Friday, September 12, 2014

The Filioque according to Alexei Khomiakov

The issue of Filioque has separated the Roman Catholic Church from the Orthodox Church, being a key theological matter which resulted in the Great Schism of 1054. Reading “The Church is One”, written by Alexei Stepanovich Khomiakov in the 19th century and then translated by the Fellowship of Saint Alban and Saint Sergius in 1948, I came across his understanding of this massive theological disputed topic. Despite explaining what the Church is and how it is One, he also describes certain issues which have brought the sin of disunity into the life of the Christians. On the topic of the filioque he states:


“Holy Church confesses her faith by her whole life; by her doctrine, which is inspired by the Holy Ghost; by her Sacraments in which the Holy Ghost works; and by her rites, which He directs. And the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Symbol is pre-eminently called her Confession of Faith…

Therefore the pride of reason and of illegal domination, which appropriated to itself, in opposition to the decree of the whole Church (pronounced at the Council of Ephesus), the right to add its private explanations and human hypotheses to the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Symbol is in itself an infraction of the sanctity and inviolability of  the Church. Just as the very pride of the separate Churches, which dared to change the Symbol of the whole Church without the consent of their brethren, was inspired by a spirit not of love, and was a crime against God and the Church, so also their blind wisdom, which did not comprehend the mysteries of God, was a distortion of the faith; for faith is not preserved where live has grown weak. Wherefore the addition of the words filioque contains a sort of imaginary dogma, unknown to any one of the writers well pleasing to God, or of the Bishops or successors of the Apostles in the first ages of the Church, and not spoken by Christ our Saviour. As Christ spoke clearly, so did and does the Church clearly confess that the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father; for not only the outward, but also the inward, mysteries of God were revealed by Christ, and by the Spirit of Faith, to the holy Apostles and to the holy Church. When Theodoret called all who confessed the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son blasphemers, the Church, while detecting his many errors, in this case approved his judgement by an eloquent silence. The Church does not deny that the Holy Spirit is sent not only by the Father, but also by the Son; the Church does not deny that the Holy Ghost is communicated to all rational creatures not only from the Father but also through the Son; but what she does reject is that the Holy Ghost had the principle of His procession in the Godhead itself, not merely from the Father, but also from the Son. He who has renounced the spirit of live and divested himself of the gifts of grace cannot any longer possess inward knowledge – that is, faith – but limits himself to mere outward knowledge; wherefore he can only know what is external, and not the inner mysteries of God. Communities of Christians which had broken away from the Holy Church could no longer confess (inasmuch as they now could not comprehend with the Spirit) the procession of the Holy Ghost, in the Godhead itself, from the Father only; but from that time they were obliged to confess only the external mission of the Spirit into all creation, a mission which comes to pass, not only from the Father, but also through the Son. They preserved the external form of the faith, but they lost the inner meaning and the grace of God; as in their confession, so also in their life”.   

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