Calvinism = Fatalism???

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Coram_Deo

Puritan Board Freshman
Hey I just got back from hanging out with an Arminian friend of mine who posed the "great" Calvinism is equal to fatalism argument and wanted to see what sorts of arguments can be made against such a claim. I know that almost no one wants to say that Calvinism is fatalistic, but doesn't it seem like we are in a catch 22 in the fact that we cannot avoid it? I know Sproul would say that it is not, because it is not like we are stones or puppets, but we are living human beings; and I know Piper would say it's not pretty much for the same reasonings, but it's a tough one to grapple with logically.
Calvinists tend to not want to distort the human aspect in salvation, and yet we still maintain "Irresitible Grace" which would clearly denounce any human connection with salvation, and it seems that a necesary effect of that is fatalism. As Piper says, "Just because the choice is given don't think God isn't coming up from behind and pushing you with His Irrestible Grace to 'push' you off of the cliff of unbelief", but if Grace cannot be resisted, then we have ended in fatalism. Likewise Luther would say that the human aspect of salvation is like us being tied to a chair and God telling us to grab life and we cannot, unless His grace "undoes" our chains and HE ALLOWS us to grab it; but likewise this results in fatalism.
Could one simply argue that our salvation didn't come about by necesity, but solely by God's soveriegn will and therefore it is not fatalism? I don't know if that resolves the issue at all. Well he said a lot of interesting points and Lord willing I'd like to run them past anyone willing to read; I respect much of the God fearing knowledge on this forum, and find all of you a great strength in what could be called a time of "skepticism" for myself. I look forward to hearing you and perhaps will pose the other problems that seem evident within Calvinism. Thanks for hearing me out.
Blessings,
Borg
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I'm of the opinion that Calvinism is the only view that doesn't end up in fatalism or determinism. It's really hard to tell you how I come by that reasonably, and I can't say I understand it that well that I could convey it to you. But when I approach this area of apologetics it is from the certainty of God's sovereignty over all things; and if He says we can be free if we abide in His Word, then I just can't see how abiding in it half way is less deterministic than abiding in it all the way.
 

Wannabee

Obi Wan Kenobi
Yea, if he's not sovereign, he's not GOD!

I wouldn't attempt to debate this on a purely philosophical level. If he's a believer, go straight to the Word. There's not getting around the fact that we were predestined before the foundations of the earth. We can't come to Christ unless the Father compels us... etc. You know the verses.

Ask your Arminian brother to show you from Scripture how he is right. Lay all his verses out, and all your verses out and let the Word of God do the convincing.

:wr50:
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
The difference is in the nature and purpose of God and man.

Fatalism teaches that God, if he even exists, does all things arbitrarily and without purpose or without regard to those he controls (just like the Greek Fates). There is no compassion or love in His motive, just arbitray rule.

Calvinism teaches that God is personal, that he rules and governs all things for his glory and out of love for his elect. He works all things for their good. Even the reprobate have a purpose in glorifying God. But the God of Calvinism is one who loves, and loves sovereignly. So, as you can see, this is not fate.

Regarding man's responsibility, Fatalism would teach that "what will be will be," therefore do whatever you want to do, since it's all determined anyway. Fatalism will always be antinomian.

But Calvinism teaches that man is responsible for his actions. He must obey God's law. He must respond to the Word. He must believe on Christ to be saved. After he is regenerate and has faith, he must produce fruit. The soveriegn God requires this of man. (i.e. the P in TULIP, Perserverance of the saints)

So, I would have your friend educate himself on what Calvinsim really teaches. Sounds to me that he is only combating a strawman. Scripture (i.e. Calvinism) teaches both the absolute sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. Arminianism usually denies both in one way or another.

[Edited on 2-28-2004 by puritansailor]
 

cih1355

Puritan Board Junior
Calvinism is not the same as fatalism. There is no target, aim, goal, or purpose in fatalism. In fatalism, people are merely automatons.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
[quote:20c99c680b][i:20c99c680b]Originally posted by Wannabee[/i:20c99c680b]
Yea, if he's not sovereign, he's not GOD!

I wouldn't attempt to debate this on a purely philosophical level. If he's a believer, go straight to the Word. There's not getting around the fact that we were predestined before the foundations of the earth. We can't come to Christ unless the Father compels us... etc. You know the verses.

Ask your Arminian brother to show you from Scripture how he is right. Lay all his verses out, and all your verses out and let the Word of God do the convincing.
[/quote:20c99c680b]

Both you and Patrick have said very good things. I'm not sure, though, how one could keep philosophy out of this. The question involves both how you understand Scripture and how you understand what fatalism is. Much the same way that Edwards turned the concept of free will back on the Arminians by examining it more carefully, this also has to be done here.

I know that my approach to things is a little different. I have lately been thinking of bringing it up for discussion, but not here on this thread. It is my way to show how things are true in the area of general revelation, with the truth of special revelation as a back drop; kind of turning things around (but not really) to show that both general revelation and special revelation compliment each other, and that the rules of inference remain when comparing the two.

