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Negotiating the Filioque

Posted by [] on August 16, 2005

It would never be enough for the Papacy to simply scrap the filioque, let alone to simply ‘clarify’ it. To become Orthodox, the Roman Catholics would have to dispense with the entire piety and the entire system of ecclesiology, eschatology, soteriology, theology, christology, mysteriology, pnuematology, etc. that are the product of the filioque. The papists are not simply in schism but are in fact worshipping a different god, a god that does not exist, a god of their imagination. They are no church, their bishops are not bishops, and their mysteries are no mysteries at all.No merely formal and juridical act of either lifting anathemas or God Forbid concelebration would change that. It might, however, change us, if we join ourselves to the cup of Belial. Better that we die in flame and agony than be united to those who created the filioque out of their heresies and impieties, who repudiated their apostolic succession by altering the apostolic creed. Let me be anathema if I be joined to them.
And however much many of our clerics would refuse to say they are not Christians, that their god is no god, that they are no Church, and that it is unloving for me to do so, I say then may God condemn me, because then we live in a world of madness where up is down, Hell is Heaven, and condemnation must surely mean salvation eternal. However much some may offer up the specious equivocation that there is an “Orthodox filioque” , that the filioque is no matter, that we have no significant differences in dogma, that Rome is a “sister Church” , etc. etc., we all know these are but a sham.

If we say there is an “Orthodox filioque”, let us also say there is an Orthodox blasphemy, and Orthodox Satanism, and Orthodox Protestantism, etc., for words no longer have meaning. It would be better to cease pretending that manipulation of semantics will cover up the fact that the object of worship, from ourselves to the Latins, is entirely different.

To say that the filioque is no matter, that it is just a word, is to cover ones eyes and ears, turn off the mind, and willfully ignore not only the break in apostolic succession but also the entire world of thought that generated and to this day sustains the filioque, whether or not the word continues.

To those who say we have no significant differences in dogma, this pretends to redefine Christianity along Protestant and Roman Catholic lines, as a body of essential dogmas; it is heresy as surely as is the filioque. Such thinking proposes unity over some agreed statements or else substitues presumably shared aspects of the different traditions for the fulness of the Church, and seeks union on the basis of those shared aspects rather than in the fulness of the Faith.

The notion of a “sister Church” is not only dishonest, using tricks of language to permit multiple and contradictory ecclesiologies, it is but the “branch theory” heresy repackaged and sold to those who in weakness seek the approbation of the world, desiring to fit in, or who look for an excuse to make life easier. Our faith should not require us to be either weakminded, dishonest, or tyrannized by fashion.

Lastly, to those heterodox who proclaim that the filioque no longer separates us, citing the 1965 “lifting of anathema” by Patriarch Athenagoras of unhappy memory (Constantinople), don’t be deceived. Show me the Bishop that communicates with you, and I will show you one who is not communicated by us. We do not share in the same cup with you or, more accurately, you do not share in the true cup of Christ. To hold your view, it is necessary for you to substitute your ecclesiology for ours, which is why you have never understood our actions. The original anathema of 1054 did not make us two separate Churches; there has always been one Church, and it is Orthodox. Lifting that anathema does not change that recognition.

The original separation, from a formal standpoint, began to occur in 1014, when the Roman Bishop was removed from the dyptichs, the prayers of remembrance of Orthodox patriarchs. This occured becausen the filioque had been sung liturgically in the Roman see. That is a primary moment in which an Orthodox Bishop translated the reality of the situation into liturgical practice. The separation in reality occurred both before and after this, as a process, and proceeds to this very day, the Roman See ever moving away from us in continual progression, however much discussions of friendship are conducted. The anathema on the papal delegation of 1054 was merely one more expression of the real separation expressed liturgically to this day by exclusion of any Roman See from the dyptichs.

Furthermore, separation is not merely *created* by a legal act, nor can union be accomplished by one. In reality, there are two different religions, and no decision can make them one. There could be only the conversion and redemption of the one or else the destruction of the other. If the separation were based merely on anathema, then one must overturn the Council of 879-880, which anathematized anyone who would compose another confession of faith than the creed of the council of 381, the apostolic creed (without the filioque). Then too, one would need to overturn all anathemas against heresies held among Roman Catholics. Even then, there is no union until the heresies themselves, not the anathemas against them, are overturned. Even then, Orthodoxy is not a matter of the mere absence of heresies, but rather it is the fullness of the Body of Christ. Participation is not the mere absence of hereterodoxy coupled with the presence of some ‘essentials’. Let us invite those in apostasy to come into the fulness of the Christian religion.

