De Moor 5:11: The Controversy of the Greeks and Latin over the Procession of the Spirit

It is now asked, whether the Spirit thus proceeds through the mode of Spiration from the Father alone, or from the Father and the Son together, as it is also in our Belgic Confession, Article VIII, “The Holy Spirit is the eternal power and might, proceeding from the Father and the Son.” And in Article IX, “We believe and confess also, that the Holy Spirit goes forth or proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son.” Concerning this a controversy was agitated by the Greeks against the Latins beginning from the seventh Century. That is, to the words εἰς τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον, in the Holy Spirit, found in the Nicean Creed, the Constantinopolitan Fathers in the second Ecumenical Council had added, so that they might set themselves in opposition to Macedonius,[1] these things among others: τὸ κύριον, τὸ ζωοποιοῦν, τὸ ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐκπορευόμενον, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, with these last words simply taken from John 15:26; without a long συζητήσει/inquiry, just as the Mode of subsistence of the Holy Spirit is most satisfactorily described according to Sacred Scripture; since at that time the Question was agitated, not so much concerning the Mode of subsistence, as concerning the very Person, and His Truth and Deity. The Latins thereafter, without communicating their deliberations with the Greeks, to the term, ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς, from the Father, added Filioque, and the Son; which distinguished Men believe was first done at the third Council of Toledo in the year 589. The Greeks took it in the worst possible way, that a variation was introducted by the Latins in the Symbol of Faith without communicating their deliberations. Whence from that time the Greeks began to contend more sharply, that the Spirit ἀπὸ τοῦ μόνου Πατρὸς ἐκπορευόμενον, proceeds from the Father alone: while previously EPIPHANIUS wrote in his Ancorato, opera, tome 2, page 13, that the Holy Spirit is not only Πνεῦμα τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ Πνεῦμα τοῦ Υἱοῦ, the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of the Son; but also that He is ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Υἱοῦ, from the Father and the Son: but THEODORET in Reprehension XII of Capitum Cyrilli, chapter IX, opera, tome 4, page 718, soon rejected it as blasphemous and impious, to say that the Holy Spirit has His subsistence from or through the Son: Ἴδιον δὲ τὸ Πνεῦμα τοῦ Υἱοῦ, εἰ μὲν ὡς ὁμοφυὲς, καὶ ἐκ Πατρὸς ἐκπορευόμενον ἔφη, συνομολογήσομεν, καὶ ὡς εὐσεβῆ δεξόμεθα τὴν φωνήν. εἰ δὲ ὡς ἐξ Υἱοῦ, ἢ δι᾽ Υἱοῦ τὴν ὕπαρξιν ἔχον, ὡς βλάσφημον τοῦτο, καὶ ὡς δυσσεβὲς ἀποῤῥίψομεν. πιστεύσομεν γὰρ τῷ Κυρίῳ λέγοντι· τὸ Πνεῦμα, ὃ ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐκπορεύεται, if he (namely, Cyril) was asserting Him to be the Spirit of the Son, as of the same nature, and to proceed from the Father, we will agree, and will receive the expression as pious: but if as from the Son, or through the Son, He has His substance, we will reject the expression as blasphemous and impious: for we trust the Lord, who says, The Spirit which proceedeth from the Father. Some of those sometimes acknowledged that the Spirit παρὰ τοῦ Πατρὸς διὰ τοῦ Υἱοῦ ἐκπορεύεσθαι, proceeds from the Father through the Son; although they were unwilling to admit that the Spirit ἐκπορεύεσθαι παρὰ or ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Υἱοῦ, proceeds from the Father and the Son. Surely, if all the Greeks would acknowledge that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, in this there would be an acquiescing to the Latins: if only they would also understand it of the hypostatic Procession of the Spirit, internal and eternal, and not only of the going forth or mission of the Spirit, economic and temporal, with respect to His operation and communication of gifts.

