How does one's theology positively or negatively affect how they deal with addiction?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Skandelon, Dec 7, 2011.

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  1. Skandelon

    Skandelon
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    I have some personal experience in dealing with people of differing theological perspectives who are struggling with various sinful addictions (which we don't need to discuss in detail here).

    The topic of discussion is regarding how one might confront a personal addiction if they are of the more "reformed" tradition versus the more "free-will" tradition.

    In MY experience, which doesn't mean its true of every situation, it appears that those of the more 'reformed' belief tend to 'wait on God to change them' or tend to think their nature can only be changed by a supernatural and irresistible working of God thus even their addictive behavior is only going to be corrected by God's doing (though I KNOW they would explain it differently).

    Those of the free-will belief tend to blame themselves and seek help from others more readily. They know that their will is theirs and thus it is their responsibility to take the steps to change it with the help of God and others.

    Again, I KNOW these are generalities, but having been one who held to both systems of thought I do recognize in me more of a willingness to take ownership of my behavior, choices and recovery than I did as a Calvinist. Even if you know the practicality of your theological system doesn't dismiss your obligations there is an affect on one who believes that their sinful habits and addictive behaviors was ordained by God so that it could not have been otherwise...and even more so when you believe the healing or recovery is completely dependent upon the same.

    What say you? Do you find yourself or others reacting differently to sinful behavior and addictions based upon their theological views?
     
  2. 12strings

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    Well, I would say that my experience with those in the NANC, Biblical counseling, Nouthetic counseling circles, has been that they are generally quite reformed. You may know that this type of counseling is very focused on getting people to accept responsibility for their actions, and to seek help and use the means of scripture and counsel to help them change; even though they would be the first to say that it is the Holy Spirit that empowers that change.

    But...that experience is more from the side of the counselors, not the counselees. In my own life, it was a year or two after I became mostly convinced of a calvinistic theology that I decided it was time to speak to a pastor about a repeated sin; I decided I would rather deal with the shame and/or consequences now and have my concience clean before God than continue to hide, and possibly destroy my life & marraige. I don't know if they are related, but the reformed part of my theology did not really enter into that equation too much, except that I truly believed that God could change me, despite my own continued failing up to that point.
     
  3. agedman

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    Man dealing with an addictive tendency is not the same as a woman.

    Men are by nature stand alone creatures. Men consider themselves capable of handling situations and most view sharing a major problem such as a hidden addiction, financial ruin, even the loss of prestige to be weakness and, to reveal or have the weakness revealed,can brew a volatile inner personality.

    Men in general have to work hard just to get past the supposed stigma and seek professional help.

    In my youth, the problems were never addressed. A man was scorned because they were addicted. One that couldn't handle the drink was outcast not because they were physiologically or psychologically gifted with low impulse tolerance and addictive behavioral traits, but because they were too unmanly, because they were too weak in their character needing a prop.

    Real men couldn't be considered "girly" and so they would suffer, alone.

    The woman's makeup tends to have them form social and friendship ties.

    What has always pondered my heart is that when a man falls into an addiction and it becomes known, the repentant man will find a lack of shunning by other men, but can form groups and associations that help hold him accountable.

    When a woman falls, it seems more likely that a certain amount of shunning by the former social/friendship ties takes place. So, a woman is "chased" so to speak into a lonely place, where the men might emerge from one.

    There is much that needs to be done with chemical imbalance and addiction.

    The more the person is prone to "attention deficit disorder" (I really don't like that term) the greater and likelihood that that person will participate in addictive behavior patters. The thrill washes the brain with the chemical that for that short time makes the person feel normal. The release of tension and the guilt only rush back demanding further involvement to a greater degree and that is the addiction.

    It is also important to note that the life of that child is filled with negative comments and "self talk" beginning as a child is also filled with the negative. The child is bad, the walk is wrong, the assignments undone, the attention distract-able, the punishments often and more and more severe. The one point I would make is that the child is really unaware any of this "self talk," but knows that something isn't right. As the child begins to mature, coping mechanisms and addictive behavioral patterns are started.

    As an adult, these hidden patterns can set up a life long problem of hiding the "real me" and putting on a show of being "normal" hoping that no one discovers the truth. Parents who out of hand reject professional help are in the same category as depriving the diabetic child of insulin. The child cannot produce chemically what the body doesn't produce.

