Saint Mark of Ephesus on False Union and the Filioque

“To those who have ensnared us in an evil captivity and desire to lead us away into Babylon of Latin rites and dogmas could not, of course completely accomplish this seeing immediately that there is little chance of it, in fact that it was simply impossible but having stopped somewhere in the middle, both they and those who followed after them, they neither remained any longer what they were, nor became anything else. For having quit Jerusalem, a firm and unwavering faith, but being in no condition and not wishing to become and to be called Babylonians, they thus called themselves, as if by right, ‘Greco-Latins,’ and among the people are called ‘Latinizers.’ And so these split people, like the mythical centaurs, confess together with the Latins that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son and has the Son as Cause of His existence, and yet together with us confess that He proceeds from the Father. And they say together with them that the addition to the Creed was done canonically and with blessing, and yet together with us do not permit it to be uttered. (Besides, who would turn away from what was canonical and blessed?) And they say together with them that the unleavened bread is the Body of Christ, and yet together with us do not dare accept it. Is this not sufficient to reveal their spirit, and how that it was not in quest of the Truth (which having in their hands, they betrayed) that they came together with the Latins, but from a desire to enrich themselves and to conclude not a true, but a false union.

But one should examine in what manner they have united with them; for everything that is united to something different is naturally united by means of some middle point between them. And thus they imagined to unite with them by means of some judgment concerning the Holy pirit, together with them expressing the opinion that He has existence also from the Son; but everything else between them is divergent, and there is among them neither any middle point no anything in common. Just as before two divergent Creeds are uttered; likewise there are celebrated two Liturgies, divergent and discordant one with the other-one with leavened bread, the other with unleavened bread; divergent also are baptisms; one performed with triple immersion, the other with ‘pouring’ over the head from above, and one with anointing chrism, the other completely without; and all rites are in everything divergent and discordant one with the other, and likewise, the fasts and church usages and other, like things. What kind of unity is this, when there is no apparent and clear sign of it? And in what manner have they united with them, desiring also to preserve their own (for in this they were unanimous) and at the same time not following the traditions of the Fathers?

But what is their own ‘wise’ opinion? ‘Never’ they say, ‘has the Greek Church said that the Holy Spirit proceeds only from the Father; she has said simply that He proceeds from the Father, thus not excluding the participation of the Son in the Procession of the Holy Spirit. Therefore (they say) both before and now we exhibit unity.’

Alas, what absurdity! Alas,what blindness!  If the Greek Church having received it from Christ Himself and the Holy Apostles and Fathers, has said that the Spirit proceeds from the Father, but has never said (for she has received this from no one) that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, then what else does this signify than that she affirms that the Holy Spirit proceeds only from the Father? For if He is not from the Son, evidently, He is only from the Father.

Do you know what is said concerning the Generation? ‘Begotten of the Father before all ages.’ Would anyone add here ‘only of the Father?” Yet it is precisely thus and in no other way that we understand it, and, if need be will express it. For we have been taught that the Son is begotten of none else, but only of the Father.  Therefore too John Damascene says, on behalf of the whole Church and all Christians: ‘We do not say that the Holy Spiritis from the Son.’ And if we do not say that the Spirit is also from the Son, then it is apparent that we thus say that the Spirit is only from the Father; therefore a little before this he says: ‘We do not call the Son Cause,’ and in the next chapter: ‘The sole Cause is the Father.’

What more? ‘Never,’ they say, have we considered Latins heretics, but only schismatics.’  But this too they have taken from them (the Latins), for the latter, having nothing with which to accuse us in our doctrine, call us schismatics because we have turned away from obedience to them which, as they think, we should have. But let us examine the matter. Will it be just for us likewise to show them kindness and place no blame on them in matterf of the Faith?

It was they who gave the grounds, for the schism by openly making the addition, which until then they had spoken in secret; while we were the first to separate ourselves from them, or rather, to separate and cut them off from the common Body of the Church. Why may I ask? Because they have the right Faith or have made the addition to the Creed in an Orthodox fashion? Surely whoever would begin to talk like that would not be right in the head. But rather because they have an absurd and impious opinion and for no reason at all made the addition. And so we have turned away from them as heretics and have shunned them.

What more is necessary? The pious canons speak thus: ‘He is a heretic and subject to the canons against heretics who even slightly departs from the Orthodox faith.’ If, then, the Latins do not at all depart from the correct Faith, we have evidently cut them off unjustly: but if they have thoroughly departed from the Faith and that in connection with the theology of the Holy Spirit blaspheme against Whom is the greatest of all perits, then it is clear that they are heretics, and we have cut them off as heretics.

Why do we annoint with chrism those of them who come to us? Is it not clear that it is because they are heretics? For the seventh canon of the Second Ecumenical Council states: ‘As for thsoe heretics who betake themselves to Orthodoxy, and to the lot of those being saved, we accept them in accordance with the subjoined sequence and custom: ‘Arians, and Macedonians, and Sabellians, and Novatians, those calling themselves Chathari (‘Puritans’) and Aristeri (‘Best’), and the Quartodecimans, otherwise known as Tetradites, and Apollinarians we accept when they offer libelli (recantations in writing) and anathematize every heresy that does not hold the same beliefs as the Catholic and Apostolic Church of God, and are sealed first with holy chrism on their forehead and their eyes, and nose, and mouth, and ears, and in sealing them we say: ‘The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit.’

