Church Fathers on the Filioque

At the so-called Orthodox Bridge, they are discussing the (de)merits of the Filioque clause.   Where do I stand on it?  I agree with the soteriological truth behind what the filioque is getting at.  I fully admit that Protestant defenses of it have been woefully lacking (and I suspect that not a few Reformed systematics don’t even understand it, as Wayne Grudem nearly concedes).  When I used to be a critic of the Filioque, the one point that troubled me is that it didn’t seem like Augustine and Rome invented it.  In fact, I saw a number of church fathers, even some Eastern ones, espouse the Filioque.

We need to be clear on what we aren’t saying.  For the sake of argument I will grant that phrases “through the Son” do not necessarily teach double-origination.  That said, though, I don’t think anyone at OB truly understood Bulgakov‘s critique. Sure, he was a Hegelian and probably a Gnostic, but that doesn’t change the logical problems he raised (there goes that pesky logic thing again).  So I will be using evidence that looks like double-origination.

Hilary of Poitiers

“Concerning the Holy Spirit . . . it is not necessary to speak of him who must be acknowledged, who is from the Father and the Son, his sources” (The Trinity 2:29 [A.D. 357]).

Didymus the Blind

“As we have understood discussions . . . about the incorporeal natures, so too it is now to be recognized that the Holy Spirit receives from the Son that which he was of his own nature. . . . So too the Son is said to receive from the Father the very things by which he subsists. For neither has the Son anything else except those things given him by the Father, nor has the Holy Spirit any other substance than that given him by the Son” (The Holy Spirit 37 [A.D. 362]).

Epiphanius of Salamis

“The Father always existed and the Son always existed, and the Spirit breathes from the Father and the Son” (The Man Well-Anchored 75 [A.D. 374]).

Ambrose of Milan

“The Holy Spirit, when he proceeds from the Father and the Son, does not separate himself from the Father and does not separate himself from the Son” (The Holy Spirit 1:2:120 [A.D. 381]).

Cyril of Alexandria

“Since the Holy Spirit when he is in us effects our being conformed to God, and he actually proceeds from the Father and Son, it is abundantly clear that he is of the divine essence, in it in essence and proceeding from it” (Treasury of the Holy Trinity, thesis 34 [A.D. 424]).

Athanasius (and this is the most damaging piece of evidence.  Athanasius specifically identifies the Son as the Source of the Holy Spirit.  One cannot simply gloss it as “the Son’s temporal sending of the Spirit.” Besides begging the question, Athanasius gives no indication of speaking temporally and he precisely uses the language of origination).

PG 26:1000A]: “David sings in the psalm [35:10], saying: ‘For with You is the font of Life;’because jointly with the Father the Son is indeed the source of the Holy Spirit.”

Addendum on Cyril

I had used a quote by Cyril at OB.   The initial response from OB was anger.  One priest then pointed out that the Schaff translation has Cyril speaking of mission.  That could be so, but it’s hard to gloss all of these quotes as missional.

East: Patriarch St. Cyril I of Alexandria (Doctor of the Incarnation) 6/27
34. St. Gregory Palamas (Second Sunday of Great Lent) says that the energies of the Holy Spirit, not the hypostasis of the Holy Spirit, proceed from the Father through the Son; this is how he explains the teaching of St. Cyril of Alexandria.{1} But in many places, the great St. Cyril of Alexandria, who distinguished between the divine essence and the divine energy,{2} affirms the distinctively Catholic (Western–BH) teaching on the procession of the Holy Spirit, rather than just an energetic procession, meaning that the Palamite interpretation is inadequate. He accurately restricts εκπορευσθαι to the relation of origin of the Holy Spirit to the Father, the sole αἰτία, i.e., ἀρχὴ-ἄναρχος.

35. In 427 the holy Doctor of the Incarnation says in Commentary on the Prophet Joel 35 [PG 71:377D],

For, in that the Son is God, and from God according to nature (for He has had His birth from God the Father), the Spirit is both proper to Him and in Him and from Him, just as, to be sure, the same thing is understood to hold true in the case of God the Father Himself.

In 429 St. Cyril says in Thesaurus 34 [PG 75:576B], “Thus, Paul knows no difference of nature between the Son and the Holy Spirit, but because the Spirit exists from Him and in Him by nature, He calls Him by the name of Lordship.”

36. In the same part of the same work [PG 75:600D], St. Cyril says, “Therefore, when Christ lays down the law, He lays it down that His Spirit naturally exists in Him and from Him.”

37. Lest anyone think that, from the Son’s sending of the Spirit in the economy, we cannot infer the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son, the holy patriarch says in On the Incarnation of the Only-Begotten [PG 75:1241A], “Freeing from sin the one who adheres to Him, He anoints him, again, with His own Spirit, infusing Him Himself (is this the language of origination or sending? Indeed), since He is the Word from God the Father, and from His own nature He causes Him to fountain upon us.” Since the Son sends the Holy Spirit [Jn 15:26], He must have some authority over the Holy Spirit. But it cannot be authority of dominion (e.g., King St. Vladimir I the Great rules Russia), superiority (e.g., John is holier than Jack), or seniority (e.g., a general is ranked higher than a colonel). Therefore the authority must be one of origin, so that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. This is how St. Thomas Aquinas argues in Summa Contra Gentiles.

38. He also expresses the complementarity and equivalence of the Latin and Greek formulae when he says [On Worship and Adoration in Spirit and Truth 1 in PG 68:148A],

The Spirit is assuredly in no way changeable; or even if some think Him to be so infirm as to change, the disgrace will be traced back to the divine nature itself, if in fact the Spirit is from God the Father and, for that matter, from the Son, being poured forth substantially from both, that is to say, from the Father through the Son.