I received this email yesterday. It was in response to my “Scared” post. The basic thesis seems to be that I am characteristically crying out for attention in an unhealthy way that reveals some underlying sins.

Mr. Patton,

You ask people to follow your leadership, to pay attention to your words and teachings. This is a defacto property of your public and indiscriminate “ministry” via the internet. You need to respect and accept rebuttals, you appear to be unable to do this at many points, particularly when it is unflattering. A big ship cuts through many a wave, a small ship needs rescued.

Now, that aside and to your recent article. It is what I would estimate to be the pinnacle of your recent wave of whining and doubting which, as I look back, actually appears to be part of your internet ministry for quite some time. About now you wish to stop but you cannot, you’re angry and good because you need to stop with all of the emotional dysfunction parading as virtuous doubt. You are abusing your audience and your students.

I posted a response at your website, have not seen it accepted as of yet but here it is:

Why do you insist upon using your blog as your confessional/therapy room and imposing so many of your doubts and insecurities upon the world of your reader?

Ever heard of the sympathy syndrome?

It is the kind of person whose overriding impulse is to share problems in order to garner sympathy and illicit suggestive answers for personal problems.

It is one thing to address problems common to us mall and admitting you share such things and then providing a response but your indulgences into intimate confessions with the world frankly is narcissistic.

Dignity and discretion should teach us that screaming when we are hurt is reserved for dire circumstances to get aid when we cannot resolve our issues personally and privately without drawing (unneeded) attention to ourselves at each injury.

Yes, I sympathize with doubt and confusion but not when the doctor treats his own patients as his own physician.”

You have greater issues than doubt. You have a grave personality dysfunction which is unresolved. I cannot imagine how you ask people to follow your leadership under such conditions and with such constant manifestations of uncertainty, doubt and emotional vacillations.

Regards

(I left this response unedited)

She (this was written by a female) brings up some interesting observations (even if it is in a rather unhelpful polemical manner). It is interesting that I received this from someone who I don’t know, have never met, and have no interaction with that I know of. She did not write me to ask any questions, did not call, and seems to have no intention of irenic engagement. But she seems very sure of her analysis of my psychology and spirituality.

It is very true that I write from my darkness and most of the time when people do this they are crying out for help and are in an alarming situation. Yet, behind the scenes, I am very intentional about these type of posts. They are so hard to write, but I feel I need to post them anyway. While I will drive many people away, thinking I am basket-case just wanting attention, I believe there are some people who are in a desperate place who need to see other Christians in a place similar to their own.

I wrote her back telling her that she might be right. I don’t know the depth of my heart. Maybe there is some sinful motivation behind these posts. But I am not inclined to believe I am using this blog as a “confessional/therapy room” (at least for myself).

If you believe I might be going down a sinful path, I would love for you to ask some questions before you make harsh judgments. Get to know me (and others whom you may have a watchful eye on). It is not too hard and will go a long way in unerstanding why I write like I do.


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    24 replies to "A Harsh Response to my “Scared” Post"

    • Wow, This leaves me almost speechless. I really have no idea where this woman gets her qualifications for assessment, and that being said, I feel the need to defend C. Michael Patton against what I consider an unqualified critique which has an overtly critical bias. Where is the love in all of that? Are Christian Pastors supposed to be stoics on the straight and narrow devoid of sin issues? I certainly hope not. Take a look at the Apostles. All of those guys had major sin issues going on, yet they were the choice of Jesus Christ. Personally I really don’t trust a Pastor who is squeaky clean and overtly sure of his doctrine. None of us are all that, ergo the necessity for a Savior, otherwise what is the point of it all?

      You say CMP is a whiner, I say he is keeping it real. There is no cookie cutter ministry that Pastors are to fit into, each has a purpose, and God’s ontology is way to vast for most of us to wrap our minds around in the first place. How dare you go there in an outright attack. That is not only wrong, but fully uncalled for. You may not like CMP on a personal level for whatever reason you can muster up, but, and this is a BIG but, you are unjustified and unqualified to criticize his ministry. I for one love his transparency and willingness to go where many pastors won’t dare to trod. He keeps it real.

      Enough said.

    • John

      Yeah, Michael is keeping it real, which is pretty unique. Sometimes I wonder if this openness is productive, but I guess there are thousands of other places to hang out where doubt is ignored.

