(CCSLQ-5) God’s Megaphone

This is part of an occasional series (currently it’s weekly) exploring quotations attributed to C.S. Lewis that are questionable for one reason or another. There is an “at a glance” page HERE to quickly see what has been posted so far in this series. Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to read the INTRODUCTION to this series. 

Gods Megaphone

“Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Pain is about the most, well, painful subject to address. Obviously no one wants to experience it, but there is no way to completely get rid of it. Understanding the purpose of pain isn’t that easy either. It took C.S. Lewis an entire book to deal with attempting “to solve the intellectual problem raised by suffering” (preface to The Problem of Pain)As a result of needing so many words to manage the subject, the above quotation is very questionable.

You will notice that I give ALL three categories for this misquotation (see the INTRODUCTION to this series for a detailed explanation of these categories). That’s because technically it is not the exact words of Lewis, but it IS very similar. In fact, so similar that it is about as close to quoting him as you can get and still be considered misquoting. BUT, more importantly this is what I’d called a “Not Quite Lewis” quotation. As you will notice below (see first quote) the only problem with calling it an exact quotation is Lewis wrote “it” and not “Pain” and “His” instead of “God’s.” So, while it’s true that the above wording comes from the mouth of Anthony Hopkins in the 1993 movie Shadowlands, it is the closest line to what Lewis actually wrote. But, it is also an oversimplification of the topic.

In fact, even though the correct (more complete) quotation (as shown in the first quote below) is more frequently shared online, I would argue that it STILL suffers from a lack of context. You really need to read the entire sixth chapter from The Problem of Pain to gain the best understanding of what Lewis means. Having said that, you will notice I give you another quote from that chapter. It would be the next best thing to reading the entire chapter in terms of better understanding Lewis’s sentiments.


“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
from The Problem of Pain, chapter 6


“Until the evil man finds evil unmistakably present in his existence, in the form of pain, he is enclosed in illusion…. No doubt Pain as God’s megaphone is a terrible instrument: it may lead to final and unrepented rebellion. But it gives the only opportunity the bad man can have for amendment. It removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul.”
from The Problem of Pain, chapter 6


“That suffering is not always sent as a punishment is clearly established for believers by the book of Job and by John IX. 1–4. That it sometimes is, is suggested by parts of the Old Testament and Revelation. It wd. certainly be most dangerous to assume that any given pain was penal. I believe that all pain is contrary to God’s will, absolutely but not relatively.”
from The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3 (to Mary Van Deusen on 1/31/1952)


“We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.
from Letters of C.S. Lewis (to Father Peter Bide on 4/29/1959)

The next quote examined is:

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

Related Articles:

What Lewis NEVER Wrote  (Podcast)

Not Quite Lewis – Podcast Version

Not Quite Lewis – Questionable Lewisian Quotations (Conf. Paper)

Updated 12/27/2016

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