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Predestination in Christianity vs. Islam

Reader comment on item: Are Muslims Fatalists?
in response to reader comment: The Inescapable

Submitted by Michael S (United States), Sep 19, 2015 at 00:42

Hello, Pied Piper. You wrote, quoting Nawawi's Hadith,

رفعت الاقلام وجفت الصحف (The Pens have been Lifted and the Pages have Dried)

I thought it interesting, that you should write this during the Jewish Days of Awe, a time when the book of life is open until Yom Kippur, and the lives of Jews are being written anew for the next year.

If anyone literally believed the hadith you quoted, I can see that they would have little incentive to do anything worthwhile, other than meeting immediate needs. Either you are not presenting the whole story, or the god of Muslims is a strange sort of fellow -- pre-ordaining everything everyone will ever do, then holding them all accountable for their actions. This is very different from the sort of predestination taught in the Bible; and it goes against the often repeated refrain in Qur'an that Allah is "merciful". How can someone be merciful with a person who never had any choice to do good or evil? Mercy implies guilt.

Predestination in the Bible can be described, briefly, this way: God instructs us in the right way and the wrong way, and tells us the consequences of our actions. We then freely act, often choosing the wrong way. Then we suffer the consequences for our wrongdoig, and pray that God will be merciful. Where we go from there, depends largely on whether or not we believe God has forgiven us; because this will affect what we do in the future. In the end, we are all judged according to our works, both good and bad.

With Christians, being forgiven is manifested in the fact that Jesus wrongly suffered in our stead, that he forgave us, and that God received him -- and, in a figure, us in him. When we receive this as fact, we become new creations in Christ, free to put aside our old, sinful nature. By looking at the lives of Christians, one might wonder how often they're supposed to repeat the process, because the old nature seems to keep popping up again. It may look comical to an outsider, but it's deadly serious to the one involved. The process itself forces the Christian to develop a living, personal relationship with his Creator, which exactly the point of the matter. It's this relationship that leads him into eternal life; and those who do not have such a relationship are doomed to eternal damnation.

The Apostle Paul speaks about this struggle:

1 Corinthians 12:
[12] Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
[13] There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
[14] Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

Having said the above, God understands human nature, and knows what the outcome will be if man continues to resist God's mercy: It will be judgment, of the individual and also of humanity. In that sense, the course of history is pre-determined; and mankind follows the script almost as though he were being paid to do so.

That's the Christian way, so far as I understand it. I have no idea how Jews think on these matters. As for Muslims, it seems they live in dread all their lives, of the judgment of "Allah, the Merciful, the Comassionate". That's my impression. I'd be interested in your insights.


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