Do you see with whom we number those who come from the Latins? If all those(enumerated in the canons) are heretics, then it is clear that these Latins are the same. And what does the most wise Patriarch of Antioch, Theodore Balsamon, say of this in his reply to the Most Holy Patriarch of Alexandria, Mark? ‘Imprisoned Latins and others coming to our Catholic churches request communion of the Divine Sacraments. We desire to know: is this permissable?’ The answer “‘He that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathers not with me is scattered.’ Because many years ago the celebrated Roman Church was separated from communion with the other for Most Holy Patriarchs, having apostatized into customs and doctrines foreign to the Catholic Church and not Orthodoxy (it was for this reason that the Pope was not deemed worthy of sharing in the commemoration of the names of the Eastern Patriarchs at Divine Services), and therefore we must not sanctify one of the Latin race through the Divine and most pure Gifts (given) by priestly hands, unless he shal first resolve to depart from Latin dogmas and customs and shall be catechized and joined to those of Orthodoxy.”‘

Do you hear how they have departed not only in customs, but also in dogmas foreign to those of Orthodoxy (and what is foreign to Orthodox dogma is, of course, heretical teaching), and that, according to the canons, they must be catechized and united to Orthodoxy? And if it is necessary to catechize, then clearly it is necessary to anoint them with chrism. How have they suddently presented themselves to us as Orthodox, they who for so long and according to the judgment of such great Fathers and Teachers have been considered heretics? Who has so easily made them Orthodox? It is gold, if you desure to acknowledge the truth, and your own thirst for gain; of, to express it better, it did not make them Orthodox, but made you like them and carried you into the camp of the heretics.

‘But if,’ they say, ‘we had devised some middle ground (compromise) between dogmas, then thanks to this we would have united with them and accomplished our business superbly, without at all having been forced to say anything except what corresponds to custom and has been handed down by the Fathers.’  This is precisely the means by which many, from of old, have been deceived and persuaded to follow those who have led them off to the steep precipice of impiety; believing that there is some kind of middle ground between two teachings that can reconcile obvious contradictions, they have been exposed to peril.

If the Latin dogma is true that the Holy Spirit proceeds also from the Son, then ours is false that states that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and this is precisely the reason for which we separated from them; and if ours is true, then without doubt theirs is false. What kind of middle ground can there be between two such judgments? There can be none, unles it were some kind of judgmenet suitable to both the one and the other, like a boot that fits both feet.  And will this unite us?

But someone will say, how shall we regard those moderate Greco-Latins who, maintaining a middle ground, openly favor some of the Latin rites and dogmas, favor but do not wish to accept others, and entirely disapprove of still others? One must flee from them as one fless from a snake, as from the Latins themselves, or it may be, from those who are even worse than they as from buyers and sellers of Christ. For they, as the Apostle says ‘suppose that gain is godliness’ (1 Tim 6:5), and of whom he adds, ‘flee these (1 Tim 6:11), for they go over to them not in order to learn, but for gain. ‘What communion has light with darkness? And what concord has Christ with Belial> or what has he that believes with an unbeliever? (2 Cor 6:14ff)

Behold how we, together with Damascene and all the Fathers, do not say that the Spirit proceeds from the Son, while they, together with the Latins, say that the Spirit proceeds from the Son. And we, together with the divine Dionysios say that the Father is the sole Source of the supernatural divinity while say together withthe Latins that the Son also is the Source of the Holy Spirit, bu this clearlyexcluding the Spirit from the Divinity. And we, together with Gregory the Theologian,distinguishthe Father from the Son in His capacity of being Cause, while they together with the latins unite Them into one in the capacity of being Cause. And we, together with St. Maximus and the Romans of that time and the Western Fathers, ‘do not make the Son the Cause of the Spirit’ while they, in their Conciliar Decree (Act of Union), proclaim the Son ‘in Freek, Cause and in Latin, Principle’ of the Spirit. And we, together with the Philosopher and Justin Matyr affirm ‘As the Son is from the Father, so is the Spirit from the Father’ while they say together with the Latins that the Son proceeds from the Father immediately, and the Spirit from the Father mediately. And we together with Damascene and all the Fathers, confess that itis not known to us in what consists the difference between eneration and procession, while they, togethert with Thomas Aquinas and the latins, say that the difference consists in this, that generation is immediate and procession mediate. And we affirm, in agreement with the Fathers, that the Will and Energy of the Uncreated and Divine Nature are uncreated; while they that will is identical with Nature, but that the Divine Energy is created, whether it be called Divinity, or the Divine and Imaterial Light or the Holy Spirit, or something else ‘of this nature, and in some fashion these poor creatures worship’ the created ‘Divinity’ and the created ‘Divine Light’ and the created ‘Holy Spirit.’ And we say that neither do the Saints receive the Kingdom and the unutterable blessings already prepared for them, nor are sinners already sent to hell, but both await their fate which will be received in the future age after the resurrection and judgment; while they toegether with the Latins, desire immediately after death to receive according their merits, and for those in an intermediate condition, who have died in repeencetence, they give a purgatorial fire (which is not identical with that of hell) so that, as theysay, having purified their souls by it after death, they also together with the righteous will enjoy the Kindgom of Heaven; this is contained in their Conciliar Decree (Act of Union). And we, obeying the Apostles, who have prohibited it, shun Jewish unleavened bread; while thye, in the same Act of Union, proclaim that what is used in the services of the Latins is the Body of Christ. And we say that the addition to the Creed acorse uncanonically and anticanonically and contrary to the Fathers, while they affirm that it is canonical and blessed to such an extent are they unaware how to conform to the Truth and to themselves! And for us the Pope is as one of the Patriarchs, and that only, if he be Orthodox, while they with great gravity proclaim him Vicar of Christ, Father and Teacher of all Christians. May they be more fortunate than their Father, who are also like him, for he does not greatly prosper, having an antipope who is the cause of sufficient unpleasantness and they are not happy to imitate him.

And so, brethren, flee from them and from communion with them, ‘for they are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the Apostles of Christ. And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is not great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness whose end shall be according to their works.’ ( 2 Cor 11:13-15) And in another place the same Apostle says of them ‘For they that are such as serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal. ‘(Rom 16:18, 2 Tim 2:19) And in another place, ‘Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision,’ (Philip 3:2) And then, in another place, ‘But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that whcih we have preached to you, let him be accursed.’  (Gal 1:8) See what has been prophetically foretold, that, ‘though an angel from heaven so that no one could cite in justification of himself an especially high position.  And the beloved Disciple speaks thus, ‘If there come any to you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, and give him no greeting; for he that giveth him greeting is a partaker in his evil deeds.’ (2 John 10-11)

Therefore, in so far as this is what has been commanded you by the Holy Apostles, stand aright, and hold firm to the traditions which you have received, both written and by word of mouth, that you not be deprived of your firmeness if  you become led away with delusions of the lawless. May God, who is All powerful, make them also to know their delusion, an having delivered us from them as evil tares, may He gather us into His grainaries like pure and useful wheat in Jesus Christ our Lord, to Whom belongs all glory, honor and worship, with His Father Who is without begining and His All Holy and Good and Life giving Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.”

