Read The Problem of Pain: (Illustrated) by C.S. Lewis Online


When Mr. Ashley Sampson suggested to me the writing of this book, I asked leave to be allowed to write it anonymously, since, if I were to say what I really thought about pain, I should be forced to make statements of such apparent fortitude that they would become ridiculous if anyone knew who made them. Anonymity was rejected as inconsistent with the series; but Mr. SampsWhen Mr. Ashley Sampson suggested to me the writing of this book, I asked leave to be allowed to write it anonymously, since, if I were to say what I really thought about pain, I should be forced to make statements of such apparent fortitude that they would become ridiculous if anyone knew who made them. Anonymity was rejected as inconsistent with the series; but Mr. Sampson pointed out that I could write a preface explaining that I did not live up to my own principles! This exhilarating programme I am now carrying out. Let me confess at once, in the words of good Walter Hilton, that throughout this book "I feel myself so far from true feeling of that I speak, that I can naught else but cry mercy and desire after it as I may." Yet for that very reason there is one criticism which cannot be brought against me. No one can say "He jests at scars who never felt a wound," for I have never for one moment been in a state of mind to which even the imagination of serious pain was less than intolerable. If any man is safe from the danger of under-estimating this adversary, I am that man. I must add, too, that the only purpose of the book is to solve the intellectual problem raised by suffering; for the far higher task of teaching fortitude and patience I was never fool enough to suppose myself qualified, nor have I anything to offer my readers except my conviction that when pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all. If any real theologian reads these pages he will very easily see that they are the work of a layman and an amateur. Except in the last two chapters, parts of which are admittedly speculative, I have believed myself to be re-stating ancient and orthodox doctrines. If any parts of the book are "original," in the sense of being novel or unorthodox, they are so against my will and as a result of my ignorance. I write, of course, as a layman of the Church of England: but I have tried to assume nothing that is not professed by all baptised and communicating Christians. As this is not a work of erudition I have taken little pains to trace ideas or quotations to their sources when they were not easily recoverable. Any theologian will see easily enough what, and how little, I have read. C. S. LEWIS. MAGDALEN COLLEGE, OXFORD. 1940....

Title : The Problem of Pain: (Illustrated)
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Number of Pages : 106 Pages
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The Problem of Pain: (Illustrated) Reviews

  • Manny
    2019-03-22 01:31

    Well, it's not like I really disagree with C.S. Lewis's argument here. I just think that the essential points are summed up rather more succinctly in the first few minutes of Monty Python's "Happy Valley" sketch:STORYTELLER: Once upon a time, long, long ago, there lay in a valley far, far away in the mountains the most contented kingdom the world has ever known. It was called Happy Valley, and it was ruled over by a wise old king called Otto. And all his subjects flourished and were happy, and there were no discontents or grumblers, because wise King Otto had had them all put to death, along with the trade union leaders, many years before. And all the happy folk of Happy Valley sang and danced all day long, and anyone who was for any reason miserable or unhappy or who had any difficult personal problem was prosecuted under the Happiness Act.PROSECUTOR: Caspar Schlitz, I put it to you that you were, on February 5th this year, very depressed with malice aforethought, and did moan quietly, contrary to the Cheerful Noises Act.SCHLITZ: I did.COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENCE: May I explain, m'lud, that the reason for my client's behaviour was that his wife had just died that morning?[All except the accused laugh uproariously.]JUDGE: Members of the jury, have you reached your verdict?FOREMAN: Guilty. [All laugh again.]JUDGE: [donning red nose and trying to stifle giggles] I hereby sentence you to be hanged by the neck until you cheer up. [Yet more hearty laughter]

  • Louize
    2019-02-25 20:33

    SPOILERS AHEADPain posted a serious objection to Christianity (and to Heavenly authority in general), aggravated by claiming that Love is the essence of God. The Problem of Pain focuses on one question, but thoroughly argues on every aspect."If God were good, He would make His creatures perfectly happy, and if He were almighty He would be able to do what he wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore God lacks either goodness, or power, or both."In other words, why would an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving God allow people to experience pain and suffering?Firstly, Lewis set his arguments by identifying God, as conceivable as possible, and his purpose through the subject of divine omnipotence and divine goodness. He argued that since we are beings of free souls and have the luxury of free will, we take advantage of the fixed laws of nature to hurt ourselves and one another. Yet, even though God is omnipotent and can do whatever he pleases, removing pain leads to a meaningless universe."Nonsense remains nonsense even if we talk it about God.""Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you will find that you have excluded life itself.”God’s idea of good is unlike ours; His moral judgment must, therefore, differ from ours. Where God means love, we only mean Kindness. But love is not mere kindness. Let us have a mental note how much confusion between love and kindness is related to our modern thinking."Kindness cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering", while Love "would rather see [the loved ones] suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes".Recognizing the distinction between love and kindness illuminates what it means to be the object of God’s love. Because God loves us, he will not rest until we are purely lovable. To not want pain, therefore, is to not want His love."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."Next, he establishes his argument for the total corruption and the sin nature of man, as without a sin nature there is no reason to be corrected. How a bad creature could come from the hands of a good Creator? The most obvious answer is that it did not: man, and the rest of creation, was initially good, but through the abuse of freedom, man made himself an abominable, wicked creature he is now."The world is a dance in which good, descending from God, is disturbed by evil arising from the creatures, and the resulting conflict is resolved by God's own assumption of the suffering nature which evil produces. The doctrine of the Fall asserts that the evil which thus makes the fuel or raw material of the second and more complex kind of good is not God's contribution but man's".Pain, through trials and sacrifices, teaches us to rely on God, to act out of spiritual strength, to act for purely heavenly purpose and to accept our discipleship."Human will becomes truly creative and truly our own when it is wholly God's, and this is one of the many senses in which he that loses his soul shall find it."If distressful feelings disguise itself as thought, all nonsense is possible- faith in God is challenged, we object to His goodness, and worse, we doubt His existence. All of those seemed valid to a suffering soul, due to the sway of unbearable pain."We are not merely imperfect creatures that need improvement: we are rebels that need lay down their arms".In conclusion then, pain is not a mere influence to make a creature's submission to the will of God easier. Remembering Prophet Isaiah’s words in the Bible, chapters 46-53, God has called him prior to his birth. He was molded and polished through physical pain, trials and humiliation to be equipped for God’s divine purpose.When I first considered reading this book, I asked myself if I am lucid enough to absorb Lewis’ arguments. I ended up quoting him and taking notes more than I usually do. But then, I realized that I am merely to review, not write an abridge version. The Problem of Pain is a difficult read; it is not for the casual reader and you should expect to be intellectually challenged. But the big difficulty is much smaller compared to the bigger lessons within.

