Archive for Filioque

Coming Review on a Reformed Filioque Article

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 28, 2011 by The Cult of King Alfred

I was browsing EBSCO host today and came across an article in the Westminster Theological Journal.  It is titled “How Important is the Filioque for Reformed Orthodoxy?” by Mark Pugliese.   I have my initial response to it, which I will outline below, but I want to do a fuller response later.

The Negatives

There really isn’t much new in this essay.  He repeats a lot of the standard Western arguments (e.g., the immanent trinity is identical to the ontological trinity in every way, and even beyond that).  He assumes that Jesus’ breathing on the disciples proves Christ ontologically originating the Holy Spirit in eternity.  He does not argue this point but merely asserts it.  He spends about four pages demonstrating that the Reformed confessions adhere to the Filioque.  (I assumed this was a given).  About the only strong line of evidence he gives is a list of quotes from the Fathers that seem to profess something like the Filioque (of course, he is using a very crass version of the “word = concept” fallacy, but there are a few quotes to make one pause.  Ironically, the author believes Scripture is the ultimate–and practically only real–authority is Scripture, not the Fathers).  My ultimate beef is that the arguments in the paper do not live up to the title:  I want to see how Reformed theology depends on the Filioque, which is what the title suggest but does not deliver.


I’m fairly certain that only a handful of readers of WTJ recognized this, but Pugliese made very clear the connection between absolute divine simplicity and the filioque.  Of course, he didn’t spell this out in those specific words, but he did say that without the Filioque you could not tell the difference between the Son and the Holy Spirit.   I disagree, but I am glad he makes the connection (since the two depend on one another;  this is an important point because all of the Eastern Fathers he thinks supported the Filioque also rejected absolute divine simplicity).

Filioque or Triad?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 4, 2009 by The Cult of King Alfred

I am rereading Lossky’s In the Image and Likeness of God.  I read it last year but really didn’t know the issues involved.  I need to really hammer down what I believe about Triadology.  Apostolic succession, Eucharist, liturgy–that’s wonderful but keeping the discussion at that level means that Roman Catholicism is just as viable an option–which it is not.  The Filioque, Triadology, and Absolute Divine Simplicity are the issues upon which the debate hangs.  They are “deal breakers.”  The following is from Lossky’s book. I am going to spend future posts unpacking these two pages.

According to St. Maximus, God is “identically a monad and a triad.”{24} He is not merely one and three; he is 1=3 and 3=1. That is to say, here we are not concerned with number as signifying quantity: absolute diversities cannot be made the subjects of sums of addition; they have not even opposition in common. If, as we have said, a personal God cannot be a monad– if he must be more than a single person– neither can he be a dyad. The dyad is always an opposition of two terms, and, in that sense, it cannot signify an absolute diversity. When we say that God is Trinity we are emerging from the series
of countable or calculable numbers.{25} The procession of the Holy Spirit is an infinite [85] passage beyond the dyad, which consecrates the absolute (as opposed to relative) diversity of the persons. This passage beyond the dyad is not an infinite series of persons but the infinity of the procession of the Third Person: the Triad suffices to denote the Living God of revelation.{26} If God is a monad equal to a triad, there is no place in him for a dyad. Thus the seemingly necessary opposition between the Father and the Son, which gives rise to a dyad, is purely artificial, the result of an illicit abstraction. Where the Trinity is concerned, we are in the presence of the One or of the Three, but never of two.

The procession of the Holy Spirit ab utroque does not signify passage beyond the dyad but rather re-absorption of the dyad in the monad, the return of the monad upon itself. It is a dialectic of the monad opening out into the dyad and closing again into its simplicity.{27} On the other hand, procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father alone, by emphasizing the monarchy of the Father as the concrete principle of the unity of the Three, passes beyond the dyad without a return to primordial unity, without the necessity of God retiring into the simplicity of the essence. For this reason the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father alone confronts us with the mystery of the “Tri-Unity.” We have here not a simple, self-enclosed essence, upon which relations of opposition have been superimposed in order to masquerade a god of philosophy as the God of Christian revelation. We say “the simple Trinity,” and this antinomic expression, characteristic of Orthodox hymnography,{28} points out a simplicity which the absolute diversity of the three persons can in no way relativize.