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One must take note from the very beginning that there never was a Filioque controversy between the West and East Romans. There were domestic quarrels over details concerning the Christological doctrine and the Ecumenical Synods dealing with the person of Christ. The West Romans championed the cause of Icons defined by the Seventh Ecumenical Synod, but they never supported the Frankish Filioque, either as doctrine or as an addition to the Creed. The Filioque controversy was not a conflict between the Patriarchates of Old Rome and New Rome, but between the Franks and all Romans in the East and in the West.
As we saw in Part 1, there is strong evidence that the cause of the Filioque controversy is to be found in the Frankish decision to provoke the condemnation of the East Romans as heretics so that the latter might become exclusively "Greeks" and, therefore, a different nation from the West Romans under Frankish rule. The pretext of the Filioque controversy was the Frankish acceptance of Augustine as the key to understanding the theology of the First and Second Ecumenical Synods. That this distinction between cause and pretext is correct seems adequately clear in the policy manifested at the Synod of Frankfurt in 794 which condemned both sides of the iconoclastic controversy so that the East Romans would end up as heretics no matter who prevailed.
The Franks deliberately provoked doctrinal differences in order to break the national and ecclesiastical unity of the Roman nation, and thus separate, once and for all, the revolutionary West Romans under their rule from the East Romans. The free Romans supposedly have `changed' their nationality by becoming heretics, by moving their capital from Old Rome to New Rome, and preferring Greek over Latin. So goes the argument of Emperor Louis II in his letter to Emperor Basil I in 871, as we saw.
Because of this deliberate policy, the Filioque question was about to take on irreparable dimensions. Up to this time, the Filioque was a Frankish political weapon which had not yet become a theological controversy because the Romans hopefully believed that the Papacy could dissuade the Franks from their doctrinal dead-end approach. When it became clear that the Franks were not going to retreat from these politico-doctrinal policies, the Romans accepted the challenge and condemned both the Filioque and the Frankish double position on icons at the Eighth Ecumenical Synod of 879 in Constantinople-New Rome.
During the ensuing centuries long course of the controversy, the Franks not only forced the Patristic tradition into an Augustinian mold, but they confused Augustine's Trinitarian terminology with that of the Father's of the First and Second Ecumenical Synods. This is nowhere so evident as in the Latin handling of Maximos the Confessor's description, composed in 650, of the West Roman Orthodox Filioque at the Council of Florence (1438-42). The East Romans hesitated to present Maximos' letter to Marinos about this West Roman Orthodox Filioque because the letter did not survive in its complete form. They were pleasantly surprised, however, when Andrew, the Latin bishop of Rhodes, quoted the letter in Greek in order to prove that in the time of Maximos there was no objection to the Filioque being in the Creed. Of course, the Filioque was not yet in the Creed. Then Andrew proceeded to translate Maximos into Latin for the benefit of the pope. However, the official translator intervened and challenged the rendition. Once the correct translation was established, the Franks then questioned the authenticity of the text. They assumed that their own Filioque was the only one in the West, and so they rejected on this ground Maximos' text as a basis of union.
When Maximos spoke about the Orthodox Filioque, as supported with passages from Roman Fathers, he did not mean those who came to be known as Latin Fathers, and so included among them Saint Cyril of Alexandria.
The fanaticism with which the Romans clung to the Papacy, the struggle of the Romans to preserved this institution, and the hierarchy within the confines of the Roman nation are very well-known historical facts described in great detail in Medieval histories.
However, the identity of the West Romans and of the East Romans as one indivisible nation, faithful to the Roman faith promulgated at the Roman Ecumenical Synods held in the Eastern part of the Empire, is completely lost to the historians of Germanic background, since the East Romans are consistently called "Greeks" and "Byzantines."
Thus, instead of dealing with church history in terms of a united and indivisible Roman nation, and presenting the Church a being carved up in the West by Germanic conquerors, European historians have been sucked into the Frankish perspective, and thereby deal with church history as though there were a Greek Christendom as distinguished from a Latin Christendom. Greek Christendom consists of supposedly, the East Romans, and Latin Christendom, of the Franks and other Germanic peoples using Latin plus, supposedly, the West Romans, especially Papal Romania, i.e. the Papal States.
Thus, the historical myth has been created that the West Roman Fathers of the Church, the Franks, Lombards, Burgundians, Normans, etc., are one continuous and historically unbroken Latin Christendom, clearly distinguished and different from a mythical Greek Christendom. The frame of reference accepted without reservation by Western historians for so many centuries has been "the Greek East and the Latin West."
A much more accurate understanding of history presenting the Filioque controversy in its true historical perspective is based on the Roman viewpoint of church history, to be found in (both Latin and Greek) Roman sources, as well as in Syriac, Ethiopian, Arabic, and Turkish sources. All these point to a distinction between Frankish and Roman Christendom, and not between a mythical Latin and Greek Christendom. Among the Romans, Latin and Greek are national languages, not nations. The Fathers are neither Latins nor Greeks but Romans.
Having this historical background in mind, one can then appreciate the significance of certain historical and theological factors underlying the so-called Filioque controversy. This controversy was essentially a continuation of the Germanic of Frankish effort to control not only the Roman nation, but also the rest of the Roman nation and Empire.
In order to expand on this historical approach, we would point out the following:
1.) The doctrinal differences which exist between Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine are a summary of the differences between Frankish and Roman theological method and doctrine. This is indeed a strange discovery, since one is given the impression that Augustine was a student and friend of Ambrose, and that the latter instructed and baptized the former. After comparing the two, I have come to the conclusion that Augustine did not pay much attention to the sermons of Ambrose and evidently read little of Ambrose's works.
The two differ radically over the questions of the Old Testament appearances of the Logos, the existence of the universals, the general framework of the doctrine of the Trinity, the nature of communion between God and man, the manner in which Christ reveals His divinity to the apostles, and in general, over the relation between doctrine and speculation, or revelation and reason. A reason. Ambrose clearly follows the East Roman Fathers, and Augustine follows the Bible interpreted within the framework of Plotinus, and under the pressure of his Manichaean past.
2.) The province of Gaul was the battleground between the followers of Augustine and of Saint John Cassian, when the Franks were taking over the province and transforming it into their Francia. Through his monastic movement and his writings in this field and on Christology, Saint John Cassian had a strong influence on the Church in Old Rome also. In his person, as in other persons such as Ambrose, Jerome, Rufinus, Leo the Great, and Gregory the Great, we have an identity in doctrine, theology, and spirituality between the East and West Roman Christians. Within this framework, Augustine in the West Roman area was subjected to general Roman theology. In the East Roman area, Augustine was simply ignored.
3.) In contrast to East and West Roman theology, the Frankish theological tradition makes its appearance in history reading and knowing in full only Augustine. As the Franks became acquainted with other Latin-speaking or Greek-speaking Roman Fathers, they subordinated them all to the authority of Augustinian categories. Even the dogmas promulgated at Ecumenical Synods were replaced by Augustine's understanding of these dogmas.
