The Son is begotten by the Father but the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father alone in the Eastern Orthodox tradition but from both the Father and the Son in the Roman Catholic tradition. This is ‘Paradox par Excellence,’ for God is without parts: therefore Son and the Holy Ghost are same yet different. By the grace of some magical wand Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are distinct, one begotten by the Father, other proceeding from both the Son and the Father, yet mysteriously there are no parts in Trinity. Again, there is nothing new, in God, nothing made and there is nothing in the Trinity made or created or composite, yet the Holy Spirit proceeds from the other two; additionally Christ has two parts, divine and human, yet the ‘Trinity has no parts and is not composite!’
In the Roman Catholic tradition the Holy Ghost proceeds from both the Father and the Son. Historically, however, it has been noted by the Catholic Encyclopedia that the Creed of Constantinople at first declared only the Procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father. The Encyclopedia, however, is quick in providing rationalization for this historical contradiction, ‘it was directed against the followers of Macedonius who denied the Procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father.’
Jesus Christ is supposed to be begotten by God the Father, yet, according to the gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus, he was not conceived by a human father, but by the Holy Spirit; and he was born of the Virgin Mary. The ‘beginning of His incarnate existence’ was due to the Holy Spirit. The Apostles’ Creed says Jesus was ‘conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.’ How to separate the human and the divine parts of Jesus Christ is another mystery, that cannot be pursued in this Knol.
To borrow a phrase from Soren Kierkgaard, all this is ‘Paradox par Excellence,’ and is unparalleled by its irrationality in human affairs. No wonder only 10-15% of the so called Christians visit their churches regularly in Britian, human mind struggles to escape from any conflict, if it can!
The schism between the Eastern and the Western Church is described by the word ‘Filioque,’ meaning also from the son.
The teaching of Sacred Scripture on the double Procession of the Holy Ghost was faithfully preserved in Christian tradition. Even the Greek schismatics grant that the Latin Fathers maintain the Procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son: The great work on the Trinity by Petavius (Lib. VII, cc. iii sqq.) develops the proof of this contention at length. Here we mention only some of the later documents in which the patristic doctrine has been clearly expressed: the dogmatic letter of St. Leo I to Turribius, Bishop of Astorga, Ep. XV, c. i (447); the so-called Athanasian Creed; several councils held at Toledo in the years 447, 589 (III), 675 (XI), 693 (XVI); the letter of Pope Hormisdas to the Emperor Justinus, Ep. Ixxix (521); St. Martin I’s synodal utterance against the Monothelites, 649-655; Pope Adrian I’s answer to the Caroline Books, 772-795; the Synods of Merida (666), Braga (675), and Hatfield (680); the writing of Pope Leo III (d. 816) to the monks of Jerusalem; the letter of Pope Stephen V (d. 891) to the Moravian King Suentopolcus (Suatopluk), Ep. xiii; the symbol of Pope Leo IX (d. 1054); the Fourth Lateran Council, 1215; the Second Council of Lyons, 1274; and the Council of Florence, 1439. Some of the foregoing conciliar documents may be seen in Hefele, “Conciliengeschichte” (2d ed.), Ill, nn. 109, 117, 252, 411; cf. P. G., XXVIII, 1567 sqq. Bessarion, speaking in the Council of Florence, inferred the tradition of the Greek Church from the teaching of the Latin; since the Greek and the Latin Fathers before the ninth century were members of the same Church, it is antecedently improbable that the Eastern Fathers should have denied a dogma firmly maintained by the Western. Moreover, there are certain considerations which form a direct proof for the belief of the Greek Fathers in the double Procession of the Holy Ghost. First, the Greek Fathers enumerate the Divine Persons in the same order as the Latin Fathers; they admit that the Son and the Holy Ghost are logically and ontologically connected in the same way as the Son and the Father. …
II. HISTORICAL IMPORTANCE OF THE FILIOQUE.—It has been seen that the Creed of Constantinople at first declared only the Procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father; it was directed against the followers of Macedonius who denied the Procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father. In the East, the omission of Filioque did not lead to any serious misunderstanding. But conditions were different in Spain alter the Goths had renounced Arianism and professtxl the Catholic faith in the Third Synod of Toledo. o>9. It cannot be ascertained who first added the Filioque to the Creed; but it appears to 1h> certain that the Creed, with the addition of the Kilioque, was first suns in the Spanish Church after the conversion of the Goths. In 796 the Patriarch Paulinus of Aquileia justified and adopted the same addition at the Synod of Kriaul, and in 809 the Council of Aachen appears to have approved of it. The decrees of this last council were examined by Pope Leo III, who approved of the doctrine conveyed by the Filioque, but gave the advice to omit the expression in the Creed. The practice of adding the Filioque was retained in spite of the papal advice, and about the middle of the eleventh