Finally, the Patriarch of Constantinople is often thought, by the West, to be the Orthodox “Pope”, but he is not. All Bishops and all Churches in Holy Orthodoxy are equal in authority to that one, even if there is inequality of honor. Even if the Patriarch of Constantinople were to communicate with the heterodox, the only Orthodox who would follow him into schism would be those who continue to commune or concelebrate with him. Let me choke on any cup served by those who pretend the wine of schism is that of union.

If you say that the anathema of 1054 was a local decision, you are right, so then overturning it can be nothing but a local decision, having no ecumenical character. If you say the anathema was accepted by the whole church, you are right, so then no one Bishop can overturn that on behalf of others. In either character, a mere decision cannot mend schism let alone turn apostasy into faith or heterodoxy into Holy Orthodoxy; it can only create more schism, apostasy, and heterodoxy, maginfying the original problem rather than resolving it.

Let us pray fervently for the salvation of those who call themselves Christians but have neither the Father nor Christ, through whom the Holy Spirit is sent to us in the economy, and let us never hinder their salvation by referring in our theology to any other name than that of the Father unbegotten, the Son begotten, and the Spirit from the Father alone proceeding.


Another aspect is the veneration of saints. One can recognize Orthodoxy in part in which saints are venerated and which are not. Orthodox do not venerate Charlemagne, Paulinus of Aquilea, or Nicholas I, any more than Roman Catholics venerate St. Photius, or St. Mark of Ephesus. For either event to occur, must involve a denial of the very things for which these have always been venerated, and that is no veneration at all.


13 Responses to “Negotiating the Filioque”

  1. sophoclesfrangakis said



    You may find this article of interest:

    In Christ,


  2. irishanglican said

    I am not Roman, but Anglican.. but your position is too easy, simplistic. By your logic, we would all just easily be Orthodox. I come close to Orthodoxy (which I dearly value), than I hear again stuff like this! Just too simple my friends.

    Fr. Robert

  3. [] said

    Sometimes, oversimplification can be in the reader rather than the text. As it is, we’re not trying to convince the heterodox or convert you, and I really have no concern for whether you like it or what you are or what you do with or think of it. If you do not wish to hold to the faith of the Apostles, go your way, be at peace with us, and do as you will. It’s no concern of ours. After all, we’re not evangelicals.

  4. irishanglican said

    I have been in Jerusalem teaching, and the dialog is much broader there. This issue has been seen better light today..thanks be to God! And yes, all Christians, east & west..are called to BE “evangelical”! It is not a moniker. (2 Tim.4:5) And “the apostles doctrine/teaching and fellowship” (Acts 2:42) (Note, fellowship too, and this means participation, i.e. sharing. It is life and communion.)

    Peace of Christ

  5. [] said

    Perhaps you’re referring to the article posted by sophoclesfrangakis rather than the main article. I’m not sure. The presentation is a bit “in your face”, but I don’t recall anything erroneous about the particulars.

    In any case, yes, there are all kinds of dialogues. But as far as being seen in a better light, of course a heterodox person would have to think that. There’s really no other available position to you. It’s not like you can accept as infallible our ecumenical councils (as we do). But our teachings are not susceptible to your opinions; we do not submit them for your yea or nay, your approval, disapproval, or even your scrutiny, as though you would grasp them. Orthodoxy is orthodoxy, and is not an art form you can dabble in.

    Besides which, it is quite helpful to note that all of Athos has risen up against the various ecumenist “dialogues” which would presume to steer us away from the ancient understanding and into something that can only be other than Orthodox.

    It remains that when the coming union occurs, it will only make heterodox those formerly Orthodox who participate in it. Then all they will have, and you, will be the institutional unity and ‘authority’ that the heterodox already base things on. You’ll have the joy of corrupting them, and the rest of us will go on being Orthodox without communion with them or you.

