The Real Problems With The Filioque And  With Created Grace      

              
                                                                             by Richard Quist  




Many people don't believe that there is a significant difference between Orthodox Catholic and Roman Catholic theologies, and I must
confess to having been one of those people until the Holy Spirit led me to take a closer look. The differences at first may seem to be
subtle and only in details, but ultimately they produce different visions of God, of salvation, and of what our priorities should be in the
practice of our Faith. In Orthodoxy, emphasis is placed upon the availability to us of the experience of the real presence of the Holy
Spirit, this being what St. Isaac the Syrian refers to as the "third degree" of knowledge, right now in this world.  We can transcend this
world by being transfigured by the Holy Spirit through Christ. In Roman Catholicism, while it is acknowledged that the Holy Spirit works
with us in this world, the emphasis is placed upon the need to have faith that He is working, since a tangible experiential confirmation
of His real presence is not likely to happen in this world.  Consequently, a greater emphasis is placed upon understanding the work of
the Spirit in the abstract and intellectual sense, with an emphasis on the hope for salvation, and a direct experience of Him, after death.
What we have here is the difference between knowing from our own experience that Christ has been resurrected and the fruits of that
resurrection are within our grasp, and hoping that He will be resurrected to us. In a symbolic sense, the Orthodox faith reflects a
post-Pentecost mentality, one filled with the Holy Spirit, while the Roman faith reflects a pre-Pentecost mentality, one that struggles to
understand and maintain it's faith, one that needs more material confirmations of faith, such as the Papacy. This to me reflects the
distance that the Romans have put between themselves and the Holy Spirit with their theological conceptions of the Trinity and Grace.
The basic problem with Roman Trinitarian doctrine is probably best understood by considering the nature of the differences in the
Judaic and Christian view of God. The Judaic view can only acknowledge the oneness of God because before Christ's incarnation the
triune nature is not clearly revealed.  It is Christ who reveals the triune nature of the Godhead, and this revelation is the beginning of
man's access to the interior life of God. The question must be asked, in this interior life, how does Christ himself, even before the
Incarnation, perceive the Holy Spirit?  In scripture He Himself states that the Spirit proceeds from the Father.  St. John of Damascus
states that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and rests in the Son. This then means that Christ perceives the Spirit as proceeding
from the Father and to Himself.  Created human beings can only partake of the interior life of the Trinity by first acquiring unity with the
Person of Christ, this unity only possible because of His taking upon Himself our humanity.  In acquiring unity with Christ's humanity we
also acquire unity with His divinity, and this enables us to perceive the Holy Spirit as Christ does, which is, as proceeding from the
Father and to Him.  We thus acquire the capacity to fully experience the Person of the Holy Spirit and the interior life of the Trinity, with
this partaking in the interior life of the Trinity clearly revealing to us that the Person of the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Person of Father,
for in our unity with Christ we come to know that this is how Christ Himself experiences the Spirit. The Roman view, while accepting the
Trinity intellectually, does not allow for this intimate awareness of the Spirit proceeding from only the Father and being received by the
Son, leaving man outside the Trinity looking in. This reveals that the Roman man is not fully united with Christ, for if he were, he would
see the Holy Spirit as proceeding wholly and fully from the Father. As it is, the Roman man perceives the Spirit as proceeding from the
Father and Son, this mistaken view only possible when one is perceiving the Son from the outside. In truth, if one is united with Christ
and of the same Body, the Spirit can never be seen as proceeding from the Son, but only through and to the Son, because the Spirit
remains resting in the Son even as He comes to rest in you since when he comes to rest in you He is actually resting in the Son who is
now in you.
In earlier writings on the issue of the filioque I stated my belief at the time that I considered it to be flawed, but not heretical. In that paper
I did not directly address the issue of  "cause" in regards to the meaning of the word "procession", and this was because I was under
the mistaken impression that the Roman position is and always has been that it does not consider cause to be an aspect of the
meaning of the word procession.  However, through further research I've discovered that according to Roman doctrine, cause,
sometimes referred to as "immediate cause", as opposed to the "remote" cause of the Father, is attributed to the Son. This concept of
attributing cause to the Son is potentially very detrimental to one's understanding of the Trinity.  While it may be possible to attribute a
type of limited passive cause to the Son, a type of cause that results simply from the fact that the Son exists distinct from the Father, with
this distinction giving support to the definition of the Holy Spirit as distinct, any suggestion that the Son provides an active or even an
improper type of passive cause of the Spirit seriously undermines the concept of distinctions of Persons within the Trinity, and this can
seriously undermine one's understanding of Christian theology.