    • Leslie Jebaraj

      Dear Michael:

      This isn’t the first time someone’s accusing you the way they do. I remember a fellow was doing the same thing. I haven’t ‘seen’ him around recently. People like these need more help. Isn’t accusation a characteristic of the Enemy!

      Frankly, I’m also going through a similar phase. Your boldness allows me to share this. I’m not happy in my job, and I can’t afford to leave this to find another one. If I do, I cannot meet my family’s needs. I live paycheck-to-paycheck. And I’m not getting another job, as the market is down. It’s very frustrating to be in this situation.

      Thank you for being real, Michael. Your life affects another brother in India!

    • David Couchman

      Hello Michael –

      Please don’t give up. I personally have found your integrity and openness very helpful when battling some of my own doubts and questions (and I write as someone involved full time in an apologetics ministry to skeptics 🙂 )

    • Greg

      I think some people are freaked out by your transparency. Somehow we have developed a culture that says Christians should live above all the normal difficulties of life. You know, the ones we all actually struggle with because we are human but as Christians are forced to do it behind the scenes. But let one blogger display a little honesty and integrity by airing his struggles in a public forum and the naysayers come out of the woodwork.

    • Karl Vaters

      And people wonder why ministers aren’t more transparent. Why we hide our feelings behind bravado and certainty. Why we have a hard time letting others see our true selves. Why so many just quit.

      Keep doing what you’re doing. One of the great blessings of the internet and of blogs like yours, is that they allow us to express ourselves in a way that fellow-travelers can identify with.

      I don’t get why people who don’t relate to blogs like yours can’t just say “I guess that blog isn’t for me” and move on. Oh well.

    • Carrie Hunter

      Well as you know Michael I rarely interact on the blog. Largely because of the attitude exhibited by people like this person who left you such a response.

      Her response showed a lack of grace, a lack of concern for your overall well-being, and a general lack of desire for you to generally come to know the truth.

      When I see people claiming Christ but failing to exhibit even one of the above my eyebrow arches a tad. When I see all three and more, I’m pretty much at the point of questioning where they themselves are and really wondering if they need to give advice to anyone…about anything.

      I know you Michael. I’ve known you for almost 10 years now (can you believe it’s been that long?) And almost 9 of those years I have worked with you as your employee and friend.

      If a harsh rebuke on your life were to come from anyone it would be someone like me or Tim. But see we would be in the position to do such a thing because we actually know you and know every circumstance you are under.

      We certainly know that these posts of yours are not the result of seeking attention or some weird ass personality disorder (which is a quite carnal, godless and un-biblical way to describe someones behavior.)

      But through the years Michael we have seen many, many, many, people email us and say the weirdest, harshest, and most bizarre things. We take it in stride and carry on with the task at hand – that of living out the calling the Lord has placed on our lives – serving and discipling His people.

      Don’t let this get to you. Pray for her and move on.

    • Derek Greer

      Hey, Michael. I thought I’d chime in here to say that it is this quality of openness and transparency that I find most appealing about you. Thanks for being brave enough to share th real stuff.

    • Aaron M. Renn

      Given the deceitfulness of the sinful human heart, I think it’s right to always be open to questioning our own motives for things. So even if someone sends an abrasive letter, there’s no harm trying to ask if perhaps there’s some truth in it. (I say that in general, not specifically as a response to this one).

      But for me personally I think it’s extraordinarily beneficial to hear the stories of people who don’t have it all together. I think there’s way to much “shiny happy people” in the church and too many people – especially pastors – who have to put on a good front because they are afraid their weakness will reflect poorly on either God or themselves.

      Books like Job, the Psalms, Jeremiah, and Lamentations are full people laying it all out there. Was Jeremiah suffering from psychological problems? Perhaps. But we’re also better off today for having heard him be honest about his difficult relationship with God.

      Too often the only time we ever hear about people’s struggles is on the far side of being past them – in other words, when those stories are least credible. We need more stories of people being honest in the moment of trial.

      So I for one am very glad to see someone like Michael put it out there while he’s still going through it, especially since it is so rare. Thanks, Michael – and thanks for a site that’s an overall great resource.

    • Dave

      “You have a personality disorder that is unresolved.”
      Heh, don’t we all!
      This person who wrote you has one as well!

    • David Holland

      Wow. As a leader in a church I bristle at the assertion that leaders need to suck it up and pretend everything is ok. We are a broken people in a broken world in desperate need of a savior. If we live life pretending we don’t need a savior then the bible says we are liars and the truth is not in us. I need Jesus! Because my life is a hopeless wreck and I am hopeless to repair it. That is the gospel! We are the people Jesus came to save and he will loose none of us that God has placed into His hands!

