History of the christian church


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§ 106. General Survey.

Our period is far behind the preceding patristic and the succeeding scholastic in doctrinal importance, but it mediates between them by carrying the ideas of the fathers over to the acute analysis of the schoolmen, and marks a progress in the development of the Catholic system. It was agitated by seven theological controversies of considerable interest.

1. The controversy about the single or double Procession of the Holy Spirit. This belongs to the doctrine of the Trinity and was not settled, but divides to this day the Greek and Latin churches.

2. The Monotheletic controversy is a continuation of the Eutychian and Monophysitic controversies of the preceding period. It ended with the condemnation of Monotheletism and an addition to the Chalcedonian Christology, namely, the doctrine that Christ has two wills as well as two natures.

3. The Adoptionist controversy is a continuation of the Nestorian. Adoptionism was condemned as inconsistent with the personal union of the two natures in Christ.

4 and 5. Two Eucharistic controversies resulted in the general prevalence of the doctrine of transubstantiation.

6. The Predestinarian controversy between Gottschalk and Hincmar tended to weaken the influence of the Augustinian system, and to promote semi-Pelagian views and practices.

7. The Image-controversy belongs to the history of worship rather than theology, and has been discussed in the preceding chapter.9

The first, second, and seventh controversies affected the East and the West; the Adoptionist, the two Eucharistic, and the Predestinarian controversies were exclusively carried on in the West, and ignored in the East.
§ 107. The Controversy on the Procession of the Holy Spirit.
See the Lit. in § 67 p. 304 sq. The arguments for both sides of the question were fully discussed in the Union Synod of Ferrara-Florence, 1438–’39; see Hefele: Conciliengesch. VII. P. II. p. 683 sqq.; 706 sqq.; 712 sqq.
The Filioque-controversy relates to the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit, and is a continuation of the trinitarian controversies of the Nicene age. It marks the chief and almost the only important dogmatic difference between the Greek and Latin churches. It belongs to metaphysical theology, and has far less practical value than the regenerating and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of men. But it figures very largely in history, and has occasioned, deepened, and perpetuated the greatest schism in Christendom. The single word Filioque keeps the oldest, largest, and most nearly related churches divided since the ninth century, and still forbids a reunion. The Eastern church regards the doctrine of the single procession as the corner-stone of orthodoxy, and the doctrine of the double procession as the mother of all heresies. She has held most tenaciously to her view since the fourth century, and is not likely ever to give it up. Nor can the Roman church change her doctrine of the double procession without sacrificing the principle of infallibility.

The Protestant Confessions agree with the Latin dogma, while on the much more vital question of the papacy they agree with the Eastern church, though from a different point of view. The church of England has introduced the double procession of the Spirit even into her litany.0 It should be remembered, however, that this dogma was not a controverted question in the time of the Reformation, and was received from the mediaeval church without investigation. Protestantism is at perfect liberty to go back to the original form of the Nicene Creed if it should be found to be more in accordance with the Scripture. But the main thing for Christians of all creeds is to produce "the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control."

Let us first glance at the external history of the controversy.

1. The New Testament. The exegetical starting-point and foundation of the doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit is the word of our Lord in the farewell address to his disciples: When the Paraclete (the Advocate) is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth (or, goeth forth) from the Father, he shall bear witness of me." 571

On this passage the Nicene fathers based their doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit,2as his personal property or characteristic individuality 573while the unbegotten Fatherhood 574belongs to the person of the Father, and the eternal generation 575to the person of the Son.

Our Lord says neither that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father alone, nor that he proceeds from the Father and the Son. But in several other passages of the same farewell addresses he speaks of the Spirit as being sent by the Father and the Son, and promises this as a future event which was to take place after his departure, and which actually did take place on the day of Pentecost and ever since. 576

On these passages is based the doctrine of the mission of the Spirit.7 This is regarded as a temporal or historical act, and must be distinguished from the eternal procession in the Trinity itself. In other words, the procession belongs to the Trinity of essence, and is an intertrinitarian process (like the eternal generation of the Son), but the mission belongs to the Trinity of revelation in the historical execution of the scheme of redemption. In this exegesis the orthodox divines of the Greek and Latin churches are agreed. They differ on the source of the procession, but not on the mission.