Attributing a limited passive cause to the Son can actually enhance our understanding of the distinctions of Persons within the Trinity if
we understand this to mean simply that since the Son exists as a Person distinct from the Father, then the Holy Spirit must also exist
distinctly, in order to fully establish the distinctive nature of the Son.  With this view, the fact that the Holy Spirit proceeds from only the
Father helps to establish the Son as distinct, while the fact that the Son is distinct from the Father necessitates that the Holy Spirit exist
distinctly from the Father and the Son, and must proceed from the Father and to the Son. This concept is embodied in St. John of
Damascus declaring that it is appropriate to say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, while it is not appropriate
to say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. This concept of limited passive cause is much more limited than the
Roman conception of cause (which I'll now refer to as semi-active cause).

This concept of limited passive cause can also be applied to the causing of the Son, and must be, if one applies it to the Holy Spirit.
Only the Father actively causes the Son, but the Spirit can be considered to passively contribute to the causing of the Son simply by the
fact of His, that is, the Holy Spirit's, distinct existence.  In other words, it is necessary for the Holy Spirit to exist distinctly in order for the
Son to exist distinctly, for in order for the Son to perceive His own distinction from the Father He must perceive the Holy Spirit as
proceeding from the Father. This would then mean that it is possible to say that the Father begets the Son through the Spirit, meaning
that the distinct existence of the Spirit contributes to the existence of the Son as a distinct Person.

Active or semi-active cause of the Spirit by the Son cannot be reconciled with the views on the filioque as expressed in my previous
writings. Although in those writings I did not directly address the issue of cause, if one understands my analysis of the Trinity correctly it
can be seen that according to this analysis the Son could not in any way be a semi-active cause of the Holy Spirit because of the
importance that I place upon the true nature of the relationship between the Person of the Son and the Person of the Holy Spirit and the
concept that the Person of the Holy Spirit must have for Himself an appropriate degree of independence from the Person of the Son,
and vice-versa. The essential point in my analysis is that while the Person of the Son is of one essence and always in union with the
Holy Spirit, the Son must receive the Person of the Holy Spirit, and receive Him as a complete person, from the Father.  As St. John of
Damascus states, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and rests in the Son. The Holy Spirit must be defined as actively caused by
only the Father in order for the Spirit and the Son to have this proper degree of independence, and for us to understand the true nature
of the relationship between the Spirit and the Son.

An aspect of this proper understanding of the relationship between the Son and the Spirit directly influences our understanding of their
relationship with the Father. Both the Son and the Spirit each have their own unique connection to the Father, the Son through His being
generated by the Father, and the Spirit by His being spirated, or being given procession, by the Father. This gives them each a unique
access to the Father, an access that the other does not have, except through the other. Thus, while the Son has an awareness of the
Father through His unique connection, He must gain other awareness of the Father through the Holy Spirit, and while the Spirit gains
certain awareness from the Father through His unique connection, He must gain other awareness of the Father through the Son. This
type of symbiotic relationship cannot exist unless the Son receives the completed Person of the Spirit from the Father.

