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Trinity/Filioque/Origin of Members

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  • Trinity/Filioque/Origin of Members

    Hi everybody, I asked these questions on a different forum, but thought I would like to get your input as well :)

    While in a discussion with an EO friend concerning the Filioque, the "origin" of both the HS and the Son was brought up.

    My question is not about the Filioque and whether the EOC or the RCC is correct, rather, my questions are about the members of Trinity and the understanding of the nature ("origin"?) of the Godhead.

    Both the RCC and the EOC believe/teach that the Father is the "Source" of the Godhead.


    245 The apostolic faith concerning the Spirit was confessed by the second ecumenical council at Constantinople (381): "We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father."71 By this confession, the Church recognizes the Father as "the source and origin of the whole divinity".72 But the eternal origin of the Spirit is not unconnected with the Son's origin: "The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is God, one and equal with the Father and the Son, of the same substance and also of the same nature. . . Yet he is not called the Spirit of the Father alone,. . . but the Spirit of both the Father and the Son."73 The Creed of the Church from the Council of Constantinople confesses: "With the Father and the Son, he is worshipped and glorified."74

    246 The Latin tradition of the Creed confesses that the Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque)". The Council of Florence in 1438 explains: "The Holy Spirit is eternally from Father and Son; He has his nature and subsistence at once (simul) from the Father and the Son. He proceeds eternally from both as from one principle and through one spiration. . . . And, since the Father has through generation given to the only-begotten Son everything that belongs to the Father, except being Father, the Son has also eternally from the Father, from whom he is eternally born, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son."75

    247 The affirmation of the filioque does not appear in the Creed confessed in 381 at Constantinople. But Pope St. Leo I, following an ancient Latin and Alexandrian tradition, had already confessed it dogmatically in 447,76 even before Rome, in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon, came to recognize and receive the Symbol of 381. The use of this formula in the Creed was gradually admitted into the Latin liturgy (between the eighth and eleventh centuries). The introduction of the filioque into the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed by the Latin liturgy constitutes moreover, even today, a point of disagreement with the Orthodox Churches.

    248 At the outset the Eastern tradition expresses the Father's character as first origin of the Spirit. By confessing the Spirit as he "who proceeds from the Father", it affirms that he comes from the Father through the Son.77 The Western tradition expresses first the consubstantial communion between Father and Son, by saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque). It says this, "legitimately and with good reason",78 for the eternal order of the divine persons in their consubstantial communion implies that the Father, as "the principle without principle",79 is the first origin of the Spirit, but also that as Father of the only Son, he is, with the Son, the single principle from which the Holy Spirit proceeds.80 This legitimate complementarity, provided it does not become rigid, does not affect the identity of faith in the reality of the same mystery confessed. ~Catechism of the Catholic Church

    My first question is this, how can the Son and the HS, who both the EOC and the RCC believe/teach to be w/o beginning, have their "source" in the Father?*

    *(actually, the RCC teaches that the HS has His "source"/"origin" in both the Father and the Son, that He "proceeds" from them both .. as you can see for yourself in the posited excerpt from the CCC above).

    I have always believed that the HS "proceeding" (whether from the Father alone, or from both the Father and the Son), was a "procession" in the sense that He chose to go forth and act upon/carry out the wishes of the Father and/or the Son, not that His "procession" was speaking of His "origins" in the Father (or in the Father and the Son).

    My second, similar question (since the subject has been broached) involves the Son (Who is, "begotten, not made"). How can the Son exist from everlasting/without a beginning .. and also be "begotten"? In what sense is He "begotten"?

    Thanks. Apparently I know far less about the nature of the Godhead than I thought I did if my EOC friend is correct, so your help would be greatly appreciated.

