For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. - John 3:17-18
Without experiencing and understanding the conviction of sin and the resulting condemnation, how can anyone come to see the need for Jesus Christ as Savior, repent, and be blessed with the divinely generated desire to follow and serve Him as Lord?
The erroneous disease concept of Alcoholics Anonymous works in such a way that the sinner trapped in alcoholism through rampant sinful desire is veiled from the guilt and remorse of sin by being falsely led to believe that they are afflicted with disease and that their destructive behaviors are it's symptoms. The destructive danger of the disease concept of alcoholism lies in the fact that the sinner in dire need of hearing the gospel, experiencing the conviction of sin, repenting of their sin and trusting in Jesus Christ, instead begins seeking "recovery" from a non-existent disease by working a program in an effort to get their life back together. They grieve for what they have lost and the damage they've caused, but their entire concept of recovery is self focused; hence the easy to swallow "god as we understand him" put forth by Alcoholics Anonymous rather than the only true God of the Bible who by the working of the Holy Spirit through the gospel generates by grace a genuine grief leading to repentance of sin and faithful trust in Jesus Christ.
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. - 2 Corinthians 7:10
By striving to provide "recovery solutions" the gospel has been pushed aside and the entire purpose of the church has been hijacked. The modern church's myopic obsession with recovery must be thrown out and replaced with a reliance on the sufficiency of scripture and faith in God that when His gospel is proclaimed without compromise the Holy Spirit will transform people who seem beyond any hope of redemption.
“The gospel has it’s convictions to make way for it’s consolations.” - Charles Spurgeon
There will never be enough - that’s the truth that blows the lid off of our modern pre-manufactured, commercialized, consumer driven society. Regardless of how much you earn, how much you buy, how good you look, how famous you are, how sexy you are, how successful you are, how high you are - there will never be enough.
Does that seem like a crazy over generalization? Just take a look at all the fads and fixes that have come and gone in your own lifetime. Look back over the last twenty to fifty years and look at all the self help programs, religions, drugs, medications, fad diets, therapies, books, cults, twelve step programs, motivational speakers, etc… that have come and gone - and yet the world and the people in it are more frantically screwed up now than ever before.
Addiction now grows at a frenzied pace and seems to be just a part of modern life. Drugs, alcohol, food, sex, TV, the internet, Facebook, cell phones, energy drinks, the list goes on and on and on - moderation does not even seem to be considered or attempted anymore. What used to be a large sized soft drink cup at a fast food restaurant twenty or thirty years ago is now quite often smaller than the modern small sized cup! The modern medium and large sized cups don’t even fit into the cup holders in some older cars! Just how much can we consume? And why are we so obsessed with more and more and more?
Look at the stark reality of so many of the people that seem to get through the mass of striving humanity and actually become rich and famous and then completely implode or in the worst and far too often instance kill themselves. Why is such a sad and destructive end so common for so many that have achieved so much of what the world covets? What is missing?
Imagine the horror of spending years of toil and struggle to get that golden ring the world holds up over the heads of the masses, convinced that when you finally have that ring firmly in hand - when fame, fortune, everything you want is now yours and you look in the mirror and realize the pain and fear is still there. Then where do you go? What do you reach for? How do you get rid of the desire for more when there is no more to desire?
When you take all of this and look at it honestly it really becomes clear that the human heart, the core of who we are is really a screwed up mess.
So, as you read this you are either on top of your game and have it all together or, maybe the world has kicked you in the teeth for a while and you are suffering and fearful, maybe numbed up and addicted or drunk. For those that have it all together, then the questions become:
For those with the kicked in teeth and unhealed war wounds - have you just checked out? Have you given up to a chemical or to booze or some other worldly obsession? Maybe you did give up and then started working a recovery program, got some of your life back together - but there is still something out of whack, so you work and work and work that twelve step program and live from one meeting to the next foolishly telling yourself you have serenity and are living spiritually as you watch the revolving door of relapse and death swing back and forth for those on the same dark road you're on as you all spiral downward together.
This may all seem dark and cynical, attacking and negative. But is it not true of the human condition we see all around us?