4.) This theological frame of reference within the framework of feudalism gives the Franks confidence that they have the best theology, not only because they have what Latin (i.e. Frankish) Christendom ever since has considered the greatest Father of the Patristic period, but also because the Franks and the other Germanic peoples are, by the very nature of their birth, a noble race superior to the Romans, "Greeks" (East Romans), and Slavs. The natural result of this superiority is that the Germanic races, especially the Fanks, Normans, Lombards, and, finally, the Germans, should produce a theology better than that of the Romans. Thus, the scholastic tradition of the Germanic Europe surpasses the Patristic period of the Romans. I personally can find no other justification of the claim, so popular until a few years ago in the West, that scholastic theology succeeded and surpassed patristic theology.
5.) This distinction has its derivation in a second factor which has gone unnoticed in European, Russian, and modern "Greek" manuals because of the identification of Germanic or Frankish theology with Latin-language Roman theology under the heading "Latin Christendom".
The historical appearance of Frankish theology coincides with the beginnings of the Filioque controversy. Since the Roman Fathers of the Church took a strong position on this issue, as they did on the question of Icons (also condemned initially by the Franks), the Franks automatically terminated the patristic period of theology with Saint John of Damascus in the East (after they accepted the Seventh Ecumenical Synod) and Isidore of Seville in the West. After this, the Roman Empire no longer can produce Fathers of the Church because the Romans rejected the Frankish Filioque. In doing so, the Romans withdrew themselves from the central trunk of Christianity (as the Franks understood things) which now becomes identical with Frankish Christianity, especially after the East Franks expelled the Romans from the Papacy and took it over themselves.
6.) From the Roman viewpoint, however, the Roman tradition of the Fathers was not only not terminated in the eighth century, but continued a vigorous existence in free Romania in the East, as well as within Arab-occupied areas. Present research is now leading to the conclusion that the Roman Patristic period extended right in tot he period of Ottoman rule, after the fall of Constantinople New Rome. This means that the Eighth Ecumenical Synod (879), under Photios, the so-called Palamite Synods of the fourteenth century, and the Synods of the Roman Patriarchate during the Ottoman period, are all a continuation and an integral part of the history of Patristic theology. It is also a continuation of the Roman Christian tradition, minus the Patriarchate of Old Rome, which, since 1009 after having been captured, ceased to be Roman and became a Frankish institution.
7.) Without ever mentioning the Franks, the Eighth Ecumenical Synod of 879 condemned those who either added or subtracted from the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, and also those who had not yet accepted the Seventh Ecumenical Synod.
It must first be emphasized that this is the first instance in history wherein and Ecumenical Synod condemned heretics without naming them. In this case, the heretics are clearly the Franks.
It is also significant that Pope John VIII's Commonitorium to the Synod does not mention the need to condemn those who either add or subtract from the Creed.
There is, however, a letter of John to Photios, which is usually published at the end of the acts of the Synod, in which the Filioque is vigorously condemned, and is described as something added not long ago, but never in the Church of Rome. The letter also requested that admonition from the pope be used for its removal, since a harsher approach may lead to its addition by force.
It has been argued that the surviving version for the letter is a product of the fourteenth century. However, the existing version fits in perfectly with the conditions of Papal Romania under Frankish domination at the time of John VIII, which could not have been known by either a Frank or an East Roman in the fourteenth century.
The power of the Franks over the Papacy, although not completely broken after the death of Charlemagne in 814, was in any case weakened with the dissolution of his Empire, and, in turn, neutralized by the reconquest of South Italian Romania from the Saracens by the Roman army beginning in 876. However, Roman power had not been so strongly established that the Papacy in 879 could afford an open doctrinal war with the Franks. Such an open conflict would have led to the transformation of papal Romania into a Frankish duchy, and of the Roman population into the condition of the Romans conquered in other parts of Western Romania by the Franks and other Germanic nations and, of course, also would have meant the addition of the Filioque to the Creed by force, as pointed out by John.
At the same time, the Roman popes, after the death of Charlemagne, seem to have gained a real influence over the Frankish kingdoms which recognized the magical powers of the popes to anoint an emperor in the West, thus making him equal to the emperor in the East. John VIII seems to have been extraordinarily successful in this regard, and there is not doubt that his request to Photios to be allowed to use persuasion for the removal of the Filioque was based on a real possibility of success.
8.) It is always claimed by Protestant, Anglican, and Latin scholars that since the time of Hadrian I or Leo III, through the period of John VIII, the Papacy opposed the Filioque only as an addition to the Creed, but never as doctrine or theological opinion. Thus, it is claimed that John VIII accepted the Eight Ecumenical Synod's condemnation of the addition to the Creed and not of the Filioque as a teaching.
However, both Photios and John VIII's letter to Photios mentioned above testify to this pope's condemnation of the Filioque as doctrine also. Yet the Filioque could not be publicly condemned as heresy by the Church of Old Rome. Why? Simply because the Franks were militarily in control of papal Romania, and as illiterate barbarians were capable of any kind of criminal act against Roman clergy and populace. The Franks were a dangerous presence in papal Romania and had to be handled with great care and tact.
Gallic Romania and Italic Romania (including papal Romania) are for the Romans one continuous country, identical with East Romania. The conquering movements of the Franks, Lombards, and Normans into the free sections of Romania are seen from the Roman viewpoint as a united whole, and not from the viewpoint of the Germanic European conquerors, who see the Romans as happy to be conquered and liberated from the so-called "Greeks", or now, "Byzantines", so that once conquered, they are of no concern to the Romans of free Romania.
9.) That the above is the correct framework for understanding the historical context of the Filioque controversy and the place of the roman popes with this conflict, from the time of Pepin till the descent of the descent of the Teutonic or East Franks into the papal scene in 962-963, and their removal of the Romans from their papal ethnarchy finalized in 1009, can be seen in a.)the doctrinal positions of Anastasios the Librarian, the chief advisor of the pro-Frank Nicholas I and also of John VIII, in preparation for the Eighth Ecumenical Synod of 879, representing the newly restored Roman power over the Papacy, and b.) in the attitudes toward the Filioque of anti-Pope Anastasios the Librarian (855-858) and Pope Leo III.
It is obvious that Anastasios the Librarian did not at first understand the Frankish Filioque, since on this question he reprimands the "Greeks" for their objections and accuses them of not accepting Maximos the Confessor's explanation that there are two usages of the term; the one whereby procession means essential mission, wherein the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son (in which case the Holy Spirit participated in the act of sending, so that this is a common act of the whole Trinity), and the second, whereby precession means casual relation wherein the existence of the Holy Spirit is derived. In this last sense, Maximos assures Marinos (to whom he is writing), that the West Romans accept that the Holy Spirit proceeds casually only from the Father and that the Son is not cause.
There is every reason to believe that this reflects the position of Nicholas I on the question.
However, this was not the position of the Franks who followed, not the West Romans on the question, but Augustine, who can easily be interpreted as teaching that the Holy Spirit receives not only His essence, but His existence from the Father and the Son.
But this also means that the Romans in the West could never support the introduction of the Filioque into the Creed, not because they did not want to displease the "Greeks," but because this would be heresy. The West Romans knew very well that the term procession in the Creed was introduced as a parallel to generation, and that both meant causal relation to the Father, and not energy or mission.
It was perhaps as a result of the realization that the Franks were confused on the issue and were saying dangerous things that led Anastasios to a serious reappraisal of the Frankish threat, and to the support of the East Roman position, as clearly represented by Photios the Great and John VIII at the Eighth Ecumenical Synod of 879.