For, it is indeed in closer conformity to the Scripture, to believe that the Spirit Proceeds or is Spirated by the Father and the Son, than from the Father alone: seeing that, 1. He is called, not only the Spirit of Christ, Romans 8:9, but also the Spirit of the Son, Galatians 4:6, as much as of the Father, Matthew 10:20. Now, the Spirit would thus be called most properly and emphatically, not only if Christ merited this Spirit with His salvific gifts for the elect, but if the Person of the Spirit, according to His natural Mode of Subsistence, is also from the Person of the Son. 2. Because He is sent from the Son, no less than from the Father, John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7; 20:22: compare AUGUSTINE, opera, tome 8, column 498. But, if economy follows nature, and the economic Mode of operation follows the natural Mode of Subsistence; that economic Going Forth and Sending of the Spirit by the Son supposes clearly enough His eternal and Natural Going Forth from the Son. How much greater is the right to the Son, of sending this Spirit, than if only as Mediator He had obtained the Grace of the Spirit for the elect. 3. Because the Spirit recives from the Son all the things that He relates, and thus works from the Son, John 16:13-15. But, if the Mode of operation follows the Mode of subsistence, the Spirit, who works from the Son, also proceeds from the Son: and, if the Son communicates with the Spirit those things that have regard to saving wisdom, to be instilled in the disciples of Christ, He communicated with Him also the divine Life and Essence; since Wisdom as an essential attribute is inseparable from Essence itself in God. In like manner, the Son, who goes forth from the Father by Generation, acknowledges that He received the doctrine that He was delivering from the Father, John 7:16, 17; 14:24: compare ARNOLDI’S Refutationem Catecheseos Racovianæ, on chapter I, de Cognitione Personæ Christi, questions 76, 77, pages 107, 108. 4. Add from Disputation IX of Synopsis purioris Theologiæ, § 16: “The personal Order among the Persons requires Him to proceed from both, which Order would otherwise be destroyed, and the Holy Spirit would not then be the third Person, but would be placed in the same order and series with the Son, and would be place over against Him, as it were. Finally, the intrinsic relation and respect requires this, which otherwise would not exist between the Son and the Spirit:” see also LAMPE’S Dissertationum philologico-theologicarum, volume II, Disputation VI, chapter VI, de Spiritu Sancto, § 25, pages 211, 212; STAPFER’S Theologicæ polemicæ, tome I, chapter III, § 1136-1139.

Johannes Marckius

It is to be acknowledged at the same time, that that expression concerning the Procession of the Spirit from the Father and the Son, or from the Father through the Son, is not found in so many words in Scripture: but that the latter concerning the His Procession from the Father through the Son closely agrees with the natural Mode of operation of these Persons, which Mode follows the Mode of subsistence, since all things are said to be from God the Father through His Son; and thus also the Spirit, who follows the Son in order, is best conceived of as proceeding from the Father through the Son. Nevertheless, with this caution, that the Father be no conceived to be principal, and the Son less principal, in this Spiration, which does not agree with the essential unity and equality of the Son with the Father, nor with the unity of this Spiration. For, this Spiration, proceeding from the Father and the Son, or from the Father through the Son, is not to be conceived after the likeness of a twofold, separate action according to the number of Persons, whereby the Spirit was constituted in being: but it is one and the same act of Spiration, common to the Father and the Son, which two supposits by the same power concur in that action. Since our AUTHOR most certainly wishes to be understood in this sense, when he writes, that at this point the Son is to be subordinated to, rather than coordinated with, the Father, as He also works all other things through the Son; no place is given here for accusing MARCKIUS, as if he speaks less conformably to the Belgic Confession concerning this mystery, which relates that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. Indeed, our AUTHOR acknowledges this, writing that He proceeds or is spirated, not only from the Father, but also from the Son; which he then also undertakes to prove; as also at the end of § 9 he had written that the Spirit has Essence from the Father and the Son. But, supposing here a common operation of the Father and the Son, our AUTHOR undertakes to explain more distinctly the mutual relation of the Father and the Son in the same operation, a relation corresponding to the natural Mode of subsistence of these Persons. Our AUTHOR speaks in a similar manner in Judicio Ecclesiastico contra Röellium laudato, chapter III, § 14, at the beginning, where he also briefly expounds upon the divine Mode of subsistence of the Holy Spirit, not appropriately acknowledged by Röellius: “The case of the Son, verily Begotten by the Father eternally through Communication of the Same Essence, is clearly connected with that of the Holy Spirit, as Proceeding, or Going Forth, from the Father and the Son, or from the Father through the Son, if thus you prefer to speak, by an altogether Incomprehensible and Ineffable Spiration, as it were. For, this Procession, related in the Scriptures, also asserts, according to the Catholic Faith, the Eternal and altogether Supernatural Communication of the Same Divine Essence; of which the Difference from that which obtain in the Generation of the Son is not altogether evident to us, etc. But he (Röellius) denies all such Communication to be applicable to any Divine Person, as through which the True and Independent Deity of the Person would be destroyed. Whence also he willingly acknowledges that his thesis has regard to the Holy Spirit, as much as to the Son, § LII: It is asked, whether the Son and the Holy Spirit are from the Father by Generation and Procession properly so called? This I deny, as from this entire Dissertation it is able abundantly to be proven, etc.” Ὁμόψηφον/symbolizing with out AUTHOR, see SPANHEIM, Decadum Theologicarum V, § X, number 4, opera, tome 3, columns 1224, 1225; HEINRICH ALTING, Theologia problematica nova, locus III, problem XXXIX, pages 238, 239; HOORNBEECK, Summa Controversiarum, book XI, page 852.

