***The Consensus Patrum is the gold standard, G.***
Yes it is.
The Unanimous Consent of the Fathers (unanimem consensum Patrum) refers to the morally unanimous teaching of the Church Fathers on certain doctrines as revealed by God and interpretations of Scripture as received by the universal Church. The individual Fathers are not personally infallible, and a discrepancy by a few patristic witnesses does not harm the collective patristic testimony.
The word unanimous comes from two Latin words: únus, one + animus, mind. Consent in Latin means agreement, accord, and harmony; being of the same mind or opinion. Where the Fathers speak in harmony, with one mind overall-not necessarily each and every one agreeing on every detail but by consensus and general agreement-we have unanimous consent. The teachings of the Fathers provide us with an authentic witness to the apostolic tradition.
St. Irenaeus (AD c. 130-c. 200) writes of the tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome (Against Heresies, III, 3, 2), and the tradition which originates from the apostles [and] which is preserved by means of the successions of presbyters in the Churches (Ibid., III, 2, 2) which does thus exist in the Church, and is permanent among us (Ibid., III, 5, 1). Unanimous consent develops from the understanding of apostolic teaching preserved in the Church with the Fathers as its authentic witness.
St. Vincent of Lerins, explains the Churchs teaching: In the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense Catholic, which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors (Commonitory 2). Notice that St. Vincent mentions almost all priests and doctors.
The phrase Unanimous Consent of the Fathers had a specific application as used at the Council of Trent (Fourth Session), and reiterated at the First Vatican Council (Dogmatic Decrees of the Vatican Council, chap. 2). The Council Fathers specifically applied the phrase to the interpretation of Scripture. Biblical and theological confusion was rampant in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther stated There are almost as many sects and beliefs as there are heads; this one will not admit Baptism; that one rejects the Sacrament of the altar; another places another world between the present one and the day of judgment; some teach that Jesus Christ is not God. There is not an individual, however clownish he may be, who does not claim to be inspired by the Holy Ghost, and who does not put forth as prophecies his ravings and dreams.
A fine definition of Unanimous Consent, based on the Church Counccils, is provided in the Maryknoll Catholic Dictionary, When the Fathers of the Church are morally unanimous in their teaching that a certain doctrine is a part of revelation, or is received by the universal Church, or that the opposite of a doctrine is heretical, then their united testimony is a certain criterion of divine tradition. As the Fathers are not personally infallible, the counter-testimony of one or two would not be destructive of the value of the collective testimony; so a moral unanimity only is required (Wilkes-Barre, Penn.: Dimension Books, 1965), pg. 153.
Please note the quotation from Martin Luther; a myth says that he died a Catholic but I have no corroborative evidence. This however, indicates that he did begin to realize some of the ramifications of his actions.
This however, indicates that he did begin to realize some of the ramifications of his actions.
Sounds like he described present-day Protestant communities, doens't it? I especially like the observatrion "There is not an individual, however clownish he may be, who does not claim to be inspired by the Holy Ghost, and who does not put forth as prophecies his ravings and dreams."