    • Ellen Jervis

      As one who was married and widowed now I had the privilege to see my late husband go through much of what you expressed in your article but for my part I was guessing on so much of what I think what was going on in his mind because he did not articulate it as well to me as you did in your article. So I am very grateful for what you shared. Even though I am widowed now and do not ever expect to remarry I still want to know what goes on in a man’s heart. To which I add, that I think you represent a spiritual Christian man’s heart very well and as a pastor exceedingly well.

    • Flyaway

      Others in the Bible who were scared were King David, Elijah, Naomi, and on and on. Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes because he believed that all worldly things that he enjoyed were just vanity. Sounds like complaining to me! I would say that we should follow their example and let it all hang out. Our whining may help someone else if they see how God helps us as we turn to Him. David would end some of the Psalms with –but I will trust in God or something on that order.

    • John

      Michael,

      You stated the following; “I believe there are some people who are in a desperate place who need to see other Christians in a place similar to their own.” There are Christians in these similar places and I most often than not am one. Thank you for helping me realize that I can sometimes be messed up but can know Jesus hasn’t stop loving me nor has he pulled his mercy from me.

    • John K

      This article might be worth interacting with. On April 25, Pyromaniacs reposted a Phil Johnson post from 2009, called “The Scourge of Exhibitionistic Faux-Honesty.” That at least touches on these issues, though I don’t know if Phil would have put C. Michael Patton in this category at all or not (it may have been directed at emergent types in particular).

    • Wolf Paul

      I would like to add my voice to the chorus praising you for your transparency and honesty and to encourage you to just ignore these sorts of attacks.

      If there were any truth to this, you would have heard it from others close to you like Tim and Carrie; long-distance armchair psychology is something best ignored.

    • Susanne

      I’m thankful that you shared your brokenness with us. I am sad you go through these things, but they make me realize that is part of life, and we are not alone. Keep sharing. Keep being real! You sound like David. He didn’t always write about pretty things. Life stinks sometimes. It’s not always good.

    • EMSoliDeoGloria

      What David Holland said above.

      I don’t know you but I have been reading your blog for many years and appreciate your transparency with your struggles. We Christians don’t have to be perfect because our God is perfect. we can be vulnerable because he’s got our back.

    • Jay Saldana

      I guess this must happen to everyone called to His Service. Similar things have happened to me. But, I must say I was shocked to see it happen to you Michael. My faith grew from a seedling into a plant here. Then it was trimmed here, snipped here, watered here and then sent off for finishing touches. What gave me the grace to grow and continue was the sweet smell of irenic learning. I had to first understand the other point of view before I could arrive

    • Addai

      Well I liked what I read of the scared post, and I think lots and lots of people secretly feel the same way. But really this sort of thing reminds me when I was hanging out with “The Word of Faith” Charismatics. Somehow they treated any sort of “negative confession” like Kryptonite. And it sort of led to a kind of Faith that I think was as much bravado as anything substantial.

      http://www.apologeticsindex.org/p/p23.html

    • Lora Koetsier

      I agree with your description of word of faith charismatics Addai.

      Even though transparency and authenticity are rooted in existentialist psychology, they are good personal qualities as long as they are balanced by accountability and personal responsibility.

    • Tina

      I have often heard it said be careful who you are vulnerable with…. I suppose it doesn’t get more dangerous to do so than on a public blog, but I’m pleased to see you don’t stop even because of ignorant responses like this.

    • robin

      I think your posts have been helpful to others who are going through dark periods also (I am part of that group, going with you through dark periods and finding comfort that I am not alone). Sharing your soul is part of the baggage of being a good writer/blogger and you should not think this sinful .. though I do notice with myself that sometimes I need to take a break in order for my soul to heal.

    • cynthia

      I have to be honest here. Your ministry has been probably the most helpful thing in my Christian walk—specifically The Theology Program (next to reading through the Bible, of course). I appreciate your honesty and transparency so much, but there have been a few times where I have literally had to walk away from the computer b/c, instead of comfort, your post (can’t give a specific example) have caused anxiety. It may say more about me than your posts that have caused this reaction in me. While I don’t necessarily agree with the extent of this woman’s criticisms, I felt it might be helpful to hear an honest thought from someone who really appreciates what you do.

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