Modern exegetes, who adhere closely to the grammatical sense, and are not governed by dogmatic systems, incline mostly to the view that no metaphysical distinction is intended in those passages, and that the procession of the Spirit from the Father, and the mission of the Spirit by the Father and the Son, refer alike to the same historic event and soteriological operation, namely, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and his continued work in the church and in the heart of believers. The Spirit "proceeds" when he "is sent" on his divine mission to glorify the Son and to apply the redemption to men. The Saviour speaks of the office and work of the Spirit rather than of his being and essence. Nevertheless there is a difference which must not be overlooked. In the procession, the Spirit is active: in the mission, he is passive; the procession is spoken of in the present tense (ejkporeuvetai) as a present act, the mission in the future tense (pevmyw) as a future act, so that the former seems to belong to the eternal Trinity of essence, the latter to the historical or economical Trinity of revelation. Now God indeed reveals himself as he actually is, and we may therefore reason back from the divine office of the Spirit to his divine nature, and from his temporal mission to his eternal relation. Yet it may be questioned whether such inference justifies the doctrine of a double procession in the absence of any express Scripture warrant. 578

2. The Nicene Creed, in its original form of 325, closes abruptly with the article: "And [we believe] into the Holy Spirit.9 In the enlarged form (which is usually traced to the Council of Constantinople, 381, and incorporated in its acts since 451, but is found earlier in Epiphanius, 373, and Cyril of Jerusalem, 362, we have the addition: "the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father," etc. 580 This form was generally adopted in the Eastern churches since the Council of Chalcedon, 451 (at which both forms were recited and confirmed), and prevails there to this day unaltered. It is simply the Scripture phrase without any addition, either of the Greek "alone," or of the Latin "and from the Son." The Greek church understood the clause in an exclusive sense, the Latin church, since Augustin and Leo I., in an incomplete sense. 581

The Latin church had no right to alter an oecumenical creed without the knowledge and consent of the Greek church which had made it; for in the oecumenical Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople the Western church was scarcely represented, at Nicaea only by one bishop (Hosius of Spain), in the second not at all; and in the Council of Chalcedon the delegates of Pope Leo I. fully agreed to the enlarged Greek form of the Nicene symbol, yet without the Filioque, which was then not thought of, although the doctrine of the double procession was already current in the West. A departure from this common symbolical standard of the most weighty oecumenical councils by a new addition, without consent of the other party, opened the door to endless disputes.

The Enlargement of the Nicene Creed.
The third national Synod of Toledo in Spain, a.d. 589, held after the conversion of King Reccared to the Catholic faith, in its zeal for the deity of Christ against the Arian heresy which lingered longest in that country, and without intending the least disrespect to the Eastern church, first inserted the clause Filioque in the Latin version of the Nicene Creed.2 Other Spanish synods of Toledo did the same. 583

From Spain the clause passed into the Frankish church. It was discussed at the Synod of Gentilly near Paris in 767, but we do not know with what result.4 The Latin view was advocated by Paulinus of Aquileja (796), 585by Alcuin (before 804), and by Theodulf of Orleans. 586 It was expressed in the so-called Athanasian Creed, which made its appearance in France shortly before or during the age of Charlemagne. 587 The clause was sung in his chapel. He brought the matter before the Council of Aix-la-Chapelle in 809, which decided in favor of the double procession. 588 He also sent messengers to Pope Leo III., with the request to sanction the insertion of the clause in the Nicene Creed. The pope decided in favor of the doctrine of the double procession, but protested against the alteration of the creed, and caused the Nicene Creed, in its original Greek text and the Latin version, to be engraved on two tablets and suspended in the Basilica of St. Peter, as a perpetual testimony against the innovation. 589 His predecessor, Hadrian I., had a few years before (between 792 and 795) defended the Greek formula of John of Damascus and patriarch Tarasius, that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son. 590 But the violent assault of Photius upon the Latin doctrine, as heretical, drove the Latin church into the defensive. Hence, since the ninth century, the, Filioque was gradually introduced into the Nicene Creed all over the West, and the popes themselves, notwithstanding their infallibility, approved what their predecessors had condemned. 591

The coincidence of the triumph of the Filioque in the West with the founding of the new Roman Empire is significant; for this empire emancipated the pope from the Byzantine rule.

