By Chad Prigmore
The Book Alcoholics Anonymous or the "Big Book" as it's called by members of AA is the bible of Alcoholics Anonymous which introduces its recommended program of recovery and the Twelve Steps.
The following are excerpts from the book Alcoholics Anonymous compared to Christian doctrine in the scriptures.
Alcoholics Anonymous Page 12: "Why don't you choose your own conception of God?"
It's not up to us to create our own conception of God. God tells us in His word who He is.
Alcoholics Anonymous Page 13: "There I humbly offered myself to God, as I then understood Him, to do with me as He would. I placed myself unreservedly under His care and direction. I admitted for the first time that of myself I was nothing; that without Him I was lost. I ruthlessly faced my sins and became willing to have my new-found Friend take them away, root and branch. I have not had a drink since."
There is no forgiveness of sin outside of faith in Jesus Christ.
Alcoholics Anonymous Pages 13&14: "My friend promised when these things were done I would enter upon a new relationship with my Creator; that I would have the elements of a way of living which answered all my problems. Belief in the power of God, plus enough willingness, honesty and humility to establish and maintain the new order of things, were the essential requirements."
Alcoholics Anonymous teaches that by following its program anyone can come into a relationship with God, this is a false teaching in direct contradiction to the truth of salvation only through Jesus Christ.
Alcoholics Anonymous Page 46: "We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all men."
The above statement is heresy. There is no way to reconcile this statement with what Jesus teaches in John 14:6 and Matthew 7:13. This one statement alone should compel any true believer and follower of Christ to reject Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps.
Alcoholics Anonymous Page 58: "Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves." (This is part of a portion of Chapter 5 which is read at every AA meeting).
How is it possible to obey the command of the Lord in Mark 12:30 and then completely give oneself to a program of recovery?
1. Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition (New York: A.A. World Services, 2001)
My name is Kevin I am in the Charlotte NC area recently left AA after the Matt Slick talk show was speaking of how its a cult and directed me to your website. How I didn't see this before is amazing. I am looking for other people maybe in my area....lost my support group one thing about AA that is...well convenient...first I sold my soul to drink and drug then I sold it for sobriety. Everything you have said makes perfect sense...I have abused alcohol...drugs mostly cocaine...gambling porn and food...5 habitual sins that kept me in bondage...after I stopped drinking could not get away from porn and gained weight thanks to the sugar feast available at my home group. I Just left a relationship that I started in the program...Got saved through Faith in Jesus Christ April thanks to my roommate. I started praying to Jesus but had this feeling that something was not right...looking around at the hate of that "higher power" in the groups. My Sponsor must have been sent by God..an unsaved angry man who died 5 months ago literally due to anger...was very argumentative when he saw what he considered not AA behavior...had a blowout...got kicked out of his home group...the last meeting I saw him at he called the group a bunch of hypocrites because we were supposed to be non religious but recite the Our Father prayer...then stormed out of the room started arguing in the parking lot the next day he died...the reason I say he was sent by God was because he told me this was not a Christian program...told me I was in a cult....we would make jokes...and really did not like Bill Wilson at all as he called him an egomaniac....a womanizing hypocrite...and "The most famous anonymous person of all time". Also told me to research the history of it...that is where it really gets scary...also the similarity with Aleister Crowley and the AA coin and his group named AA also...powerlessness and all that nonsense. Then the fact that the Oxford Group and Frank Buchman and that cult being the basis for the cult of AA. Occult, masonic like practices of seances, conjuring the dead and Ouija boards and his "burning bush" moment in the hospital 1934 where he "saw god" who appears on command for old Bill while going through DTs under the Belladonna treatment full of a cocktail of various drugs and barbiturates...and high levels of mercury. Also love how people who suffer from "terminal uniqueness' have to get with the program, we are all garden variety drunks....that statement REEKS of hypocrisy in that we all all sinners...and need Jesus...but don't think you are Unique in AA newcomer...hello you are in a satanic cult that has a whole program for one sin...so you can separate yourself because other people don't understand...and a 12 step program for every sin known to man...so if I get a coin for time abstaining from alcohol....then shouldn't I get coins for lengths of time I didn't commit other sins...please give my lifetime coin for not murdering please...I need my 3 month coin for not fornicating...and on and on. To say it is a disease is a complete insult to someone who has a real disease like cancer. If God sets you free you are free indeed, He does not wish that you identify yourself by or obsess over past behaviors you may have long since changed, those sins were paid for a long time ago. Well looking forward to hearing from you soon...thanks and my God continue to bless your ministry...the real GOD that is...not a doorknob
R. Scott Clark, D.Phil*
Associate Professor of Church History and Academic Dean
Westminster Theological Seminary in California
The Twelve-step movement and the language of co-dependency has become an accepted part of evangelical church life. It has not always been so nor is the status quo necessarily right and good for the church. This essay is a plea for reconsideration of this trend in the light of Biblical teaching and Christian doctrine.