    Most children of this sort have far more dreams of being naked or partially dressed in a public place such as school and church were there are demands made on their behavior compliance. Childhood depression is not exhibited the same as adult depression, rather sometimes the depression is shown by acting out behaviors that mimic the patterns of the "attention deficit child."

    That is why the diagnosis and treatment falls to the medical community. And adult ADD is jut currently being recognized as a major factor in adult addiction and addictive life choice.

    I am definitely not one who would EVER preach against medications and that the Bible can solve all problems. What a caveman approach to the human physique! I confronted a rather well known preacher about his own children and to this day he regrets that he didn't get them professional help and medication.

    I spent years dealing with another pastor that had a history of depression that ran through the family tree. He could have had a much greater impact on the community for good and for God had he sought professional help and medication.

    But that was years ago.

    I could go on and on, but this post is far too wordy - so I will stop or pause. :)
     
  4. JesusFan

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    In a practical sense, regardless to which system of Sotierology one holds to....

    ALL believers are instructed to do SAME things by the Bible...

    Be in prayer, bible study/application, be in a good church, have a support group etc...

    IF caught up in a sin area, the lord would have us do same things to get relief, regardless if Cal/Arm etc!

    I have friends in Christ in both camps on slavation, yet we all look at solving these problems in basically same ways!
     
  5. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Are you familiar with AA & what principles do you think they are based off of? Can you name the steps?
     
  6. Iconoclast

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    Skan,
    you said;
    Any who believe this idea you put forth would either mis-understand the teaching completely, or perhaps are unsaved false professors.

    We are responsible to repent.
    we are responsible to believe
    mortify sin
    make no provision for the flesh
    We do not let go and let God. Skan..it is possible you have not been around real calvinists, if this is what they were saying , or believing.
    Anyone suggesting any of these ideas as you set forth would be confronted scripturally so this kind of leaven would not infect the body.

    then you said;
    if it is that different, maybe you were not a christian at that time and later on God saved you.....do you see that as possible?
     
  7. Jerome

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    R. C. Sproul relates his sudden deliverance from addiction:

    Video: Pastor Mark Interviews R. C. Sproul


    Bonus: Check out Driscoll's reaction when Sproul relates how at conversion, "My whole life turned upside down—my vocabulary changed—[chuckle]—you know".
     
  8. agedman

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    I am Calvinistic in thinking and have responded once, but I consider it important that I make an addition.

    Everyone has some addictive tendencies - be it gluttony, or thoughts, or...

    As I stated in the my last post, I am strongly apposed to the thinking that the Bible can solve any and all the problems and in more particular the strongly addictive personality, especially in one who has chemical deprivation such as the typical ADD (again a term I don't like) person. Some folks seem to never comprehend that just as insulin is to a diabetic, certain medications will provide the necessary chemical to the addictive personality disorder in which ADD manifests.

    Also, In my generation many went through their lives, under the authority of a pastor, teacher, parent, or even the legal system, and medical help was and is kept from them that would prevent the addiction in the first place.

    Here are generally the steps that I recommend to anyone that becomes aware of an addictive tendency and more so an addictive problem.

    FIRST, any person who has any addictive tendency is to have a thorough medical exam. Remove any doubt as to any medical reason for the tendency. Be honest about not just the body, but the personality tendencies. A person may want to make a visit or two with the medical professional who also specializes in psychiatry. Don't be afraid or ashamed to take medicine!

    Second, depending on the addictive tendency, target specific helps in that area. One doesn't go to the fishing supply store to get corrective lenses so they can thread the fishing line to fish. Some believers think that spending time in church will resolve the addictive problem. If you are a diabetic you don't go to church to get the insulin treatments. Seek specific help for the specific problem.

    Third, there are support groups for nearly every addictive problem out there. If there isn't one in your area, then start one because the most dangerous position an addictive person can be in is alone. Even a child left to their own is warned about in Scripture. No one understands that addictive nature like another who has the same problem. The Scriptures teach that we are to be accountable and supportive of each other.

    Fourth, do not ever think that the addiction is "conquered." Until we receive the new body, the addiction may not take on the same form or appear in the same manor, but the addictive tendency never leaves. Consider a bathtub filled with water in which there are various balloons that one is vainly trying to hold below the water line. Being vigilant will not prevent some balloon emerging unexpectedly in some unguarded area. Usually the addiction will "roar" back into the unguarded area (as a balloon will suddenly pop up) and if it doesn't devastate loved ones will leave the addictive person with huge regret, self loathing, and worthlessness.

