HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis
Loading...

The Problem of Pain (1940)

by C. S. Lewis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,50743790 (3.92)68

None.

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 68 mentions

English (41)  Spanish (1)  All (42)
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
Summary: Lewis's classic work exploring the existence of suffering and pain and how this is possible in a world made and sustained by a good and omnipotent God.

There is some sense a reviewer has when reviewing books like this to feel the mere "poser" and to be simply tempted to say, "read Lewis!" But that would be a very short review! So what I might do is simply suggest a few reasons why we might read Lewis on this subject.

One is that while the experience of suffering, even as Lewis acknowledges, requires of us fortitude when we ourselves face it and supportive sympathy when we walk along side friends in the midst of this, there are other times when we must take the larger view and ask "why pain and suffering?" And here, Lewis begins to help us because he observes that this is alike a question for the theist and the materialist. Particularly as we witness both the ravages of disease and the inhumanity of people against each other, it seems that this is a monstrous assault on our sense of the good. The fact that the central figure of Christianity suffered at the hand of evil himself is not in itself an answer to this question but only poses another--why this death?

Some of what Lewis does that is quite helpful is define terms. Omnipotence does not mean that God is able to do what is impossible because of who he is or what he has decreed, to do. For God to be good does not require that he make us happy. We must at least allow that suffering may not be contrary to a God who loves us and seeks our ultimate good.

He also helps us take a hard, and uncomfortable look at human wickedness, in itself, the source of much suffering and pain. We are fallen creatures, not simply by the fault of another but by our own active perversity. We often minimize the "crooked timber" of our own lives even as we displace the focus onto God. Pain, at least has the function of shattering our illusions that all is well, and we are sufficient in ourselves. It also calls us into the belief that holds onto God when there is no benefit in doing so.

He takes on the idea of hell, and perhaps most helpfully says that his aim is not to make the doctrine tolerable, for it is not, but to show that it may be moral, despite the objections raised. He observes that most of us do want to see retributive punishment and that we would find great offense in God forgiving one who remains unrepentant in great wickedness. He notes that eternal may be something different than an endlessly prolonged time. He also cautions against literal interpretations of vivid imagery.

His final chapters consider the question of animal pain and heaven. On animal pain, he cautions that there is much that we do not know about this, nor for that matter the ultimate destiny of animals. On heaven, Lewis observes that whereas hell is privation, heaven is the fulfillment of those deepest longings that we reach for and never quite grasp, that filling of a place in us that nothing has ever filled that being in the presence of God at last fills utterly and beyond measure.

The group with which I discussed this book had one quibble with Lewis. He states that when we reach the maximum of pain, the pain of another does not add to the sum total of the pain. While this may be true at a physical level, we did wonder about the emotional pain we experience when we witness the sufferings to others, particularly those inflicted by human cruelty. It also raises a question about the suffering of Christ. Was the pain he experienced as sin-bearer of humanity (if we believe this) any greater than bearing the sins of just one person? There was something in the way Lewis framed this that was unsatisfying, even if logically true.

This summer, the group I mentioned will probably be reading A Grief Observed, where all of Lewis's ideas are tested in the crucible of the loss of his wife Joy. It will be interesting to see if this changed his thinking in any way, or to what extent his ideas helped him. Stay tuned! ( )
  BobonBooks | Apr 25, 2017 |
C.S. Lewis' The Problem of Pain was heavy going for me. I found I needed to read it in small portions and then ponder what he had to say. This work is intellectual and complex, but I was comforted that he could explain so fully at least one point that I had always dimly understood: when we are content in the lives we believe we have made for ourselves, we often feel we have no need of God. Only when we've lost much do we decide to rely on our creator. Of course the book has much more to say and he says it unapologetically and with great focus. Lewis' non-fiction calls for re-reading. I'm sure I'll refer to it as a reference in the future. ( )
  LeslieHurd | Jan 11, 2017 |
I couldn't really finish reading this because my copy had a serious problem: you got to page 50 something and all of a sudden pages 23 through the same 50 something were inserted in place of the right pages.
  aurelas | Dec 23, 2016 |
By far one of my favourite of all Lewis' works on Christianity, which, in spite of the title explores far more than just the topic of pain but also examines such subjects as forgiveness, and the nature of belief.

It does not so much seek to provide clear cut or definitive answers to the 'big questions' but rather examines the nature, purpose and basis of the questions themselves in the wider context of the subject of pain and physical suffering, and the purposes and attitudes towards this itself.

