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History of Dogma - Volume V
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2. The Controversy regarding the Filioque and Pictures.

By the position it had taken up in the Adoptianist as well as in the predestination controversy, the Church of the Frankish kingdom identified itself, abandoning tendencies to higher characteristics of its own,687687Of course only tendencies—the confusion that still prevailed at the close of the eighth century as regards Augustinianism is best shown by the fact that the Symbol admitted into the Libri Carolini (symbolum Hieronymi, sermo Augustini) was Pelagius’ Confession of Faith ad Innocentium. But it was also, as late as A.D. 1521, produced by the Sorbonne against Luther as Augustine’s confession. with the popular Church ideas as represented by Constantinople and Rome. The theology it had inherited from Augustine was transformed into an ecclesiastical system such as had long prevailed in those chief Churches. But the West at that time still held tenaciously to its own characteristic position as compared with the East in two doctrines; it supported the filioque and rejected images. Both these subjects have been already discussed in Vol. IV., pp. 133, 317, therefore only a little falls to be added.

Even if we had not known it already, we see very clearly in the controversy regarding the filioque clause that the doctrine of the Trinity and Christology constituted dogma and the legal basis of the Church κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν, even for the West—see the Athanasian Creed.688688I have dealt with the origin and authority of the Athanasian Symbol in Vol. IV., p. 134. Since then Loofs (R. Encykl., Vol. II.3, pp. 177-194) has published an investigation regarding it, distinguished by a comprehensive knowledge of sources and literature. We are agreed as to the following points. (1) The Symbol, whether we may think it to have risen out of two originally independent documents or not, belongs to Roman Southern Gaul. (2) Its first, longer, Trinitarian half, as well as the second, shorter, Christological portion belongs to the period c. 450—(at latest) 600. In the pre-Carlovingian age the Symbol had only a partial authority—the Canon of Autun proves that it was accepted there c. 670. Not till the Carlovingian period was the way prepared for its universal acceptance. Thus only two important points are in dispute. (1) Did the Symbol originate in a sermo de symbolo, or was it directly conceived as a formulary of the faith? (2) Does it consist of two portions originally independent, or was it framed from the first in its present extent? I may here leave the first question alone. As regards the second, I had supported the original independence of the Trinitarian first half, and supposed that the Christological section was only added a considerable time later, perhaps not till the Carlovingian epoch. Loofs (p. 185 ff.) has convinced me, by his evidence as to the Cod. Paris, 3836, that this date has been put too late. But I never based my opinion of an original independence of the two parts on this external testimony invalidated by Loofs, but on the internal matter of the Symbol. The latter Loofs has practically left alone. The following facts fall to be considered. (1) In the opening of the Symbol, §§ 1-3, the doctrine of the Trinity is alone announced as “catholica fides” (compare the edict of Theodosius I. of A.D. 380); there is nothing to suggest that the author means also to deal with Christology. (2) In § 26 we find, consistently with this, the solemn conclusion reverting to the beginning; “Qui vult ergo salvus esse, ita de trinitate sentiat.” This whole first half is accordingly a rule of faith complete in itself and entire, elaborated by the aid of Augustine and Vincentius, and anti-Arian. Nothing essential is to be found in it which could not have been written by Augustine, if of course the sentences may have been only gradually polished afterwards. (3) The following section, not hitherto introduced, is, indeed, bracketed with the preceding one by §§ 27 and 48; but these brackets testify plainly enough that an original organic unity is not to be supposed. For (a) § 40 is a replica of § 26, yet (b) the language is somewhat different (in the second section we have “fideliter credere,” “fides recta, ut credamus et confiteamur,” “fideliter et firmiterque credere”; in the first section: “catholicam fidem tenere,” or “integram inviolatamque fidem servare”). (4) Looking to the contents, the Christological section, §§ 28-39, shows, first, the Antinestorian (32) and Antimonophysite attitude (34, 35) completely balanced; secondly, the Gallican rescension of the Apostle’s Creed (“passus,” “descendit ad inferos,” “sedet ad dexteram dei patris omnipotentis—these could only be attributed to Spain); thirdly, the influence of the Nicene Constantinopolitan Creed (“passus est pro nostra salute,”), so that we can hardly ascend beyond the beginning of the sixth century for this part. (5) Weight is to be given to the fact that the author, who has adhered strictly in §§ 36, 37 to the curt form of the Symbol, has considered it necessary in §§ 38, 39 to make a wordy addition, that at Christ’s coming all men “reddituri sunt de factis propriis rationem, et qui bona egerunt ibunt in vitam æternam, qui vero mala in ignem æternum.” Is this addition not to be understood as in the interests of Semi-Pelagianism? The two portions may have been combined as early as the sixth century. If we could date the Sermo Trevir. we would know more accurately about this. The filioque, which originated in Augustinian theology, came to the Frankish kingdom from Spain, but we know nothing more precisely as to how it did. It was held to be certain that it belonged to the Symbol, and this conviction was already expressed at the Synod of Gentilly (767).689689See Hefele, III., p. 432. Charles’s learned theologians confirmed it, as is proved by Alcuin’s work De processione spiritus sancti, and the Libri Carolini.690690Hefele, III., p. 704; see Libr. Carol. III. 3 (Migne, Vol. 98), where Tarasius is blamed for teaching that the Holy Spirit proceeds ex patre per filium instead of ex filio. Official action was provoked by Western monks having had to submit to grave injustice in Jerusalem, because in the Liturgy they added, “sicut erat in principio” to the “Gloria patri,” and “tu solus altissimus” to the “Gloria in excelsis,” and in the Symbol “filioque” to “a patre.” They complained to the Pope, who turned to the Emperor. The latter commissioned Theodulf of Orleans to compose a work, “De spiritu sancto,” and got it decreed at the Synod of Aachen (809) that the filioque belonged to the Symbol.691691Hefele, III., 750-755. The Pope, however, who had to approve of this decision, still took the East into consideration, and did not permit the admission of the word, though he assented to the doctrine. Even the remonstrance of the Franks that the filioque was necessary to salvation did not move him.692692See Mansi, XIV., p. 18 sq. It is very important that the Pope objected to the last-mentioned argument of the Franks, saying that other things were also necessary for salvation, and were yet not received into the Symbol, since it could admit of no change at all. This meant (as opposed to the Eastern view) that the Symbol did not embrace everything that belonged to salvation. The Pope says (p. 20): “Verumtamen, quæso, responde mihi: num universa hujusmodi fidei mystica sacramenta, quæ symbolo non continentur, sine quibus quisque, qui ad hoc pertingere potest, catholicus esse non potest, symbolis inserenda et propter compendium minus intellegentium, ut cuique libuerit, addenda sunt?” The Pope, besides, asserted, in a very remarkable way, in the interview with the Frankish missi, he thought that all stages of culture could not take up the same attitude to dogma, hat accordingly what was important to some was not to others. The matter continued thus till the great controversy under Photius, until the filioque became the Symbolic watchword in the whole of the West.693693The papal legates in Constantinople (A.D. 88o) still subscribed the Symbol without filiogue. On John VIII., see Hefele IV., p. 482. The Frankish kingdom took the liveliest interest in the controversy in that period; but the grounds on which it rested its own view were always the same. It is not known how and when the “filioque” was admitted in Rome into the Symbol; and we know just as little about how and when Rome accepted the Gallican Apostles’ Creed and the Athanasian. The most worthless formula of Augustinianism, once recommended by its opposition to Arianism, was thus preserved in the West.