The Greek church, however, took little or no notice of this innovation till about one hundred and fifty years later, when Photius, the learned patriarch of Constantinople, brought it out in its full bearing and force in his controversy with Nicolas I., the pope of old Rome.2 He regarded the single procession as the principal part of the doctrine concerning the Holy Spirit on which the personality and deity of the Spirit depended, and denounced the denial of it as heresy and blasphemy. After this time no progress was made for the settlement of the difference, although much was written on both sides. The chief defenders of the Greek view, after the controversy with Photius, were Theophylactus, Euthymius Zigabenus, Nicolaus of Methone, Nicetus Choniates, Eustratius, and in modern times, the Russian divines, Prokovitch, Zoernicav, Mouravieff, and Philaret. The chief defenders of the Latin doctrine are Aeneas, bishop of Paris, 593Ratramnus (or Bertram), a monk of Corbie, in the name of the French clergy in the ninth century, 594Anselm of Canterbury (1098), 595Peter Chrysolanus, archbishop of Milan (1112), 596Anselm of Havelberg (1120), 597and Thomas Aquinas (1274), 598and in more recent times, Leo Alacci, Michael Le Quien, and Cardinal Hergenröther. 599

§ 108. The Arguments for and against the Filioque.
We proceed to the statement of the controverted doctrines and the chief arguments.

I. The Greek and Latin churches agree in holding-

(1) The personality and deity of the third Person of the holy Trinity.

(2) The eternal procession (ejkpovreusi", processio) of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity.

(3) The temporal mission (pevmyi", missio) of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son, beginning with the day of Pentecost, and continued ever since in the church.

II. They differ on the source of the eternal procession of the Spirit, whether it be the Father alone, or the Father and the Son. The Greeks make the Son and the Spirit equally dependent on the Father, as the one and only source of the Godhead; the Latins teach an absolute co-ordination of the three Persons of the Trinity as to essence, but after all admit a certain kind of subordination as to dignity and office, namely, a subordination of the Son to the Father, and of the Spirit to both. The Greeks approach the Latins by the admission that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son (this was the doctrine of Cyril of Alexandria and John of Damascus); the Latins approach the Greeks by the admission that the Spirit proceeds chiefly (principaliter) from the Father (Augustin). But little or nothing is gained by this compromise. The real question is, whether the Father is the only source of the Deity, and whether the Son and the Spirit are co-ordinate or subordinate in their dependence on the Father.

1. The Greek doctrine in its present shape. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father alone (ejk movnou tou' patrov"), as the beginning (ajrchv), cause or root (aijtiva, rjizh, causa, radix), and fountain (phghv) of the Godhead, and not from the Son.0

John of Damascus, who gave the doctrine of the Greek fathers its scholastic shape, about a.d. 750, one hundred years before the controversy between Photius and Nicolas, maintained that the procession is from the Father alone, but through the Son, as mediator.1 The same formula, Ex Patre per Filium, was used by Tarasius, patriarch of Constantinople, who presided over the seventh oecumenical Council (787), approved by Pope Hadrian I., and was made the basis for the compromise at the Council of Ferrara (1439), and at the Old Catholic Conference at Bonn (1875). But Photius and the later Eastern controversialists dropped or rejected the per Filium, as being nearly equivalent to ex Filio or Filioque, or understood it as being applicable only to the mission of the Spirit, and emphasized the exclusiveness of the procession from the Father. 602

The arguments for the Greek doctrine are as follows:

(a) The words of Christ, John 15:26, understood in an exclusive sense. As this is the only passage of the Bible in which the procession of the Spirit is expressly taught, it is regarded by the Greeks as conclusive.

