What Is Fatalism? :: By Tom Cantor

Fatalism is the belief that all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable, and that humans are not able to alter what has been predestined.

Rather than to label the two opposing positions by the names of men, Armin and Calvin, it is best to label the two positions by what they claim. One claims Free Will and the other claims Fatalism.

Fatalism or Fatalistic Calvinism will say that God is sovereign and has the right to do as He wills, and if He chooses to predetermine Man’s choices by Irresistible Grace according to Unconditional Election, then God has the right to do that.

The issue is that the Bible does not reveal that God did that.

The Bible reveals that God has given man choice, and that man by his choice determines his own eternal destiny.

Deuteronomy 30:19 – “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:“

God says He has set the choice before man and then counseled man to choose life so he can live.

Joshua 24:15a – “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve;”

God always sets before His creation a choice, but what will we choose? Life or Death? To serve God or not serve God? Heaven or Hell?

The Bible reveals that mankind will be in the eternal bliss of heaven or the eternal suffering of hell based on Man’s choice.

Isaiah 1:18-20 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”

Luke 13:3, 5 “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

God gives us a choice, therefore, God asks us to beg the lost to make the right choice and obey God too.

2 Corinthians 5:20 “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”

God, Himself begs the lost to make the right choice and obey God.

Matthew 23:37 – “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how oftenwould I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”

God gave Israel a choice, His chosen people, but many would not choose the Lord though He sent the prophets unto them. God never wanted them to just be created and die in their sin.

Ezekiel 18:31  “Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”

God wants everyone to be saved and no one to perish.

1 Timothy 2:3-4 “…God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

Scripture is explicitly clear that God’s will is for everyone to be saved.

So…Who can resist His will?

Only those He has given power to resist His will. This means everyone of us has been given the power or self authority to resist His will.

2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Yet everyone is not saved and many do perish. Why? They resist His will. How? Who can resist God’s will? Only those who He gives the power to choose and the power to resist His will. Man has been given this power, and man has been crowned by the Sovereign God with the sovereignty of choice. Therefore, man can choose to resist His will to be saved and man can choose to not repent and perish.

It is not that God gives to some the power to choose Him and to others no power. God gives to all men the power to choose or not to choose Him.

The controversy of Fatalism (Fatalistic Calvinism) comes from Paul’s teachings in the epistles. Peter acknowledged that some things that Paul wrote were difficult to understand.

2 Peter 3:15-16 – “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

Some may argue that the King James Version of the Bible is hard to understand in modern day language, yet the King James Version has shaped our English language, and also current theology. Interestingly, it should also be noted that two of the key translators of the King James Version were noted as holding to the Fatalistic Calvinism point of view.

Chosen and Changed Children

Upon review of all of the references in the King James Version regarding “predestination,” “foreordination,” or God deciding from the “foundation of the world,” all of these verses specifically refer to what would happen to a person after they repented and made their own decisions to obey God.

Therefore, they are called to being adopted by God, into a life of God’s purpose, into a life of holiness and without blame, and they are to be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. They have been called to be changed children. Let’s look at Romans chapter 8 and Ephesians chapter 1.

Romans 8:29 “For whom He (GOD) did foreknow, He (GOD) also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

1 Peter 1:2  “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”

Notice that God foreknew all about us before we were born. God foreknew who would choose to obey His Gospel invitation and repent of their sins.

Based on God’s omnipotent foreknowledge of who would repent and believe, He predestined them to be conformed to the image of His Son.

God didn’t predestine people to die.

God has called those who freely choose Him to live and be conformed to His son just as Israel had a choice (Deuteronomy 30:19). Based on God’s foreknowledge of knowing who would repent and believe, they choose God’s will to be saved, and God elected them to be obedient to Him and be cleansed by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

These key verses show us that all of God’s decisions regarding predestination and foreordination are based on God’s foreknowledge (God looking down the tunnel of time). All of God’s predestination and foreordination follows a person’s free choice to repent and turn to God. Then God gives him what He has predestined to give him which are free gifts of life in the Holy Spirit’s quickening, salvation, adoption, conformation to the image of His son, inheritance, etc.

