Article V. Of the Holy Ghost

3 Responses

  1. Roo says:

    Scott – another useful and balanced post, even viewed from Geneva 😉 The question of the filoque is an interesting one and it’s difficult to see where the truth lies – the division of the Church, in part over it seems fairly irrelevant today. However I suspect that a growing number of folks within the historic western churches are coming back to the original setting. Whether that is from an understanding of the issues or whether its because there seems no justifiable reason for inserting “and the Son”. As in Bible translation, often small addittions like that to the text are to defend orthodoxy, but where its not necessary and wasn’t original.

    I would agree that the Spirit has often been marginalised by the historic Churches, as much as some of the newer ones have overemphasised Him.

    I think the Church often gets confused in addressing prayers, this will by nature, be more the position in traditions (like my own) where extemporaneous prayer is used. But often there is a mixing of Persons in a prayer – which sometimes leads to nonsense, othertimes to a heretical statement – “Thank you Father for taking away our sins on the cross when you died in our place” type thing – where the person praying no more thinks that the Father was crucified than that the sun is the moon.

    But when it comes to praying directly to the Third Person of the Trinity I confess to baulking somewhat. Praying in a Trinitarian form I have no problem with – ‘Father we thank you, Son we thank you, Spirit we thank you’ type thing. But it would be a very rare thing for me to pray to the Spirit. Why? Good question! It’s certainly not a lack of belief in the Spirit or his divinity or equality with the Father and Son. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism says: “There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.” (Q6) But I think it comes down more to an understanding of the role of the Spirit – which is to point us to Christ. As JI Packer illustrated, in role, Jesus is like the historic building and the Spirit is like the floodlights. You go not to see the floodlights, but without the floodlights you could not see the building. The Spirit is worthy of worship and we do worship him but I am uncomfortable with focusing our attention wholly on the Spirit. It is by the Spirit that Christ dwells in us.

    It may just be an error in my thinking and there may be no grounds for my hesitation, but thats where I am. I’d love to be changed on the issue if I’m wrong – which I often am! Sometimes I think that I’m more wrong having studied theology and been a pastor than I was beforehand 🙂

  2. Malcolm says:

    Scott, it seems to me that the original and authentic form of the Creed (sans filioque) does not say that the Spirit does not proceed from the Father and the Son. Rather, it merely affirms procession from the Father while remaining silent on procession from the Son. The allegedly schismatic and arguably heretical act is not believing that the Spirit proceeds also from the Son, but rather altering the Creed without the authority of an ecumenical council and possibly in requiring that the alteration be accepted as a matter of faith.

  3. Edmund says:


    I appreciate your blog and this series on the Articles.

    I think you could go a lot deeper in the matter of the Double Procession of the Holy Spirit, which is hardly a later innovation in doctrine. You might consult the following link, which explains the matter extremely well. I hadn’t known that the Eastern and Western churches had actually briefly reunited, the East accepting Filioque. (The text of creed had already changed significantly since Nicaea, and as you’ll read, ‘filioque’ was added by Eastern monks.)

    I would counsel caution as to any theological “insight” proposed by the current TEC hierarchy…!