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The Problem of Pain

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  23,855 ratings  ·  804 reviews
"Lewis is the ideal persuader for the half-convinced, for the good man who would like to be a Christian but finds his intellect getting in the way". --Anthony Burgess. The New York Times Book Review
Paperback, 160 pages
Published July 1st 1977 by Collier Books (first published 1940)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Manny
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 t
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Traveller
< -<-<- < -<-<- This or.... This or...this->->-->->- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pPoRn...

Personally, 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
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Louize
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jarrod Jenkins
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?
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RC
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 ...more
Kjersti
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 t
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Amelia, the pragmatic idealist
*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'r
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BrokenTune
Review was first posted on Booklikes:
http://brokentune.booklikes.com/post/...

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
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Ellen
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 ...more
Ayame Sohma
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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9EQS-...

The 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 inten
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Maureen Wagner
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.
booklady
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 lik
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Wayno
Sep 06, 2007 Wayno rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one really
Shelves: religiousthemed
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 paperbac
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Julie Davis
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 tradem
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Chad Warner
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 thr
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Chris
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 i
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Megan Larson
(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 e
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Josh Hanke
I had problems staying alert (read: awake) during the first half of the book. The second half picked up a bit, but I still found myself thinking Thank God! once I reached the last ten pages.

Lewis' gift and, in my opinion, sometimes fault is analogizing everything. It is often short, simple and insightful. Sometimes its painfully long and ineffective. His favorite use of grammar has to be the comma. It is difficult to find two sentences in a row without one:

"When I think of pain - of anxiety tha
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Ampat Varghese
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.
Apa
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Cindy
Wow, if there's one thing I'm an expert on it is pain. Physical and mental pain, I KNOW pain. We are WELL acquainted.

I'm not particularly an expert on C S Lewis, but I have read several of his books, and I was hoping for some great insight out of this book. Didn't happen.

He starts by admitting that he didn't especially feel that he had great insight into suffering, that there were probably others more qualified to talk about it than him, but I didn't really pay attention to that. Maybe this time
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Alana
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 ...more
Archetype
This book may as well have wings, as I've had to throw it from me in disgust so often to get through it. He starts with the assumption (which 'certainly' every one agrees with?) that the fear or awe of 'the numinous' can only have come from God, and never from the environment on earth. Having, thus, disregarded reason and the experience of those thousands who see 'the wild "red in tooth and claw"' as numinous, or the thousands who are taught of the numinous nature of life through meditation, sta ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
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 u
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Honeypie
3.5 Stars

The problem with this Lewis book, The Problem of Pain, is that it's hard to read and sometimes oftentimes, hard to understand. Hahaha!

Fortunately, this is not my first non-fiction of Lewis, or I might have not finished reading it. And as with any other Lewis, you don't read it by viewing it as a jargon as it is, a collection of words, with the aid of a dictionary or a thesaurus. But you read it on the whole context. Otherwise, you'd miss out on the message that CSL wants to deliver.

And
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Nuclearlee
Horrible book. It's never a good idea to preface a book saying, "I didn't want to write this under my own name, but the publisher made me." I basically started reading the book thinking, "wow, he didn't even want to write this book, how can he make a good argument?" I'm not sure if there are any good ideas about why god has a plan for pain, but the evolutionary argument for it works just fine for me. To summarize the entire book, the real problem of pain was reading this book.
Matthew Robbins
Surprised by how much I disagreed with in this book, despite agreeing with most of the overall conclusions. There are much better books on the theology of these issues, but few can match Lewis' intellect and command of language.
Caleb
Second reading. Great little book, very quotable, but not where I would recommend starting with Lewis. Though in his own day he wrote with the common man in mind, much of his non-fiction comes off as pretty heady stuff to the modern reader. The fault is ours, not his, but the fact remains. The last chapter is just excellent stuff. Lewis talks about our desires and longings that we can never fully achieve or satisfy here in this life and where it all points to. We all have it and none of us (save ...more
Daniel Alvers
Lewis misunderstands some theological implications but is very intellegent. This book was good for many things. Excellent in dealing with many of the issues surronding pain and suffering. Does a good job at describing what we sometimes misunderstand as love and good. I feel he could have even taken it further. You can definately see the beauty of his writting in this book. His discussion on the fall of man seemed very interesting and I am still pondering some of the implications of what was said ...more
David
One of a pair from the same time. This issue is at the centre of all debates about an omnipotent, omniscient and apparently also a loving God who allows such things to happen, and it's also examined by Lewis personally in his book A Grief Observed, on losing his beloved wife to cancer. My own pain has been as nothing compared to what others have experienced, but real to me nonetheless. On the one hand you think it's all meaningless chance, on the other that this transforming power to the good mi ...more
Annie
I find that I'm not much of a philosophical kind of gal although that does not keep me from trying to understand those that philosophize. Lewis makes some interesting points however I have to admit, I found myself lost in his seemingly stream of consciousness writing. I suppose it is my own ignorance and lack of reading since I was not familiar with the majority of his intellectual references. I came away from this reading thinking, "boy, I need to read more".

Basically Lewis argues that pain is
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Pain as God's Megaphone 2 17 Jun 08, 2013 05:21PM  
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  • Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community
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CLIVE STAPLES LEWIS (1898–1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954. He was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than th ...more
More about C.S. Lewis...
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #1) The Chronicles of Narnia (Chronicles of Narnia, #1-7) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia, #3) The Magician's Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia, #6) Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia, #2)

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“A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell.” 3345 likes
“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.” 986 likes
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