Thoughts on the filioque controversy

holy-spiritI have been thinking about the Filioque controversy. The Orthodox tradition affirms the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father … and nothing need more be said. The Catholic and Protestant traditions affirm the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father AND the Son. I agree with the Orthodox that this AND is problematic as it tends to shift Trinitarian theology from locating the unity of God in the person of the Father to locating it in a more abstract Godhead. However I also agree with western tradition that it’s helpful to say something about the Holy Spirit in relation to the Son. So, as a Christian who values both Protestant and Orthodox tradition, I am inclined to speak of the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Father THROUGH the Son, though I am happy to leave the Creed in its original, ecumenical, Orthodox form for the sake of ecumenism. In this I believe I am in good company with both Tertullian and John of Damascus who both used the THROUGH expression. I like this way as it puts the emphasis on the Son as mediator.

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