There are a variety of problems resulting from attributing an active or semi-active cause to the Son, and even if Rome does not concede
that it's doctrine on the filioque embraces a type of active cause, there are indications in a variety of it's doctrines that it treats the Son as
a semi-active cause of the Spirit and does not comprehend the negative consequences resulting from not keeping in mind that the
Spirit proceeds from only the Father and is received by the Son.  One of the confusing points brought about by the filioque is the issue of
source, or origin, of the Spirit.  Rome does maintain that the Father is the origin of the Spirit.  However, there are some who then go on
to say that what this means is that the Spirit originates from the combined essence of the Father and the Son, but since the Father is
the origin of the Son, in a sense the Father can be considered to be the sole origin of the Spirit.  It is this type of flawed reasoning that
undermines the very important concept that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father to the Son, and rests in the Son.  Obscuring this
truth is the most damaging consequence of the filioque because ultimately this obscures our sight of both the Son and the Spirit,
especially since it suggests that the Son does not receive the completed Person of the Spirit from the Father, but instead assists the
Father in spirating the Spirit and then projects the Spirit from Himself.

A major problem with attributing semi-active cause to the Son is that there is an absolute necessity for understanding that the Person of
the Holy Spirit must have a proper degree of independence from the Person of Christ, and Christ from the Holy Spirit, as this is
essential to the concept of the Incarnation. Attributing semi-active cause to the Son destroys this proper independence, and ancient
Roman theologians seemed to have a preference for emphasizing the unity of the Godhead, this leading to a tendency to diminish the
importance of the distinctions between the Persons of the Trinity.  Besides undermining the balance between the distinction of Persons
and unity, this can lead to an undermining of the concept of the Incarnation because it can destroy the balance in the perfect hypostatic
union of Christ's divine and human natures.  If one does not correctly define the nature of Christ's divinity, one can make it impossible to
define Him as fully human. This is what happens when one attributes semi-active cause to the Son. If Christ is a semi-active cause of
the Spirit then He cannot fully "empty" Himself, as St. Paul puts it, to become man, even unto death. It is only because of the Triune
nature of the Godhead and this inherent degree of independence of the Person of Christ from the Person of the Holy Spirit that God, in
the person of the Son, is able to become fully human.

The Roman doctrine of grace also reveals this lack of participation in the interior life of the Trinity.  As was pointed out earlier, to fully
experience the Person of the Holy Spirit one must be able to experience the uncreated energies of God, since the Holy Spirit is fully
uncreated and not incarnate. Without this capacity to experience the uncreated energies of God man is left to only an indirect experience
of the Spirit.

Roman theology does not even provide for the possibility of a direct, tangible experience with the actual Holy Spirit within this world, as it
does not accept the Orthodox conception of the "energies" of God.  Instead of a direct experience of the grace of the Holy Spirit, it allows
for what it calls "habitual" grace, a grace that is created.  However, the only aspect of grace that can be considered to be created is that
aspect of grace which is the Body and Blood and Mind and Soul of Jesus Christ.  Since Jesus is fully human and He receives His
humanity from Mary, these are the created aspects of His being, though they are in hypostatic union with His divine nature.  The
Eucharist, also the Body and Blood of Christ, can also be considered to have a created aspect to it.  Thus, the concept of created grace
is valid only if it is understood to mean the corporeal mind, soul, and body of Christ, which is in hypostatic union with His uncreated
divinity.  However, the Holy Spirit is not an incarnate Person, as is Christ, thus there is no created aspect to Him.  Without the concept of
divine energies as expounded by the Orthodox Church there can be no direct experience of the Holy Spirit within this world.
Consequently, following the Roman view, man can never develop a complete relationship with God within this world.

