REFUTATION IV. THE HERESY OF THE GREEKS, WHO ASSERT THAT THE HOLY GHOST PROCEEDS FROM THE FATHER ALONE, AND NOT FROM THE FATHER AND THE SON.

 

  

 

1. It is necessary to remark here, in order not to confuse the matter, that the heresy of the schismatical Greeks consists in denying the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son; they contend that he proceeds from the Father alone, and this is the difference between the Greek and Latin Churches. The learned have not yet agreed on the author of this heresy. Some say it was Theodoret, in his refutation of the ninth anathematism of St. Cyril, against Nestorius, but others again defend him (as well as several others quoted by the schismatics), and explain that passage of his works which gave rise to this opinion, by saying that he only meant to prove that the Holy Ghost was not a creature, as the Arians and Macedonians asserted. There can be no doubt but that passages from the works both of Theodoret and the other Fathers, which the writers intended as refutations of the errors of the Arians and Macedonians, taken in a wrong sense by the schismatics, have confirmed them in holding on to this error. This heresy, up to the time of Photius, was only held by a few persons, but on his intrusion into the See of Constantinople, in 858, and especially in 863, when he was condemned by Pope Nicholas I., he constituted himself, not alone the chief of the schism, which for so many years has separated the Greek and Latin Churches, but induced the whole Greek Church to embrace this heresy that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father alone, and not from the Son. Fourteen times, Osius writes (1), up to the time of the Council of Florence, held in 1439, the Greeks renounced this error, and united themselves to the Latin Church, but always relapsed again. In the Council of Florence, they them selves agreed in defining that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son, and it was thought that the union would be everlasting, but such was not the case, for after they left the Council, they again (ch. ix, n. 31) returned to their vomit, at the instigation of Mark of Ephesus. I now speak of these Greeks who were under the obedience of the Eastern Patriarchs, for the others who were not subject to them, remained united in Faith to the Roman Church.

 

(1) Osius, l. de Sac. Conjug,

 

  

 

I – IT IS PROVED THAT THE HOLY GHOST PROCEEDS FROM THE FATHER AND THE SON.

 

  

 

2. It is proved by the words of St. John : ” When the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth who proceedeth from the Father” (John, xv, 16). This text not only proves the dogma decided by the Council of Constantinople against the Arians and Macedonians, that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father (” And in the Holy Ghost the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father”); but also that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son, as is shown by the words : ” Whom 1 will send you;” and the same expression is repeated in St. John in other places : ” For if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you” (John, xvi, 7). “But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name” (John, xiv, 26). In the Divinity, a Person is not spoken of as sent, unless by another Person from whom he proceeds. The Father, as he is the origin of the Divinity, is never spoken of in the Scriptures as being sent. The Son, as he proceeds from the Father alone, is said to be sent, but it is never thus said of the Holy Ghost : ” As the Father living, sent me, &c., God sent his Son, made from a woman, &c.” When, therefore, the Holy Ghost, is said to be sent from the Father and the Son, he proceeds from the Son as well as from the Father; especially as this mission of one Divine Person from another, cannot be understood cither in the way of command or instruction, or any other way, for in the Divine Persons both authority and wisdom are equal. We, therefore, understand one Person as sent by another, according to the origin, and according to the procession of one Person from the other, this procession implying neither inequality nor dependence. If, therefore, the Holy Ghost is said to be sent by the Son, he proceeds from the Son. “He is sent by him,” says St. Augustine (1), ” from whence he emanates,” and he adds, ” the Father is not said to be sent, for he has not from whom to be, or from whom to proceed.

 

3. The Greeks say that the Son does not send the Person of the Holy Ghost, but only his gifts of grace, which are attributed to the Holy Spirit. But we answer that this interpretation is wrong, for in the passage of St. John, just quoted, it is said that this Spirit of Truth, sent by the Son, proceeds from the Father; therefore, the Son does not send the gifts of the Holy Ghost, but the Spirit of Truth himself, who proceeds from the Father.