    Let us be clear. The filioque is heresy. There is only one Church, and it isn’t Anglican or Roman Catholic. And the day the cup is shared, it will be shared among those simply heterodox and Orthodox in name only. The rest of us will be quite content to be condemned as “unrecognized” or whatever they will call those of us who stand with St. Mark at Florence, and St. Photius, and St. Maximus, and the others, and do not go into the Great Apostasy. What will you say? That there are less of us? We are content to be few. That we are antiquated and close-minded? You already say that of our fathers, and we are not worthier than they are.

    So trouble us no more with your opinions; they can matter only to you, and not to us. This is the disease of evangelical “Christianity”. It goes about demanding to be heard, lecturing others on what “we” think (whatever ‘we’ is supposed to be; we are not you), and presuming to give sermons on what Jesus says. Away with you and your dialogues.

    If you’re looking for someone to debate, go visit the Energetic Procession site. They love that sort of thing. My own approach is not to waste my time arguing with the presumptions of heterodox who surf the net sipping at this and that and presuming to tell us what to think. Dilettantism as a way of life was condemned by St. Irenaeus as a gnostic methodology long ago.

  6. irishanglican said

    Your pen speaks for itself…delusional: a false, persistent belief not substantiated by sensory or objective evidence!

    This will be my last post with you!

  7. [] said

    Great. We appreciate it. In the meantime, as I said, your judgment on our ideas can really be of no consequence.

  8. visibilium said

    I’ve enjoyed the posting and exchange of comments.

  9. [] said

    I’ve had mixed feelings. I teeter between wanting on the one hand to be welcoming and kind, and on the other hand confronting the elephant in the room, which really desires to deceive us all.

    We are visited, off and on, in various venues, by people who want to make us a spoke in the ‘spiritual’ wheel they are building – their personal ‘spirituality’, and if we welcome this, we can only contribute to their delusion. We can be gentle with the operative deception, and obscure about our own teachings, and perhaps they will ‘appreciate’ us and add us to their diversity, and include us, and so on. But then we are all deceived. And sometimes, I think it’s necessary to whack off the limb to save the body. Cut away the crust to reveal the truth in side, and be free.

    Sometimes, if they’re really seeking to be Orthodox, we do a service by not making too much of an issue of some barrier, but rather applying economia.

    But if they’re really seeking to add Orthodoxy to their repertoire, or include us in their plan, or assert that they approve of us, validate us, appreciate us, while seeking to give us advice on how to be more the norm, more acceptable, or more fitting with their notion of what “Christianity” should be, then I think we have to make plain that we are not a part of Christianity, or one Church of many, or a portion of a body, but we are the (only) Church, the whole Church (and the Church that is whole), and that the Body of Christ simply cannot *be* divided, broken, incomplete, or anything less than perfect, flawless, and without spot, or else we are not believing in the same Christ, and indeed are in danger of receiving another Jesus, one who is the construct of our imaginations, just as if made of gold or wood.

    Nor can we be too proud in a false humility, in a gentleness that conceals neglect and spiritual manslaughter, to make plain that a conversion is necessary, a transvaluation of religious psychology, and not a mere addition to the heights one has achieved.

    I do not wish to justify anger, bitterness, or mistreatment, which is an easy failing available to anyone who tries to stand, just as contributing to pleasant but destructive delusions can easily be the failing of the peacemaker. We must strive to have firm clarity and devout peace coexist; I know that I fail at it. So, as I say, I have mixed feelings about my own contributions.

    What I don’t have mixed feelings about is the truth of our Faith, and fidelity to its doctrines, whatever their implications.

    These are the clear teachings of the Orthodox Church. And the fact that all those who wish to modify them in the name of moderating them can appeal to is the mutterings of a few Orthodox in name who are not Orthodox in thought, while glossing over or even belittling (through praise wed to condescension) the consensus of our venerable ancients, is the very demonstration that they aim to alter the conception of the truth and replace it with another. We must stand our ground for their sake as well as ours. A doctor who exchanges healthiness for sickness, who perverts the definition of health into what was formerly ill, to make those in ill condition more comfortable, is not a good doctor, not honorable, not honest, and has violated his sacred trust. He cannot offer the healing of the truth, for his medicine is now disease.

    It will seem harsh to say to someone, you are sick, and what we have received is the cure, and there is no other cure, and your opinion that sickness is good for you does not change anything, nor your assertion that we will enjoy sickness if we would only open our minds to it. It will seem harsh, because of the culture, but not because it actually is harsh. And if it were, we would say it anyway; sometimes, it is necessary to pound the chest to show there is no heartbeat and assert that a pulse is necessary for life.

