Saturday, August 02, 2008

As From One Principle and The Monarchy of the Father

Filioque is false because it compromises the Monarchy of the Father

1. What does the Monarchy entail? The Father alone is underived; He is the principle without principle of the entire Godhead, i.e. the Father alone is the source (peghe) and arche anarchos; the Son is not the arche anarchos. That is to say, the Son is not aitia because aitia deals with ekporeusis (origin from the sole principle without principle){1} but the Son is, together with the Father, the one principium from which the Holy Spirit proceeds because principium is more general and corresponds to processio, which signifies origin in any way at all as opposed to the restricted ekporeusis.

2. How, then, can it be said that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son as from one principle?{2} Well, St. Thomas Aquinas points out that this must be said because there is no relative opposition between the Father and Son as principle of the Spirit.{3} This same prince of theologians observes that "principle" signifies a property after the manner of a substantive, so "principle" takes its number from the form it signifies and as the Father and Son are one God by reason of the unity of form that "God" signifies, they are one principle of the Holy Spirit because of the unity of property that "principle" signifies.{4} The saintly Doctor calls to attention the fact that there is no reason one property cannot be in two supposita that have one common nature, and the spirative power the Father and Son have signifies the one common nature with the property.{5} It is for this reason that the Father and Son are two spirating, but not two spirators.{6}

3. Ghosty, a brilliant (I believe soon-to-be formally Melkite) Catholic poster on Catholic Answers Forums,{7} uses a superb patristically-rooted analogy to illustrate both the Monarchy of the Father and the equality of Father and Son as principle of the Holy Spirit. He says that the lake (Holy Spirit) comes equally from the spring (Father) and river (Son). The one source of the water (Godhead, divinity) is the spring (Father), and the river (Son) receives the same water and contribution (spirative power) from the spring (Father) without becoming the primordial source (the Father) of the lake (Holy Spirit).{8}

4. We say that the Holy Spirit proceeds principally or properly from the Father because the Son has the same spirative power from the Father.{9} Another way to think about it, according to the highly intelligent blogger Brandon Watson, is that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father principally because He is the Spirit of the Son because He is the Spirit of the Father, not vice-versa.{10}

Notes and References
{1} St. John of Damascus (Doctor), An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, 1:12.
{2} This is the Florentine ecumenical and infallible definition.
{3} Aquinas, St. Thomas (Doctor), Summa Theologica 1:36:4. Thus we see from Aquinas, in his words, that since one power belongs to the Father and Son and whatever is from the Father must be from the Son unless it is opposed to the property of filiation since the Son is not from Himself but is from the Father. Ergo pace St. Photius I the Great and his assertions in his Mystagogy, far from being superfluous, Filioque is entirely necessary. The Son, says St. Thomas Aquinas, is not a secondary and instrumental cause as many Eastern Orthodox polemicists, after the example of the wicked Mark of Ephesus, would accuse us (in fact the Spirit does not proceed from the Father more than from the Son) because the same spirative power belongs to the Father and Son such that the Holy Spirit proceeds equally from both.
{4} Ibid.
{5} Ibid.
{6} Ibid.
{9} Aquinas, St. Thomas. "Article 36, Question 2, Answer." Summa Theologica, Part I. New Advent. 8 Aug. 2008 <>.
{10} Watson, Brandon. "A Thought on the Filioque." Siris. 17 Feb. 2007. 2 Aug. 2008 <>. Cf. Gal 4:6; Rom 8:9; Phil 1:19.

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