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Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave

Book Review

Through Christ we have strength to overcome even the strongest addiction.

Jan 12, 2021

In Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave, Ed Welch does an excellent job in biblically defining not only what addictions are and how we can help those who struggle with them, but also in helping someone who may not struggle with life-dominating addictions to relate to someone who does. I appreciated the approach that he took to help the counselor or friend see the addict’s struggles biblically, and understand that they are not so different from the heart struggles they find within themselves. The very thing that can drive addictions can be found within every human heart. Welch reminds the readers that in the midst of the addict’s hopelessness and slavery there is great hope—hope in God’s forgiving grace that through Christ we have strength to overcome even the strongest addiction.

First, Welch addresses the importance of practical theology for all believers. He writes that when addicts come for help, their desires are in conflict with Scripture. They do not know what they believe and how to live it out practically. This is where biblical counselors can show their counselees what it is to live out what they say they believe. Welch asserts that we should be able to look at addiction through the lens of Scripture and does an excellent job showing that addictions are addressed all throughout the Word of God. 

In the second section of the book, Welch writes on the necessary theological themes to consider when addressing addictions. He starts off with how we must speak the truth in love, learn to respect, listen, and invite the person into our lives. Often a life of addictions is filled with shame and must be approached with love and gentleness. Welch wisely discusses what that approach would look like.

Next, he discusses how we must show the addict his or her need to know and to fear the Lord in all areas of life. He discusses that the root problem of addictions is false worship. The difference between a worldly approach to addiction and a biblical approach to addiction is that we focus on someone other than ourselves—we look to Jesus and not to ourselves.

One of the greatest strengths of this book is how practical Welch is in addressing addiction. He demonstrates that the Bible has the answers to the tough questions of life. In the process, Welch reinforces that it is God’s Word we must know in order to help our counselees. At the end of each chapter, Welch includes a section to demonstrate how you can get practical in your theology, which I greatly appreciated because often our struggle can be in having head knowledge and not knowing how to implement what we’ve learned.

I found that this is a very valuable book as a counselor. This book is a tool to get to the heart of idolatry so that we can better help ourselves and our brothers and sisters who have become enslaved by their desires.

Helpful Quotes

  1. “Practical theology protects us from the deception and the competing “isms” of the world. It sets the boundaries for our lives. Better yet, accurate theology is a treasure map, it guides us and compels us to relentlessly search Scripture for more and more relevant, penetrating, enlightening, life-changing truth.” (Page 10)
  2. “If sin is not our primary problem, then the gospel of Jesus is no longer the most important event in all of human history. So, what is the deepest problem of an addict? The answer, if we are going to be informed by God’s Word, is clear and indisputable. The deepest problem is sin.” (Page 21)
  3. “We worship and people and things to get what we want. At root, drunkards are worshiping another god—alcohol.” (Page 23)
  4. “An effective church will have addicts in it. After all the church is, in part, a hospital for sinners in different stages in their struggle with their sin.” (Page 120)
  5. “If the root of the problem of addictions is false worship, the answer is knowing the Lord, the one who deserves our worship. This is true theology, the study of God Himself.” (Page 141)