John Frame and the Requirements of Church Officers

In the comments for another post, Tom raised the point that he thinks that church officers in confessional churches should fully adhere to their churches’ confessions or be deposed.

John Frame disagrees. Here’s why:

Among church officers, it is legitimate to expect them to subscribe to confessional statements, for the issue with them is not their faith as such (as in the case of members) but their qualifications to teach and make decisions for the church. Even here, however, we must be careful what form the subscription takes. If the church requires its officers to subscribe to every “jot and tittle” of the confession on pain of ecclesiastical discipline, then the confession becomes in principle unamendable.[18] Anyone wishing to amend it would on that very account be subject to discipline. An unamendable creed becomes, in effect, the equivalent of Scripture, thus Scripture itself loses its unique authority in the church. Thus there must be some leeway, some at least momentary tolerance, some legroom for people who conscientiously believe that something in the confession is unscriptural. The arrangement may be such as to force the church into a re-examination of its doctrines, or on less important matters (see earlier discussion) it might simply lead to a permitting of differences in these areas.