(b) The supremacy or monarchia of the Father. He is the source and root of the Godhead. The Son and the Spirit are subordinated to him, not indeed in essence or substance (oujsiva), which is one and the same, but in dignity and office. This is the Nicene subordinatianism. It is illustrated by the comparison of the Father with the root, the Son with the stem, the Spirit with the fruit, and such analogies as the sun, the ray, and the beam; the fire, the flame, and the light.

(c) The analogy of the eternal generation of the Son, which is likewise from the Father alone, without the agency of the Spirit.

(d) The authority of the Nicene Creed, and the Greek fathers, especially Athanasius, Gregory Nazianzen, Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrus, and John of Damascus. The Antiochean school is clearly on the Greek side; but the Alexandrian school leaned to the formula through the Son (dia; tou' uiJou', per Filium). The Greeks claim all the Greek fathers, and regard Augustin as the inventor of the Latin dogma of the double procession.

The Latin doctrine is charged with innovation, and with dividing the unity of the Godhead, or establishing two sources of the Deity. But the Latins replied that the procession was from one and the same source common to both the Father and the Son.

2. The Latin theory of the double procession is defended by the following arguments:

(a) The passages where Christ says that he will send the Spirit from the Father (John 15:26; 16:7); and that the Father will send the Spirit in Christ’s name (14:26); and where he breathes the Spirit on his disciples (20:22). The Greeks refer all these passages to the temporal mission of the Spirit, and understand the insufflation to be simply a symbolical act or sacramental sign of the pentecostal effusion which Christ had promised. The Latins reply that the procession and the mission are parallel processes, the one ad intra, the other ad extra.

(b) The equality of essence (oJmoousiva) of the Father and Son to the exclusion of every kind of subordinationism (since Augustin) requires the double procession. The Spirit of the Father is also the Spirit of the Son, and is termed the Spirit of Christ. But, as already remarked, Augustin admitted that the Spirit proceeds chiefly from the Father, and this after all is a kind of subordination of dignity. The Father has his being (oujsiva) from himself, the Son and the Spirit have it from the Father by way of derivation, the one by generation, the other by procession.

(c) The temporal mission of the Spirit is a reflection of his eternal procession. The Trinity of revelation is the basis of all our speculations on the Trinity of essence. We know the latter only from the former.

(d) The Nicene Creed and the Nicene fathers did not understand the procession from the Father in an exclusive sense, but rather in opposition to the Pneumatomachi who denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Some Greek fathers, as Epiphanius, Cyril of Alexandria, and John of Damascus, teach the Latin doctrine. This is not the case exactly. The procession of the Spirit "through the Son," is not equivalent to the procession "from the Son," but implies a subordination.

(e) The Latin fathers are in favor of Filioque, especially Ambrose, Augustin, Jerome, Leo I., Gregory I.3

(f) The insertion of the Filioque is as justifiable as the other and larger additions to the Apostles’ Creed and to the original Nicene Creed of 325, and was silently accepted, or at least not objected to by the Greek church until the rivalry of the Patriarch of Constantinople made it a polemical weapon against the Pope of Rome. To this the Greeks reply that the other additions are consistent and were made by common consent, but the Filioque was added without the knowledge and against the teaching of the East by churches (in Spain and France) which had nothing to do with the original production.

This controversy of the middle ages was raised from the tomb by the Old Catholic Conference held in Bonn, 1875, under the lead of the learned historian, Dr. Döllinger of Munich, and attended by a number of German Old Catholic, Greek and Russian, and high Anglican divines. An attempt was made to settle the dispute on the basis of the teaching of the fathers before the division of the Eastern and Western churches, especially the doctrine of John of Damascus, that is, the single procession of the Spirit from the Father mediated through the Son. The Filioque was surrendered as an unauthorized and unjustifiable interpolation.

