Addictions – A Banquet in the Grave: Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel is a book for every Christian. Usually when we hear the word “addiction,” our thoughts immediately leap to illegal drugs, alcohol, or nicotine. As the author correctly points out in this book, every Christian faces the temptation of addiction. The difference is some addictions are more acceptable than others. I can be addicted to books for example. Others can be addicted to food, credit cards, a beautiful yard, a hobby, work, or a multitude of other items in God’s created order.
Welch rightly calls addictions sin. Addictions reveal a love of self and thus are idolatry. In the practice of them we put ourselves above God. Addictions are sin. This diagnosis will not be acceptable to many in our culture. But it is what we need to hear.
The author shows the pathway by which one can become addicted. More importantly he shows the only true way that slaves to addictions can be freed. Thus this volume is filled with hope for those who are tempted to or are already feasting on a “banquet in the grave.”
The book is divided into two sections. In the first part “Thinking Theologically,” the author explains what an addiction is and why it is a sin, not a sickness. The final chapter in this section tellingly describes the actual road into addiction. This is a great help as the reader examines his own life or seeks to rightly minister to a relative or friend who is in the grasp of an addiction.
The second part is entitled “Essential Theological Themes.” In these chapters Welch provides excellent help to those who desire to help untangle the fingers of addiction’s grasp on a loved one. Chapter titles include: “Speaking the Truth in Love,” “Respecting, Listening and Inviting,” and “Fearing the Lord.” The concluding chapter “Being Part of the Body” emphasizes the importance of the ministry of a local church and the great need of the individual being connected to a local body of believers.
The book concludes with a section on resources and a Scripture index. Illustrations throughout this volume aptly portray what the author explains in the text.
Welch is a counselor at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. He is ably qualified to write this work. However, his qualifications do not rest in his educational degrees or counseling experience. His ability rests in his commitment to the fact that Scripture speaks to every aspect of life. Throughout the volume he time and again confronts the reader with the application of Scripture to the particular point he is making. He reminds the reader that those helping addicts, those tempted to addiction, as well as actual addicts need to have a Biblical view of sin, salvation, and sanctification. Because this volume drips with the honey of Scripture, pastors and laymen will find a wealth of practical passages at their fingertips to use in their ministry to others as well as for their own meditation.
Welch writes pastorally and practically. Chapters conclude with a section entitled “Practical Theology.” Included here are comments and/or questions to aid those who seek to help the addicted.
Throughout the text and practical helps Welch continually and compassionately reminds his readers that we are to worship God, not ourselves. This is a lesson we need to be reminded of frequently. We can be thankful for the author’s ministry to all Christians in his penning of this work.
Byron Snapp is Associate Pastor of Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church in Hampton, Va. He is a graduate of King College (B.A.) and Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div.). He and his wife, Janey, have three children. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.