The omission of mention of the Son in the description of the Procession of the Spirit in John 15:26 does not demonstrate that He is not to be excluded from this action: but it is rather to be said that mention of the Son, as far as this Ἐκπόρευσιν/Procession is concerned, is omitted in that passage, because it was not to the Lord’s point and purpose in speaking. He is aiming to confirm His Apostles in their confidence in His sayings, with the unbelief of many Jews not withstanding, who were rejecting the Lord and His doctrine. To this end He appeals to the Testimony of the Spirit to be sent to them, and declares His ἀξιοπιστίαν/trustworthiness. But now, to confirm the ἀξιοπιστίαν/trustworthiness of the Testimony that the Spirit would set forth concerning the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, it was not so relevant to relate that He also goes forth from Himself, the Son speaking, since controversy was moved concerning His person and doctrine: but for this matter it was consummately relevant, that He goes forth from the Father after the likeness of the breath of the mouth, and He is distinct from Him, yet in such a way that He subsists in the same Essence with the Father.

Johannes Hoornbeeck

HOORNBEECK, Summa Controversiarum, book XI, pages 851-854, α. weighs the importance of the controversy of the Greeks with the Latins concerning the Procession of the Holy Spirit; and he teaches, 1. that the Greeks were exercises, not so much concerning the sense of this article, as concerning the addition of the word Filioque, and the Son, made by the Latins with the consent of the Easterners neither asked nor anticipated; so that the mass of the contention flowed from another source concerning the authority and primacy of the Roman Church. 2. That the Greeks did not rightly perceive the opinion of the Latins, since they incorrectly thought that the Latins asserted a twofold principium of Spiration, a twofold Spiration of the Holy Spirit, not just one from the Father through the Son. 3. HOORNBEECK judges that this matter is not of such moment, nor so clearly decided in Sacred Scripture, that it was fitting for the Churches to split over it. β. He shows that the Greeks after the Council of Florence do not keep the formula of Union composed there concerning this Article,[2] but that the Bishops and Archbishops in the confession of faith, which they declare at the time of ordination, only say concerning the Holy Spirit, that τὸ ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐκπορευόμενον, He proceedeth from the Father; and he relates that Jeremiah, the Patriarch of Constantinople, in response to the theologians of Tubingen,[3] distinguishes between the Holy Spirit’s personal Procession in God, and His external sending in time, or His gifts to men: the latter he concedes to be also from the Son, but he denies that thence the former is rightly inferred as prior.

