“Filioque”: Issues and Theologies by Rev Dr John (Patrick) Ramsey

Introduction

The Filioque issue has been a long established reason for the continuing Schism between the what are now known as the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, both of whom consider themselves to be the Catholic Church preserving the orthodox faith of the Seven Ecumenical Councils and bearers of the Apostolic Tradition. The matter was addressed in conciliar fashion twice since the events of AD 1054. One was with the Council of Lyons in 1274 followed by the Blacernae Council in 1285 and the other was at the Council of Florence in 1439 followed by a council in Constantinople in 1484. In both cases, there was an initial statement of agreement on the clause and then a subsequent rejection of that statement by the bishops in communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople. In recent times, there have been attempts to bring reconciliation on the matter. These recent attempts, unlike those earlier, have not tried to make a common statement of faith on the matter, but rather tried to interpret received positions as compatible, as though the issue was never sufficient for separation in itself.

This article will address the Filioque issue from an Orthodox point of view are argues for that position according to its own logic. The article does not claim to present any official view on the matter, but rather to present theological considerations on the matter as to inform the discussion. The article is also not trying to reconcile opinions on the matter, but to present one case in the debate.

The core of the disagreement comes with the insertion into the Latin translation of the Creed of Constantinople, AD 381, of the word “filioque” with some variations to the original Latin wording of the translation, at the point of the Creed that states, in the original Greek: “τὸ ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐκπορευόμενον”, which is in English translation from the Greek: “the one proceeding from out of the Father”, or from Latin: “from [the] Father proceeding” (Latin: a Patre procedentem), to read after the insertion: “who proceeds from out of the Father and the Son….” (Latin: qui ex Patre Filióque procédit). This insertion was fairly early in the history of the Church being first recorded at a council in Toledo, Spain, in the late 6th Century and it follows the usage of “and the Son” in reference, in some Latin speaking Fathers such as St Augustine, to the Spirit being sent, or proceeding.  However, the matter was not an issue of debate until the 9th Century when Greek speaking missionaries in the Balkans working in the same territory with Latin speaking missionaries learnt of the change. Patriarch Photius of Constantinople, in the latter half of the 9th Century, wrote a criticism of this usage. The debate continued and the insertion became more widespread in western regions. The church in Rome, though, did not officially insert the word into the creed, until AD 1014 and then soon after the events of AD 1054 occurred resulting in a lasting schism between Old Rome and New Rome.

The Issue

What is at issue with the inclusion of “filioque” in Latin? The issue is about the right faith or belief of who God is. It is a matter touching of the definition of Faith of the Triune God. This then has consequences for our union with God, that is our salvation and eternal well-being. If it is correct then those denying it are denying God. If is is false then those proclaiming it are proclaiming a false God. If it doesn’t matter then these statements from the Council of Florence, AD 1439:

“The existence of the Son from the Father is certainly eternal and without beginning, and the procession of the holy Spirit from the Father and the Son is eternal and without beginning. Whatever the Father is or has, he has not from another but from himself and is principle without principle. Whatever the Son is or has, he has from the Father and is principle from principle. Whatever the holy Spirit is or has, he has from the Father together with the Son. But the Father and the Son are not two principles of the holy Spirit, but one principle, just as the Father and the Son and the holy Spirit are not three principles of creation but one principle. Therefore it condemns, reproves, anathematises and declares to be outside the body of Christ, which is the church, whoever holds opposing or contrary views”;

and

“In the name of the holy Trinity, Father, Son and holy Spirit, we define, with the approval of this holy universal council of Florence, that the following truth of faith shall be believed and accepted by all Christians and thus shall all profess it: that the holy Spirit is eternally from the Father and the Son, and has his essence and his subsistent being from the Father together with the Son, and proceeds from both eternally as from one principle and a single spiration”;

are false because they declare that all Christians must believe this doctrine and they anathematise those not so holding these views, such as Orthodox Christians. They make it matter as also do the Orthodox in rejecting this view are heretical:

“Do you reject and do you consider null and void the Synod, which was previously summoned in Florence of Italy and those fraudulent things, which this Synod erroneously embraced against the catholic Church?…. regarding them as heretics”.

Since both make the issue matter then, given that it does not matter, it is hard to consider that either the Roman Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church is the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church led into all truth by the Holy Spirit. We should rather here accept that it does matter and that one or the other position is wrong, unless shown to be expressing the same theology and faith.

