Do we control our destiny, or do unseen forces manipulate us? Those are the two options posed by the thriller, The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon as a man who glimpses the future that Fate has planned for him and realizes that he wants something else.
My wife and I saw the film last night (at a bargain price of $10 including popcorn and soda!) I’m a sucker for mind-bending movies and TV shows like Inception, Lost, and Fringe that deal with alternative realities and parallel universes, but where those shows play with post-Einsteinian physics, the Adjustment Bureau seemed to rehash the notion of Fate in Ancient Greek mythology.
(Spoiler alert!) The Adjustment Bureau turns out to be a group of men dressed in hats (read angels) that act and react to cause “the plan” (read fate) of the “the chairman” (read God) to stay on track.
I think some people will see a veiled reference to a Christian cosmology in the film, but it’s a far cry from the Christian worldview revealed in the Bible.
For instance, in the Bible, the providence of God is toward the ultimate purpose of bringing all things under Christ, rather than following a blueprint that maps out all the details of a plan. And any adjustments needed have more to do with the mysterious intersection of free will, spiritual warfare, and God’s Sovereignty rather than a one-dimensional fate or destiny. And the God revealed in Scripture is not a removed, dispassionate engineer working behind the curtain to manipulate his plan, but an involved, passionate, and loving King who “works all things together for the good of those who are loved and called according to His purposes.”
If our choice is only between free will and fate, then the options of stoicism or rebellion are obvious, as the Greeks understood and as the Adjustment Bureau presents. But thankfully there is a better option in relationship with a loving God who adjusts to degree of becoming human to die and be raised for our rebellion, so that we might not only know his loving ways, but also become partners with Him in the unfolding of his will on earth. Now that’s a story worth telling.