Agreeing on the Holy Spirit

Bishop Gregory K. Cameron and His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy sign the Dublin Agreement in Christ Church Cathedral. Photo by Lynn Glanville • Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough

Theologians from the Anglican Communion and Oriental Orthodox Churches have signed a historic agreement on the Holy Spirit. The theologians signed their agreed statement, On the Procession and Work of the Holy Spirit [PDF], Oct. 26 at the end of a week of discussions by the Anglican Oriental-Orthodox International Commission (AOOIC). The statement concludes two years of work on the subject.

In their 2015 meeting in Wales, AOOIC members discussed the “procession” of the Holy Spirit, and agreed on omitting the Filioque clause.

The clause was appended to the Nicene Creed by the Latin Western tradition. It says the Holy Spirit proceeds “from the Son” (Jesus) as well as the Father.

Last year, the theologians continued their work at a meeting in Lebanon, concentrating on “the Sending of the Holy Spirit in Time (Economia).”

This year, commission members completed the text of both sections of the agreed statement, which was then signed by the co-chairs, the Church in Wales’ Bishop of St. Asaph, Gregory Cameron, and the Coptic Orthodox Church’s Metropolitan Bishoy of Damiette, during a choral Evensong at the Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral. A published version of the statement will be launched when the commission next meets in Lebanon in October 2018.

The agreement states: “We accept that the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, based on the Scriptures, is intended to imply the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Oriental Orthodox Churches consider the addition of Filioque as an error since it breaks the order within the Trinity and puts into question the Father’s role as source, cause, and principle of both the Son and the Spirit.

The Anglican Tradition, however, sees the Filioque clause as “an interpolation, irregularly put in the text of the Creed and devoid of any canonical authorization.” This led to the Moscow Agreed Statement 1976 of the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue and subsequent statements referring to the inappropriateness of its insertion in the Creed.

“Following the Moscow Agreed Statement of 1976, Anglicans agree that ‘The Filioque clause should not be included in this Creed.’”

The Dublin Agreement adds:

Holy Scripture speaks of the Holy Spirit as movement in vivid imagery of water, fire, and wind. The Holy Spirit speaks in the Church and moves her from the area of internal comfort to the arena of external engagement. The Holy Spirit acts as the dynamic force within a redemptive understanding of memory as found in a historical past and leading to future responsibility in a changing world.

In a world of enforced displacement and fearful arrival; in a world of accelerated movement; in a world of war-torn fragmentation and courageous martyrdom; the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, transcends time and space and yet inhabits both. The same Spirit is sent to commission and empower the weak to be strong, the humble to be courageous, and the poor to be comforted and blessed in a fallen world that is upheld by the providence and grace of God the Trinity who makes all things new in faith and hope and love.

The Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Rev. Michael Jackson, is a member of AOOIC and acted as host for last week’s meeting. In a sermon during the special evensong, he said that members of AOOIC had “worked together as two families who have become one family.”


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