July 1440 A.D.


  1. Yes, it’s very easy to issue old polemicals.

    And a Catholic could respond by quoting a Catholic scholar who refutes every point here. And then you could respond by quoting anothing another Orthodox who clearly refutes the Catholic. And you could quote fathers till you die.

    “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall see God.”

    “Do not judge for with that same judgment wherewith you judge others you yourself shall be judged of God.”

    For Christ’s sake!

    There was a young missionary from Mount Athos who came back and was boasting of how he was reproving people and showing them their errors. And St. Siluan gently took him aside and asked him “do they believe in the Trinity” they believe in the Trinity the young monk replied “yes, but not after the Orthodox faith.” “And do they reverence the Mother of God?” “yes, but not properly.” “And do they trust teh Blessed Sacrament?” “Yes, but not rightly.”

    Siluan replied “They do these things, and know in their souls that they are right. Do not reprove them for it, gently show them the way, and by your tenderness they may be won over.”


  2. Given that I become Orthodox this Sunday, this post takes on special significance for me. We’re dogmatically bound to say Amen! to this, but to talk the talk one must also walk the walk. A Church that anathematizes but does not actively evangelize, that remains internally divided & self-enclosed, that does not make a real effort to speak the language of the people immediately surrounding it, that remains a well-kept secret, what good is it? The Light of the world and the cure of modernity do nothing hidden in a closet. The strong words of St. Mark of Ephesus condemn not only Western errors but also Orthodoxy’s lack of evangelical initiative. Residual Latinism is dangerous and difficult to purge indeed, but I believe that Western converts to Orthodoxy (like those who operate this blog) are already starting to effect a change with God’s help the Church will continue to grow and heal.

    The unfortunate truth that (for the most part) only theologically-oriented Western persons are able to see the Orthodox Church in the first place, and then only those willing to become Byzantine are able to finally enter it, make me highly doubt that anyone else in my family will be Orthodox within my lifetime. I am saddened by this problem, not to the point of despair, but enough to long to become part of the solution.


  3. Matthew,

    What’s the expiration date on Trent, Unam Sanctum, Satis Cognitum, Pastor Aeternus & the other dogmatic decrees of the RCC? When will they become “old polemicals” of no theological or apologetic value?


  4. I guess that will rile a few feathers…… I just want give thanks and appreciation to you guys for the intellectual reinvigoration you have brought back to Orthodoxy. Western Orthodox are trully the new yeast needed to reinstal the preeminence of the Church simply tired and worn from fighting centuries of Islamic , Catholic and Communist tyrannies.

    You are nothing less than modern Doctors of the Church.


  5. matthew,

    Of course, it might ease your concern to know my intention and motivation to posting this material.

    1st, little if anything of Saint Mark’s is in English.

    2nd most accounts in English are hostile.

    3. Catholics like James Likoudis and others who use his works do not tire of throwing up statements just as polemical from Aquinas or other sources. This has continued by major Catholic theologians up to the end of the last century. Just read Rahner or Judgie for example.

    4. It is important to be clear as to what a position actually committs you to believing. People should know the way Orthodoxy sees things, just as they should know the way Rome and Protestants see things.

    5. It is instructive for Protestants to see the differences clearly stated between us and Rome and that most issues to which they have laid protest do not touch the major theological matters.

    6. Where else will one read texts like these?

    7. Saint Mark is a Saint who gave up the gold of this world (offered by the Pope) that was offered to him for suffering. Suffering was better he judged, than simony. He recapitulated the life of Christ in his own life in resisting temptation for truth.

    8. If reunion is to occur, old texts like these must not be dismissed, but engaged and examined to see if errors have been made. I sincerely wish my Roman counterparts were able to do the same with Papal documents.

    As an aside, peacemaking doesn’t entail apostasy.


  6. Miki,

    I don’t think we are that. I am nothing. I am nobody. I am a grad student struggling to make it thru a program. I am mediocre in holiness and mostly, though not always akratic. Sometimes I manage continence and rarely virtue. I am truly asailed on all sides by demonic powers both night and day. I am arrogant, despairing, cocky and a loudmouth, prone to wrath and I doubt I could be trusted with any real power for any length of time.

    But God is a good God and Jesus Christ is victorious and he gives me hope in the face of my own death. I love the teaching of the Church in St. Maximus because it set me free from my worst fears.

    So please, don’t add to my ego problems. I appreciate the compliment, but I am not a Jedi yet.


  7. Matt,

    Square that with this one, Matt 10:34-39

    34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

    35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

    36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

    37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

    38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

    39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

    The truth can very well be divisive, according to our Lord.



  8. Another thing Matt, we don’t go out and beat on people’s doors seeking out and demanding they repent of their errors and put on sack cloth and ashes. We just try to present the truth here as best as we can. If Roman Catholics and Protestants are convinced of our arguments and want to become Orthodox, more power to them. People are free to read our blog or not, but we don’t demand that anybody does.



  9. Perry and Photius,

    I agree that the Orthodox must look at things like this, so perhaps my post was too quick. And it bothers me just as much when I see Catholics going after Orthodox, or Protestants going after Orthodox.

    I guess the reason for my post is that I am now Protestant, but in many ways would like to be Orthodox. But on the issue of the schism with the Catholics, the Catholics are repentant, and returning Orthodox stuff, and actively seeking to work with the Orthodox. But the Orthodox have a tendency to be stubbornly schismatic. I saw a post recently attacking the Catholics for the forth crusade. And I believe there was much sin in the forth crusade. But 1) the Pope apologized, and 2) even if he hadn’t, it would be far better if the Orthodox would take responsibility for the problems, own up to their sins that lead and perpetuated schism, and simply forgive the Catholics.

