted to even by EO bishops), what of the disciplinary prohibition of the Council of Ephesus and Chalcedon not to change the creed?

Catholics interpret this prohibition as legislative or disciplinary in context, proscriptive of *individuals *changing the Creed of Nicea on their own individual authority. We don’t interpret the councils to have forbidden the Church as a body to explain the same faith or to propose the same Creed in a clearer way. The proscriptions of Ephesus and Chalcedon affected individual transgressors, as is plain from the sanction added. They did not bind the Church as a body which continued to authentically manifest its judgment in synods and councils, ecumenical or otherwise.

Consequently, those councils, such as the Third Synod of Toledo (589), Council of Friuli (796), and the Ecumenical Councils of Lyons (1274) and Florence (1439)–did not act contrary to these prohibitions, because they did not act upon individual authority, but with lawful Church authority, at first synodal then later ecumenical.


According to William A. Jurgens, *Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. I, *(Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press), pg. 281, under the title, The Creed of Nicea.

The Nicene Creed stated, “And in the Holy Spirit.”

The creed as modified by Constantinople stated: " And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spoke by the prophets."

According to Jurgens, the modification of the creed of Nicea, the so-called Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed existed as early as AD 374, before the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD. “It was recited in its entirety by Epiphanius of Salamis in his Ancoratus, written in 374 AD” (ibid., p 398). It probably was derived from the Creed of Nicea and the Baptismal Creed of Jerusalem. It was this modified creed that was accepted in the Acts of the Council of Constantiople in AD 381. Obviously, particular ancient Churches understood that it could modify a creed according to their authentic authority, apart from the solemn authority of an Ecumenical council.

According to some Eastern fathers…

St. Athanasius, “the Word is in the Father, and the Spirit is given from the Word.” (Discourse Against the Arians, 3, 25).

St. Cyril of Alexandria, (AD 424), in his THESAURUS (Treasury of the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity):

Since the Holy Spirit when He is in us effects our being conformed to God, and He actually proceeds from Father and Son, it is abundantly clear that He is of the divine essence, in it in essence and proceeding from it.


But, “filioque” was not ever added unversally and only in the West after Ephesus. So you are suggesting that it should never have been added, correct?



Why shouldn’t it have been added? It did not altar the faith, it just clarified the Faith, for Westerners.


It should not have been added as a universal mandate. It is fine for the West but the issue that split the Church was that it should be added for everyone. It could be argued, though not conclusively, that the Church would have eventually divided anyway. But speculations are usually worthless. What did happen was that at least the two cardinals tried to force the issue by excommunicating the Eastern Patriarch. That should not have happened. It did and the split occured.



We have the benefit of hindsight.


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