V. Of the Holy Ghost.

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19 Responses

  1. Reuben says:

    And sorry this is so late. I did not even know what day it was till a few hours ago, if you can believe that.

  2. I’ll wait to see what Xenia has to say about this one. Don’t ask me why, but I bet she doesn’t like this one. 🙂

  3. Xenia says:

    Yeah, the Filioque controversy.

    The original Nicene Creed stated that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. Later on, the western church added the phrase “and the Son,” which in Latin is filioque. In other words, the earliest Christians believed that the Spirit only proceeds from the Father whereas western Christianity believes the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. I believe the Orthodox Church is the only group that says the Creed without the addition of the filioque. (Maybe other oriental churches too.)

    This all came about in Toledo, Spain. Spain had an Arian legacy from its Visigothic past. The Arian heresy, as you know, claimed that the Son was a created being and therefore denied the Trinity. Meanwhile, Islamic Moors, with their extreme monotheism, were also part of the Spanish scene. It seemed good to the western Christians to shore up the doctrine of the Trinity and the deity of Christ by making the Creed a little more symmetrical by having the Holy Spirit proceeding from both the Father and the Son. This was a defense against Arianism and made the Trinity a tighter package and seem a little more monotheistic, in defense against Islam. It was quite controversial at the time and the result was the East kept the Creed as it was and the West kept the addition.

    The East’s objection is that the filioque makes the Holy Spirit a junior partner in the Holy Trinity. There seems to be scriptures to support both claims. I, of course, think there is better evidence for the Orthodox view. 🙂 There is a whole lot of history that surrounds this issue and the Orthodox champion was St. Mark of Ephesus who stood firm.

    The over-arching issue was the Pope believing he had the authority to change the Creed all by his lonesome without consulting the other Patriarchs. This was one of the stepping stones that led to the eventual claim of papal infallibility and that his curious idea that he has jurisdiction over everybody on the planet. The East said no to that idea.

    Whenever the Catholics want to talk about union with the Orthodox, they want to say the filioque is the main (if not only) stumbling block. This is not true at all, Xenia says emphatically.

    This is all off the top of my head. For dates and particulars, Google is your friend.

  4. Xenia says:

    My life revolved around “where the spirit moves…” as if I were holding a metal detector looking for the feel good beep to show me where to go. <<<

    Very well said, Reuben. Not to be irreverent but sometimes I felt like the theme to Ghostbusters should be playing in the background.

    Forgive me.

  5. Jesus said, “I’m going to be leaving soon, but don’t fret, I will send the comforter, another just like myself, and He will lead you into all truth.” (The unofficial CK paraphrase). Jesus Himself said that He would send the Holy Spirit, so I would have to say that I agree with the statement.

    Rubes, Grudem, IMNSHO, offers one of the most balanced perspectives on the person and work of the Spirit of which I am aware.

  6. Xenia says:

    Captain Kevin, yes, the Orthodox believe the Son sends the Holy Spirit. “Proceed” and “send” don’t mean the same thing, according to the Eastern argument.

  7. Em says:

    #6 – “…Proceed” and “send” don’t mean the same thing, according to the Eastern argument.”
    FWIW, they don’t mean the same thing in my dictionary either 🙂
    “proceed |prəˈsēd; prō-|
    verb [ intrans. ]
    begin or continue a course of action …..”

  8. Xenia says:

    John 15: 26

    But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

    This is probably the best verse for the single procession of the Spirit POV.

  9. Reuben says:

    Xenia, I love your input. You know much more than you typically let on, and you understand your beliefs better than most.

    I don’t agree, but I guess you expected that. I think the Holy Spirit is equal with the Father and Son. We just tend to understand the Holy Spirit less than the Father and the Son, thus why we naturally gravitate towards a Christo-centric theology.

    I suspect that most modern evangelicals equate Father with Old Testament. Son with New Testament. Holy Spirit with the angel on your shoulder, so to speak.

    I think the reality is that we are not saved without the Holy Spirit drawing us to that conclusion. We do not comprehend or apprehend the Word of God without the Holy Spirit. We are incapable of change without the Holy Spirit. The “silent partner” is responsible for much more than we acknowledge, and yet the Holy Spirit is God.