 

4. This dogma is proved from all those texts, in which the Holy Ghost is called the Spirit of the Son ” God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts” (Gal. iv, 6) -just as, in another place, the Holy Ghost is called the Spirit of the Father : ” For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you” (Mat. x, 20). If, therefore, the Holy Ghost is called the Spirit of the Father, merely because he proceeds from the Father, he also proceeds from the Son, when he is called the Spirit of the Son. This is what St. Augustine says (2) : ” Why should we not believe that the Holy Ghost proceeds also from the Son, when he is the Spirit of the Son ?” And the reason is evident, since he could not be called the Holy Ghost of the Son, because the Person of the Holy Ghost is consubstantial to the Son, as the Greeks said; for otherwise the Son might be called the Spirit of the Holy Ghost, as he is also consubstantial to the Holy Ghost. Neither can he be called the Spirit of the Son, because he is the instrument of the Son, or because he is the extrinsic holiness of the Son, for we cannot speak thus of the Divine Persons; therefore, he is called the Spirit of the Son, because he proceeds from him. Jesus Christ explained this himself, when, after his Resurrection, he appeared to his disciples, and “breathed on them, and said to them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost,” &c. (John, xx, 22). Remark the words, ” he breathed on them, and said,” to show that, as the breath proceeds from the mouth, so the Holy Ghost proceeds from him.

 

(1) St. Augus. l. 4, de Trinit. c. 20. (2) St. Augus. Trac. 99, in Joan. 

 

Hear how beautifully St. Augustine (3) explains this passage : ” We cannot say that the Holy Ghost does not proceed from the Son also, for it is not without a reason that he is called the Spirit both of the Father and of the Son. I cannot see what other meaning he had when he breathed in the face of his disciples, and said, Receive the Holy Ghost. For that corporeal breathing was not, indeed the substance of the Holy Ghost, but a demonstration, by a congruous signification, that the Holy Ghost did not proceed from the Father alone, but from the Son, likewise.”

 

5. It is proved, thirdly, from all those passages of the Holy Scripture, in which it is said that the Son has all that the Father has, and that the Holy Ghost receives from the Son. Hear what St. John says : “But when he, the Spirit of Truth is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak, and the things that are to come he shall show you. He shall glorify me; because he shall receive of mine, and shall show it to you. All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine. Therefore, I said, that he shall receive of mine, and show it to you” (John, xvi, 13, &c.) It is expressly laid down in this passage, that the Holy Ghost receives of the Son, ” shall receive of mine ;” and when we speak of the Divine Persons, we can never say that one receives from the other in any other sense but this, that the Person proceeds from the Person he receives from. To receive and to proceed is just the same thing, for it would be repugnant to sense, to say that the Holy Ghost, who is God equal to the Son, and of the same Nature as the Son, receives from him either knowledge or doctrine. It is said, therefore, that he receives from the Son, because he proceeds from him, and from him receives, by communication, the Nature and all the attributes of the Son.

 

(3) St. Augus. l. 4, de Trin. c. 20.

 

6. The Greeks make a feeble reply to this. Christ, in this passage, they say, does not say that the Holy Ghost receives from me, but ” of mine,” that is, of my Father. This reply carries no weight with it, for Christ himself explains the text in the next passage : ” All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine; therefore, I said, that he shall receive of mine.” Now, these words prove that the Holy Ghost receives from the Father and the Son, because he proceeds from the Father and the Son. The reason is plain; for if the Son has all that the Father hath (except Paternity relatively opposed to Filiation), and the Father is the principium esse of the Holy Ghost, the Son must be so likewise, for otherwise he would not have all that the Father has. This is exactly what Eugenius IV. says, in his Epistle of the Union : ” Since all things, which belong to the Father, he gave to his only-begotten Son, in begetting him, with the exception that he did not make him the Father for this the Son, from all eternity, is in possession of that the Holy Ghost proceeds from him, from whom he was eternally begotten.” Before Eugenius’s time, St. Augustine said just the same thing (4) : ” Therefore, he is the Son of the Father, from whom he is begotten, and the Spirit is the Spirit of both, since he proceeds from both. But when the Son speaks of him, he says, therefore, he proceeds from the Father, since the Father is the author of his procession, who begot such a Son, and, begetting him, gave unto him that the Spirit should also proceed from him.” The holy Father, in this passage, forestalls the objection of Mark of Ephesus, who said that the Scriptures teach that the Holy Ghost ” proceeds from the Father,” but do not mention the Son, ” for,” says St. Augustine, ” although in the Scripture it said only that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father, still the Father, by generating the Son, communicated to him also to be the principium of the Holy Ghost, ” gignendo ei dedit, ut etiam de ipso procederet Spiritus Sanctus,”

 

7. St. Anselm(5) confirms this by that principle embraced by all theologians, that all things are one in the Divinity : ” In Divinis omnia sunt unum, et omnia unum, et idem, ubi non obviat relationis oppositio.” Thus in God these things alone are really distinguished, among which there is a relative opposition of the producing and the produced. The first producing cannot produce himself, for otherwise he would be at the same time existent and non-existent existent, because he produces himself non existent, because he had no existence till after he was produced. This is a manifest absurdity. That axiom, that no one can give what he has not ” Nemo dat, quod non habet,” proves the same thing; for if the producer gave existence to himself before he was produced, he would give that which he had not.

