FILIOQUE CONTROVERSY: A dispute which concerns one of the principal differences between the Eastern and the Western Churches, arising from the fact that the latter adds the word filioque to its creed. The Apostles' Creed has simply, "And in the Holy Ghost," to which the Constantinopolitan Creed (q.v.) added, "Who proceedeth from the father." There the Greek Church stopped, while the Latin Church, without the sanction of an ecumenical council, or even consultation with the Greek Church, added, "and the Son" (filioque). The Greek Church protested as soon as it discovered the addition; and attempts which have since been made to reestablish union between the two churches have been wrecked chiefly on this word.
The addition is met with for the first time in the acts of the Third Council of Toledo (589), in opposition to Arianism. From Spain it spread into France, where it seems to have been generally adopted at the time of Charlemagne. The Councils of Constantinople (681) and the Second Nicæa (787) did not notice it. In 809 two monks from the court of Charlemagne made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and were accused of heresy by the hermits of Mount Olivet for their use of filioque. Charlemagne felt provoked; and the council which he convoked at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen, 809) sanctioned the use of the addition.
Pope Leo III., whose confirmation of the decision of the council was asked for by Charlemagne, refused formally to incorporate the filioque in the creed, though he admitted the justness and soundness of its doctrinal bearing; and this attitude of cautious reserve the pope endeavored to maintain so far as he could under the pressure of the steadily growing impatience of the East and the all but universal practise of the West. Toward the close of the century, however, this attitude became impossible. Photius, in his encyclical letter, emphasizes the filioque as one of the gravest errors of the pope; and the Council of Constantinople anathematized it. Political circumstances compelled the pope to take up the challenge. Nevertheless, the first time a pope actually used the addition to the creed was in 1014, by Benedict VIII., at the crowning of Henry II. From that moment the pope himself appears as the defender of the practise of the Western Church, and at the Council of Ferrara-Florence he seemed to have entirely forgotten that, at least historically, there was a flaw in his argument.
The doctrine in whose statement the word filioque was destined to play so prominent a part is called the "Procession of the Holy Ghost." The term comes from John xv. 26, in which Christ speaks of the spirit of truth who "proceedeth from the Father." Inasmuch as nothing is said in this passage or in any other of the "double procession," i.e., from both the Father and the Son, the Greek Church holds to the single procession, and defends its position not only by an appeal to the text of Scripture and to the original form of the Nicene Creed, but also to the "monarchy" (Gk. monarchia) of the Father as the sole fountain, root, and cause of the deity. It distinguishes sharply between the eternal metaphysical procession of the Spirit from the Father alone, and the temporal mission of the Spirit by the Father and the Son (John xiv. 26, xvi. 7). The former belongs to the trinity of essence, the latter to the trinity of revelation, and begins with the Day of Pentecost. The Latin Church defends the double procession on the grounds of the double mission of the Spirit and the essential unity of the Son with the Father; so that, if the Spirit proceed from the essence of the Father, he must also proceed from the essence of the Son, because they have the same essence. The Greek patriarchs declined to attend the Vatican Council of 1870, on the ground of the heresy of the Latin Church upon this point.
A compromise was suggested from the writing of John of Damascus; to say that the Spirit proceeds from the Father, through the Son. This was accepted by the conference held in Bonn (Aug., 1875) between the Old Catholics, Orientals, and Anglo-Catholics, in which the filioque was surrendered as an unauthorized addition to the Creed. See CONSTANTINOPOLITAN CREED.