    And the this refusal to forgive and repent, even in the face of forgiveness and repentence, is a real turn off, and may convince me not to become Orthodox.

    Moreover, it seems highly unOrthodox, and even outright heretical, to reject the Latins for their rite. The Latin rite used today in traditional Catholic Churches, is substantially the same as the Latin Rite used in Orthodox Churches in the pre-schism Latin west.

    And again, the filioque though lacking the universal testimony of the fathers, and lacking the decision of the Church–unlike extrascriptural terms like “Substance” and “Ousia”, “filioque” has never been debated, save polemically, after the fact. It does have Patristic support (Augustine, the Athanasian Creed, etc.), and it is again, schismatic and heretical to reject those as not counting, simply for being Western. And when the Orthodox stand on the filioque against the Latins, both sides are standing on Patristic, Orthodox, Catholic, ground, and there has never been a true battle between the two sides, only mutual condemnations, condemnations which effectively anathamatize half of the Patristic testimony. And if Bulgakov is correct, even some of the peoplee Patriarch Photius cites as defenders of Orthodoxy believed in the filioque, but did not believe it should be in the creed.

    And finally, though there has not been a literal addition to the Creed, the Orthodox “from the Father alone” is essentially an addition to the Creed–on par with what would happen if some section of Christendom inserted “ever virgin” into the creed after the reference to Mary, and the rest of Christendom were to insist that the Creed denied Mary’s perpetual virginity. And again, it would be good, loving, and right, if the Orthodox would come to the Catholics with a Spirit of understanding for the Catholic addition to the Creed, and repentence for their own distortion of the Creed.

    In Christ,


    PS The tenor of this post is substantially different from what I know of Aquinas. Aquinas says that the Catholic rites are better than the Greek rites, but he considers both proper Christian rites. And even says that just as it would be a sin for a Latin to use leavened bread, it would be a sin for a Greek to use unleavened bread. St. Mark here says that the Catholics are not Christians because they use leavened bread (or at least that it is not the Body of Christ on their altar, which is the same thing.)


  10. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

    38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

    39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

    I take this as an argument against your post. You must love the unity of the body of Christ, and desire the reunion more than you love your fathers and saints. Otherwise you are not worthy of the Body of Christ. You must deny your own knowledge and testimony that the filioque is heretical (as well as everything else your own) if you wish to find your life.


  11. Matthew,

    Would you have said similiar things to the Fathers of Nicaea?

    “You must deny your knowledge that the createdness of the Son is heretical if you wish to find life”


  12. That comment should be read in context of my earlier statement that the filioque is patristic, and Orthodox (the Orthodox Latin West believed the filioque). Just as a Protestant denomination which so thoroughly rejected the perpetual virginity of Mary that it took the Creed’s silience as a definitive statement, and which argued that the Patrimony of the Church was that Mary and Joseph had sex (as many Protestants do, looking even to the fathers), must set aside their own private convictions, and listen to the whole patrimony of the Church, must listen to Augustine and Jerome, must realize that they have ammended the Creed, which does not deny Mary’s perpetual Virginity, but is silient; so the Orthodox must repent of rejecting part of Patrimony of the Church as heretical and contrary to the Creed. Yes, the Catholics must (and they continue to do a much better job than the Orthodox) repent of their offenses. But the Orthodox must also repent, and must forgive. When the Orthodox hold to Greece as opposed to Rome and Carthage, when the Orthodox argue that the Greek Patrimony should be accepted–and practically made Canonical–while the Latin Patrimony should be rejected, the Orthodox are Phyletists.

    If Patriarch Photius can praise St. Augustine for his life, but object to his teaching as heretical, you can praise St. Mark of Ephesus for his life, and reject his teaching as heretical. On the other hand, if the Greek Fathers are authorative, not just for their life, but also for their taching, so are the Latins. Otherwise you are, like I said, a Phyletist, and merely patronizing the West, and the Western Fathers.


  13. matthew,

    Let me be direct. First, you are clearly taking that passage of scripture from its context. 2nd I can’t deny something I in fact know, since knowledge entails truth so you must be confusing knowledge with belief. 3rd, why doesn’t the Pope do the same and renounce it as well as Papal infallibility and supremacy?

    The filioque is not patristic. What the majority of Latins held was an energetic procession and not a hypostatic procession, Augustine and Co being a later exception. Augustine didn’t amend the Creed. He speculated. The Spanish ammended the creed locally and the Papacy opposed it for hundreds of years and banned it as heterodox. Even Rome doesn’t accept everything Augustine taught so why would we have to when his voice falls outside the consensus of the Fathers? Do you recommend holding to Nyssa and Origen’s Universalism as wel? Why not?

    Phyletism is preference based on ethnicity where as the protest against the filioque was widespread even among the Copts and in Antioch, hardly bastions of the “Greek” patrimony and based on theology. I accept the Latins like the Easterners when they speakthe truth and not when they fall outside the teaching of the church. Th fact that I reject the Origenistic apokatastasis shows that I am not a “phyletist.” On your own principles then you fail since you accept and reject certain teachings of the East and Western teachers, just as I do. If I am wrong, then so are you.

    If St. Mark is a heretic, please give me what teachings of his were heretical an judged so and by whom? Of course I can point to joint councils that condemned the Filioque and banned its use, I can point to clear Papal teaching that rejected it for centuries till Frankish political power wrested the papacy from the remaining Roman aristocratic families. Gee, it wouldn’t be the first time the papacy would be taken captive.

    When Rome or any other see falls into heterodoxy, they do not continue to function as the patrimony of the church, lest you recommend lisening to Nestorius, Pyrrus, Sergius or Honorius.


  14. And yes, it is the Papal inability to look back at their old statements that frustrates me about Catholics. I do not believe in the Immaculate Conception. I do not believe in Paal infallibility.

    But I do believe the Filioque. “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” The Father breathes the Spirit. He shows the Son this. Therefore the Son breathes the Spirit.

