What Good is God? Philip Yancey on Faith in Tragedy’s Wake
- Monday, September 13, 2010
But in most of the world—like in
CW: In dealing with these troubling questions, at one point in the book you get to talking about addicts and addictions. In the chapter with a great title "Why I Wish I Was an Alcoholic," the quote I found interesting was, "Addicts not only teach me the consequences of sin, they also demonstrate our permanent need for grace." How so? And, did you arrive at studying addicts and addiction as a way to answer how some people struggle with the deeper questions we've been talking about? That they seek answers or escape in addictive substances?
PY: If you go to an AA meeting or any 12-step program, you never hear them use the past tense. They never say, "I used to be an alcoholic." Or "I used to be a drug addict." They always say, "Hi, I am Bob. I am an alcoholic." That is how they introduce themselves—everybody there—using only their first name. That is very intentional because what they are acknowledging is, "This is something I will always struggle with and I will never get over. I will always be dependent on you, on a higher power, on God. I am always in need of grace." They are not using those words, but that is what they are saying. "I can't make it on my own. I need help."
That is where the chapter titled "Why I Wish I Was an Alcoholic" came from; I go to an average suburban church, and you don't see or hear that. You hear, "I am doing just fine, thank you." I have seen this so many times where a family will be fighting all the way to the church, and then they open the door in the parking lot, "How are you Mrs. Smith?"
She replies, "Oh, just fine! Everything is fine. How are you?" Well, you don't do that in AA. You go to an AA meeting, and they say, "How are you?" And you say, "I had a hell of a week."
CW: Wouldn't that be refreshing!
PY: Yeah. You get honesty there. They do not have the luxury of denying their need for grace. Their addiction forces them toward reliance on Christ.
And indeed it does, I think, force them to shed light on deep issues. I talk about my friend in the book; we were talking about some doctrines of theology. He said, "Well, we addicts understand original sin."
"What are you talking about?" I asked.
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