With HOORNBEECK reporting, Summa Controversiarum, book XI, pages 853, 854, Thomas á Jesu,[4] in book VI de Conversione Gentium, chapter III, thinks that the addition of the term Filioque, and the Son, to the Symbol is not yet found at the Third Council of Toledo in the year 589; and so he maintains that it was done around the year 600, whether at a general Council, or by the authority of some Pope. SPANHEIM relates that the article concerning the Procession of the Spirit from the Father and the Son was already established at the Third Council of Toledo in 589, Historia ecclesiastica, Century VI, chapter X, column 1130. The same SPANHEIM records that the same was done on repeated occasions, at the Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, Eleventh, Twelfth, and Thirteeth Councils of Toledo in the the Seventh Century,[5] similarly at the Council of England in the year 679, with the Gauls and Germans agreeing:[6] but from this Baronius[7] and others incorrectly conclude that the term Filioque, and the Son, was in the Constantinopolitan Symbol from its first formation, but that through the fraud of the Greeks it was erased: see SPANHEIM, Historia ecclesiastica, Century VII, chapter X, columns 1237, 1238. That concerning the same matter there were further actions in the Eighth Century, SPANHEIM relates, Historia ecclesiastica, Century VIII, chapter VI, § 2, column 1295, chapter VIII, § 5, column 1312. That Pope John VIII agreed with the opinion of the Greeks,[8] see related in SPANHEIM’S Historia ecclesiastica, Century IX, chapter VII, § 8, column 1360; and that this was done, after Photius in an Encyclical complained of that addition of Filioque in the Symbol as a crime of fraud belonging to Pope Nicholas I:[9] as the Eighth Ecumencial Synod of the Greeks, vulgarly called the Photian Synod, in the year 879 condemned this innovation of the Latins,[10] as it is related by SPANHEIM in Historia ecclesiastica, Century IX, chapter XI, § 3, column 1386. So that toward the end of the Tenth Century, for the same reason, Sergius, Patriarch of Constantinope,[11] expunges from the sacred diptychs the name of the Roman Pope: while the Latins at the Synod of Trosly in the year 909[12] condemned Photius as a blasphemer, and his opinion concerning the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father alone as blasphemy: SPANHEIM narrates the same things in Historia ecclesiastica, Century X, chapter IX, column 1488. This also among other heads is mentioned as a reason for the division agitated in the time of Leo IX and Michael Cerularius, Patriarch of Constantinople, around the year 1053, with the mutual anathemas; yet with the recent decree of Leo the IX concerning Unleavened Bread in the Supper furnishing occasion at that time for the renewed flaring of the quarrel:[13] see SPANHEIM, Historia ecclesiastica, Century XI, chapter IX, § 2-4, columns 1544-1547. That in the Thirteenth Century various wrote concerning this doctrine against the Latins, among whom was Emperor Theodorus Lascaris the younger,[14] you may see in SPANHEIM’S Historiam ecclesiasticam, Century XIII, chapter VIII, § 5, column 1689. It does not deserve to come into the account, SPANHEIM advises, that a few Legates of Michael Palæologus, who at that time and for his own advantage was thought to fawn over the Pope, were induced by force and threats or flatteries to this, and subscribed the opinion of the Latins concerning the Procession of the Spirit from the Father and the Son at the Council of Lyon in 1274:[15] see SPANHEIM’S Historiam ecclesiasticam, Century XIII, chapter XI, § 2, columns 1708, 1709, compared with chapter VIII, § 6, columns 1691, 1692. As also the Synod of Florence in the year 1437, in which the union and agreement of the Greeks with the Latins in this article is ratified, is esteeed by the Fathers of Basil as schismatic, and by the Greeks, besides a few drawn into the parties of the Latins, as a Pseudo-Synod; see SPANHEIM, Historia ecclesiastica, Century XV, chapter IX, § 8, column 1872, chapter X, § 2, 3, columns 1873-1875. Johannes Argyropulus, with de Processione Spiritus Sancti written, studied to reconcile the opinion of the Greeks with that of the Council of Florence, asserting that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son,[16] according to SPANHEIM, Historia ecclesiastica, Century XV, chapter XI, § 2, column 1877: compare HOORNBEECK, Summa Controversiarum, book XI, pages 808-811, who to the Council of Florence itself refers the accomplishment of this formula of union concerning the Spirit going forth from the Father through the Son, to which many Greeks have given assent, after they had understood that the Latins are not asserting that there are two principia and Spirations of the Holy Spirit, although they might say that He proceeds from the Father and the Son, but that there is one Spiration of the Spirit from the Father through the Son. The history of the controversy concerning the Procession of the Spirit, whether from the Father alone, or from the Father and the Son, and of the dissent concerning this matter between the Greek and Latin Churches, see narrated also by LAMPE, Dissertationum philologico-theologicarum, volume II, Disputation VI, chapter VII, de Spiritu Sancto, § 1-22, pages 224-238; and by BUDDEUS, Theologiæ Dogmaticæ, tome I, book II, chapter I, § 52, pages 396-401, and Isagoge ad Theologiam universam, book II, chapter II, § 5, tome 1, pages 463b-465; JAKOB ELSNER[17] also has some things concerning this matter, nieuwste Beschryving van de Grieksche Christenen in Turkyen, chapter V, § 21-23, pages 181-185.