  • Traveller
    2019-02-21 00:17

    < -<-<- < -<-<- This or.... This or...this->->-->->-, I lean more towards the latter camp. Lewis does at least make a good, solid, and sophisticated effort to address the problem of: "Why does God allow so much pain and suffering, if He is really a loving God, and if He really does exist?"; - which is why Lewis gets 3 stars, even if I don't completely agree.I remember quite liking his argument at the time I read it, which was quite some time ago. He seemed to be saying that pain is sent to test a person, to make you stronger, to help you grow spiritually so that you could become a more spiritually evolved and aware person.But, I have in the meantime started wondering: on the other hand, what kind of cruel deity would devise such a system, that includes such horrible suffering as the world has seen? Even if it is to make them 'stronger', or cause them to grow spiritually.Lewis's argument, IMO, would hold water better if you reckoned re-incarnation into the system. Then it would make more sense to throw obstacles into the path of a soul in it's evolutionary journey towards Nirvana...but in the Christian world, where the most common doctrine I have heard, is that all you need to do is to proclaim Jesus as your savior to win an automatic seat in heaven, no need for you to grow spiritually, it doesn't seem to fit in quite 100%. I must admit that I do like the idea of spiritual growth, such as presented in this book, and in The Pilgrim's Progress, for instance.Unfortunately, now that I am older, wiser, and seen more suffering in both myself and others, I'm not quite as inured to Lewis's arguments, and not quite so eager to welcome pain and suffering.PS. After reading a bit of Thomas Aquinas, I realized that Lewis borrows a LOT from him.

  • RC
    2019-03-23 01:25

    It says something that after so many years C. S. Lewis is still one of the foremost Christian apologists of our time. The Problem of Pain is a difficult question every religion has to deal with, and one which has been especially difficult for Christianity. Some religions have the luxury of explaining pain as something deserved - a result of bad behavior from a previous life, or perhaps pain and suffering are caused by a malevolent deity in opposition to a good and loving God. Christianity has no such option. “If God were good, he would wish to make His creatures perfectly happy, and if God were almighty He would be able to do what He wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore God lacks either goodness, or power, or both.” Lewis presents a very readable and widely accessible solution to this problem, covering the origins of human suffering, incurred in the fall, what divine omnipotence and goodness really mean, and why they allow for the existence of pain in creation, heaven and hell, and a topic not often treated but important - the existence of pain in animals who are in every sense innocent. Particularly useful is Lewis' distinction between kindness and love. Lewis reminds us that real love, a love that looks out for the best interests of the beloved, sometimes requires the inflicting of painful experience. From the perspective of the one undergoing the experience, this may not seem like love, but any parent, teacher, or anyone tasked with the guidance of the young will understand that this sort of “tough love” is often necessary if one does not want a spoiled child to grow into a spoiled adult.

  • Toe
    2019-03-07 21:17

    Apology for the existence of pain and suffering. Lewis's comfortable, easy style speaks to me in most all of his books. This is no exception.Memorable quotes:"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. When we fall in love with a woman, do we cease to care whether she is clean or dirty, fair or foul? Do we not rather then first begin to care? Does any woman regard it as a sign of love in a man that he neither knows nor cares how she is looking? Love may, indeed, love the beloved when her beauty is lost: but not because it is lost. Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal. Love is more sensitive than hatred itself to every blemish in the beloved..." - C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain"Every race that comes into being in any part of the universe is doomed; for the universe, they tell us, is running down, and will sometime be a uniform infinity of homogeneous matter at low temperature. All stories will come to nothing: all life will turn out in the end to have been a transitory and senseless contortion upon the idiotic face of infinite matter." - C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

  • Winston
    2019-03-09 00:33

    CS Lewis is held by many to be the premier Christian apologist of the 20th century. Unless one is morbidly naive, or has yet to encounter the counterarguments to Christianity in particular and theism in general, I honestly cannot see where his appeal lies.How CS Lewis should have died. Problem of Evil is an insurmountable one for Christians (and all other theists who believe in a perfectly loving, all-powerful and all-knowing god). There have been intense and motivated efforts over the past two millennia to defend such a position rationally, and they have all failed. Miserably. Utterly. And in many cases, dishonestly.Some approached involve invoking an unknown "greater good" defense (which throws god's omnipotence under the bus. An omnipotent deity could simply actualise a desired goal without needing to use suffering as a "middle man"). Attempts to shift the problem by asserting that human happiness is not the goal of life (but knowing god is) removes the omnibenevolence and omnipotence of god (if you love someone, you don't want them to suffer. It really is that simple). On page 104, Lewis concedes that not everyone suffers equally. He does not give a reason for this, and indeed, admits that our puny human minds cannot understand why god would allow some to live decades in comfort and luxury while others suffer for months or years on end. To quote Lewis himself: "The causes of this distribution I do not know; but from our present point of view it ought to be clear that the real problem is not why some humble, pious, believing people suffer, but why some do NOT (emphasis Lewis', in italics). Our Lord Himself, it will be remembered, explained the salvation of those who are fortunate in this world only by referring to the unsearchable omnipotence of God."That's not an explanation. Lewis is falling back on the ancient and ubiquitous appeal to ignorance. God's mysterious ways are beyond us. Well, by that "logic," he could send all Christians to hell and everyone else to heaven, and Lewis, by his own admission, would just have to suck up an eternity of torture.The old canard of free will is often invoked. Unfortunately, free will is meaningless unless everyone has an equal amount of it. This is undeniably NOT the case. Not everyone is given the same lifespan, physical strength, mental acuity, political clout, financial resources, and so on. Lewis is pontificating from the luxurious confines of his residence, funded by conveniently gullible sheep. This has certainly damaged his ability to empathise with the billions who live on less than a dollar each day. And the thousands who starve to death every time the Earth completes a full rotation.Lewis also, perhaps unwittingly, advocates a social Darwinism in which the rich and physically powerful are able to murder, rape and steal from weaker individuals (and are therefore less able to exercise their own free will to prevent their own suffering). Lewis worships a cosmic pedophile who revels in granting freedom to abhorrent individuals while getting his jollies from seeing the most vulnerable suffer and die in agony (only to get thrown into even more torture in the Christian vision of hell).Lastly, a loving god would take away free will from those who would willingly surrender it in return for a life without suffering. Funnily enough, Lewis seems to believe in a heaven without suffering but with all the bells and whistles of freedom. So why not create that universe from the get-go and stick with it? Why create a universe with even the possibility of corruption? It certainly is not something a perfect god would do. Then again, a perfect god would not blackmail beings he supposedly loves for eternal worship.While Lewis is usually a good writer, capable of spinning yarns to attract the attention of children and young teenagers, he also assumes that there is a deep, overriding purpose behind suffering. This purpose is so important that it is more critical to his god to NOT end suffering now, but to let things run their "natural" course until his plan is complete. In service of this goal, he creates a short story that is akin to an essay on theistic evolution, and how man is ultimately responsible for the Fall and his own corruption. If god knows everything, including the future, then he orchestrated the fall (and everything else) before setting his plan into motion. Arguing that god exists outside of time is a lazy copout, nothing more.As a 'loudspeaker' for the Christian god, pain has done more to drive people away from him than anything else. An all-knowing, all-powerful and all-good god would not allow any suffering, even in the service of a so-called "greater good." And if such a god desires suffering for a greater good, then it would follow logically that his followers should cause suffering to convert more people. After all, that is god's best tool for getting our attention, is it not? Fortunately, CS Lewis and most Christians today do not follow this logic to its end point. Those who do open hospitals and hospices and waste money on bibles rather than food (explaining why only 25% of tithes go to benefit indigent people around the world). CS Lewis realised this, which is why he asserted, in chapter 7, that while evil acts can lead to "greater" goods such as pity and compassion, the individual who commits evil is not justified simply because positive benefits will flow.The hypocrisy here is glaringly apparent when Lewis moves on to depict his god as using good men as "sons" and evil men as "tools" to achieve his goals. Such an obvious double standard is patently hypocritical and serves to do little except expose Lewis' advocacy of divine fiat for what it is - blind obedience (which is the antithesis of sound moral reasoning).His childishly puerile attempts to justify hell are perhaps the only thing worse. According to Lewis' theology, pain is used by god as a teacher, a "flag of truth in a rebel fortress" (p. 122). This obviously misses the point - an omnipotent god would not need to use pain. If a tri-omni deity knows good from evil without needing to suffer, why couldn't he have simply created humans who were likewise omniscient? This is yet another obvious point that is glossed over by a highly overrated apologist.

