C.S. Lewis and a Problem of Evil: An Investigation of a Pervasive Theme

By Jerry Root

An examination of C.S. Lewis’s ethical thought, in particular his critique of subjectivism, as explored through his fictional writings.

ISBN: 9780227173381


C.S. Lewis was particularly concerned about an aspect of the problem of evil that he called subjectivism: the tendency of one’s perspective to move towards self-referentialism and utilitarianism.

By providing a holistic reading of Lewis, the author also shows how he consistently employed fiction to make his case, as virtually all of his villains are portrayed as subjectivists. Indeed, Lewis considered fiction and poetry as key venues for developing his critique, and always believed that literature was an essential tool of thought.

As he argues Lewis’s case against subjectivism, the author walks the reader through all of Lewis’s published work, and in doing so offers the reader a timely analysis of the problem of evil.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 284

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Jerry Root is Assistant Professor of Evangelism and Associate Director of the Institute for Strategic Evangelism, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois. He is also visiting Professor at Biola University and at Talbot Graduate School of Theology, La Mirada, California.



1. Objectivity and Evil
2. The Problem of Pain
3. Lewis’s Literary Criticism and a Problem of Evil
4. The Rhetorical Aim of Lewis’s Fiction in Light of a Problem of Evil
5. Literary Analysis
6. Conclusions



Endorsements and Reviews

Few people know Lewis as well as Jerry Root, and few ideas were more central to Lewis’s thought than his critique of subjectivism. Particularly valuable in this study is Root’s insistence that Lewis considered fiction and poetry as key venues for developing that critique and throughout his career saw literature as a tool of thought.
Alan Jacobs, author of The Narnian: the Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis

The Greeks knew it as the Law of Narcissus. Luther termed it curvatus in se. To C.S. Lewis it was ‘the poison of subjectivism’, and throughout much of his corpus he attended to its various dangers, guises, and cures. Jerry Root carefully analyzes this pervasive theme in Lewis’s work and in so doing provides a timely and challenging stimulus to think afresh about the limits of personal perspective.
Michael Ward, author of Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis

Jerry Root’s new book not only makes a brilliant and original contribution to our understanding of the wide sweep of Lewis’s works, it is also important and quite timely because it helps us – through Lewis’s mind – examine the core of the problem of evil that plagues us as much as it infected Lewis’s time. Anyone with a serious interest in Lewis or the problem of evil will be fascinated by this major contribution to Lewis studies.
Lyle W. Dorsett, author of Seeking the Secret Place: The Spiritual Formation of C.S. Lewis

The strength of Root’s book it seems to me, is its comprehensiveness. Root ranges widely over the Lewis oeuvre, and encompasses not only Lewis’s apologetic works but also his literary criticism, his poetry and his fiction, showing the case against subjectivism that Lewis makes in all these areas … in its thoroughness it will be illuminating for those to whom Lewis is new territory.
Barry Livingstone, in The Glass, No 23

Root establishes ‘subjectivism’ as a pervasive theme in Lewis … and there are numerous Lewis quotations and anecdotes to keep Lewis fans interested … it may be of interest to many just how pervasive this theme of sin as an inward turning is in Lewis’s work.
Logan Paul Gage, in Theological Book Review, Vol 23, No 2

Let me not fail to stress the strengths of Root’s book, among which is the comprehensive knowledge displayed, not merely of the work of Lewis himself, but also of the secondary literature that has flourished around that work. … help us to look at the various symbols, stories, and arguments presented in Lewis’s body of work and also to step into the beam of that work and look along it, gaining and understanding of Lewis’s fertile spiritual vision from the inside.
Mikel Burley, in The Journal of Religious Studies, Vol 47

A study that is not only comprehensive in its coverage but also clear in noting the theological and anthropological implications of Lewis’ work for the individual and the church as they relate to culture. … A thoughtful read for all Lewis readers.
Iain S. Maclean, in Anglican and Episcopal History, Vol 86, No 4