The reason I do it this way is two-fold, and this ties in with confronting the challenge over fatalism as well (which is why I'm saying this): first one must hold Scripture higher than any methodology or philosophy, because the latter are fallible, but Scripture is not; so one must be very careful, submissively, when "clobbering" someone with Scripture. When Scripture is being used, it goes to the heart of every evil, not just others' views; and teaching requires a double measure of willingness to learn.

The second reason for my particular approach has to do with my place; I am not an officer in the church. I know that this does not let me off the hook for duties to witness the Word to others, but I do have to be careful to let elders rule in the particular area they they must have pecedence. They must have the authority to command obedience to the Word, even over those who theorize beyond the scope of the ordinary church, such as Christian philosophers and professors of Bibilical text. And since I concern myself in areas that often go to the extremes of interpretation, such as Theonomy/Reconstruction, apologetics/philosophy, etc, I find myself under this burden myself. There are very few in any given congregation who care to go to the lengths needed to address the "isms" that constantly confront the body of believers; and rightly so, for they have jobs and families that should be their first concern. But this assumes that there is somebody there to do the duties required to face the issues, and to defend the faith. This is where I believe the church has been lacking for a long time, because the "isms" come as much from those given the task to defend as from elsewhere, and that is because the authority structure has been broached in the process.

This is why I believe that one must be truly Bibilical and submissive to authority to confront the Arminian with his charges of fatalism, but yet be unafraid to tackle it philosophically. It is not as though there are two sets of truths, the Bible's and philosophy's; for there is also no contradiction between these two disciplines. True philosophy is what truth makes it, not man. "No lie is of the truth" is the norm for all discipline of the mind.

The true religion is one of discipline toward total freedom. If we take the example of the age-old question of whether God, who can do anything, is able to sin? and see that the answer lies in the fact that sinning is a weakness, not an ability, we see that an ability to sin is in fact an inability to not sin. And this is also the end for man, the inability to sin anymore. For that we strive. It cannot be that the Bible would lead us into an inability to sin by taking away from us an ability to do anything at all. God is omnipotent, and He has no ability to sin; so how can it be that being sinless is being fated? Assuming too much on ourselves, and calling that freedom, is actually an enslavement, for it militates against God's will.

So it is a question of recognizing the sovereignty of God in all areas of life. If that Sovereignty fails an any respect whatsoever, then fatalism, of sorts, must step in. Our submission to Him is rather an enabling and character building, and not fatalistic and a robbing of character. Being free to do as we please, even if we believe it to be right at the time, is not really being free. But being enabled to do what is right is freedom far beyond our modern concept of freedom for it holds rewards and satisfaction in every respect for man. This is not possible if God is not sovereign over man, for God is the origin of every good thing, and perfect fellowshp is in Him, not in ourselves.

This is at once both philosphical and theological. And this must be subject to the rulings of those who are given the task of watching over the souls of men for God's glory and the maintenance of His church, or it will work against unity of the faith.
 

Gregg

Puritan Board Sophomore
[i:5b79a09c23]Originally posted by puritansailor[/i:5b79a09c23]


Calvinism teaches that God is personal, that he rules and governs all things for his glory and out of love for his elect. He works all things for their good. Even the reprobate have a purpose in glorifying God. But the God of Calvinism is one who loves, and loves sovereignly. So, as you can see, this is not fate.
_________________________

Reply...

I don't think that this could be said/defined any better than this
:thumbup:
 

Coram_Deo

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you very much for all the answers, they were all helpful. One other point he brought up, and as far as we can see Edwards is the only theologian to address this and he does a rather poor job at it; but God's wrath is not glorious. The argument at the ETS has been proposed that Calvinists say the reason people are damned is that's God's glory might be seen in it. The author of this particular article said therefore, that in the beginning when there was nothing, God had to create in order to let the "glorious riches of His wrath" be seen in damning people. He would therefore say that God lacked some amount of glory before creation, because there was nothing to be wrathful against, and therefore God HAD to create to let His glory in damnation and divine wrath be seen, thus destroying God's asiety. The paper wasn't challenged at the ETS by anyone and from what I know the article is about to be submited to different philosophical and theological magazines. Any input?
Also curious someone said that Arminianism denies man's responsibility, i was wondering you could expand this thought a bit?
Blessings,
Borg
 

alwaysreforming

Puritan Board Sophomore
[quote:891565c4db]
He would therefore say that God lacked some amount of glory before creation, because there was nothing to be wrathful against, and therefore God HAD to create to let His glory in damnation and divine wrath be seen, thus destroying God's asiety.
[/quote:891565c4db]
I would say that this argument is flawed from the get-go. The very fact that the positor of this belief said that God "had" to do something to make His glory manifest, leaves this argument nowhere to go except from bad to worse.

God could do (and is going to do) a number of different things: are we now to assume that the "number" of His doings is a "must" without which He is left "one doing" short of full glory? Or perhaps if He "goes over by one" He would have been superfluous?

