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.
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).