Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Amateurs and Ancient Books - Athanasius and Cyril

"There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books...The student is half afraid to meet one of the great philosophers face to face. he feels himself inadequate and thinks he will not understand him. But if he only knew, the great man, just because of his greatness, is much more intelligible than his modern commentator."

This is how CS Lewis opens his introduction to "On the Incarnation" by Saint Athanasius, one such "ancient book" that Lewis thinks people should read more of. And one HUGE reason for reading those ancient books is to "put the controversies of the moment in their proper perspective." "We all," Lewis says, "need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books."

Speaking of Athanasius in particular, Lewis writes that Athanasius "stood for the Trinitarian doctrine, 'whole and undefiled,' when it looked as if all the civilized world was slipping back from Christianity into the religion of Arius--into one of those 'sensible' synthetic religions which are so strongly recommended today and which, then as now, included among their devotees many highly cultivated clergymen. It is his glory that he did not move with the times; it is his reward that he now remains when those times, as all times do, have moved away."

Athanasius contra mundum. Athanasius against the world. He fought for the Incarnation, for very God becoming very man, and his writing is for everyone who calls themself Christian, for everyone who wishes to continue to grow in faith and understanding of the One who saves us.

So as we enter the Christmas season, I can think of no better use of my blog than a meditation on On the Incarnation, as well as a later work by St. Cyril, On the Unity of Christ. This is merely the introduction, hastily typed at a time when both Anna and Wesley are asleep. I hope to do a sort of chapter-by-chapter thing over the next four weeks, and I anticipate that it will be quite fun,

I read both Athanasius and Cyril during my Freshman year at Biola, and in fact Cyril was the subject of my second paper (which was terrible and I hate it) as well as my third (which, if I do say so myself, was pretty good!). In fact, I was somewhat unique among the Plato family, preferring Cyril to Athanasius: I was absolutely blown away by Cyril's intricate Christology, while the more "story-driven" style of Athanasius seemed to fall a little flat.

However, reading even the first couple of pages of Athanasius reminds me of his true greatness, and I see so much that I had merely passed over before. And I think that it is good and right to have read them one after another, in quick succession: The Gospel is not merely an amazing story, and it is not merely a thing of bare fact, of theory and philosophy. It is an amazing story that gets more amazing the deeper you go, the more you think about it: It is a puzzle that provides at one and the same time the satisfaction of having finished a piece, and the anticipation of more to be puzzled out.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

I'm Dreaming of a White Jesus

Some time ago, I blogged at a site called Evangelical Outpost. That site is now, sadly, deceased, but I've been given the opportunity to pull my stuff and bring it over. Many of those have simply been slotted into place where I had left place-holder posts in 2012 and 2013, but this one is specifically relevant to Christmas-time. 