So, what are the theological considerations of this issue that have engendered such strongly stated opinions for or against the insertion of “filioque”? There are two primary issues at stake. One is the insertion of any word into a Creed that is defined at an Ecumenical Council and the other is the theological correctness of inserting the specific word “filioque” in Latin and its allowance to be inserted into translations of the Creed in other languages, such as into English as “and the Son”.

Inserting the Word “Filioque”

Addressing the first issue. When speaking of the Cred, one is here referring to that Creed given at the Council of Constantinople in AD 381 rather than the Creed given at Nicaea in AD 325. These are two distinct Creeds, even though both are commonly known as the Nicene Creed. This point is made to clarify that the Council of Constantinople did not insert words into or change the text of the Creed of Nicaea and then present the new Creed as that of Nicaea. Rather it was a second formation of a second Creed that stands in its own right with the Creed of Nicaea, which remains unchanged in the wording that was accepted at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. The Creed was considered to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and the testimony of God along with the Holy Scriptures. Just as one is not permitted to add or subtract words from the Scriptures, even if such has happened by mistake, so too no changes in wording of the Creed, or rather Creeds, are permitted, because this is tantamount to changing God’s testimony. This is why the Fathers of Constantinople, even though in effect expanding on the Creed of Nicaea, did not simply insert words into the received Creed, but wrote another declaration of Fatih to stand with the Nicene Creed, so that no changes were added to the Creed in its original form. This also applies to those gathered together as an Ecumenical Council; a Creed, as ratified at an Ecumenical Council, is not open to any change.

The addition of the word: “filioque”, to the Latin translation of the Creed of Constantinople was an addition to the text of the Creed itself and the modified Creed was used as being the same Creed as that of Constantinople; it was not another parallel Creed. In this manner, the text as inspired by the Holy Spirit, was changed by a local council and then inserted by other local councils and eventually the Bishop of Rome, without reference to an Ecumenical Council, at least, to confirm the insertion into the common Creed of all churches. This was considered a fundamental breach of the integrity of God’s testimony as expressed in the Scriptures and through the Fathers in the Ecumenical and other recognised councils. This is in keeping of the Orthodox understanding that the decrees and canons of the Ecumenical Councils are the testimonies of God and so permanent and unable to be changed through addition, subtraction or modification. It is more than a matter of discipline, but about the presence of the Holy Spirit and His inspiration and guidance of the Fathers at the ecumenical councils.

Some make a case that the insertion into Latin is saying the same thing as the Greek text without the insertion. If this was true then the translations of both into a third language, such as English, must result in the same text or a text with the same meaning as both. However, translating the Latin into English requires the use of “and the Son” to render “filioque” and yet that is also the only way to render the insertion into the Greek text. So, the meaning of the Greek and Latin is not the same when “filioque” is added. Finally, if it is argued that the meanings are not the same then the Latin text is not a translation of the Creed of Constantinople, but other Creed, expressing a different meaning. Presenting such a Creed as a public declaration of Faith is contrary to Canon 7 of the Council of Ephesus in which is is forbidden to present a different Creed to converts from any heresy whatsoever, that is there is no justification to add the word to address, for example, a particular problem with Arians.

So, even without considering the theological implications of the “filioque” insertion, the very insertion itself, whether right or wrong, is considered contrary to the Tradition of the Church and explains why those coming into communion with Patriarch of New Rome from Old Rome are required to declare: “Do you embrace our holy Symbol of the Faith, and do you keep it unchanged, and without α possible addition of any word to it, or subtraction? …Yes, holy Master, this is what Ι love from αll my heart and Ι keep it unchanged.” This is not a simple matter of discipline, but proper recognition of the divine authority and inspiration of the Creed as the testimony of God.

