Filioque, the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son
By Jack Kettler
“Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” (Psalm 25:4)
In this study, we will look at the biblical teaching regarding what theologians call the “filioque.” What does this mean? As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, lexical evidence, commentary evidence and confessional support for the purpose to glorify God in how we live. Glorify God always!
“Latin for “and from the Son, ” a term referring to a clause inserted into the Nicene Creed to indicate that the Holy Spirit proceeds not from the Father only but also from the Son. The controversy that arose over this doctrinal point contributed to the split between the Eastern and Western churches in A. D. 1054.” *
“The doctrine that the Holy Spirit proceeds equally from both the Father and the Son.” **
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” (Isaiah 61:1)
In Isaiah, we see the continuing possession of the Spirit in this Messianic prophecy. Also, consider how the Spirit is without measure upon Christ as seen in John 3:34. Moreover, God anointed Him (Christ) with the Holy Spirit and with power as seen in (Acts 10:38). Also, ponder, “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you” (Matthew 12:28).
Jesus’ exercising the power of healing and casting out demons is proof that the Spirit does things at Christ’s command. Because of this possession and anointing of the Spirit “without measure,” it follows that Christ can send the Spirit to His disciples. In the next passage of Scripture, this conclusion is unequivocal.
“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” (John 15:26)
Christ says that He will send the “Comforter,” (“whom I will send unto you”) therefore, the latter part of the passage, which says the Spirit proceedeth from the Father, does not preclude the procession or sending of the Spirit from the Son. This is because of what Christ has said in the first part of the passage about His sending of the Spirit. The first and last part of the passage does not contradict but in fact, supplement our understanding of the sending of the Spirit.
In the next passage of Scripture, the conclusion regarding Christ sending the Spirit is undisputable.
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7)
This passage likewise does not preclude the Father sending the Spirit. The Father and Son are in unity.
“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” (Romans 8:9 ESV)
Charles Hodge’s Commentary on Romans 8:9:
Romans 8:9 — that he does to the first person of the Trinity. This was one of the points of controversy between the Greek and Latin Churches; the latter insisting on inserting in that clause of the Creed which speaks of the procession of the Holy Ghost, the words “filioque,” (and from the Son.) For this, the gratitude of all Christians is due to the Latin Church, as it vindicates the full equality of the Son with the Father. No clearer assertion and no higher exhibition of the Godhead of the Son can be conceived. (1)
What Hodge says is correct about “the full equality of the Son with the Father.” If this were not so, there would be subordinationism within the Triune God. Implicit within subordinationism is the idea that the Son is inferior to the Father.
The next two passages also speak of the Spirit of Christ. What does this mean?
“For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:19)
These two passages do not preclude the phrase the Spirit of the Father. “The Spirit of Jesus Christ” as Hodge has said earlier does “vindicates the full equality of the Son with the Father.”
“Searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” (1 Peter 1:11)
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on 1 Peter 1:11:
11. what—Greek, “In reference to what, or what manner of time.” What expresses the time absolutely: what was to be the era of Messiah’s coming; what manner of time; what events and features should characterize the time of His coming. The “or” implies that some of the prophets, if they could not as individuals discover the exact time, searched into its characteristic features and events. The Greek for “time” is the season, the epoch, the fit time in God’s purposes.
Spirit of Christ … in them—(Ac 16:7, in oldest manuscripts, “the Spirit of Jesus”; Re 19:10). So Justin Martyr says, “Jesus was He who appeared and communed with Moses, Abraham, and the other patriarchs.” “Clement of Alexandria calls Him “the Prophet of prophets, and Lord of all the prophetical spirit.”
did signify—“did give intimation.”
of—Greek, “the sufferers (appointed) unto Christ,” or foretold in regard to Christ. “Christ,” the anointed Mediator, whose sufferings are the price of our “salvation” (1Pe 1:9, 10), and who is the channel of “the grace that should come unto you.”
the glory—Greek, “glories,” namely, of His resurrection, of His ascension, of His judgment and coming kingdom, the necessary consequence of the sufferings.
that should follow—Greek, “after these (sufferings),” 1Pe 3:18-22; 5:1. Since “the Spirit of Christ” is the Spirit of God, Christ is God. It is only because the Son of God was to become our Christ that He manifested Himself and the Father through Him in the Old Testament, and by the Holy Spirit, eternally proceeding from the Father and Himself, spake in the prophets. (2)
In these two passages, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown demonstrates the proceeding of the Spirit from the Father and Himself (Jesus).