    But I do not believe the filioque should be in the Creed. But, I believe the filioque is something that absolutely must be discussed by both sides, with an openness to learn. The filioque belongs to the Latin patrimony, and not to the Greek. It is wrong to pretend the Latin patrimony is the whole patrimony. It is equally wrong to pretend the Greek patrimony is the whole patrimony. And both sides are absolutely exhausted by endless Patristic quotes, and endless anathamas. Something needs to break the stalemate, and both sides need to be willing to listen.

    In Christ,



  15. The Spanish ammended the creed locally and the Papacy opposed it for hundreds of years and banned it as heterodox.

    Actually, the Papcy accepted the filioque, but said adding it to the Creed was heterodox.

    If St. Mark is a heretic, please give me what teachings of his were heretical an judged so and by whom?

    Well, my point is not that St. Mark is heretical, but that if Patriarch Photius can say “St. Augustine is really a saint, but he had serious doctrinal problems” we can also say “St. Mark is a saint, but his out-right condemnation of the Latin rite, and the filioque is problematic.”

    When Rome or any other see falls into heterodoxy, they do not continue to function as the patrimony of the church, lest you recommend lisening to Nestorius, Pyrrus, Sergius or Honorius.

    Ok but I do think St. Isaac the Syrian is part of the patrimony of the Church. Of course not for his Nestorianism, but for the other things he said. Otherwise, why would his writings be so popular?

    But similarly, St. Augustine’s filioque was not rejected as heresy (though the addition of it to the creed was) till Photius. But at the time of Photius, obviously, the Latins disputed his rejection of Augustine. The Church did not decide that Augustine was wrong, the Eastern Patriarchs did. Yes, the West was wrong to add the filioque to the Creed. But the East is equally wrong to pertend the filioque is denied by the Creed. The Creed is silient! ex patera monou as the Creedal position is as much an addition to the Creed as filioque.


  16. Oh…and no I was not confusing “believe” and “know”, but I was also not using them technically. It is sensible English to say “The Orthodox know that the Spirit proceeds from the son alone, and the Catholic know that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.” In this instance, it is used a little ironically, and the fact that they cannot both be correct is a counterpoint to the more usual meaning of the word. Similarly if I say “we must set aside what we know” of course, in technical language, if we set aside something, and it is indeed not true, we only believed it, and did not know it. But yet, English does not admit such jargon. The Orthodox church does not merely believe the filioque is wrong, the Orthodox Church knows the filioque is wrong. And likewise the Catholic Church knows the filioque is correct. Unlike the “know/believe” jargon, this is good and proper English.


  17. Matthew,

    By your reasoning, since the Father generates the Spirit, therefore the Son generates the Spirit also. But since the Father generates the Son, the Son also will generate a Son and now we have a quaternity. I think you’d be hard pressed to find serious patristic support for this exegesis in any case.

    If the Filioque belonged to the Latin patrinomy, then its odd that St. Maximus when in exile in Rome argued that it wasn’t and that was in the 6th century. Its also odd that the Papacy would deny it and forbid not just its addition to the creed but the teaching as well. The fact is that it isn’t used by Rome until much later so I fail to see how it can have Apostolic, Scriptural and Patristic warrant.

    If it is wrong to think that the entire patriomy is of the Latins, then Papal infallibility is false in which case Rome is not the only true Church.

    The papacy in 880 also denied the teaching of the filioque along with the East. The legates and the bishops delcared

    ““Thus we think, thus we believe, into this confession were we baptized and became worthy to enter the priestly orders. We regard, therefore, as enemies of God and of the truth those who think differently as compared to this. If one dares to rewrite another Symbol besides this one, or add to it, or subtract from it, or to remove anything from it, and to display the audacity to call it a Rule, he will be condemned and thrown out of the Christian Confession. For to subtract from, or to add to, the holy and consubstantial and undivided Trinity shows that the confession we have always had to this day is imperfect. It condemns the Apostolic Tradition and the doctrine of the Fathers. If one, then having come to such a point of mindlessness as to dare do what we have said above, and set forth another Symbol and call it a Rule, or to add to or subtract from the one which has been handed down to us by the first great, holy and Ecumenical Synod of Nicaea, let him be Anathema.”

    If your point was that heterodox teachings of a father can be overlooked, given certain exculpatory information, you’d need to spell out what exaclty those conditions are. You can hardly posit an exculpatory blank check. Secondly, you did write that St. Mark taught heresy. Thirdly, I wasn’t aware that Rome considers Saint Mark a saint. Do you have some official statement to that effect? 4th We aren’t invited to overlook errors of Latins, but to embrace them and profess them as De Fide, so your analogy fails here I think.

    Origen’s writings were also popular so I am not sure what popularity has to do with it.

    The West rejected the filioque materially and formally in the 9th century. It didn’t have the political muscle to enforce it outside of Rome, which is why Rome did not use it. It wasn’t an issue til Photius since the Eastern awareness of the addition and theology was practically zero until pilgrims and missionaries came East proclaiming it and condemning Easterners for not having it. Moreover, it was used as a political wedge by the Carolingians to accuse the East of heterodoxy, just like the Council of Frankfurt which condemned Iconodulism. Why can’t we at that point in time consider Iconoclasm part of the Latin teaching as well since it was in the same position-not accepted by Rome but widely used and politically supported by the Franks?

    If the west was wrong to add it to the Creed then Papal supremacy is false and then the filioque is false as well for then it will be the case that the economia of the Son sending the Spirit doesn’t map the eternal hypostatic reality and so the Pope can’t be the vicar of Christ from whome the Holy Spirit proceeds.

    The Creed is also silent on thinking that the Spirit and the Son causally relate to the Father too.


  18. Look,

    I’m not Catholic, and I’m not arguing that the reconciliation of the fortenth century should hae been accepted. It was considered more for political than theological ones (at least in the East, I’m not sure about the West) and it is quite right to say “though it is politically expedient to do that, it is false.”

    And I do not believe Rome is the only true Church. I believe Papal Infallibility is false, and so is Papal Supremacy. And I think both the East and the West are at fault in the split, and both ought to apologize and forgive, before the other does. And so yes, it is a tu quoque. Remember, I’m Protestant, looking at both Catholics and Orthodox. I think both sinned. To say “well the Catholics sinned too” is a classic example of a tu quoque.