True, it is a fact that God's glory is shown in His wrath against the wicked, but is it necessarily the "virtue" of wrath that's being revealed? Or is it His justice, and righteousness, and truth, etc. that is being upheld in His wrath? The fact is that God's glory WILL be shown in WHATEVER happens from eternity past to eternity future; we can't now posit that God absolutely HAD to do all these things. Its just the nature of God's sovereignty: He WILL be glorified in ALL things!

As for the debate that Calvinism leads to fatalism: I can see why someone could come to that conclusion. However, God by His grace, makes the sun and rain fall on the good and the wicked alike. Does the fact that He gives MORE grace, redemptive grace, to those He has chosen now all of the sudden take away everyone's free will? No, for all of us retain our free will, and we use it. We use it to run from God, to hide from Him, to rebel against Him, to aim to thwart His purposes, and we'd even use it to annihilate Him and take His place if it were possible!

So God lets us have our free will; however, in certain of us, His elect, He OVERCOMES our free will, or better- GUIDES us IN our free will, to believe the Gospel and come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. And the rest of mankind: they continue in their free will, and continue using it to rebel against their Maker. To me, this smacks nothing of determinism or fatalism.
 

Wannabee

Obi Wan Kenobi
John.
You bring up some good points. We're all gifted in different ways and are tools fit for different purposes in many ways. God will use you to make an impact where others may not be equipped to do so.
While I'm not dogmatic about it, I'm a little concerned with your approach as I understand it. Philosophy is the love of knowledge. While we do need to use philosophical methods in discussing theology, it must be driven by and foundational on the Word of God. You can discuss natural theology (general revelation) and special revelation all you want, however it dosn't amount to a hill of beans if the person you're debating with doesn't accept the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture. He can agree that there is a creator, but not THE Creator. His perception of creation is and always will be flawed, unless God choses to regenerate his heart. We see a tree and God is glorified. Everything about that tree attests to the glory of God. Unregenerate man sees it as a source to meet his needs/desires. It's fuel, food, shade or decoration, that's it. Only when he is regenerate can he come to a proper (although probably still incomplete) understanding of creation. I think this is where you have to decide how to proceed. If you can't stand of the Scripture, your argument will avail nothing. I know that God may use it at a later date, but then the question is whether He is using us through our argument or in spite of it.[quote:326a860597]alwaysreforming
No, for all of us retain our free will, and we use it. [/quote:326a860597]I don't know about that. We have a will, but how can we call it free. It's either a slave to our depravity, or a slave to Christ. Your followup is sure accurate though.
 

Radar

Puritan Board Freshman
I was thinking that perhaps a simple way to differentiate between fatalism and Calvinism is to ask him to differentiate between "fate" and "destiny"!?

But my big fat English dictionary makes the terms virtually synonymous. Being predestined is being prefated in a great sense.

Maybe instead of trying to wiggle out of the term, we could acknowledge it, with appropriate Biblical perspectives, explaining how the secular use of the term has inappropriate barnacles that really do not apply in Christian theology. To this end, Puritan Sailor offered a terrific post. :thumbup:
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
[quote:7bd5137ed5]
[i:7bd5137ed5]Originally posted by Wannabee [/i:7bd5137ed5]
John.
You bring up some good points. We're all gifted in different ways and are tools fit for different purposes in many ways. God will use you to make an impact where others may not be equipped to do so.
While I'm not dogmatic about it, I'm a little concerned with your approach as I understand it. Philosophy is the love of knowledge. While we do need to use philosophical methods in discussing theology, it must be driven by and foundational on the Word of God. You can discuss natural theology (general revelation) and special revelation all you want, however it dosn't amount to a hill of beans if the person you're debating with doesn't accept the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture. He can agree that there is a creator, but not THE Creator. His perception of creation is and always will be flawed, unless God choses to regenerate his heart. We see a tree and God is glorified. Everything about that tree attests to the glory of God. Unregenerate man sees it as a source to meet his needs/desires. It's fuel, food, shade or decoration, that's it. Only when he is regenerate can he come to a proper (although probably still incomplete) understanding of creation. I think this is where you have to decide how to proceed. If you can't stand of the Scripture, your argument will avail nothing. I know that God may use it at a later date, but then the question is whether He is using us through our argument or in spite of it. [/quote:7bd5137ed5]


Joe:
I guess you see what I mean, that my approach may do with some discussion. There are a few things that you said that I would correct, like a natural thelogy being able to prove just any god's existence. I don't think that is possible; all things have been created by God, and so there is no such thing as proof that God does not exist. That does not leave us with a proof of a generic god, but only with proof of God, none other. There is a great deal of difference between an insufficient knowledge base to know God like we would from Scripture, and deducing from that base some other being than God. How could you prove Michael Jordan's record from Wayne Gretzky's stats?

