Friday, April 01, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

Marcia and I went to see The Adjustment Bureau last week. I enjoyed it very much. One review I'd read before I went suggested that I'd have things to think about beyond the movie.

The chief idea of the movie revolves around the conflict between "Fate" and "Free Will". While I believe neither in Fate or Free will, I enjoyed this movie. Fate was treated as a blind script with no purpose or destination, merely an impersonal plan for the universe and your part in it. Free Will was treated as an individual's desire to deviate from the plan. Neither of those correspond to the reality as I understand it from Bible.


The movie's conflict developed when the central character did not spill coffee on himself by 7:05 like he was supposed to. Think about that, how many things in life change because of something so insignificant as spilling your coffee. What you may deem as insignificant, alters the course of the rest of your life?

A Limited God

One of the agents informs David Norris that they don't adjust the small things, only the big ones...because they do not have enough "manpower". It is impossible to conceive of a God who has the manpower to make a plan happen as he wishes.

In addition "The Chairman," the one who calls the shots, depends on agents who do not have the whole plan. They have only the piece they are told. So, they act without the knowledge of the outcomes of their adjustments. Their lack of knowledge has potentially tragic results.

And, The Chairman continues to revise the plan as he loses control of it! As the fallible agents fail to control the free will of the people a future unfolds that is not what The Chairman had in mind. This makes for a fun movie, but a highly unpleasant reality.

Goodness & Sovereignty

I have not adequately considered the importance of both goodness and sovereignty. Free will turned out just as I expected in this movie. Not only did it result in a proud defiance of the chairman, it led to an immoral sexual relationship. That's why I do not believe the will is free. It is bound to sin (Romans 3:23).

The ability to run the world demands moral perfection and goodness. In the movie, one agent lies. The chairman does not appear to have a problem with that...if it keeps people on plan. The plan itself had no inherent goodness, it appeared to be one among many ways to run the world.

A plan without a good destination is an inadequate plan. If it is not good, run by a good God toward a good end, then it is hopeless determinism and should be resisted.

Individual vs. Societal Planning

The good of the individual and the good of society were at odds in the movie. If David Norris had what would give him greatest happiness he would no longer serve the purpose he was to fulfill in society. It appears unkind for The Chairman to favor the societal good over the individual good. Surely, if The Chairman were good both the big plan and the little plan would work for a common good.

My conclusion:

This is what I've come to after thinking about this movie: We have no idea how God does it!

If God is sovereign and good and works everything according to his purpose (Job 42:2), he does it in mysterious ways. How does He use the good choices of some people and the evil of others to work the good for the individual and for society in a way that ends up where he designs...I have no idea. But I'm glad He does.

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