    I don’t know where I said the Catholic Church considers St. Mark a saint.

    You missrepresent my appeal to St. Isaac the Syrian. St. Isaac the Syrain is not looked to as someone words are to be accepted. His saintliness is manifest before us in his words and sayings. His sayings are part of the patrimony of the Church.

    I don’t think you are putting any thought into my statement about the procession of the Spirit. And I might add, if the Spirit does not proceed from the Son, the Son doesnot do everything the Father does, and so is not a perfect image of the Father, and so is not God.

    Your objection about “generate a Son” is unfounded because the indefinite article is nonsense. Just as fatherhood is named for the Father, so Sonship is named for the Son. “The Son sees the Father generate the Son, therefore the Son generates the Son.” The obvious solution is that we imitate someone’s action toward us by doing it to another. But the other cannot be “Son” because Son is always The Son. Rather the other is the Spirit.


  19. And so the new relation is as different from the relation of the Father to the Son as the Son is from the Spirit, and yet exactly the same, as the Son and the Spirit are. (perfect icons of each other.)


  20. Matthew,

    It is so blatantly and frustratingly obvious that you don’t understand much about the philosophical and neo-platonic structure of the filioque. You really need to do some reading on this blog. We’ve answered just about every defense of the filioque. There is no point, here in this post, in getting you “up to speed.” You aren’t offering anything new to the table whatsoever.



  21. Well,

    I know what I’m saying isn’t what the Latins said, but is something of a reprochment of the Latin position and the Greek criticisms (though I’m not terribly familiar with either).

    Could you at least give me a link?


  22. Matthew,

    Where exactly do you think the East is theologically at fault? My comments weren’t tu quo que since they were an application of your principles that yielded an absurd result.

    You suggested that Rome considers St. Mark a saint but could overlook his teachings.
    I think I put a sufficient amount of thought into your claims about Jn 5. I suggest taking a look at Jn 5 in context and then how the Fathers interpret it. Specifically they interpret it in terms of energies, not hypostatic generation. Likewise, my argument showed that the Son does not do everything the Father does hypostatically speaking and so your reading is mistaken and can’t apply to the question of hypostatic generation. The Son dies, does that mean that the Father died too?

    Why can’t a son have a son? Didn’t your dad? Second, your reasoning turns on dialectic, which the Fathers reject as an appropriate method to glean what the hypostatic properties are since they say they are unknowable. If you knew what it was to be Father, your argument could get off the ground, but you don’t. No one does, save God. Your reasoning turns on same/other dialectic, which falls out of the Five Platonic genera. This is fairly typical Platonic thinking. Moreover, if this is an action held in common who does the Spirit produce with the Son to distinguish themselves from the Father? Why is the Spirit the odd man out. Doesn’t the Spirit do whatever the Father and Son do or do the persons of the Trinity act separately?

    And the divine essence would have to be being in order for the category of relation to be applicable. So you can’t get your argument off the ground without begging the question.

    Actually I have mentioned John 5 in lots of posts in the past. Perhaps the fact that I don’t mention it in light of the filioque is that I don’t think it teaches it. And my blog is not meant to be an exhaustive textbook on every spoof text people who disagree with me employ. It is well…a blog.


  23. I’m having a little trouble here myself. Once upon a time, I enjoyed philosophy. I think Lossky’s point is that in truth, the Fathers were very determined to differentiate the nature of the Trinity from philosophy. The filoque arose in the West to deal with certain Arian issues not present in the East. I think Lossky suggests the West always preferred to proceed into the Trinity from unity, while the East proceeded to discuss unity after starting with the Trinity.

    But the fact of the matter is that I’m one of those Orthodox CHristians who simply made a decision to become Orthodox… on the basis of the rest. To filoque or not… well, after a lifetime of protestantism… it just didn’t make a heck of a lot of beans in difference to me. There were more immediate issues, and I’m happy to take the Church’s word for how it wants to go about it. Al Kimmel is right: if you want everything your way, then you’re a Protestant. If you think it might be possible that there might be a mystery you can’t fathom, a complexity you need someone else’s help with, then you’ll have to accept someone else’s word at some point. Maybe even the church’s word. And at that point, you might be prepared to cross over. The difference grows on you… I mean the Creed is simpler. Duh. And it doesn’t sound like it’s repeating itself. But maybe that’s just me.

    I haven’t tried to study all the occurences of the Spirit in the Gospel. But Fr. John Breck makes the point (if I remember it rightly) that in Mark or Matthew (it’s late) the spirit drives Jesus into the desert after Epiphany. And simpleton that I am, I always was intrigued by this – seems like an image of proceeding – and I just won’t go into discussing it. But it is interesting. So I think it takes a lot more study. And I’m swinging with the Fathers….

    Fact that it doesn’t seem to appear until at least the 8th century tends to support Fr. John Romanides account of history fairly reasonably. An apophatic approach might also simply be comforable with silence… “not because they don’t believe it”… but because they were and we should be as well… reluctant to turn Christianity into philosophy by over-detailing what remains incomprehensible. I think this is the point of resisting the filoque… and if it’s even in the ballpark…. it makes sense enough to me. It’s like transubstantiation…. not that one might agree or disagree… but that detailing a mystery is to attempt to remove the mystery and know what cannot be known.

    Our Orthodox life is to focus on changing our hearts, our heads and our lives. Getting stuck on the head part is a temptation. And yes, we have many sins as a Church…. but getting on with healing the life begins the process. And that begins with being content to know less. Let God be God. Let us worship, pray, fast and do alms.

    Okay, I’m off the track with the blog thing. But sometimes it is easy in the midst of contemplating conversion to miss the forest for the trees. Yes Rome sinned. Yes Orthodoxy has sinned in phyletism. And yes Protestantism has failed miserably and lapsed into apostasy. That’s the easy part. My guess is that the momentum in Orthodoxy is at least in the right direction, and with luck, this may inspire Rome as well. With a little luck and some more good popes…. Rome can and will right its course as well. I don’t see either the steadfastness or the understanding of tradition (all those things John tells us that weren’t written in the Gospels) in Protestantism to have much of a chance… there is too much fascination with the here and now… and almost a forgetting of Christ… that revelation and grace has been suffiicient, but I do see a spirit of warmth. Orthodoxy has survived persecutions through prayer, and Roman Catholicism has a spirit of charity. These great virtues, but I think what the world needs now probably comes from that which it has least… and that lies more in Orthodoxy than elsewhere. But maybe that’s just me.

