Addictive disorders are characterised by a division of the will, in which the addict is attracted both by a desire to continue the addictive behaviour and also by a desire to stop it. Academic perspectives on this predicament usually come from clinical and scientific standpoints, with the 'moral model' rejected as outmoded. But Christian theology has a long history of thinking and writing on such problems and offers insights which are helpful to scientific and ethical reflection upon the nature of addiction. Chris Cook reviews Christian theological and ethical reflection upon the problems of alcohol use and misuse, from biblical times until the present day. Drawing particularly upon the writings of St Paul the Apostle and Augustine of Hippo, a critical theological model of addiction is developed. Alcohol dependence is also viewed in the broader ethical perspective of the use and misuse of alcohol within communities.
Chris Cook is chaplain of St Chad's College Durham and Professorial Research Fellow in the Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University. He is co-author of Treatment of Drinking Problems, 4th Edition (2003).
Preface; 1. Alcohol, addiction and Christian ethics: introduction; 2. An addiction in context: the use, misuse and harmful use of alcohol; 3. Drunkenness as vice in the New Testament; 4. Drunkenness as intemperance: Augustine, Aquinas, Luther and Whitefield; 5. Temperance redefined: the nineteenth century temperance movement; 6. Addiction as sin and syndrome: the divided self; 7. Alcohol, addiction and Christian ethics; 8. Conclusions.