century it had gained a firm foothold in Rome itself. Scholars do not agree as to the exact time of its introduction into Rome, but most assign it to the reign of Benedict VIII (1014-15). The Catholic doctrine was accepted by the Greek deputies who were present at the Second Council of Lyons, in 1274, and at the Council of Florence, in 1439, when the Creed was sung both in Greek and Latin, with the addition of the word Filioque. On each occasion it was hoped that the Patriarch of Constantinople and his subjects had abandoned the state of heresy and schism in which they had been living since the time of Photius, who about 870 found in the Filioque an excuse for throwing off all dependence on Rome. But however sincere the individual Greek bishops may have been, they failed to carry their people with them, and the breach between East and West continues to this day. It is a matter for surprise that so abstract a subject as the doctrine of the double Procession of the Holy Ghost should have appealed to the imagination of the multitude. But their national feelings had been aroused by the desire of liberation from the rule of the ancient rival of Constantinople; the occasion of lawfully obtaining their desire appeared to present itself in the addition of Filioque to the Creed of Constantinople. Had not Rome overstepped her rights by disobeying the injunction of the Third Council, of Epbesus (431), and of the Fourth, of Chalcedon (451)? It is true that these councils had forbidden to introduce another faith or another Creed, and had imposed the penalty of deposition on bishops and clerics, and of excommunication on monks and laymen for transgressing this law; but the councils had not forbidden to explain the same faith or to propose the same Creed in a clearer way. Besides, the conciliar decrees affected individual transgressors, as is plain from the sanction added; they did not bind the Church as a body. Finally, the Councils of Lyons and Florence did not require the Greeks to insert the Filioque into the Creed, but only to accept the Catholic doctrine of the double Procession of the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Spirit depicted as a dove above the Holy Family, painting by Juan Simon Gutierrez
“Yet there is a third person by the name of ‘The Holy Ghost’ who according to Christian dogma, despite having a distinct individual personality, is still amalgamated and so completely and eternally fused with the ‘Father’ and the ‘Son’ that their merger creates a singleness in three. Now we turn our attention to this question by enquiring whether the Holy Ghost has an ego separate from the God or Jesus, or do they share one single ego? Ego can be described here as the ultimate of consciousness, which in the final analysis, is indivisible and specific to each individual. The same ultimate awareness of one’s being as distinct from others gives birth to ‘I’, and ‘my’ and ‘mine’, as against ‘he’ and ‘his’ and ‘you’ and ‘yours’.
Bringing into focus the three parts of Divinity, we must resolve whether the three have distinct egos of their own or not. If they do not have distinct separate egos, then to attribute to them personages would become inconceivable. Each person, however close he may be to another, has to enjoy a separate individual consciousness of his being.
The official position of most churches is very clear and well defined, claiming that each of the three entities of God’s personage had a distinctly separate personage of its own. So it is not just ‘Three in One’ it is three persons in one person. The bitter encounter of Jesus with death and all its fateful consequences must have been equally shared by the Holy Ghost. So also, he should have been included in the sacrifice along with Jesus. Again, he must have suffered hell in the company of Jesus and God the Father. If not, then one cannot escape drawing the inevitable conclusion that not only were they three distinct and different persons but also their emotions and faculties relating to head and heart must have been different, separate and insulated from each other.
In trying to further our vision of the Trinity we should attempt to visualize the fact of three persons merging together or existing as merged together eternally as one. So far we have failed to see how they could have merged in their emotions and thought processes.
The only option left, therefore, is a merger in the body. It reminds us of a hydra headed monster on a different scale, mentioned in the Greek mythology, which possessed many heads that grew again when cut off. Of course, man cannot understand the true nature of God and how His attributes function within, but it is very easy and simple to believe in one single entity without specific areas to which certain functions are attributed and confined, like head, heart and kidneys etc. But the scenario of separate individual thoughts and feelings is certainly at variance with the afore mentioned scenario of a single entity. It creates an image of God which is very difficult to believe and conceive for human beings, many of whom have lived long with Christian dogma without questioning it and have somehow shut their eyes to such glaring violations against the human intellect, supposedly created by God himself.”
For additional details go to:
- The Catholic encyclopedia: an international work of reference on the constitution, doctrine, discipline, and history of the Catholic Church, Volume 6/15. Universal Knowledge Foundation Inc, New York, 1909. Edited by Charles George Herbermann, Thomas Joseph Shahan, John Joseph Wynne. Page 71=75.