Theological Principles

Addressing the second issue, the issue relates to the origin and nature of the three hypostases (persons) of the Trinity. It is worthwhile to set some theological principles before addressing the specific issue of the “filioque” insertion. Firstly, theologically we speak of the Triad existing as three hypostases of the same nature. (Nature referring to essence and activity such that each hypostasis has the same essence and the same activity.) We cannot posit anything else as part of or existing within or prior to or in the Triad; all that exists are the three hypostasis that are each completely the same as God and yet eternally distinct from each other, such that each hypostasis is not the other according to what defines it as hypostasis. Neither can one conceive of the nature of God as existing apart from the three hypostases, which means the essence and activity of God only exist according to the hypostases and in the hypostases. The three hypostases in turn don’t exist independently of each other, even independently with the same nature. The nature, in common essence and activity, is the same in each hypostasis because it is sourced from one, the Father. That means that the Son is derived from the Father and has and does and is everything that the Father has and does and is other than being the Father. The Son is not derived from an abstract nature but from the hypostasis of the Father. The Father as Father is what defines the Son as Son in a way that one can even say that the Son is the Father in another hypostasis. This is also true for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has and does and is everything that the Father has and does and is and so one can say that the Holy Spirit is the Father in another hypostasis. Both the hypostasis of the Son and of the Holy Spirit derive who they are, what they do and what they have  from the Father. Thus, the Father is the singular source of all that the Triad has, does and is and grounds the three as one God. Hence we confess, one God, the Father; the monarchy of the Father. This means that God is not a combination of the three hypostases, but completely in each hypostasis and each hypostasis is completely God and each derived hypostasis, being exactly the same as the cause, is also completely God. The hypostasis of the Father is cause or source or origin as hypostasis. His hypostasis exists in the manner of existence as cause. The Father does not do a specific act to cause the Son or the Spirit, but is their cause according to existing in the manner of cause as being Father; they are not derived from what He does but how He is. The activity of God is common to all three hypostases and so no particular activity in itself is cause of the other hypostases, but only the hypostatic manner of existence of the Father as cause. The Son in turn is derived from this cause as generated, or begotten, from out of the cause. The Son is all that the Father is, and even is the Father, except being in the manner of existence as begotten and caused, He is not the Father as being in the manner of existence as cause and so is properly named Son. The Spirit is also from out of the cause as a second effect of the same cause, yet in the manner of existence as proceeding, being all that the Father is and even is the Father, except being in the manner of existence as proceeding and caused and not cause.

The Trinity is not a community of three individuals, but one individual in three manners of existence, each being exactly the same individual, which is what is meant by saying that the Son and the Spirit are eternally derived from the Father. Each hypostasis exists eternally in one and only one manner of existence. Each manner of existence of God must be as an eternally unique hypostasis. Thus, hypostases cannot consist of two manners of existence such as cause and begotten. Rather the manner of existence of cause is the Father and only the Father. The manner of existence of begotten is the Son and only the Son. The manner of existence as proceeding is the Spirit and only the Spirit. This is not modalism as being dependant on how God, the Father acts or appears from context to context, but the eternal reality of one being, God, being God as existence in three eternal and equal manners of existence with two manners of existence derived from one manner of existence as the one cause of both coming simultaneously from the Father as one hypostasis, so one and the same cause of each. The Father as cause is indistinguishable in relation to the Son and the Spirit; He is the same cause in the same way for both the Son and for the Spirit. The cause of the Son is the cause of the Holy Spirit, who is the Father. The begetting of the Son and the proceeding of the Spirit are two distinct effects of the cause, but the Father does not cause by an activity of begetting and by an activity of spirating. The Father is simply cause as Father. The cause is His manner of existence, the hypostasis.

Since the Son and the Holy Spirit come simultaneously from the same cause, which is the hypostasis of the Father, it is impossible to attribute another hypostasis as cause for either the Son or the Spirit. We cannot say that the Son is cause of the Spirit or that the Spirit is cause of the Son because that would deny that each comes from the same cause, one hypostasis, the Father. So, we cannot state that the Son is from the Spirit or that the Spirit is from the Son or the Son is from the Father and the Spirit or that the Sprit is from the Father and the Son. To do so would deny both coming from the one and the same cause because the cause is a hypostasis and naming a second hypostasis is naming a second cause. Because each hypostasis has a singular manner of existence then if the Son was also cause of the Spirit, He would cease to be Son in the manner of existence as begotten and simply be the Father in the manner of existence as cause; He cannot be both in the manner of existence of cause and in the manner of existence as begotten. So too for the Spirit, if the Spirit was said to be cause of the Son.