The roots of the barrier created by Rome between God's grace and man again can be traced back to ancient Roman teachings which
emphasize the unity of the Trinity to a great degree and which do not emphasize the difference between uncreated and created
sufficiently.  This tendency is reflected in the acceptance of the filioque, which partially resulted from assuming that since Christ sends
the Holy Spirit to created man He must also give procession to the Spirit, and also in some interpretations of St. Augustine's attempts to
describe man's nature as being modeled after the Trinity, these sometime revealing an inappropriate confusing of the created with the
uncreated.  These problems reflect limitations in Rome's ontology.  Rome doesn't properly distinguish between the essence of God
and His operations and thus cannot provide an adequate explanation as to how the Holy Spirit can be directly experienced within this
world, then claims that He can't be, and is experienced only in the form of a created grace.  According the Orthodox view, since the Holy
Spirit is fully uncreated He cannot be experienced as a created grace.  If one then says that this created grace is the created soul of
Christ, this is fine, but, if one says that even when experiencing the soul of Christ one cannot experience the uncreated energies of the
Holy Spirit but instead simply experiences the Holy Spirit in Christ, then one is inappropriately confusing Christ and the Spirit in such a
way as to not allow the Spirit His own Personhood, while simultaneously creating a barrier between Christ's soul and the uncreated
Holy Spirit, since in this case experiencing Christ's soul does not enable one to experience the Person of the Holy Spirit. This is the
deficiency that leads Rome to keep man separated from the Holy Spirit within this world.  Rome then claims that in Heaven man will
experience the essence of God, which, according to Orthodox understanding is impossible, since the essence of God is
unapproachable, even in Heaven.  But since Rome does not distinguish between God's essence and His operating energies, it has no
choice but to believe that the essence of God is experienced in Heaven, otherwise there would never be a direct experiencing of the
Spirit for man, not even in Heaven.  Again this line of reasoning reflects Rome's emphasis on the separation of God and man, a
separation that cannot be overcome in this world, even through Christ, and, because it has redefined Christ with the filioque it does not
see Christ accurately so does not understand that through Christ the Person of the Holy Spirit can be fully experienced.  It is through our
unity with Christ that we are able to directly experience the Holy Spirit as He proceeds from the Father, but to know this one must
experience this, and to experience this one must know the true Christ.

Not understanding the distinction between God's essence and His operations is one factor that has helped led Rome to confuse
created and uncreated reality. This is true in it's understanding of grace, and is also true in it's understanding, or lack of understanding,
of the relationship between supernatural and natural reality.  Rome has a tendency to treat certain aspects of supernatural reality, such
as Heaven, Hell, and souls, and this includes Christ's soul, as if they are uncreated, when in fact, they are created, and though invisible,
corporeal.  As pointed out by St. John of Damascus, only the uncreated Trinity is truly incorporeal.  Again, the heart of Rome's problem
is that it doesn't emphasis the importance of distinguishing between created and uncreated as they should. This then leads them to
sometimes confuse the two, as in the case of grace, and also, in not seeing that supernatural and natural reality are actually a single
created reality. A few years ago Pope John Paul II claimed that Heaven and Hell are not physical places. This reveals to me that he is
neglecting the fact that Heaven and Hell are created, not uncreated, realities that could well have physical attributes that are not
unrelated to the physical attributes of this world.  After all, if man is made in the image of God, and if God becomes incarnate as a
human being in this world, and if there is to be a bodily resurrection, then why wouldn't the Heaven that God creates resemble in some
ways the world which we, including the Incarnate Son, already inhabit?  Here again we have the Roman tendency to separate man from
God, defining God's dwelling place, Heaven, as completely detached from man's.

It is my opinion that the main problems in today's Roman Church can be traced directly back to a weak Roman ontology which helped
to bring about the filioque. The filioque inevitably defines either a
monophysitic Christ, because it undermines the possibility that Christ
takes on a truly human nature, or, a
nestorian Christ, if one attempts to say that His divine nature, separate from His human nature,
causes the Holy Spirit.  The former gives us a Christ, and a God, who is so distant from us in both body and spirit that we have difficulty
in relating to Him, and this, I believe, is reflected in the early Roman Church and in some aspects of the Church even today.  As stated
earlier, it is my belief that Thomas Aquinas attempted to bring humanity closer to God with his theological approach, but it was a flawed
attempt because it did not recognize the fundamental problem of Roman doctrine, which is the barrier that it had created between man
and God with it's Trinitarian doctrine and it's doctrine of grace.  Ironically, though, his approach to theology helped to bring about a new
modern day Roman Christ, a humanist Christ, developed as a model for Christians to follow while living out their lives in this world.
This is a Christ who is created in the image of man, one who uses all the same attributes that we as human beings use in partaking in
life.  This would be good if it weren't for the fact that the barrier between man and God found in the early Roman theology still exists, but
now also becomes manifested as a barrier between Christ's human nature, as defined by modern Roman theology, and His divine
nature, as defined by ancient Roman theology.  Consequently, the early Roman Christ evolves into a nestorian Christ, one in which His
divine nature is detached from his human nature because His human nature, living in the world through humanity, is uninformed, or
indirectly informed, by His divine nature.