This interpretation of the Filioque, given by Maximos the Confessor and Anastasios the Librarian is the consistent position of the Roman popes, and clearly so in the case of Leo III. The minutes of the conversation held in 810 between the three apocrisari of Charlemagne and Pope Leo III, kept by the Frankish monk Smaragdus, bear out this consistency in papal policy. Leo accepts the teaching of the Fathers, quoted by the Franks, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, as taught by Augustine and Ambrose. However, the Filioque must not be added to the Creed as was done by the Franks, who got permission to sing the Creed from Leo but not to add to the Creed.
When one reads these minutes, remembering the Franks were a dangerous presence in Papal Romania capable of acting in a most cruel and barbarous manner if provoked, then one comes to the clear realization that Pope Leo III is actually telling the Franks in clear and diplomatic terms that the Filioque in the Creed is a heresy.
What else can Leo's claim mean but that the Second Ecumenical Synod, and the other synods, left the Filioque out of the Creed neither by oversight nor out of ignorance, but on purpose by divine inspiration?
This theological position is that of Pope Hadrian I (772-795) also and of the Toledo Synods where the Filioque is not in the Creed but is in another context.
10.) Once the Franks secured their hold on Papal Romania, the Papacy became like a "mouse caught in the paws" of its traditional enemy-the cat. The Franks knew very well what they had captured. They began developing theories and church policy which would put this Roman institution to good use for the fostering of Frankish control over territories formerly under the control of the Romans, and of aiding in new conquests. The West Franks continued in the steps of Charlemagne, but in a weak manner. The Romans regained full control of the papacy after 867, but then the East Franks entered the papal scene beginning in 962, with the known results.
The attitudes of the West and East Franks toward the Papacy and the Filioque were different, the first being mild, and the second fanatically hard. One of the important reasons for this is that, after 920, the new reform movements gained enough momentum to shape the policies of the East German Franks who took over the Papacy. When the Romans lost the Papacy, the Filioque was introduced into Rome for the first time in either 1009, or at latest by 1014.
In the light of the above, we do not have the situation usually presented by European, American, and Russian historians in which the Filioque is an integral part of so-called "Latin" Christendom with a "Greek" Christendom in opposition on the pretext of its introduction into the Creed. (The addition to the Creed was supposedly opposed by the popes not doctrinally, but only as addition in order not to offend the "Greeks.") What we do have is a united West and East Roman nation in opposition to an upstart group of Germanic races who began teaching the Romans before they really learned anything themselves. Of course, German teachers could be very convincing on question of dogma, only by holding a knife to the throat. Otherwise, especially in the time of imposing the Filioque, the theologians of the new Germanic theology were better than their noble peers, only because they could read and write and had, perhaps, memorized Augustine.
11.) The cleavage between the Roman and Frankish Papacy is nowhere so clearly apparent as in the fact that, when at the Pseudo-Union Council of Florence (1439), the Romans presented to the Franks Saint Maximos the Confessor's interpretation of the Filioque as a basis of union. The Franks not only rejected this interpretation as false and not in keeping with Franco-Latin doctrine, but also they were not aware of its correct reading.[ Return to Contents ]
At the foundation of the Filioque controversy between Franks and Romans lie essential differences in theological method, theological subject matter, spirituality, and therefore, also in the understanding of the very nature of doctrine and of the development of the language or of terms in which doctrine is expressed. Of all the aspects dealt with in my published works, I will single out the following as necessary to an elemental understanding of the Roman attitudes to Frankish pretensions on the Filioque. Although we have named the second part of this paper "The Theological Background," we are still speaking about theology within historical perspective, and not abstractly with extra contextual references to the Bible.
When reading through Smaragdus' minutes of the meeting between Charlemagne's emissaries and Pope Leo III, one is struck not only by the fact that the Franks had so audaciously added the Filioque to the Creed and made it into a dogma, but also by the haughty manner in which they so authoritatively announced that the Filioque was necessary for salvation, and that it was an improvement of an already good, but not complete, doctrine concerning the Holy Spirit. This was in answer to Leo's strong hint at Frankish audacity. Leo, in turn, warned that when one attempts to improve what is good he should first be sure that in trying to improve he is not corrupting. He emphasizes that he cannot put himself in a position higher than the Fathers of the Synods, who did not omit the Filioque out of oversight or ignorance, but by divine inspiration.
The question arises, "Where in the world did the newly born Frankish theological tradition get the idea that the Filioque is an improvement of the Creed, and that it was omitted from creedal expression because of oversight or ignorance on the part of the Fathers of the Synod?" Since Augustine is the only representative of Roman theology that the Franks were more or less fully acquainted with, one must turn to the Bishop of Hippo for a possible answer.
I think I have found the answer in Saint Augustine's lecture delivered to the assembly of African bishops in 393. Augustine had been asked to deliver a lecture on the Creed, which he did. Later he reworked the lecture and published it. I do not see why the Creed expounded is not that of Nicaea-Constantinople, since the outline of Augustine's discourse, and the Creed are the same. Twelve years had passed since its acceptance by the Second Ecumenical Synod and, if ever, this was the opportune time for assembled bishops to learn of the new, official, imperially approved creed. The bishops certainly knew their own local Creed and did not require lessons on that.
In any case, Augustine makes three basic blunders in this discourse and died many years later without ever realizing his mistakes, which were to lead the Franks and the whole of their Germanic Latin Christendom into a repetition of those same mistakes.
In his De Fide et Symbolo, Augustine makes an unbelievable naive and inaccurate statement: "With respect to the Holy Spirit, however, there has not been, on the part or learned and distinguished investigators of the Scriptures, a fuller careful enough discussion of the subject to make it possible for us to obtain an intelligent conception of what also constitutes His special individuality (proprium)."
Everyone at the Second Ecumenical Synod knew well that this question was settled once and for all by the use in the Creed of the word "procession" as meaning the manner of existence of the Holy Spirit from the Father which constitutes His special individuality. Thus, the Father is unbegotten, i.e. derives His existence from no one. The Son is from the Father by generation. The Holy Spirit is from the Father, not by generation, but by procession. The Father is cause, the son and the Spirit are caused. The difference between the ones caused is the one is caused by generation, and the other by procession, and not by generation.
In any case, Augustine spent many years trying to solve this non-existent problem concerning the individuality of the Holy Spirit and, because of another set of mistakes in his understanding of revelation and theological method, came up with the Filioque.
It is no wonder that the Franks, believing that Augustine had solved a theological problem which the other Roman Fathers had supposedly failed to grapple with and solve came to the conclusion that they uncovered a theologian far superior to all other Fathers. In him the Franks had a theologian far superior to all other Fathers. In him the Franks had a theologian who improved upon the teaching of the Second Ecumenical Synod.
A second set of blunders made by Augustine in this same discourse is that he identified the Holy Spirit with the divinity "which the Greeks designate qeothV, and explained that this is the "love between the Father and the Son."
Augustine is aware of the fact that "those parties oppose this opinion who think that the said communion, which we call either Godhead, or Love, or Charity, is not a substance. Moreover, they require the Holy Spirit to be set forth to them according to substance; neither do they take forth to them according to substance; neither do they take it to have been otherwise impossible for the expression `God is Love' to have been used, unless love were a substance."
