Tragic News

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.




6 thoughts on “Tragic News

  1. i wrestled with sharing it too. that is why I just kept is short as I did and left people to figure it all out. like you said, he knows he sinned and sinned gravely and he doesn’t need anyone reminding him of that – he needs love and forgiveness and help to pick up the pieces and move on. he is done with ministry and pursuit of a PhD… may the Lord have grace on him and help him find away forward.

  2. Terrible. I will pray for all involved appropriately.

    >>But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

  3. Brian: It’s just so shocking. I keep vacillating between outrage and pity. Every time I feel sorry for Billy I think of his victim and get angry. God help us all!

    Derek: I think “appropriately” is the key word. Everyone involved doesn’t deserve the same kinds of prayer and the same amount of prayer. I feel much worse for the victim than for Billy. But I feel bad for him too. His name will forever be associated with this incident.

  4. yes, it is just a reminder that we ALL need to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. all of us. i will pray simply that both victim and perpetrator will be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power in what ever they have to face in moving ahead.

  5. I have never been to this man’s blog, one of the predictable secular bottom feeders claimes that the perpetrator was a infamous gay-basher. Twenty some years ago we had a mega-church pastor with a very large following who was very outspoken about homosexuality and constantly being quoted in the media. He was taken down over a long drawn out battle with people accusing him of misbehavior with young boys decades earlier. The initial reaction of the church was to bury it and stand behind their superstar pastor. But it wouldn’t stay buried. And after years and years of hearing about in the news, the board of elders decided it was time for the head pastor to leave. I don’t think the church ever really recovered. Too much of the dynamic of the ministry was tied up in one personality and when he was “taken down” things just sort of unraveled.

    I have personally known more one than one “sex offender” who was associated with some branch of the church. These people are not a “type” that you can profile. My most recent experience is with at 20-something african american male who was drawn into a trap, a student from the school where he was working posing on the internet as an adult and sharing text-messages via cell phones. He was confronted by the police and charged with a felony communication with a minor using electronic means. Totally derailed his life. He could afford a lawyer and go conned into a plea bargain which reduced it to a misdemeanor. Now three and half years later he still hasn’t put his life back together.

    The other guys are old, one is dead. They were both fathers who had sex with their daughters. I must admit that I find this creepy, I have no illusions about what am capable of doing, but I was only about 12yo when my father was counseling this defrocked pastor, we had all his 1950s dispensational theology textbooks hanging around for ever, I couldn’t read em because they reminded me of the man. I gave them away to a friend in Hammond Or who liked 1950s dispensational theology.

    Rapid acknowledgement is the best way to get the healing started. Not that it will be easy but a whole lot of extra damage is done when things are covered up for years.

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