  • Kjersti
    2019-03-11 00:32

    I absolutely loved this book. I laughed, I blurted out loud "HA!"s between classes and generally forgot about time and place. It's very, VERY good book. My only concern with this review is on my side; I had a goal to get through it in three days, which I did. Thus, there were some parts I read through without the attention I probably should have devoted to it. I don't usually like writing reviews where the fault is with me; but alas, here I am.As for content, CS Lewis has, as always, very well thought-out arguments and a logical approach to his content. There were a couple minor instances where I disagreed with ever-so-slightly, but I had no concerns even close to major. If you want to compare this to his other works, I find it's slightly weaker than his later books.. But that does in no way mean this is poor craftmanship. Surely, to improve with time is a positive thing, and you cannot hold that against him. All in all, I loved it and I'd recommend it to anyone who doesn't mind a theoretical approach to things.

  • BrokenTune
    2019-02-20 21:23

    Review was first posted on Booklikes: 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". )

  • Amelia, the pragmatic idealist
    2019-02-26 04:22

    *Just* as good as Mere Christianity, but not quite as easy to understand. I would say that this book is probably more relevant in our culture now than when it was first published. I would recommend this book to absolutely everyone, because it seeks to give answers to questions that everybody asks at some point. The idea behind this book is "why do we have pain in our life?" or more specifically, "If God is supposed to be good, and powerful, and "in charge," why does He allow suffering?" If you're just a little like me, you may find it easy to rattle off questions and then...not exactly look for an answer. There's a kind of self-preserving security about being able to ask questions that you may or may not actually want answered. But I took a CS Lewis class in college (yes, there is such a thing! And even cooler - one of our sister schools has a class on Tolkien!), and this was required reading. Lewis had a gift of taking abstract and complex subjects and making them understandable. Granted, you may have to read his sentences a few times before you get what he's saying, but the idea itself is easy to understand.We had to give chapter presentations on this one, and of course, I had to do the "Hell" chapter. So if you read this book and get to the Hell chapter, you can think of me :P The thing that I love about Lewis is that he always backs up his points. It's never this, "Oh, well I have all the answers and here they are!" You may not agree with his interpretation (and some of the times in this book, I didn't really see things the same way he does) but I understand where he's coming from. I guess what a lot of people can appreciate about Lewis is that he really tries to back up what he's saying.

  • Amy
    2019-03-14 00:11

    ON POINT! This book was a really interesting and poignant analysis of pain and the Christian response to it. I read it alongside A Grief Observed because I wanted to know if Lewis's "intellectual" answers stood alongside his "emotional" ones. (That is one of the greatest oversimplifications of either book I could possibly make but that is how I started out.) I quickly realized the two are almost incomparable. They aren't intended to be comparable. While A Grief Observed was a heart-wrenching and yet inspiring read, The Problem of Pain was almost more so. His description of heaven and hell really impacted my understanding on a subject I thought I was pretty comfortable in. It isn't a 5 star book. I disagree with some of his conclusions and theology. It wasn't a book that necessarily "blew my mind", yet at the same time it challenged and restructured a lot of my thoughts. One of my favorite thoughts in the book is this from page 116: "The Christian doctrine of suffering explains, I believe, a very curious fact about the world we live in. The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home."

  • Elevetha
    2019-03-03 04:13

    4.5 stars. Nearly perfect.One of my favorite quotes (not from the chapter "Heaven", in case you were wondering.)"One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and re-commenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumb-nail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way, it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.”I started reading this on a Wednesday afternoon as a religious book to read whilst covering for a Holy Hour but I soon realized that it was so much more than that. I wasn't really expecting to be too engaged with the book or to actually desire to finish it once I had the opportunity to do other things. Silly me. I should have known better. It is C.S. Lewis, after all. Edit: Nov 2014Unfortunately, I put this book down, lost it, and never got around to finding a new copy. However, this book and its content has become quite relevant, so I'm starting it again.It's really just genius. I'll admit that there were sections, mostly smack dab in the middle, that I had to re-read over and over before I felt like I had gotten it. And then there were a few sections where I didn't feel that the ideas had sunk into my brain like I wished. So I wrestled past those few pages and came upon the chapter "Animal Pain", which was very easy to read and understand. And then I came upon the chapter "Heaven" and, nearly immediately, I knew that it would be my favorite chapter. Oh, there were parts of the book that I will endeavor to carry the words in my head, and they shall be jumbled around in a great mess, and undoubtedly come out mangled when I try to recite them as the occasion demands. But I think I shall carry the meaning and the beauty of that last chapter in my heart, even if I cannot help but fail to explain it to another.

  • Kris
    2019-02-24 02:19

    Great discussion, but still so many unanswered questions. Reread in April 2015. Reread again June 2016.You can tell this is one of Lewis's early books. Written in 1940, I could feel that he hadn't worked out a few of the specifics within his beliefs on Christianity yet. And some of his other ideas I flat-out disagree with (so sad to me whenever I see him trying to cram in Darwinian macro-evolution and discredit the creation story).I can see why many feel inevitably dissatisfied with this read. But I think he does answer some important questions, even if not providing a completely exhaustive work on the issue of pain. I still enjoyed the casual Lewis tone.Some memorable quotes:"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.""Pantheism is a creed not so much false as hopelessly behind the times. Once, before creation, it would have been true to say that everything was God. But God created: He caused things to be other than Himself that, being distinct, they might learn to love Him, and achieve union instead of mere sameness."

  • Kells Next Read
    2019-03-11 22:22

    My continue exploration of this prolific and articulate author. So many gems in this one.