Are you ready for a heartwarming Christmas story of racial sensitivity, common sense, and humility?
Well, that’s not happening. Because last week, Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly announced to children everywhere that Santa Claus was a white man. “He just is.” And then things got weird(er), when she claimed that “Jesus was a white man, too. It’s like we have, he’s a historical figure that’s a verifiable fact.”  And then, when people flipped out about it, she backed down–kind of–by acknowledging that Jesus’ race “is far from settled.”
I’m struggling to figure out which is more ridiculous: Her claiming that Jesus was white, or this short clip from “Talladega Nights.” Oh, wait, no, it’s definitely the first one, because the second is from a comedy and isn’t supposed to be serious.
I’m not here to talk about whether it was racist (a little, right? At least a little?). But I am here to say that this kind of attitude is absolutely poisonous to the Christian faith. This willingness to disregard literally everything we know about the birth and origins of Jesus destroys pretty much everything Christianity has going for it.
This kind of attitude, this insistence that we can know so little about Jesus’ origins as to declare him a white man, boils the message of the Bible down to an Everyman Birth. “And at some place (but we don’t know where), and at some time (but we don’t know when), and to some parents (but we don’t know who), God was born into the world as a man.” Such a Jesus would be the epitome of myth, and myth alone. In that situation, we might indeed be justified in siding with those who would recreate him in their own images. If his earthly origins were so unimportant, we might even tempted to make him a mere metaphor, the “Son of God” in all of us.
From the very beginning, the Church has insisted that the birth of Jesus is an historical event, firmly located in time and space, with numerous reference points. Luke in particular goes to great lengths to place the birth of Christ in a specific time (“when Quirinius was governor of Syria“) and at a specific place (“the city of David, which is called Bethlehem,” to a specific woman (Mary, wife of Joseph), from a specific lineage  (that of David).
The Biblical account is exceedingly precise: At this time and at this place and from these people was born this man. And that means that we have no room at all for claiming that Jesus “could” have been white. We don’t even have room for “thinking” of Jesus as white, because then we would be actively building our faith on a falsehood, on a blue-eyed Goldilocks who never existed.
In fact, we have no room at all for claiming that Jesus “could” have been anything other than what we know he was: A Jewish man from the line of David and the city of Bethlehem. And there is a very good reason for thinking of him like that. Karl Barth, a German theologian, brilliantly describes what happens when we try to “generalize” Jesus:
“The Word did not simply become any “flesh,” any man humbled and suffering. It became Jewish flesh. The Church’s whole doctrine of the incarnation and the atonement becomes abstract and valueless and meaningless to the extent that this comes to be regarded as something accidental and incidental. The New Testament witness to Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, stands on the soil of the Old Testament and cannot be separated from it. The pronouncements of New Testament Christology…relate always to a man who is seen to be not a man in general, a neutral man, but the conclusion and sum of the history of God with the people of Israel, the One who fulfills the covenant made by God with this people.” – Karl Barth, “The Way of the Son of God into the Far Country”
To generalize Jesus, to claim that he could have been any race, is to utterly sever the New Testament from the Old Testament. It is to make the Christmas story merely a strange accident and an aberration. It is to tear Christmas from it’s context, history, and meaning, all for the sake of making it about me and me alone. It is an inherently selfish and senseless act.
And the truth is so much more wonderful! Because when we acknowledge Christ not as Surfer Jesus, or White Jesus, or Tuxedo T-Shirt-Wearing Jesus, but as Jesus of Bethlehem and Nazareth, then we can see his birth for what it really is: The birth of the Chosen Person, born of the Chosen People. He is the answer to the covenant God  made with Abraham those hundreds of years prior, the answer to the prophecy God made to Adam and Eve, the culmination and fulfillment of everything the Old Testament tells us about God and Israel.
Some want to think of Jesus as white, because they think it increases his relevance to them. Such could not be further from the truth. In fact, it isbecause Jesus was Jewish, and because he was a direct descendant of the founder of the Jewish people and of their greatest king, that he could be the Christ for the whole world.
Is it really worth losing all of that, just to make him white?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Lewis Medley pt 1 (Books, Part 5)

It has been a LONG time since I've done one of these...over a year, in fact! But Wesley's asleep, and I have no other current responsibilities at this very second, and thinking about CS Lewis is always fun. So here we go! 10 Influential Books, Part Five, Subpart 1: Parts 1,23, and 4 here.

I'm not going to lie: This is a long one. You probably won't read all of it. But that's alright, because it's a lot of fun to write. 

This is the CS Lewis section. Like my last one, it's definitely cheating a bit, but I don't care. 

Chronicles of Narnia: I have to believe I'm in the vast majority in saying that the Narnia books were my first exposure to Lewis, years and years before I knew he'd written anything else. What can I say about the Narnia books? What can't I say about the Narnia books? They literally have something for everyone...whether you're 7, or 17, or 70, I think you will ALWAYS come away from a Narnia book with something new to think about. From the Christus Victor theology in Wardrobe, to Aslan the Lamb in Dawn Treader, to creation in Magician's Nephew, the books get deeper and deeper the more you read them. And I'd bet that The Last Battle has impacted more people's views of salvation and God's attitude towards us than any of Lewis' more scholarly works. And that's really the marvel of Lewis' creation...the theology "sneaks" in, unnoticed to small children, but impossible for the discerning reader to miss, and always offering something new: "Further up and further in," indeed. 

     Memorable Line: Impossible to narrow down. Go read it yourself, and if you've already done so, read it again

The Space Trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength: This was my second experience with Lewis, and like Lord of the Rings and the Narnia books, I received them from my father, in the form of battered, falling-apart copies. I burned through Silent Planet and Perelandra immediately, and began That Hideous Strength, but quickly gave it up, as it was super boring and didn't take place in space at all. I was young and foolish then. However, at a later date (probably in high school?), I revisited the trilogy, and this time was able to power through the unhappy marriage that dominates the opening chapters of the third installment. 