    Do we have hang-ups? Do we have our nut cases? Do we have our sinners – even unaware and unrepentant sinners? Sure. It’s a hospital… for those seeking cures, not the cured. The next room is where the cured are…. here amongst the living it’s a little dicier. I think you’ll get the same from the Roman Catholics… and maybe even the honest well-schooled Protestants, too. Fact is that protestantism today is not your grandfather’s protestantism. Hooker, Andrewes, Calvin and Luther held substantially different positions even just on the Theotokos than what dear Matthew suggests. She has only fallen from being called Blessed by all generations – in this era.

    my two cents. hope it helps rather than offends.


  24. My comments weren’t tu quo que since they were an application of your principles that yielded an absurd result.

    Then I completely see the absurt result. I believe the Catholics and the Orthodox were at fault. You say “yeah, by that argument, the Catholics are at fault.” Well…my point exactly.

    Why can’t a son have a son?

    A son can have a son. But the Son cannot have a Son because “Son” is a name. It’s like asking “why can’t Matthew Petersen beget Matthew Petersen.”

    Why is the Spirit the odd man out. Doesn’t the Spirit do whatever the Father and Son do or do the persons of the Trinity act separately?

    I think this is perhaps a valid criticism of much Catholic theology, but not of mine. I believe procession is two-way. We see this in the icon of the Mother of God. The Mother of God learns from her Son. But her Son learns from her. Similarly, following the Mary/Christ icon, the Father learns from his Son (as all parents do) and the Son from His Father. I don’t pertend to understand how that can be–that would be dialectic.

    Actually I have mentioned John 5 in lots of posts in the past. Perhaps the fact that I don’t mention it in light of the filioque is that I don’t think it teaches it.

    Well then don’t insult me by saying “check out my archives…I’ve addressed that issue before.” If you haven’t addressed it, it’s simply arrogant, and a lie to boot, to claim you have. And it is insulting to pretend you have addressed all the possible arguments for the filioque, including my uninformed one–when you manifestly have not addressed mine, as a simple search of your blog will reveal.


  25. Matthew,

    You write on your blog on 12/18/07:

    “Generation is a gift of life in both directions.”

    “In some way, Each proceeds from Each. The difference between persons is not who proceeds from whom, who gives life to Whom, but how one proceeds from another. The Son proceeds from the Father as a Child from a Father. The Father from the Son as the Mother of God from her Son. And the Spirit from the Father and the Son, and the Father and the Son from the Spirit, after the mysterious form procession.”

    “The Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. But the Son proceeds from the Father and the Spirit.”

    I know that you believe that you have a solid argument, but it does not appear (and I have carefully read your three most recent posts on the topic, full of theologically problematic categorical confusions, equivocations and outright heretical statements) that you’re at all familiar with the historic theological arguments for and against the Filioque doctrine &/or the theological underpinnings of both positions. I am not convinced that you know what the Filioque is in first place, and neither do Perry or Photios apparently.


  26. Here are two quotes to ponder:

    “We do not say that the Son is from the Father in as much as He is begotten by the divine essence, but rather in as much as He is begotten by the Father as person. For the essence is common to the three persons, but begetting is proper to the Father personally. That is why the Son is not begotten by the Spirit. Consequently the Spirit is also from the Father; He possesses the divine essence, proceeding from the person of the Father. For the essence is always and absolutely common to the three persons. Therefore the act of spiration is proper to the Father as a person and the Spirit does not proceed from the Son, for the Son does not have the personal properties of the Father.” [St. Gregory Palamas, Logos Apodeiktikos I, 6]


    “Now, while it took quite some time for the Eastern Church to become aware of, and offended by, this Western amendment, it eventually became a serious bone of contention between Eastern and Westerner churchmen. And for good reason. For, in the original Greek text of the Constantinopolitan Creed of 381, the term “proceeds” (ekporeusis) had a specific and all-important meaning. It meant to originate from a single Source, Principal, or Cause (Aitia). And the single Source, Principal, or Cause of the Holy Spirit is of course the Father, and *the Father alone.* As St. Gregory of Nazianzus says …

    “The Spirit is truly the Spirit proceeding (proion) from the Father, not by filiation, for It is not by generation, but by ekporeusis” (Discourse 39. 12).

    Indeed, it was this very theology of the Cappadocian fathers (i.e., Sts. Gregory Nazianzus, Basil the Great, and Gregory of Nyssa) that the bishops at Constantinople I (381) intended to promote when they authored the Creed to say “The Holy Spirit …Who proceeds from the Father.” –a reference to the Father’s Monarchy as the sole Source, Principal, or Cause of the Spirit. And the bishops at Constantinople I did this to counter the heresy of the Macedonian Arians, who, at the time, were claiming that the Spirit is merely a “creation” of the Son. ‘No,’ say the Council fathers, ‘the Spirit is Divine and has His Source, like the Son, with the Father. It is from the Father that the Spirit proceeds.’

    So, to someone coming from this Eastern heritage –indeed, for any Greek-speaker who knows what the term “ekporeusis” implies (i.e., procession from a single source, principal, or cause), the addition of the Latin clause “Filioque” (“and the Son”) seriously challenges, if not totally destroys, the originally-intended meaning of this Creedal statement. And we Roman Catholics fully agree and admit this. The introduction of the Filioque is clearly a departure from the original intention and design of the A.D. 381 version of the Constantinopolitan Creed. However, it is not a departure from Apostolic orthodoxy.” (Mark Bonocore, “FILIOQUE: A Response To Eastern Orthodox Objections”)


  27. Perrz, I never tried to express I am “through” with the blog. I know where the door is. I just had to stop tinkering with that other thread on grace.

    I may have missed it but what is the biblio cite for this long excerpt from Mark?