And it is not as though I neglect Scripture, since it is my primary guide. It is not one or the other, but both. But the goal, of course, is to guide everyone to the Scriptures. I just think that we have left far too many new believers, and old ones, without a correct guide to understanding the world and its cultures, and so we will always have to deal with variant relational views like the one mentioned above. My approach presupposes that the inquirer is reallly interested to know the truth. It's not so much that I wich to tell all that I know about the world and its cultures, but rather that I don't get fooled by every new wind of doctrine that comes down the pike; far too many of them come right out of our own midst, like the Framework Hypothesis and various apologetic disputes.

Maybe its just that I've seen far to many unresolved discussions in which Bible texts got thrown around and around, and nothing gets discovered to draw people closer to the light. I just cannot see how that can be. It's like going wild in a dense bush with a big chainsaw and no trees get cut, not even nicked. There is something missing in such discussions, and it isn't some small piece of the puzzle either. Why don't we solve these problems? I think it's because we are not really interested enough in all the truth to satisfy the true need, but just interested enough in the truth that satisfies our desire to be counted as right in our opinions. In short, our theology has to be bigger than just the modern concept of theology, which is just one discipline among many; it has to be a theology that governs all disciplines. I'm just trying to get the lagging part caught up.

But your point is well taken, Joe. I take this kind of thing to heart, believe me.
 

terry72

Puritan Board Freshman
This is a great article dealing with this objection against

[quote:c6dd57cb98]Fatalism
by H.M.Curry

-
The following article is taken from a booklet entitled Feast of Fat Things, published by Welsh Tract Publications (c) 1996. This booklet also contains The Black Rock Address. Elder Curry lived in Lebanon, Ohio. He was born about 1860, and it is not known when he died although he did live well into this century.


From my earliest acquaintance with the Old School Baptists I have heard all the Arminian tribes calling them Fatalists, and the doctrine preached by them Fatalism. When an enemy of the truth desires to bring odium upon the doctrine of Predestination, and to calumniate maliciously those who believe in salvation by grace, the choicest word that his vocabulary can afford him is Fatalism. I find of late that some of our brethren have caught this favorite Ashdod word, and wield it with as much enthusiasm, skill and self-satisfaction as the most hot-headed Arminian in his rashest, bitterest and most malicious invectives against the truth. I have never been in favor of striving about words, but I cannot allow this use of the term Fatalism to go unnoticed any longer.

There are no two words in our language more directly opposite in their meaning than Predestination and Fatalism. The one is the strongest antithesis to the other. The most astonishing thing to me is that classical scholars, or even men of general intelligence, would weaken their claim to reputation as scholars and men of intelligence by confounding the meaning of these terms. I shall, for the benefit of the candid reader, endeavor to inquire into the origin, nature and import of the doctrine of Fatalism, and leave each one to draw his own conclusions as to the fairness or the correctness of the use of this term as a calumniation of the doctrine of Providence or Predestination.
Fatalism as a doctrine, system of philosophy, or religious belief, originated among those nations of antiquity that knew not God; hence it is of purely heathen origin. The idea of fate must have been evolved in the following manner. Observing men of all nations, and especially the shrewd, intellectual, ever watchful Greeks and Romans, discovered in the vicissitudes of every day life, both of individuals and of nations, things of great import transpire over which kings and sages had no control. They saw plagues, pestilence and famine consume and waste men, as winter cold blights, withers and scatters the leaves of the summer forest; they saw storms and earthquakes do their work of wholesale destruction, sweeping away men as grasshoppers, and swallowing up cities as ant hills; they saw the weak perish before the strong, as the morning mists melt away before the advancing sun; they saw the overthrow of kingdoms, the downfall of nations, the laying waste of empires. Against all such things they found themselves utterly powerless, and in their helplessness were swept away in the bosom of destruction. In the midst of distress they resorted to their temples, they sacrificed to their gods, they invoked their patron deities, but all in vain; no help came, no deliverance from their dire distresses. Under such circumstances it was perfectly natural for men to conclude that there are either no gods, or that the gods themselves had no power to help and protect them. Some came to the conclusion that there are no gods, and that all events come upon men inevitably by a blind destiny. This is original Fatalism. Others who could not give up their traditional deities, and the charms of a delusive worship, were driven to the conclusion that there is a power above the gods, to which the gods themselves are subject. This is the secondary phase of original Fatalism. This view was held by many prominent men, among whom was Cicero, who defined fate as the power that the gods themselves are subject to. This last phase of the doctrine of fate developed until finally an imaginary trinity was invented, called by the Latins, Parcae, and by the Greeks, Moirae. This trinity was composed of three women, called by the English reader the Fates, whose names were Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, and who controlled the destinies of gods and men after the most irregular, vindictive and capricious manner. Shrines were consecrated to them and temples built in their honor in many parts of Greece and Italy. The worship and doctrine of this imaginary female trinity was called Fatalism. Fatalism in its various ramifications formed the prominent feature of all ancient literature except that of the Jews. So clear was this people of the idea of fate that there is no word in the Hebrew corresponding to the fortune or Parcae of the Latin and the Moirae of the Greek. The reason of this is that Moses and the prophets taught them that one supreme God ruled this universe.

