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Common consent

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The principle of common consent is an eternal one. It was employed by the Lord at the council in heaven to ratify the Plan of Salvation, and it is employed in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to sustain God's servants and programs:

  • “And all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith, for all things you shall receive by faith” (Doctrine and Covenants 26:2).
  • “For all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith” (Doctrine and Covenants 28:13).
  • Common consent is the principle whereby Church members sustain those called to serve in the Church, as well as other Church decisions requiring their support, usually shown by raising the right hand. Jesus Christ stands at the head of his Church. Through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, he directs Church leaders in important actions and decisions. However, all Church members have the right and privilege of sustaining or not sustaining the actions and decisions of their leaders (Guide to the Scriptures: Common Consent).
  • The principle of common consent is the principle that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participate in Church decisions (see Exodus 24:3; Doctrine and Covenants 20:65). All Church members have the right to sustain or not sustain the actions and decisions of their leaders. Members who sustain, or agree with, the decision show approval and support by raising their right hands when asked to do so. Those who are opposed to the decision may raise their right hands after the sustaining vote.
  • In Church Councils every decision must be unanimous. In the world, ‘the majority rules,’ and the minority is set aside. It is possible to obtain unanimity in the Church Councils, because there is no one there who has any selfish interests to ‘fight for.’ In those assemblies everything is done, when the Spirit of the Lord prevails, ‘in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long suffering, and in faith and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity.’ When each member endeavors to conform his views on every question that comes up for consideration, to these requirements, and eliminates all personal preferences, unity can be maintained. In these Councils each member freely states his views, but when the opinion of the majority is ascertained, this is always found to be based on truth, and the minority gladly falls in line. For it is of such Councils that it can be said absolute truth, vox populi, vox Dei” (Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, Deseret Book Company, 1951, p. 701).
  • Our unanimity of thought and action does not arise, as some suppose, from duress or compulsion in any form. Our accord comes from universal agreement with righteous principles and common response to the operation of the Spirit of our Father. It is actuated by no fear except one. That is the fear of offending God, the Author of our work” (President Stephen L. Richards, Conference Report, October 1938, p. 116).
  • When our leaders speak it is for us to obey; when they direct we should go; when they call we should follow. Not as beings who are enslaved or in thralldom; we should not obey blindly, as instruments or tools. No Latter-day Saint acts in this manner; no man or woman who has embraced the Gospel has ever acted in this way; but on the contrary they have felt to listen cheerfully to the counsels of the servants of God as far as they were able to comprehend them. The difficulty is not in getting the Latter-day Saints to do right, but in getting them to comprehend what is right” (Joseph F. Smith, Journal of Discourses, vol. 12, p. 329).
  • A solemn assembly grants to members the right to participate in the principle of common consent, instituted by revelation, authorizing members to sustain those called to official positions (David B. Haight, “A Prophet Chosen of the Lord,” Ensign, May 1986, 7).
  • Yesterday we sustained the general leadership of the Church according to the principle of common consent. Not one of these Church leaders is seeking such a position, nor are they declining such a call, because they know it comes by revelation from God (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Opportunity to Testify,” Liahona, Nov 2004, 74–76).

Common Consent in Pre-mortal Life

  • “And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; … therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling” (Alma 13:3).
  • The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 365).
  • In the Grand Council in Heaven, when the great plan of salvation for God’s children was presented, Jesus responded, “Here am I, send me,” and “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” And thus He became our Savior. In contrast, Satan, who had been highly regarded as “a son of the morning,” countered that he would come and “redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost.” Satan had two conditions: the first was the denial of agency, and the second, that he would have the honor. In other words, something had to be in it for him. And thus he became the father of lies and selfishness (James E. Faust, “What’s in It for Me?,” Ensign, Nov 2002, 19).
  • References in the revelations give evidence that a Grand Council was convened during our premortal life. All of Heavenly Father’s spiritual children were there. The purpose of the council was to prepare us for our earthly experiences. We were taught all that we would need to know to return to Heavenly Father’s presence one day. We did indeed receive “[our] first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord (L. Lionel Kendrick, “Our Moral Agency,” Ensign, Mar 1996, 28).”
  • Abraham, our father, who also was present in this council, was privileged to see in vision the hosts of preexistent spirits. “Among all these,” he said, “… were many of the noble and great ones,” whom he described as being “good” (Abraham 3:22). Abraham saw that God the Eternal Father “stood in the midst” of those mighty ones and said, “These I will make my rulers; … and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born” (Abraham 3:23).

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