Thus the book may disappoint to those 'looking for all the answers', but for those in search of an interesting and thought-provoking examination of a 'tough subject' this may be a good choice ( )
  Medievalgirl | Oct 4, 2016 |
Review was first posted on Booklikes:
http://brokentune.booklikes.com/post/703121/the-problem-of-pain

I first read The Problem of Pain when I was an impressionable teenager in search of the meaning of life. How I got to C.S. Lewis, however, is a long story that I'll reserve for another post/review.

Anyway, I loved the The Problem of Pain when I first read it. I couldn't put it down.

When I started clearing my bookshelves last year in attempt to de-clutter, I came across my old and dusty copy of the book again and started to re-read.

What I love about The Problem of Pain - actually, all of Lewis' books I've read - is his use of language and his use of similes, which make it easy to follow his argument.

In The Problem of Pain, Lewis elaborates on the meaning of divine goodness, human pain, animal pain, heaven, hell - not necessarily in this order, though - and tries to explain from his Christian point of view what divine love is, what pain is, why humans can feel pain, and that there is a divine purpose to suffering.

When I first read this almost twenty years ago, I could accept the possibility that there may be a substance to the arguments he puts forward. Having re-read this now, I still admire Lewis' use of language and the elegance of his argument but I find it very difficult to be persuaded by it. Now, the argument that there is a purpose to suffering that allows the individual to grow or improve spiritually seems little more than wishful thinking.

Of course, my take on this may sound rather pessimistic. However, where Lewis draws from Thomas Aquinas and other sources of formal religious Christian teaching, I feel much more aligned with other schools of thought that would choose kindness towards living beings over the particular form of patriarchal tyranny of divine love that Lewis describes.

(Sidenote: Btw Jack, how dare you say that the newt has no self! For all we know, he might.

Seriously, I'm not impressed by an argument that starts with the notion that we cannot know what God's intentions are or indeed know anything that is outside of the human experience, and which then categorically denies that non-human living beings have a notion of the "self". )
( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
C. S. Lewisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Havard, R.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pesonen, MarittaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simmons, JamesReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whitfield, RobertNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
'The Son of God suffered unto the death, not that men might not suffer, but that their sufferings might be like His.'
— George MacDonald,
Unspoken Sermons, First Series
Dedication
To The Inklings
First words
Not many years ago when I was an atheist, if anyone had asked me, "Why do you not believe in God?" my reply would have run something like this: "Look at the universe we live in.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060652969, Paperback)

The Problem of Pain answers the universal question, "Why would an all-loving, all-knowing God allow people to experience pain and suffering?" Master Christian apologist C.S. Lewis asserts that pain is a problem because our finite, human minds selfishly believe that pain-free lives would prove that God loves us. In truth, by asking for this, we want God to love us less, not more than he does. "Love, in its own nature, demands the perfecting of the beloved; that the mere 'kindness' which tolerates anything except suffering in its object is, in that respect at the opposite pole from Love." In addressing "Divine Omnipotence," "Human Wickedness," "Human Pain," and "Heaven," Lewis succeeds in lifting the reader from his frame of reference by artfully capitulating these topics into a conversational tone, which makes his assertions easy to swallow and even easier to digest. Lewis is straightforward in aim as well as honest about his impediments, saying, "I am not arguing that pain is not painful. Pain hurts. I am only trying to show that the old Christian doctrine that being made perfect through suffering is not incredible. To prove it palatable is beyond my design." The mind is expanded, God is magnified, and the reader is reminded that he is not the center of the universe as Lewis carefully rolls through the dissertation that suffering is God's will in preparing the believer for heaven and for the full weight of glory that awaits him there. While many of us naively wish that God had designed a "less glorious and less arduous destiny" for his children, the fortune lies in Lewis's inclination to set us straight with his charming wit and pious mind. --Jill Heatherly

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:28 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The author explores the intellectual questions raised by mental and physical suffering.

» see all 4 descriptions

Legacy Library: C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis has a Legacy Library. Legacy libraries are the personal libraries of famous readers, entered by LibraryThing members from the Legacy Libraries group.

See C. S. Lewis's legacy profile.

See C. S. Lewis's author page.

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
1 avail.
178 wanted
3 pay2 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.92)
0.5 3
1 4
1.5 2
2 30
2.5 5
3 125
3.5 26
4 224
4.5 24
5 172

 

You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 115,099,891 books! | Top bar: Always visible