Confusion in the West: West vs. West on the Filioque

The Orthodox View


“Moreover, we have from the letter written by the same Saint Maximus to the priest Marinus concerning the procession of the Holy Spirit, where he implies that the Greeks tried, in vain, to make a case against us, since we do not say that the Son is a cause or principle of the Holy Spirit, as they assert. But, not incognizant of the unity of substance between Father and the Son, as he proceeds from the Father, we confess that he proceeds from the Son, understanding processionem, of course, as “mission.” Interpreting piously, he instructs those skilled in both languages to peace, while he teaches both us and the Greeks that in one sense the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son and in another sense he does not proceed, showing the difficulty of expressing the idiosyncrasies of one language in another.”


–Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Anastasius Ad Ioannem Diaconum, PL 129, 560-61


“It is from the person [substantia] of the Father that the Son is begotten and the Holy Spirit proceeds.”


— John Scotus Erigena, De Divisione Naturae, PL 122, 613


Note: John follows the older Latin understanding of substantia is hypostasis and essentia is ousia which is why I translate substantia as “person” here.


The view of the Heterodox


“The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father because he flows from his substance…and just as the Son received his substance from the Father by being begotten, so also he received from the Father the ability to send the Spirit of Truth from himself through proceeding…For just as the Father and the Son are of one substance, so too by procession from both did the Holy Spirit receive his consubstantial existence.”


–Ratramnus of Corbie, Contra Graecorum Opposita Romanam Ecclesiam Inflamantium, PL 121, 229


Ratramnus’ assumption that there is only one manner of coming forth from the Father echoing his presupposition on absolute divine simplicity:


“Therefore if the Son proceeds from God the Father and the Holy Spirit also proceeds, what will keep the Arians silent, not blaspheming that the Holy Spirit is also the Son of the Father.”


Ibid., PL 121, 247


  1. Professor,

    I don’t know if you remember me. We talked about six months ago or so over the internet. I’m the Protestant convert to Catholicism who is having doubts. Anyway, after a year of studying up on the Reformation, Scripture and Tradition, I am ready to start on Eastern Orthodoxy and the Papacy. Can you recommend about three authoritative books on Orthodoxy. Ideally, I would like a systematic work and an historical work. Thank you so very much.

    In Christ and His Bride,

    P.S. That sucks about your work being plagarized! I’ve notified my friend Tim Enloe about it, becuase he, too, posts his academic work on his website.


  2. Don’t have an email address, but wanted to ask Photios about his parish’s (in Euless) dialogues program. Can you shoot me an email? byztex at gmail dot com.


  3. I seem to remember that one of the western “ecumenical” councils, taught the full double procession of the spirit or the procession of the spirit’s substance from the son also.

    It would be interesting to lay out all the western statements about this.


  4. Kepha,

    At the risk of being presumptuous, I would like to recommend a few books that I have found to be life-changing, and which have a major relevance for studies of the Papacy, though they do not have the word “Papacy” in the title.

    1. Richard Haugh. Photius and the Carolingians

    2. John Romanides. Franks, Romans, Feudalism and Doctrine

    3. Joseph P. Farrell. God, History, and Dialectic

    4. Philip Sherrard. Church, Papacy, and Schism

    Love ’em or hate ’em, these “too big for their britches” tomes are in my DNA. I’ll put it to you this way. You’ll be quoting these books till you die, Orthodox or not.

    In Christ,

    James Kelley


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