Revelation 22:1 provides more evidence of the procession of the Spirit from the Father and Son:
“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (Revelation 22:1)
There is a double procession out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. This conclusion is inescapable. The following comments by Henry make this clear.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Revelation 22:1:
22:1-5 All streams of earthly comfort are muddy; but these are clear, and refreshing. They give life, and preserve life, to those who drink of them, and thus they will flow for evermore. These point to the quickening and sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit, as given to sinners through Christ. The Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Son, applies this salvation to our souls by his new-creating love and power. The trees of life are fed by the pure waters of the river that comes from the throne of God. The presence of God in heaven is the health and happiness of the saints. This tree was an emblem of Christ and of all the blessings of his salvation; and the leaves for the healing of the nations, mean that his favor and presence supply all good to the inhabitants of that blessed world. The devil has no power there; he cannot draw the saints from serving God, nor can he disturb them in the service of God. God and the Lamb are here spoken of as one. Service there shall be not only freedom, but also honour and dominion. There will be no night; no affliction or dejection, no pause in service or enjoyment: no diversions or pleasures or man’s inventing will there be wanted. How different all this from gross and merely human views of heavenly happiness, even those which refer to pleasures of the mind! (3)
The next article is one of the finest examinations of the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son!
Christianity 101 The Theology of the Ancient Creeds Part 6: The Procession of the Spirit:
By Greg Uttinger
April 01, 2003
The Western form of the Nicene Creed differs from the Eastern in what it says about the Holy Spirit. The Eastern form, following that adopted at Constantinople, says that the Holy Ghost “proceedeth from the Father.” The Western form of the Creed adds the words, “and the Son” — in Latin, the single word Filioque. The Western Church confesses a double procession of the Holy Spirit, a procession from the Father and the Son. (1) The Eastern Church regards this as heresy.
The Filioque clause originated in Spain in the 6th Century. The Council of Toledo (589), in denouncing Arianism, issued twenty-three anathemas and, at the same time, inserted the Filioque into the Latin text of the Nicene Creed. (2) From Spain, use of the Filioque passed into Gaul. Charlemagne asked Pope Leo III to sanction the Filioque. Leo judged the doctrine orthodox, but objected to altering the ecumenical Creed. Nonetheless, use of the Filioque continued to spread in the West and eventually won approval in Rome.
In the middle of the 11th Century, the Filioque became a major point of contention between the East and West. The Eastern Church complained that the West had added the Filioque illegally — that is, without an ecumenical council (30 — and that the doctrine itself was fundamentally wrong and dangerous. This remains the position of the Eastern Church to this day.
The Testimony of the Fathers
The doctrine of the double procession was no novelty when the Council of Toledo used it in its attack on Arianism. Consider the testimony of these ancient writers, two of whom actually hailed from the East (4)
St. Epiphanius of Salamis (d. 403) wrote in his Ankyrotos:
The Father always existed and the Son always existed, and the Spirit breathes from the Father and the Son; and neither is the Son created nor is the Spirit created.
St. Cyril of Alexandria, the enemy of Nestorianism, wrote in his Thesaurus (c. 424):
Since the Holy Spirit when He is in us effects our being conformed to God, and He actually proceeds from Father and Son, it is abundantly clear that He is of the divine essence, in it in essence and proceeding from it.
St. Hilary of Potiers (356-359) in his De Trinitate said the Holy Spirit “is of the Father and the Son, His Sources.” Pope St. Damasus I in the Acts of the Council of Rome (382) declared:
The Holy Spirit is not of the Father only, or the Spirit of the Son only, but He is the Spirit of the Father and the Son. For it is written, “If anyone loves the world, the Spirit of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15); and again it is written: “If anyone, however, does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Romans 8:9).
And Pope St. Leo I (d. 461) said (Sermon 75:30):
The Son is the Only-begotten of the Father, and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, not as any creature, which also is of the Father and of the Son, but as living and having power with both, and eternally subsisting of that which is the Father and the Son.
But it was St. Augustine of Hippo who did the most to develop the doctrine of the double procession. “St. Augustine taught that the Holy Spirit is the bond of love that exists between the Father and the Son.” (5) In On the Trinity (400-416) he wrote:
[ With the Father and the Son] the Holy Spirit, too, exists in this same unit of substance and equality. For whether He be the unity of the Father and the Son, or Their holiness, or Their love, or Their unity because He is Their love, or Their love because He is Their holiness, it is clear that He is not one of the Two, since it is by Him that the Two are joined, by Him that the Begotten is loved by the Begetter, and in turn loves Him who begot Him (XI, 5:7).
