Monday, November 16, 2009

Concise Cappadocian Theology Final Paper Précis

What light can the great Cappadocian Fathers shed on the vexed question of Filioque? Careful examination of the writings of the Cappadocian Fathers reveals that they support the thesis that the Father and the Son spirate the ὑπόστᾰσις of the Holy Spirit.

St. Photios the Great (Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit) echoes St. Basil's idea (Epistle 214) that every real divine property is either common to all three persons or proper to one person. But unassailable evidence proves the genuineness of the passage from St. Basil's Third Book Against Eunomius in which he, unlike St. Photios, teaches that active spiration is not proper to the Father, since the Holy Spirit has His existence from the Father and the Son.

St. Gregory of Nyssa expressly teaches that the Holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son on the level of hypostasis (Third Sermon on the Lord's Prayer). For the holy bishop, to be the αἰτία is to exist in an ungenerated way, but this does not include the idea of being the sole spirator of the Holy Spirit. The Son's mediation in the hypostatic procession of the Holy Spirit, which is necessary to distinguish the Holy Spirit from the person of the Son (To Ablabius On "Not Three Gods"), consists in, as the saint's analogy to the flame and torches reveals (Against the Macedonians on the Holy Spirit), the Son cooperating with the Father in spirating the Holy Spirit as from one principle.

For St. Gregory the Theologian, the Father alone possesses causality (Oration 34), which means "ingenerateness" (cf. Oration 41). But he does not call the Father the sole προβολεύς of the Holy Spirit (Oration 29), which is how Mark of Ephesus understands him (Encyclical Letter to All the Orthodox). St. Gregory's vague allusion to the Holy Spirit's dependence on the Son in the Trinitarian τάξις, his analogy of the Trinity as sun-ray-light, and his teaching that the Holy Spirit is the mean between the Father and Son (Oration 31) all imply not merely that the Holy Spirit is eternally energetically manifested through the Son, but that He has His being from the Father and the Son. Filioque becomes necessary to distinguish the persons of the Holy Spirit and the Son when we give just consideration to the holy archbishop’s axiom (ibid.) that the persons are distinguished from each other in their relations of origin to one another.

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