Sunday, August 13, 2006
The Procession of the Holy Ghost. . .an ecumenical question
In previous posts and follow up responses I've made the assertion that the western Church had no right to alter the content of the Creed of the entire Church.
This 1913 essay from the Rev. F. W. Puller, of the Society of S. John the Evangelist, gives another perspective on this matter.
Germane to the topic at hand:
"Afterwards the question of the insertion of the Filioque clause into the Constantinopolitan creed by the English and other Western Churches was raised.
In regard to that matter I stated by way of preliminary that the Church of England makes no complaint against the Eastern Church for adhering strictly to the Creed as it was sanctioned by the Council of Chalcedon. The English Church accepts the Council of Chalcedon as an Ecumenical Council, and the Creed as sanctioned by that Council is therefore for us also an Ecumenical document of the highest authority. But the Council did not put forth the Creed as a formula to be used in the Liturgy of the Altar. At the time when the Council of Chalcedon was held, no Creed was said in the Liturgy. When we introduced the Creed into the Liturgy, we were not bound to introduce it in the exact form in which it was sanctioned by the Council. Moreover, both in the West and in the East it had been customary for local Churches to add clauses to Creeds of very high authority. In the West the Apostles' Creed is the Creed which is used at Baptisms and on most other occasions when a Creed is used; it is not, however, used at the service of the Altar. Now the Apostles' Creed is the Creed of the early Roman Church, and was probably composed not later than during the first half of the second century. Yet local Western Churches on their own authority added clauses to it. Thus in the fourth century or earlier the Church of Aquileia added to the Apostles' Creed the clause about the descent of our Lord into Hades. [Cf. Rufin., Commentar. in Symbol., §§ 14, 18; P.L., xxi. 352, 356. Whether the clause originated at Aquileia I do not know.] And in the fifth century or earlier the Gallican Churches, or some of them, added the clause about the Communion of Saints. [This clause did not get into the Roman Creed until later, but it is found in the Creeds of Niceta of Remesiana and of S. Jerome as early probably as the fourth century (compare Dr. A. E. Burn's text-book, The Apostles' Creed, pp. 41, 43).] Yet no complaints were raised by the Roman Church or by other Western Churches on account of these clauses having been added. On the contrary some centuries later these additions were accepted by the Roman Church herself and ultimately by all the Western Churches. Similarly in the East, the original Nicene Creed was put forth by the most venerable and most authoritative of all the Ecumenical Councils, namely the Council of Nicaea. [In putting on paper the statement which I made to the Conference about the interpolation of authoritative Creeds in the East, I have corrected an inaccuracy into which I fell, and have set forth the evidence somewhat more fully than I did at S. Petersburg.] For a time that was the only Creed which had received Ecumenical sanction; yet the local Churches of the East felt quite free to use their own traditional local Creeds, and to enlarge them by inserting clauses taken sometimes from the Nicene Creed and sometimes from other sources. There seems good reason to believe that the Constantinopolitan Creed is really the Creed of the Church of Jerusalem enlarged about the year 363 by S. Cyril of Jerusalem, and quoted eleven years later by S. Epiphanius in the H9th chapter of his Ancoratus. [See Dr. Hort's Two Dissertations, 1876, pp. 73-97, and Dr. A. E. Burn's text-book, The Nicene Creed, pp. 27-29. P. G., xliii. 232. The Ancoratus was published in 374, seven years before the Council of Constantinople, the second Ecumenical.] This enlarged Creed of Jerusalem is almost word for word the same as the Creed which we now commonly call the Constantinopolitan Creed. The original Nicene Creed had been interpolated at Constantinople and perhaps elsewhere, with additional clauses before the time of the Council of Chalcedon, [Compare Hort (Two Dissertations, pp. 112-115).] and it is recited in the Chalcedonian definition in an interpolated form. [For example, in the Nicene Creed as quoted by the Council of Chalcedon, the words "of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary" are interpolated after "was incarnate"; and the words "and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate" are interpolated after "and was made man "; and the words "of whose kingdom there shall be no end " are interpolated after "to judge both the quick and the dead." I give these merely as specimens, for there are several other interpolations beside some omissions. Compare Mansi ii. 668 with Mansi viii. 109, 112.]
All these facts make it quite clear that local Churches in the fourth and fifth centuries, that is to say in the age of the great Fathers of the Church, felt themselves at liberty to add clauses to the Creeds which they had inherited from earlier times, or which they had received from Ecumenical Councils. And if this is granted, why should it be regarded as ultra vires for the Churches of England, Spain, Gaul, and Germany, and finally for the Church of Rome, to add the Filioque clause to the Constantinopolitan Creed? Of course a local Church has no right to add a heretical clause to any Creed. But it has already been admitted that the Filioque clause, if it is regarded as equivalent to the formula, Per Filium, is not heretical, but is perfectly orthodox.
At the close of the Conference the presiding Bishop, the Bishop of Kholm, authorized me to tell my audience at my lecture in the evening that, though the Russians and the English differ in the wording of their respective formulas, yet the Conference had, after hearing explanations, concluded that the two Churches are agreed as to the substance of the teaching concerning the Eternal Procession of the Holy Ghost."