 

(4) St. August. l. 2 (alias 3), cent.  Maxim, c. 14. (5) St. Ansel.l de Proc. Spi. S. c. 7.

 

But is not God self-existing ? Most certainly; but that does not mean that he gave existence to himself. God exists of necessity; he is a necessary Being that always did and always will exist; he gives existence to all other creatures; if he ceased to exist, all other things, likewise, would cease to exist. Let us return to the point. The Father is the principle (principiumj of the Divinity, and is distinguished from the Son by the opposition that exists between the producer and produced. On the other hand, those things in God, which have no relative opposition among themselves, are in nowise distinguished, but are one and the same thing. The Father, therefore, is the same with the Son, in all that in which he is not opposed relatively to the Son. And as the Father is not relatively opposed to the Son, nor the Son to the Father, by both one and the other being the principle in the spiration of the Holy Ghost, therefore, the Holy Ghost is spirated, and proceeds from the Father and the Son; and it is an Article of Faith, defined both by the Second General Council of Lyons, and by that of Florence, that the Holy Ghost proceeds from one principle and from one spiration, and not from two principles nor from two spirations. ” We condemn and reprobate all,” say the Fathers of Lyons, ” who rashly dare to assert that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son, as from two principles, and that he does not proceed from them as from one principle.” The Fathers of the Council of Florence ” define that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son eternally, as from one principle, and by one spiration.” The reason is this (6) : Because the power of spirating the Holy Ghost is found in the Son as well as in the Father, without any relative opposition. Hence, as the world was created by the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, still, because the power of creating appertains equally to the three Persons, we say, God the Creator; so, because the power of spirating the Holy Ghost is equally in the Father and in the Son, therefore, we say that the principle is one, and that the spiration of the Holy Ghost is one. We now pass on to other proofs of the principal point, that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son.

 

(6) St. Greg. Nyss. l. ad Ablav.

 

8. The procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son is proved, fourthly, by the following argument used by the Latins against the Greeks in the Council of Florence. If the Holy Ghost did not proceed from the Son also, there would be no distinction; the reason is, because, as we have already said, there is no real distinction in God between those things between which there is not a relative opposition of the producer and the produced. If the Holy Ghost did not proceed also from the Son, there would be no relative opposition between him and the Son, and, consequently, there would be no real distinction; one person would not be distinct from the other. To this convincing argument the Greeks replied that even in this case there would be a distinction, because the Son would proceed from the Father by the intellect, and the Holy Ghost by the will. But the Latins answered, justly, that this would not be enough to form a real distinction between the Son and the Holy Ghost, because, at the most, it would be only a virtual distinction such as that which exists in God between the understanding and the will, but the Catholic Faith teaches us that the three Divine Persons, though they are of the same Nature and Substance, are still really distinct among themselves. It is true that some of the Fathers, as St. Augustine and St. Anselm, have said that the Son and the Holy Ghost are also distinct, because they have a different mode of procession, one from the will and the other from the understanding; but when they speak thus they only mean the remote cause of this distinction, for they themselves have most clearly expressed, on the other hand, that the proximate and formal cause of the real distinction of the Son and the Holy Ghost is the relative opposition in the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son. Hear what St. Gregory of Nyssa (7) says : ” The Spirit is distinguished from the Son, because it is by him he is.” And St. Augutine himself, whom the Greeks consider as favouring their party (8), says : ” Hoc solo numerum insinuant, quod ad invicem sunt.” And St. John of Damascus (9) also says, that it is merely in the properties of Paternity, Filiation, and Procession, that we see the difference, according to the cause and the effect : “In solis autem proprietatibus, nimirum Paternitatis, Filiationis, et Processionis secundum causam, et causatum discrimen advertimus.” The Eleventh Council of Toledo (Cap. I.) says : “In relatione Per sonar urn numerus cernitur; hoc solo numerum insinuat, quod ad invicem sunt.”