It is obvious that Augustine did not at all understand what the East Roman Fathers, such as Saint Gregory Nyssa, Saint Gregory the Theologian, and Saint Basil the Great, were talking about. On the one hand, they reject the idea that the Holy Spirit can be the common energies of the Father and Son known as qeothV and love since these are not an essence or an hypostasis, whereas the Holy Spirit is an hypostasis. Indeed, the Fathers of the Second Ecumenical Synod required that the Holy Spirit not be identified with any common energy of the Father and Son, but they did not identify the Holy Spirit with the common essence of the Father and Son either.
The Holy Spirit is an individual hypostasis with individual characteristics or properties not shared by other hypostases, but He does share fully everything the Father and Son have in common, to wit, the divine essence and all uncreated energies and powers. The Holy Spirit is an individuality who is not what is common between the Father and Son, but has in common everything the Father and Son have in common.
All his life, Augustine rejected the distinction between what the persons are and what they have (even though this is a Biblical distinction) and identified what God is with what He has. He not only never understood the distinction between 1.) the common essence and energies of the Holy Trinity and 2.) the incommunicable individualities of the diving hypostases; but completely failed to grasp the very existence of the difference between a.) the common divine essence and b.) the common divine love and divinity. He himself admits that he does not understand why a distinction is made in the Greek language between ousia and upostaseiV in God. Nevertheless, he insisted that his distinctions must be accepted as a matter of faith and rendered in Latin as una essentia and tes substantiae. (De Trinitate, 5.8.10;7.4-6)
It is clear that St. Augustine accepted the most important aspect of the Trinitarian terminology of the cappadocian Fathers and the Second Ecumenical Synod.
However, not aware of the teaching of such Fathers, like Basil and the two Gregories mentioned, who do not identify the common qeothV and the agaph of the Trinity with the common divine essence of the Trinity, Augustine has the following peculiar remarks:
"But men like these should make their heart pure, so far as they can, in order that they may have power to see that in the substance of God there is not anything of such a nature as would imply that therein substance is one thing, and that which is accident to substance (aliud quod accidat substantia) another thing, and not substance; whereas whatsoever can be taken to be taken therein is substance."
Once these foundations are laid, then the Holy Spirit as that which is common to the Father and Son exists by reason of the Father and Son. Thus, there can be no distinction between the Father and Son sending the Holy Spirit, and the Father causing the existence of the Holy Spirit. What God is by nature, how the three hypostases exist by nature, and what God does by will, become confused. Thus, it is a fact that for Augustine both generation and procession end up being confused with the divine powers and energies and, thereby, also end up meaning the same thing. The Filioque thus is an absolute necessity in order to salvage something of the individuality of the Holy Spirit. God, then, is from no one. The Son is from one. The Holy Spirit must be from two. Otherwise, since generation and procession are the same, there would be no difference between the Spirit and the Son since they would both be from one.
The third and most disturbing blunder in Augustine's approach to the question before us is that his theological method is not only pure speculation on what one accepts by faith (for the purpose of intellectually understanding as much as one's reason allows by either illumination or ecstatic intuition), but it is a speculation which is transferred from the individual speculating believer to a speculating church, which, like an individual, understands the dogmas better with the passage of time.
Thus, the Church awaits a discussion about the Holy Spirit "Full enough or careful enough to make it possible for us to obtain an intelligent conception of what also constitutes His special individuality (proprium)..."
The most amazing thing is the fact that Augustine begins with seeking out the individual properties of the Holy Spirit and immediately reduces Him to what is common to the Father and Son. However, in his later additions to his De Trinitate, he insists that the Holy Spirit is an individual substance of the Holy Trinity completely equal to the other two substances and possessing the same essence as we saw.
In any case, the Augustinian idea that the Church herself goes through a process of attaining a deeper and better understanding of her dogmas or teachings was made the very basis of the Frankish propaganda that the Filioque is a deeper and better understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. Therefore, adding it to the Creed is an improvement upon the faith of the Romans who had allowed themselves to become lazy and slothful on such an important matter. This, of course, raises the whole question concerning the relationship between revelation and verbal and iconic or symbolic expressions of revelation.
For Augustine, there is no distinction between revelation and conceptual intuition of revelation. Whether revelation is given directly to human reason, or to human reason by means of creatures, or created symbols, it is always the human intellect itself which is being illumined or given vision to. the vision of god itself is an intellectual experience, even though above the powers of reason without appropriate grace.
Within such a context, every revelation is a revelation of concepts which can be searched out by reason for a fuller and better understanding. Suffice it that faith and the acceptance of dogmas by virtue of the authority of the Church always forms the starting point. What cannot now be fully understood by reason based on faith will be fully understood in the next life. "And inasmuch as, being reconciled and called back into friendship through love, we shall be able to become acquainted with all the secret things of God, for this reason it is said of the Holy Spirit that "He shall lead you into all truth." What Augustine means by such language is made very clear by what he says elsewhere, "I will not be slow to search out the substance of God, whether through His scripture or through the creature."
Such material in the hands of the Franks transformed the purpose of theology into a study or searching out of the divine substance and, in this respect, the scholastic tradition far surpassed the tradition of the Roman Fathers who consistently taught that not only man, but even the angels, neither know, nor will ever know, the divine essence which is known only to the Holy Trinity.
Both Orthodox and Arians fully agreed with the inherited tradition that only God knows His own essence. This means that He who knows the divine nature is himself God by nature, Thus, in order to prove that the Logos is a creature, the Arians argued that the Logos does not know the essence of the Father. The Orthodox argued that the Logos does know the essence of the Father and, therefore, is uncreated. The Eunomians threw a monkey wrench into the agreed rules for proving points with their shocking claim that, not only does the Logos know the essence of God, but man also can know this essence. Therefore, the Logos does not have to be uncreated because He knows this essence.
Against the Arian and Orthodox position that creatures cannot know the divine uncreated essence, but may know the uncreated energy of God in its multiple manifestations, the Eunomians argued that the diving essence and uncreated energy are identical, so that to know the one is to know the other.
Strangely, Augustine adopted the Eunomian positions on these questions. Therefore, when the Franks appeared in the East with these positions they were accused of being Eunomians.
In contrast to this Augustinian approach to language and concepts concerning God, we have the Patristic position expressed by Saint Gregory the Theologian against the Eunomians. Plato had claimed that it is difficult to conceive of God but, to define Him in words is an impossibility. Saint Gregory disagrees with this and emphasizes that "it is impossible to express Him, and yet, more impossible to conceive Him. For that which may be conceived may perhaps be made clear by language, if not fairly well, at any rate imperfectly..."
The most important element in Patristic epistemology is that the partial knowability of the divine actions or energies, and the absolute and radical unknowability and incommunicability of the divine essence is not a result of the philosophical or theological speculation, as it is in Paul of Samosata, Arianism, and Nestorianism, but of the personal experience of revelation or participation in the uncreated glory of God by means of vision or theoria. Saint Gregory defines a theologian as one who has reached this theoria by means of purification and illumination, and not by means of dialectical speculation. Thus, the authority for Christian truth is not the written words of the Bible, which cannot in themselves either express God, but rather the individual apostle, prophet, or saint who is glorified in God.
