The flique controversy and how I lost Jesus Christ

The flique controversy is I believe one of the stupidest things to have division over! The eastern orthodox church believes that the holy spirit is of the father Only, while the other churches believe that holy spirit comes from the father and the son. Now I accepted Christ in 1995. I believed in Christ was the son of God. I fell into sin and temptation and the holy spirit prompted me to return to him and turn away from sin and things of this world but ignored him and three years I fell into unbelief and no longer believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God. The holy spirit coming from the father and the son is a stumbling block for me. It is comforting to know that not all the eastern church fathers thought it was heretical and some even said it is accepted doctrine. I believe in God and the holy spirit. God still loves me and blesses me and would like God to show me out of this mess. The flique controversy is what broke my belief. God is not a god of confusion.

Do you believe that Jesus is indeed God? Because Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians believe this, whatever their stance on the filioque controversy.

While the issue of the Filioque can indeed sow seeds of doubt in relation to the Church; there is no reason because of it to doubt our LORD!


And if you go into it deeply enough, the controversy was more complicated and not all that crucially important anyway. The Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church use the Creed without the filioque, AFAIK. These are the Eastern Churches that are united with the Pope in Rome. Jesus is our Lord and our God; you can be Christian without completely understanding everything.

The Catholic Church believes exactly the same thing the Eastern Orthodox believe regarding the origin of the Holy Spirit. Both Churches believe that all things, have their ultimate origin in God the Father.

The Filioque was added to the Nicene Creed in Latin to address a heresy that denied that the Holy Spirit was part of the Trinity. It was meant to convey that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit after his ascension as an equal. The Greek churches rejected the authority of the Latin church to change the Nicene Creed. The Creed was defined by an ecumenical as complete, and only another ecumenical council could propose an alternative Creed.

The issue was further complicated, because the verb meaning “to proceed” in the Greek version of the Nicene Creed had come to mean the unique ultimate origin of the Holy Spirit. Just as God the Son was “begotten, not made” by God the Father, the Holy Spirit was taught to “proceed” from God the Father. The Latin text did not have this connotation, and the inclusion of the Filioque was never meant to explain the ultimate origin of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Nicene Creed means subtly difference things depending on the language and theology used.

From the Catholic Church’s position, this issue is resolved. The two churches always taught the same thing about the origin of the Holy Spirit, but taught two different things using the Nicene Creed. Even the modern Orthodox Churches accept that the Catholic Church at least now teaches the same doctrine regarding the origin of the spirit (although they may dispute the always part). As an ecumenical gesture, many Eastern Catholic Churches are omitting the filioque from the Nicene Creed, regardless of language, although they do consider this strictly necessary with a proper understanding of what the Filioque is intended to express.

I hope you find peace regarding this matter, and wish you a merry Christmas!

I also hope you find peace over this matter.

You say this issue is one of the stupidest things to divide over. (I agree!) But you allow it to break your belief and have such power over you. Lovingly I ask you to reflect on this and ask the Holy Spirit to resolve this stumbling block of yours. He is The Comforter.

I’m praying for you.

I think you might find this an interesting article…

This controversy seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to contemplate and for Christians to have a different opinion about.

The enemies of our faith are not those who disagree with such technicalities but instead those who reject God altogether. We need to unite.

There is an interesting verse from the last chapter of Apocalypse/Revelation, which was not, as far as I know, really used in older discussions regarding the Trinity (it is not mentioned by the Council of Florence, for instance) but may still be relevant.

And he shewed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding ἐκπορευόμενον] from the throne of God and of the Lamb. (Rev. 22:1)

Interestingly, that is the same word for procession used in the Creed. The implications are obvious.

There is clearly a sense in which the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son and a sense in which he proceeds from the Father alone. The difficulty is defining exactly what that sense is. :stuck_out_tongue:

Correct, God is not a God of confusion, and we all know who is the master of confusion, chaos, and strife etc. I think he is sowing these seeds everywhere, so you’re not alone, but by the grace of God, you are seeking answers.

I had a similar problem a lot of years ago when I doubted God existed at all. With sincere seeking and prayer, that doubt was resolved, but then I had the same doubt with believing that Jesus was our Savior and the Son of God. I asked my priest, and he told me to read the gospel of Mark. That did it for me–my doubt was completely resolved in my mind and I completely believed (and still do.) Maybe it will work for you. Pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit before picking up your Bible, pray that the truth be revealed. We are all seekers.


