Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Filioque, False History and Florentine Politics

So, I was reading an Article on Catholic Answers (Original is here: http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/how-do-we-counter-the-charge-that-the-addition-of-filioque-was-an-illicit-alteration) the other day on the catholic response to the accusation of Filioque as Heresy. It blew me away, not because it was profound, intellectually stimulating or even correct but the pure fact that it lacked historical foundation, any concept the Church History and also goes completely against the commandment "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" since it is quite simply full of innacuracies designed to make an unjustifiable point.

The question asked is asking how Roman Christians should reply to accusations of heresy over the Filioque, and answer should of course be "Ignore it, we are not part of their Church" since Rome was part of the Mutual excommunication of 1054. The person answering the question instead decides to manipulate history, which I see as quite shocking and somewhat inappropriate, especially for a man of the cloth.

He quotes Ephesus and the condemnation of all that change the Creed and the acceptence of the post-Nicean changes through the discussions at The Council of Chalcedon in 451 (Seen by Oriental Orthodox as the Last Ecumenical Council.) This is all fine in my books, they have explained that at an Ecumenical Council the Creed can be changed, since the Council works in the Spirit and if God wishes the Creed Changed, we do not argue. With this in mind, the writer tries to justify Filioque by saying "it was formed at  an Ecumenical Council... in florence, 400 years after the Schism!" Then, BOOM! All forms of issue emerge.

Quote "The Council of Florence could add "filioque" legitimately as a clarification of the manner of the Spirit's procession."

Point 1)
Filioque did not enter the Creed through Florence, it was entered into the Latin version of the Creed, since they had decided to change it for themselves only, at the Council of Toledo in 589. This is when when the Western Churches had a Non-Ecumenical Council to discuss not Ecumenical matters rather than big deals LIKE CREEDS. They decided at this point to add 'Filioque' without any discussion with the other Apostolic Patriarchs. Such a thing was seen at the time as completely unacceptable as Rome Demonstrated by labelling the Second council of Ephesus, to which the Bishop of Rome was not invited, as "A council of Robbers". 100 Years  before the Council of Toledo, during the Rule of Leo I of Rome, he denounced the filioque and conmemned anyone using this heretical Christology in the Creed. Even at that point Rome saw changing the Creed without proper Ecumenical discussion as heresy.

400 years after Rome had added this to the Creed in the West, Leo III, Pope of Rome showed a great stance against it. He condenmed the Franks from reciting this addition to the Creed and Ordered the Orthodox Creed to be written on silver tablets in their Churches so that they could not change it after his rule, saying "I, Leo, put here for love and protection of orthodox faith." This demonstraction shows that even 400 years after Toledo, Rome condemned anyone from adding this due to it not being seen as 'Orthodox' (In this context meaning 'Correct belief') Church practice.

Well before the Council in Florence there was upheaval against the use of Filioque in the West, it was not discussed Ecumenically at a council and was only adopted in the West amongst some groups. This change was never given to anywhere outside of the Roman See since it was not seen as valid, since this new heretical claim (The Spirit coming from the Son as well as the father) had not been cleared with the rest of the Church outside of Barbarian Spain and France. This is the reason for the controversy above all, since Rome had shocked the Church and claimed it could make changes to the Theological views of the Church without debating this with Eastern Bishops who, at the time, were renowned for their Theological knowledge far more than any 6th Century Western Scholar. They had effectively claimed supremacy and the right to change doctrine, which to a Modern Roman Christian is not something strange but was a shocking thing to suggest in the Pre-Schism Church.

Point 2) Was Florence an Ecumenical Council?

This is an interesting point, argued that Filioque was OK since it was accepted 1000 years later and under heavy pressure by Rome. The article fails to mention the reason for the Eastrn Bishops attending. They had made a deal with Rome for Military assistance in exchance for accepting Roman Rule. Yes, that is right.. Blackmail. Rome had long decided to let Constantinople fall if they did not come under Rome's rule and because of their eventual decision not to cave in, it did fall to the Muslims.

Under various bleeding messages and political threats by the Byzantine Emperor, many of the Greeks accepted to give Rome rule over their Churches. it was only Only St. Mark of Ephesus that rejected the union for the Greek party. The Russians, after discovering that the Byzantine Emperor and Rome were seeking this for purely political reasons, angrily rejected the union and removed any Bishops in their See that accepted it.

Florence is not seen in the East as an Ecumenical Council since it was purely political. The only reason for Orthodox Bishops attending was to kneel to Rome so that they would give the Emperor enough Soldiers to save the City. The article says that "The Eastern Orthodox originally accepted the authority of the Council of Florence, but later rejected it." This is a very simplistic analysis, the reality of it is that  Rome arrogantly told them to accept heretical Changes (As mentioned in point 1, these were not Ecumenical) in exchange for their survival much as the Arabs told Christians in the middle ages to convert to Islam or die. I am sorry for that bluntness but that is the extent and historical matter of it.  Political threats and blackmail under pain of Death do not equate to an Ecumenical Council in my books and should not in the mind of any Christian.


In Conclusion, the Filioque has never been accepted as a Church teaching in the East and, as I have shown, was not added in the same manner as any Credal or Doctrinal point accepted by the Church before the 1054 schism. The Orthodox Church sees it as heretical since it was added without the authority of the Whole Church and made unheard of changes the doctine of the trinity without any prior discussion in an Ecumenical setting. To lie and simplify the history of this in order to claim that it was not a point of issue in the west or seen as scandal in the Early Church then deny any pressure during florence, is extremely offensive to anyone with basil knowledge of history.

Could you imagine if a Muslim scholar wrote that "Many Christian knights freely converted to Islam in the Crusades, then changed their mind"? Roman Catholics would be up in arms and pointing out the warping of History. Please think about the implications of the lies spread by articles such as these, since historical knowledge is the key to understanding historical issues. Lying to justify something considered questionable for 1500 years does not show anything but lack of knowledge and will to decieve.

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