Thus, the Bible, the writings of the Fathers, and the decisions of Synods are not revelation, but about revelation. Revelation itself transcends words and concepts, although it inspires those participating in divine glory to accurately express what is inexpressible in words and concepts. Suffice it that under the guidance of the saints, who know by experience, the faithful should know that God is not to be identified with Biblical words and concepts which point to Him, albeit infallibly.
Thus, we find that Saint Gregory the Theologian does not only point to the revelatory experience of the prophets, apostles, and saints in order to set out the theological foundations for confuting the Arians, Eunomians, and Macedonians, but also to his own experience of this same revelation of divine glory.
"What is this that has happened to me, O friends, and initiates, and fellow lovers of the truth? I was running to lay hold of God, and thus I went up into the Mount, drew aside the curtain of the Cloud, and entered away from matter and material things, and as far as I could I withdrew within myself. And then when I looked up, I scarcely saw the back parts of God; although I was sheltered by the Rock, the Word that was made flesh for us. And when I looked a little closer, I saw, not the first and unmingled Nature known to itself, to the Trinity I mean; not that which abideth within the first veil, and is hidden by the Cherubim; but only that (Nature), which at last even reaches to us. And that is, as far as I can learn, the Majesty, or as holy David calls it, the Glory which is manifested among the creatures, which It has produced and governs. For these are the Back Parts of God, which are after Him, as tokens of Himself..."
This distinction between the first Nature and the uncreated glory of God, the first known only to God and the other to those to whom God reveals himself is to be found not only in the Orthodox Fathers but also in Paul of Samosata, the Arians, and the Nestorians all of whom claimed that God is related to creatures only by will, and not by nature, since natural relations mean necessary relations which would reduce God to a system of emanations like that of Valentinus. Paul of Samosata and the Nestorians argued that in Christ, God is united to humanity not by nature, but by will, and the Arians argued that God is related to the hypostatic Logos not by nature, but by will.
Against these positions, the Orthodox Fathers argues that in Christ, the Logos is united to His humanity by nature or hypostatically, and the Father generates His Son not by will only, but by nature primarily, the will not being in contradiction to what belongs to God by nature. Thus, God generates the Logos by nature and by will. The Holy Trinity creates and is related to creatures with the exception of the Logos who by nature unites himself His own humanity.
In any case, the Eunomians and Augustine obliterated this distinction between what God is by nature and what God does by will. In Augustine this led to a failure to distinguish between generation and procession (which are not energies of the Father) and such acts as knowing sending, loving, and giving, which are common energies of the father, Son and Holy Spirit, but not he radically incommunicable manners of existence and hypostatic properties of generation and procession.
Because the Franks, following Augustine, neither understood the Patristic position on this subject, nor were they willing from the heights of their majestic feudal nobility to listen to "Greek" explain these distinctions, they went about raiding the Patristic texts. They took passages out of context in order to prove that for all the Fathers, as supposedly in the case of Augustine, the fact that the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit means that the Holy Spirit derives His existence from the Father and Son.
In concluding this section, we note that the Fathers always claimed that generation and procession are what distinguish the Son from the Holy Spirit. Since the Son is the only generation begotten Son of God, procession is different from generation. Otherwise, we would have two Son, in which case there is no only begotten Son. For the Fathers this was both a biblical fact and a mystery to be treated with due respect. To ask what generation and procession are is as ridiculous as asking what the divine essence is. Only energies of God may be know, and then only in so far as the creature can receive.
In contrast to this, Augustine set out to explain what generation is. He identified generation with what the other Roman Fathers called actions or energies of God which are common tot he Holy Trinity. Thus, procession ended up being these same energies. The difference between the Son and the Spirit was that the Son is from one and he Holy Spirit from two.
When he began his De Trinitate, Augustine promised that he would explain why the Son and the Holy Spirit are not brothers. After completing his twelfth book, his friends stole and published this work in an unfinished and uncorrected form. In Book 15, 45, Augustine admits that he cannot explain why the Holy Spirit is not a son of the Father and brother of the Logos, and proposes that we will learn this in the next life.
In his Rectractationun, Augustine explains how he intended to explain what had happened in another writing and not publish his De Trinitate himself. However, his friends prevailed upon him, and he simply corrected the books as much as he could and finished the work with which he was not really satisfied.
What is most remarkable is that the spiritual and cultural descendants of the Franks, who pricked and swelled Roman livers for so many centuries, are still claiming that Augustine is the authority par excellence on the Patristic doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
Whereas no Greek-speaking Roman Father ever used the expression that the Holy Spirit proceeds (ekporeuetai) from the Father and Son, both Ambrose and Augustine use this expression. Since Ambrose was so dependent on such Greek-speaking experts as Basil the Great and Didymos the Blind, particularly his work on the Holy Spirit, one would expect that he would follow Eastern usage.
It seems, however, that at the time of the death of Ambrose, before the Second Ecumenical Synod, the term procession had been adopted by Didymos as the hypostatic individuality of the Holy Spirit. It had not been used by Saint Basil (only in his letter 38 he seems to be using procession as Gregory the Theologian) or by Saint Gregory of Nyssa before the Second Ecumenical Synod. Of the Cappadocian Fathers, only Saint Gregory the Theologian uses very clearly in his Theological Orations what became the final formulation of the Church on the matter at the Second Ecumenical Synod.
The first fully developed use of procession as the manner of existence and the hypostatic property of the Holy Spirit is to be found in the Pseudo-Justin collection of works, which probably came out of the Antiochene tradition. It reached Cappadocia via Saint Gregory the Theologian and Alexandria via Didymos the Blind. Saint Ambrose however, did not pick up this tradition. Augustine picked it up in a confused manner.
It is clear that, in the third or fourth century, the term generation, used with regard to the Logos and God, changed from signifying the Holy Trinity's relation to creation and the incarnation whereby the already existing God became Father, having generated the already existing Logos, who thus became the Son, so that He may be seen and heard by the prophets and become man) to signifying the manner of existence of the Logos from the Father. The question of the Holy Spirit's manner of existence and hypostatic attribute arose as a result of this change.
With the exception of Antioch, the prevailing tradition and, perhaps, the only tradition, was that the Father is from no other being, that the Logos is from the Father my means of generation, and the Holy Spirit is from the Father also, but not by generation. Saint Gregory of Nyssa initially seems to have put forth the idea that the Holy Spirit differs from the Son in so far as the Son receives existence from the Father, and the Spirit received existence from the Father also, but through the Son. The Father is His only principle and cause of existence, since these pertain to what is common, belonging to all three persons. Saint Gregory's usual usage is the "not by generation." To this "not by generation" was added "by procession" in Antioch. This gained enough support to be put into the Creed of the Second Ecumenical Synod. However, this term "procession" neither adds nor subtracts anything from the patristic understanding of the Holy Trinity, since the Fathers always insisted that we don not know what generation and procession mean. The Fathers evidently accepted the term in the Creed because it was better than inserting such cumbersome and negative expressions as "from the Father not by generation." In combining Saint Gregory Nyssa's through the Son with the final settlement, we get Saint Maximos the confessor's and Saint John of Damascus' "procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father through the Son."