    Yours in Christ,
    David
    Simul Justus et Peccator ~Martin Luther

    "We are justified by faith alone, but the faith that justifies is never alone" ~John Calvin

    "The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us." ~C. S. Lewis

    "The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances" ~Elisabeth Elliot

    "The law is for the self-righteous to humble their pride; the Gospel is for the lost to remove their despair. ~C. H. Spurgeon

  • #2
    Originally posted by St_Worm2 View Post
    I have always believed that the HS "proceeding" (whether from the Father alone, or from both the Father and the Son), was a "procession" in the sense that He chose to go forth and act upon/carry out the wishes of the Father and/or the Son, not that His "procession" was speaking of His "origins" in the Father (or in the Father and the Son).

    My second, similar question (since the subject has been broached) involves the Son (Who is, "begotten, not made"). How can the Son exist from everlasting/without a beginning .. and also be "begotten"? In what sense is He "begotten"?
    Hello David,

    I agree with your first statement though I am unfamiliar with any doctrine specifically named "procession". I think you're touching upon the inter-Trinitarian relationship between the Three Persons in the Godhead. For example, the Son never sends the Father etc:

    When we say they are equal in nature and attributes, we are speaking of what is called the Ontological Trinity (ontology - study of being and essence). Each of the three persons in the Godhead are divine - have equal attributes (omniscience, omnipresence, holiness, etc.).

    When we speak of how they relate to each other and the world, we are speaking of the Economic Trinity (economic - from the Greek oikonomikos, which means relating to arrangement of activities). To be overly simplistic, we could say that the Ontological Trinity deals with what God is, and the Economic Trinity deals with what God does.

    Within Christianity there is no debate on the Ontological Trinity. It is universally accepted as true that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are each divine, holy, unchanging, etc.

    As stated above, the Economic Trinity deals with how the three persons in the Godhead relate to each other and the world. Each has different roles within the Godhead, and each has different roles in relationship to the world (some roles overlap). The Father-and-Son is an inter-Trinitarian relationship since it is eternal (more on this below). The Father sent the Son (1 John 4:10), the Son came down from heaven not to do his own will but the will of the Father (John 6:38). For a single verse that shows differences in roles, see 1 Pet. 1:2, "According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood." You can see that the Father foreknows. The Son became man and sacrificed himself. The Holy Spirit sanctifies the church. That is simple enough. But before we discuss this further, let's look at some of the verses that support the difference of roles among the three persons of the Trinity

    Read more: The Ontological and Economic Trinity | carm
    As to your second question, I want to first ask you what "begotten" means? I can tell you what it means to me, and that is "only" or "one and only" as in unique. The problem I think some are running into are with translations like the KJV and NASB:
    • KJV For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
    • NASB “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.


    Compare to:
    • ESV “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

    According to Gotquestions:

    According to the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (BAGD, 3rd Edition), monogenes has two primary definitions. The first definition is "pertaining to being the only one of its kind within a specific relationship." This is its meaning in Hebrews 11:17 when the writer refers to Isaac as Abraham's "only begotten son" (KJV). Abraham had more than one son, but Isaac was the only son he had by Sarah and the only son of the covenant. Therefore, it is the uniqueness of Isaac among the other sons that allows for the use of monogenes in that context.

    The second definition is "pertaining to being the only one of its kind or class, unique in kind." This is the meaning that is implied in John 3:16 (see also John 1:14, 18; 3:18; 1 John 4:9). John was primarily concerned with demonstrating that Jesus is the Son of God (John 20:31), and he uses monogenes to highlight Jesus as uniquely God's Son—sharing the same divine nature as God—as opposed to believers who are God's sons and daughters by adoption (Ephesians 1:5). Jesus is God’s “one and only” Son.
    God bless,
    William
    Comment>

    • #3
      Originally posted by William View Post

      Hello David,

      I agree with your first statement though I am unfamiliar with any doctrine specifically named "procession". I think you're touching upon the inter-Trinitarian relationship between the Three Persons in the Godhead. For example, the Son never sends the Father etc:
      Hi William, I don't know of a doctrine named "Procession", but our creeds and confessions certainly teach it (see the CCC above in bold and), and here's the Filioque from the "Western" version of the Nicene Creed:
      "I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets."
      "Proceeds", according to the RCC, speaks of, "proceeds from the Father and the Son", in the sense that the HS has His origin in Them, not that He is simply "sent" by Them (and the EOC says the same about the relationship of the Father and the Spirit only). This is the difficulty I am having, IOW, trying to grasp how the HS can be w/o a beginning and yet, at the same time, find His source in the Father (or in the Father and in the Son in western thought). It almost seems like they are saying that the Father "created" the Spirit :eek:

      I was never taught anything like this in "Protestant" school ;)

      What were you taught about the HS's "procession" and, especially, about the Father being understood to be His "Source"?

