I toyed with the idea of making a one page summary of all the arguments one can make that Augustine was not a Florentine Filioquist, but rather Orthodox in his Pneumatology. However, I have a fear of having more concise arguments, without their rationales and prooftexts, misused and quoted out of context. So, perhaps after my booklet-length treatment of the topic makes its rounds and people start grasping its arguments, I may at that point make something more concise. For now, I commend readers to seriously dig through Augustine and try to really understand the logic of the arguments I am making.
I do want to make the following comments, in no particular order. They will not make sense without reading everything I wrote, so they will only edify those who have actually read all the articles:
I am not going to be like David Bentley Hart and hide behind some lame excuse like all of this was a “thought experiment.” I can very well be wrong, I am a fallible human being. I submit to the teaching of the Church and as best as I understand it, Augustine is teaching that teaching and not the teaching of Florence.
I think it helps to compare and contrast the images of the procession of the Spirit according to Thomas Aquinas:
And the images brought forth by Augustine:
As one can tell, they are communicating two different things. Ironically, neither posit a “triangle,” which is the illustration usually devised by Roman Catholics as well as Orthodox in explaining their views. If anything, Augustine’s illustration is a sort of circle, where the Son is begotten as a separate action as the Spirit’s procession from the Father, and both actions complete when they meet each other.
I think it is clear to any observer that the preceding illustration is Orthodox and not Roman Catholic.
On another note, allow me to admit a bias. I would much rather read a saint as consistent with other saints than at odds with them. As an Orthodox Catholic Christian, the only saints I share with Roman Catholics are pre-schism. So, we do not share Aquinas, obviously.
People need to come to grips with the fact that Augustine’s theological enemies were not Eastern Orthodox, but Arians. So, if he is constantly reaffirming the Filioque, one must ask, “Why?” The answer is obvious. The Filioque conveys that the Father and Son share the divine essence. It disproves the Arians. The battleground was more over Christ than over the Holy Spirit.
Augustine’s concern with the temporal procession is surprising to those who are not taking the preceding into account. He constantly reaffirms the Filioque pertains to the temporal procession and only in a couple passages such as Book V Par 15 and Book XV Par 45-48 does Augustine really seem to try to get into the eternal ramifications of the Filioque. But even then he just as easily drops the topic and retreats to the concept of the temporal procession.
I speculate that Augustine saw the temporal procession as indicative of the eternal procession. It is indicative inasmuch as it preserved the relational differences that Augustine surmised eternally existed. For example, when the Son gives the Gift of the Holy Spirit to man, this conveys that the Son shares the essence of the Father, in that they both give the Gift. Yet, in Book IV, Par 29, Augustine is clear that the Gift is from the Father and not the Son. Because we are so obsessed with the Florentine doctrine, we do not realize that the Filioque in such a context actually proves that the Father is the sole cause of the Spirit. Every time Augustine is affirming procession from the Son, he is literally affirming that the Father is the sole cause of the Spirit.
Why didn’t I make an illustration for the whole Gift thing? I never crudely made one simply because Augustine does not really give us a cogent way of understanding it. Augustine affirms the Father was eternally Gift Giver and the Spirit eternally the Gift from the Gift Giver. What exactly is the Son? We know He gives the Gift temporally and that He eternally shares this with the Father. Yet, Augustine rejects the Gift is properly from the Son.
In other illustrations, such as Lover>Love>Beloved, the relationships are easier to identify. They all speak of the Spirit’s role in the Son’s causation—which is ironic to say the least considering we in the modern day have the opposite obsession pertaining to how the Son allegedly causes the Spirit.
Augustine’s emphasis on the Spirit’s role in the Son’s causation should not surprise us. Being that the epiclesis transforms Bread and Wine into the Eucharist and the Spirit conceived the Son in the Theotokos, there seems to be a consistent strain of this which can tend towards a totally different, but not yet invented (thank God!) heresy—that of the Son not being begotten of the Father alone.
We must affirm that Augustine believed the Son was begotten of the Father alone, through the Spirit. But in all of this, how does the Gift-giving work in this scheme? I honestly do not know. I suppose, to give an extremely crude speculation, that the Father is the Gift Giver, He gives the Gift to the Son, who is the Gift Giver to man. Think of daddy buying a gift and then giving it to his wife to give to their children. Daddy is the cause of the gift’s existence, but the wife is too a giver, just not its cause. The gift is not properly “a gift” until it is given to the children. So too the Spirit, is not a Gift to man, until he receives it from God the Father through faith in the Son. The Gift does not have to wait to be given to be a Gift, though for the relative difference to be perceptible the giving must occur.
