Renowned Christian apologist and author Larry Alex Taunton has resigned from the ministry he founded after admitting publicly that he engaged in consensual, yet "inappropriate" extramarital behavior.
Taunton, the 50-year-old founder and executive director of the Alabama-based Fixed Point Foundation, released a statement through the organization's website on Wednesday.
"Last autumn I confessed to my wife, family, and the board of Fixed Point Foundation that I had engaged in inappropriate (consensual) behavior outside the bonds of my marriage some time ago," the statement reads. "I resigned as the executive director of Fixed Point and have been in marriage and personal counseling as I seek healing and the forgiveness of those I have hurt."
Taunton says that out of respect for his family and others, he will not discuss any further details about the matter. However, he stressed that he takes full responsibility for his actions.
Sources familiar with the situation told AL.com that Taunton resigned only after he was confronted about allegations that he engaged in inappropriate relationships with two young women on the Fixed Point staff.
"I attach blame to no one else for the choices I made," Taunton's statement reads. "I am deeply sorry, and I can only seek the grace and mercy of the God I serve and the many friends who have stood with us through the years."
Taunton praised his wife, Lauri, as being "strong and full of grace." He added that she has shown him "love and mercy" and indicated that they are working toward "rebuilding" their lives together.
"I love Lauri and our children and ask you to pray for her and for them," Taunton assured. "They deserved much more from me."
Taunton is the author of several books and has personally engaged some of the world's most notable atheist thinkers such as Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Michael Shermer, Richard Dawkins and Peter Singer. He has also debated Muslim cleric Zaid Shakir.
The Fixed Point Foundation, a think-tank that organizes high profile debates among Christian apologists and prominent critics of faith and proponents of other faiths, exists to "defend and proclaim the Gospel in the secular marketplace and equip others to do the same."
"Fixed Point is moving forward after the departure of founder Larry Taunton," the organization said on its website. "While some things will undoubtedly change, we will continue fulfilling our mission of defending and proclaiming the Gospel in the secular marketplace and equipping others to do the same."
According to AL.com, Taunton's resignation comes after at least four members of the Fixed Point board of directors, who were on the board in 2015, resigned. Additionally, the resignation comes after the annual Fixed Point fundraising event that was supposed to be held at The Club in Birmingham in November was canceled.
AL.com further reports that Taunton sent out a resignation letter to supporters on Nov. 14 but neglected to mention his extramarital behavior. Taunton's resignation letter seemingly attributed his resignation to the fact that he came back to work too early after his bicycle accident in 2015.
"Many friends and family have expressed concern about my unrelenting travel and work schedule, and I have, up to now, ignored their counsel," Taunton was quoted as writing in the letter. "But the Lord has made it very clear to me that I need to properly renew my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health if I am to be effective in the coming years.
Last year, Taunton traveled to over 20 countries in 80 days. According to AL.com, Taunton was planning to write a new book about his trip.
In 2016, Taunton released the book, The Faith of Christopher Hitchens, which detailed Taunton's travel experiences with Hitchens during two road trips they took together in the United States after Hitchens was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2010.
In the book, Taunton suggests that Hitchens may have contemplated faith toward the end of his life and that he was not certain of his atheism like Hitchens lead people to believe.
Taunton has also written books such as The Grace Effect and Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity. He has also written columns published by USA Today, CNN.com and The Atlantic. He has also appeared on CNN, Fox News, the now defunct Al Jazeera America, and BBC.