      Thanks!

      --David
      p.s. - let's talk about how Christ is "eternally begotten" after we finish talking about the HS "proceeding" (and all that, that, may mean).
      Simul Justus et Peccator ~Martin Luther

      "We are justified by faith alone, but the faith that justifies is never alone" ~John Calvin

      "The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us." ~C. S. Lewis

      "The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances" ~Elisabeth Elliot

      "The law is for the self-righteous to humble their pride; the Gospel is for the lost to remove their despair. ~C. H. Spurgeon
      Comment>

      • #4
        Originally posted by St_Worm2 View Post
        "Proceeds", according to the RCC, speaks of, "proceeds from the Father and the Son", in the sense that the HS has His origin in Them, not that He is simply "sent" by Them (and the EOC says the same about the relationship of the Father and the Spirit only). This is the difficulty I am having, IOW, trying to grasp how the HS can be w/o a beginning and yet, at the same time, find His source in the Father (or in the Father and in the Son in western thought).

        I was never taught anything like this in "Protestant" school ;)
        Ask the RCC for Scriptural References so we can settle the matter!

        I have never heard of anything such as what you're conveying either, especially concerning any origin in space or time, as though the Holy Spirit is not eternal or omnipresent and therefore can only occupy any one location (either here or there) or corporeal existence as an angel is limited. For example: angels are localized beings. They are not “everywhere present” like God. They have to move from one place to another Daniel 9:21-23.

        And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. Unless they are emphasizing "with the Father and Son" I haven't a clue as to what they mean. The use of Proceedeth from the Nicene Creed, I would think is conveying:
        • The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father (John 15:26).
        • The Son and the Father send the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26).

        God bless,
        William
        Comment>

        • #5
          St_Worm2 : FRANKS, ROMANS, FEUDALISM, AND DOCTRINE Part 3

          God bless,
          William
          Comment>

          • #6
            Thanks William, the linked article looks very interesting :)

            Just in case, please let me be clear about this, I am in no way promoting the beliefs that the RCC and EOC espouse concerning the "procession", I'm just trying to make sure I understand what they believe and why (especially if they believe there was a "beginning" to the Son and to the HS). In fact, as you pointed out in post #4 above, Biblically, their beliefs concerning the "procession" (if I am truly understanding what they believe correctly) appear to be w/o merit.

            Talk to you later today (Dv)

            --David
            Simul Justus et Peccator ~Martin Luther

            "We are justified by faith alone, but the faith that justifies is never alone" ~John Calvin

            "The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us." ~C. S. Lewis

            "The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances" ~Elisabeth Elliot

            "The law is for the self-righteous to humble their pride; the Gospel is for the lost to remove their despair. ~C. H. Spurgeon
            Comment>

            • #7
              Here is a post from another forum by its owner, AMR, concerning the subject matter of this thread. He writes concerning the Members of the Godhead, their "Source", and makes several excellent arguments for the Filioque below, which I believe you will find both interesting and valuable.

              Here's what he has to say:
              We are entering deep waters here of the mysteries of God, so let's approach the subject with much fear and trembling.

              Think of the phrase, "In the unity of the Godhead."

              Western theology begins at this point. One God possessing full Godhead.

              I think using the word "source" opens up too many distractions based upon modern notions that require much qualifications to prevent misunderstandings. The Father is unbegotten. As such God the Father is the ever-flowing fountain of the divine essence. He communicates this essence to the Son. He with the Son communicates this essence to the Spirit. The communication is eternal. It did not happen one time and then stop.