It is obvious that the Greek-speaking Fathers before this development used procession as the Bible does, and so spoke of the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Father, and never from the Father and the Son. It seems, however, that in the Latin-speaking tradition procedure is used for_ekporeuomai, but sometimes also for_exercomai, and even for_pemyiV. In any case, when Saint Ambrose used procedure, he does not mean either manner of existence or hypostatic property. This is clear from his insistence that whatsoever the Father and the Son have in common, the Holy Spirit also has. When the Father and the Son send the Spirit, the Spirit sends himself. What is individual belongs to only one person. What is common is common to all three persons.
Evidently, because Augustine transformed the doctrine of the Holy Trinity into a speculative exercise of philosophical acumen, the simple, schematic and biblical nature of the doctrine in the Roman tradition had been lost sight of by those stemming from the scholastic tradition.
Thus, the history of the doctrine of the Trinity has been reduced to searching out the development of such concepts and terminology as three persons or hypostases, one essence, homoousios, personal or hypostatic properties, one divinity, etc.
For the Fathers, the Arians and the Eunomians, however, the doctrine of the Trinity was identical to the appearances of the Logos in His Glory to the prophets, apostles, and saints. The Logos was always identified with the Angel of God, the Lord of Glory, the Angel of Great Council, the Lord Sabbaoth and the Wisdom of God who appeared to the prophets of the Old Testament and became Christ by His birth as man from the Virgin Theotokos. No one ever doubted this identification of the Logos with this very concrete individual, who revealed in himself the invisible God of the Old Testament to the prophets, with the peculiar exception of Augustine, who in this regard follows the Gnostic and Manichaean traditions.
The controversy between the Orthodox and Arians was not about who the Logos is in the Old and New Testament, but about what the Logos is and what His relationship is so the Father. The Orthodox insisted that the Logos is uncreated and unchangeable, having always existed from the Father, who by nature generates the Logos before the ages. The Arians insisted that this same Logos is a changeable creature, deriving His existence from non-being before the ages by the will of the will of the Father.
Thus the basic question was, did the prophets see in God's uncreated glory a created Logos, or an uncreated Logos, a Logos who is God by nature and, therefore, has all the energies and powers of God by nature, or a God by grace who has some, but not all, the energies of the Father and then only by grace and not by nature.
Both Orthodox and Arians agreed in principle that, if the Logos has every power and energy of the Father by nature, then He is uncreated. If not, He is a creature.
Since the Bible is a witness of whom and what the prophets and apostles saw in the glory of the Father, the Bible itself will reveal whether or not the Logos has all the energies and powers of the Father by nature. Thus, we will know whether the prophets and apostles saw a created or an uncreated Logos_omoousioV with the Father.
Once can see clearly how, for the Fathers, the con-substantiality of the Logos with the Father is not only the experience of the apostles and saints, but also of the prophets.
One of the most amazing things in doctrinal history is the fact that both Arians and Orthodox use both the Old and New Testaments indiscriminately. The argument is very simple. They make a list of all the powers and energies of the Father. They do the same for the Son. Then they compare them to see if they are identical or not. The important thing is for them to be not similar, but identical.
Parallel to this, both Arians and Orthodox agree against the Sabellians and Samosatenes that the Father and Son have individual hypostatic properties which are not common, although they do not completely agree on what these are. When the controversy is extended into the question of the Holy Spirit, the exact same method of theologizing is used. Whatever powers and energies the Father and Son have in common, the Holy Spirit must also have both in common and by nature, in order to be God by nature.
However, parallel to this argumentative process is the personal experience of those living spiritual masters who themselves reach theoria, as we saw expounded by Saint Gregory above. This experience verifies or certifies the patristic interpretation of the Bible, which witnesses to the uncreatedness of the Logos and the Holy Spirit and their oneness nature with the Father and the identity of their uncreated glory, rule, grace, will, etc. This personal experience of the glory of God also certifies the biblical teaching that there is absolutely no similarity between the created and the uncreated. This means also that there can be no uncreated universals of which creatures are supposedly copies. Each individual creature is dependent upon the uncreated glory of God, which is, one the one hand, absolutely simple, yet indivisibly divided among individual creatures. All of God is present in each and every energy simultaneously. This the Fathers know by experience, not by speculation.
This summary of the Patristic theological method is perhaps sufficient to indicate the nonspeculative method by which the Father theologize and interpret the Bible. The method is simple and the result is schematic. Stated simply and arithmetically, the whole doctrine of the Trinity may be broken down into two simple statements as far as the Filioque is concerned. (1)What is common in the Holy Trinity is common to and identical in all three persons or hypostases. (2)What is hypostatic, or hypostatic property, or manner of existence is individual, and belongs only to one person or hypostasis of he Holy Trinity.
Thus, we have ta koina and ta akoinwnhta , what is common and what is incommunicably individual.
Having this in mind, one realizes why the Romans did not take the Frankish Filioque very seriously as a theological position, especially as one which was supposed to improve upon the Creed of the Second Ecumenical Synod.
However, the Romans had to take the Franks themselves seriously, because they backed up their fantastic theological claims with an unbelievable self-confidence and with a sharp sword, What they lacked in historical insight, they made up with "nobility" of descent, and a strong will to back up their arguments with muscle and steel.
In any case, it may be useful in terminating this section to emphasize the simplicity of the Roman position and the humor with which the Filioque was confronted. We may recapture this Roman humor about the Latin Filioque with two syllogistic jokes from the Great Photios which may explain some of the fury of Frankish reaction against him.
"Everything, therefore, which is seen and spoken of in the all-holy and consubstantial and coessential Trinity, is either common to all, or belongs to one only of the three: but the projection (probolh) of the Spirit, is neither common, but nor, as they say, does it belong to anyone of them alone (may propitiation be upon us, and the blasphemy turned upon their heads). Therefore, the projection of the Spirit is not at all in the life-giving and all-perfect Trinity."
In other words, the Holy Spirit must then derive His existence outside of the Holy Trinity since everything in the Trinity is common to all or belongs to one only.
"For otherwise, if all things common to the Father and the Son, are in any case common to the Spirit,...and the procession from them is common to the Father and the Son, the Spirit therefore will then proceed from himself: and He will be principle (arch) of himself, and both cause and caused: a thing which even the myths of the Greeks never fabricated."
Keeping in mind the fact that the Fathers always began their thoughts about the Holy Trinity from their personal experience of the Angel of the lord and Great Counselor made man and Christ, one only then understands the problematic underlying the Arian/Eunomian crisis, i.e., whether this concrete person derives His existence from the essence of hypostasis of the Father or from non-being by the will of the Father. Had the tradition understood the method of theologizing about God as Augustine did, there would never have been and Arian or Eunomian heresy. Those who reach glorification (theosis) know by this experience that whatever has its existence from non-being by the will of God is a creature, and whoever and whatever is not from non-being, but from the Father is uncreated. Between the created and the uncreated, there is no similarity whatsoever.
Before the Cappadocian Fathers gave their weight to the distinction between the three divine hypostases (upostaseiV) and the one divine essence, many Orthodox Church leaders avoided speaking either about one essence or one hypostasis since this smacked of Sabellian and Samosatene Monarchianism. Many preferred to speak about the Son as deriving His existence from the Father's essence and as being like the Father in essence (omoousioV) . Saint Athanasios explains that this is exactly what is meant by (omoiousioV)--coessential. It is clear that the Orthodox were not searching for a common faith but rather for common terminology and common concepts to express their common experience in the Body of Christ.