This nestorian Christ is reflected in many ways in the modern Roman Church, but it's seeds are clearly seen in the Roman conception
of grace. Since according to Roman doctrine uncreated actual grace is not physically available to us in this world, as all grace which we
directly experience is a created grace, would not this then mean that when we partake of the Eucharist we only directly experience the
created aspect of Christ's being, His humanity, comprised of His Body, Blood and Soul? Also, when Christ walked the Earth two
thousand years ago and a person touched Him, was that person touching both His created body and His divinity or was he touching
just His created body? If we say that he was touching only Christ's created human body then are we not inappropriately separating His
divinity from His humanity. Are we not called by the Council of Chalcedon to neither separate nor confuse Christ's humanity and divinity?
I suppose that the Roman response to this would be that when one touches the body of Christ one also touches His created grace,
thus His divinity. Then the issue becomes whether or not it is true that to function in this world as a human being God must create not
only a human body and soul for Himself, but also a new form of grace. But at Chalcedon, where did the Fathers explain that the perfect
hypostatic union between Christ's divinity and humanity includes the creation of a new form of grace? When it is said that Christ is
incarnate as a human being, does this not mean that He becomes human as we are human, though without sin. Is Christ's humanity
not sufficient to enable us to experience His divinity, or must there also be some type of addition to the Incarnation, an incarnation of
grace"? With the Roman approach, it seems that Christ's grace needs to be considered as created more and above His created body
and soul. This is not what Chalcedon says.

This problem of needing to define an additional "incarnation of grace" over and above that of Christ's incarnation as a human being is
the same problem that exists when one considers the Holy Spirit from the Roman perspective. The Roman view necessitates that if we
are to experience the Holy Spirit He must have a created element to Him; but He is not an incarnate person so one cannot say that He
has a created element to Him, except in His relationship to the created body, soul and mind of Christ.  If one accepts that the created
aspect of His grace is the body and soul of Christ, then why don't they give us access to the uncreated Spirit?  These problems all
reflect an unclear understanding of the relationship between Christ's divinity and humanity, and the resulting separation of His
humanity from ours that inevitably comes about in a Roman approach to the Trinity which incorrectly defines Christ's divinity with the
filioque.

One might ask that if it is true that the only created element of God's grace is the body and soul of Christ and this is the only way through
which the uncreated energies of God operate and are experienced in Creation, then how did God operate in Creation before the
Incarnation of Christ? I think the answer to this lays in understanding the purpose of Creation. Some people have the mistaken notion
that Christ's Incarnation is a response to Adam's sin, but this is not true. Whether Adam sinned or not, Christ was destined to be
incarnated in the body (This idea was also expressed by St. Maximos the Confessor). It must be understood that the purpose of
Creation has always been to the Incarnation of God; the two cannot be separated. The consequence of Adam's sin was the Crucifixion
of Christ, not His Incarnation. It can be said that in a particular manner the Incarnation of Christ really begins with the creation of
Creation, for it is here where the substances that were to become His body and soul were created. After all, according to a present-day
scientific understanding of the creation of the Universe, the substances, matter and energy, that were to become His body, as was all
matter and energy in an altered form, were created at the creation of the Universe. Of course, this is even true for Adam's body
according to Genesis, since it is formed from pre-existing clay. So isn't it also reasonable to assume that the substance that was to
comprise created souls was also created at Creation. Doesn't psalm 138 in the Septuagint state, "you knew my unwrought substance",
indicating that the substance of a body and soul exists before it is formed? Consequently, the created element through which the
uncreated energies of God operated before the physical Incarnation of Christ could well be the substance that was to comprise His
soul.

