Is Celebrate Recovery Biblical?
"Any teaching that detracts in the slightest from the glory of God is not a biblical teaching."
- James R. White, The Potters Freedom - A defense of the reformation, pg 181
Because Celebrate Recovery is based on the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and practiced in thousands of Christian churches without ever being questioned or held up to the light of scripture it is one of the most damaging forms of apostasy in the modern Christian church. The Twelve Steps in no way bring glory to the Lord and false teachings cannot be combined with the word of God.
"Substitute anything for Christ, and the Gospel is totally spoiled!
Add anything to Christ, and the Gospel ceases to be a pure Gospel!
Put anything between a person and Christ, and that person will neglect Christ for that very thing!
Spoil the proportions of Christ's Gospel, and you spoil its effectiveness!
Evangelical religion must be the Gospel, the whole Gospel and nothing but the Gospel!"
- J.C. Ryle
The common argument from proponents of Celebrate Recovery when presented with the truth of the twelve steps heretical origins is that because bible verses are used along with the Twelve Steps in Celebrate Recovery it is a Christian program - this defense is ridiculous. If bible verses were added to Hitler's Mein Kampf or the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx, would these writings then be considered Christian? Of course not. False teachings are false teachings and have no place in a Christian church.
This [evil] persuasion is not from Him Who called you [Who invited you to freedom in Christ]. A little leaven (a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers) leavens the whole lump [it perverts the whole conception of faith or misleads the whole church]. - Galatians 5:8,9 Amplified Bible
Is adding to God's word by blending the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous with the scriptures as the Celebrate Recovery Bible does biblical? Not according to Proverbs 30:5-6, "Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar."
Celebrate Recovery is part of Rick Warren's Saddleback church. Rick Warren made the following claims regarding the twelve steps during his "Road to Recovery" series of sermons:
"In 1935 a couple of guys formulated, based upon the scriptures, what are known as the classic Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and used by hundreds of other recovery groups. Twenty million Americans are in a recovery group every week and there are 500,000 recovery groups. The basis is God's word."
Rick Warren's statement above is completely false and it is irresponsible for any Christian Pastor to make such claims. He either never took the time to research the origins of the Twelve Steps and what they teach or he was intentionally making a false statement. There is no way that the Twelve Steps were "based upon the scriptures" or that their "basis is God's word" as he claims. The concept of God as a Higher Power of our own understanding put forward by Bill Wilson in the Twelve Steps is blasphemy. The Twelve Steps also falsely teach forgiveness of sins by a God of our own understanding while Christ is no part of the Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Step program whatsoever.
If you have not yet done so, please read through the sections on this website that disclose The Origins of the 12 Steps, The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Other Alcoholics Anonymous Writings and Publications, and Views and Commentary on the 12 Steps. Then honestly and prayerfully decide if, based on the truth of scripture, it is acceptable for Celebrate Recovery meetings to take place in Christian churches since Celebrate Recovery is founded upon the heretical Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. - 1 Corinthians 10:21
The word of God is all we need. There simply is no way to justify the need for anything else - especially something as far from the Christian gospel message as the Twelve Steps.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. - Hebrews 4:12
A Psalm of True Recovery
We are born in iniquity and rebel against God by nature. The world, being in rebellion will fool the unregenerate into believing their sin being manifest as addictions are only disease and their problems are the symptoms. But in truth our addictions are the deadly fruit of sin which we are helpless to ever be truly freed from outside of the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ.
Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" And the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 3:10-12, ..."None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."
So how does the rebellious sinner overcome their very inborn nature? By being born again as a new creation in Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 makes clear the saving miracle of regeneration through Christ, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."
The 32 Psalm
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.
You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.
Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
Trust In the Lord with all Your Heart
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. - Proverbs 3:5-8
Trust in the Lord with all your heart - We must love, rely on, cling to, and adhere to Jesus with all that we are.
...do not lean on your own understanding - "There is not a greater enemy to the power of religion, and the fear of God in the heart, than conceitedness of our own wisdom." - Matthew Henry. We must go to God's word prayerfully and in humility, seeking the Lord through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
In all your ways acknowledge him, - "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30). What is it that you are holding back? What is it that you are afraid to sacrifice for the Lord? It must be understood that whatever blocks or hinders us in our relationship and walk with Jesus Christ is not worth keeping and holding on to. Pray and go to the word seeking to believe and understand that what Christ gives us is so far beyond anything this world offers that it cannot even be compared.
and he will make straight your paths. - "The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:5-11).
Be not wise in your own eyes - "But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong" (1 Corinthians 1:27). Be a humble child before the Father and he will bless you with the wisdom of His word.
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. - Repent, turn away from the sin that has held you in bondage, and turn away from the lies of this world that have told you that it was within your power or the power of a false god of your own understanding to be freed from your sin. There is only one God and there is only one way to be freed from the sin that separates you from Him and that is through the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'" ( John 14:6). "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. - "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'" ( John 7:38).
Chad Prigmore is Pastor and President of The Way R122 Ministry USA & Kenya.