I’ve been wrestling all day over whether or not to mention this, but it’s going to come out eventually, so I might as well say what I have to say about it now. I learned this morning, via a link provided by Brian Fulthorp, that Billy Birch was arrested recently for sexually assaulting a student at Southeastern Theological Seminary where he attended.
The news hit me like a ton of bricks and I felt physically ill upon reading the article. I had just been asked about the disappearance of Billy’s blog and I had no idea where it went or for what reason it was gone. Now I do. I have never met Billy in person but we’ve been interacting with one another for a few years through blogs and the occasional email. I’ve learned a ton from him about Classical Arminian theology and I considered him one of the more substantive bloggers around.
From what I did know about him I never thought that he’d be capable of such an act. My initial reaction was shock, followed by outrage, and now confusion. From everything I’ve read (and I’ll link to articles at the end of this post) Billy admitted wrongdoing and has repented of his sin and sought forgiveness from the university and the victim. They’ve forgiven him.
I deplore sexual assault in any form and it’s difficult for me to get past that. But who am I to hold a grudge against someone I don’t “really” know when even his victim has forgiven him? It’s not like he sinned against me, right? Well, that depends on how views the interconnectivity of the body of Christ I suppose. Is a sin against a member of the body a sin against the entire body? Maybe.
What I do know is this: Billy sinned, period. There’s no excuse for it and no defense to be made for it. But he knows that. He hasn’t made excuses. And if God, the victim, and the university forgave him in his penitent state, then so must I. I honestly can’t say that I’ll ever think the same about Billy, but my prayers are with him, as well as his victim. May God’s mercy and grace be present in abundance to all those involved.