Sunday theology

by Richard on October 25, 2009

Ben Myers explains why he still confesses the filioque

In theology, Eastern Orthodoxy is the new black. These days it’s harder and harder to find any serious Protestant commitment to the western confession of filioque. The denomination in which I’m teaching, for instance, omits the filioque from liturgical confessions of the Nicene Creed.

In recent Protestant theology, reluctance to confess the filioque seems to arise mainly from a general ecumenical sentiment on the one hand (as though such a confession would be impolite), and from an ill-informed and stereotyped criticism of Augustine on the other (as one finds everywhere in Colin Gunton’s works, for example).

Read on…

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1

PamBG 10.26.09 at 12:57 pm

Interesting article. Can’t say I’ve recently thought about “the filioque” as an important theological concept but I think he makes a good point and I’m in agreement.

I’m trying to think of words to express how I tend to think of the Spirit, but I can’t find good words and past experience suggests that attempting to find the words will bring down the wrath of someone who wants to accuse me of re-writing the historic formulas. Suffice it to say that I’m in conscious agreement with the filioque and I think you’d need to toss out the Gospel of John to get rid of it.

2

Tim Chesterton 10.26.09 at 3:55 pm

I have to be careful here, because I’m nothing like the sort of theologian that Ben Myers is.

I can see both sides of the discussion. On the one hand, I’m deeply aware of the tendency to disconnect the Spirit from the distinctive Christian revelation in Christ. I can see that in contemporary liberal Anglican theology all the time - perhaps especially on this side of the pond.

On the other hand, I’m also aware that the filioque was a comparatively late western addition to the Nicene Creed. also, to tie the Holy Spirit exclusively to the work of Christ, as one or two of Ben’s commentators pointed out, doesn’t seem to leave much room for the Old Testament activity of the Spirit. And if the response to that was, ‘Well, it was Christ who sent the Spirit in the Old Testament’ - yes, of course, Trinitarian theology backs that up, but you’d be hard pressed to find biblical support for the idea, I think.

Still, as I said, i’m not a particularly high-calibre theologian, so I’m looking forward to being corrected here…

3

Tim Chesterton 10.26.09 at 3:56 pm

I have to be careful here, because I’m nothing like the sort of theologian that Ben Myers is!

I can see both sides of the discussion. On the one hand, I’m deeply aware of the tendency to disconnect the Spirit from the distinctive Christian revelation in Christ. I can see that in contemporary liberal Anglican theology all the time - perhaps especially on this side of the pond.

On the other hand, I’m also aware that the filioque was a comparatively late western addition to the Nicene Creed. Also, to tie the Holy Spirit exclusively to the work of Christ, as one or two of Ben’s commentators pointed out, doesn’t seem to leave much room for the Old Testament activity of the Spirit. And if the response to that is, ‘Well, it was Christ who sent the Spirit in the Old Testament’ - yes, of course, Trinitarian theology backs that up, but you’d be hard pressed to find biblical support for the idea, I think.

Still, as I said, I’m not a particularly high-calibre theologian, so I’m looking forward to being corrected here…

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