On the plane to California I decided to watch the movie The Adjustment Bureau, it was a fascinating movie that was very well done. This had been the first time I had seen it and from the beginning I thought it was going to be another Matt Damon Movie full of suspense and intrigue, and it was but for a different reason.
There is a great depiction in the first ¾ of the movie of the long lasting debate between man’s free will and predestination. This of course is not the first time that I have been engaged in the discussion, but it was the first time I had see it in a Hollywood movie. In fact if all you watched was the first ¾ you might think that you were at an Acts 29 conference (for those not familiar Acts 29 is a church planting network who holds very strongly to Calvinism) listening to the proofing of God’s sovereignty.
The concerning this about how much the two paralleled each other was the matter-of-factness that came across in speaking about divine intervention in order to keep things on plan. In the movie Damon’s character David Norris encounters something he was not suppose to encounter, when part of the “plan” was not carried out as it should have been. Norris is then abducted by the adjustment agents who begin to contain the situation by exposing the whole interworking of the world. Norris of course will not be held back or down by this oppression and fights it. And in these kind of movies the right things often happens… love wins (but that’s a post for another time).
A few things that got my mind thinking, first how the agents described the divine as this heartless puppet master who is more concerned with the “plan” than is concerned for its greatest creation in humanity. However the auspices of concern loomed in that man left to his own freewill will only destroy itself so control is necessary. While I know many awesome dudes and ladies who hold a healthy Calvinist view of sovereignty I was shocked at how much of a parallel was between the agents description of the divine and many folks today especially young church planters.
Second, the tension that exists between this free will of man and the sovereignty of God. While the movie did a great job depicting the struggle between the two, I couldn’t help but find solas in the fact that there is a healthy place where both exist in the world without much, if any, tension.
Examining the scriptures and reading through the works of Calvin and the doctrines at the Senate of Dort (where the 5 points of Calvinism was founded), it is my belief that the two exist in this way: Before Christ we are separated from God, in fact we are slaves to sin to the point that we have no will as sin dictates everything we do. But when we come to Christ we are given a freedom because we have been given a new nature of which we can now interact with God freely. In Christ our relationship is restored with God how it was in the Garden. In Christ we can now choose for or against God. The two exist in this way outside of Christ we have no hope and are predestined to death, but in Christ we have freedom.
This much to say each side can proof text all day long, both sides of the argument suggest they are right and that the majority of scripture favors them, but was each side neglects is as much as they might be right in their piece of the discussion the evidence for both exists just as described, it is a paradox that drives us crazy. The unfortunate thing about the argument is that when it is done public for all to see it may actually be counter active for the gospel.