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Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave, by Edward T. Welch reviewed by Charles Sigler, D.Phil.

"practically and meaningfully to the problem of addictions." In the Preface, he alcohol, the basic ideas are relevant to all kinds of sins. "What is it about our

Edward Welch's goal in writing this book was to show how the Bible speaks

observed that while the book's focus is on the prototypic addictions to drugs and humanness that leaves us susceptible to being overtaken by certain desires?" His

careful answer in Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave helps the reader to see the awful found in every human heart."

truth that in some sense, we are all "addicts," because what drives addictions "can be This is one of the few resources I'd recommend for Christians to form a balanced,

Biblical view of addiction and recovery. There were some minor factual discrepancies1

I noticed and a few points of di!erence I have with Welch's recommendations, but they perspective.

do not stop my hearty endorsement of this book to understand addiction from a biblical Succinctly capturing the essence of addiction, Welch said, "We can say we believe

one thing, but our lives betray other allegiances." The subtitle, A Banquet in the Grave,


Group. The Oxford Movement was a nineteenth century Anglican renewal movement. The Oxford Group was a nondenominational religious movement of the early to mid-twentieth century founded by a Lutheran minister, Frank Buchman. On page 6, Welch commented that he didn't think Bill Wilson could have foreseen that his material would become amenable to atheists. Actually, that was the intention from the beginning of AA. See the discussion in the AA published book, Pass It On or my article in the Through AA."

On page 5, Welch wrongly stated that AA had its roots in the Oxford Movement instead of the Oxford

Journal of Biblical Counseling, "Religious Alcoholics, Anonymous Spirituality: Engaging Those Who Succeed


draws upon the call of the woman Folly in Proverbs 9:13-18 to illustrate the futility of addictive seduction. She sits at the door of her house and calls to those who pass by: "Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant." But they do not know that "the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol."

out that most activities or substances described as addictions deliver a bodily

Addicts feel out of control; enslaved without hope of freedom. Welch astutely points

experience of some sort. This change happens rapidly, in seconds or minutes rather

than days or weeks. Consequently, people are rarely addicted to slower acting ones like vitamins, but will become addicted to rapid-onset substances or activities like Valium, alcohol, or sex. At the end of each chapter, Welch provides the reader with the opportunity for

some practical theology, as you face your own addiction, and as you help someone

else. He has a balanced discussion of the sin/sickness elements of addiction, and noted it apart from God." Scriptural themes such as idolatry, adultery, lust and even illness

that "Where we are powerless is in changing our inclination and desires. We cannot do are used e!ectively by Welch to think theologically about addiction. In Part 2, there is a careful discussion of essential theological themes with an eye towards how they can The primary di!erence I have with Welch is in his apparent reluctance to have be used to help an addict or alcoholic. There is also an appendix of helpful Resources. Christians active with AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous). The addict will not #nd discipleship in his or her Christian faith in these self help groups and will need to keep a balance between AA/NA and the church. But if Christians withdrew from these organizations, the opportunity to declare the unknown God

worshipped by those in the recovery movement would be lost. At the Areopagus Paul used the very words of a Greek philosopher to make his point: "In him we live and take the same grace and wisdom evidenced by Paul in Acts 17; along with the move and have our being." (Acts 17: 28) 2 Christians can do the same in AA. But it will knowledge of both Scripture and the AA Big Book. But you have to earn the right to be heard; and be willing to go before the members of the recovery Areopagus of AA in order "to make known to them the God of whose nature they confess themselves ignorant."3

2 3

See the Wikipedia entry for Epimenides. Wood, D. R. W. (1996, c1982, c1962). New Bible Dictionary (79). InterVarsity Press. 2



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