Just what was the “fundamental cause” of the Great Schism of 1054 C.E.? Questions for Discussion: Lesson 22A – Chapter 20 “The Great Schism Creates Two Traditions Out of One” from The Story of Christian Theology by Roger Olson

1. Of the many differences between Eastern and Western Christianity, which differences rooted in theology are most important in Olson’s estimation?

2. Moving beyond the Filioque, what other doctrines, cultural factors, or political events contributed most to the schism?

3. Olson cites historian Jaroslav Pelikan’s perspective on the “fundamental cause” of the schism. Pelikan invokes a complex concept as primary. What was this concept and what do you think Pelikan, respected as one of the twentieth century’s greatest historians of Christianity, was suggesting with this concept?

4. How did the Papal authority issue get involved in the tensions between East and West? What role did doctrine play in the emerging East-West debate on the papacy?

5. A student in your Sunday School class asks, “Why the big controversy over the Filioque? I’ve heard there are Catholic laymen today who say Rome should go ahead and just delete the clause and return to the early version of the Creed. What would be the harm in doing that for the Catholic Church? Wouldn’t this end the strife between Rome and the Orthodox Church?” How will you respond? Do we as Lutherans have an interest in such initiatives with the East?

6. Can you, from your understanding of the Eastern Orthodox perspective and specifically Patriarch Michael Cerularius, define the possibility of a general reconciliation in the 21st. century between East and West? What would be some other issues that would have to be resolved if the Filioque were miraculously eliminated as a source of division?

7. Which theologians shaped the terms of the ongoing debates between East and West?  How did these theologians justify their positions  doctrinally?

8. Olson points out some modern Protestant theologians assert that there were basic misunderstandings contributing to this intense debate over the Filioque Clause. What were the misunderstandings?

See Lesson 22B for Correlated Readings:

Selections from The Early Church Fathers on The Filioque Clause

Bible Verses for Reflection


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