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The movie Paycheck makes an excellent metaphor for the Calvinist doctrine of Predestination, which promises a happy ending but still requires us to fight for it with every fiber of our beings...
After watching the movie Paycheck, it struck me that it makes a great analogy for predestination. Ben Affleck has a machine that can see the future. He sees that he's going to die, but his memory is going to be erased, so he'll forget what he's seen, and it will be impossible for him to prevent it. So he mails himself a set of items. Each of the items he sends changes the future in a minor way. By choosing the items carefully-- setting the starting conditions, so to speak-- he is able to determine the outcome of the movie.
Yet at every point in that movie, he is fighting for his life. If at any point he had given up because, hey, it's all pre-determined anyway, there could have been no happy ending. All his planning and predestining was built around the assumption-- nay, the certainty-- that he would choose to think critically, to fight, and to use every gift at his disposal to survive. It was only that fact that made the movie's outcome possible.
If the universe was created out of nothing by an omniscient, omnipotent God, then predestination is inevitable. God knew when he aligned the atoms of the universe that different arrangements of particles-- different starting conditions, so to speak-- would lead to different outcomes. He knew each and every possible timeline and chose the starting conditions that would lead ultimately to the desired ending. But this scheme is still based on the assumption-- nay, the certainty-- that we (Christians) will choose to think critically, to fight, and to use every gift at our disposal to accomplish the Lord's work. If we all threw up their hands and gave up because, hey, it's all predestined anyway, the world would go to hell.
What am I trying to say? God did predetermine world history, and he did predetermine our choices. But we still have to make those choices-- with all our hearts-- if we want a happy ending. From our perspective, nothing is certain.
Frankly, I'm glad God predestined human history. It means the world is going somewhere. In the midst of all humanity's suffering, war, poverty, and selfishness, there is the promise of a happy ending. But if we want it, we're going to have to fight for it with every fiber of our being. The moral of the story? We're the heroes of this big opera of existence. Let's start acting like heroes-- choosing like heroes.