  • booklady
    2019-02-25 04:20

    First read September 12-14, 2001. The problem of pain is that it isn't a problem in the way we think it is when we first begin to look at the entire subject. The book reminded me of looking at the negative image of a familiar picture.If I thought to read about pain to seek its alleviation, I might have saved myself the trouble. In my second reading of The Problem of Pain I was again surprised and impressed by Lewis. I could highlight most of the text. He pulls no punches, cuts me no slack. I like that. His description of God’s relentless love, it is as beautiful as it is demanding. This God is a Father who holds His children accountable. If there is pain, it serves a purpose. And then there is sin...‘...mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin. The guilt is washed away not by time but by repentance and the blood of Christ: if we have repented these early sins we should remember the price of our forgiveness and be humble. As for the fact of a sin, is it probable that anything cancels it? All times are eternally present to God. ... We must guard against the feeling that there is “safety in numbers”. It is natural to feel that if all men are as bad as the Christians say, then badness must be very excusable. ... There are those odd people among us who do not accept the local standard, who demonstrate the alarming truth that a quite different behavior is, in fact, possible. Worse still, there is the fact that these people, even when separated widely in space and time, have a suspicious knack of agreeing with one another in the main – almost as if they were in touch with some larger public opinion outside the pocket.’Read again soon!

  • Maureen Wagner
    2019-03-10 03:33

    As usual, Lewis's book doesn't disappoint. He gives interesting Christian perspectives on suffering without resorting to trite comments of "turn the other cheek" and "if God brings you to it, He'll bring you through it". A very worthwhile read, especially for Christians and C.S. Lewis fans.

  • Victoria Mars
    2019-02-22 01:36

    1- Pensé que nunca iba terminar este libro.2- Me costó introducirme totalmente en la lectura. No sé si es por la traducción o que Lewis se fue por las ramas y me costó seguirlo.3- Tiene toda la razón al declarar que es más fácil decir que a uno le duele una muela a que uno diga que tiene el corazón roto. Los dolores "mentales" son objeto fácil de burlas o escepticismo.4- Hace dos días en Chile un hombre si tiró literalmente a la jaula de los leones del zoológico de la capital. Dos leones resultaron muertos para salvar la vida del hombre que aún está grave en el hospital. Ahora se sabe que el hombre que trató de quitarse la vida de aquella horrible forma tenía “un cuadro psicótico y un delirio místico mesiánico", o sea, un humano enfermo, con dolores mentales difíciles de describir en palabras. Y cuando el foco de la noticia se vuelca en esos dos pobres leones, me pongo a pensar cuándo en la historia de la humanidad, en qué exacto momento, los humanos nos hemos convertido en una mierda. Que quede claro que odio los zoológicos, para mí los animales deberían estar en su hábitat, en un lugar protegido o en un santuario de la naturaleza. No encarcelados en medio de una urbe tan contaminada como lo es Santiago de Chile. Y sí, me apenó la muerte de los leones, pero no tanto como la vida del hombre enfermo.El hombre que se tiró a la jaula perdió a la mamá cuando tenía 11 años. Tenía un padre alcohólico y vivó en el Sename (Servicio Nacional de Menores que de protección al menor no tiene nada) debido a que nadie del entorno familiar fue capaz de educarlo y entregarle amor. Es fácil atacar y decir que "el tipo debió morir comido por los leones si al final esa era su intención". "Que matar a los leones fue una atrocidad". "Que más da, si el pobre era un enfermo mental y los leones están en peligro de extinción". Me pongo a pensar ahora en todos esos niños al cuidado del Sename. Niños abusados, maltratados, sin amor ni educación. Niños abandonados que son arrojados en una misma sala con delincuentes menores de edad. Ese dolor nos debería desesperar. Ese dolor debería hacer que el gobierno sin apellido político actuara sin descanso para asegurar la integridad física y mental de tantos desprotegidos. Miles de niños en este país y en todo el mundo son arrojados a la jaula de los "leones" todos los días. Millones de personas en el mundo son devorados por "leones" día tras día, pero pocos son capaces de hacer algo para salvarlos de las mandíbulas de una sociedad individualista y cruel. Del dolor pueden surgir muchas cosas pavorosas, como arrojarse a las fauces de un león, pero también puede florecer lo mejor de una persona si es que cuenta con la compresión de su entorno o al menos con la empatía del resto. A veces una sonrisa y una conversación puede aliviar más de un dolor. Otras veces se necesitará de mucho más esfuerzo, sudor y recursos para terminar con un dolor sordo, que de manera sigilosa, pero imperturbable va matando lo que se supone nos hace humanos.

  • Ellen
    2019-03-19 22:19

    Of the fourteen Lewis books that I've read (the others being The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Space Trilogy, Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and The Great Divorce), this is definitely the one of which I hold the most conflicted opinion. So much of what he said about the way the Lord uses difficulties in the lives of men to produce good in and for them, and about how dying to self is the only path to genuine life, was so true, and so well and beautifully expressed -- but I have huge, huge problems with the way he handled the creation story and the fall. It's actually a great (although sad and disappointing) example of how denying the literal meaning of the Genesis story introduces wild inconsistencies into Christian thought, and necessitates turning to absurd speculations to fill the gaps. His view of man's corruption is also sketchy; he even says in one place that he denies Total Depravity (from his explanation, I think that stems more from a misunderstanding of what the term means than anything else, but at best, I still disagree with him). His view of free will is definitely incorrect and some of his statements regarding that, unless I misunderstood him completely, were outright falsehood.Really a 2.5 rating... giving it a 3 because, again, there were bits that were incredibly good."Man is not the centre. God does not exist for the sake of man. Man does not exist for his own sake. 'Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure the are and were created.' We were not made primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the Divine love may rest 'well pleased.' To ask that God's love should be content with us is to ask that God should cease to be God: because He is what He is, His love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled by certain stains in our present character, and because He already loves us He must labour to make us lovable."

  • Grace Crandall
    2019-03-20 20:24

    There's something incredibly comforting about C.S. Lewis's writing style. He explains things well and clearly, but on the points he's unsure about he's honest. (Actually he's always honest, blazingly so, in a way that's doubly endearing and challenging, but perhaps that's beside the point). Though it's technically a point-by-point defense of Christianity against the 'pain and suffering in the world proves the absence of a good god' argument, The Problem of Pain never seems like just a bit of apologetics. It's logical, but not without emotional weight, and even while attempting to prove the necessity of pain Lewis retains a great deal of sensitivity and compassion. The book is a conversation more than an argument, and a pretty jovial conversation at that. The clarity of each individual point, and the fluid way all the points came together into conclusion after conclusion, was staggering. Theology is a heady, mystifying subject at the best of times, and I'm eternally in love with how Lewis can somehow admit the mystery while making graspable what parts of it really are open to view. It was also balanced, incredibly so; justice was talked about and mercy never forgotten, free will was put forth as the necessity it is while the ultimate sovereignty of God constantly reinforced. There's a kind of high-flying joy and grounded solemness sandwiching the narrative, and the points where the joy and wonder of it all were brought into focus took my breath away. This is a beautiful, excellent book and I'm definitely going to be reading it more than once :)

  • Morgan
    2019-03-08 20:37

    I don't agree with everything, but still, there's a lot of good to be learned from it. I find it interesting that the more I read of Lewis's nonfiction the more I understand of his fiction.

