Bruce Ware still has a dilemma in his advocacy of Middle Knowledge
Middle Knowledge is the theory that God posesses the knowledge of choices that would be made by individuals in counter-factual circumstances. A counterfactual is a set of alternative circumstances that have not occurred in real life, such as the Iraq War not taking place or my marrying my ex-girlfriend. According to advocates of Middle Knowledge, counterfactual choices are facts that God knows. So on this view it would be a definite fact whether or not I would have chosen to do a PhD course in a possible world in which the Iraq War did not take place. God would know whether I would have continued to live in Worcester if I had married my ex-girlfriend.
Most Middle Knowledge advocates are libertarians who use the theory to reconcile free-will with God's control over the universe. Bruce Ware is an exception, being a Calvinist. However, in a more Calvinistic framework, Ware uses Middle Knowledge for this same project of reconciling free-will with sovereignty.
In my opinion as it stands, I think Middle Knowledge is incompatible with a genuinley libertarian view of free-will. However, the purpose of this post is not to refute Middle Knowledge as such, but rather to argue that Bruce ware really does have a logical problem in his advocacy of both Calvinistic sovereignty and Middle Knowledge.
In a footnote, Ware refers to an argument for the incompatibility of Middle Knowledge and Calvinism:
Following the completion of the manuscript of this book, an article was published challenging the coherence and possibility of a Calvinist (or Compatibilist) understanding of middle knowledge....Laing argues that the Clvinist who wishes to incorporate middle knowledge is on the horns of a dilemma: "On the one hand, if she claims that the truth of counterfactuals of compatiblist freedom is grounded in the will of God or in the way God created the creaturely will, then she has denied the prevolitional character of divine knowledge of counterfactuals of creaturely freedom and therefore, her position is not in the middle of anything. On the other hand, if she claims that the truth of counterfactuals of compatibilist freedom are grounded in the character of the creature as he pre-exists in the mind of God, or that the truth of counter-factuals of compatiblist freedom do not need to be grounded, then her view of freedom is virtually indistinguishable from libertarian freedom"
Bruce Ware, God's Greater Glory, p.115
(I like this Laing guy; he refers to his hypothetical Calvinist as 'she'!)
What Laing is arguing is that either the Cavlinist Middle Knowledge advocate must hold that God has pre-selected the counter-factual choices, in which case this is no different from ordinary compatiblist determinism, or else she can hold that the counter-factual choices are an outworking of creaturely freedom, which would put her in the same camp as libertarian Middle Knowledge advocates like William Lane Craig.
Ware responds to this dilemma:
Rather, this middle knowledge is grounded on four things that God knows prevolitionally: 1) God's perfect knowledge, in his own mind's eye, of the character of the moral individual (or as Laing puts it, of "the character of the creature as he pre-exists in the mind of God"); 2) God's knowledge of every factor present in any given possible setting in which he envisions this individual making a choice; 3) God's knowledge of just how each unique set of factors, in each situation, would work, along with the character of the individual, to produce one strongest inclination within the individual, for each unique situation so envisioned; and 4) God's knowledge of just what choice the individual would in fact make, given the nature of his own character, the relevant factors in the particular setting in which he would make this choice, and the strongest inclination that would arise within him given this complete set of factors, giving rise in turn to this one (and only) choice.
I believe Ware has failed to answer this dilemma and it looks like he falls on the second, rather than the first of Laing's horns.
To explain why let us imagine a situation in which God's providential plan demands that a prison governor accepts a bribe. It does not matter why (perhaps to allow Christian literature into the prison?), it is simply one of the many evils that God makes use of on the Calvinistic view of sovereignty.
For Middle Knowledge to work, there must be a possible world in which, given the right circumstances, the prison governor will be inclined to choose to accept the bribe.
Suppose however, that the character of the prison governor is such that there is no possible world in which he would freely choose to take a bribe. Doing such a thing is utterly contrary to his character in every possible world.
The Calvinist might object that if the prison governor is totally depraved, then surely it is possible that in some circumstance he might take the bribe. This does not necessarilly follow, however. This prison governor is the devoted follower of an idolatrous religion, Snazzism, that promises eternal damnation to those who take bribes. In every possible situation in which he is placed, his strongest inclination will be to please his false god and escape going to hell.
Now we might object that God could create a possible world in which the prison governor would not have converted to the Snazzist religion. Millions of Hindus and millions of Russian Orthodox will take bribes. Why could God not have actualised a world in which the prison governor will be one of these? He might, however, the circumstances that were already necessitated by God's providential plan as it has already enfolded may have demanded that the prison governor be a Snazzist . It may be that in this part of the world that God has so far actualised, a man will only be accepted as prison governor if he is a Snazzist devotee.
It should be noted that in expounding a form of Middle Knowledge, Bruce Ware has ignored the point made by Alvin Plantinga in God, Freedom and Evil that Middle Knowledge necessitates that the possible worlds that God could create, the counter-factual choices He could actualise, are limited. For instance it may be that God could not create a world in which I permitted people to wear shoes in my house without creating a different Matthew. Choosing to have a shoes-off policy in my house may be a characteristic of Matthew in every possible world. That is why genuine Middle Knowledge is a Risk model or Arminian model of sovereignty.
God create a world in which the prison governor does take the bribe, but this would be counter to the inclinations entailed in his counter-factual character. If God did this, it would not be true Middle Knowledge. This would be an occurence of Laing's first horn.
Alternatively, God could have pre-volitionally conceived the prison governor in such a way that he would accept the bribe in circumstance X. However, this is again, a first horn error. If God has already determined the content of the counter-factuals, this is not true middle-knowledge but merely a created circumstance along the lines of old fashioned determinism.
Bruce Ware's adoption of Middle Knowledge does not entail any meaningful modification of traditional Calvinist Compatibilism.