This concept of pre-existence can also be understood in terms of the creation of Adam. The creation of the body and soul of Adam
embodies and includes the creation of all his descendant's bodies and souls, including Christ's, who becomes one of his
descendants. However, in reality it is the creation of Christ's body and soul, or at least the substances that are to comprise His body
and soul, that embodies the creation of all mens' souls, and the Incarnation of His physical body is simply the culmination of His
entering into Creation, this having begun with the Creation. It is then through the substances that comprise Christ's created body and
soul, this substance included in Creation from the beginning within the Universe and within Adam's soul, by which sustaining grace
operates.  After all, it is through Christ that all things are made, and, man is made in the image of God, so God's image and substance
must exist before or simultaneously with man's.

Evidence in Scripture that the soul is created before it's physical conception in the womb is in Jeremiah, Ch. I, line 5, where God says to
Jeremiah, "before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee". Also psalm 138 in the Septuagint states, "you knew my unwrought substance",
thus implying that there is something to know of a person before a person is formed. If one disagrees with the concept that Christ's
soul, or at least the substance of His soul, must have been created at Creation, then one must accept the Roman concept of created
grace, but with this grace being created at Creation. This is because if after the Incarnation it is required by man to have the created
soul and body of Christ incorporated within him in order to interact with the uncreated energies of God, then surely man must have
required some type of created element of grace in order to experience these uncreated energies before the Incarnation. Of course, I
believe that what Rome actually means by created grace is the created soul and mind of Christ, though they themselves might not be to
clear on this. It is my view that it is only through the created soul of Christ that any man can interact with the uncreated energies of God,
since Christ is the bridge between the created and the uncreated. Thus, Christ's soul, or at least it's substance, must be created at
Creation. This then would be the only way, for example, by which Moses, even though he lived in this world before Christ was born,
could see God in the burning bush, this made possible by the intrinsic unity that would exist between the soul of Moses and the created
substance that would become Christ's soul, this unity reflected in the fact that both Moses and Christ are descendants of Adam.
Otherwise one could say that Moses interacted with the uncreated energies of God through His own created faculties and did not need
the created soul of Christ to do so. This then undermines the Incarnation, and Christianity itself, as it denies that Christ is the only
bridge between the uncreated and created.

It is also my belief that the early Church's tendencies toward a monophysitic Christ contributed to the development of the modern
Papacy. Since man is defined as thoroughly detached from God, he needs the Pope to know God, and the Pope lays claim to being the
bridge between God and man. In the post Aquinas Church, the Pope then also becomes the definer of the humanist Christ. This has
also led to the development of a Church in which it's worldly structure has to a degree become a substitute for the Holy Spirit, who has
become somewhat alienated from the Roman Church through it's theology. While this may be an overly simplified and exaggerated
characterization of the Roman Church, none the less it points out the problems that can result when a church does not stay strictly loyal
to the true spirit of apostolic authority in defining it's doctrines  It is my view that today the Roman Church has two different Christs; a
monophysitic Christ, created by early Roman theology and the filioque, and a nestorian Christ, created by the grafting of a humanist
Christ onto the monophysitic Christ, a graft that didn't quite take. The net result is a schizophrenic Christ. Today the modern Roman
Church struggles to reconcile these two Christs, as the conservatives in the Church, who prefer a monophysitic Christ who depends
upon them to keep the unholy masses in line, seek to maintain a tight centralized control over the Church, while the humanists in the
Church struggle to open it to new ideas, but don't seem to realize that without the proper method of discerning the Holy Spirit's intent
this could lead to serious errors, and that the Church has already impeded it's ability to discern the Spirit with the filioque and it's notion
of papal infallibility.