Equally important is the fact that the Cappadocians lent their weight to the distinction between the Father as cause (aitioV) and the Son and the Holy Spirit as caused (aitiata). Coupled with the manners of existence (tropoi uparxewV) of generation and procession, these terms mean that the Father causes the existence of the Son by generation and of the Holy Spirit by procession or not by generation. Of course, the Father being from no one (ex oudenoV) derives His existence neither from himself nor from another. Actually, Saint Basil pokes fun at Eunomios for being the first to say such an obvious thing and thereby manifest his frivolousness and wordiness. Furthermore, neither the essence nor the natural energy of the Father have a cause of manner of existence. The Father possesses them by His very nature and communicates them to the Son in order that they possess them by nature likewise. Thus, the manner by which the uncaused Father exists, and by which the Son and the Holy Spirit receive their existence from the Father, are not be confused with the Father's communicating His essence and energy to the Son and the Holy Spirit. It would, indeed, be strange to speak about the Father as causing the existence of His own essence and energy along with the hypostases of the Son and the Holy Spirit.
It also must be emphasized that for the Fathers who composed the creeds of Nicaea and Constantinople neither generation nor procession mean energy or action. This was the position of the heretics condemned. The Arians claimed that the Son is the product of the will of God. The Eunomians supported a more original but bizarre position that the uncreated energy of the Father is identical with His essence, that the Son is the product of a single energy of the Son, and that each created species is the product of a special energy of the Holy Spirit, there being as many crated energies as there are species. Otherwise, if the Holy Spirit has only one created energy, then there would be only one species of things in creation. It is in the light of these heresies also that one must appreciate that generation and procession in the Creed in no way mean energy or action.
Augustine did not understand generation and procession in this manner since he clearly identifies them with energies. It is this which allowed him to speculate psychologically about the Holy Trinity, a luxury which was methodologically impossible for the Fathers. Thus, Augustine did not use and neither was he aware of the conciliar and especially East Roman understanding of generation and procession. He identified these terms with the Father's communication of being, i.e., essence and action to the Son and the Holy Spirit, an aspect which exists in all the Fathers, but not to be identified with generation and procession, at least after the First and Second Ecumenical Synod. It is within such a context that Augustine should be understood when he speaks about the Holy Spirit as receiving His being (essence) and as proceeding principally from the Father, but also from the Son. This is exactly what the East Roman Fathers mean by the Holy Spirit receiving His essence and energy from the Father through or even and (St. Gregory Palamas) the Son simultaneously with His procession or reception of His proper or individual existence of hypostasis from the Father. Neither the essence nor the essential energy of the Father are caused, nor are they the cause of the existence of the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Father's essence and energy are communicated and common (koina) to the Holy Trinity which is thus one cause of creation. However, neither the Father's nor the Son's, nor the Holy Spirit's hypostasis is communicated. The hypostases are incommunicable (akoinwnhta) . Thus, the persons of the Holy Trinity are one, not by union or identity of persons, but by the unity and identity of essence and energy, and by the Father being the sole cause of the existence of the Son and the Holy Spirit.
In the experience of illumination and glorification in Christ, one is aware that God is three absolutely similar realities, two derived from one and con-inhering in each other, and at the same time one identical reality of uncreated communicated glory, rule (basileia) and grace in which God indivisibly divides himself in divisible things, His one mansion (monh) thus becoming many while remaining one. The divine essence, however, is not communicated to creatures and, therefore, can never be known.
Augustine did not approach the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in the manner of the other Fathers. However, the other West Roman Fathers each have their parallels in the developing East Roman tradition. Augustine also accepted the settlement of the Second Ecumenical Synod and the Fathers who forged it as we saw. Thus, the East Roman Fathers became West Roman Fathers. To speak about a Western doctrine of the Holy Trinity is, therefore, a falsification of how the West Romans themselves understood things. It is within such a context that procession in the West came to have the two meanings as explained by Maximos the Confessor and Anastasios the Librarian.
However, when the Franks began raiding the Fathers for arguments to support their addition to the Creed, they picked up the categories of manner of existence, cause and cause, and identified these with Augustine's generation and procession, thus transforming the old Western Orthodox Filioque into their heretical one. This confusion is nowhere so clear than during the debates at the Council of Florence where the Franks used the terms "cause" and "caused" as identical with their generation and procession, and supported their claim that the Father and the Son are one cause of the procession of the Holy Spirit. Thus, they became completely confused over Maximos who explains that for the West of his time, the Son is not the cause of the existence of the Holy Spirit, so that in this sense the Holy Spirit does not proceed from the Father. That Anastasios the Librarian repeats this is ample evidence of the confusion of both the Franks and their spiritual and theological descendants.
We end this section with the reminder that for the Fathers, no name or concept gives any understanding of the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Saint Gregory the Theologian, e.g., is clear on this as we saw. He ridicules his opponents with a characteristic taunt: "Do tell me what is the unbegotteness of the Father, and I will explain to you the physiology of the generation of the Son and the procession of the Spirit, and we shall both of us be frenzy-stricken for prying into the mystery of God" Names and concepts about God give to those who reach theoria understanding not of the mystery, but of the dogma and its purpose. In the experience of glorification, knowledge about God, along with prayer, prophecy and faith are abolished. Only love remains (1 Cor. 13, 8-13; 14,1). The mystery remains, and will always remain, even when one sees God in Christ face to face and is known by God as Paul was (1 Cor. 13.12).[ Return to Contents ]
Smaragdus record how the emissaries of Charlemagne complained the Pope Leo III was making an issue of only four syllables. Of course, four syllables are not many. Nevertheless, their implications are such that Latin of Frankish Christendom embarked on a history of theology and ecclesiastical practice which may have been quite different had the Franks paid attention to the "Greek."
I will indicate some of the implication of the presuppositions of the Filioque issue which present problems today.
1.) Even a superficial study of today's histories of dogma and biblical scholarship reveals the peculiar fact that Protestant, Anglican, Papal, and some Orthodox theologians accept the First and Second Ecumenical Synods only formally. This is so because there is at least an identity of teaching between Orthodox and Arians, which does not exist between Orthodox and Latins, about the real appearances of the Logos to the Old Testament prophets and the identity of this Logos made flesh in the New Testament. This, as we saw, was the agreed foundation of debate for the determination of whether the Logos seen by the prophets is created or uncreated. This identification of the Logos in the Old Testament is the very basis of the teachings of all the Roman Ecumenical Synods.
We emphasize that the East Roman Fathers never abandoned this reading of the Old Testament theophanies. This is the teaching of all the West Roman Fathers, with the single exception of Augustine, who, confused as usual over what the Fathers teach, rejects as blasphemous the idea what the prophets could have seen the Logos with their bodily eyes and, indeed, in fire, darkness, cloud, etc.
The Arians and Eunomians had used, as the Gnostics before them, the visibility of the Logos to the prophets to prove that He was a lower being than God and a creature. Augustine agrees with the Arians and Eunomians that the prophets saw a created Angel, created fire, cloud, light, darkness, etc., but he argues against them that none of these was the Logos himself, but symbols by means of which God or the whole Trinity is seen and heard.