In Sophocles and some others of this time the term fate became synonymous with the word chance. At first glance it seems that these two words are directly opposite in meaning; but a little reflection will make it plain that chance and blind destiny are about the same thing after all.
It will now be seen that Fatalism is first the belief that all things come inevitably upon the human race by blind destiny, with no God to send, direct or avert them. Second, the belief that there is a power above the gods to which they themselves are subject. And third, that all things come by pure chance. Now, who ever saw any one purporting to be an Old Baptist who believed any of the foregoing phases of doctrine? Who ever saw an Old Baptist who believed there is no God, and that all things come by a blind and necessary destiny; that all events are fortuitous or by chance? Who ever saw a Baptist who believed there is a power above the gods, and that Clotho spins the thread of life, Lachesis determines the length, and Atropos with her inevitable shears cuts the thread? Then how silly, foolish and impertinent is this cry of Fatalism in Baptist pulpits and periodicals.

Now, if any one will consider the difference between events coming to pass that God Himself cannot hinder, but on the contrary is bound to permit, suffer or endure, and events coming to pass as He Himself has ordained by His own determinate counsel, such a one can see the difference between Fatalism and Predestination; he can see how ignorant a man must be of the meaning of his own language when he calls a Predestinarian a Fatalist. Strange as it may seem, those very Arminians who are most vociferous in charging Old Baptists with Fatalism are really Fatalists themselves. It is true that they do not think so, but they think that the ground of this charge is far from them; but upon a very slight analysis of their doctrine it will appear most clearly that the sin justly lies at their door. One sentence from their daily teaching will establish the truth of this assertion. Do they not persistently proclaim that men go to hell against the will of God? that God desires all men to be saved and has done all He can to save them, and yet men go to hell? that Christ made a full and complete atonement for the sins of all the world, and yet men go to perdition? If all this be true what takes men to hell but fate? Is there not some power that God Himself is subject to? I once heard Bishop Wilson, of Baltimore, say that when the will of man makes its choice, that God Himself cannot change it. Bishop Wilson may very justly and correctly be called a Fatalist upon the authority of his own expression. Numerous quotations might be given from representative Arminians of all ages, as well as from the populace, to show the likeness of their doctrine to ancient Fatalism.

Again the Arminian rejects the decree of election on the ground of the certainty of the result decreed, and at the same time admits the foreknowledge of God. Is not the result as certain by foreknowledge as by the decree? There is nothing gained by denying the decree and substituting for it the divine foreknowledge. This denial involves the objector in a greater difficulty than that which he sought to escape, and which he imagined was chargeable upon predestination alone. By rejecting the decree, and admitting the foreknowledge of God, he has shut himself up to the dread alternative of blank Fatalism, which rules God out of the empire of human history, including even the divine redemption. The question which now arises for all Arminians and partial predestinarians to answer is, as the whole future is known to God, and therefore certain, therefore determined, by whom or by what has it been determined and rendered certain? The objector has ruled God out, let him bring forth his substitute. He has now dethroned the eternal Jehovah, will he leave the throne of the universe vacant, or whom will he place upon it? He here places himself in a dilemma from which he cannot escape. He has on the one hand a vacant throne, and on the other an absolutely certain future. He has to account for a determined future, while his principles will not allow him to admit an intelligent personal determiner. Here it can be easily seen that outside of God's decrees as the determining cause, all must be attributed to the soulless, passionless, unintelligent idol, Fate.