Activity, distinction and order in the Triad

A way to have two hypostases being the cause of another hypostasis is to posit that cause is not the hypostasis as hypostasis, but an activity of that hypostasis. (Note: this must assume a distinction between the essence and activity of the divine nature, otherwise one cannot speak of distinct activity as cause.) However, if each hypostasis has different activity from each other hypostasis then it becomes individualised, according to separate activity, from the others and so another god resulting in tritheism. (Also, one has the problem in Christology in which the activity of the hypostasis pertains to the natures, so Christ has two wills and two activities; If activity pertains to the hypostasis then Christ would have one will and one activity as one hypostasis.) If one says that two of the hypostases have the same activity, but not the third then two are one God, a Dyad, and the third is another god or creature; the third cannot be the same god as not having the same activity. If one wants to affirm that the third has the same causal activity then He would be derived from out of Himself. Then He must exist in two hypostases, one caused from out of the other, else there would be no causal activity, but this denies that He is one hypostasis. In summary, the option of ascribing cause to activity results in denying the doctrine of God as Trinity, but either a Dyad of two or three individual gods like three individual men.

Given that the Son and the Holy Spirit both come from the one, same source, there is a problem that one cannot distinguish the begetting of the Son from the procession of the Spirit and so one is left with either effectively naming two Sons or denying that Spirit is a distinct hypostasis, as well as no means of defining an order of the Son and the Holy Spirit relative to each other. The idea of having the Holy Spirt caused by the Father and the Son provides a clear distinction between the hypostases as: one without cause; one caused by the one without cause; and one caused by the one without cause and the one caused by one, as well as a clear order of the hypostases. (Note: this system does not have a reason in itself to stop the sequence continuing ad infinitum.) Each caused hypostasis in this scheme is clearly differentiated by having a distinct cause. In this context, given a a scheme in which the third hypostasis cannot be said to be caused by the previous two hypostases, it is not clear how there can be sufficient distinction between the Son and the Spirit as two caused hypostases; they both come from the same cause, the Father. There is also an issue about how to define the order between the Son and the Spirit such that the three are always mentioned in the order: Father, Son and Holy Spirit and not: Father, Holy Spirit, and Son.

In response, one can state that the manners of existence as generated and as proceeding are different from each other and that this in itself is sufficient to establish the two hypostases as distinct. (One needs to take care not to equate “cause” with “generation” in conceiving of the Holy Spirit as derived by a type of generation, and of equating “come forth” with “proceeding” such that the Son is conceived as caused with some type of procession.) However, while this may be sufficient to distinguish the hypostasis of the Son from the hypostasis of the Holy Spirit, this does provide a means of establishing the order in the Trinity. One could respond that it is sufficient to have the order provided by Christ when He said: “baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. While this may be sufficient to a degree, the likes of St Gregory of Nyssa, considered it necessary to provide a fuller explanation to preserve the Son as only-begotten. To preserve the Son as only-begotten, there must be a form of dyad in God of Father and Son. That is, for the Son to be only-begotten requires that there is no other hypostasis either generated from out of the Father nor from out of the Son; no other hypostasis can stand either beside or beyond the Son relative to the Father as a type of brother or grandson. Also, to preserve the proper title of “Father” what is caused from out of the Father must be in a primary sense, the Son, such that the Father is properly Father also in context of the Spirit, even if the Spirit is not begotten from out of the Father but proceeds from out of the Father. The solution is that the procession of the Holy Spirit is in a manner “contained in” the begetting of the Son and that the end of the procession is the Son as Son.; that is rather than a conception of the Trinity as a linear three or a triangular three, the conception should be of two containing or possessing the third in common. To capture this, it is said that the Spirit proceeds through the Son indicating that the Holy Spirit does not proceed separately from the Son; He does not exist “beside” the Son as a “brother”. One can also say that the Spirit proceeds through the begetting of the Son and that the Son is not begotten through the proceeding of the Spirit, even if the Son cannot be begotten without the Spirit nor the Spirit proceed without the begetting. The asymmetry provides the order of Son and Spirit. The manner of existence can be defined in reference to the Son, but the manner of existence of the Son is not defined in reference to the Spirit. Another point is that the Son as caused is dependent on the Spirit as caused, that is the Son cannot be generated without the procession of the Spirit and nor can the procession of the Spirit happen without the generation of the Son otherwise they would not be from the same cause. Something cannot be an asymmetrical cause of something on which it is dependent in its own cause. The mutual dependence of each also prevents either being conceived in an instrumental sense for the cause of the other. Rather the asymmetry pertains to the manner of existence of each hypostasis as derived from out of the same cause and is not related to being “from the Son” as cause. Along with being through the Son, the Spirit must rest in the Son, that is not be said to proceed from out of the Son, so that the procession is in a way “contained in” or “possessed by” the Son as Spirit of the Son; the Spirit does not proceed beyond the Son, thus preserving the dyad of Father and Son as also requiring procession “through the Son”. The Son is not so “contained in” or “possessed by” the Spirit such that we don’t say the Son of the Spirit in that sense as well as in the sense of the Spirit being cause of the Son. (Note: the Father being sole cause with the Son being only-begotten and the Holy Spirit resting in the Son means that the Triad “ends” in Triad and cannot be multiplied ad infinitum as the causal model by increasing chains of causality.)

