One of my parishioners came up to me Sunday during fellowship time and asked me, very seriously and confidentially, if there were really ministers who didn't believe all the stuff we're supposed to. Really? In our hierarchy? He was utterly boggled. I get the same reaction among my Bible study participants. They just can't imagine how anyone could sign on to teach the faith and not believe every last bit of it. That kind of lack of integrity is simply beyond their imagining. Why wouldn't they resign? they ask.
I find it nearly impossible to communicate to these good people the ordinary reality I live in as a United Methodist clergyman. I'm sure it speaks very highly of them that they have the utmost faith in the integrity of our pastors and bishops and all. We clergy do not deserve such people; they humble me. But they boggle me at least as much as I boggle them.