The series as a whole is incredible, as is each individual book. It has that strange and amazing quality in which whichever of the three you're reading at the time is clearly the best of the trilogy. Silent Planet, of course, gives you the thrill of accompanying Ransom as he explores an alien planet, full of strange peoples and stranger customs. However, Ransom eventually discovers that in the cosmic scheme of things, he is the interloper and humanity the aberration. Perelandra, meanwhile, gives us a peek into how things might have happened in Eden, and offers a crapload of theology along the way. And That Hideous Strength is freaking Mr Toad's Wild Ride...it takes the cosmology and theology of the previous two books, centers it on earth, and adds in a healthy dose of arthurian mythology...and much like cheeze-its and nutella, the combination somehow works. These books remain incredibly influential to this day, and I regularly reference passages from Perelandra to explain my views on Providence and theodicy. 

     Memorable Lines:
     Out of the Silent Planet: "No. Thulcandra is the world we do not know. It alone is outside the heaven, and no message comes from it....It was not always so. Once we knew the Oyarsa of your world— he was brighter and greater than I— and then we did not call it Thulcandra. It is the longest of all stories and the bitterest. He became bent. That was before any life came on your world. Those were the Bent Years of which we still speak in the heavens, when he was not yet bound to Thulcandra but free like us....There was great war, and we drove him back out of the heavens and bound him in the air of his own world as Maleldil taught us. There doubtless he lies to this hour, and we know no more of that planet: it is silent. We think that Maleldil would not give it up utterly to the Bent One, and there are stories among us that He has taken strange counsel and dared terrible things, wrestling with the Bent One in Thulcandra. But of this we know less than you; it is a thing we desire to look into.” 

This quote is so amazing because it takes all of earthly history and places it in a vast cosmological context, imagining what the Rebellion - all-encompassing and ever-present in our own lives - might look like from outside. And of course, MAJOR bonus points for tying it into Scripture: "the good news...things into which angels long to look."

     Perelandra: This one's easy...it's the one that I very nearly have memorized. 
     "I will tell you what I say, "answered Ransom, jumping to his feet. "Of course good came of [the Fall]. Is [God] a beast that we can stop His path, or a leaf that we can twist His shape? Whatever you do, He will make good of it. But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed Him. That is lost for ever. The fist King and first Mother of our world did the forbidden thing, and He brought good of it in the end. But what they did was not good, and what they lost we have not seen. And there some to whom no good came nor ever will come."

Freedom and sovereignty. Actions and consequences. The eternal significance of temporal actions by finite beings. It all comes together simply and eloquently...two words which I suppose would describe nearly everything Lewis ever wrote. 

     That Hideous Strength: This was tougher than I anticipated, but eventually I remembered the bit that always amazes me when I read through it.

     ""Do you know, " said Ivy in a low voice, "that's a thing I don't quite understand. They're so eerie, these ones that come to visit you. I wouldn't go near that part of the house if I thought there was anything there, not if you paid me a hundred pounds. But I don’t feel like that about God. But He ought to be worse, if you see what I mean.” 

“He was, once,” said the Director. “You are quite right about the Powers. Angels in general are not good company for men in general, even when they are good angels and good men. It’s all in St. Paul. But as for Maleldil Himself, all that has changed: it was changed by what happened at Bethlehem.”

All that has changed...I wonder sometimes if we grow so used to the world as it is now, that we read that state of affairs back into the time before Christ. The least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than the greatest of the Old Covenant saints, and enjoys a greater communion with God - or at least, has access to that greater communion. Cur deus homo...why God became man? The simplest answer is to reconcile and rescue, and to restore us to a right relationship with himself. 

This is already quite long, so I think I will end subpart 1 here. For all I know, subpart 2 may well be up within the hour...or possibly not for several days. #wesleyisunpredictable. 

1: The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton

2: (Everything else by Chesterton: Manalive, Orthodoxy, The Ball and the Cross)

3: On the Unity of Christ by Cyril of Alexandria

4: The Way of the Son of God into the Far Country by Karl Barth

5: The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

6: CS Lewis section (Space TrilogyChron. of NarniaAbolition of ManTill We Have Faces, The Great Divorce)

7: The book of Job

8: The book of Ecclesiastes

9: The Idea of a University by John Henry Newman

10: The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Monday, November 9, 2015

What will he treasure?

As we get ever-closer to the birth of my son Wesley, I've been doing a lot of thinking about what I remember from my own childhood, and how I can give the same things to Wesley as he grows up. Because I owe so much to my parents...there's just so much I remember from my life growing up, so many things I treasure...

My mom's chocolate cake and puppy chow, and how she would make both of those when I had my friends over for Halo and Smash Bros...

My dad's love of gardening and working with his hands, and how he instilled that in me...

