Calvinism and Fatalism

A recent episode of the podcast Unbelievable? was entitled Does God predetermine everything?

From the title it sounded like Calvinism was being defined as Fatalism. My question is this:

What are the distinctions between Calvinism and Fatalism?

Thank for you answers and points of view in advance!

Cheers and blessings!



In Calvinism a loving Father governs the universe and cares for His children and does all things for the benefit of those He loves. Humans freely act according to their natures and God holds humans responsible for their actions.

In fatalism there is no purpose, no design, no hope, no loving God, and no meaning.


@RyanMelcher I think the challenge for the Calvinist position is explaining how we can avoid the hopelessness that comes from fatalism if certain people are predestined to reject God? And how do we reconcile God’s desire to save all people with this doctrine that some He never even pursues. The doctrine of predestination can be difficult to reconcile with the reality that God is love.

However, as @mgilliam said, all Christians believe that we worship a Father who loves us and who is gracious and kind. And while God’s love and predestination are hard to reconcile, some Christians believe the Bible clearly teaches them and therefore choose to hold onto this mystery in an attempt to be faithful to Scripture. I respect that desire to honor Scripture, though I disagree with the position.

We are doing a book study on John Lennox’s book Determined to Believe. You may be interested :slight_smile:


Hi, Sean. Thanks for the tag.

I think that saying people are predestined to reject God may somewhat distort the historical Reformed positions. The Reformed position is that God chooses to
actively work in the elect to bring them to saving faith. Thus God displays His glorious love, grace, and mercy in how He cares for the elect. God does not actively work to cause the reprobate to reject Him. He leaves them in their fallen state and they
receive justice. No one receives injustice as that would not be in keeping with God’s character. Therefore, God’s work in the elect and reprobate is not symmetrical. He does not work evil in the reprobates’ hearts or actively cause them to sin.

In addition, no one who seeks after God and desperately wants to be saved is rejected. No one should say I love God and desire to be with Him and yet He rejects
me because I am not one of the elect. If someone loves God and wants to be saved they are one of the elect.

Think about this. If man had not sinned we would think God was great, but we would not know His love, mercy or grace. Neither would we know His justice.

Being elect is not a matter of pride, but rather a matter of ultimate humility, because the elect are completely dependent on God. The elect are tremendously
loved and bought at a great price.

To me it is not whether God does not save everyone it is why would he save anyone. We all deserve condemnation. God is not obligated to save anyone. Job 41:11
“Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.” Romans 11:35 “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” And also consider Romans 9:15 “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have
compassion on whom I have compassion.” Salvation is God’s sovereign choice and who are we to take offense to what God chooses.

We all have a desire both for love and justice, and should praise God for both His glorious love and justice.

Finally let me be clear I love my Arminian brothers and sisters. You guys are probably much better Christians than me. I am not trying to change what you
believe at all. I am just trying to show that we Calvinists are not monsters and have plenty of Biblical support for our positions. Candidly, if I get to heaven and I am wrong I will be quite pleased with God’s correction.


@mgilliam I love my brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter their position on this issue :slight_smile: I do not consider myself either Arminian or Calvinist. But logically I do not see any meaningful difference between predestining certain people to salvation and predestining others to damnation. By choosing one group for salvation, you are abandoning the other group to their fate. Even if this fate is deserved, it is hard to logically reconcile that behavior with sacrificial love. To be clear, I believe that someone can hold Calvinist doctrine and still believe in and live out, better than I do, the sacrificial love of Jesus. But I cannot logically reconcile these ideas and I believe Scripture can be interpreted without resulting in the belief that God predestines those who will choose Him.

I agree that God’s mercy is shown through those who receive His grace and love in Jesus.


Fundamentally there is very little difference. Both views hold to a life that has no choices. A life whose end is predetermined has little appeal to me.
I would recommend that you read the topic of the current book study it will give you plenty of food for thought.