The Father can be said to know that Spirit through the Son and in the Son, such that one can say that the Spirit is manifest through the Son; the Holy Spirit is not known on His own apart from the Son. Rather the Holy Spirit glories the Son and establishes the Son as Son. All this means that the Father to Son relationship has priority in the Triad and the Holy Spirit establishes it and binds it as proceeding from out of the Father through the Son, thus establishing the Son as Son and binding the Son to the Father by resting in the Son as Spirit of the Father and of the Son. Also, the Holy Spirit in this is like a bond of love and communion.

The Triad is ordered by how the manners of existence exist, rather than by an order of causes. The Father existing as cause takes priority because eternal metaphysical cause takes priority over what is caused if mapped onto a temporal system, the only-begotten Son takes next place in the order because His manner of existence, in reference to the cause, the Father, is defined directly by the Father, as Son, and the Spirit is third because His manner of existence, in reference to the cause, the Father, is defined as through the Son and as resting in the Son.

Council of Florence

Having set out an Orthodox theological position on the Trinity, it is worthwhile to compare this with the definition of the Council of Florence AD 1439, which is considered ecumenical and binding for those united to the papacy.

“In the name of the holy Trinity, Father, Son and holy Spirit, we define, with the approval of this holy universal council of Florence, that the following truth of faith shall be believed and accepted by all Christians and thus shall all profess it: that the holy Spirit is eternally from the Father and the Son, and has his essence and his subsistent being from the Father together with the Son, and proceeds from both eternally as from one principle and a single spiration. We declare that when holy doctors and fathers say that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, this bears the sense that thereby also the Son should be signified, according to the Greeks indeed as cause, and according to the Latins as principle of the subsistence of the holy Spirit, just like the Father.

And since the Father gave to his only-begotten Son in begetting him everything the Father has, except to be the Father, so the Son has eternally from the Father, by whom he was eternally begotten, this also, namely that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Son.

We define also that the explanation of those words “and from the Son” was licitly and reasonably added to the creed for the sake of declaring the truth and from imminent need.”

This text defines that the Holy Spirit is eternally “from the Father and the Son”, which is inconsistent to the theology outlined above in which the Holy Spirit is eternally from [out of] the Father and not from [out of] the Son. It is clear that at Florence the Son is considered cause or principle of the hypostasis of the Holy Spirit along with the Father and just like the Father: “according to the Greeks indeed as cause, and according to the Latins as principle of the subsistence of the holy Spirit, just like the Father”. The procession is defined to be from one principle and a single spiration. This is further explained in saying that the Son has something from the Father eternally, which is that the Spirit proceeds from the Son because the Son has everything that the Father has. This means that the “spiration” is not from the hypostasis as manner of existence but from something that the hypostasis has or possesses. “Spiration” here is a shared activity, given to the Son by the Father, and it falls under the same problem with shared activity as cause of hypostasis as discussed above. This one principle is often likened to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit creating as one principle. This though is a matter of common activity of all three hypostases and likening the principle of the Spirit to this principle assumes that spiration and begetting are activities. Thus,, saying that the Spirit is from one principle and one spiration as common to Father and to the Son is not equivalent to saying that the Spirit is from one cause, the Father. The theology behind the definition is inconsistent with the theology presented above and so along with it any talk of one principle or principle of principle that is used to affirm the Father as sole source. The definition of Florence also fails to present the procession of the Spirit as “contained in” the begetting of the Son, but rather envisages it as also from out of the Son just as it is from out of the Father. This concept is rather linear with the Spirit existing in a way “beyond” the Son relative to the Father and thus loses the dyad of Father and Son. The dyad is preserved not by distinguishing the two without going beyond the two, which is achieved with the Spirit proceeding from out of the Father and resting in the Son thus the Spirit is distinct relative to each in a manner affirming one as Father and the other as Son. Proceeding from both as one principle rather loses the dyad in reference to the Spirit as being one indistinguishable cause of the Spirit with no distinction relative to each hypostasis as Father and as Son. Existing “beyond” the Son leaves the problem of how to not understand the Spirit as generated as “grandson” and so deny the Son as only-begotten.