It is not so much the Arminian that I desire to deal with in this article, as those of our own brethren who, when they wish to dispute the doctrine of predestination, call it Fatalism. It has just been shown that Predestination and Fatalism are terms of directly opposite meaning, and it may now be positively asserted that Predestination is the only thing that can rule Fatalism out of the universe. Wherever Predestination stops fate steps in. There is no place between to be occupied by any other species of events. History is full of instances where the fortune of dynasties, the downfall of nations, the course of empire, depended upon what seemed to be the most trivial matters, mere trifles, which came without the agency of the leading spirits, or even in defiance of their wills. Oliver Cromwell was about to emigrate to this country, when the departure of the ship in which he was expected to sail was hindered. He remained and assumed the leading part in affairs at home. Had he not remained, Charles the First might have retained his head, and Blake certainly would not have laid the foundation of the maritime supremacy in England. The treaty of Utrecht, which materially affected the social and political life of great nations, was occasioned by a quarrel between the Duchess of Marlborough and Queen Anne over a pair of gloves. The difference between one color and another in the livery of horses begat two most inveterate factions in the Roman Empire, the Prosini and the Veneti, which never suspended their hostilities until they ruined that unhappy government.
The negotiations with the Pope for dissolving Henry the Eighth's marriage, which brought on the "Reformation" in England, are said to have been interrupted by the Earl of Wiltshire's little dog biting the Pope's toe as he held it out to be kissed by that ambassador. The Tory ministry, which gave a new shape to all Europe, was brought in by the Duchess of Marlborough spilling a pail of water upon Mrs. Masham's gown. Mohamet, when flying from his enemies, took refuge in a cave, which his pursuers would have entered had they not seen a spiders web over the entrance; but on seeing this they concluded that there was no one within, and passed on. Thus a spider's web changed the history of the world. The turning point at Waterloo, one of the great decisive battles of the world, resulted from the singular circumstances that prevented the arrival of General Grouchy. The well-planned attack of the Barbarians upon Rome was averted by the cackling of a goose. A series of most trivial events ended in the overthrow of Antony. Louis the Sixth cut his hair and shaved his beard to obey the order of his Bishop. Eleanor his wife found him very ridiculous in this condition, and avenged herself as she thought proper, and Louis obtained a divorce. She then married Count Anjou, who afterward became Henry the Second of England, and thus gave rise to those wars that afterward ravaged France for three hundred years, and cost the French three hundred thousand men. Was the prevention of Cromwell's departure from England a mere fortuitous event, or was it the intervention of an active, working, ruling providence? Did blind destiny spread the spider's web upon Mohamet's cave, or was it provided by God, who works all things after the counsel of His own will? Was the biting of the Pope's toe by the little dog a mere caprice of the Fates, or was it one of all the things that work together for good to them that love God? We must here strike the balance between Fatalism and Predestination. If nothing is predestinated, then all things are by fate. If all things are predestinated, then there is no such thing as fate. If some things are predestinated, and others not, then the government of this universe is divided between God and the Fates. The man who does not believe in predestination at all is in reality a Fatalist. Let him deny it as he may, and reason as he will, there is no other subterfuge for him. The dilemma has but two horns, and one of them he must take. Then just in the proportion that a man divides the affairs of this world between Predestination and that which is not Predestination, just in that proportion that man is a Fatalist. This article is not intended for a defense of the doctrine of Predestination, but is merely meant to submit to the reader a fair presentation of Fatalism, and to show the difference between it and Predestination, and to point out the inconsistency and confusion of those who confound the one with the other. Those of us who insist upon a limited Predestination, and who call our brethren who place no limit upon Gods decrees, Fatalists, are really much nearer the borders of Fatalism than our brethren whom we thus inconsistently stigmatize.

Again, if the term fate by modern usage means unalterable destiny, all Predestinarians, whether contending for limited or unlimited decrees, are alike Fatalists; for they all believe in the fixed destiny of the human race. Then why should the pot call the kettle black?

A minister passed through the churches of my care, railing against Fatalism, as he called it; but many of the brethren could not tell what he was driving at. They had heard Methodists talk that way, but thought rather strange of a Baptist to speak so. At one place his argument was that a certain man who was a member of a church believing the Predestination of all things, was caught in very disorderly conduct, wicked, outbreaking conduct; and when brought before the church in discipline, he put them all to silence by gently reminding them that it was all predestinated, and he could not help it; and they could not exclude him for something that, according to their own doctrine, he could not help.

Now, this is very poor argument against Predestination; but I suppose that in the absence of better it is often used. In the first place, I do not believe such a circumstance ever occurred, but that this is a lie concocted by some Arminian three hundred years ago, to bring odium upon the doctrine of grace. In the second place, if such really did occur, the man did not love the doctrine he professed; it was not the doctrine of his heart, but was mere tradition; perhaps not so much as tradition with him. Instead of exposing the doctrine and the church, he exposed his own vile hypocrisy and insincerity in the truth he professed. This is about as pertinent argument against Predestination as the old saying, "If God has ordained me to salvation, I will take my fill of sin, and be saved anyhow," is pertinent as argument against unconditional election. The terms are off the same piece.

Where does Predestination cease to be a wholesome gospel doctrine, and become a baneful Fatalism? Where is there any well defined line setting forth the limits of one and the beginnings of the other? What proportion of the affairs of this world can a man believe is predestinated, and not be a Fatalist? If predestination of all things is Fatalism, is not predestination of some things some Fatalism? If the whole of anything is poisonous, is not any part of the same thing poisonous? Is it true that a quarter of lamb is wholesome food when only a quarter is taken, but becomes putrid carcass when all the body is taken? Those that call Old School Baptists Fatalists, in order to be consistent with their principles, should call Christ a Fatalist, for He said, "Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?"-Matthew 6:27. Or when He also said, "Not a sparrow falls to the ground without your heavenly Father." Paul subjects himself to their odium by testifying that he will have mercy on whom he will, and whom he will he hardeneth.-Romans 9. Peter is also guilty of a like offense against their zeal for God's honor when he said, Herod, and Pilate and the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together against Christ to do whatsoever God's hand and God's counsel determined before to be done.-Acts 4. Also when he declared that those who stumbled at the stumbling-stone being disobedient, were appointed to it.-I Peter 2:8. James places himself in the same company when he said, "For ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and to this, or that." Jude identifies himself with the same kind of Fatalists by saying, "There are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation." Jeremiah must also be classed among them, for he said, "I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." Solomon belongs to the same company, for he has declared that, "That which is to be hath already been, that which hath been is now, and God requireth the past." Upon the same ground these objectors must stigmatize all the divine writers as Fatalists, and call the Bible itself a book of fate. The charge of Fatalism against Predestinarians is no new thing. The Pelagians were loud against
Augustine in this charge, the Arminians against Calvin, and all manner of workmongers against men who held the truth in every age.[/quote:c6dd57cb98]

Blessings,
Terry :)
 

A_Wild_Boar

Puritan Board Freshman
I know this is late.

