Thursday, December 28, 2017

Whatever Happened to Ben Cole?

For those of you who don't remember, Ben Cole was a mover and shaker within the Southern Baptist Convention in the mid-2000's. He was a smart young man with a non-traditional sense of humor. (I don't know how to describe it but "nontraditional" is the only word I can think of.)

 Ben had a lot of influence in certain circles in the Southern Baptist Convention. He was a good friend of Wade Burleson and C. B. Scott. As a matter of fact, C. B. went so far as to tell me he looked upon Ben like a son. I think they were close friends at SEBTS. C. B. can certainly correct me if I'm wrong. Ben would do things that would spark controversy. For example, Ben, Wade, and C. B. went to a conference and had their picture taken with prominent CBF Baptist and former president, Jimmy Carter. We talked about that on our blogs for weeks. How could any conservative Southern Baptist show any shred of support for a liberal Baptist like Jimmy Carter? Yep, we argued that one for a while.

This was about the 2005-2008 timeframe so for some of you Young, Restless, Reformed guys, you probably weren't out of junior high yet. Calvinism wasn't a topic of discussion in those days. Tom Ascol was working hard on getting credibility for Founders, but most of us ignored him. We had bigger fish to fry. We had to fix the problem with IMB's trustees. If you're not familiar with the IMB trustees issue, then I recommend you read Wade Burleson's book, "Hardball Religion: Feeling the Fury of Fundamentalism."

One of the best tricks that Ben Cole ever pulled was getting the infamous Wiley Drake elected as 2nd Vice-President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Ben wrote the nomination speech that was given by Rev. Bill Dodson. In my opinion, this was the funniest nomination speech in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention. We all had a good laugh, but the laugh was on us. Wiley was elected! Ben was always ready for a good joke.

Ben had an influential blog named SBC Outpost. He was even the subject of a movie about young Southern Baptist pastors.

And then there came a day when Ben Cole decided he was leaving the Southern Baptist Convention. Not only was he leaving the Southern Baptist Convention but he was giving up being a pastor as well. We were all shocked. Perhaps the best account of our surprise was voiced in SBC Voices when its founder Tony Kummer, ran it before it became a bastion of Calvinism.

So what ever happened to Ben Cole? Unfortunately, it seems that Ben has crashed and burned. In 2015, he resigned as the communications director for Illinois Congressman, Aaron Schock, for comments he made on his Facebook page as well as other venues, that not only damaged his career but Rep. Schock's as well.

I pray that Ben will rebound. He is a very smart and savvy young man. I wish him well in his future endeavors.

P. S. Ben, I'm still waiting for the book you said you would write, with your working title of "A Hill on Which to Kill." I'm sure it will be interesting reading.

UPDATE 12/31/2017
C. B. Scott was kind enough to call me and clarify couple of things written here. He said that Ben certainly did not "crash and burn" (bad choice of words on my part). He reports that Ben is flourishing in a different industry and is doing well. Thank you for the update, C. B.