My last comment here is I find the Roman Catholic case from Augustine to be extremely weak. All of their difficult passages can be understood in a sensible way without mental gymnastics. One can simply quote Augustine to explain himself.
Florence insufficiently explains Augustine. How is the Spirit from the Father and Son as “cause,” as Florence claims—when Augustine asserts the Spirit is not “from” the Son in Book IV, Par 29? The Spirit is from the Father “alone” according to Book XI, Par 2–exactly as traditional Orthodox doctrine teaches.
The scholastic response to this amounts to mental-mind games. This is why I began my articles making the Roman Catholic case. It requires believing in two principles for the Spirit’s cause, as Aquinas admits, but simply calling them a single principle. So, it is actually false to say Florence truly teaches a single principle for the Spirit’s causation. It, in fact, teaches two principles and calls their joint action a single principle. Most interpreters, not understanding the preceding, get caught up in the mire of words and miss out on concepts.
And so for those Roman Catholic intercolutors, if they even have the gumption, carefully consider my arguments and then oppose them only end up contradicting Aquinas and thereby the very thought intrinsic in the Uniate and Roman Catholic side during the debates at Florence—where Maximus’ Orthodox understanding was explicitly rejected. So, if one wants to backwards engineer Florence and turn it Orthodox by completely ignoring its underpinnings from Aquinas, be my guest. But this is intellectually dishonest and one must ask himself, what’s the point? If the fathers of Florence never imagined their words being understood as Maximus wanted us to understand the doctrine, then why not admit Florence is a robber council with Pneumatological heretics and recognize that the West had betrayed their greatest theologian ever who was in agreement with Maximus—Augustine?
I have far too feeble a mind to even be thrusting myself into this field of thought. My guess is there must be thus far untranslated or earlier writings which have identified all the same things I did, and so I am late to the party. If Saint Gregory Palamas was able to take the Love illustration from Augustine as is clear from Chapters 35-40 of his 150 Chapters, and he had a Greek translation of On the Trinity, my guess is he understood it the same way I did. But, much of Saint Gregory on this topic is still not translated, so I do not know.
Pray for me a sinner. And, God willing, what was written here will help strengthen the Orthodox cause and bring with it a genuine desire to venerate Augustine.
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The most Orthodox of all Orthodox in Monopatrism are Photios, Gregory Palamas, and Mark Evgenikos, Mark of Ephesus. If you can compare Blessed Augustine to these 3 Pillars of Orthodoxy, and also to Basil, Ambrose, John Damascene, Maximos Confessor, and a few others, it will help us agree with your thesis that Augustine was not heterodox. I have my doubts, but I am sure he was nothing like Charlemagne. I blame Filioquism on Charlemagne, not on Augustinism. But Augustinism as it came down in the West morphed into Carolingian heretical Filioquism. perhaps Augustine was misunderstood, but Charlemagne was evil, and Augustine was good.
Do not judge and you will not be judged.
So you’re judging that you are not judging? Seems impossible. Do not judge other people. Judge doctrines and beliefs. We are commanded by Jesus Christ to judge everything except other people, but again, there is an exception to this in Paul, St. Paul, test the spirits, whether they be of God. 1 John, John commands us, anyone who does not confess that Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh (a human man) is an antichrist, and a deceiver: have nothing to do with them, these people.
Thank you! I need to read more of Augustine myself and am trying to reconcile his “predestinarian” thought with later church councils and the apparent idea of semi-Pelagianism. I have been influenced by that in the past (I attend a Reformed university) and most of my professors would hold to a Reformed viewpoint of Augustine. I almost struggle to see him differently. In fact, I personally took him on as patron saint in part to honor my Reformed past! So how should I reconcile these things?
Thank you for helping convince me to read Augustine for myself! Pray also for me, a sinner
Take a look at this book from Augustine, free online. If you read the excerpt, you will realize he is teaching the same thing as other saints:
Now no man is assisted unless he also himself does something…We run, therefore, whenever we make advance; and our wholeness runs with us in our advance (just as sore is said to run when the wound is in process of a sound and careful treatment), in order that we may be in every respect perfect, without any infirmity of sin whatever — a result which God not only wishes, but even causes and helps us to accomplish. And this God’s grace does, in co-operation with ourselves, through Jesus Christ our Lord, as well by commandments, sacraments, and examples, as by His Holy Spirit also. (Augustine, On Man’s Perfection in Righteousness, Chap 20)
GOD bless you Craig Truglia. Have a blessed corona-free September 2020. Here’s a message from the Bible, the Word of God, for today. Take care. The LORD will guard you coming and your going, both now and forever. PSALM 121:8 NAB 1970; The New American Bible. Copyright @1970, Catholic Bible Publishers, Inc., New York/Nashviile, TN.