Finally, the statement that the words “and the Son”, or rather “filioque”, are licitly and reasonably added to the Creed is also inconsistent with the Orthodox understanding of the Creeds in principle, even if they were declaring the truth and from imminent need. The principle, again, is that no words can be added to the Creeds licitly. The addition is forbidden, even if reasonable, of imminent need and declaring the truth. In principle even an Ecumenical Council cannot change the Creed as previously defined, which is why at the Council of Chalcedon both the Creed of Nicaea and the Creed of Constantinople were recognised as they were defined at each council rather than the single Creed of Constantinople being presented as a modified version of the Creed begun at Nicaea.

There is a place for an idea of the Spirit being sent by one principle from the Father and the Son with the Father being principle of principle and the Son principle from principle and that is the sending of the Holy Spirit to the faithful. This sending is an activity of God and as such it is common to the Son, who sends with one sending with the Father, and common to the Spirit, who comes Himself, with the same activity as the Father and the Son. The western Fathers, including St Augustine, can be read with this understanding of “from the Son”, even with accepting that the “ability” to send the Spirit as Gift is received by the Son eternally as Son. This sending to the faithful needs to be qualified to be as such that the Holy Spirit is only sent to those united to Christ, through faith and baptism received through the hierarchy of the Church, so through Christ, and that the Holy Spirit is only sent so far as to rest in the Church; He is not sent to those outside the Church. This is required for consistency with eternally resting in the Son as the end of the procession from out of the Father through the Son. (A note of this point: the faithful as born again sons of God are established as sons of God by receiving and having the Holy Spirit abide in them, just as the Son, as seen in the baptism of Christ, where the Spirit descends [from the Father] and rests on Him. Should being the Son mean having the Spirit proceed from the Son, then the faithful would need the Spirit to proceed from them to truly be sons of God. Yet, it is clear from the Scriptures that the faithful in general only receive and do not give the Spirit, which was restricted to the Apostles, having received authority as “Fathers” of the Church in begetting sons of God through baptism in water and the Spirit. So, the economy of the Church is consistent with the position presented above.)

Conclusion

While there is much hope and many attempts to reconcile the divisions regarding the “filioque” and a good number think that the differences are not significant, the position presented here is that the differences are neither merely superficial nor a matter of terminology, but a fundamentally different theological understanding and definition of the Trinity. The definition of Florence is inconsistent, according to the theology present above, in principle because it assumes begetting and procession to derived from distinct activities of the Father rather than derived from the manner of existence of the Father. The case in this article is that the inconsistency in regards to the “filioque” insertion is not something that can be reconciled through extra qualifications and explanations because the theological understandings underpinning Florence are different in principle from an Orthodox understanding. Now that both parties have officially defined themselves into contrary positions, one cannot find a coherent reconciled position consistent with both positions. One side or the other has to deny its own post-Schism heritage or change from its heritage, so admit itself to have been in error. While individuals or even lower hierarchal level may accept to do this, it is very unlikely that such can be achieved at an institutional level because it is effectively a denial of the institution.

The argument in the article is that the thousand year Schism isn’t something reducible to mistaken communication or power games or misunderstanding, although all these may have been present. Rather those maintaining themselves in schism did so realising a real difference in understanding the Trinity that did not permit any superficial bridging despite all the best will to establish reunion. The positions have only become more entrenched over time and increasingly part of identities. It is great that dialogue is freer now, but one must not be naive that these difference can any more be resolved today than they were over the last thousand years. The Schism on this point was not a good thing to occur and a great tragedy, yet it seems that it was necessary given the divergence in theological understanding of the Trinity in great part due to the insertion of the “filioque” and the theologies developed in that context.

Rev Dr John (Patrick) Ramsey, January 2021.

Leave a Reply