    Those that teach they "conquered" an addiction, will find they merely have that addictive personality disorder emerging in some other area of their life. Certainly that new emerging may not be recognized as socially, spiritually, or criminally unacceptable, but somewhere there is release because that is what the addictive personality demands. Riding a motorcycle, skiing, cliff climbing, bungee jumping, or any adrenalin rush activity can provide the release. So engage in what is acceptable release forms - that will also help with the self esteem, loathing and the negative self talk.

    Fifth, do not place yourself in the geographical or social setting in which the addictive urge might feed. If one is addictive toward drink, then stay out of that area of the grocery store. If one is addictive toward strong language, then remove yourself from entertainment that uses that language.

    Sixth, examine the daily routine and make whatever adjustment is necessary to re-regulate your life. Most addictive tendencies come with a time stamp, or paired to a certain event. Sometimes actually building a chart of time and event will help determine the "trigger" to addictive impulsiveness.

    Seventh, place yourself in a position of strength to be a witness to the truth. This is hard, because especially with the sexually oriented addictions being so criminally prosecuted (and in some cases rightly so) in our current modern age, there isn't always mercy tempering justice. However, I want to give you a personal example of what my father did to illustrate this point of finding and placing yourself in a position of strength.

    During his third heart attack, he threw the cigarettes out the window. It had long been his manner that after each meal he would "lite up" and where the cigarette pack used to be in his pocket, he placed a pocket bible. I was so proud of seeing him pull that little bible out and read it during the times when he would normally smoke. Others that worked with him would question what he was doing which gave him such wonderful opportunity to witness. This in turn held him even more accountable (can you imagine the peer pressure examination of his life from then on) to both man and God. He found and used the position of strength and God gave him victory.

    I do hope this thread is helpful to all forum folk.
     
  9. Skandelon

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    Well, I did qualify it by saying that they would explain it "differently." But essentially and practically speaking what I've said is true of the Calvinistic system regardless of the various nuances employed to attempt to maintain some sense of human responsibility.

    The point is that a Calvinists may claim to be responsible for his choices while holding to view that God is actually in ultimate control over them...(i.e. I can only stop smoking if God ordained it, for example) I'm asking how that belief might affect how one confronts that habit. I'm NOT attempting to claim Calvinists deny human responsibility nor am I attempting to fully expound upon all the doctrinal nuances of the dogma in relation to human choice. Understand?

    I understand that. But when you believe that you can't repent or stop addictive behavior apart from God's decision for you to do so doesn't that affect the way you approach that addiction?

    Claiming you are responsible for your choices is fine. I know that is what Calvinists believe. But I'm not questioning that point. I'm asking HOW the doctrine affects ones approach to addiction practically speaking. If you believe that you can't change unless God ordains it and that you only will change if God ordains it, wouldn't that affect how you approach the addiction? Couldn't it cause one to take a more 'passive' or 'wait and see' approach in much the same manner that SOME more hyperists deal with evangelism? I'm not saying its right, but couldn't that be a tendency of the dogma if misapplied?

    Think about it objectively. If you KNOW that you can't get out of a jail cell unless the guard opens the door then would you even attempt to get out? Of course not. If you believed that your only way out was if the guard chose to come and get you out, then you'd simply wait, right?

    However, if you believed that the guard gave you the keys to use if you so chose then you might make an effort to leave, right?

    How is this not consistent with the two different doctrines regarding God's sovereignty and man's will?
     
  10. Skandelon

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    Let's look at this another way.

    Let suppose Joe Christian was a believer who was truly born again, however he was addicted to alcohol. He struggled his entire life with the addiction and eventually dies as a believer but still addicted and failing in this area of sin.

    1. Did God WANT or DESIRE Joe to stop this addiction? Yes or No?
    2. Did God ORDAINED for Joe to stop this addiction? Yes or No?
    3. Was Joe tempted beyond what he could resist? Yes or No?
    4. Was Joe, as a born again believer, able to willingly resist this temptation? Yes or No?
     
  11. agedman

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    Just so you remember, I am a Calvinistic thinker.

    1. no
    2. no
    3. no
    4. depends - I have posted (two long posts) on the root cause of many addictive behavior tendencies.

    If Joe (even as a believer) did not get the appropriate help and medication, their is a huge chance that the addiction to alcohol might be resisted, but can pretty much guarantee the addiction manifested itself in some other way.
     
