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Publisher's Summary

Why must we suffer?

"If God is good and all-powerful, why does he allow his creatures to suffer pain?" And what of the suffering of animals, who neither deserve pain nor can be improved by it? The greatest Christian thinker of our time sets out to disentangle this knotty issue. With his signature wealth of compassion and insight, C. S. Lewis offers answers to these crucial questions and shares his hope and wisdom to help heal a world hungering for a true understanding of human nature.

©1940 C. S. Lewis Ptd. Ltd. (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

Featured Article: 95+ C.S. Lewis Quotes About Love, Life, Faith, Bravery, and Friendship


Born in Belfast, Ireland, in 1898, C.S. Lewis is perhaps one of the most esteemed and beloved authors of all time. His acclaimed classics range from The Chronicles of Narnia fantasy series to the theologically-specific Mere Christianity. As one of the world’s most respected authors, Lewis’s words of wisdom continue to inspire countless readers and listeners. Here are our favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis about friendship, love, life, and faith.

What listeners say about The Problem of Pain

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Deep, real answers for the existence of pain

This book is an exploration of why a good God would allow for pain and suffering. It is not an easy book to listen to because Lewis explores the merits and fallacies of various theological ideas about the topic, which requires some foreknowledge of theological terminology and concepts. Because of this, I don't know that I would recommend this book for a new Christian. It is not that a new Christian could not benefit from it, but the vocabulary may cause a great deal of frustration.

This is one of the few books where I can say that I thought the first half was better than the second half. In the first half, the reality of pain is discussed as it relates to the nature of God. In the second half, Lewis begins exploring various beliefs on the subject of pain, and I thought he tended to wander a bit off topic at times and contradict himself. For example, in chapter nine, he discusses pain as animals experience it. One second, he says we can't really know about their pain or their immortality and the next he conjectures that the reference to the lion and the lamb lying down together in heaven was probably a common analogy of the time and shouldn't be taken literally, implying that animals probably do not possess immortal souls. I believe he overlooked quite a few verses in the Bible that imply otherwise. I deducted an "overall" star for that.

The narrator would have been a good narrator for a Shakesperean play but not for a C.S. Lewis book. Lewis had an off-the-cuff style and most narrators of his books reflect that. James Simmons' style was anything but off-the-cuff. He made it sound more like a lecture than like Lewis reading his own work. It's not that he's a poor narrator, it's just that a narrator with a more relaxed tone should have been chosen.

Overall, there are certain ideas that I will take with me from this book that I believe will help me in my moments of pain. I knew intellectually that God does not allow pain without reason, but the explanations of God's character relative to reasons he might allow for suffering will be something that will help me to emotionally understand Him. I would listen to this book again (or at least the first half) and I would recommend it to anyone who wonders why a good God allows bad things to happen to good people.

44 people found this helpful

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Not the usual treatment of the subject

Lewis has some interesting things to say about the problem of pain, and what he says is not the same old story that you hear from other thinkers. Parts of his argument really struck me as quite satisfactory, and parts not...but if I read the written version and study it maybe I will have a better grasp on what Lewis has in mind. It is a very stimulating book to say the least. It will make you think!!

24 people found this helpful

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A Must Read

Would you listen to The Problem of Pain again? Why?

I will listen to it many times. I will do so because the subject matter and the philosophical/metaphysical lecture is very deep.

What did you like best about this story?

I love the mind of C.S Lewis, and this is a discussion concerning a huge problem I have with believing in a caring God.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

This is probably a cultural issue, but the narrator spoke too quickly for the subject at hand with very little inflection. He also had an English accent which was hard for me to understand at times with the speed of the narration.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

I would not make a film of this book, but maybe I would create a story like Animal Farm to display the concepts.

Any additional comments?

I have now read and listened to this book. I think this is one of those occasions that reading along with the narration would be good. I can't remember if this was whisper sync enabled or not, but that would probably be great.

Please note that this is philosophy/metaphysics based upon Christian doctrine. If the thought of a deity in charge or of Jesus offends you this is probably not the book for you. If you are in this camp you may want to read Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis though.

My hope is that you would believe, but I would never try to convert anyone. Conversion must be based on logical thought and Christ's enlightenment.

19 people found this helpful

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Great book!

It takes your brain to a place that is higher than it was before. It kind of hurts sometimes when trying to understand C.S. Lewis, love him though.
That I guess is the problem with pain!

9 people found this helpful

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Lewis' Most Philosophical Work

When listening to a work like this, you'll want to have a way of marking and making notes on different passages which is difficult for a commuter like me. In this work, Lewis starts off with an empathetic understanding that the problem of pain is a difficult one and not something to write off flippantly. No, there is a greater purpose. In The Problem of Pain, Lewis tackles all topics from the deity of Christ, man's idea of pain, and the theology of hell. Whether you're invested in Lewis' works or someone longing to know more about this subject, please read this book. It might save your life.

5 people found this helpful

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An introspective definition and justification of whom God is and why there's pain.

Masterfully written as if Lewis was working through this very questions that form what we all have truly wondered in this very book itself. Incidentally answering many questions that our heart and mind have about whom God is and whom we are in relation to him.

4 people found this helpful

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Understanding Pain Spelled Out

What did you love best about The Problem of Pain?

The discussion about Abraham and the probable reasoning behind his trial.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

All of it, really.

What about James Simmons’s performance did you like?

All of it, really.

If you could give The Problem of Pain a new subtitle, what would it be?

Understanding Pain Spelled Out

Any additional comments?

I've listened numerous times, it is deep and comforting. I want to memorize the points so I'll have them in my head and heart when needed.

9 people found this helpful

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Essential to the modern philosopher

A book dealing with pain is not an easy book to write. However, c.s. Lewis is masterful in his presentation of therories and ideas. Even if u don't bow to some of his ideologies it would still be a benifical read! James Semmons is fantastic in his narration! Being clear and often poetic in his reading he provids a powerful edge to an already strong book.

3 people found this helpful

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great just fast audio, once slowed down its better

great, but had to listen at 0.5 speed or it was too fast. worth it.

4 people found this helpful

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Life-changing Insight into the Purpose of Pain

I could read this book a hundred times and still come away with an increased understanding of the human condition and the role pain plays in honing our focus and reliance on God to both navigate life and see the world from an eternal perspective. A small book that is packed with immeasurable insight and universal truth that will engage your mind to think about pain in ways you never would have imagined. C.S. Lewis is a gift from God in that he made known the rich and weighty substance of our creation and the Creator who longs for our relationship even in the midst of life-altering pain and agony. Theologians, of which he is not, have struggled to achieve this result.

1 person found this helpful