The Filioque Controversy

The Councils of Florence and Blachernae
 
 
          In this part of the paper I will examine the filioque controversy, but to recapitulate the entire history of this controversy is beyond the scope of this essay, and so I will not do that here; instead, I will focus on the theological differences that exist between the East and the West on the doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit. In order to do this I will briefly set out the theology of the West as exemplified in the decree of the Council of Florence, and I will also touch upon the recent clarification on the filioque issued by the Holy See in the mid 1990s. [1] Finally, I will explain the Byzantine doctrine of procession, especially as it was proclaimed in the dogmatic tome of the Council of Blachernae (A.D. 1285), and in the subsequent teaching of St. Gregory Palamas himself.
          The Latin Church's Florentine decree states the following about the procession of the Holy Spirit: 
In the name of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we define, with the approval of this holy universal council of Florence, that the following truth of faith shall be believed and accepted by all Christians and thus shall all profess it:  that the Holy Spirit is eternally from the Father and the Son, and has His essence [οὐσίαν] and His subsistent being [ύπαρχτιχόν είναι] from the Father together with the Son, and proceeds [ἐκπορεύεται] from both eternally as from one principle [μίᾶς άρχής] and a single spiration. We declare that when Holy Doctors and Fathers say that the Holy Spirit proceeds [ἐκπορεύεσθαι] from the Father through the Son, this bears the sense that thereby also the Son should be signified, according to the Greeks indeed as cause [αἰτίαν], and according to the Latins as principle [άρχήν] of the subsistence [ύπἁρξεως] of the Holy Spirit, just like the Father. [2]
 
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