  12. preacher4truth

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    The premise of the OP is implying that if you hold to a Calvinist position, that you aren't willing to accept responsibilty, and that only after one becomes a non-cal or arm then they become a person capable of accepting responsibility for their actions. This is blatantly false in its intention.

    This postition misrepresents Calvinists.

    I believe there are several Scriptures that deal with waiting upon the salvation of God in our situations, even in our iniquities and sins, for deliverance. The Psalms are prime examples of this. David claimed to wait upon deliverance many times. These are prime examples for us to wait upon the Lord to deliver us, not to look to ourselves in any manner, nor to the power of choice, which is the power the theology of the OP is depending upon for said deliverance. I reject this type of theology that puts mans choice in the forefront as a delivering force, it is not Scriptural and is in my opinion humanistic at its core.

    Pretending that one has free-will and is able by this free-will to overcome ones own personal sins/addictions by choice dismisses the fact that God and God alone is Deliverer and Savior. It also overlooks the fact that God is Savior and Deliverer in many facets, not just in the salvation of the soul. It is not by might, power, will, or any other of mans "abilities" that are to overcome anything. Instead it is Gods might. This thread lends itself to mans efforts, not Gods, in its theological basis.

    No cal believes what is presented in the OP, and in years of ministry I've never seen what is being accused towards Calvinist theology, and against those who espouse this. It is a misrepresentation and an assuming opinion, not based upon facts in the real world, and as is admitted is a "generality" and is totally subjective and unfounded. I might add it is a false generality to boot.
     
    #12 preacher4truth, Dec 8, 2011
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  13. Skandelon

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    Allow me to repeat this for those who apparently missed it:

    But when you believe that you can't repent or stop addictive behavior apart from God's decision for you to do so doesn't that affect the way you approach that addiction?

    Claiming you are responsible for your choices is fine. I know that is what Calvinists believe. But I'm not questioning that point. I'm asking HOW the doctrine affects ones approach to addiction practically speaking. If you believe that you can't change unless God ordains it and that you only will change if God ordains it, wouldn't that affect how you approach the addiction? Couldn't it cause one to take a more 'passive' or 'wait and see' approach in much the same manner that SOME more hyperists deal with evangelism? I'm not saying its right, but couldn't that be a tendency of the dogma if misapplied?

    Think about it objectively. If you KNOW that you can't get out of a jail cell unless the guard opens the door then would you even attempt to get out? Of course not. If you believed that your only way out was if the guard chose to come and get you out, then you'd simply wait, right?

    However, if you believed that the guard gave you the keys to use if you so chose then you might make an effort to leave, right?

    How is this not consistent with the two different doctrines regarding God's sovereignty and man's will?
     
  14. Skandelon

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    So, you affirm that God ordained something He didn't actually desire, right?

    How do you figure considering that God didn't ordain for him to resist and thus didn't grant him that which was needed to willingly resist?
     
  15. 12strings

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    AGEDMAN SAID:
    Actually, Skan, Aged man is NOT Saying God ordained something he didn't actually desire...if so, he would have answered yes to #1.

    However, I believe the more classical reformed position does pose the problem you describe. It is spoken of as the "two wills" of God: Prescriptive & Decretive. (sometimes called revealed and secret).
    -Prescriptive is what God tells us he wants us to do, What he commands...such as do not get drunk with wine.
    -Descriptive is what God ordains or decrees to happen...which may not actually included keeping people from sinning. God may have some secret reason for allowing Joe Christian to struggle with alcoholism his whole life...We simply don't know.

    I know there are problems with this idea, but even a non-cal must deal with this to some extent...(1) If God hates sin so much why did he create a world in which he knew there would be so much of it? (2) If God hates sin so much why does he not take a more active role in stopping it on earth now?. (3) why not make every christian completely sanctified without the desire to sin immediatly upon conversion? [God has reasons for these, and we simply have to trust him.] None of these mean God WANTS us to sin.

    My answers would be;
    1. Yes
    2. No
    3. Yes, in that God gave him the Holy Spirit, and his word, and the opportunities to seek help. If he had overcome this sin; It would then have been obvious that god DID ordain it to happen, since God's plans "cannot be Thwarted."
    4. Yes...see #3.
     
  16. preacher4truth

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    No one has missed what you've said. Actually, it was well understood by all who have answered here. Your representation of Cals is a misrepresentation, and is only subjective to you. Psalms are full of waiting upon deliverance of God in the midst of problems. Free will? It hasn't delivered a soul. Ever.
     