[quote:b271042dee]WHAT FATALISM IS
Benjamin B. Warfield

This is a sad state of mind that people fall into sometimes, in which they do not know the difference between God and Fate. One of the most astonishing illustrations of it in all history is, no doubt, that afforded by our Cumberland Presbyterian brethren, who for a hundred years, now, have been vigorously declaring that the Westminster Confession teaches "fatalism." What they mean is that the Westminster Confession of Faith teaches that it is God who determines all that shall happen in his universe; that God has not -- to use a fine phrase of Dr. Charles Hodge's -- "given it either to necessity, or to chance, or to the caprice of man, or to the malice of Satan, to control the sequence of events and all their issues, but has kept the reins of government in his own hands." This, they say, is Fate: because (so they say) it involves "an inevitable necessity" in the falling out of events. And this doctrine of "fatality," they say -- or at least, their historian, Dr. B. W. McDonnold says for them -- is "the one supreme difficulty which it has never been possible to reconcile," and which still "stands an insuperable obstacle to a reunion" between them and "the mother church." "Whether the hard places in the Westminster Confession be justly called fatality or not," he adds, "they are too hard for us."
Now, is it not remarkable that men with hearts on fire with love to God should not know him from Fate? Of course, the reason is not far to seek. Like other men, and like the singer in the sweet hymn that begins, "I was a wandering sheep," they have a natural objection to being "controlled." They wish to be the architects of their own fortunes, the determiners of their own destinies; though why they should fancy they could do that better for themselves than God can be trusted to do it for them, it puzzles one to understand. And their confusion is fostered further by a faulty way they have of conceiving how God works. They fancy he works only by "general law." "Divine influence," they call it (rather than "him"): and they conceive this "divine influence" as a diffused force, present through the whole universe and playing on all alike, just like gravity, or light, or heat. What happens to the individual, therefore, is determined, not by the "divine influence" which plays alike on all, but by something in himself which makes him respond more or less to the "divine influence" common to all. If we conceive God's modes of operation, thus, under the analogy of a natural force, no wonder if we cannot tell him from Fate. For Fate is just Natural Force; and if Natural Force should thus govern all things that would be Fatalism.

The conception is, we see, in essence the same as that of the old Greeks. "To the Stoic, in fact," says Dr. Bigg, "God was Natural Law, and his other name was Destiny. Thus we read in the famous hymn of Cleanthes: 'Lead us, 0 Zeus, and Thou too, 0 destiny, whithersoever ye have appointed for us to go. For I will follow without hesitation. And if I refuse I shall become evil, but I shall follow all the same.' Man is himself a part of the great world-force, carried along in its all-embracing sweep, like the water-beetle in a torrent. He may struggle, or he may let himself go; but the result is the same, except that in the latter case, he embraces his doom, and so is at peace." When a man thus identifies God with mere natural law, he may obtain resignation, but he cannot attain religion. And the resignation attained may conceal beneath it the intensest bitterness of spirit. We all remember that terrible epigram of Palladas: "If caring avails anything, why, certainly, take good care; but if care is taken for you by a God, what's the use of your taking care? It's all the same whether you care or care not; the God takes care only for this -- that you shall have cares enough." That is the outcome of fatalism -- of confounding God with Natural Law.

What, now, is the real difference between this Fatalism and the Predestination taught, say, in our Confession? "Predestination and Fatalism," says Schopenhauer, "do not differ in the main. They differ only in this, that with predestination the external determination of human action proceeds from a rational Being, and with fatalism from an irrational one. But in either case the result is the same." That is to say, they differ precisely as a person differs from a machine. And yet Schopenhauer can represent this as not a radical difference! Professor William James knows better; and in his lectures on "The Varieties of Religious Experience" enlarges on the difference. It is illustrated, he says, by the difference between the chill remark of Marcus Aurelius: "If the gods care not for me or my children, there is a reason for it"; and the passionate cry of Job, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him!" Nor is the difference solely in emotional mood. It is precisely the difference that stretches between materialism and religion. There is, therefore, no heresy so great, no heresy that so utterly tears religion up by the roots, as the heresy that thinks of God under the analogy of natural force and forgets that he is a person.

