I’ve been reading C.S. Lewis, so that’s what I’ve been saying to myself the last few days. He’s no easy read, at least for me, anyway. I find myself looking around for a nearby dictionary. Sometimes, if a laptop is within reach, I’ll Google a word, sometimes, I’ll decide to look it up later and promptly forget. But I’m doing a lot of “rewinding” as I read C.S. Lewis.
I’m actually understanding quite a bit more than I expected. Admittedly, sometimes Lewis will dissect a premise or an argument to the point of tedium and lose me in the process. Sometimes I find myself thinking, “Okay, I agree with that, I don’t really need you to prove it until I die of boredom . . . ”
Is that wrong?
It’s C.S. Lewis, for crying out loud. I should have more respect.
nah. I’m more comfortable thinking of him as “Jack” as he preferred to be called.
Anyway. Sometimes, I actually get what Jack’s saying immediately and he states it in such a way that I don’t even need a dictionary or a rewind. I got this right away:
“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.”
I like that one. Does that really drive home the meaning of the phrase, “It’s not about me” or what?
But, I digress.
I got a big honkin book from the library because I wanted to read “The Problem of Pain” and it wasn’t on my bookshelf. This thing contains 6 of his books in one. Not a book you take to the beach or tuck in your purse.
If you’ve been around for the last few weeks, you know I’ve been thinking, studying and working on the paradox of pain and suffering vs. an all-powerful and loving God. I’m looking for a reasonable response for myself, for other Christians and non-Christians who object to the possibility that the two could co-exist. (You can read what I’ve learned so far by checking out the posts under the “suffering” category.)
The thing is, I can’t even begin to approach reasonableness unless I can base it on the premise of the existence of God in the first place, and more importantly, the truth of the salvation of Jesus Christ. See, I want to go to the Bible for the suffering vs. loving God argument, but if the Bible isn’t accepted as a foundational reference to the argument, I got a whole bunch of nothin. I have to begin with proving the Bible. Proving Jesus. Proving Christianity. And this isn’t physical science. My proof isn’t going to come from a Mythbusters experiment. My proof comes from . . . well. Faith.
Jack knew that. And he didn’t pretend to “get it.” Check it out:
“. . . I could write a preface explaining that I did not live up to my own principles! . . . I feel myself so far from true feeling of that I speak, that I can naught else but cry mercy and desire after it as I may . . . If any man is safe from the danger of underestimating this adversary [pain], I am that man. I must add too, that the only purpose of the book is to solve the intellectual problem raised by suffering; for the far higher task of teaching fortitude and patience I was never fool enough to suppose myself qualified, nor have I anything to offer my readers except my conviction that when pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.”
I’m left believing that Jack and I have much in common in this respect. Although I’ve alluded to past struggle in my life, the truth be told is that I’ve not suffered pain in the sense that many, many have. In the sense of what would be described as tragedy. So I start where Jack did – 20 years before he watched, helplessly as his wife suffered and died. 20 years before he wrote of his personal experience with pain in “A Grief Observed” which is also on my reading list. I start intellectually. In a relatively safe place. Knowing that
if when I face true personal tragedy, I will have to start over.
But hopefully, as Jack did, I will come full circle. Grounding my personal suffering in my intellectual understanding.
And all this from the preface of the book.
Next? Chapter 1. After I look up the word “tincture.”
3 thoughts on “huh? what? rewind.”
You are right that the coexistence of a loving God and pain cannot be reconciled without first recognizing the existence of God and the salvation of Jesus, but I would go further than that, and say that the two cannot be reconciled until one is willing to recognize the sovereignty of God and his role as creator and king and the implications of our sin. It’s heady stuff. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts on this.
I confess I haven’t read much Lewis since reading “Mere Christianity” back in college. I too will be interested to read your thoughts and ponderings
I love C.S. Lewis and boy, do I concur with the having to rewind to get the fullness of some of his writings. On the issue of God & pain & suffering….well, somedays I feel as though I could write my own book. I’m looking forward to your insights. It is a loaded subject in my own file of soapboxes. The greatest truth I’ve discovered in my own search is that the glory of God is amazingly displayed in these works–even in the smallest of our understanding.