This is a guest post written by Richard Hagenston. Hagenston is an ordained United Methodist minister, a former pastor, and the author of Fabricating Faith: How Christianity Became a Religion Jesus Would Have Rejected.
When I was a United Methodist pastor, I learned an unsettling thing from my own experiences and those of some colleagues serving other churches: Many ministers keep secrets about the Bible, lest things they learned in seminary (or otherwise know) hurt church attendance and the Sunday offering.
This put some friends of mine in a terrible quandary, forced to say things from the pulpit that were doctrinally demanded but which they had come to privately question. As for me, I resolved the matter by leaving the pastorate. When I did, I got calls of congratulations from two nearby ministers. One of those calls was especially poignant. He said I was fortunate to have other skills from my previous work experience that I could draw on. But he added that all he had been trained to do was to be a minister and that he felt trapped in the pulpit saying things he no longer believed in order to continue supporting his family.
It’s time our secrets about the Bible came out. It’s time for Christians to know what their pastors won’t tell them.