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The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis
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The Problem of Pain (original 1940; edition 2002)

by C.S. Lewis

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6,01445990 (3.93)70
Member:kapellenaj07
Title:The Problem of Pain
Authors:C.S. Lewis
Info:Fount (2002), Paperback, 176 pages
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The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis (1940)

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Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
Why does God allow pain and suffering? A question Lewis begrudgingly tackles in this book. A bit harder to follow along with than much of his other work. Best if you actually sit down a run through it, rather than casually read. The subject matter doesn't help with the readability, since there are arguments to every theory. However, Lewis does a fine job addressing as many of these as he can while holding God up as the ultimate provider of solutions. Did I come away understanding why pain exists in the world? No... nor does Lewis expect this, but rather it provides a bit of comfort knowing that there is a reason for it all, and it will all be worth it. ( )
  snotbottom | Sep 19, 2018 |
This book is part of my C.S. Lewis collection. I went through a huge phase where I was just obsessed with anything and everything by him. While I don't agree with all of his theology, I do love his writing style and the things he has to say about faith. He was a good one. ( )
  justagirlwithabook | Jul 31, 2018 |
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 |
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» 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
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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
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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.
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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)

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

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