Free Online Bible Library | Procession of The Spirit

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Procession of The Spirit

The distinguishing of the Holy Spirit from the Father and Son in the Godhead. Implied in the NT (e.g., John 15:26), it was asserted in the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed and first developed at length by the Cappadocian Fathers.* It signifies, as against the Macedonians, that the Spirit is not a “creature,” but that His being is eternally derived from the one fount of deity.

According to the doctrine of Double Procession, the Spirit proceeds from both Father and Son. In the Eastern Church, Didymus the Blind,* Epiphanius,* and Cyril of Alexandria* ascribed the origin of the Spirit to both Father and Son, without actually using the term “procession” of the Spirit. This was expressly denied by Theodore of Mopsuestia* and Theodoret.* The Western Church added the formula Filioque (Lat. = “and the Son”) to the clause in the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, “the Holy Ghost which proceedeth from the Father.” This arbitrary interpolation was first introduced at the Third Council of Toledo* (589). Western Fathers who supported the doctrine include Hilary of Poitiers,* Jerome,* Ambrose,* and especially Augustine* in De Trinitate, but Pope Leo III* (795-816) refused to authorize the use of the clause. Controversy flared when Photius* of Constantinople asserted it was contrary to the teaching of the Fathers (c.866). The interpolation received official sanction in Rome by Benedict VIII (1017) and the East-West schism followed (1054). Mark of Ephesus repeated Photius's assertion at the Council of Florence* (1439), when there was agreement on a compromise statement, but it came to nothing, as have all subsequent negotiations.

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