              The first communication is called begetting; the second communication is called procession. Call the communication whatever one pleases, it is the communication itself which is important. So we say the Father begets the Son, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from Father and the Son. The begetting is also often termed generation. The procession is also sometimes called spiration.

              Berkhof writes:
              This procession of the Holy Spirit, briefly called spiration, is his personal property. Much of what was said respecting the generation of the Son also applies to the spiration of the Holy Spirit, and need not be repeated. The following points of distinction between the two may be noted, however:
              (1) Generation is the work of the Father only; spiration is the work of both the Father and the Son.
              (2) By generation the Son is enabled to take part in the work of spiration, but the Holy Spirit acquires no such power.
              (3) In logical order generation precedes spiration.
              It should be remembered, however, that all this implies no essential subordination of the Holy Spirit to the Son.

              In spiration as well as in generation there is a communication of the whole of the divine essence, so that the Holy Spirit is on an equality with the Father and the Son.

              The doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son is based on John 15:26, and on the fact that the Spirit is also called the Spirit of Christ and of the Son, Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6, and is sent by Christ into the world. Spiration may be defined as that eternal and necessary act of the first and second persons in the Trinity whereby they, within the divine Being, become the ground of the personal subsistence of the Holy Spirit, and put the third person in possession of the whole divine essence, without any division, alienation or change.

              When one begins with the unity of God these personal properties are the means by which Godhead is understood to belong to a distinct mode of subsistence within the undivided substance.
              Altering the personal properties so as to deny the filioque (fill-ee-oh-qwee) serves to create a new "stream" (using the above analogy of "fountain").

              Once the filioque is denied, there is now no longer one stream
              --> Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

              A second stream has been created
              --> Father, Son; Father, Holy Spirit.

              There is no longer an unity of three but two unities of two.

              Accordingly, the unity of God is maintained in the western theological tradition by what is called the communication of Godhead—begetting and procession. "Person" or "subsistence" depends on personal properties, i.e., properties which are unique to a person in relation to other persons. In the words of our Larger Catechism, there is something "proper" in these relations, that is, "divinely proper." To detract from any property of the Son in relation to the Holy Spirit is to make Him inferior to the Father.

              The EO objection in relation to the Holy Spirit is removed by a simple acknowledgement that the unique person of the Holy Spirit also consists in a unique property, and that property is to proceed from the Father and the Son from all eternity.

              If this were not accepted as the Holy Spirit's distinct property He would not be the third person of the Trinity but would be a second second person. This means He would be a second Son. His very name, Spirit, is suggestive of an altogether unique relation in union with Father and Son which nullifies the objection. The Holy Spirit is the person upon whom the communication of Godhead finally terminates. In this capacity the Spirit is Himself the bond of union and communion between Father and Son. Likewise, in the ad extra works (works outside the Goddhead) of the Trinity, this unique relation finds expression in His distinctive function in connection with the creation of, providence over, and redemption of, the world— He is the Spirit of life and communion. ~by AMR
              Yours and His,
              David
              Last edited by David Lee; 09-27-2016, 04:55 AM.
              Simul Justus et Peccator ~Martin Luther

              "We are justified by faith alone, but the faith that justifies is never alone" ~John Calvin

              "The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us." ~C. S. Lewis

              "The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances" ~Elisabeth Elliot

              "The law is for the self-righteous to humble their pride; the Gospel is for the lost to remove their despair. ~C. H. Spurgeon
              Comment>

              • #8
                OK geez my head will explode if I think too much here, OK time is temporal, right, their is no time to God, God is eternal so He has always been. God is one God comprised of 3 entities with 3 different functions, and thats as far as I got before the blank stare and baked noodle.

                Some things will be secret until we get home.
                Comment>

                • #9
                  Originally posted by JSB View Post
                  Some things will be secret until we get home.
                  Maybe even then too.

                  Comment>
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