Is It Really “Just Fate”?
“IT DOESN’T matter who you are or what you’re doing,” the grieving man said, “things like this can happen.” Chunks of granite had fallen from a building, fatally striking his friend. “It’s fate,” he somberly concluded.
But are we really helpless pawns of something called fate? This question has perplexed man for centuries, and with good reason. As King Solomon once observed: “The swift do not have the race, nor the mighty ones the battle, nor do the wise also have the food, nor do the understanding ones also have the riches, nor do even those having knowledge have the favor.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) What accounts for such disparities?
Solomon explained: “Time and unforeseen occurrence befall them all.” But many believe that God decides their destiny. For example, many espouse 16th-century theologian John Calvin’s theory of “predestination.” Other clergymen had claimed that God preordains individuals to be saved. Calvin, however, took this to the logical and frightening conclusion that men were also predestined to damnation! He called this the decretum horribile, or “the horrible decree,” of God.
Some objected that such a doctrine made God responsible for sin. But in an attempt to refute “a certain worthless person” who opposed his theory, Calvin indignantly replied: “This wretched fellow does not see that, by snatching at false pretexts for excusing the justice of God, he thereby subverts his power.” It was inconceivable to Calvin that an almighty God would not possess absolute foreknowledge.
Belief in predestination or in fate is bound to have a profound effect on a person’s way of life. But does the Bible really teach that we are locked into a predetermined future, that we are simply victims of “fate”?