Thousand of years ago, the wise and wealthy Solomon saw the futility of man's stubborn attempts at self repair. He wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:14-15, "I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted."
And the prophet Jeremiah nails the cause of why humans are so desperately lost when he says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)
The heart of the issue is that the heart is the issue!
The human heart is a storm of sinful chaos, striving to find some semblance of peace and calm in a world intent on intensifying the chaos and confusion. People without genuine eternal truth are like tiny boats tossed about in a tempest without an anchor, without any bearing or eternal direction.
...having no hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:12)
...tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (Ephesians 4:14)
However, there is an anchor that never fails, that will hold us through any storm we face. When you take hold of that anchor and forsake all that is in contradiction to it you step into the light of truth.
So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:17-20)
the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned." From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:16-17)
There is only one sure and steadfast anchor that is grounded in absolute unchanging truth and that anchor is genuine faith in Jesus Christ. Regardless of any storm our faith is the anchor that holds us in Christ, and by grace the Holy Spirit through the Word strengthens our faith.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
I will close with more wisdom from the writings of Solomon. Consider his words when the world through heresies like Alcoholics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, self help books and all the rest try to convince you that God's Word and the steadfast anchor of faith in Jesus Christ is just not enough - that something more is needed, remember these words of Solomon and simply stand firm in your faith, grounded in God's Word, protected by His love in the arms of the Lord.
The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:11-13)
From a Christian point of view there is a problem with the supposed "spiritual awakening" needed for recovery put forth by the Alcoholics Anonymous program which ignores and directly contradicts the gospel of Jesus Christ (see: The Walking Dead of Alcoholics Anonymous, Does Alcoholics Anonymous Teach Forgiveness Without the Atonement?, Does the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous contradict the Christian Gospel?). But what if recovery as a concept and as it's come to be understood in it's worldly context, is completely in error in and of itself? What if the whole modern idea and obsession with recovery could be cast aside for something far greater?
For a Christian believer familiar with the Christian doctrine of eternal salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, the question must surely come to mind, "Just what kind of spiritual awakening is actually happening through Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps? Because according to God's Word the only way to salvation (which is what AA is alluding to), is the atoning sacrifice that was made through the person of Jesus Christ and Jesus is no part of the Alcoholics Anonymous program".
Is the worldly concept of recovery in error? It depends on how you look at eternity.
In secular recovery, lasting sobriety is the goal and end to be sought for. Length of time sober is measured and coveted, celebrated and honored. Old timers with years of sobriety in Twelve Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous are revered and respected by those who dream of one day having a collection of sobriety chips with Roman numeral X's on them denoting years of continuous sobriety.
A worldly program of recovery may help someone. They may achieve and maintain sobriety for the rest of their lives. They may have relationships repaired, bank accounts replenished, reputations restored, and worldly status re-established because of their success in achieving and maintaining sobriety. They may gain all that the world has to offer because they were able to stay sober.
But what about the big picture - actually, the biggest picture of all? What about eternity? Might eternal destiny have been sacrificed on the altar of recovery?
So you may ask the question, "What does eternal destiny have to do with recovery?" Most people in Twelve Step programs seem mainly concerned with just getting out of the trouble their drinking and using have caused and getting their lives back together. So how would eternal destiny have anything to do with recovery?
Worldly recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous have a direct effect and influence on the eternal destinies of their members because the programs work within the realm of the spirit - or at least that is their claim. In fact, the steps themselves make very clear the spiritual nature of the Twelve Step program. On page 59 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, the Twelve Steps are listed and steps eleven and twelve make direct claims to the spiritual nature of the Alcoholics Anonymous program.
When considered from an eternal perspective and through the divine illumination of the light of scripture it becomes clear that recovery, as it has come to be understood and pursued in its modern worldly context, is not an end to be sought for. Rather, by understanding and accepting that alcoholism and addiction are sin and the only atonement of its death sentence is by the blood of Jesus Christ it becomes apparent that recovery is a blessed by-product of salvation in Jesus Christ. No programs or steps are needed from a biblical perspective. Instead, we need only to believe in, rely on, adhere to and have faith in Jesus Christ with complete loving abandon forsaking all else.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. - Matthew 6:33
In an eternal sense; to make recovery your sole aim and goal for your life is like striving to live in the gutter outside of a palace. By casting aside the worldly concept of recovery and seeking for eternal life in Jesus Christ we step over the gutter and into the palace of eternal glory.
