Power of the Law of Common Consent

The law of common consent is explained in the following scriptures:


“And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” (1 Samuel 8:7)

Mosiah said, “Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.” (Mosiah 29: 26)

The Lord said, “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. Amen.” (D&C 26: 2)

The Lord said, “For all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith.” (D&C 28: 13)

The Lord said, “And a commandment I give unto you, that you should fill all these offices and approve of those names which I have mentioned, or else disapprove of them at my general conference;” (D&C 124:144)

Now, how much power does this law give the people of the church? Here are some scenarios:

  • Scenario #1: The bishop calls brother Smith to be the new teacher’s quorum adviser. A vote is called and 51% of the people raise their hand in opposition. Does Brother Smith become the new teacher’s quorum adviser?
  • Scenario #2: The bishop calls sister Jones to be the new relief society president. 30% of the people raise their hands in approbation. 10% of the people raise their hands in opposition. 60% of the people do not raise their hands, at all. Does sister Jones become the new relief society president?
  • Scenario #3: The president of the church claims to have received a new revelation from the Lord, which he reads in general conference. The contents are controversial. A vote is taken to approve of the revelation and add it to the scriptural canon. 60% of the people raise their hand in opposition. Does the revelation get added to the scriptural canon?
  • Scenario #4: The members of the Green Leaf 3rd Ward are tired of their tyrannical bishop. They feel he is exercising unrighteous dominion as he attempts to micromanage everything. They want to remove him and decide, amongst themselves, to take a vote in sacrament meeting to that end. One is selected to propose the vote. During the next sacrament meeting, during the voting portion, brother Carlson suddenly stands up and asks that a vote be taken to determine whether bishop Young should be removed from his position over them. At the protest of the bishopric, brother Tenney stands up and seconds the motion of brother Carlson. A vote is taken and 70% of the people vote to remove the bishop (dissolve the bishopric.) Is the bishopric dissolved? What will happen to brother Carlson and Tenney, if anything, for their actions?
  • Scenario #5: After the Carlson and Tenney affair has voted out the bishopric, brother Humphrey stands up and presents the name of brother Johnson as the new bishop, calling for a vote. Brother Johnson is a likable fellow and is voted nearly unanimously as the new (un-ordained) bishop. The people of the ward are adamant that they only want brother Johnson as their bishop and in the ensuing chaos that results when the stake president comes down to “set matters straight,” every non-brother Johnson bishop that is presented is voted down. Must the stake president accede to the wishes of the people, like Samuel, and ordain brother Johnson?

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