Addictions and Practical Theology (Welch)

Some years ago Edward Welch wrote a helpful book on addictions called Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave: Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel. To be sure, there are many and various dynamics of addiction. One book is not going to be able to address every aspect or angle of addiction. But Welch’s contribution to the topic is a good tool for dealing with addiction from a Christian perspective. I first read it quite a few years ago as part of my pastoral reading and studies. There are quite a few helpful areas of the book. One that stuck out for me was the “practical theology” aspect of it. Here’s one example which Welch wrote about after discussing idolatry, Satan’s temptation, and sin from a biblical perspective.

“This quick biblical overview only highlights a few useful biblical metaphors, but already there is a clear message. Since addictions are illustrations of idolatries that affect us all, we should expect the principles of change for addictions to be very similar to those for any other sin problem.

-Don’t excuse it. That would simply encourage the self-deceptive consequences of sin
-Confess it as sin against God.
-Look to Jesus as the One who shows grace and mercy to idolaters.
-Grow in faith by knowing God as he reveals himself in Scripture.
-Learn to delight in obedience. Search out Scripture to find ways to obey.
-Don’t rely on yourself but partner with and be accountable to wise people.
-Pursue wisdom – the skill of godly living that comes out of reverence for the Lord. And pursue it aggressively. Don’t just avoid sin; hate it.
-Realize that addiction, like all sin, doesn’t impose itself on us unless we have been willing to entertain the seeds of it in our imaginations. Therefore, change must be deeper than overt behavioral change. We are targeting our hearts.

Throughout the book Welch nicely notes the power of the gospel and the truth of forgiveness and grace as people deal with addictions. Again, although one book cannot adequately discuss every angle of addictions, Welch’s book on this topic is a good one to have.

Edward Welch, Addictions, A Banquet in the Grave: Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2001). The above quote is found on page 62.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015