And yet it is not without reason that in this Trinity only the Word of God is called Son, only the Gift of God the Holy Spirit, and only He of whom the Word is begotten and from Whom principally the Holy Spirit proceeds is called God the Father. I have added the term “principally” because the Holy Spirit is found to proceed also from the Son. But this too the Father gave the Son, not as if the Son did not already exist and have it, but because whatever the Father gives the Son, He gives by begetting. He so begot Him, then, that the Gift might proceed jointly from Him, and so that the Holy Spirit would be the Spirit of both (XV, 17:29).
According to Scripture
The central verse in this whole debate is John 15:26:
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.
The Council of Constantinople lifted the phrase “proceedeth from the Father” directly from Scripture and placed it in the Creed. The Spirit’s precise relationship to the Son was not a pressing question at the time, and the Council did not speak to it one way or the other. Yet the Eastern Church argues from the silence of the text and of the Creed: since both say “from the Father” and no more, it is wrong, the East insists, to add more. This is not necessarily true, however. “From the Father” need not exclude “and from the Son” if there is other Scriptural evidence to support the clause.
We read in Matthew of one angel at the tomb on Easter Day, and this does not contradict Luke’s statement that there were two angels. We read in Mark 10 and Luke 18 of a blind beggar healed by Jesus on the outskirts of Jericho, and this does not contradict the statement in Matthew that there were two blind beggars healed. Similarly, it is clear that the saying of Jesus, that the Spirit proceeds from the Father, does not contradict the statement that the Spirit proceeds also from the Son. (6)
Though Scripture does not say explicitly that the Spirit proceeds from the Son, it does say what amounts to the same thing.
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you (John 17:7).
And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost (John 20:22).
Jesus promised that He Himself would send the Spirit. After His resurrection, He bestowed the Spirit upon His disciples with a breath, His own breath. The Eastern Church argues that this was merely a sign or sacrament; yet God reveals Himself in His works as He is in truth. The sending or breathing or procession in time presupposes and reveals the procession from eternity. (7)
And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father (Gal. 4:6).
If the Holy Spirit is the Spirit (or Breath) of the Son, then He must be breathed (spirated) by the Son. And the word is Son, not Christ or Jesus: the reference is to the ontological Trinity, to something within the Godhead, and not to the Mediator’s sending the Spirit at Pentecost. The Son breathes the Spirit from eternity, and therefore He has breathed or sent Him in time.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shew it unto you (John 16:13-15).
That which the Spirit has, He has “from the Son no less than from the Father.”
…and as the Son is said to be from the Father because he does not speak of himself, but of the Father (from whom he receives all things), so the Spirit ought to be said to be and to proceed from the Son because he hears and speaks from him. (8)
There is more. If the Spirit does not proceed from the Son, we have some serious theological problems. First, we lose intimate fellowship that is the Trinity. For the Holy Spirit has no immediate relationship to the Son. The Father’s Breath has no destination, nor is that Breath ever returned to Him. “It is only if the Spirit proceeds from both that the inter-communion of the persons of the Trinity is eternally complete.” (9)
Second, we have no way to distinguish the Son and the Spirit within the Godhead. We cannot even say that the Son is the second Person of the Trinity and the Holy Spirit is the third. After all, isn’t it true that a man’s spirit is closer to that man than is his son? And yet the normal language of Scripture and the order of historical revelation give us Father, then Son, and then Spirit.