 

9. Finally, it is proved by the tradition of all ages, as is manifest from the text of those Greek Fathers whom the Greeks themselves consider an authority, and of some Latin Fathers who wrote before the Greek schism. St. Epiphanius, in the Anchoratum, thus speaks : ” Christ is believed from the Father, God of God, and the Spirit from Christ, or from both ;” and in the Heresia he says : ” But the Holy Ghost is from both, a Spirit from a Spirit.” St. Cyril (10) writes : ” The Son, according to Nature, is indeed from God (for he is begotten of God and of the Father), but the Spirit is properly his, and in him, and from him;” and again (11) : ” The Spirit is of the essence of the Father and the Son, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.” St. Athanasius explains (12) the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son in equivalent expressions. ” The Spirit,” he says, ” does not unite the Word with the Father, but the Spirit receives from the Word …… whatsoever the Spirit has he has from the Word.” St. Basil (13), replying to a heretic, who asks him why the Holy Ghost is not called the Son of the Son, says, he is not called so, ” not because he is not from God through the Son, but lest it might be imagined that the Trinity consists of an infinite multitude of Persons, if Sons would follow from Sons, as in mankind.” Among the Latin Fathers, Tertullian (14) writes : ” The Son is deduced from the Father, the Spirit from the Father by the Son.” St. Hilary (15) says : ” There is no necessity to speak of Him who is to be confessed as coming from the Father and the Son.” St. Ambrose says (16), that ” the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son,” and in another place (17), ” the Holy Ghost, truly a Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Son, not the Son himself.”

 

(7) St. Greg. Nyss. l. ad Ablavium. (8) St. Angus, trac 39 in Jo. (9) Jo. Damasc. l.I, de Fide, c. 11. (10) St. Cyril in Joelem, c. 2. (11) Idem, l. 14, Thesaur. (12) St. Athan. Oat. 3, cont. Arian. n . 24 (13) St. Basil, l. 5, cont. Eunom. (14) Tertul. l. cont. Praxeam, c. 4. (15) St. Hilar. l. 2, de Trin. (16) St. Ambrose, l. 1, ile S. S. c. 11, (17) Idem, de Symb. ap. r. 30. art. 10.

 

10. I omit the authorities of the other Fathers, both Greek and Latin, collected by the Theologian John, in his disputation with Mark of Ephesus, in the Council of Florence, where he clearly refuted all the cavils of that prelate. It is of more importance to cite the decisions of the General Councils, which have finally decided on this dogma, as the Council of Ephesus, the Council of Chalcedon, the Second and Third Councils of Constantinople, by approving the Synodical Epistle of St. Cyril of Alexandria, in which this doctrine of the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son is expressed in these terms : ” The Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth, and Christ is the Truth, so that he proceeds from him as he does from the Father.” In the Fourth Council of Lateran, celebrated in the year 1215, under Innocent III., both Greeks and Latins united in defining (cap. 153), ” that the Father was from none, the Son from the Father alone, and the Holy Ghost equally from both, always without beginning and without end.” In the Second Council of Lyons, held in 1274, under Gregory X., when the Greeks again became united with the Latins, it was again agreed on by both that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son : ” With a faithful and devout confession we declare that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son, not as from two principles, but as from one principle not by two spirations, but by one spiration.

 

11. Finally, in the Council of Florence, held under Eugenius IV., in the year 1438, in which both Greeks and Latins were again united, it was decided unanimously, ” that this truth of Faith should be believed and held by all Christians, and that all should then profess that the Holy Ghost eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son, as from one principle, and by one spiration; we also define, explaining the word” filioque” (and from the Son), that it has been lawfully and rationally introduced into the Creed, for the sake of declaring the truth, and because there was a necessity for doing so at the time.” Now, all those Councils in which the Greeks joined with the Latins in defining the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son, supply an invincible argument to prove that the schismatics uphold a heresy, for otherwise we should admit that the whole united Church, both Latin and Greek, has defined an error in three General Councils. 

 

12. As to theological reasons, we have already given the two principal ones : the first is, that the Son has all that the Father has, with the exception of the Paternity alone, which is impossible, on account of the Filiation. ” All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine” (John, xvi, 15); therefore, if the Father has the power of spirating the Holy Ghost, the same power belongs also to the Son, since there is no relative opposition between the Filiation and the active spiration. The second reason is, that if the Holy Ghost did not proceed from the Son, he would not be really distinct from the Son, for then there would be no relative opposition or real distinction between them, and, consequently, the mystery of the Trinity would be destroyed. The other arguments adduced by theologians can either be reduced to these, or are arguments a congruentia, and, therefore, we omit them.