Dear Craig: Bless you! I fear you are being too cautious about Augustine. He is not an outright heretic, nor is he a full-blown Photian Orthodox; his view is orthodox (small letter), not completely heterodox, and not using the full Orthodox language of the Cappadocian Fathers (Basil, Gregory, John Chrysostom), and the Three Pillars of Orthodoxy (Photius, Gregory Palamas, Mark Evgenikos). His is just another option theologoumenon in Trinitarian thought; except for the over-psychologizing and philosophizing, and the via analogia, his thought in many things is thoroughly or quite orthodox res in ipse loquitur; rather mild statement, tentative, humble, if not fully apophatic and negative. His is a bit too cataphatic. Anyway,, I don;t think you have anything at all whatsoever to fear in stating Augustine of Hippo is not a Florentine Flioquist. Unless you find in him the precise Florentine Formula: PROCEEDING FROM BOTH THE FATHER AND THE SON TOGETHER “AS FROM ONE (UNITED) PRINCIPLE”. TAKE CARE. Scott ERIE PA
Hello, its been a while since I read these articles so if I’m speaking of something that has already been addressed forgive me.
If I understand correctly your argument is that St Augustine is really saying that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father alone and (as S John of Damscus says) rests in the Son. “Resting in the Son” could also be said that the Spirit proceeds for the Son.
I came across this from St Augustine in his 99th Tractate on the Gospel of John: “But the Holy Spirit proceeds not from the Father into the Son, and then proceeds from the Son to the work of the creature’s sanctification; but He proceeds at the same time from both: although this the Father has given unto the Son, that He should proceed from Him also, even as He proceeds from Himself.”
Would this not contradict what your saying ?
That passage is not about eternal procession, I believe I actually explicitly address it somewhere, it may be in my coverage of book 15.
Thanks I will re-read your articles on St Augustine
Source: Gennadius Scholarius. De processione Spititus Sancti, 1.6 // OCGS. Vol. 2. P. 227-229
Translation: Petr Pashkov
To begin with, let us consider, based on other sayings of this teacher, whether it is possible to bring him to the agreement of the teachers (τὴν τῶν διδασκάλων συμφωνίαν), giving a correct understanding of the word procedere (προκέδερε) he uses. In the second book [of his work] Against Maximinus, [Augustine] writes:
“ You ask why, if the Son is from the essence of the Father, and the Spirit is from the essence of the Father, why One is the Son, and the other is not the Son. I will answer you, and accept or not accept my answer is up to you.
The Son is from the Father; from the Father and the Holy Spirit, but one is born and the other proceeds. Therefore the First is the Son of the Father, from whom is born; and the Other is the Spirit of both, since it emerges from both (πρόεισιν, procedit). But that is why the Son, speaking of the Spirit, said: “He proceeds from the Father (ἐκπορεύεται, procedit)” (John 15:26), because the Father is the cause (αἴτιος, auctor) of the procession of the Spirit (προόδου, processionis), because such a Son, and, begetting the Son, thereby gave Him, so that the Holy Spirit would issue from Him. For if the Holy Spirit had not acted also from Him, He would not have said to the disciples: “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22), and would not have given [It to them], breathing [It into them], thereby showing, that the Spirit also comes from Him, and with a visible breath pointing to an invisible gift . And then he adds: “ So the Spirit is the Spirit of Both, since it comes from Both” [one].
With this [translation and reading] [Augustine’s] expressions will be both completely correct and agree with other teachers, which is obvious to any reasonable person. However, those of the Latins who previously dared to add [to the Symbol], as well as those who are now deluded because of it, always understand the word procedere as “to proceed” (ἐκπορεύεσθαι) – a term that we use exclusively for designation of the hypostatic procession (πρόοδον ὑποστατικήν) of the Holy Spirit. However, they do not take into account that this teacher calls the Father the cause (αἴτιον) of the procession of the Spirit, and, apparently, assimilates it only to the Father, guided by the gospel saying; and he considers the “procession of the Spirit and from the Son” to be the hidden and invisible distribution of the Spirit, so that the [mentioned in the Gospel] breath of air (see: John 20:22) for him is a sign of the coming of the Spirit from the Son (προϊέναι ἐκ τοῦ Υἱοῦ) . Further, from the fact that the Spirit comes from Both, [Augustine] concludes that He is the Spirit of Both.