On § 11, consult PETAVIUS’ Dogmata theologica, volume I, tome 2, book VII, pages 362-440; GERHARD’S Loca Communia, tome I, de Spiritu Sancto, chapter IV, pages 158-164; Byvoegfel tot het Formulier van Ondertekeninge gestalt by de Classis van Walcheren anno 1693, article II, and BRAHÉ’S Aanmerkingen over de vyf Walcherse Artikelen, § XVII-XXII, XXIV-XXVII, XXXIV-XXXVIII, pages 32-40, 42-47, 54-59.

[1] Macedonius I of Constantinople (flourished 340-360) was the progenitor of a heretical group known as the Macedonians, who denied the Deity of the Holy Spirit. [2] The Council of Florence (1431-1449) was originally called and convened at Basel to address the Hussite Wars, the rise of the Ottoman Empire, and the conflict between the Conciliar movement and the Papacy. The Council was moved to Ferrara in 1438, and then to Florence in 1439. There was a successful negotiation for reunification with several of the Eastern Churches, reaching agreements on the insertion of Filioque in the Creed, the definition and number of the Sacraments, the doctrine of Purgator, and Papal Primacy. The Easterners were promised military assistance against the Ottomans. The reunion was partial, controverted, and ultimately short-lived. [3] Jermias II Tranos (c. 1536-1595) served as Patriarch of Constantinople three times, suffering two temporary depositions (1572-1579, 1580-1584, 1587-1595). From 1576 to 1581 he engaged in the first theological exchange between Orthodoxy and Protestants. In 1575, Jakob Andreæ and Martin Crusius of Tubingen presented a translated copy of the Augsburg Confession to Jeremias II. Ultimately the exchange came to naught: Jeremias II responded with three rebuttal letters, declaring that the Orthodox Church desired no reformation. [4]Thomas á Jesu (1564-1627) was a Spanish Discalced Carmelite, and founder of “desert” Carmelite hermitages. He was a mystical theologian, and wrote extensively. [5] In the years 633, 638, 653, 675, 681, and 683 respectively. [6] At the Council of Hatfield the English rejected Monothelitism in favor of the orthodox view. [7] Cesare Baronio (1538-1607) was an Italian Cardinal and Vatican librarian. He is remembered primarily for his work in ecclesiastical history, Annalibus Ecclesiasticis. [8] John VIII served as Bishop of Rome from 872 to 882. During his Papacy, the Saracens were making incursions into Rome. Seeking help from the Byzantines, John VIII recognized the reinstatement of Photius I as the Patriarch of Constantinople. However, he later reconfirmed the excommunication. [9] Nicholas I served as Bishop of Rome from 858 to 867. In 858, Ignatios was deposed as Bishop of Constantinople, and Photius I installed, a move vigorously opposed by Nicholas I. The Byzantines deeply resented Nicholas’ meddling, which occasioned the reemergence of disagreement on many other issues. [10] The Fourth Council of Constantinople (879-880), the Eighth Ecumencial Council of the Eastern Churches, confirmed the reinstatement of Photius I. [11] Sergius II served as Patriarch of Constantinople from 1001 to 1019. [12] The Synod of Trosly (in northern France) in 909 was the last major regional synod of the western Frankish Kingdom. It took up matters related to monasticism and ecclesiastical order. [13] Although relations between the Greek and Latin churches had been strained for centuries, the decisive breach in communion came in 1054. The leader of the legation of Pope Leo IX, Cardinal Humbert of Silva Candida, excommunicated Michael I Cerularius of Constantinople, and Cerularius excommunicated the legation in return. The division continues to the present day. [14] Theodore II Doukas Laskaris was Emperor of Nicæa from 1254 to 1258. He was highly educated; he wrote First Oration against the Latins, or, on the Procession of the Holy Spirit, and On the Trinity. [15] Michael VIII Palæologus was co-emperor of Nicæa from 1259-1261. In 1261, Constantinople was reclaimed from Western crusaders, and Michael became Byzantine Emperor until his death in 1282. Seeking the support of Pope Gregory X against Charles of Anjou’s attempts to restore the Latin Empire, Michael sent envoys to the Second Council of Lyon in 1274, achieving a short-lived and controversial reunion. [16] John Argyropulus (c. 1415-1487) was a Greek Classical scholar, involved in the revival of Classical learning in Italy. He served as a member of the Byzantine delegation to the Council of Florence. [17] Jakob Elsner (1692-1750) was a German Lutheran theologian.


Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.




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