Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave

I've now read my second book for my CCEF classes.

This book is also by Ed Welch, entitled Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave.

I had read it previously, but thoroughly enjoyed and profited from re-reading it.

Addictions can be a daunting subject to tackle, but Welch does it with aplomb. He defines an addiction as, fundamentally, a worship-disorder, and shows how the Bible's category of idolatry most helpfully addresses the phenomena that we commonly call "addictions." He is conversant with the prevailing "disease model" of addictions, made popular by AA, and notes it (and AA's) helpful strengths, but also critiques it (and AA) with biblical wisdom.

Each chapter is addressed to both those who are struggling with an addiction (so put it in their hands!) as well as those who are helping other struggling with an addiction (so put it in their hands!). I think it's amazing how Welch can vividly describe what it's like to be in the throes of a disastrous love affair with something unhealthy.

But each chapter is also for those who don't think of themselves as "addicts." Reading it again, I was confronted with my "extra plate" addiction, and my "information-junkie" status. These, too, are worship disorders that need to be addressed with gospel sanctification.

As with Depression: A Stubborn Darkness, this book can also be read for profit by those who are not heavily into drugs, pornography, alcohol, or whatever. It is, at its core, a book on progressive sanctification in the fear of the Lord. But its potent stuff, applying the Bible's life-changing truth to some of the most change-resistant problems.

I highly recommend it. This little review hasn't done it justice.

CCEF has produced a DVD curriculum based upon the book and Dr. Welch's teaching.

Living Faith, the CCEF Annual Conference is going to tackle this subject this year: The Addict in Us All.


I am reading the book for the third time. I have had similiar thought prior to reading the book and am awaiting the opportunity to start a trend of support groups centered around the ideas presented in this format.

Here's something to consider:

Quality Abstinence- Reverence for God
The quality of our desire to change should be based on the realization that we have dishonored our Creator by failing to worship Him.
By Gregory Madison

The greatest motivation for abstaining from substance abuse is love and reverence for God. Reverencing God has been the secret to sobriety since the beginning of time. No one can honestly revere God and go against His principles. Besides, the very nature of reverence gives a person an awareness of God’s presence and creates a sense of obligation to God. Reverence for God is, also, supported by a proper understanding of who God is. By gaining an understanding of who God is we recognize that He is worthy of our reverence. There are many ways reverence for God is relevant to substance abuse (and its abstinence). For now, we will look at how reverence for God draws us to an awareness of God’s presence and how reverence reminds us of our obligation to God. In addition, we will consider how true reverence demands on an accurate understanding of who God is and how reverence for God produces wisdom.
Most of us will admit that there are some things, which, we will not do around certain people. It seems we have a particular amount of respect and consideration for these people. Some of us wouldn’t dream of cursing in the presence of our parents. (Though this society is steeped in moral decadence) it would still be uncommon for a spouse to engage in adultery in the very presence of their mate. Yet, this is exactly what happens when people choose substances over God. Substance abuse is a form of idolatry. Idolatry, in turn, is spiritual adultery. No doubt about it, when make idols of substances are ‘cheating’ on God. Moreover, the irony of it all is that God is present during the whole process (God is everywhere).
Those who make a practice of giving reverence to God are aware of His presence. They know that God is watching their every action. They know that God is there to help them with their difficulties. It is because these people are mindful of God’s presence that they pursue an ongoing relationship with God. Out of the depths of an awareness of God’s presence, people are encouraged to turn from idols to the true and living God. Perhaps, the most relevant factor of being aware of God’s presence is that it builds the integrity needed for people to remain sober and clean.
The obligation that we have to God is, also, an ingredient of reverence. We do not like to be in anyone’s debt. We want to live up to our potential. When trying to remain sober and clean, if we all would remember that we owe it God, then it will be a tremendous help. In Ephesians 4:1 Paul encourages Christians to walk worthy of God’s calling. Beyond wanting to do away with the consequences connected with substance abuse; beyond wanting to recapture all that we have ‘lost’ because of our idolatry; beyond even wanting to become better persons (which is the pinnacle of “recovery” for some); we should wholehearted seek sobriety because we have a constraining awareness of our obligation to God. People who revere the Lord know that God did not create them to bow down to the idols of substance abuse. Along with a sense of obligation comes the element of gratitude. When a person's actions are motivated by the obligation that they have towards God their response towards God becomes an act of worship.
Worshipping God by abstaining from substance abuse, because of our reverence for God, can only be done as we see God for who He is. The reverence, which is generated through knowing that God is holy, that He loves us... The understanding of the nature of God helps us to see that the way of the Lord is best. We, also, begin to realize that God really cares for us-- that He always has our best interest at heart-- when we understand the nature of God.
Reverence for God is, also, and essential element for staying free from substance abuse because it gives us the wisdom we need to combat the things that would draw us towards substance abuse. Proverbs 9:10 says that the fear of the Lord (reverence for God) is the beginning of wisdom. If we would take the time to consider the Lord in all of our endeavors, if we would seek Him out in all our affairs, He will show us what to do. Jesus Christ is called the wisdom and the power of God (1 Cor. 1:24). As we draw near to Christ then we are able to avoid the snares of the devil. Many of the situations that used to baffle us will become eliminated.
It is best that a person’s primary reason for abstaining from substance abuse is out of reverence for God. This is this pleasing in the sight of God, it indicates a true desire to change and is to our advantage. When a person stops abusing substances out of love and respect for God, they begin to really live. They become whole, because they have faced the reality of God’s presence. They become responsible individuals, possessing a degree of integrity, because they are mindful of their obligation to God. An understanding of what God is like illuminates their minds. In addition, they
are blessed with wisdom because they have decided to side with Christ.
Though many have been able to turn from their addiction apart by reverencing God, this has only occurred because of God’s kindness and grace. If you truly want God’s blessing in your recovery; if you want to remain sober and clean for the right reason; then start by reverencing God for all He’s worth. Praise God!


Thanks for dropping by. From what you've written here, I think we agree.

The only thing I would add, probably in emphasis not in substance, is that we need to apply the gospel to our/others addictions, not just the fear of the Lord.

The good news of Jesus' substitutionary death and life-giving resurrection is the only power that actually will break my idolatries for good.

It's more than just a choice to "stop;" it requires repentance and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Of course, the fear of the Lord is both the start of that repentance and the sweet fruit of it, too, so it all ties together--but I think we need to emphasize the power of the Cross in the equation.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

I hope that you're able to help others through the gospel who are struggling with addiction.


Thank you. I'm working at starting a chain of support groups that are centered on turning to God from idols.

I agree that we need to apply the power of the gospel to our addictions. I work for a ministry that helps people with their addictions to pornography, and I've recently written a few posts about how the cross speaks to the addicts deepest needs and thirsts -

Its the first in a series. I'd love to hear your thoughts.