Even the chores that I did...much as I hated them at the time, I fully recognize how important they were in giving me a good attitude towards work.

And of course, they both instilled an incredible love of reading in me. And most importantly, they taught me to talk to God, to think through things and make my faith my own, to ask questions and seek answers.

I remember sitting in my mom's office, reading bits of books that I thought were hilarious (although I'm sure they were less hilarious to her). I remember my dad's slushes, and playing roller-blade ball tag at the local school. I remember hearing them cheer for me when I wrestled and played football, and how everyone on the team knew who they were because they were so involved.

I remember family trips, and epic sandcastles, and big birthdays and even bigger family-wide Christmas and Easter celebrations. And I remember "scenic routes" that turned a 2-hour drive into a 4-hour drive, and even an ill-fated hike taking us halfway around Shaver Lake (I didn't say they were all good ideas).

I owe so much to my parents, and there are so many things that I treasure from my time growing up with them. And honestly, it's pretty intimidating.

How can I possibly offer that much to my son (and the other children sure to follow)? Is it really conceivable that I can be that present for all the things going on in my son's life, that I can create that many memories with him?

Thankfully, by the grace of God, i think the answer is "yes". Of course, that doesn't fix the worry, the nervousness. But it gives me hope, and it makes me wonder...what will Wesley treasure as he grows up?

I don't know, but I'm excited to find out.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Does God Have Two Wills?

"Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?" - Ezekiel 18:23

"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." - 2 Peter 3:9

"[God] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." - 1 Timothy 2:4

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!" - Matthew 23:37-38

"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live." Deuteronomy 30:19

Does God have "two wills" concerning humanity? Well, yes and no.

Yes, God can be said to have "two wills" in a very limited, easy-to-understand sense: His "antecedent" and "consequent" wills. The easiest way of understanding that is this:

A parent desires never to hurt their child. In a perfect world, their child would never be injured. However, because sickness is a thing, it is sometimes necessary for a parent to cause pain to their children in the form of a shot.

Right there, in that one example, we have antecedent and consequent wills. They may conflict with each other at times, but it is as a result of something outside the one willing. Another more extreme example would be the case of someone whose arm is broken and needs to be re-set: The doctor desires to to heal the person and take away the pain, but in this case, a further injury must be done, and the bone must be re-broken in order to fully heal.

And in the case of God, that thing influencing the world from outside God is sin. Sin was NOT decreed or caused by God, and while God remains in control over it, it is something against God's will in every sense of the word. And as a consequence of sin, God's antecedent will does not always come to pass. God desires all men to be saved, but because of sin and their free will decisions, not all men are saved. Jesus desires to protect Jerusalem and his chosen people, but they were not willing. God desires for people to choose life, but they often choose death instead. He desires our salvation and love, but more than that, he desires for us to be a willing participant in that (much in the same way that when I ask my little brothers for a hug, I'm asking for a willing expression of love: If I were to force them to hug me, it would be literally meaningless).

Now, let's tweak the example a bit. In the previous example of a doctor and a broken bone, the doctor had nothing to do with the arm being broken in the first place. That is why the distinction between antecedent and consequent wills works. But let's change that: let's say that he did ultimately cause the arm being broken in the first place. Let's say that through a series of manipulations and behind-the-scenes machinations, the doctor was the mastermind behind the person breaking his arm originally.

In that case, does the distinction still hold? Of course not. The doctor cannot claim to desire the health and comfort of his patients in re-setting the bone, because he was the one who caused the need for that re-setting in the first place!

And that's where we enter the "No" part of whether God has two wills. Because while the occasional Calvinist (either through carelessness or intentional deception) will talk about antecedent vs consequent will, most of the time they talk about it differently: They talk about God's "moral and decretive" wills, or more tellingly, his "revealed and hidden" wills.

So what's the difference? Well, God's "moral" or "revealed" will is what we read in the Bible.  God desires all men to be saved. God desires us not to sin. God desires for us to choose life instead of death, blessing instead of curse. And it's called the "revealed" will because...well, because it's revealed in the Bible. God reveals this will to us, and reveals the way in which he wishes us to live.

Strangely, though, this "revealed" will isn't really much of a will at all, because it is completely and utterly trumped by God's "secret" or "decretive" will. It's called God's "decretive" will because rather than what God says he wants us to do, this is what he actually decrees that we do. Remember that classic Calvinism - the Calvinism espoused by big names from John Calvin to John Piper - teaches meticulous providence, meaning that everything that happens has been decreed by God. And it's called his "secret" will because it's secret...it's not revealed anywhere in the Bible. Therefore, God tells us that he desires all men to be saved through his revealed will, but secretly causes the vast majority to be damned via his decretive/secret will.

