Friday, August 11, 2006

The Articles of Religion of the Church of England

Article V: THE Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.

Similar to the manner in which the previous Articles defend the Trinity as well as co-substantiality of the Son with God and with man, this Article affirms the Godhead of the Holy Ghost, thereby combating the heresy of Macedonianism. Macedonious, the Patriarch of Constantinople, taught that the Holy Ghost was a creature and not equal with the Father (much in the same vein that Arius taught that the Son was created).

As Bishop Browne comments, “Those early heretics who denied the Divinity of the Son of God, seem generally to have disbelieved the Personality of the Holy Spirit, and to have looked on Him not as a Person, but as an efficacy, power, or emanation. . .” Hence the firm affirmation in the Articles concerning the Holy Ghost being of the same substance (ousia) with the Father and the Son, thereby reaffirming the full divinity of the Son as well.

Archdeacon Welchman (writing circa 1713) notes that “Since those operations are attributed to the Holy Ghost, which cannot be ascribed but to a person distinct from the Father and the Son, as such as “to make intercession for the saints,” (Rom 8:27) to “come as sent by the Father in the name of Christ,” (John 14:26) to “take what was Christ’s, and show it unto others,” (John 16:14) and since those things are attributed to Him, which cannot be ascribed to any other but God, such as, to have the bodes of the faithful for His temple and even to have the whole Church dedicated by baptism to Him, as well as to the Father, and the Son, it necessarily follows that He is “very and eternal God,” equal with the Father and the Son, and together with them to be adored and invoked.”

In order to combat Macedonianisn (or Pneumatomachi, those who Fight against the Spirit), the clause “And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord and giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets” in the Nicene Creed clearly asserts the divinity of the Holy Ghost and His role in salvation.

As an aside on the western addition of the clause “and from the Son” in the description of the procession of the Holy Ghost, and its remaining unaltered at the time of the English Reformation, it must be noted in charity that many of the divines of that period were unaware that this addition was not part of the original composition of the Creed and further believed the phrase to have Scriptural warrant and in no way contrary to the text of the New Testament (for example, see 1 Peter 1:11: “. . .the Spirit of Christ who was in them had signified when He testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow.”

Early in the last century, before her descent into heterodoxy, the Church of England’s doctrinal commission stated that if discussions of union with the Eastern Churches progressed to full unity, the western addition to the Creed could be properly redacted.


Anonymous said...

For those of keen ear, you may have noticed that the Credo was recited san filioque at B16's coronation.

Indeed, under JPII, the RC droped the filioque as part of the THE CREED, rather leaving it as a Latin Rite variant to be inculded in all translations from Latin unless in an ecumenical setting involving western and eastern rite folk.

As the papal coronation involved the uniates, the filioque was not recited.

Mark said...

Churchmen such as Laud, Andrewes, Pearson et al, accepted the double procession as both Apostolic and biblical. They did not believe, however, that the Eastern half of Christendom should be unchurched merely because it did not accept this teaching. ( note: I am NOT saying this is want you want to see happen ).


Will said...


Again you have made an excellent post--thanks so much. Call this another Trackback
on "Prydain."

Anonymous said...

The disagreement between Rome and the East is lessening, if not evaporating altogether.

Here is a lnk to the latest Vatican Statement on the Filioque with fair and balance comments by an Orthodox Christian.

The particulars of the issue are more complicated for Rome because it cannot simply "erase" the filioque due to its pretensions of infallibiility.

However, Anglicans have no such investment in pride and could (and have) omitted the filioque, which is the better course in my opinion.

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

The claim to infallibility is indeed the key issue in dealing with Rome "ecumenically." In reality, ecumenism with Rome means getting others to accept the Roman doctrines in a language Anglicans, the Orthodox or Lutherans can tolerate--in essence the doctrine that caused offense remains standing because it was accepted at some point as "infallible." Questionable writings of saints have been deemed by Popes "as free from error," Purgatory still exists, the doctrine of indulgences still stands, Christ is still "immolated" in the Mass, etc. Ecumenism with Rome has only resulted in uniate Eastern Churches and quasi-uniate Anglican parishes.

Fr. Brad+ said...

Before we remove the filioque, we must decide if we are ready to drop the western theologians (such as Augustine) who are grounded in the biblical idea of the double procession? (In other words, the filiogue is not a simple "add on" that can be dropped without consequence - it represents an entire tradition of conceiving of the economy of the holy Trinity.)

Fr. Brad+ said...

Question for the Blogcleric - when did the nicene creed come into general use in the church in England and when was the filioque added in England? (Glad I have you to ask instead of digging through my dusty books!)

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

I didn't want to jump ahead of myself in regards to the influence of Augustine on western theology (hoping to address this when addressing the later Articles), but I agree that we must take quite seriously the theological problems that had to be confronted in the ancient western Church (Pelagianism and Donatism esp) that were comparatively absent in the East.

Similarly, the emphasis in the Trinitarian theology of the west can be maintained (I think) while acknowledging that the west didn't really have a right to add something pertaining to the Holy Ghost to the only ecumenical statement of faith that the Church produced, any more than it did to add something having to do with Pelagianism.

Let me look into the history of the use of the Creed in England. . .but feel free to dust off those books.

Anonymous said...

The debate about English Use of the filioque can get fierce. Some maintaint that it wasn't common place until Billy the Bastard came to visit. Others says Anglo-Saxons followed the Frankish influence much earlier.

As the Augustinian under pinnings of the Filioque, I say heave ho! Augustine himslef acknowledged that his trinitarian theology was speculative, not dogmatic.