Apologetics Thursday – Ware Arguing from Adverse Consequences

Consider also some implications of the open view of God for living the Christian life. While open theists claim that their view enhances the reality and genuineness of relationship with God, the truth is that the gains they propose are not real, while the losses incurred are tragically great. In a word, what is lost in open theism is the Christian’s confidence in God. Think about it. When we are told that God: can only guess what much of the future will bring; is relatively reliable only when predicting things close at hand; cannot be trusted to give accurate guidance on matters that are far into the future; constantly sees many of his beliefs about the future proved wrong by what in fact transpires; reevaluates the rightness or wrongness ness of his own past conduct based on what he learns moment by moment; even regrets at times that his own decisions or his counsel to those who have trusted him have actually resulted in harm instead of the good he intended-given this portrayal of God (and more- read on!), what happens to the believer’s sense of confidence before God? Can God be trusted to give accurate guidance or to lead us in a direction truly best in light of future developments? Can hope in God to fulfill his promises be founded without mental reservation or qualification? Can a believer know that God will triumph in the future just as he has promised he will? All this and more is greatly harmed and ultimately undermined by the open theism proposal.

Bruce A. Ware. God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism (Kindle Locations 143-150). Kindle Edition.

Notice the phrasing of this argument. Ware is concerned that belief in a God without omniscience of future events will give up emotional security to the believers. He sizes up positive and negative consequences of a belief, and then he makes some type of weighted evaluation of which is the nicer belief.

Nice beliefs do not create reality. It would be nice to pretend child bone cancer does not exist, but any such person who believed such nonsense would rightly be dismissed as Pollyannaish. They would be seen as out-of-touch with reality, allowing their feelings to override their objective evaluations of truth. Feelings do not trump facts.

Ware wants an emotional argument. He knows these types of arguments are fairly effective, especially to those prone to believe his position already. These people will tend to feel emboldened without realizing that the other side has equally legitimate and pressing emotional concerns. When arguments are based on feelings, there are plenty to go around.

Ware’s evaluation is noticeably one-sided as he does not address counter-arguments or phrasing that will point the reader to a more representative evaluation of those he criticizes. Emotional arguments tend to work in this fashion, trying to minimize the emotional phrasing of opponents, while maximizing the emotional phrasing of one’s own argument.

Bruce Ware gives an excellent case study of emotional appeals.

2 comments

  1. I agree with your analysis and was actually talking to a student about this very thing today. A mutual friend had told me about some friends that had passed. He’d witnessed to these friends, but they never accepted Christ. This friend told me that he found comfort in the “fact” that God had never intended to save them anyway and in all the good that he’s seen come from that. Really?! I told him how ’bout you hold them responsible rather than God. And what kind of comfort is that? And who really cares if you’re comforted? Those people are lost. That’s reality. People die and go to hell. Our job is to do everything we can to keep that from happening. This buttercup Christianity with all this apathy and emotionalism is weak.

    Anyhow, what I really wanted to add is that Ware is wrong anyway. Personally, I find great comfort in the fact that God fulfills his promises despite the fact that the future is not set. Only the awesome power of a living God is capable of such great acts.

    More importantly, I have to point out the straw man. I’m not sure about you, Chris, but I certainly don’t believe that God’s acts are ever wrong. Why people equate regret with wrong doing is beyond me. It’s like saying a coach who played a capable player did something wrong because that player missed the winning shot. Saul could have been a great king. That’s not God’s fault. God did right; Saul did wrong. Or, it’s like saying the parents of a serial killer did wrong by having a child. The act of having a child is good. Setting aside how they may have raised that child (no one would say God raised us wrongly), the fact that that child became evil doesn’t reflect negatively on the decision to have a child. No more would having a child be wrong, than God creating man with every opportunity—and more—to be good would be wrong. It’s a rediculous concept, absolutely rediculous. That coach may have regret, those parents may have regret, but they were not the ones who failed.

    God does not do wrong on the Open view. However, determinists and omniscientists have a problem when it comes to evil.

    1. “More importantly, I have to point out the straw man. I’m not sure about you, Chris, but I certainly don’t believe that God’s acts are ever wrong. Why people equate regret with wrong doing is beyond me. It’s like saying a coach who played a capable player did something wrong because that player missed the winning shot. Saul could have been a great king. That’s not God’s fault. God did right; Saul did wrong.”

      Couldn’t have said it better.

Leave a Reply