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New book by Southern professor sets forth classical view of God's providence
January 18, 2005
By Jeff Robinson
Scripture affirms that God is absolutely sovereign over His creation.
Yet, human beings make choices every day, and God holds them morally responsible for these choices. How are believers to understand these two teachings in light of each other?
A new book by Bruce A. Ware explores these issues through an in-depth look at the doctrine of the providence of God. In "God's Greater Glory: The Exalted God of Scripture and the Christian Faith" (Crossway Books), Ware demonstrates both the centrality and practicality of the doctrine of providence for the Christian faith. Ware serves as professor of Christian Theology and senior associate dean at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
"The providence of God assures us that the universe is not spinning out of control, that human history is not unfolding contrary to God's purposes, and that God, ultimately, sustains and regulates all that he has made, to the glory of his great name, and in fulfillment of his perfect will," Ware writes.
The book serves as a sequel to Ware's 2000 book, also published by Crossway, "God's Lesser Glory." In the earlier work, Ware responded to the challenge of "open theism" or the "openness of God," a view which seeks to reconfigure the traditional, biblical view of God and His providence. Open theists argue, among other things, that God's foreknowledge of future events is limited and that God sometimes changes His mind in the face of unforeseen circumstances.
Whereas "God's Lesser Glory" defended the traditional view of God's providence against the revision of open theists, the new book positively asserts the historic Christian doctrine.
"What comfort, joy, and strength believers receive from the truths of divine providence," Ware writes in the opening paragraph of the introduction.
"Nowhere else are we given such assurance that the One who perfectly knows the past, present, and future, the One whose wisdom can never be challenged or excelled, the One whose power reigns and accomplishes all that he wills, governs all the affairs of creation, fulfilling in all respects what he alone knows is good, wise, and best."
"God's Greater Glory" is divided into two parts: Ware spends the first half of the book laying the foundational biblical and theological bases for the providence of God; in the second section, he examines in detail the practical relevance of the doctrine.
In the first section, Ware demonstrates God's rule over, through and with creation. He opens by presenting a framework for understanding God and His creation by looking at the way in which Scripture depicts God as both relational (immanence) and is self-existent (transcendence).
The author uses the section on the practical outworking of the doctrine of providence to deal with several key issues relating to God's sovereignty including suffering, prayer, and seeing the generosity of God in the believer's service to Him.
Ware demonstrates that the doctrine of providence is of immense practical importance for the believer in his section on God's sovereignty and suffering. The author shows the necessity that the Christian know God biblically so that he or she may rest in His sovereignty even in the midst of suffering.
"It is sometimes said that our views of God are exposed for what they are at the onset of suffering," Ware writes. "How true. And how important for us to know God rightly and to understand what he has revealed about his purposes and will and ways for his children in order, in part, to face with strength and joy whatever God brings into our lives, for his glory and our good."