Book Review: "God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism" by Bruce A. Ware

Book Review of “God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism” by Bruce A. Ware

Reviewed by Brad Anderson

[amazonify]1581342292[/amazonify]Bruce Ware’s book is a welcome and weighty addition to the debate over open theism. Those who desire to understand open theism and why the idea is so dangerous to orthodox theology should pick up this relatively short (230 pages) paperback volume.
The book is divided into three major sections, the first examining what open theism teaches, the second showing what is wrong with open theism, and the third exposing how open theism is inimical to daily Christian life.

The first section of the book starts by asking the question, “Why should you be concerned” about open theism? In answering, Ware proves that open theism is nothing less than a redefinition of Christian theology, and even of God Himself. He then tracks the rise of open theism from within the Arminian tradition, showing both similarities and differences between the two and proving that open theism diverges significantly from the classic Arminian position. Ware explores the perceived benefits of open theism, namely, that God is thought of as present with and infinitely interested in the lives of believers. God took a genuine risk when He gave man a free will, and now God has to live with the free choices of man. Because God genuinely does not know (indeed, cannot know) what a free agent will choose, He often ends up changing His mind, regretting His choices, and following plan B when sinful people reject plan A.

Part two is a brilliant exposure of the weaknesses and unorthodox notions of open theism. Ware shows that open theism’s interpretive methods are mistaken by looking at several key passages. In each case, he demonstrates how open theism has mishandled the text or come to an erroneous, unbiblical conclusion. Chapter Five is perhaps the dagger in the heart of open theism. In it he demonstrates conclusively that the Bible clearly and repeatedly teaches that God possesses exhaustive foreknowledge of all future events, an idea open theism strongly rejects. He also shows from Scripture that man is not able to thwart God’s eternal plan.

In Part Three, “What difference does it make in daily life?” Ware demonstrates how open theism has a negative impact on many aspects of the Christian life. If God cannot know the future in many cases, and if He is powerless to influence free agents, of what use is it to pray? If people often thwart God’s plans, and if God’s plans often fail to materialize, why should we trust Him? Why should we believe that God will ultimately be victorious? As to the problem of evil, open theism can at best suggest that God empathizes with the suffering. In reality, suffering may have no meaning or value whatever. God is unable to prevent it or bring any good from it.

In the short concluding chapter of the book, Ware argues that, while open theism claims that its view of God actually heightens God’s glory, the exact opposite is the result. He shows that if God is so often unsuccessful in what He attempts, His glory is of necessity diminished. God’s sovereign control of all things is directly related to glory being ascribed to Him. If God is not sovereign, the glory He would be entitled to is decreased. Ware joyfully reaffirms God’s sovereignty and the glory that should accompany such a truth.
One of the strengths of the book is its logical format and clear exposition of ideas. The author proceeds in a clear and sensible way that helps the reader digest the information, something this reader greatly appreciated. Section headings abound. Ware successfully avoids the harsh tone of many polemic works. The book is on a level that most serious Christians could understand and profit from. The conclusions at the end of each chapter and at the end of the book are helpful, serving to review and reinforce the preceding material. I wish more authors would follow suit.

Ware repeatedly shows how open theism is not just another intramural doctrinal fracas, but a genuine deviation from orthodoxy. As the title of the book implies, the author is greatly concerned about how open theism diminishes the glory of God and God’s ability to do good for His people. Ware’s concern about how open theism may potentially downgrade Christian worship as well as denigrate the glory of God is evident throughout the work. This penetrating critique of open theism deserves a reading as well as shelf space.

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