    As for the subhect of this thread, a few Qs:

    1) Is the complaint that, if the Son and the Father generate the the Holy Spirit, then why doesn’t the Spirit generate anyone?

    2) What do you see as the link between betwee the immanent and eocnomic Trinity? Viz., do you agree with Rahner that the two are the same?

    3) Is it the proper perogative of the Son to be incarnate for the mission of theosis?

    4) Do you consider the hypostatic primacy of the Father qua arche to be incompatible (mutally exclusive with) His ontic primacy as ipsum esse subsistens?



  28. Neocalcedonian:

    I’m not sure where the specific critique is–you tell me I don’t understand, and tell me I am equivocating, etc. but you do not point out an equivocation etc. So I’m really confused how to even begin to answer you. If you had a specific attack, I’d appreciate it, but I don’t much like unsupported attacks.

    Regarding the Palamas quote: I think he equivocates between “spiration” and “proceed.” If by “proceed” you mean simply “spirate”, then he is of course correct. But if he means “give life to” or “resurrect” or something like that, it does not follow. The Father originates the Spirit, as Father originating Spirit. We can call this Spiration, or whatever. But the Son sees this, and so in imitation of the Father, originates the Spirit, but not as the Father originating the Spirit, but as the Son originating the Spirit. If you want to object that this is not Spiration, I think you are merely disagreeing verbally. Yes, the Son does not Spirate the Spirit, after the mode of the Father; the Son Spirates the Spirit after the mode of the Son. Otherwise the Person the Son is not an exact icon of the Father, but only of the Divine essence, and you have the old Western problem of essence being prior to Person.

    The second point I made is that in human relations generation is two-way. A son learns and grows by imitating his parents. The Son learned and grew by imitating his Mother. This I believe is an image of Generation for two reasons: first, all families are named for the Father so fatherhood is named from the Father qua Father, that is, as begetting the Son. Second, the Son becomes who He is by imitating His parents. The Son does not receive his essence alone from his Mother, but also becomes who He is from Her, and this it seems must be an image of the generation of the Son from teh Father, where the Son becomes Who He is through generation.

    But human generation (the picture) is a two-way street. Parents imitate their children, and become who they are from their children. Specifically, the Blessed Mother becomes her specific person through imitation of her Son. This is slightly confused since she preceeds Him (in one sense), but for the Father and the Son there is no “prior”.

    So it seems “generation” is a two-way street.


  29. Matthew,

    What makes you think that the “generation” of the Son & “spiration” of the Spirit are processes analogous to any creaturely activity or natural motion intelligible to reason? Articulate this suppressed premise and then you’ll understand why your argument has implicitly, if not explicitly, been dealt with innumerable times before.


  30. Glory to the Father who is neither begotten nor proceeding; Glory to the Son who is eternally begotten of the Father; Glory to the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and rests in the Son. Amen


  31. I think that creaturly activities and natural motions are analogous to generation and spiration for a couple of reasons: first, Christ tells us to pray “our Father” if our Father and His did not have an earthly analogue of fatherhood, this word is a lie. Second, Christ is the image not only of godness, but of the Father. By looking to Christ we see the Father. not merely some generic substance prior to Person. Third, St. Paul says all human families are named for the Father, that is, he says that fahterhood is an analogue to Fatherhood. Finally, we are to speak of the Father and the Son–that is, we are directly told to see fatherhood and sonship as an analogue of the Father and the Son. And if we refuse to do so, we are being idolatrous.

    But I don’t claim to understand generation. I merely say that it is a two-way thing. This doesn’t make sense to me, but I see it in the Icon that is Christ and His Mother. You on the other hand claim to be able to peer into it sufficiently to determine that it is not two way.


  32. Matthew,

    I hope I’ve conversed with you charitably, I’m going to be busy for the next few days so I don’t expect to be able to write any substantive reply until Monday at the earliest.


  33. Yeah, I think you have. And don’t worry about getting back too soon. I’ll look forward to your response, but I don’t require it immediately.

    It’s just frustrating for me because I have always felt completely ignorant about the filioque, till about a month ago, but I don’t think my argument is philosophical (as much of the filioque argument on both sides is) but from meditations on the life of Christ–the only possible source of knowledge of God. So its really frustrating when someone says I’m being rationalistic.


  34. No Maximus didn’t. He denies that the Latins taught in that day a hypostatic origination with the Son being also a cause which is just the Augustinian and Carolingian doctrine. Go read Scienscki’s brilliant dissertation on this letter and it’s use at Florence. Mark of Ephesus put the letter forward as a basis of reunion, and the Latins denied because Maximus denied the Son was a cause, in any sense, of the hypostasis of the Spirit.



  35. People shouldn’t trust peole like Robert Morey. Orthodox scholars don’t even recognize him as a scholar.

    Morey is not a recognized Orthodox scholar. He has no business even talking on this subject. Evangelical Boola Boola Bible College graduates are not scholars.

    Jaroslav Pelikan received 42 honorary doctorates in addition to his academic one, was recognized by President Bill Clinton and the Library of Congress and the U.S. Government for his scholarly work, and received the John Kluge award (the Nobel Prize for the humanities). Pelikan converted to Orthodoxy from Lutheranism in 1998. He died in 2006. Pelikan was considered the greatest expert on Christian history in modern times.

    Georges Florvsky of Princeton wrote a book proving Sola Scriptura is ludicrous and was unknown in the ancient Church. “Bible, Church and Tradition.” Read it.


  36. Morey is not recognized among world class historians and theological scholars. Orthodoxy is the only true Church and according to the Fathers, all those who resist her, are damned.


  37. Mr Perry C. Robinson

    Please accept my congratulations for your website. Mr Matthew N. Petersen in his first message on this topic says:
    “And a Catholic could response by quoting a Catholic scholar who refutes every point here. And then you could respond by quoting another Orthodox who clearly refutes the Catholic. And you could quote Fathers till you die.”
    In every dispute the question is who is right. The only way to find correct answer on matters of faith is to ask Holy Spirit that is God and third hypostasis of true God.

    With regards
    George Theodosiou


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