Posts Tagged ‘adjustment bureau’

    But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God… Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy… (Jude 1:20-21,24 ESV)

The Adjustment Bureau wants to be a profound, thought-provoking and encouraging epic. It tries so hard to get there but didn’t quite do it. It’s not merely that the end is a little absurd, it’s that what it’s trying to achieve is nearly impossible. When any movie attempts to deal with the question of free will versus determinism, it always has to pick one. Movies like Minority Report may come close to demonstrating that both are true but ultimately, free will usually wins (unless the movie is 12 Monkeys). Am I saying this movie was terrible? No. Is it worth watching? Maybe. Damon and Blunt have awesome chemistry and are super believable in their almost instant depth of love for each other. I enjoyed their interactions and banter. Each of their characters is very winsome and easy to root for and want the best for. But I think part of the flaws of this film start with concept of an “adjustment bureau.”

You’re Either Sovereign or Not, There’s No In-between!

Is the adjustment bureau sovereign or not? They act like they control everything and that you cannot go against the plan – unless they make a mistake, that is. Ultimately, they come off as rather weak. One man working against them, with the help of one “agent,” manages to throw everything off and change things. All he needs is to be committed and determined. That’s it? I kept thinking: “Really? That’s the best they can throw at Damon?” I also kept thinking: “What’s with the hats? Why do these guys need to stand out like sore thumbs?” I so badly wanted this movie to work but the adjustment bureau entity was so much talk and very little results. These guys are in control and have a chairman who is essentially God? They sure look and act like a human government. Power is not sovereignty. It’s just power.

Suffering & Satisfaction versus Ease & Loneliness

Even with all the flaws, I was into this film and hoping for an excellent ending right up until one key decision. I won’t reveal it and it is a bit subtle, but it changed the remaining part of the movie for me. The choice is painted as success versus pain but it really is about suffering and satisfaction versus ease and loneliness. This is exactly what we trend towards, especially as Americans. Think about it. We bail on marriage when it gets hard. We choose our careers so quickly. Stay at home moms are looked down on. Education is an idol. Suffering is pushed away – we have to fix or numb that. We cannot compute with a path that suffering is associated with peace and joy, only that suffering is death.

Do we really believe that life is simply about surface level success? If I’m president, it’s better than having a healthy family. If I’m a successful engineer, that’s better than spending time with my kids. Is it any surprise that, as Americans, we can be so lonely? Watch the decision made in this film and think about it. We want our cake and to eat it too but “success” tends to win that battle.

The Never-ending Question: Free Will or Predestination?

What is the point of this film that it roughly crashes into at the end? Seize your free will. Change your future. But what if seizing your free will only means burning it all down? This movie presumes our goodness. Damon cracks the code in a sense but he has good and noble intentions. What if those intentions were bad? What about the people that get kicked around in this movie as a result Damon’s choices and changing of his future? Are they less deserving? The movie wants to dig into the question of whether we have free will or not. The adjustment bureau claims free will is a joke. The age old question. Are we determined, either chemically or by a sovereign God? Are we free, just within certain parameters? Do we dictate our own destiny? No film can answer this question, try as they may. Honestly, even the Bible doesn’t answer it! We absolutely have to believe in both. We have a sovereign good God. He is not surprised by anything. He wills the suffering of Job. He plans the death of his only son on the cross. We are chosen in Christ. We are totally depraved and would not turn to Jesus apart from his intervention. The grace he gives is completely unmerited and a gift. However, God tells us that our choices matter. Our prayers affect things. Evangelism matters. My actions have impacts. Every morning I know this it true – I know my choices and who is responsible for my sin. Believe both.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13 ESV)

I appreciate the intentions of Adjustment Bureau. It wanted to be more. I rooted for Damon and Blunt. I love how unyielding Damon is and how he doesn’t give up. You’ll probably enjoy this movie. There is a some foul language and a PG-13 sex scene so be wary. If you see it, think about how God is both good as well as sovereign. Hard stuff happens but God knows what is best for us. We can balk at that or trust him, let him give you the peace that transcends all understanding, and walk in relationship with him and others.

Affliction may deprive us of our estates, but sin deprives us of our God…

Better [to] be in a prison and have God’s presence, than on a throne and lack it. – Thomas Watson

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This week: a one minute review of “The Adjustment Bureau” from Thomas McKenzie, why the gospel is good news now, Muammar Gadhafi, types of actions, and contraconditional love.

Why the Gospel Is Good News for Believers . . . Now (by Jared Compton)

If new life has been given to us, to Christians, we should expect to see evidence of this new life every day. Instead of this fact turning us inward in introspection (there is, of course, a place for this), let it also make usexpect to see evidences of new life, evidences of grace, in others’ lives every day. One of the best, most faith-building, joy-producing things we can do for our brothers and sisters in Christ is to point out God’s work in their lives. Infuse courage into the soul of your spouse, your pastors, your small group by drawing attention to what you see God doing in their lives.

Me and Muammar: What We have in Common (by Carl Trueman)

And as we shudder at the sight of this lunatic rambling on our television screens, it is worth remembering that Gadhafi is only an extreme example of that which dwells in each of us.  The desire to be in control, to make a mark, to make ourselves indispensable: these are all drives that are universal within fallen humanity.  Our worlds may be smaller, the damage we do somewhat more modest, but our ambitions are in their own ways just as absurd as his.

Good-Good, Bad-Good, Bad-Bad, and Good-Bad Actions (by Justin Taylor)

The more difficult one to understand is the one we call good-bad. When certain actions take place, they are simply evil; nevertheless, under the providence of God, under his sovereignty over human events, he has the power to bring good out of them, which is a glorious thing we can experience as Christians.

Why God’s Love Is Better Than “Unconditional” (by Justin Taylor)

This love is much, much, much better than unconditional! Perhaps we could call it “contraconditional” love.

Contrary to the conditions for knowing God’s blessing, He has blessed me because His Son fulfilled the conditions.

Contrary to my due, He loves me.

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