  17. Skandelon

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    You are correct. My mistake.

    I've never heard someone actually say that God wanted his child to continue in a sinful addiction before...caught me off guard. :tear:

    I suggest he read up on reformed theology. Start with Piper's article on the two wills of God.

    This is what I'm more familiar with...thanks

    1. So as to destroy it once and for all. 2. So as to help us understand his goodness. 3. For His glory to be made manifest.

    See above.

    He doesn't want robots, he wants those who choose to worship Him in spirit and in truth. If he just wanted to make creatures to worship he could have just stuck with angels and made them immutable. Clearly His purpose in creating free moral creatures is to allow for free moral choices....

    And yet your system has God creating and ordaining men to do just that in such a way that they could NOT willingly do otherwise.

    But, clearly the HS wasn't enough now was it? And if God hadn't ordained it then clearly Joe wasn't granted what was needed for him to resist the temptation. How can a man resist that which God has ordained to come to pass? He can't.
     
    #17 Skandelon, Dec 9, 2011
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  18. Skandelon

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    Once again you resort to unfounded and unsupported blanket accusations. Your representation of me is a misrepresentation and that has become the norm for your replies. If you are going to bring a charge, fine. I welcome it. But come with an actual argument otherwise this turns into a childish game of "nuh-huh...uh-huh" and is a waste of our time.

    Allow me to help get you started on engaging in an actual debate. You might say, "Skan, you have misrepresented Calvinism by saying, 'XYZ,' when in reality we believe, 'ABC,' as evidenced by these quotes from scholar X and scholar Y."

    Then I could actually engage your argument and the reasons you have made it. Otherwise, all you are virtually saying is that you disagree, which we all already know. Okay?
     
  19. JesusFan

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    Think that you are trying to get us to admit that God cannot be directly involved IF the believer is failing to live for Christ...


    God is directly involved, but allows/permits/has decreed that we deal with these thiongs via the power of the HS and power of the Cross!
     
  20. zrs6v4

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    I find that there are two extremes to the issue that is founded in our sinful state. I think it is a more balanced to say that Calvinists tend to "wait" for God and allow their issues to beat them up while non-cals tend to be more self-reliant. I think this was the thrust of your OP although I added the non-cal side of the issue. It isn't to bash either side but these are natural consequences to both systems. I would not assume you are using this as a rant against Calvinism, but simply conversation on practical applications of our theological beliefs. Anyway, I can relate to both sides of the issue. Sometimes I do not fight by faith and sinfully sit back saying, "it is God who is working within me" and other times I fight in my own strength. Either side must fight the same way by faith through trust in Christ and in reliance on the Holy Spirit. There are many more questions related to this topic, but we need to fight by faith and be constantly reminded in essential truths that will bring strength and trust as God works within us in our ups and downs trials and successes.

    A proper Biblical view of how to live is by faith and in reliance on the Holy Spirit. As said above we cannot be dependent in ourselves nor can we take no responsibility and look only to God. We must take up responsibility through reliance on the reality of the Holy Spirit. There are at least a million factors that play into why we do one way or the other (or should I say a million degrees of sin?).

    To keep in line with your post, I will only discuss some issues I have experienced with my views. I must first say that I cannot limit my understanding of reality and God's work by my boxing in of Him and how He works. That is really easy to do and one failure we all have struggled with. Take prayer for example to get over a particular sin struggle. Lets say I am angry with a coworker and I ask God to help me love the person and forgive them but I experience repetitive sin. Now I am a Calvinist and know that God is the one who brings delieverance to me and changes hearts. I pray and pray and pray and nothing happens. What is the issue? Do I really care or mean what I am asking God? In one sense I need God's help, but in another sense I am not seeking for ways to understand forgiveness or paying attention to truth. I need to actively seek for wisdom while asking for it, that is how faith works. Asking and sitting back is not enough nor is going for it without asking (reliance). I can't just tell myself that today I am going to forgive him or her but have no depth to it. I need to realize who I am, who Christ is, who the person is (hes not just a walking body out to bother me) and so forth. So After I seek in faith and pray about it God will bring healing to my soul. Every situation is different and God's timing is never the same. We will never perfectly get this down and will fail frequently. As we grow I am confident we learn how to communicate and trust God more consistently.
     
    #20 zrs6v4, Dec 10, 2011
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