What does it mean to proceed?

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Unoriginalname

Puritan Board Junior
When the Nicene Creed says that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son what does this mean? Is it speaking in economic terms or something else? Also is there a general consciousness (well I would assume there is) on what is intended by this phrase?
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
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Procession is the Spirit's personal property - why is he the Spirit rather than the Father or the Son? Because he proceeds (is spirated). There is an economic procession, but the Nicene creed is speaking of the Spirit's eternal procession.

Procession is a very general term: the Son proceeds, but we can define it more narrowly in his case, and say that he proceeds by way of generation. With the Spirit, we do not have the ability to be that precise. It is possible to say that procession is a different mode of communication than generation, but it is difficult to go beyond that.
 

CharlieJ

Puritan Board Junior
It is very difficult to say what the difference is between the procession of the Son and the Spirit. In Thomist terms, procession is a general term that covers both the Son and the Spirit, but we are able to say more specifically that the Son has a "generation" sort of procession. The difficulty is how to explain how there can be 2 processions within the Godhead that are distinct but nevertheless result in both being homoousios with the Father. Perhaps the best crack at this question was taken by Thomas Aquinas, who compared the generation of the Son to the generation of the "word of the heart" (a concept) in the intellect and the procession of the Spirit to the movement of love in the will. It will take some hard reading and thinking, though.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
I think Rijssen presents a view still more profound than that of Aquinas:

What the difference is between generation of the Son and the procession of the H. Spirit cannot be explained and it is safer not to know than to enquire into it. The Scholastics would look for the difference in the operation of intellectus and voluntas, so that the generation of the Son is brought about by means of intellectus, whence he is called the wisdom of God; but procession by means of voluntas, whence it is called love and charity. But as this is said without Scripture, it involves rather than explains matters. Those talk more sanely, who babbling in such a difficult matter find the distinction in three things. (1) In principle: because the Son emanates from the Father alone, but the H. Spirit from Father and Son at once. (2) In mode: because the Son emanates per vim generationis, which culminates not only in personality but also in likeness, on account of which the Son is called the image of the Father and according to which the Son receives the property of communicating the same essence to another person. But the Spirit does so by spiratio, which ends only in personality, and through which the person who proceeds does not receive the property of communicating that essence to another. (3) In order: because as the Son is the second person, but the H. Spirit the third, generation by our way of thinking, precedes spiratio, although really they are co-eternal.
But it is well in these matters to remember the caution of Heidegger:

In this way God the Father begat His Son from eternity of His own substance, giving him to have life in Himself, as He also had life in Himself John 5:26, and so begetting not another God, but only another person in the same common Deity, and that by a natural and necessary actus; but yet by a will not disjoined, not of course precedent, but concomitant, because will itself is for God His own nature and necessity; although naturally the mode of that obviously divine generation cannot be defined by us, because it is hidden in the deep secrecy (penetralia) of the divine wisdom.—Let us then say with the godly of old, that this generation took place both incomprehensibly, timelessly, inseparably and dispassionately.
 
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