Written in September 2012 when I was 17
As is often the case with C. S. Lewis, some chapters deserve a five star rating, while others a perplexing “1”.
In “The Problem of Pain” C.S. Lewis addresses primarily the purpose of pain and suffering and identifies it as God’s means of getting our attention. When everything is going our way why would we have any reason to believe there was anything wrong? Pain and suffering reveals to us our own weakness and need for God. This is love-that God does not allow us to remain in our self-reliant state but gradually removes those things on which we lean until we lean only on him. So what we really desire is “less love, not more” C.S. Lewis says. We don’t understand suffering because we don’t understand love. What we call love is merely kindness and “kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering…it is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms…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 thier removal…[God] has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us.” God is love. The problem with this statement is NOT that we isolate an attribute of God from all the rest but that we don’t understand what love is. Judgement is loving because it’s the only way mortals will see their need for Christ. As Christians, “whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we think we now think we want. Once more, we are embarassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too little…You asked for a loving God: you have one.”
C.S. Lewis goes on to speak of the absolute necessity of a recovery of the right view of sin. This is ironic considering all the stuff he goes on to say about Adam. In one sense he denies Original Sin on the grounds that we could not be punished for another’s (Adam’s) sin but he tries to reconcile this view with what he beleives from the New Testament about sin by saying that Adam set in motion a pattern of sin, an inclination for sin but that it’s still our own sin that we’re punished for. This is really a fundamental misunderstanding of headship. What I saw in the chapters on the fall was a former atheist still wrestling with his former beliefs. I see that most clearly in the section on “Paradisal Man”. I remember in Mere Christianity that C.S. Lewis made a logical arguement against Theistic Evolution so I suspect that his view on Creation has changed over time. It would be interesting to research.