God's Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism
~Bruce A. Ware
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ISBN/ASIN : 1581342292
Manufacturer : Crossway Books|
Release data : November, 2000
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Good, not Great arguments...
Recently I spent some time reading Boyd's book "The God of the Possible". I wanted to hear from a supporter of Open Theism what they believed. While I found Boyd to be a good writer, I found his exegetical analysis irresponsible and his logical arguments untenable. I don't know everything about Open Theism. It makes some interesting points. I might even consider the view if I found a compelling argument. But Boyd's argument was anything but compelling and I felt he left the door wide open for a cataclysmic counter-argument from the classical view.
Being interested in the classical response, I picked up God's Lesser Glory. But when I read Ware's book I found it somewhat dry and redundant. Don't get me wrong, Ware made some promising points that defended the classical view admirably. But I felt he spent too much time repeating and reinforcing his arguments than building upon them. And I enjoyed reading Ware's scriptural correction of Boyd's exegetical blunders, but I felt there was opportunity to attack open theism from a philosophical position as well - a missed opportunity.
If you look at how Boyd argued, time and again you will notice how he trips over his own feet. But Ware did not expose these arguments as elementary. Granted, Ware adressed some of the issues men like Boyd raised. But I fear Ware may have held back attacking Boyd's aruments in fear of seeming malevolent toward Boyd himself. It is unfortunate as Boyd deserves to be called out on every fallacious argument he makes (as anyone, either classical or open does)!
Open Theism has everything to prove if it wants to be taken seriously. If Boyd is the best Open Theism can produce (which I doubt he is), I fear open theists will be dissapointed; longevity will not be their companion. As I read through Boyd's child-like logic, the conslusions left me wondering if Boyd was even concerned with being cogent. But Ware did not take full advantage of this. Ware did not counter with a knockout punch.
An example of where one should have been given was the problem of evil and determinism for the open theist. Boyd argues early on that God does not know what any individual will choose, but he does know with great certainty what a group of people will choose. To put it another way, he proposes that it is easy for God to predict the actions of a mob but difficult to predict the actions of an individual.
When this is applied to his own worldview, it follows that God can predict with great accuracy how many people will suffer the fate of eternal damnation. God may not know which individual would not choose him, but he does know that most individuals will NOT choose him!
God knows that most of his creation will suffer the pain of hell. What, then, does open theism offer in this area that classical theism doesn't? Nothing. Boyd criticises the classical view in which God creates people he knows will enter the gates of hell, yet his criticism is self-defeating as the God of open theism suffers the same problem (if you want to call this a problem). The God of Open Theism knowingly creates people who will go to hell, there is no recolciliation here. But Ware never made this argument, he never even mentioned the open theistic idea that God knows with great certainty what the mob will freely choose. The door Boyd left wide open was never walked through.
This being a book review I won't take the time to polish my own argument. I realize there are holes in it, but this is not the place to fill them in. Ware's book, however, IS the place for these arguments and I feel he left the cupboard empty in some areas. I suppose Ware had to choose what he wanted to battle, but I would have liked to see a retaliation against Boyd in full force.
Thus this was a good book but it was not a great book.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! This was an excellent book that helped me understand open theism more. I had heard of the controversy but did not quite understand it, but it left me feeling uneasy. That much I knew. Open theism is frightening. I have loved ones who attend a church that teaches open theism, and they never seem to grow past baby Christian status, making choices and decisions in their lives based on emotions and not true mature understanding of God and the Bible, even though they claim their decisions are "of God." In reality, they are very self-serving decisions that have resulted in much pain. This book really shed a lot of light for me and I will recommend it to friends and family who are also uninformed or confused over this whole open theism movement. THANK YOU Bruce Ware!!
Rigorous exegesis, sound thinking and careful discrimination
Sometimes the Openness debate generates more heat than light, but Ware's book is a delightful exception.
The volume is shot through with sound exegesis that demonstrates God's exhaustive and definite foreknowledge of the future choices of free agents. Chapter 4 corrects exegetical errors made by Openness Theology, and chapter 5 is Ware's refreshingly careful exegesis of a long list of passages that teach the traditional view.
The book's argument is both penetrating and devastating. Rather than sweep the "partly open future" motif into the "dustbin of anthropomorphism," Ware shows that if an exegete takes the "open future" passages at "face value," as the Openness theologians think we should, then God would be ignorant of the present as well as the past, and He would need reminding of things. A "face value" hermeneutic proves too much for the Open Theists (reductio ad absurdum). The book also gives a helpful definition of the all too often undefined category of "anthropomorphism" on page 86.
Unlike some theologians who have taken up their pens against this contemporary error, Ware rightly and judiciously discriminates between Open Theism and Arminianism. The former is outside the camp of evangelicalism, not the latter. This book never targets Arminianism; instead, it aims directly at the diminished god of Open Theism and proves that he is not the God of the Bible.
Finally, throughout the entire work, the author's tone is urgent but kind, firm but loving, and polemical but pastoral.
I heartily recommend this book to everyone who wants to know what the Bible says about God's knowledge of the future.