An Insight on the Filioque

Some defenders of saying the Holy Spirit proceeds “from the Father and the Son [in Latin, filioque]” instead of “from the Father” alone (John 15:26c) as Orthodoxy has always taught and experienced, make much of Jesus sending the Spirit into the world, and use this to muddy the issue of the Spirit’s eternal procession from the Father.

But if Jesus sending Him into the world means He also proceeds “from the Son,” then why not say He also proceeds “from the Prophet Elijah”? After all, in 2 Kings 2:9-15, St. Elijah (Elias) the Prophet bestows “a double portion of [his] Spirit” on St. Elisha the Prophet. So why not say, “We believe in the Holy Spirit…Who proceeds from the Father, the Son, and the Prophet Elijah”?! (Or “through the Prophet Elijah,” as some revisionists might have it!)

No, there’s a big difference between the eternal origin of the Holy Spirit in the Father alone, and His being sent into the world by the Son. And what the Creed is addressing is the Spirit’s eternal origin only. The filioque must be rejected.


  1. Jamie

    The issue comes down to the distinction that Lossky makes; as regards the eternal procession which in the Trinity as is in essence, the Holy Spirit proceeds only from the Father. But in terms of the economy of the Trinity, we may only know the Father as he is revealed through the Son in the Holy Spirit.

  2. me


    Sorry my Comment-notification hiccupped and I’m only seeing yours now! I’m not familiar with what Lossky (Vladimir, I presume?) said (perhaps in The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church?). But what you’ve said reminds me that *****OPINION ALERT!!!***** I gather from other reading that there’s only one set of Divine Energies, ie, not one for each of the Persons (except as may be involved in being Themselves respectively??), and often Orthodox say there’s One God because there’s One Father (vs. the Latin Church effectively saying there’s One God because there’s one substance) – “the Monarchy of the Father” – therefore as we encounter and bring our lives, souls, and consciousness into harmony with God’s Energies, they are firstly the Father’s Energies we’re talking about, and in that sense we do indeed encounter the Father – not in His Essence, but in His Energies, though definitely with the Son and the Spirit of God. Ergo, the Father is not necessarily the “god beyond god” of some Western Christian philosophies/theologies, neither do we understand a strict and comprehensive ‘division of labor’ within the Trinity, sufficient for understanding, as do some other Western Christian philosophies/theologies: for one example, even in Genesis we see the Father, the Logos/Word of the Father, and the Holy Spirit, All Three, involved in Creation. But again to emphasize, we definitely do not, as creatures, have any chance of encountering God in His Essence, only in His Energies – though He is fully present in them.

    Apologies if this isn’t anywhere near what you were getting at! 😉

    Leo Peter

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