    When people come with, “here is what some people are saying – listen to this and not your fathers – and not your ancient councils – they are out of date – the new theorists have wisdom the saints lacked and understanding in their small gatherings and dialogues that the whole church in ekkumene was not given by the Spirit, and which reverses what they have received…” When they come with “Let us tell you what to believe and how to think from what we have gleaned from the books you wrote and we have condensed, repackaged, and re-interpreted apart from the faith, church, life, and liturgy of you who wrote them – let us take them from this context, and give them back to you, as we understand them in our new religion, our new institutions, used as we now use them, so you can have what we have, experience what we experience, with the results that we have had as results…” In such times, we must have courage enough to proclaim, however much the very culture they have created is against proclamation – must have the courage to remind, as much as the culture they’ve conditioned is against memory – must have the continuity to hold to, as much as the new and the novel and the young is the hallmark of the culture – that which we have received as the gospel from the beginning: There is one Christ, one Church, one Mystery, one Body, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, and even if an angel from heaven descended preaching to us any other, we would turn away from him.

    We are the elder stewards of the true vineyard of the one Master who has come and will come again. Let us be found faithful, though all other men be found liars. Like Noah, let us have at least the conviction to mention the rains, if we have not the courage to call it the scourge of God.

    It’s just my opinion, and I am sure that I rarely measure up to it, and never achieve it in perfection, and perhaps on occasion achieve ill. But I cannot change it. The time is coming in which we cannot falter or waver, even if we choke on the smoke of our own charred feet. Maranatha.

  10. visibilium said

    If we want to be pleasant in our ecumenical encounters, we should talk about Vat 1, Anselm, Augustine, gnosticism, neoplatonism, contraception, abortion, and any other intellectually meaty topic. The filioque issue ain’t intellectually meaty; there’s not much to it.

    The only problem is that we do three Persons. We feel three Persons. Orthodoxy is essentially an encounter with eternity, and eternity consists of Persons, not 2 1/2 somethings. Anyone who can’t experience this can’t carry on a meaningful ecumenical dialogue with Orthodox. I can feel Westerners talking past me about Orthodoxy, and I feel impatience at the fact that they just don’t get something that’s easily obtainable.

    If we assume that the simpleminded filioque issue is the key to the Kingdom, are we more ecumenically charitable in being pleasant or truthful?

  11. [] said

    I hear you, but I disagree on the filioque being a simplistic issue. I believe the filioque is the “summation of all the rash heresy the West has to say” (St. Photius), or ever said. In other words, I believe it’s the issue that contains all other issues, but only that contemporary undertanding of it among Orthodox is simplistic. When we are talking about the bullet list you mentioned, we *are* talking about the filioque, and vice versa.

    This is really explained thoroughly in Dr. Farrell’s work “God, History, and Dialectic”, though it is latent in his translation of the Mystagogy.

  12. irishanglican said

    I have to say it, but you guys (certain keepers of Orthodoxy) can’t even agree? If I would have said what was said by Visibilium, “whoever” would have sought to hand me my theologial head on a plate!

    Perhaps in heaven you guys will have your little corner to pound this out still? Ya think? lol How about a wee laugh here?

  13. [] said

    I thought it was your last comment? Dropped in to smart off, eh?

    I don’t know anything about Visibilium, whether he’s Orthodox or Heterodox. But one can be the former institutionally and the latter in mind, as is quite evident. As it is, Vis and I were discussing the matter. The fundamental way that Orthodox come to the truth – our epistemology – is “What has the Church said? What is the consensus patrum?” The Protestant epistemology is “What do I think? What makes sense to me? How do I interpret tradition?” (which makes the Protestant outside, over, above, beyond tradition – it’s an essentially gnostic episteme).

    Vis and I may not agree on all points (we did on most in the above posts), but coming from an Anglican, it seems a little strange to knock us for disagreeing. Hugged any gay priests today?

    I think you see my point. Potshots are just that. You’ve been added to the filter. You said the conversation was over, and frankly I can’t devote loads of time explaining these things to people who want to do their own thing. Thanks for your comments, and Godspeed.

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