Are Church Elders Required to Agree on Everything?


Every church elder must be biblically qualified for the office. But what about their collective doctrinal alignment? How united must they be?

You certainly don’t want the elders to agree on less than the church’s statement of faith. If the statement of faith is the set of truths around which your church gathers, than the elders are to be an example to the flock when it comes to trusting those truths.

So if your statement of faith is pre-trib/pre-mill, or cessationist, or Arminian, or whatever, your elders should believe all that. (Now, this should make you think twice about including some of these kinds of disputed matters in your statement of faith in the first place.)

But can you ask for the elders to be united around more than what’s articulated in the statement of faith, such that the additional matters become a kind of litmus test for prospective elders? Well, that depends on who you think possesses authority for guarding doctrine in the church (i.e. the keys of the kingdom). If you think the elders possess that authority, as in a presbyterian conception, then, yes, you can ask the elders to affirm, say, the whole Westminster Confession of Faith, while you ask the members to affirm a few basic principles of the faith. If, however, you think the congregation as a whole possesses the priestly role of being the final guardian of doctrine, you probably don’t want to require the elders to affirm more than the church as a whole must affirm. That is the practice of our church, anyhow.

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SOURCE: For the Church
Jonathan Leeman