Ephesians 1:4 – “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love:”

This verse is not stating that God chose who would repent and believe. When Paul speaks to “us” and “we” in this verse He is speaking to those who already have repented and believed. The “us” and the “we” are the group that have already made their decision to repent and believe.

Paul is saying, since God knew who we were who would choose God, He started from before the foundation of the world to choose us in Him and to help us to go on from our decision to be saved and choose to live a life of holiness and without blame before God.

In other words, we chose God and God chose us. We chose to obey God’s Gospel call and God chose us to live holy lives.

We all chose to obey God at different times in our lives, but God chose us all to live holy lives before the foundation of the world. In the next verse Paul goes on to elaborate more on what God predestinated for us who have decided to choose God.

Ephesians 1:5 “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”

Continuing to address the “we” that have chosen God, Paul is explaining that not only has God chosen us to live holy lives, but that God predestinated us to be adopted as sons of God. Here again it is a case where we chose God and God chose us.

God, knowing who would choose Him, decided before they were born to choose them to become adopted as sons of God.

Children of God or sons of God copy God in their lives.

Let’s look at all four of the past verses we’ve studied together in context:

God foreknew and predestined us = To be conformed to the image of His Son. (Romans 8:29)

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father = To sanctification of the Spirit. (I Peter 1:2)

God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world = To be holy and without blame. (Ephesians 1:4)

God predestinated us unto the adoption of children by
Jesus Christ to himself = To his will. (Ephesians 1:5)

God knows, but we don’t know in advance, but we chose God, and God chose us. Because God knew us, God predestined, elected, and chose us to then be conformed to the image of His Son, to be sanctified by the Spirit of God in personal holiness, all in His will and good pleasure for our lives in Him.

I am a business owner, and if I hung a sign outside of my business that said, “Cantor and Sons,” you would assume that my sons are partners with me, and that I and my sons would all operate in the same way. Paul is saying in Ephesians 1:4-5 that God has hung a sign for the world to see of “God and Sons.”

We are the sons that God has brought into His business.

This is brought out both by the Lord Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount and Paul in explaining God’s call for us to be those who bring reconciliation between God and man.

Matthew 5:44-45  “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

2 Corinthians 5:20  “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”

We are the children and ambassadors of God who has brought us into His business to do as He desires. But the Bible reveals that it is only to the saved (those who have chosen to repent and believe) that God has “predesinated,” “foreordained” or “chosen before the foundation of the world,” to be in His business. All of those terms refer to the wonderful things God does to the saved.

None of these words “pre-destined,” “foreordained” or “chosen before the foundation of the world,” are ever used about the lost.

God does not predestine those who will refuse Him and be sent to Hell. Rather, God wants all to choose God, and be brought into God’s business. Think of God’s business plan as this.

Salvation Is a Gift from God, Faith Is Not a Gift from God

The book of Ephesians gives us a good example to study that salvation is a gift of God, but that faith is not a gift from God.

Ephesians 2:8 – “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”

The question in this verse is, “what is ‘it is the gift of God’ referring to?” Is “it is the gift of God” referring to salvation (“are ye saved”)? Or is “it is the gift of God” referring to faith? In the Greek language the antecedent (“it is”) must be the same gender as the noun it is referring to. Faith is a feminine noun and salvation is a neuter noun. If the “it is” refers to faith then the “it is” has to be in the feminine form. If the “it is” refers to salvation then the “it is” must be in the neuter form. The “it is” is in the neuter form.

Therefore, the Greek makes it clear from the gender of the “it is” that the gift of God in Ephesians 2:8 is salvation, and not faith.

Salvation is a gift from God, faith is not a gift from God. This is in keeping with Romans 6:23 which states that “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

John Calvin also stated that the gift of God referred to in Ephesians 2:8 is salvation and not faith. The problem with Fatalistic Calvinism (apart from it being the basis for Islam and many other false religions), is that it does not agree with all of the “whosoever will” invitations of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If Fatalistic Calvinism is true then it makes the Lord Jesus Christ to be a Person without integrity. If Fatalistic Calvinism is true then it makes the evangelist who pleads and weeps for the lost—to be a fool.