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The Theological Dilemma Of Pain And Suffering

2783 words - 11 pages

The existence of pain and suffering in a world created by a good and almighty God is a fundamental theological dilemma and may be the most serious objection to the Christian religion. In the book, The Problem Of Pain , author C.S. Lewis addresses the issue of pain as a mere problem that demands a solution; he formulates it and goes about solving it. "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" (p. 16). According to Lewis, this is the problem of pain in its simplest form. In his attempt to solve the problem of pain Lewis evaluates the past and the origin of religion, he offers his interpretation of the various justifications for why pain exists in today's society, and explains how one should deal with pain in order to live out God's will in the future. This essay will examine these rationales and will conclude with an analysis on how Lewis handles the four foundational sources for understanding the will of God through scripture, tradition, history, and modern context.

Lewis evaluates the past in order to explain the problem of pain. He does this by examining the origin of religion and discussing the three elements associated with all developed religions, in addition to an added one in Christianity. The first element is the experiences of the Numinous. Humans are capable of sensing the divine and spiritual presence through the Numinous. The Numinous is a mixed feeling of awe and dread and distinct from fear. Lewis states that there are two possible views of Numinous. The first is that it is simply in the mind and serves no biological function; yet will not disappear even in the most developed minds of poets, philosophers, or saints (p.10). The second view simply states that Numinous "is a direct experience of the really supernatural, to which the name Revelation might properly be given" (p. 10). Morality, the second element in developed religion, is universally acknowledged in human history. Lewis describes the moral experience as something felt by all people and felt to be disobeyed by all people. Lewis describes the third element shared by developed religion as occurring when people put morality and Numinous together. This occurs when they recognize that the power behind the Numinous is protecting morality (p. 11-12). The element unique to Christianity is the historical event when Jesus claimed to be the Son of the Numinous and source of morality (p. 13). Lewis presents two views that can be taken about Jesus and His claims; either He was a lunatic and deceiver or He actually was, and is what He said. Lewis states that if the first is wrong then the second must be accepted as true. Lewis goes on to state that it is by this act of accepting Jesus' claims to be the Christ that the problem of pain becomes a reality. "For pain would not be a problem unless, side by side with our...

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