If We Abandon the Filioque…
Ideas have consequences. Ideas about God have profound consequences, especially given enough time. The Filioque is not a minor matter, and whether the Church accepts or rejects it will have extensive and long-term cultural effects. The Dutch theologians and those influenced by their writings seem to have clearer understanding of this than, say, those in the Presbyterian tradition. For example, Herman Bavinck writes:
The three persons [in the Eastern perspective] are not viewed as three relations within the one essence, the self-unfoldment of the Godhead, but the Father is viewed as the One who imparts his being to the Son and to the Spirit. As a result, the Son and the Spirit are so coördinated that both in the same manner have their “originating cause” in the Father. In both the Father reveals himself. The Son causes us to know God: the Spirit causes us to delight in him. The Son does not reveal the Father in and through the Spirit, neither does the Spirit lead us to the Father through the Son. The two are more or less independent of each other; each leads to the Father in his own peculiar way. Thus, orthodoxy and mysticism, mind and will, are placed in antithetic relation to one another. And this peculiar relation between orthodoxy and mysticism characterizes the religious attitude prevailing in the Eastern Church. Doctrine and life are separated: doctrine is for the mind only: it is a fit object of theological speculation. Next to it and apart from it there is another fountain of life, namely the mysticism of the Spirit. This fountain does not have knowledge as its source but has its own distinct origin and nourishes the heart. Thus, a false relation is established between mind and heart: ideas and emotions are separated, and the link that should bind the two in ethical union is lacking. (10)
Edwin Palmer summarizes Kuyper’s analysis:
Moreover, as Abraham Kuyper has incisively pointed out, a denial of the filioque leads to an unhealthy mysticism. It tends to isolate the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives from the work of Jesus. Redemption by Christ is put in the background, while the sanctifying work of the Spirit is brought to the fore. The emphasis is more and more on the work of the Spirit in our lives, which tends to lead to an independence from Christ, the church, and the Bible. Sanctification can loom larger than justification, the subjective communion with the Spirit larger than the objective church life, and illumination by the Spirit larger than the Word. Kuyper believes that this has actually been the case to some extent in the Eastern Church, as a result of the denial that the Spirit proceeds from the Son as well as from the Father. (11)
The Spirit comes to glorify the Son (John 16:14). If we detach the work of the Spirit from the blood of Christ and the word of God, we distort Christianity in a most frightful manner, and any mysticism we create will be more akin to Eastern pantheism than to anything in the Bible — excepting, perhaps, the idolatry of ancient Israel. (12)
Jim Jordan, writing on the Second Commandment, has connected Eastern Orthodoxy’s rejection of the Filioque with its use of icons.
God meets man in language, in personal discourse. Music may glorify that conversation — and it should do so in worship — but God does not meet man in music. Nor does He meet man in visual art of any sort. He meets man in the Word of God, in language; and because God in incorporeal, He meets man in language alone.
Another way to put this is that God meets man only through the Son of God, the Word. The Spirit is the glory, the music, the visual display of God; but God does not meet man through the Spirit. By insisting that icons are a separate channel of non-verbal communication with God and the saints, the Orthodox separate the Spirit from the Son. Understandably, they deny that the Spirit proceeds from the Son. Biblical religion, however, insists that the work of the Spirit is to enable us to understand the Word of the Son, not to be a separate way of approaching God. God’s “No!” [in the 2nd Commandment] is a rejection of any attempt on the part of man to approach God apart from His Son. (13)
There are other implications we need to consider. For if the Spirit comes to do the work of the Father, we must expect to find Him most clearly revealed, not in the Church, but in creation. “If the Spirit is understood as proceeding from the Father alone, it is then natural to think that Spirit reflects the spiritual energy of the created world.” Grace then takes a back seat to Nature.
Subordinationism gave primacy to nature, and hence to the natural ability of man. As a result, man becomes in effect his own savior, and grace is cooperating grace, not prevenient. If the Holy Ghost proceeds only from the Father, then the Holy Ghost, in a system, which accords primacy to nature, becomes absorbed into nature. (15)
Theologically, rejection of the Filioque opens the door to Pelagianism, man’s ability to save himself; politically, it leads directly to statism. “The sure voice of God was therefore the natural voice, the state.” (16) Eastern Orthodox nations are no strangers to totalitarianism and imperialism.
The filioque is vitally connected with the advance of the Western church towards a strong anthropology (in connection with the doctrine of sin and grace), while the Eastern stopped in a weak Pelagian and synergistic view, crude and undeveloped. The procession only de Patre per Filium would put the church at arm’s length, so to speak, from God; that is, beyond Christ, off at an extreme, or at one side of the kingdom of divine life, rather than in the center and bosom of that kingdom, where all things are hers. The filioque put the church, which is the temple and organ of the Holy Ghost in the work of redemption, rather between the Father and the Son, partaking of their own fellowship, according to the great intercessory prayer of Christ Himself. It places the church in the meeting point, or the living circuit of the interplay, of grace and nature, of the divine and the human; thus giving scope for s strong doctrine of both nature and grace, and to a strong doctrine also of the church itself. (17)
The Filioque means that the work of the Father and the work of the Son coincide in the operation of the Holy Spirit. Grace is not deification, but the redemption and restoration of God’s creation. The Church, as the temple of the Holy Ghost, lies at the very heart of this process and in the center of the covenant love that exists within the Triune God.
