In early Christianity, the Church Fathers translated their assurance that the believers are guided by the “Spirit of Truth” (John 14:17) and by Christ, as he had said “I am with you always, to the very end of the age,” (Matt. 28:20) into a conviction that the body of believers collectively would not agree on an error.
Yes. But, in this case, “body of believers” includes the those living on earth, and those living in heaven, so that the Sensus Fidei is the collective agreement of the body of believers across the ages.
Furthermore, it is not mere “agreement,” nor simply common understanding. Doctrines held in Sensus Fidei are held as true, both explicitly and implicitly, and these doctrines always pertain specifically to Faith and Morals.
People knew of course that the disciples had disputes among themselves, which Jesus resolved, but they believed that the disciples, and the believers of every age would never agree on an error.
Correct. And after Jesus departed, the task of resolving disputes fell to Peter, who received that power from Jesus.
However in Matthew 14:16
He does not correct a doctrinal matter, here. They could not have foreseen a miracle He had not yet revealed. It does not pertain to Sensus Fidei.
The passage says “the disciples” but it is unclear how many did so, if these included the Twelve, or not, if these were just the general crowd of disciples following and listening to Him, if it was all or a handful.
Furthermore, He was correcting their attitudes, specifically, not a doctrinal error. I get that when He says “for the kingdom of heaven is for such” (children) it seems like he’s correcting a misunderstanding, but that’s not the case. Jewish tradition inducted infants into the Covenant through circumcision. The disciples wouldn’t have seen it any differently in that instance. What Jesus was addressing was a cultural taboo (children interfering with the teachings of a spiritual master).
This does not pertain to Sensus Fidei.
Again, not a doctrinal matter. He is, once again, addressing their attitudes of incredulity, which in this case comes again from their cultural understanding of God’s blessings and cursings (such that a man was rich because God blessed him for his righteousness… so if it was so difficult for a righteous man to enter heaven, then how could anyone else possibly do it? a fair concern).
And again, it is unclear what “the disciples” refers to exactly.
Not even sure how this qualifies. The question was posed by three disciples. Jesus wasn’t correcting their misunderstanding so much as simply answering their question.
and 10:24, Jesus corrects misunderstanding held by the disciples in general
See my response for Matt. 19:26.
, and in Matthew 20:25 he explicitly corrects the thinking of ten of the disciples, and the other two (James and John) implicitly suffered from the same misunderstanding.
This might actually qualify for the point you’re trying to make, but I’m dubious. This is again something like a cultural attitude, or a common way of thinking. I would have serious doubts that any of the Apostles spoke, in clear agreement, in advancement of the idea that those who would be greater in His kingdom would get to lord it over everyone else. But they certainly could have.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t really violate the principle of Sensus Fidei. I’ll explain below.
It appears then that the disciples could agree on an error, if Jesus was not there to correct them.
Actually, the opposite of what you state here is true. It appears the disciples could be in error, as long as Jesus was there to correct them.
And here’s the really salient point, Sensus Fidei belongs to the Church, as the Church is the body of Christ, who is its head, and who protects it from error. But the Church wasn’t formed, as such, until Pentecost. Yes, Jesus instituted the Sacraments during His ministry. Yes, Jesus conferred the powers of office belonging to the various offices that are part of the Church, during His ministry. But, at that time, the New Covenant hadn’t yet been made. Jesus hadn’t yet completed His mission. He had not yet died, nor risen. He had not yet given the Great Commission.
Until Pentecost, Sensus Fidei didn’t yet exist because the Church didn’t yet exist. Sensus Fidei is a property of the Church because it is headed by Jesus, who is Truth itself. This means that the body of believers who belong to it, are in unity with Truth, Himself. But this reality didn’t exist until Christ’s mission was complete, and the Holy Spirit descended upon the gathered Twelve, who became the Church.
Thus, even if the disciples fully agreed, and clearly so, on an error at any time during Jesus’ ministry, this wouldn’t have any affect on Sensus Fidei.