Cardinal Dulles on the Scriptural Basis of the Filioque

I’m quite glad that I ran across Cardinal Dulles’ article on the Filioque. It has a very interesting section about the scriptural basis of that phrase in the creeed. The full text of the article can be found here.

In appraising the importance of the filioque, one must compare it
with two other positions regarding the origin of the Spirit. The first,
the so-called “monopatrist” position, affirms the procession of the
Spirit from the Father alone. This was the formula preferred by
Photius and his strict disciples, although it has little basis in the
earlier Eastern tradition. The other Eastern formula, that the Spirit
proceeds from the Father through the Son, is found in many Eastern
fathers, including Epiphanius, Ephrem, Cyril of Alexandria, and John
Damascene.” This formula was also employed by the Patriarch
Tarasius at the Second Council of Nicea (A.D. 787).11

The first Eastern alternative, “from the Father alone,” if asserted
in a rigid and exclusive way, has many disadvantages in comparison
with thefilioque. It may be asked, most fundamentally, whether the
monopatrist position can account for the terminology of the New
Testament regarding the Holy Spirit. Admittedly we do not have
any New Testament text which teaches formally that the Spirit
proceeds from the Son, but a number of texts, read in convergence,
seem to imply this. John 5:19, for example, says that the Son does only what He sees the Father doing-a statement which seems to
refer to the externally existing Son and hence to imply that the Son,
together with the Father, breathes forth the Spirit. In John 16:14
Jesus says that the Spirit of Truth will take from the Son what is the
Son’s and declare it to the believing community. This “taking” is
often understood as referring to the procession. Then again, in the
Revelation to John, the river of the water of life is said to flow from
the throne of God and of the Lamb (Revelation 22:l). Read in
conjunction with Ezekiel 36:25-26, John 3:5, John 4:10, and 1 John
5:6-8, this river of living water may be understood as the life-giving

What is merely suggested by these texts is impressively confirmed
by the titles given to the Spirit in the New Testament. He is
repeatedly called the Spirit of the Son (Galatians 4:6), the Spirit of
Jesus (Acts 16:7), the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:17), the
Spirit of Christ (1 Peter 1:11), and the ‘Spirit of Jesus Christ
(Philippians 1: 19). It is not enough to declare that the Son sends the
Spirit, as most monopatrists do, since it must be explained how the
Son gets the power to send the Spirit as His own. Correctly
insisting that the temporal truth must have an eternal ground, Karl
Barth holds that the Spirit of the Son eternally proceeds from the

The Filioque: What Is at Stake? by Avery Cardinal Dulles

About Joshua Michael

Writer. Catholic. Fan of John Henry Newman and the Inklings.
This entry was posted in catholic, filioque, orthodox. Bookmark the permalink.

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