Augustine did not have patience with the teaching that the Angel of the Lord, the fire, the glory, the cloud, and the Pentecostal tongues of fire, were verbal symbols of the uncreated realities immediately communicated with by the prophets and apostles, since for him this would mean that all this language pointed to a vision of the divine substance. For the bishop of Hippo this vision is identical to the whole of what is uncreated, and could be seen only by a Neoplatonic type ecstasy of the soul, out of the body, within the sphere of timeless and motionless eternity, transcending all discursive reasoning. Since this is not what he found in the Bible, the visions therein described are not verbal symbols of real visions of God, but of creatures symbolizing eternal realities. The created verbal symbols of the Bible became created objective symbols. In other words, words which symbolized uncreated energies like fire, etc,. became objectively real created fires, clouds, tongues, etc.
2.) This failure of Augustine to distinguish between the divine essence and its natural energies (of which some are communicated to the friends of God). led to a very peculiar reading of the Bible, wherein creatures or symbols come into existence in order to convey a divine message, and them pass out of existence. Thus, the Bible becomes full of unbelievable miracles and a text dictated by God.
3.) Besides this, the biblical concept of heaven and hell also becomes distorted, since the eternal fires of hell and the outer darkness become creatures also whereas, they are the uncreated glory of God as seen by those who refuse to love. thus, one ends up with the three-story universe problem, with God in a place, etc., necessitating a demythologizing of the Bible in order to salvage whatever one can of a quaint Christian tradition for modern man. However, it is not the Bible itself which need demythologizing, but the Augustinian Franco-Latin tradition and the caricature which it passed off in the West as "Greek" Patristic theology.
4.) By not taking the above-mentioned foundations of Roman
Patristic theology of the Ecumenical Synods seriously as the key
to interpreting the Bible, modern biblical scholars have applied
presuppositions latent in Augustine with such methodical
consistency that they have destroyed the unity and identity of
the Old and New Testaments, and have allowed themselves to be
swayed by Judaic interpretations of the Old Testament rejected by
Thus, instead of dealing with the concrete person of the Angel of God, Lord of Glory, Angel of Great Council, Wisdom of God and identifying Him with the logos made flesh and Christ, and accepting this as the doctrine of the Trinity, most, if not all, Western scholars have ended up identifying Christ only with Old Testament Messiahship, and equating the doctrine of the Trinity with the development of extra Biblical Trinitarian terminology within what is really not a Patristic framework, but an Augustinian one. Thus, the so-called "Greek" Fathers are still read in the light of Augustine, with the Russians after Peter Mogila joining in.
5.) Another most devastating result of the Augustinian presuppositions of the Filioque is the destruction of the prophetic and apostolic understanding of grace and its replacement with the whole system of created graces distributed in Latin Christendom by the hocus pocus of the clergy.
For the Bible and the Father, grace is the uncreated glory and rule (basileia) of God seen by the prophets, apostles, and saints and participated in by the faithful followers of the prophets and the apostles. The source of this glory and rule is the Father who, in begetting the Logos, and projecting the Spirit, communicates this glory and rule so that he Son and the Spirit are also by nature one source of grace with the Father. This uncreated grace and rule (basileia) is participated in by the faithful according to their preparedness for reception, and is seen by the friends of God who have become gods by grace.
Because the Frankish Filioque presupposes the identity of uncreated divine essence and energy, and because participation in the divine essence is impossible, the Latin tradition was led automatically into accepting communicated grace as created, leading to its objectification and magical priestly manipulation.
On the other hand, the reduction by Augustine of this revealed glory and rule (basileia) to the status of a creature has misled modern biblical scholars into the endless discussion concerning the coming of the "Kingdom" (basileia should rather be rule) without realizing its identity with the uncreated glory and grace of God.
6.) In order not to extend ourselves into more detail, we end this section and this paper by pointing out what the presupposition of the Filioque have done to the matter of authority on questions of biblical interpretation and dogma.
In this patristic tradition, all dogma or truth is experienced in glorification. The final form of glorification is that of Pentecost, in which the apostles were led by the Spirit into all the truth, as promised by Christ at the Last Supper. Since Pentecost, every incident of the glorification of a saint, (in other words, of a saint having a vision of God's uncreated glory in Christ as its source), is an extension of Pentecost at various levels of intensity.
This experience includes all of man, but at the same time transcend all of man, including man's intellect. Thus, the experience remains a mystery to the intellect. Thus, the experience remains a mystery to the intellect, and cannot be conveyed intellectually to another. Thus, language can point to, but cannot convey, this experience. The spiritual father can guide a person to, but cannot produce, the experience which is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
When, therefore, the Fathers add terms to the biblical language concerning God and His relations to the world, like hypostasis, ousia, physis, homoousios, etc., they are not doing this because they are improving current understanding as over against a former age. Pentecost cannot be improved upon. All they are doing is defending the Pentecostal experience which transcends words, in the language of their time, because a particular heresy leads away from, and not to, this experience, which means spiritual death to those led astray.
For the Fathers, authority is not only the Bible, but the Bible plus those glorified or divinized as the prophets and apostles. The Bible is not in itself either inspired or infallible. It becomes inspired and infallible within the communion of saints because they have the experience of divine glory described in the Bible.
The presuppositions of the Frankish Filioque are not founded on this experience of glory. Anyone can claim to speak with authority and understanding. However, we follow the Fathers and accept only those as authority who, like the apostles, have reached a degree of Pentecostal glorification.
Within this frame of reference, there can be no institutionalized or guaranteed form of infallibility, outside of the tradition of spirituality which leads to theoria, mentioned above, by St. Gregory the Theologian.
As a heresy, the Filioque is as bad as Arianism, and this is borne out by the fact that the holders of this heresy reduce the Pentecostal tongues of fire to the status of creature as Arius had done with the Angel of Glory. Had Arius and the Scholastics been gifted with the Pentecostal glorification of the Fathers, they would have known by their experience that the Logos who appeared to the prophets and the apostles in glory, and the tongues of fire are uncreated; the one an uncreated hypostasis, and the other the common and identical energies of the Holy Trinity emanating from the new presence of the humanity of Christ by the Holy Spirit.
What is true of the Bible is true of the Synods, which, like the Bible, express in symbols that which transcends symbols and is known by means of those who have reached theoria. It is for this reason that the Synods appeal to the authority, not only of the Fathers in the Bible, but also to the Fathers of all ages, since the Fathers of all ages participate in the same truth which is God's glory in Christ.
For this reason, Pope Leo III told the Franks in no uncertain terms that the Fathers left the Filioque out of the Creed neither because of ignorance nor by omission, but by divine inspiration. However, the implications of the Frankish Filioque were not accepted by all Roman Christians in the Western Roman provinces conquered by Franco-Latin Christendom and its scholastic theology. Remnants of Roman biblical orthodoxy and piety have survived all parts may one day be reassembled, as the full implications of the Patristic tradition make themselves known, and spirituality, as the basis of doctrine, becomes the center of our studies.
* Because the question of the Filioque played such an important role in the centuries long conflict between the Frankish and Roman worlds, the author's study originally prepared as the Orthodox position paper for the discussions on the Filioque between Orthodox and Anglicans at the subcommision meeting in St. Albans, England in 1975 and at the plenary commission meeting I Moscow in 1976, is presented here as Lecture 3 in a revised form. It was first published in Kleronomia, 7 (1975), 285-34 and reprinted in Athens in 1978.
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