    Paul speaks of the Holy Spirit testifying to him the hardships to come, yet he speaks of the Holy Spirit compelling him to run to those hardships. Those statements have had me pondering for years. Probably more so now that I have “converted” to a reformed theology.

  10. I don’t have a problem with this article. I think the idea of the 3rd person of the Trinity proceeding from one or two of the other persons, is really beyond what the human mind is capable of understanding. When we discuss the Trinity, we tend to try to drive a wedge between each of the three persons, which Scripture never does, explicitly, at least.

  11. Em says:

    i just love reading the thoughts and the knowledge that this series of Reuben’s is generating – you feed my soul – thank you all
    i think those of us (me) who are not “tongue talkers” have been a little afraid of looking for the Holy Spirit – not for fear of getting too familiar with Him, but from knowing that our hearts are easily deceived – but He keeps on doing His job and He does His job as the Father’s supply to us, as immutable and powerful as the Throne of God is … and as holy

  12. Kevin H says:

    I agree with Josh in that I don’t think the human mind can really fully understand what it means for the Holy Spirit to be proceeding from the Father and/or Son. In fact, I never even knew anything on this topic until it had been discussed a time or two in the past here on the PhxP. I appreciate Xenia and others enlightening us on the historical differences/disagreements on this topic. For me, I can’t see myself ever taking a hard line on the issue because I have trouble wrapping my mind around what it even means for the Holy Spirit to be “proceeding” from the Father and/or Son.

  13. Xenia says:

    We take the doctrine of the Holy Trinity for granted nowadays but in the early years of the church people were still trying to figure it out, not because they ever felt they could actually understand the inner life of the Holy Trinity but to set limits as to what was acceptable Christian doctrine and what went beyond the bounds of orthodoxy. Just think: back in the days of the Church Councils people debated subtleties like the filioque but nowadays half the evangelicals I know are telling me that Mormonism is Christian or close enough.


  14. Em says:

    #13 – it is heartbreaking that the people of the churches have had so little appetite for “sound doctrine” for so long … it doesn’t make us mindless and biased, it makes us strong and grace-filled IMHO

  15. Em says:

    meant to say ‘amen’ to #13

  16. Em says:

    from John 14 our Lord told His disciples, “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” – a chilling thought

    when the Phoenix Preacher shut down i had been thinking for some time that it was time for Michael to do so – that it had served its purpose. But then i thought of this topic of Reuben’s and the caliber and mindset of the hearts that post – God the Holy Spirit has manifested and He has instructed and strengthened us – i’m sure of it … is it satan coming against that work? Satan angry and pressing on Michael or am i over valuing what is done here?

    as i join in covering his surgery with prayer, i really am torn between 2 views: feeling that we who come here are and have been exploiting Michael, but also i’m thinking that this is a unique conversation testifying to the Faith and the Body it produces – praying for a victory of God’s will

  17. Xenia said:
    “not because they ever felt they could actually understand the inner life of the Holy Trinity but to set limits as to what was acceptable Christian doctrine and what went beyond the bounds of orthodoxy.”

    I get that Xenia, and well said. I appreciate your input on this, very much.

    My point is that even those councils, etc. are going to be limited in their ability to define or describe the Holy Spirit an His relation to the other members of the Trinity. Not that it shouldn’t be discussed. It absolutely should. Just that we should discuss it with the knowledge that we will always come up short.

  18. Lutheran says:


    You make a great point. From what I understand about it, the early church had to fight heresy and false teaching right from the get-go — and they had to fight it hard. They were in danger many times of succumbing to it, depending on the situation.

    And if you’re saying that today’s evangelicals are much too ‘loosey-goosey’ and accomodating when it comes to believing (and living!) the right things, I agree. Sadly, it’s not just evangelicals but every part of Christendom, at least in my opinion and from what I read and observe.

  19. Xenia says:

    Josh, I agree.

    Because we really can’t describe God with human words, the Orthodox have something called apophatic theology where we can say with certainty was God is not.

    Some examples:

    God is not evil.
    God is not confined to space and time.
    God is not limited.

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