If in this controversy between the West and East the former at first received only a lukewarm support from Rome, which was still half Byzantine, the Pope ranged himself entirely on the side of the pious Eastern theologians in the Oriental controversy about images, and therewith his relations became strained with Frankish theology or the efforts made by Charles I. to promote civilisation. The attitude of that theology in the great conflict is extremely characteristic of the transition time in which it found itself. The spiritual (inner) element introduced into it by Augustine no longer reacted in Christology, and in the conception of the Mass, against mystical superstition and magic sacramentalism. It had been swallowed up by the more powerful Byzantine Roman current. But the Franks could not yet force themselves to adopt the Oriental worship of images.694694This is true of the cultured, and at that time governing, portion of the clergy. A halt was made at the Host. A spiritual, Augustinian element reacted against image-worship, but, paradoxical as it sounds, the lower state of dogmatic culture had also its effect here. It would indeed seem, on a superficial view, that he who rejects the veneration of images is always the more cultured. But that only holds in circumstances that did not then exist. Where men had once entered, as was the case in the Frankish kingdom, the magic circle of the Byzantine mysticism that enveloped Christ and the cultus, it was simply the sign of a religious faith not yet fully developed on this basis to halt at the Host, and to disdain the riches offered by images to theological thought and pious fancy. The East and Rome made their Christology living for themselves in pictures, and so saw the past mystery in the abiding present. How could a faith dispense with them that already aimed at the sensuous enjoyment of heavenly things and revelled in the worship of relics? But dogmatic culture was still backward in the West, the theosophy of images had not yet been learnt, and—what was most important—but few pictures were possessed.

