As Muslims we must believe in Al Qadr. Saying “What IF” causes one to have doubt in the decree of ALLAH and opens ones ears to the evil whipspers of Shaitan which weakens our eman. It was decreed that this situation happen–Man plans but ALLAH is the best of Planners. -Arab News (Comments)
This comment on a story about the current situation in Palestine started me to thinking about the difference between fatalism predestination —and how we approach these two things as humans. There is a famous story about the father of modern missions, William Carey, giving a talk at a meeting of the Particular Baptists in the late 1700’s (close to the turn of the century). On finishing, a man stood and said, “Sit down, young man. If God wants the heathen saved he will do it without your help or mine.”
Oh how well modern heathens would prefer to live next to that Particular Baptist today.
But my point here isn’t about missions, it’s about fatalism in religious belief. That God has decreed, and we have no options, no choices, no way to do anything. There is a fine line, a balance, between fatalism and predestination that Christians need to walk to avoid stepping into the attitude of the Muslim or the Particular Baptist above. The problem is finding that line —to refuse to fall into the ditch on either side of the problem.
For God is sovereign. There is no way around this. Open theism, with a God who doesn’t know the future, is simply untenable in light of the Scriptures.
But men do have choices. There is no way around this, either. It’s built into almost every story in the Scriptures, every law, every interaction between God and man.
How to understand both of these at the same time, I simply don’t know. I’ve made some attempts at putting them together, but I’m certain they all fall short in one way or another. But I know they are both true.
The danger of fatalism is simple, and illustrated in the comment posted to a story about the choices of the Arab world around Palestine above (the article, itself, is worth reading, by the way). If we believe that God is choosing, then we are frozen into a sort of paralysis, where we simply won’t choose. If all things are God’s choice, then humans have no need to choose. Should I choose the red or the blue tennis shoes this morning? It doesn’t matter, God has already chosen. If I wind up with one of each color, on the wrong foot, well, that’s God’s doing, not mine.
It seems to me that we must guard against such thought, for down this path leads the most totalitarian governments, and the most dreadful and dead lives we can imagine. There is almost no surer way to quench the life of a man than to tell him that it doesn’t matter what he does, his fate is certain in all cases. If you want to see someone fail at work, tell them they are going to be rated poorly no matter what they do.
Islam is probably the most fatalistic religion on the face of the Earth today.
As Christians, it’s important that we not fall for fatalism. Yes, God is sovereign. Yes, the ultimate ends are up to him. But yes, your prayers do matter. And yes, it’s important that you study the Scriptures, and witness, and ask for forgiveness for sins, and teach your children in the way of truth, and fight against evil where you can, and…
Understand that God is sovereign, but don’t make that an excuse for not standing up and living the Christian life in its fullness. “What if,” is not an evil question to ask.