  • Chad Warner
    2019-03-09 01:37

    Lewis addresses the problem of pain, which he describes in this way: "If God were good, He would make His creatures perfectly happy, and if He were almighty, He would be able to do what he wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore God lacks either goodness, or power, or both."As a Christian, I've often wondered about this issue, especially when friends are diagnosed with cancer or the country suffers terrorist attacks. It's a difficult question, and although I accept the explanation through faith, grasping it rationally is another matter. Lewis does a good job dealing with the matter from both perspectives. However, I doubt many non-Judeo-Christians would be persuaded by this book. Lewis wouldn't be entirely at fault for that.The main place where I disagree with Lewis is on the Creation and Fall of man. He rejects a literal interpretation of Genesis, including a 6-day creation, Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, forbidden fruit, and temptation by Satan. Instead, Lewis believes that humans evolved from apes or more primitive life forms, and that the Genesis account is a myth. I was surprised by this, because he references creation accounts and Adam and Eve in other works like The Chronicles of Narnia and Perelandra, from his Space Trilogy. Perhaps he considers them all equally fictional stories.The other reason I find Lewis' rejection of a literal interpretation of Genesis surprising is that it causes many inconsistencies in the Bible. Both the Old and New Testaments contain references to the 6-day creation and the Fall, and how the Fall affected not only humanity, but the rest of the planet as well. Jesus Himself talks about such issues. Lewis accepts the modern scientific view that pain and suffering existed on Earth for millennia before humans appeared. So much for "God saw that it was good".Despite such disagreements, I thought Lewis presented a thought-provoking case for why God allows pain to exist. My favorite reason presented is that pain distracts us from our comfortable lives where we're all too eager to forget about faith and God, and forces us to become closer to Him and other Christians.NotesWhen we say God is omnipotent (all-powerful), we mean He can do anything that's intrinsically possible. It's nonsense to claim He can do what's intrinsically impossible or self-contradictory.The possibility of suffering is required by nature and free wills. To exclude it is to exclude life itself.We were not made primarily to love God, but for God to love us. 1 John 4:10.Because God has and is all, He only loves us and is grieved by us because He chooses to.We sin not because of ignorance or inability, but because we aren't truly intending to avoid it.Lewis rejects Total Depravity because, logically, we wouldn't know our depravity if we were totally depraved, and because he sees so much goodness in human nature.The question, "Was it better for God to create than to not create?" is meaningless, because the reality that allows us to even pose the question requires that God did create. If the question did have any meaning, the answer must be yes, simply because God did create.Lewis believes that humans descended from animals, and that God granted them consciousness once they were sufficiently advanced. The Fall was an act of self-will or self-interest (and thus, rebellion against God) exhibited by these early humans.The Fall didn't surprise God. "God saw the crucifixion in the act of creating the first nebula."Lewis' theory for the origin of disease and death: Before the Fall, God ruled the human organism through the human spirit.When man rejected God, the human spirit lost control of the human organism, and biochemical and environmental forces brought pain, senility, and death.Lewis rejects the notion that we inherit Original Sin or moral responsibility from Adam (or some other remote ancestor). He says we're members of a "spoiled species" by our own will and actions.If the omniscient (all-knowing) God knew that Abraham would obey him, why the needless torture of testing his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac? Because even what God foresees/predestines hasn't actually occurred until the human performs it.God uses tribulation to take our attention off our lives and toys, and forces us to focus on Him. Thus, tribulation must continue until we are remade (or our remaking is hopeless, in the case the unsaved).Because tribulation is necessary for redemption, no economic or political reform can bring about heaven on earth. However, we must still attempt to remove the evils of this world simply do to a strong sense of common miseries."You will certainly carry out God's purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John".People go to Hell because they chose to. They exercise their free will to reject God. "The doors of hell are locked on the inside". You can't expect God to do more to help humans avoid Hell than he already has by dying on the cross at Calvary.Lewis believes that non-human (plant, animal, etc.) life was corrupted by Satan or some other non-human entity before humans existed. Carnivorousness and animal "suffering" existed prior to humans.Animals and plants can't truly suffer because they aren't sentient.God created individuals so he could love each differently, and that each could love and worship Him differently.Heaven isn't a bribe. "There are rewards that do not sully motives. It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to."

  • Chris
    2019-02-19 23:21

    This was my 50th read of the year, and it should have been my first. Well, I also read Mere Christianity this year, so perhaps this should have been my second. At any rate, wow. I was reading someone else's reviews (of a different book -- I don't remember which) where they stated that they only give 5 stars to "life changing" books. That is indeed what I am doing in this case, or at least, what I hope I am doing since only time will tell if my life has really been changed.My wife has a chronic illness with which, much of the time, the pain and fatigue is so intense and persistent that it keeps her bedridden. Seeing her in all that pain and being utterly helpless to do anything substantial for her is superlatively difficult. I think, "God, why are you allowing this to happen to her?" Then, while I'm trying to fill in for what she is unable to do on her own, I (selfishly, and with plenty of guilt afterwards) get overwhelmed and frustrated and find myself thinking, "God, why are you allowing this to happen to ME?! What did I do wrong or what am I not doing right? What good can possibly come of this whole situation? What good is it that I try to be an obedient Christian if I'm still left with this misery?"Of course, there are the quieter moments, when at least part of the house is clean, we don't desperately need to make a trip to the grocery store, all 4 kids aren't screaming and I start to feel some peace. In these moments I think, "Ok, God. I think I might see at least one angle here. Maybe you're trying to show me that I can make it through this in one piece because something even bigger that I would have previously thought impossible or at least insurmountable is coming up in my life. Maybe you're showing me that I too can be content in all things. Maybe that's the point here, at least for me." This thinking is (at least) incomplete and (at best) partly wrong (knowing me, it's probably wrong on multiple levels, but it's only part of my story so let's keep moving).Reading The Problem of Pain helped me to put together a bunch of pieces that I had previously learned and combine them with some new things hadn't quite sunk in before, and made me realize that I was focused on the wrong thing: me. Certainly there's the fallacy of self-sufficiency to consider: "The creature’s illusion of self-sufficiency must, for the creature’s sake, be shattered; and by trouble or fear of trouble on earth, by crude fear of the eternal flames, God shatters it ‘unmindful of His glory’s diminution’." (pg.95) But more than that, I was focused on what all this means for me, when the fact that there is pain and the fact that I am not perfectly comfortable in life does not have to be about a lack of faith on my part or a lack of provision by God -- it's actually part of an unimaginably intricate and complex process by which my wife, me, my kids and all those encounter us are also being changed in some positive ways. God may not have "brought this on us", but he is certainly using everything to further his Will, even our situation. Besides, if we were all comfortable here, how would we feel any desire for heaven?"The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home." (pg. 116)Reading this book helped me get to the point where now I really do believe that my job is simple: realize that I'm just a human that is reliant on Him, ask Him for help with all of it (little and big), and remember that this life isn't the end -- as a forgetful person I need constant reminders that there is something unimaginably better waiting for me and my family. The tougher moments are my reminders, and now I will try to think more about the purpose of the reminder and what is on the other side.

