When James “Jimmy” Epting became president of North Greenville College in 1991, enrollment at the two-year college had dropped to 329 students and the school’s finances were on shaky ground. There was even fear the school would have to close for good.
Yet under Epting’s leadership, the Southern Baptist college began to flourish. He raised nearly $50 million through capital campaigns, led it to become a four-year university, and added more than 2,000 students to its annual roster.
“The chair of the trustee board called Epting’s first 23 years a season of miracles, making Epting a beloved figure—complete with a statue of him at prayer near the campus center.”
But then his son, armed with a cell-phone camera, caught his father in the middle of a tryst with a school administrator. He started the two-minute clip by saying, “Here we go … might be a bad day.”
Then he went into the house where he suspected his father was engaged in illicit activity, discovered him with the woman and said, “It’s over, Dad.”
It’s devastating to watch.
Perhaps even more so when coupled with the recent leak of account holders on the adultery matchmaking website Ashley Madison, many of whom were trusted Christian leaders.
The most recent?
R.C. Sproul, Jr., who admitted to visiting the site in a “moment of weakness” but contended that he did not interact with any clients.
Ligonier was founded by his father, popular author and theologian R. C. Sproul Sr., who still serves as board chair. His son is one of the ministry’s teaching fellows, and is rector and chair of philosophy and theology at the ministry’s Reformation Bible College. He had earlier edited the ministry’s magazine, Tabletalk.
Ligonier Ministries has suspended him until July of 2016.
My friend Ed Stetzer has suggested that as many as 400 Christian leaders could be resigning their churches this weekend alone due to the Ashley Madison leak.
Epting’s son was right.
This could be a very bad day.
James Emery White
“Exposing Jimmy Epting,” YouTube.
“Ligonier Suspends R.C. Sproul Jr. Over Ashley Madison Visit," by Timothy C. Morgan, Christianity Today, August 31, 2015, read online.
“My Pastor Is on the Ashley Madison List,” by Ed Setzer, Christianity Today, August 27, 2015, read online.
About the Author
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.