In his book, God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism, Bruce Ware gives a biblical, gracious, yet unyielding critique of the false teaching of Open Theism.
In part one, Ware gives a summary of the central tenets of Open Theism. Ware discusses the rise and popularizing of Open Theism, mentioning several of the key proponents. Ware traces Open Theism’s roots back to Arminian theology, showing that Open Theism in fact takes Arminian theology to its furthest implication, yet differs from classic Arminianism in that Open Theism teaches that God cannot plan or know the future.
In part two, Ware discusses the reasons and defenses for Open Theism, discussing its hermeneutical presuppositions and arguing against the foundational methods of the open theist.
The final section then examines certain issues that come out of this teaching, such as how this view of God affects one’s views on prayer, the future of the believer, pain, and evil in the world. Ware then delivers a biblical explanation of the sovereignty of God, and offers true hope to the reader by showing that God is utterly worthy of both glory and trust.
To give a clear idea of what Open Theism teaches, I’ll give Ware’s outline of Open Theism’s response to suffering:
1) God does not know in advance the future actions of his moral creatures.
2) God cannot control the future free actions of his moral creatures.
3) Tragic events occur over which God has no control.
4) When such tragedies occur, God should not be blamed because he was not able to prevent them from occurring, and he certainly did not will or cause them to occur.
5) When such tragic events occur, God feels the pain of those who endure its suffering.
6) God is love, and he may be trusted to do his best to offer guidance that is intended to serve the well-being of others.
7) At times, God realizes that the guidance he gave may have inadvertently and unexpectedly led to unwarranted hardship and suffering.
8) At times, God may repent of his own past actions, realizing that his own choices have not worked out well and may have led to unexpected hardship. (e.g. 1 Sam. 15:11).
9) Some suffering is gratuitous and pointless, i.e., some suffering has not positive or redeeming quality to it at all, so that not even God is able to bring any good from it.
10) Regardless of whether our suffering was gratuitous, or whether God may have contributed inadvertently to our suffering, God always stands ready to help rebuild our lives and offers further grace, strength, direction, and counsel.
The drastic and ominous implications of this view of God are clear from this summary. If God does not know the future, if God takes risks, if God is surprised by events in our lives, and if God at times faces things He cannot bring together for good (Romans 8:28), then God is not sovereign. He may have created this world, but we cannot expect Him to truly exercise any sovereign oversight over it. This certainly is a diminished view of God.
God’s Lesser Glory is a highly recommended book that refutes Open Theism’s claims using Scripture as the clear foundation. Bruce Ware answers the false doctrine of Open Theism in a straight forward, yet gracious manner, and in a way that is both scholarly, and yet approachable for the layman. This is certainly a must-read for every Christian in search of a deeper understanding of who God is.