There is a story of a little Dutch boy, which embodies very fairly the difference between God and Fate. This little boy's home was on a dyke in Holland, near a great wind-mill, whose long arms swept so close to the ground as to endanger those who carelessly strayed under them. But he was very fond of playing precisely under this mill. His anxious parents had forbidden him to go near it; and, when his stubborn will did not give way, had sought to frighten him away from it by arousing his imagination to the terror of being struck by the arms and carried up into the air to have life beaten out of him by their ceaseless strokes. One day, heedless of their warning, he strayed again under the dangerous arms, and was soon absorbed in his play there forgetful of everything but his present pleasures. Perhaps, he was half conscious of a breeze springing up; and somewhere in the depth of his soul, he may have been obscurely aware of the danger with which he had been threatened. At any rate, suddenly, as he played, he was violently smitten from behind, and found himself swung all at once, with his head downward, up into the air; and then the blows came, swift and hard! 0 what a sinking of the heart! 0 what a horror of great darkness! It had come then! And he was gone! In his terrified writhing, he twisted himself about, and looking up, saw not the immeasureable expanse of the brazen heavens above him, but his father's face. At once, he realized, with a great revulsion, that he was not caught in the mill, but was only receiving the threatened punishment of his disobedience. He melted into tears, not of pain, but of relief and joy. In that moment, he understood the difference between falling into the grinding power of a machine and into the loving hands of a father.

That is the difference between Fate and Predestination. And all the language of men cannot tell the immensity of the difference.

from Selected Shorter Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield, vol. 1, Edited by John E. Meeter, published by Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1970. originally from The Presbyterian, Mar. 16, 1904, pp. 7-8..

[/quote:b271042dee]



[Edited on 3-20-2004 by A_Wild_Boar]
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
[quote:e5337b6705]
The argument at the ETS has been proposed that Calvinists say the reason people are damned is that's God's glory might be seen in it. The author of this particular article said therefore, that in the beginning when there was nothing, God had to create in order to let the "glorious riches of His wrath" be seen in damning people. He would therefore say that God lacked some amount of glory before creation, because there was nothing to be wrathful against, and therefore God HAD to create to let His glory in damnation and divine wrath be seen, thus destroying God's asiety. The paper wasn't challenged at the ETS by anyone and from what I know the article is about to be submited to different philosophical and theological magazines. Any input?
[/quote:e5337b6705]

ETS fails to distinguish between God's intrinsic glory, and his ascribed glory. There is a glory essential to God's being, which as the supreme creator is infinite and cannot be added to. Then there is the glory, or praise and honor, given to him by his creations through his providence. When God condemns sinners to hell it is this, the 2nd or ascribed glory, he is adding to. In the beginning God lacked only this glory and for that reason He created the world. See Watson's Body of Divinity.
 

TheonomyNZ

Puritan Board Freshman
[quote:f67a40a604][i:f67a40a604]Originally posted by Coram_Deo[/i:f67a40a604]
Hey I just got back from hanging out with an Arminian friend of mine who posed the "great" Calvinism is equal to fatalism argument and wanted to see what sorts of arguments can be made against such a claim.[/quote:f67a40a604]I wouldn't call Calvinism fatalism. But I think it is at least possible to show your friend the problem with the argument when it is made by a Christian as a reason to reject Calvinism. just ask him: "If the Bible taught this fatalistic system of doctrine, would you believe it?" Or would he reject Scripture if it taught something that he considered to be fatalistic?
 

Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
5 Points of Arminianism
The Unsovereignty of God
Conditional Election
Ineffectual Atonement
Ineffectual Grace
Perseverance of the Free Will
:barfy:
 

tdowns

Puritan Board Junior
EXACTLY MY COME BACK

Originally posted by Paul manata
well, I just say...well your view= open theism, so let's stop the name calling and actually reason.

besides, I'd rather be a fatalist then believe in a puny god who cannot even accomplish salvation without man's help

-Paul

Or follow a God that ever had to wait for anything. a.k.a. open theism.
Your response is basically the angle I've been taking, I just keep coming back to how their Free Will worship theology messes with the very nature of God. Your response just seems the best angle to me in regards to this debate. If God ever has to wait to see what we do, then that God is not the God of the bible.

It amazes me people would rather sacrifice the very Nature of God, just so they can have a say in their fate, I know what happens when I have the final say, I screw up, do I want eternal life resting in my hands(or my family and friends hands) or do I want theirs and my fate in God's hands. I'll take God. If I had the absolute perfect financial planner, who without flaw would guide me to the best financial success, I would be an idiot, not to put my FATE entirely in his hands. I would want him to be fatalistic in his approach to my financial success.
Well God makes no mistake, so I would be an idiot not to want my entire FATE in his hands, not mine. Especially if we know with absolute certainty our fate if it is left in our hands, a 100% failure rate--

Seems to me scripture continually paints a picture of God's followers as followers that will throw themselves at the Kings Feet, and say, do with me what you will, Thy will be done.

But ohhh, wouldn't want to be a robot...what is that saying again, pride before the fall.

By the way, will we have the "Free Choice" to sin or leave God or Reject his grace, after we're in heaven, I don't think so, so why have a problem with it while we're still down here?

Just my thoughts....

TD
 
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