Alcohol, Addiction and Christian Ethics

As both a clinical psychiatrist and an Anglican priest-theologian at England’s Durham University, Christopher Cook has doubly impressive credentials for writing this book. And as both a Christian ethicist (retired) and a recovering alcoholic (from which there is no retirement), I was doubly eager to read it. Cook is right: alcohol use is not simply a matter of scientific opinion, politics or consumer choice. It is also—and fundamentally—a pervasive ethical issue to which Christian theological ethicists can make a significant scholarly contribution. And Cook does.

In setting the scientific and social context, Cook explains that he prefers the model of alcohol dependence over those of addiction and disease for two reasons: he sees no clear demarcation between addictive and normal drinking, and he worries that disease theory can undercut personal responsibility.


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