But the Bonn Conference has not been sanctioned by any ecclesiastical authority, and forms only an interesting modern episode in the, history of this controversy, and in the history of the Old Catholic communion.4
§ 109. The Monotheletic Controversy.
(I.) Sources: Documents and acts of the first Lateran Synod (649), and the sixth oecumenical Council or Concilium Trullanum I., held in Constantinople (680), in Mansi, X. 863 sqq. and XI. 187 sqq.

Anastasius (Vatican librarian, about 870): Collectanea de iis quae spectant ad controv. et histor. monothelit. haeret., first ed. by Sirmond, Par. 1620, in his Opera, III., also in Bibl. Max. PP. Lugd. XII. 833; and in Gallandi, XIII.; also scattered through vols. X. and XI. of Mansi. See Migne’s ed. of Anastas. in "Patrol. Lat." vols. 127–129.

Maximus Confessor: Opera, ed. Combefis, Par. 1675, Tom. II. 1–158, and his disputation with Pyrrhus, ib. 159 sqq. Also in Migne’s reprint, "Patrol. Gr." vol. 91.

Theophanes: Chronographia, ed. Bonn. (1839), p. 274 sqq.; ed. Migne, in vol. 108 of his "Patrol. Graeca" (1861).

(II.) Franc. Combefisius (Combefis, a learned French Dominican, d. 1679): Historia haeresis Monothelitarum ac vindiciae actorum Sexti Synodi, in his Novum Auctuarium Patrum, II. 3 sqq. Par. 1648, fol. 1–198.

Petavius: Dogm. Theol. Tom. V. l. IX. c. 6–10.

Jos. Sim. Assemani, in the fourth vol. of his Bibliotheca Juris Orientalis. Romae 1784.

CH. W. F. Walch: Ketzerhistorie, vol. IX. 1–666 (Leipzig 1780). Very dry, but very learned.

Gibbon (Ch. 47, N. Y. ed. IV. 682–686, superficial). Schröckh, vol. XX. 386 sqq. Neander, III. 175–197 (Boston ed.), or III. 353–398 (Germ. ed.). Gieseler, I. 537–544 (Am. ed.).

The respective sections in Baur: Gesch. der Lehre v. d. Dreieinigkeii und Menschwerdung (Tüb. 1841–’43, 3 vols.), vol. II. 96–128; Dorner: Entwicklungsgesch. der Lehre v. d. Person Christi (second ed. 1853), II. 193–305; Nitzsch: Dogmengesch. I. 325 sqq.; and Hefele: Conciliengeschichte (revised ed. 1877) III. 121–313. Also W. Möller. in Herzog2 X. 792–805.

The literature on the case of Honorius see in the next section.
§ 110. The Doctrine of Two Wills in Christ.
The Monotheletic or one-will controversy is a continuation of the Christological contests of the post-Nicene age, and closely connected with the Monophysitic controversy.5

This question had not been decided by the ancient fathers and councils, and passages from their writings were quoted by both parties. But in the inevitable logic of theological development it had to be agitated sooner or later, and brought to a conciliar termination.

The controversy had a metaphysical and a practical aspect.

The metaphysical and psychological aspect was the relation of will to nature and to person. Monotheletism regards the will as an attribute of person, Dyotheletism as an attribute of nature. It is possible to conceive of an abstract nature without a will; it is difficult to conceive of a rational human nature without impulse and will; it is impossible to conceive of a human person without a will. Reason and will go together, and constitute the essence of personality. Two wills cannot coexist in an ordinary human being. But as the personality of Christ is complex or divine-human, it may be conceived of as including two consciousnesses and two wills. The Chalcedonian Christology at all events consistently requires two wills as the necessary complement of two rational natures; in other words, Dyotheletism is inseparable from Dyophysitism, while Monotheletism is equally inseparable from Monophysitism, although it acknowledged the Dyophysitism of Chalcedon. The orthodox doctrine saved the integrity and completeness of Christ’s humanity by asserting his human will.6

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