On Abandoning The Filioque Clause

Theological representatives from the Anglican Communion and the Oriental Orthodox Churches have signed an agreement on the Procession of the Holy Spirit. Part of this statement includes the Anglican Communion agreeing with the Orthodox that the Nicene Creed should not have had the filioque (and from the Son) clause added to it, and that they will be urging their constituent churches to remove it.

This is a sad capitulation on a critical doctrine:

The Eastern church never dropped their key objection that if the Spirit also proceeds from the Son, one would have to posit two principia or causes (αιτιαι) for the Spirit’s procession. This objection arises from a different doctrine of of God and a different type if religious practice. Orthodox opposition to the filioque is a last lingering remnant of subordinationism. However much the three persons are considered to be completely one and equal, that unity and equality accrues to the Son and the Spirit from the being of the Father. The Father is the fountain and origin of the Godhead. Accordingly, if the Spirit also proceeds from the Son, the Son is coordinate with the Father, the principle of unity is broken, and kind of ditheism results. For the Eastern church the unity of the divine essence and the Trinity of persons does not arise from the divine nature as such but from the person of the Father. He is the sole originating principle (αιτιαι). The three persons, according to the Orthodox, are not three relations within the one being, not the self-unfolding of the Godhead; rather, it is the Father who communicates himself to the Son and the Spirit. From this it follows, however, that now the Son and the Spirit are coordinated: they both have their originating principle (αιτιαι) in the Father. The Father reveals himself in both: the Son imparts the knowledge of God, the Spirit the enjoyment of God. The Son does not reveal the Father in and through the Spirit; the Spirit does not lead [believers] to the Father through the Son. The two are more or less independent of each other; they both open their own way to the Father.

-Herman Bavinck, Dogmatics Vol. II, 317 (emphasis added).

“In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost: the Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.” – Westminster Confession of Faith 2.3.

“The Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity, proceeding from the Father and the Son, of the same substance and equal in power and glory, is, together with the Father and the Son, to be believed in, loved, obeyed, and worshiped throughout all ages.” – Westminster Confession of Faith (EPC) 34.1.

“Q. 10. What are the personal properties of the three persons in the Godhead?

A. It is proper to the Father to beget the Son, and to the Son to be begotten of the Father, and to the Holy Ghost to proceed from the Father and the Son from all eternity.” – Westminster Larger Catechism Q&A 10.