Summary and Conclusion
In 1984 ABC correspondent George Bailey, writing for a secular audience, traced the conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States of America, the modern incarnations of East and West, to the Filioque. He pointed to “the mystagogical, or spiritual, turning inward of the Greek Orthodox faith,” which he connected with “the withdrawn spirituality of the Russian orthodox tradition.” This he contrasted with “the dynamic involvement in worldly affairs characteristic of Catholicism and, to an even greater extent, of Protestantism (the lay minister in a business suit).”(18) Bailey may have exaggerated cause and effect, but at least he saw something of the theological and creedal roots of the greatest political conflict of the 20th Century. Not many Western theologians were as astute.
The mysticism, cultural stagnation, and imperialism typical of Eastern Orthodox nations are logical consequences of rejecting the Filioque. Sovereign grace and political liberty are logical consequences of embracing it. And yet few Western writers have devoted more than a page or two to the Filioque. This is sad. Eastern Orthodox theologians at least understand that the issue is important, and they are quick to contend for the sanctity of their position. (19) It is time for Western theologians to show a like zeal in defending their own theological inheritance.
1. William G. T. Shedd, one of the few American theologians to write at length on this issue, summarizes the doctrine with these words:
Again, the Spirit, though spirated by the Father and the Son, yet proceeds not from the Father and Son as persons but from the Divine essence. His procession is from one, namely, the essence; while his spiration is by two, namely, two persons. The Father and the Son are not two essences, and therefore do not spirate the Spirit from two essences. Yet they are two persons, and as two persons having one numerical essence spirate from it the third form or mode of the essence — the Holy Spirit: their two personal acts of spiration concurring in one single procession of the Spirit. There are two spirations, because the Father and the Son are two persons; but there is only one resulting procession.—Dogmatic Theology, 2nd ed., vol. I (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1980), 290.
2. An earlier council at Toledo (447) had already declared: “If anyone does not believe that the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father and the Son, and is coeternal with and like unto the Father and the Son, let him be anathema.” The 3rd Anathema, in Rousas J. Rushdoony, Foundations of Social Order (N. p.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1972), 120.
3. Protestants have not worried much about this point, and I will leave the argument to others. Whether the Filioque is biblical or not is logically a distinct issue.
4. The quotations that follow have been collected by James Kiefer in Creeds, “The Filioque,” 5-7, available at ( http://www.thefathershouse.org/creed/filioque.html). This is a remarkable web site, the more so since it is sponsored by the International Pentecostal Holiness Church.
5. Ibid., 8. Keifer writes: “From all eternity, independently of any created being, God is the Lover, the Loved, and the Love itself. And the bond of unity and love that exists between the Father and the Son proceeds from the Father and the Son.”
6. Ibid., 2.
7. Turretin, III, xxxi, v, 309. Cf. Palmer, The Person and Ministry of the Holy Spirit, The Traditional Calvinistic Perspective (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974), 16.
8. Turretin, 309.
9. Cornelius Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology (N. p.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1974), 226.
10. Herman Bavinck, The Doctrine of God (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1991), 317.
11. Palmer, 18.
12. The golden calves, both Aaron’s and Jeroboam’s, were supposed to represent and serve as means of contact to Jehovah (cf. Ex. 32:4; 1 Kings 12:28).
13. James Jordan, Rite Reasons, Studies in Worship, No. 59, September 1998.
14. Robert J. Sanders, “Violence and the Filioque” (http://st-pauls.manhatttanks.org/essays/apr95.htm), April 1995.
15. Rushdoony, 125.
16. Ibid., 123.
17. Yeoman, quoted by Rushdoony, 123. Unfortunately, Rushdoony mistakenly traces this quote through Schaff. If anyone knows where the quote actually comes from, please e-mail me the reference.
18. George Bailey, Armageddon in Prime Time (New York: Avon Books, 1984), 37-38.
19. Most web articles on the Filioque are Eastern Orthodox. (4)
Greg Uttinger teaches theology, history, and literature at Cornerstone Christian School in Roseville, California. He lives nearby in Sacramento County with his wife, Kate, and their three children. For one of the best theological websites, go to https://chalcedon.edu/
The Athanasian Creed and the filioque, see number 22:
1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith; Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
2. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
3. Neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance
4. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son and another of the Holy Spirit.
5. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.
6. Such as the Father is, such is the Son and such is the Holy Spirit.
7. The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Spirit uncreate.
8. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
9. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.
10. And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal.
11. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensibles, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.
12. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty;
13. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.
14. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;
15. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
16. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;
17. And yet they are not three Lords, but one Lord.
18. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every person by himself to be God and Lord;
19. So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say: There are three Gods or three Lords.
20. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.
21. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.
22. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
23. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
24. And in this Trinity none is afore, nor after another; none is greater, or less than another.
25. But the whole three persons are co-eternal, and co-equal.
26. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
27. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
28. Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
29. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.
30. God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and made of the substance of His mother, born in the world.
31. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.
32. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.
33. Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.
34. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the manhood into God.
35. One altogether, not by the confusion of substance, but by unity of person.
36. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;
37. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead;
38. He ascended into heaven, He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty;
39. From thence, He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
40. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;
41. And shall give account of their own works.
42. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
43. This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.
This creed is named after Athanasius (A.D. 293-373), the defender of orthodoxy against Arian attacks on the doctrine of the Trinity.
Protestant Reformed Churches in America Official Website on the Ecumenical Creeds:
A creed expresses what the church believes to be the truth of Sacred Scripture. An ecumenical creed expresses certain fundamental truths of Scripture which are held by most Christian churches throughout the world. Three of these ecumenical creeds—the Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, and Athanasian Creed—are cited in Article 9 of the Belgic Confession as statements of truth which “we do willingly receive.” These ancient creeds express basic truths regarding the doctrine of the Holy Trinity over against various errors, which surfaced in the early history of the New Testament church. To these three the Protestant Reformed Churches have added the Creed of Chalcedon (AD. 451), which sums the truth of the Person and Natures of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even though this creed is not mentioned by name in the Reformed confessions, it is included because the doctrine set forth in it is clearly embodied in Article 19 of the Belgic Confession.
“The Symbolum Quicunque [Athanasian Creed] is a remarkably clear and precise summary of the doctrinal decisions of the first four ecumenical Councils (from A.D. 325 to A.D. 451), and the Augustinian speculations on the Trinity and the Incarnation. Its brief sentences are artistically arranged and rhythmically expressed. It is a musical creed or dogmatic psalm. The first part (ver. 3–28) sets forth the orthodox doctrine of the Holy Trinity, not in the less definite Athanasian or Niceno-Constantinopolitan, but in its strictest Augustinian form, to the exclusion of every kind of subordination of essence…The second part (ver. 29–44) contains a succinct statement of the orthodox doctrine concerning the person of Christ, as settled by the general Councils of Ephesus 431 and Chalcedon 451, and in this respect it is a valuable supplement to the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. It asserts that Christ had a rational soul (νοῦς, πνεῦμα), in opposition to the Apollinarian heresy, which limited the extent of his humanity to a mere body with an animal soul inhabited by the divine Logos. It also teaches the proper relation between the divine and human nature of Christ, and excludes the Nestorian and Eutychian or Monophysite heresies, in essential agreement with the Chalcedonian Symbol. (5)
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7) Who can dispute that Jesus sends the Holy Spirit?
“Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:12)
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
1. Charles Hodge, Commentary on Romans, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company), p. 258.
2. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977) p. 1467.
3. Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary, Revelation, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p.2126.
4. Greg Uttinger, Chalcedon Foundation, The Theology of the Ancient Creeds Part 6: The Procession of the Spirit, (Vallecito, CA, Chalcedon Foundation), Online article https://chalcedon.edu/…/christianity-101-the-theology-of-th…
5. Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, (New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1878), 1.37, 39.
“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)
Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. He served as an ordained ruling elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He worked in and retired from a fortune five hundred company in corporate America after forty years. He runs two blogs sites and is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com
For more study:
* For a great source of theological definitions go to Rebecca writes at Rebecca writes http://www.rebecca-writes.com/theological-terms-in-ao/
** CARM theological dictionary https://carm.org/dictionary-hermeneutics
*** Reformed answers http://reformedanswers.org/
THE FILIOQUE © John S. Romanides http://romanity.org/…/rom.03.en.franks_romans_feudalism_and…
THE DOUBLE PROCESSION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN EVANGELICAL THEOLOGY TODAY: DO WE STILL NEED IT? GERALD BRAY http://www.etsjets.org/…/JE…/41/41-3/41-3-pp415-426-JETS.pdf