It has been maintained,695695Hefele, III., p. 433; Hauck, K.-Gesch. II., p. 278 f. but it is not absolutely certain, that the Synod of Gentilly (767) emitted a declaration as to image-worship satisfactory to the Pope. The Synod of Frankfort (794) unanimously condemned the decision of the seventh Œcumenical Council, which required “service and adoration” (servitium, adoratio) to be rendered to images. The decisions of the Council were undoubtedly extant only in a very bad translation.696696Mansi, XIII., p. 909. “Certain chapters” had been previously sent to Rome against the worship of images, these being an extract (85 ch.) from the Libri Carolini, which Alcuin had composed shortly before, at the Emperor’s command, in conjunction with other theological Court officials; they were written against the Oriental Councils of 754 and 787.697697Migne, CII., p. 999 sq. In these iconoclasm, but still more strongly image-worship, are forbidden as foolish and mischievous. It was right to have pictures for decoration and recollection, but not to adore them (Gregory I., Ep. VII. III: “therefore the picture is used in Churches that those who are ignorant of letters may at least read by seeing upon the walls what they cannot read in books,” and, further, Libri Carol. præf.: “having images in the ornaments of our churches and in memory of past events, and worshipping God alone, and exhibiting fit veneration to his saints, we are neither iconoclasts with the one party nor worshippers with the other”). Image-worship is then refuted at greater length, and the addition of the seventh to the six Œcumenical Councils is condemned; the two Synods (of 754 and 787) are “infamous” and “most foolish” (infames, ineptissimæ). Some would see in these books a proof of the Carlovingian “illumination”;698698Reuter, l.c. I., p. 10 f. but the enlightenment, which is unmistakable in other respects, only went the length of ignorance of the theosophy of images, failure to understand the subtle distinctions between λατρεία (worship) and προσκύνησις (veneration), and the king’s effort to advance civilisation. What the books really show is the self-reliance and sense of power of the Frankish Church, which break out with youthful audacity, convicting with mischievous glee the older and wiser sister of error, and actually summoning, and requiring the Pope formally to prosecute, the Byzantine Emperor and the Empress-Regent.

These books already show that the Roman West and the East could no longer go together, because the former sought to take command. They also reveal a trace of Augustinian spiritual teaching, but knowing what we do of the sort of thing held sacred at that time in the Frankish kingdom, they cannot be taken as proving that men were more enlightened in the Western than in the Eastern Church.699699The most vigorous defenders of Augustinian spiritual teaching were Claudius of Turin and Agobard; see Reuter, I., p. 16 ff. We are reasonably astonished that Claudius did not fare worse than he did. The study of Augustine had opened his as well as Agobard’s eyes to the contrast between the external, superstitious Christianity of their time and the ideal type of Catholicism that had taken shape to itself in the work of the great African. Pope Hadrian refuted the chapters,700700Mansi, XIII., p. 759. but took care not to exaggerate the difference. Under Louis the Pious, a Synod convoked at Paris on account of an embassy from Michael the Stammerer (825) pronounced itself decidedly against the image-worshipping Pope, and held strictly to the line laid down in the Libri Carolini: pictures might be set up “in memory of pious love” (pro amoris pii memoria), as ornaments, and, above all, for the sake of the uneducated; but they were not to be adored, and their erection might therefore be dispensed with.701701Mansi, XIV., p. 415 sq. Hefele, IV., 38 ff. Louis adopted more stringent measures against image-worship than Charles.702702See Claudius’ mission in Upper Italy, where iconoclasm broke out, and the worship was described as idolatry. Pope Eugene II. wrapped himself in silence; nay, even in A.D. 863 a Lateran Synod, while it recognised image-worship in guarded language, said nothing about the seventh Œcumenical Council.703703Mansi, XV., p. 178, 244; XIV., p. 106. Hefele, IV., p. 272. Image-worship and the seventh Synod of 787 were gradually accepted only after the time of the eighth general Synod (869).704704But the dispute between Rome and Byzantium had already become acute, the gap impassable, so that the west was unable to take part in the great renaissance of the sciences experienced by Byzantium from the time of Photius until the beginning of the tenth century. Yet the Carlovingian theologians were still hostile to image-worship at the close of the period. Hinkmar, who wrote a work, no longer preserved, “on the worship of pictures of the Redeemer and the Saints,”705705See Schrörs, l.c., p. 163. would only admit them as means of instruction (or for ornament); and Agobard,706706Contra eorum superstitionem, qui picturis et imaginibus sanctorum adorationis obsequium deferendum putant. Migne, CIV., p. 199. Jonas of Orleans,707707De cultu imaginum, 1. III. Migne, CVI., p. 305. Walafrid Strabo,708708De eccles. rerum exordiis. Migne, CXIV., p. 927. and Æneas of Paris709709Lib. adv. Græc. Migne, CXXI., p. 685 sq. held the same view. Hinkmar also calls the Council of 787 a Pseudo-Synod, and all Frankish authorities known to us, of the ninth century, reckon only six Councils. Even the (eighth) Council of 869 was at first not recognised by Hinkmar. It was only when the Frankish German Church again came to the light after the dark ages that it also saw the seventh and eighth Councils. Yet the difference with the Pope regarding the pictures hardly did any harm to his prestige in the ninth century. His authority, that is, had not been carried so high or become so sensitive that such shocks could bring about its fall.710710On the authority of Peter’s Chair itself in Hinkmar’s view, see Schrörs, l.c., p. 165 f. But when men spoke of the Pope, they did not always think of the primacy (which, besides, included no administrative power in other dioceses), but also of the Roman Church. She is the “nurse and teacher” of all churches (Hinkmar). Image-worship was never able to domesticate itself thoroughly where antiquity was not the ruling spirit. Even at the present day Italy is still the classic land of image-worship in the West. While, however, in the East that worship expresses the religious faith and the philosophy of religion themselves, because it is evolved from the Christology, in the West pictures form part of the system of intercessors and helpers in need. In practice, indeed, the difference is pretty well obliterated.


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