Saturday, October 18, 2014

Filioque


Και εις το Πνευμα, το Αγιον, το Κυριον, το Ζωοποιον,
το εκ του Πατρος εκπορευομενον

Et in Spíritum Sanctum, Dóminum et vivificántem:
Qui ex Patre Filióque procédit


And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Creator of Life,
who proceeds from the Father
and from the Son

Filioque, ‘and from the Son,’ is more than a word, represents more than such a short phrase should imply; it has affected the whole life of the Church, has driven a wedge between Christians for more than a thousand years, and continues to do so. It shouldn’t have this power, but such power we have given it. Those who accept it have accepted a whole history and an entire mindset that has relegated the place of holy and divine scripture to the tool of man, to something he can play with. Those who reject it have paid the price of fidelity to the Word of God, to the testimony of Jesus, but often that rejection has colored their thoughts and actions in such a way that they become blind to the plain meaning of other words of Jesus. Yet the fact remains, that the rejection of the filioque is important because it is a kind of ‘red flag’ that we are breaking with the plain words of Jesus in the Gospel of John if we accept it, and the ground zero of faithfulness to the Word of God begins here.

Holy apostle and evangelist John writes in his second letter: “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 1:9)
Adding the filioque is “running ahead and not continuing.” This is by far the major problem that Orthodoxy has with Rome. They have run ahead, and they’re proud of it.

Orthodoxy, and I mean real Orthodoxy (not the kind that can be sold either ideologically or culturally), is a strange ‘something,’ that you seem to be able to see more clearly as you approach it from afar, but when you get closer, it almost seems to dissipate, as you realise that what it looked like from the outside and could be given a name,
‘Orthodoxy,’ yields to something that is too close to us to be able to extract, throw on the table and examine.

And Jesus Christ, who once seemed a Being great, mighty, loving, faithful, whatever it is we experienced of Him, and which we wanted somehow to ‘tabernacle’ as Peter wanted to tabernacle Him on the mount of the Transfiguration, is no longer something or Someone we can glibly think or speak about. He too has become too close.

A song I love, runs “We were so close, there was no room. We bled inside each other’s wounds. We all had caught the same disease, and we all sang the songs of peace.” Even that song had a different meaning before than it has now. Before, I could explain its meaning, now, I can less so, I almost can’t, because as soon as I try, I break into tears. This is how it is with real Orthodoxy and with Jesus Christ who lives among us.

Truly, Christ is in our midst; He is and ever shall be. But what do these words really mean, what can they mean, for us, for today?

Prepare to meet your Maker, and more than that, to be unmade, and remade in an image both strange and beautiful, but to which you will be forever blinded, as you will be standing in the Light Uncreated that shone, that shines, on Tabor.

Again and again, Christós anésti! Christ is risen!

1 comment:

Jeff Cronheim said...

Many thanks for this post. I'm a Catholic who has been attending a Uniate parish for the last several months, and their omission of the Filioque at first troubled me. But you're right: "those who accept it have accepted a whole history and an entire mindset that has relegated the place of holy and divine scripture to the tool of man."