I have been reading a lot of early church theology recently and have come across a bit of an issue. I’m wondering I someone can make sense of the Filioque. I’ve read De Trinitate by Augustine, and Contra Errores Graecorum in response to Orthodox theology (arguably the most comprehensive documents on this doctrine), but I’m still at a loss in understanding the idea that the Holy Spirit (HS) proceeds from both Father (F) and the Son (S).
Below is what has been my reasoning so far:
When Augustine writes of the HS, he states that the HS is the love of the F and the S, but if the HS is the result of the love of the F & S, and is what keeps them in communion with each other. My issue here is that surely the fact that the Trinity is that consubstantiality of essence should be enoughis enough for them to be the passive factor that makes them ‘in communion with each other’, if it is not, and, as Augustine and Aquinas propose, that the HS is the one that provides the communion, is it not just synonymising the name of the passive provision of communion through consubstantiality of essence, by calling it the HS? And if the HS is the one that provides the communion between Father and Son, what is the point of union through consubstantiality of essence, other than having a theological safety net to say that they are all one God? Another issue which may arise as a result of either is that this would seem to denigrate or relegate the HS’s position as a person of the Trinity in its own right; it would appear that the HS is a generated, or resultant agent of love, an entity of dependant origin, or that consubstantiality of essence is simply a safety net to state the HS is God, not just an agent.
What could be interpreted is double ‘procession’ or ‘spiration’, which was condemned in the Florence II. However, even though it was condemned it doesn’t seem to have a logical alternative as to how the HS could proceed from the S. I’m aware that the argument in response is that the HS proceeds and is spirated from the F as a single principle( termed ‘αιτία’, and the S having the HS proceed from it as a matter of εκπορεύεται, the same as it proceeds from the F, but this appears to be a complete assumption: in the Gospels, Jesus only uses εκπορεύεται when the HS being sent by F, and when he speaks of the Spirit being sent by any other agent (i.e, himself), the word used is πομπό/πομψο, which is an entirely different connotation, being a non-possessional sending, more of a term for temporal economy, than procession. If the HS does proceed from the S, does it not detract from economic/ attributive trinitarianism, (eg. Creation of the world through the Word, the miracles Jesus performed as the incarnate Logos)? Is it not close to, or blurring into, Adoptionism or Arianism?
Many thanks for your time, I look forward to your responses! Please remember, I’m not set on this, and I do not hold or proclaim different belief from the Faith, I’m just muddling through this theology as an exercise in trinitarian metaphysics and reasoning.
Apologies for any half written sentences and typos! I’ll fix them if any get pointed out!