On Consensus: A Canonical Appraisal

Public Orthodoxy

by Very Rev. Dr. Alexander Rentel

A key component of the document “Organization and Working Procedureis the requirement for unanimity for the approval of any texts or amendments. The primates of the Churches can adopt procedures for the running of the council; nothing in the canonical tradition forbids the adoption of such rules, and consensus as a rule for decision making has a long history in the Church. While it would be anachronistic to claim that the Council of Jerusalem described in Acts was a council like subsequent councils, the description there provided a paradigm for later conciliar activity. The phrasing of the Apostolic decree, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us (Acts 15.28),” expresses the two-fold requirement that anything the conciliar process arrives at must be consistent with the revelation, manifested in the consensus of those in the Church. These seemingly practical requirements…

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