  • Alana
    2019-03-20 04:29

    I can add no further review to any works of C. S. Lewis than other far more intelligent minds have already said but as for my personal response, I found it very thought-provoking, in such a way that I will have to read it again to really understand the depth of everything he has to say. The issue is so deep and all-consuming for humanity and Lewis' approach so detailed that I cannot possibly take it in all at once. He unabashedly asks tough questions and explains logically his positions so that one cannot argue with his thoughts because they certainly make sense, even if one does not agree with all his theology. Yet he is wise enough not to venture answers to questions that either have no answers, answers he personally did not understand, or are beyond human understanding altogether. Insightful is too small a word, but accurate. I encourage all readers to check out all of Lewis' works and form their own opinions. Well worth the read, even a second or third time.

  • Julie Davis
    2019-03-18 21:28

    If there is a God, then why is there so much suffering and pain in the world?This is a common problem brought up by atheists and C. S. Lewis says it was a problem for him before he became Christian. Somehow it's not a question that ever bothered me whether I believed or didn't. So I welcomed the premise of the book since that's a question that always stops me in my tracks. I also was happy to see my library had it available on audio.This is one of those books that pulls no punches. In his trademark style, Lewis applies logic, common sense, and his considerable breadth of knowledge to the question. Whether he convinces any unbelievers or not, I don't know. But he includes so much that I either agreed with or found to be "mooreeffoc" thinking that I now want to get the print version for leisurely rereading.

  • Mike (the Paladin)
    2019-03-16 22:29

    One of the questions many Christians hear often is, "If there is a good and omnipotent God how can He allow pain and suffering?" Here C.S.Lewis gives a cogent discussion of this "problem". While it will not satisfy all I suppose (especially in cases where the questioner doesn't wish to be satisfied) I believe for the thinking reader there will be some insight. I know that for most Christian believers there is a great deal of insight and and some discussion of questions that most of us have run up against. With openness, frankness and wisdom Lewis looks at the topic of "pain" and the implications that surround it. As is the case with all the writings of Lewis, with which I'm familiar I recommend this book highly.

  • Jon(athan) Nakapalau
    2019-03-03 20:32

    What is the purpose of pain? C.S. Lewis examines this question and gives his interpretation of what pain tries to teach us.

  • Megan Larson
    2019-02-26 23:32

    (Note--this book really hangs somewhere on the under-side of three stars for me. Also, this review is written from an orthodox Christian standpoint--I'm not qualified to offer any other.)"If God is good, why does he cause or allow us to experience painful circumstances? Perhaps he is not good. Or, perhaps he just isn't powerful enough to protect his creatures from pain." These are the difficult questions, natural to many of us, that C.S. Lewis attempts to address in this book. It is one of his earliest works as a Christian, predating Mere Christianity by three years. Because of this, and because he takes a mostly-apologetic stance rather than simply addressing what the Bible has to say about pain, a significant number of his ideas reflect his secular academic background imposing itself upon the supernatural. But I will start with the positives first:The chapter entitled "Divine Goodness" is truly excellent. It addresses the idea that God's goodness and the fact that He perfects his children through trials go hand-in-hand. It brings into perspective our cultural tendency to assume that God must be a "senile grandfather-type" who just wants everyone to have a good time. His arguments are intellectually and scripturally sound, and I believe this chapter can stand alone for many believers struggling with trials of various sorts. Secondly, I appreciated the times when Lewis qualified his views as "simply opinion," "a layman's ignorant perspective," "subject to correction by real theologians," etc. This is a message he sent often in Mere Christianity as well, and it shows a measure of humility that (from what I learned in Surprised by Joy) did not come naturally to him. On the other hand, in this early book, the places where Lewis so qualifies his opinions are rather few, and he presents some things as fact which most Christian theologians and a respectable number of scientists deny. Most prevalently, his belief in the Theory of Evolution permeates two chapters of this book--"The Fall of Man," and "Animal Pain." In the first, Lewis treats the Biblical account of Adam and Eve as a doctrine rather than a narrative, and posits that somewhere in the evolution of the species, mankind (in whatever number) were given souls and became "Paradisal Man." At some point, by some means, Paradisal Men fell. The tragic result of Lewis' false assumption is that he consequently has no understanding of the Scriptural concept of a federal head--"as 'in' Adam all died, so 'in' Christ we can be made alive together with Him." If Adam is just the mythical name for "Paradisal Man," that "in" really doesn't make any sense, and the word "in" is admittedly mysterious to Lewis. The second chapter (on "Animal Pain") argues that the animal species cannot have experienced its first pangs at the fall of man, since the evolutionary record shows us that carnivorous behavior in animals predates humanity. He posits that perhaps Satan, who seems to have fallen before the creation of mankind, might have corrupted creation first, and mankind second. Again, this completely ignores the narrative of biblical creation, which bears no trademarks of a parable or myth as far as Scripture goes. I realize it was not Lewis' intention to be cavalier about Scripture, and indeed many of us in modern Christendom have at one time or another been deceived by compromising doctrines that claim to be intellectually superior to orthodox Christianity. However, Lewis' belief in Evolution was not the only area this type of deception occurred. He also posited that, because Christ lived in a human body, with a human brain of an average size, He may well have spoken historical or scientific error without impugning his Deity. In this context, Lewis mentions that we might take as truth Jesus' teachings about the Devil because they don't contradict any verified scientific findings, only our cultural beliefs. Truly, it is a great mystery that Jesus "grew in wisdom" as well as in stature, and we know He was not always or perhaps ever omniscient in the body before being glorified at His resurrection, but we also know that He possessed knowledge well outside the reaches of the human intellect (many places in Scripture tell us that he knew people's thoughts), and I cannot easily count the number of references to the Christ as "perfect." Add to that the fact that Scripture declares itself to be perfect (2 Timothy 3:16), and it becomes clear that the idea of Jesus' having spoken error at all, and that error then being recorded forever to misdirect us in the infallible Word of God, is quite contrary to the precepts of our Faith.These compromises with the secular climate in which Lewis lived were disheartening, and at times as I read I actually felt sick to my stomach. The chapters that were neither excellent nor nauseating seemed at times beneficial and at times self-indulgent. I don't believe I would have felt so strongly if I didn't so respect the man God made Lewis as he continued his Christian life. I'm so thankful that his reliance on Scripture certainly grew as he matured in his walk, and his likeness to the world around him lessened. I reassert the value of the chapter entitled "Divine Goodness," but urge extreme caution and a discerning eye when reading the rest.

  • Issabella
    2019-03-02 01:36

    This book is one of C.S. Lewis' more well-known works and for good reason. He more than sufficiently answers what he calls "the problem of pain", he leaves the reader with a sense of hope and joy at better understanding the character of God. Lewis' eloquence makes this a wonderful read, however I have found that it can sometimes be difficult to follow Lewis all the time (as it can take him a while to say something) so I would listen to it on audiobook.I would definitely recommend this book, especially to younger and newer Christians, but anyone can benefit from it because it answers the question that has been asked for decades, possibly centuries: if God is good and all-powerful why is there pain?On that note, the only reason why it doesn't get five stars is because, at this point in C.S. Lewis' life, while he was a saved and devoted Christian, he still believed in evolution, and that bleeds through. However, I have been told that after reading Problem of Pain one should read Mere Christianity, in that book, written after TPOP, corrects his views.

