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Must church members agree on everything?

by Stephen Davey

Donald asks, "Can a person attend a church and not agree with all that is taught? Are some things important for salvation and others not?"

I’ll say first that doctrinal agreement in a church, at least about some core issues, is important and promotes unity. There are many issues about which true Christians disagree. But when we gather in churches that have a core set of shared beliefs, it minimizes confusion and dissension. That’s a good thing.

I think where you and I may differ is on your desire for agreement on “every belief the church has.” I’ll elaborate.

The church where I serve has a very thorough statement of faith. You can READ IT HERE. It summarizes the biblical teaching that we consider essential. All of our elders, deacons, teachers and leaders agree to that statement.

However, there are areas of biblical interpretation that are outside of the topics covered in our statement of faith. In those less essential issues, we may not all hold the same biblical interpretation. I’m comfortable with that.

My main concern with seeking complete agreement on every possible belief is that it doesn’t leave room for change and growth. I’ve been a pastor for over 36 years. There are things about the Bible that I understand more fully now. Even after all my years of studying the Bible, I don’t believe that my understanding of God’s Word is perfect. There are things that I believe that might be wrong. I don’t know what those are yet, because when I become aware of them, I will change my belief.

In answer to you question about whether or not there are some things more important for salvation than others, I would say yes. And on some of those things, people can worship in the same church and hold different viewpoints.

I will caution that when believer disagree, they must do so respectfully and honorably. Minor disagreements about a non-essential beliefs should not cause division. We strive to maintain fellowship and unity.

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