Essentially, this means that God urges the reprobate towards life with his left hand, while actively pushing them away from life with his right. 

That's why the Calvinist cannot claim the antecedent and consequent distinction: Because in the face of meticulous providence, that distinction does not exist. God cannot claim "sin" as something impacting his desire to save everyone, because God desired and caused sin to come about in the first place.

So...two wills. In one sense - the sense that EVERYONE has two wills - God does have "two wills": The "perfect world" will and the "because of sin" will. But in the more important sense - that of God contradicting his declared, revealed will at practically every turn - it is sheer lunacy to believe that God has two wills. It is nothing less than to sacrifice the whole of God's revealed will, making it practically meaningless and utterly powerless, for the sake of a "hidden will" of which we know little.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

God is love?

How seriously do we  take John's assertion that "God is love"?

Not, it is important to note, "God is loving". John does not describe God's love in the same way that other biblical writers describe his justice or his holiness or his wrath. God has wrath, he is holy, he is just...but none of that is equal to what John says.

God is love.

God is love.

Love is not an attribute of God. It is not something that describes him. You could not simply take "love" and replace it with, say, justice or wrath or any other attribute of God. John, certainly no stranger to the written word, is deliberate in his usage. Was John careless? Did John simply mis-speak? John who saw, heard, and touched with his hands He who was from the beginning, John who was actually there when Jesus said "if you have seen me, you have seen the Father"...did he simply not know the significance of saying "God IS love?"

The thought is absurd. John knew exactly what he was saying.  So...how seriously do we take that?

And, perhaps more telling, how easily do we do away with it? 

Is it as simple as a "Yes, but..."? Does it only take an appeal to his justice? Do we simply say something like "Yes, God is love/loving, but love is impossible without justice"? Or maybe "love can't really exist without wrath"? Is it that easy?

Is that all it takes to change "God is love" to "Love is one of the many things that God displays"?

Because it seems to me that's what we're trying to do, when we say those things. And it seems to me that simply affirming "God is love" might make it difficult to maintain some of the emphasis the western church puts on God's justice, his apparent need for punishment for sin. And it seems to me that this is a very flawed escape from something John intended to be inescapable.

This is a weird post. I was researching Eastern Orthodox views on the Atonement - specifically their disdain for the "Penal Substitutionary Atonement" view that dominates the western Church - and I just started writing. So I'll just end with the quote that really hit home for me, from one of the sites I visited: 

"The problem, though, is that if I do “A” then God must do “B.” If I sin, God must punish. He does not have the freedom to do otherwise. Thus God’s actions are bound and controlled by some-thing outside of Himself, i.e. my actions.... Furthermore, it is often argued by the Reformed [And I might add, almost all Evangelicals - mackenzie] that God is sovereign and doesn’t have to save anyone if He chooses not to. On the other hand, He does have to punish sin. So God has to punish sin, but He doesn’t have to save sinners. It’s very interesting that justice (or at least what the Reformed see as justice) becomes the defining characteristic of God rather than love. Justice forces God to respond to our actions, but love does not."
(emphasis mine)

Imagine my shock and horror as I realized that I could not find a flaw in this reasoning. We may be happy enough to admit that "God is love" (for a given value of "is", anyway...)...but the dominating view of the atonement in Evangelicalism states that while God isn't bound to act according to his love, he IS bound to act according to his "justice." God's love doesn't force him to save people: that He graciously does of his own free grace. But his justice does force him to punish us? Is that really how we want to do this? How can we possibly affirm that "God is love" in that system, where "justice" (although more accurately "punishment") so obviously plays a greater role in the life and actions of God?

So I ask again: How seriously do we take "God is love"? And how easily will we do away with it?

Note: I realize that this is somewhat one-sided. I really should make an effort to talk this over with people who aren't already questioning (or outright against) PSA. So if that's you, let's talk, either in comments or over facebook.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Is All Well?

"And a bell, sir?"
"A bell?"
"For ringing and shouting 'All's well!' with, Sarge."
"No bell for me, Snouty," said Vimes. "Do you think things are well?"
Snouty swallowed. "Could go either way, Sarge," he managed.
     -"Night Watch", by Terry Pratchett

I was thinking about Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" universe today, and the cavalier approach to policing that his early watchmen take: After all, ringing a bell and shouting "All's well!", even when things aren't well, is a heck of a let easier (and safer) than fixing them!