  • Jo
    2019-02-23 23:28

    Once again, CS Lewis amazes me. In ten chapters, he • describes the different kinds of pain, defines each type, presents human complaints and objections to why pain exists, and how a "good God" can really be good if He allows his created creatures to be subjected to pain,• presents Biblical reasons for the existence of pain,• discusses the actual benefits of the "horror" of pain, etc.He really made me think about what pain has to do with things like justice and goodness. I've also never considered what kind of pain there is for animals, and why they are also subjected to pain. There is soooooo much to learn from this book that I cannot cover everything adequately at the moment. Maybe after I've had the chance to chew on all that I've read, I should return to give a better report of what I got out of is a WONDERFUL book! But then, again, every single thing I've ever read by CS Lewis has been WONDERFUL!

  • Wayno
    2019-03-20 22:38

    Very difficult work to follow, because of the language used. It not common english. For example, he overuses the word "numinious" which merely means "supernatural." Why use a word no one's familiar with?Lots of word spins. The only real meat and potatoes is that sometimes Humans lock horns with God on the issue of self-sufficiency. God does everything to destroy our self-sufficiency, so we are dependent on him alone. That was the meat and potatoes I took from the book (on page 96 of the paperback version).The rest of it, was a tough read.Wayno

  • Ampat Varghese
    2019-02-25 03:11

    Most people today know C S Lewis only as the author of the Narnia Chronicles, that singular series of seven fantasy novels centred around the Lion-King Aslan, a thinly disguised representation of Jesus Christ, entering with a bang the space that Graham Greene called “the Pleasure Dome”. And closer watchers of Lewis and his heritage might also recall the 1993 film Shadowlands, loosely based on this Oxbridge Don’s relationship with and marriage to Joy Gresham, who later succumbs to bone cancer.Apart from being an extremely knowledgeable academic and professor of English Literature at Oxford, Lewis was also part of a literary set called The Inklings, which included writers like J R R Tolkien who wrote The Lord of the Rings, Charles Williams, Sheldon Vanauken, and many other respectable literary figures of the time.But Lewis is perhaps more famous today not among litterateurs or theologians but among fundamentalist, Evangelical Christian leaders, revered as the “apologist par excellence”, second only to Paul of Tarsus. For Lewis, who confessed to having been divinely hounded and brought into the Faith “kicking against it”, has provided the fundamentalist Evangelicals with powder and balls for their muskets in the “defense of the Gospel” at a time when revivalist Protestantism desperately needed that “kick”.My intention to review or critique Lewis’ famous book The Problem of Pain must also find an anchor in the Holy Scriptures, since that is the central place from which, sometimes directly and often indirectly, the writer himself proceeds. Lewis marshals his arguments using a razor-sharp, incisive mind well anchored in deep reading of classic philosophy and literature and a sufficiently advanced understanding of modern notions of science and theology. But his final recourse is to Scripture and a certain angular Christian world-view. Hence, my recourse to Scripture as a starting point in my rebuttal of his justification of God’s ways and means of using pain and suffering ruthlessly to get humanity to mend its ways and return to obedience to its Creator and Master.I do not intend to cast myriad verses from the Holy Scriptures before you. I will just refer to two sections from the New Testament.A. Hebrews 1: 1-31IN MANY separate revelations, [each of which set forth a portion of the Truth] and in different ways God spoke of old to [our] forefathers in and by the prophets,2[But] in the last of these days He has spoken to us in [the person of a] Son, Whom He appointed Heir and lawful Owner of all things, also by and through Whom He created the worlds and the reaches of space and the ages of time [He made, produced, built, operated, and arranged them in order].3He is the sole expression of the glory of God [the Light-being, the out-raying or radiance of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God's] nature, upholding and maintaining and guiding and propelling the universe by His mighty word of power. When He had by offering Himself accomplished our cleansing of sins and riddance of guilt, He sat down at the right hand of the divine Majesty on highB. John 14: 7-97If you had known Me [had learned to recognize Me], you would also have known My Father. From now on, you know Him and have seen Him.8Philip said to Him, Lord, show us the Father [cause us to see the Father--that is all we ask]; then we shall be satisfied.9Jesus replied, Have I been with all of you for so long a time, and do you not recognize and know Me yet, Philip? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say then, Show us the Father?Before I explain why I have cited the above passages, let me mention that Lewis launches into his justification of God-bestowed pain and suffering in the experiences of humanity by means of a variety of supremely intelligent speculations. Yes, he’s extremely good with his arguments and wise as a serpent as he guides the reader through his understanding of human “evolution”.He begins with humans being drawn to the “numinous” ascending the fear, dread and awe rungs of Jacob’s ladder. Then he distinguishes between the numinous and what might or might not be “morally good” and there’s a reason for that tack. Human immorality drawns upon humanity the wrath of God masked as pain and suffering.One agrees with him when he says that self-consciousness, that special aspect of humanness, can only be understood when contrasted with an “other”, a neutral medium like the environment or Nature which is not the “self”. Then he swiftly suggests that this promotes “society”, but the ideal for “society: is assumed to be the Christian Holy Trinity.That’s the interesting thing about Lewis – he keeps slipping in references that make no bones about his base being the Christian Scriptures which, of course, he suggests came by “revelation”. What we ought to be thankful for though, he insists, is the God-given gift of “free will” that has to choose between loving God through obedience or losing God through lack of love and disobedience.He then carefully weaves an intriguing tapestry of “logic” founded on notions distilled from revelatory ideas underpinning Christianity to suggest that rather than asking God questions as to why He takes recourse to administering pain to bring his straying sheep back into His fold, one ought to realize that free will necessitates and creates the activation of pain in human experience.Lewis uses several analogies to prove that God is both goodness and righteousness and therefore ought not to be questioned as to his whims and purposes. Instead, humans should take the pain as remedial and as the only way to have the “Fall of Man” reversed. The chapter on the Fall is exquisite, for here Lewis heads into territory that is almost sci-fi in its trajectory, reminding one of Ken Wilber’s book “Up from Eden”, delineating the possibility of humanity’s transformation from the Typhonic to the Transcendental, and then plunging one back into Lewis’ sci-fi trilogy – Malacandra, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength.I do respect Lewis when he carefully avoids some of the deeper, more controversial questions pertaining to the origin of the “problem of pain” directly related to doubts as to whether or not God exists, and if he does, what kind of God he is (Lewis takes for granted that God is masculine, personal and The Creator, one in three and three in one, and occasionally tosses pantheistic, monistic and other such possibilities out the window casually), or when he refuses to explore whether it was wiser on God’s part to create or not create, even while he is certain that even God’s Omnipotence cannot perform “intrinsic impossibilities” for God is not a God of Nonsense!But to get to the point, Lewis seeks to convince us that pain or suffering is God’s megaphone to awaken a deaf world to His goodness and the need to return to the rightness of His ways, he is enamored with God using pain to break down humanity’s intransigent will, he is fascinated by the word “mortification” when he says that the key to the ‘return to Paradise’ is voluntary sacrifice of the self and surrender of self-will to God. The question he does not answer with clarity though is how is this “vile” being, now habituated to practicing evil and vice yet having a semblance of goodness, to make this supreme sacrifice of self to please God? He seems to suggest that this is possible only because humans undergo pain and suffering allowed or inflicted even by God and this leads to “transformation” into the likeness of God’s good and refined “nature”. God’s ruthless love or goodness is superimposed upon mankind through pain and suffering – “..tribulations cannot cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking now is hopeless”.Of course, Lewis is very clever in painting this picture with sweet analogies. For instance, he shows God as the supreme Artist painting the Great Picture of His life, only his painting is sentient and therefore as he takes endless trouble over his work, he also creates “endless trouble” for the painting itself. Don’t you, as the sentient painting under the fingers and brushes of the Master Craftsman, want to endure and embrace the sufferings and troubles, knowing the perfect future that awaits you?Basically, Lewis is arguing for the “Eternal Gospel” and he is not extremely narrow in his position unlike his 20th century acolytes, the fundamentalist Evangelicals, who have both appropriated him and imprisoned his thinking. For he accepts that the centrality of pain and suffering has to do with humanity’s necessity to “die” to self and ego in order to come into alignment with what it imagines and knows to be the numinous “God’ who has also been integrated with “moral good”. He acknowledges that this “Eternal Gospel” has been indicated in many different ways by the Greeks or Buddhists, practitioners of Yoga, etc. How then can a Christian forego this Way, he asks, which the Christ has paved with utmost clarity and certainty thus showing forth an example?Well, so much for Lewis’ arguments. But my quarrel with him is that he reinforces the archetype of the jealous, selfish, vengeful, angry, marauding God of the Old Testament – the one who said “Thou shalt not murder” and then unleashed the unwashed Hebrew tribes upon the nations around indulging in genocides masked as “God’s judgement” upon the ungodly and the Pagan. And then, turning around, the same God delivers His people to more pain and suffering for their own sins. And this saga or vicious cycle has gone on and on and the face of this God now resembles none other than that blood-thirsty Indian deity, the demonic goddess Kali, a figurine grievous to behold and identify with the God of goodness!On the other hand, one can become enlightened as to the true nature and image of God if one turns to the passages I cited at the beginning of this review. Jesus is the Perfect Image of the Father – and without much ado, I can encourage the reader to look closely at His example when He walked an earth ravaged by sin and pain and suffering. In this example, not once do we find this “exact representation” of God punish anyone with pain or suffering, not once does he inflict torment or tribulation on any human being, not once does he empathize with the forces that bring trials to mankind. In a couple of instances, he even pooh-poohs the idea that suffering and death might be the result of sin. In fact, he even reverses the curse and enjoins us to “bless and do not curse”, a counterpoint to the God who cursed humanity with suffering and pain and thorns and women with labor pains!Lewis mentions Satan once in a way but hardly ever identifies this creature as, possibly, the author of not only sin but also pain and suffering. And he doesn’t seem to give enough credence to the fact that sinful humanity is extremely weak and lacking in immunity to evil. Pain and suffering only make the weak ones weaker.However, Jesus Christ, in his Incarnation, pushes the envelope of notions about God to a place of true blessing, to a place of redemption, to the place of healing and restoration. All his good acts are freely bestowed (“Jesus of Nazareth who went about doing good and delivering all those who were oppressed of the Devil”), He doesn’t make people feel guilty or condemned for their sins, His very goodness makes them steer a way away from sin, His light is something the darkness does not comprehend.Of course, the only one who suffers and endures the ultimate vortex of pain then becomes Jesus himself and one understands in a flash that He stood in the breach or gap between God and Man, and so both Lewis’ God and Satan had no other choice but to rain upon Him pain and suffering for our sakes! This trial he endured and in His endurance lay Success, Salvation and Redemption for a helpless humanity.My contention is that if one has encountered this “perfect image” or “exact representation” of God, the picture Lewis paints of a God who is out to force change upon humanity by allowing suffering or by inflicting pain, via Nature or Satan or directly, is shattered. One then joyfully turns one’s ship around (call it metanoia if you like) so that one can set sail on the Spirit-wind Captain Jesus has brought.The past is forgiven, sin has lost its power, pain and suffering are really inconsequential for their Satanic source is now identified, revealed, overcome and rejected, and we’ve set sail for the Promised Land and it is not this Planet. “The Prince of this World comes and He has no part in Me.”Lewis too had a glimpse of this fantastic turn in humanity’s destiny, but he had to reconcile the sufferings and pain of humanity with the acts of the God of the Old Testament and in doing so, he perhaps forgot that the “new” had replaced the “old’ in more ways than one. And, yes, Lewis might have been thought by some to have been supercilious in his zeal to defend this “old” God, the God Blake had questioned a long time ago and it was this perception of a supercilious Lewis that spurred a writer like Philip Pullman to write the His Dark Materials trilogy.So how then does this critic resolve the “problem of pain”? For one thing, he is convinced that God is not and cannot be the author and source and instigator of pain and suffering. This would symbolize this God as Yin and Yang forming a whole within a circle, the Two-Faced God. It would also mean that the difference between God and the Devil is that one uses suffering as a remedial while the other uses it unto destruction but both have recourse only to a singular tool – Pain. Or one would have to twist one’s mind to accept that God turns the suffering sent by the Devil unto destruction into a suffering that leads to repentance and submission to God. In which case, God and the Devil can be said to be in cahoots, another case of Yin and Yang locked in a cycle or circle.This writer contends that the source of all sin, pain. suffering and oppression of humankind is Satan or the Adversary or the Ancient Serpent, the Devil. “But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in fierce anger (fury), because he knows that he has [only] a short time [left]!(Revelation 12:12)The nature of God has been to “endure” this Adversary a long whiles while He enables humankind to “endure all things” and teaches humankind to “overcome evil by good”. This is a position the Devil cannot “endure’, that in spite of the constant harassment and afflictions he has imposed upon humankind, there are some who have and do endure and believe in the Ideal Good. This then is the response to pain and suffering, endurance and patience, and faith that in the end good will triumph, as in all the ancient myths, over evil. This faith is accelerated by those who actually do good to others, even their enemies, while enduring excruciating pain that is physical, mental or spiritual, or all three together. The Devil fears those who can endure pain and suffering right till their very last breath because of their conviction that God is not the author or source or harbinger of pain and suffering to humankind.Partial Revelation of God is dangerous, Progressive Revelation is necessary for humanity to emerge from the “mire” and Perfect Revelation is here now if one pays close attention to the Person and Deeds of the Man Christ Jesus, the Man who endured perfectly all the suffering the Devil brought upon Him and won the Resurrection. Now it is possible for human beings to put pain and suffering and its Infernal Author in its place, see it all as but “light and momentary afflictions” to be endured by the Elect whose spirits are already in flight to their rightful home. And if you find those who are stumbling along, unable to endure the voluminous pain and suffering that has been unleashed upon them they know not why, hold such close to your heart, whisper to such dear ones these words “Be of Good Cheer, for Christ has overcome!”“Old things have passed away, behold, I make all things NEW.”