This is exactly what the Latins used to say before, while they still thought correctly: that, speaking in this way, the Roman fathers want to say that “the Spirit acts through the Son ” and from the Son, “ and thereby make obvious the unity and identity of essence ” . For the Spirit is the Spirit of Both, since it comes from Both. But the Spirit of the Son He is ” as united with Christ by nature ” , according to the words of the great Basil , and because through Him ” appears and communicates to the creature “, as the divine Damascene says , although ” it does not have being from Him (ὕπαρξιν ) » ; The Spirit of the Father, on the other hand, “ because it proceeds from the Father ” , that is, it receives hypostatic existence (ὑφιστάμενον).
So, all this he says is absolutely true. For the whole circle of our teachers cries out that the Spirit is the Spirit of the Son, that He comes from the Son to the apostles, appears and is distributed through Him, and therefore is the Spirit of the Son as well as the Spirit of the Father, except that only the latter is Reason (πλὴν τῆς ἐκεῖθεν αἰτίας); [they also say that the Spirit] in eternal existence is not separated from the Son (οὐδ’ ἐν τῇ ἀϊδίῳ ὑπάρξει τοῦ Υἱοῦ διϊστάμενον), but by nature dwells in Him, differing from Him in hypostasis, why it is said that the Spirit appears through the hypostasis. Consequently, Augustine says everything in the highest degree correctly, if he is understood in accordance with their opinion. And he agrees with them in everything and quite perfectly, if only not everywhere we translate procedere (τὸ προκέδερε) as “to proceed” (ἐκπορεύεσθαι), but to render it as “to proceed” when this word refers only to the Father,
Perhaps, to some, all of the above will seem strained. But if you have to choose one of the three: either agree that Augustine misunderstood the expressions of Holy Scripture and that it was from him that this new-found teaching was born, which was not accepted by any of the other teachers, and then consider him an innovator and a renovationist (νεωτεριστήν); or prefer him alone to the whole choir of teachers and their common teaching; or to harmonize it with the rest, even if it is a stretch, we choose the third, following the example of Maximus, who did the same with regard to the words of [Gregory] Nyssa about apocatastasis; moreover, in the interpretation that we give to the words of Augustine, we have the same Maximby their leader. And even if we treat Augustine better than justice requires, we rather prefer to do so rather than, on the contrary, to accuse him of something similar, as, for example, Thomas was not ashamed to accuse the blessed Damascene.
 Augustinus. Contra Maximinum, 2.14.1 // PL. 42 Col. 770
 Maximus Confessor. Exemplum epistoli ad dominum Marinum // PG. 91 Col. 136
 Basil the Great, St. On the Holy Spirit, 18.46 // Creations. M., 2008. T. 1. S. 88
 Johannes Damascenus. Oratio in Sabbatum Sanctum, 4 // Die Schriften. B., 1988. Bd. 5. S. 124
DEAR CRAIG TRUGLIA: WHENEVER I HAVE TIMEI SHALL READ WHAT YOU WRITE ON AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO ON THE TRINITY. ACCORDING TO RICHARD HAUGH PHOTIUS AND THE CAROLINGIANS, THE SOURCE OF AUGUSTINE’S FILIOQUE SPECULATION WHICH LATER BECAME DOGMA IN THE WEST (AGAINST WHAT AUGUSTINE PROBABLY WOULD NOT HAVE WANTED), THERE ARE THE SOURCES OF AUGUSTINE’S FILIOQUISM, MARIUS VICTORINUS, THEOLOGICAL TREATISES ON THETRINITY. CAN YOU KINDLY READ AND REVIEW THIS BOOK FOR US HERE. THANK YOU KINDLY. MARIUS VICTORINUS. THEOLOGICAL TREATISES ON THE TRINITY. TRANSLATED BY MARY T. CLARK, R.S.C.J., MANHATTANVILLE COLLEGE, PURCHASE, NEW YORK, THE FATHERS OF THE CHURCH A NEW TRANSLATION VOLUME 69. THE CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA PRESS, 1981. TAKE CARE. BE WELL. GOD BLESS.