And it reminded me of something that's always upset me about Calvinism: That when you get right down to it, there is only one acceptable answer to the question Vimes asks: Yes, things are well.

By that, I mean all things, everywhere, at all times, are well according to the Calvinist system. I don't mean the "big picture"...I don't mean how things will "turn out in the end"...I mean that every single event in the history of the world is going well...in fact, it's going exactly according to plan, ordained by God himself.

Of course, many Calvinists would be reluctant to admit this. After all, getting a Calvinist to admit that God ordains evil and renders it certain from before all creation is sometimes difficult. Nevertheless, even Calvin himself, though waffling at times, states that "as all contingencies whatsoever depend on it, therefore, neither thefts, nor adulteries, nor murders, are perpetrated without an interposition of the divine will" (Institutes, 1.17.1). Note that God does not merely "permit" these evils to occur...it requires an active interposition (or interference) on God's part to cause those things to happen.

This is because, to Calvin and Calvinists, God rules the world through "meticulous Providence": God governing every aspect of the universe, down to the movement of individual atoms and molecules. In fact, RC Sproul has stated that "There is no maverick molecule if God is sovereign.” No molecule in the universe moves except in the course that God himself ordained for it.

This is a pretty enough picture of providence and sovereignty on its face, I'll grant you. And after all, surely there could be no greater compliment to God's great power and might than to say that he directs every single atom in its planned trajectory! Of course, there is one small issue: When you actually apply this to life, it becomes absolutely horrifying.

It means that everything that has ever happened, (including, say, the Holocaust) was divinely ordained, planned and executed by God from the foundation of the universe. It means that when a small child is kidnapped, raped, and murdered, that God himself was there, actively planning it and making it happen (admittedly through secondary, tertiary, and however many other causes that he himself ultimately caused). It means that the terrorist attacks on 9/11 were planned by God from the beginning of creation, and that his divine hand ensured the death of every person who died.

But it's easy enough to find the horror in our own history. It is, perhaps, more satisfying and more meaningful to go to the Bible. Let's look at a few key passages...I'll highlight the necessary Calvinist commentary in red:

Genesis 3:17
And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife (Which I planned and caused to happen) and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,’ (Which, again, I caused by creating you flawed and then withholding the grace you needed to persevere)cursed is the ground because of you; (Well, technically because of me...) in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life"

Surely you can see the mockery this makes of the text, and how the doctrine of meticulous providence renders God's actions and words nonsensical?

Let's skip ahead a bit, to the days of Noah:

Genesis 6:5-7

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Of course, this was because God had eternally determined that this would be so and caused it to happen).   And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth (Not really, though, because he was the one who had caused it), and it grieved him to his heart. (Which was weird, because it was something he himself had eternally planned and deliberately caused to happen).  So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” (But he wasn't really sorry, because he had intended all along for this to happen, and had in fact created the universe in such a way as to make it impossible for it to have happened any other way). 
Do you see it? Do you see how meticulous providence actually makes this verse literally meaningless? Calvinists can talk of "anthropomorphisms" and metaphors all they like: The fact remains that if meticulous providence is true, then this verse doesn't just mean something different then what it appears to mean...this verse means the literal opposite of what it says. It means, in fact, that this verse tells us something false about God, and that this verse gives us a picture of God that couldn't be further from the truth. This verse tells us that God was saddened by man's actions, whereas Calvinism tells us that God actively caused those things to happen.

Here's my point: There are many, many points in the Bible where God himself seems to say that all is not well. The Bible is FULL of instances of God lamenting the state of mankind, all the way to Jesus himself lamenting over Jerusalem: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!"

God himself says that all is not well. God himself says that things are not as they should be. And we who are not Calvinists do God the honor of taking him at his word. It is, rather, the Calvinists who dishonor God by attributing to him the things that he abhors. God says, "I am grieved by what mankind is doing," and Calvinists wink at him and say "We get that you have to say that, big guy, but you can be honest with us. We know what you mean. *wink*." God says in Jeremiah 7, "And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind", and the Calvinists smile and say, "Look, God, you don't have to play that game with us. We get it. You caused it to happen. You thought it up and planned it all out. Great job!"

All is not well. The Fall was a real evil. Evil really is evil, and not good in disguise (as is necessitated by the Calvinist system). The sin of man "has not escaped the knowledge and control of God. But it is not a work of His creation and not a disposition of His providence." (Karl Barth) God is in control, and he will set all wrongs right...but in the meantime, they are real wrongs, not merely the illusions of wrongs.