But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him" - 1 Corinthians 2:9
Below is a reply I posted on Facebook to a comment from a disciple of Celebrate Recovery. I hope this helps to open the eyes of some of those who have been misled by that program.
Their comment was:
"Thank you Chad I respect your opinion as it is yours. I learned in CR how to stay clean and sober for 27 years. It worked for me. It works for anyone wanting sobriety and willing to work on it."
Actually, my response was not simply my opinion but the truth about Celebrate Recovery from a Biblical perspective.
Due to the fact that so many 12 step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, Hunger for Healing and many others take place in and are endorsed by thousands of churches - the true origins of the 12 steps are extremely important to understand.
For the household gods utter nonsense, and the diviners see lies; they tell false dreams and give empty consolation. Therefore the people wander like sheep; they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd. - Zechariah 10:2
Alcoholics Anonymous was founded on June 10, 1935. AA's official biography (Pass it On) of Bill Wilson states that he and Dr. Bob, the two co-founders of AA, during the summer of 1935 were involved with practicing seances and communing with demonic spirits. In his biography, Bill Wilson explains one of their experiences with a Ouija board: "The Ouija board began moving in earnest. What followed was the fairly usual experience-it was a strange melange of Aristotle, St. Francis, diverse archangels with odd names, deceased friends-some in purgatory and others doing nicely, thank you! There were malign and mischievous ones of all descriptions."
Bill Wilson was the man that wrote the 12 steps and together with a man named Dr. Bob co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous. They were originally introduced in 1935 by a woman named Henrietta Seiberling. In a letter she wrote on July 31, 1952 she writes of Bill Wilson's communion with demonic spirits while he wrote the 12 steps, "He imagines himself all kinds of things. His hand 'writes' dictation from a Catholic priest, whose name I forget, from the 1600 period who was in Barcelona, Spain-again, he told Horace Crystal he was completing the works that Christ didn't finish, and according to Horace he said he was a reincarnation of Christ. Perhaps he got mixed in whose reincarnation he was. It looks more like the works of the devil but I could be wrong. I don't know what is going on in that poor deluded fellow's mind."
In the book, "The Conversion of Bill W." author Dick B. writes of Bill Wilson's experiments with LSD during the 1950's. He quotes Bill Wilson as stating, "It is a generally acknowledged fact in spiritual development that ego reduction makes the influx of God's grace possible. If, therefore, under LSD we can have a temporary reduction, so we can better see where we are going-well, that might be of some help. The goal might become clearer."
So, Bill Wilson believed that the way to God's grace was through ego reduction? The true and only way to God's grace is through faith in 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
"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
This morning while reading Matthew Henry's commentary on the book of Exodus I came across a comment that Henry makes regarding chapter 10 verse 17 in which Pharaoh states, "Now therefore, forgive my sin, please, only this once, and plead with the Lord your God only to remove this death from me."
Henry comments, "Pharaoh desires their prayers that this death only might be taken away, not this sin: he deprecates the plague of locusts, not the plague of a hard heart, which yet was much the more dangerous."
What a mirror image this is of one of the greatest dangers presented from an eternal perspective by Alcoholics Anonymous and the twelve steps. By presenting the false concept of alcoholism being a disease, the required conviction of sin leading to repentance via the gospel is completely avoided. Instead, the focus is on the removal of immediate pain and the recovering of temporal possessions and standing while religiously working a program of false spirituality. The devastating consequence is that the plague of alcoholism may end as long as it is replaced with the religion of the program, and secular life might be restored - yet the plague of the hardened heart dead in sin still remains. And it is much more dangerous.
Chad Prigmore is Pastor and President of The Way Ministry Church USA & Kenya.