The argument was about the authority of the Pope – the ‘filioque’ was just a convenient peg to hang it on. The original Nicene Creed, in Greek, was written at the Council of Nicea. In the Latin West, some people added “filioque” to the Latin translation, and this became popular. The Pope allowed the addition, but did not call a Council to do so. The Eastern Church saw this as an attempt by the Pope to place his authority above that of a full Council of the Church.

The dispute was more about who had the authority to amend the wording of the Creed than about the actual wording itself.


I understand where you are coming from. There are some things that separate Christians and when you try at times to understand them it can be confusing. I am a Catholic revert and baptism was my issue. There are many differences in how people look at baptism but when I came to realize that the Catholic church is the Church Jesus founded and therein lies the truth my confusion faded away. You are correct that God is not a god of confusion. He tells us to not lean on our own understanding but in all of our ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path. In Timothy he tells us the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth.

I would continue to seek out how the Catholic church has the fullness of truth and I think you will find clarification. God will lead you.

The Filioque was not used in the Creed of the Council of Nicaea because the Council of Nicaea did not say anything about the procession of the Holy Spirit. The relevant part of the old creed actually only reads,

… And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost. And whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not (ἤν ποτε ὅτε οὐκ ἦν), or that before he was begotten he was not, or that he was made of things that were not, or that he is of a different substance or essence [from the Father] or that he is a creature, or subject to change or conversion — all that so say, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them.

Really, all they say about the Holy Spirit is that they believe in him: “We believe… in the Holy Spirit.” The Creed that speaks of the Holy Spirit that proceeds from the Father comes from the later Council of Constantinople.

Furthermore, the idea that it is an abuse of papal authority doesn’t make any sense. The recitation of the Filioque was something that originated in a bottom-up fashion. The older Roman liturgy did not even include the recitation of the Creed at all, so there was nowhere for it to be inserted in the first place for many centuries. Neither was the recitation of Filioque intended as a repudiation or even a replacement of the Constantinopolitan Creed. It cannot be a crime to recite a different creed as the Roman Liturgy has always included the Apostles Creed (which has evolved, by the way). Neither can it be a bare addition or changing of words because the Latin version of the Creed even without the Filioque still changes the verb “we believe” to “I believe” and adds the words “God from God” which are not present in the Greek. Not can it be that the pope replaced the original Creed because he never stopped the Greeks from saying the Creed without the Filioque. So how can the pope be blamed adding something to the Roman liturgy which is consonant with the Roman Church’s theological tradition (since the Western theologians have always confessed the Filioque)? The liturgy was never promulgate by an ecumenical council in the first place, and a Greek council goes too far if it pretends to have the authority to legislate over the liturgies of Rome and the other Latin rites.

I guess my point is that the controversy was primarily because the Filioque was seen as heretical and not because the only creed allowed to be used in the liturgy was the Creed that was composed at Constantinople in that exact wording unless an ecumenical council said otherwise. There is no basis for such an opinion in the Council of Constantinople or in tradition, and there could be no occasion for dispute if the Greeks did not believe that the Latins were heretics.

The filioque while not a terribly pressing theological question for the average church goer today, is important enough for the pope to have commanded St Thomas to write a treatise on it for addressing the separated Eastern Churches. I would recommend reading St Thomas’ Contra errores Graecorum. It can be found on the net. Enjoy!


It is important to realize there is very little, if any, actual difference as to what is taught regarding the origin of the Holy Spirit. Both churches teach that the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from God the Father as its first origin.

As a matter of doctrine, there is no room for opinion regarding this matter. God the Father as the first source of all, yet equal and equally eternal to the other members of the Trinity, is a solemnly defined Christian doctrine. The source of this teaching is Christ himself, and thus doubt or differences in belief are not permitted.

That work is of somewhat limited value today since it is largely based on quotations of patristic sources, which are today regarded as either spurious or at least uncertain (lost). You could try to replace the quoted sources with accepted ones like James Likoudis does here, but it is of limited value as it stands. Especially because Eastern Orthodox polemicists love accusing Catholics of forgeries like the Donation of Constantine, it is best not to give them additional ammunition in that regard.

Aquinas’ theological principles on the subject are still relevant today and most of the sources used are legitimate. So I do not see any reason to avoid it.

The purpose of the work is largely to show that the Latin teachings disputed by the Greeks are in harmony with the teachings of the Greek fathers. As far as that goes, the work is valuable only insofar as the quotations are authentic. So while it is worth reading, it cannot be the last word on the matter.

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