Those antagonists toward Calvinism often resort to straw man arguments. One such false accusation is the charge of fatalism.
When one reads the Bible, he is confronted with some facts about God. First, God is absolutely sovereign. He sits in the heavens, and He does as He pleases (Ps 115:3; 135:6).
Second, God has a predetermined plan and foreknowledge (Acts 2:23). He is omniscient, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, “My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure (Is 46:10).”
Third, God has decreed all things that will come to pass (Job 22:28). Job said, “For He performs what is appointed for me, and many such decrees are with Him (Job 23:14).” His decree will not pass away (Ps 148:6), because God’s decree is eternal (Jer 5:22).
Fatalism is an atheistic worldview that positions destiny on the throne belonging to God, alone. This is the error of fatalism. For those who claim that Calvinism is fatalism, their error is that they have never read Calvin.
The fact that God exists, and that He has revealed Himself and His predetermined plan should immensely encourage us. Just because God has made everything for its own purpose does not remove God’s attentive care for all things. In His providence, all His eternal decree is accomplished. His will is done (Eph 1:11; 3:11).
As the Author of His own story, He is the primary cause of all things. He has made His creatures according to design. Men and angels fulfill their design. They operate as the Grand Designer has foreordained.
Man’s objection in this matter results from His rebellion against God. Man protests against the sovereign will of God, “Why did you make me like this?” In his sinful heart man wants to be God. Man wants his own free will. This is the fallout from the serpent’s deception of Adam and Eve (Gen 3:5). God has made man responsible, initially giving him free will, but man used that to disobey God, and thus, man became enslaved to sin and his colubrine master, Satan, using and losing his free will (Acts 26:18; Rom 6:6).
When a man comes to grips with the fact that he is not God and will never be the master of his own destiny, he is liberated from that tyranny of lies. The reprobate, of course, will never acquiesce. God made him to be a vessel of wrath, prepared for destruction (Rom 9:22). It is his God-given role to scoff at God (Ps 2). The reprobate loves sin (Jn 3:19), and he serves Satan, being a lover of this world.
Vessels of mercy bear witness to the truth that the merciful God has had mercy on them (Acts 1:8; Rom 9:15–16). These people deserve the wrath of God as much as the reprobate, but God chose these ones to be objects displaying His mercy and grace.
From these two groups of people, we learn that God is displaying the truth of who He is. His attributes are on display, and every one of these is for the glory of God. We glorify God for His attributes of kindness and severity.
God’s predestination of all people, either to election or reprobation is not fatalism. It is an active, conscious, purposeful, and positive work of the Creator, Designer God. Man will prove this by either honoring and praising Him for this fact; or they will prove it by scorning and taking His name in vain. Regardless, they will prove God is true (Jn 14:6; Rom 3:4).
In conclusion, the only difference between fatalism and the predetermination of God (His eternal good pleasure) is God Himself. The accuser of the Calvinist, charging him with fatalism, is guilty of the very accusation he brings against the Calvinist. The accuser himself is a rebellious agent against Almighty God, insisting on the man’s sovereign free will in controlling his or her own destiny.
If you object to God’s sovereign will and free grace toward some, but not all people, then there is only one recourse…repent of your fatalism and believe in the sovereign God of the universe, who works all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph 1:11).
Spokane Valley, Washington
October 18, 2021