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ISBN/ASIN : 0006280935
Manufacturer : Fount|
Release data : 04 February, 2002
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I read this book some time before I abandoned Christianity. I was looking for answers to some of the serious questions and doubts that are bound to come in any thinking Christian's life. My reaction to Lewis's arguments in this book were, "Is this really the best we can do?" I was deeply disappointed. I'd expected something a lot better and I was astonished at the poverty of Lewis's theodicy. If this is top-shelf apologetics, then apologetics is a poor field.
A Simple but Poweful Argument
C.S. Lewis offers a brilliant defense of Christian theism despite the pain in the world in this brief book. Combining sharp thinking and excellent prose, this book is highly recommended for Christians and non-Christians alike.
Lewis's arguments are similar to many theodicies (defenses of God's existence despite suffering) developed by great Christian thinkers past and present. Man's suffering is in fact a result of free will, not an original creation of God. And suffering continues to result due to the evil wills and deeds of men. As Lewis observes, "When souls become wicked they will certainly use this possibility to hurt one another; and this, perhaps, accounts for four-fifths of the sufferings of men." If men are to have any significant free will at all, the bad consequences of evil deeds must be allowed.
This, of course, leaves the problem of so-called natural evil. Lewis contends that such evil and pain are necessary for our own repentance. In order to recognize our sins and ask God for forgiveness (and thus restore the proper relationship between created and Creator) we humans must be awoken with pain and suffering. Pain shatters the notion that what we have is ours and is good enough.
The Problem of Pain, despite its brevity, covers a great deal of ground, including a defense of the doctrine of the fall and the doctrines of heaven and hell. All throughout, Lewis's writing style is accessible and convincing. For a powerful defense of Christian theism in the face of a cruel world, "The Problem of Pain" is highly recommended.
"The full acting out of the self's surrender to God therefore demands pain"
"Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself."
Another serious and powerful work in a long series by C.S. Lewis: why must we suffer, mentally and physically? He hits on subjects we all struggle with. Lewis detests the doctrine of hell, but it is written, so it must be discussed. The chapter on animal suffering is fascinating. The only chapter that led me to question his words is on man's fall.
On human wickedness: "A God who did not regard this with unappeasable distaste would not be a good being. We cannot even wish for such a God----it is like wishing that every nose in the universe were abolished, that smell of hay or roses or the sea should never again delight any creature, because our own breath happens to stink."
On saving grace: "The dangers of apparent self-sufficiency explain why Our Lord regards the vices of the feckless and dissipated so much more leniently than the vices that lead to worldly success. Prostitutes are in no danger of finding their present life so satisfactory that they cannot turn to God: the proud, the avaricious, the self-righteous, are in that danger."
By the Lord's love we suffer; this strengthens, and it also keeps us on the straight and narrow. If we are to look for easiness, then we are to look for less love. It is for our sake.
"The full acting out of the self's surrender to God therefore demands pain: this action, to be perfect, must be done from the pure will to obey, in the absence, or in the teeth, of inclination. How impossible it is to enact the surrender of the self by doing what we like,..........."
After finishing the book, a thought on heaven came to my mind:
The differences are what makes up a community whether here or in heaven: God has created us after a time where all was God (but that is no more!); we are all unique parts to a puzzle. He needs us all back to complete it----to rejoin our family in heaven; it pangs Him that many will not make it, and choose to ignore their created purpose, because they have surrendered to the self and not to the Lord. Once all was God, but after the creation all has changed; we are asked to be with God because we are of God. We are distinct here on earth, but the maximum distinction awaits us in heaven, to be reunited with our Creator.
Wish you well