Alcoholics Anonymous was born in the midst of the religious turmoil in the 1930's, in the midst of a great ecumenical fervor, growing anticipation of a war in Europe, and a fight between Fundamentalists and Modernists for the religious and theological soul of the nation's Christians.1
In 1935 in Akron, Ohio, a "sudden spiritual experience" relieved one stockbroker of his obsession with alcohol.
Following a meeting with an alcoholic friend who had been in contact with the Oxford Groups of that day....Though he could not accept all the tenets of the Oxford Groups, he was convinced of the need for moral inventory, confession of personality defects, restitution to those harmed helpfulness to others, and the necessity of belief in and dependence upon God.2That broker and his physician friend armed with a description of "alcoholism and its hopelessness" created their own synthetic spiritual remedy for their malady. What followed was an explosion in popularity any church growth program would envy. By 1939 membership had reached 800, with the support of Harry Emerson Fosdick, and the Episcopalian magazine Liberty. In 1940 John D. Rockefeller declared his support for AA By 1941 AA had 2000 members and the support of Jack Alexander in the Saturday Evening Post "The mushrooming process was in full swing. AA had become a national institution."3
In this same time period the group began to formulate its creeds and confessions known as the Twelve Steps and Traditions.4 In 1939 they produced their authoritative book: Alcoholics Anonymous called by the group the Big Book.5
Some forty years after its seminal meetings the group has blossomed to 50,000 groups world wide in 110 countries and membership is conservatively estimated at well over 1,000,000. Its strength lies not only in numbers but in the attractiveness of its program, i.e., its anonymity, and its eclecticism. There are very few alcoholism treatment centers not wholly controlled intellectually by the theology and methodology of AA.
It will be useful to know a little bit more about the Oxford Groups from which AA has borrowed its methods. The Oxford Groups were founded by a Lutheran minister, Frank Buchman, in the early twenties. They gained their nickname from informal house parties around Oxford University. They called themselves the "First Century Christian Fellowship." Their emphasis was upon mystical guidance, akin to the Pentecostal Word of Knowledge, if not as dramatic, surely as subjectivist.6
Focus was not upon the Bible as the revealed Word of God, but upon personal experience. The movement later became known as "Moral Rearmament" when Buchman declared that the nation could not save itself (1938) with guns but with guidance from God.7
Much of his evangelism in the USA was centered around Park Avenue and had its headquarters in a local New York City Episcopal parish. There is also an intellectual connection with modern positive thinking movements such as that led by Norman Vincent Peale and later Robert Schuller. There were four absolutes upon which he insisted:
"Five C's" for which the group is known are:
It was a relatively simple matter to adapt the nine points listed above to the self-help methodology of AA.9 It has also been a regular practice of AA to borrow liberally from the Bible and the Christian tradition while denying their substance and meaning.10
One cannot doubt that AA considers itself a religion. The very words of the founder, Bill W., are quite clear in this respect.
I had always believed in a Power greater than myself. I had often pondered these things, I was not an atheist...I had little doubt that a mighty power and rhythm underlay all. How could there be so much of precise and immutable law, and no intelligence? I simply had to believe in a Spirit of the Universe, who knew neither time nor limitation....With ministers and the world's Religions I parted right there....To Christ I conceded the certainty of a great man, not too closely followed by those who claimed Him...My friend suggested what seemed a novel idea. He said, Why don't you choose your own conception of God? That statement hit me hard...I stood in the sunlight at last. It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make a beginning ...There I humbly offered myself to God, as I then understood Him, to do with me as He would. (italics original).11The Big Book is a combination of the Bible and Augustine's Confessions for Alcoholics Anonymous. Just as the Christian turns to the heart warming story of Augustine's conversion after that great intellectual struggle with the foolishness of the Gospel, so this collection of stories stands as an even more authoritative account of the spiritual journey of the Founding Fathers and authors of the Big Book.12 The Big Book is, authoritative for AA because it was written by alcoholics for alcoholics and most of all because, in their words, "it works."13
How should Christians understand the behavior of the alcoholic? Is alcoholism the result of an allergy (their early explanation) or a disease (their more recent explanation) which makes the drinker not responsible for his abuse, or is it sin? Alcoholics Anonymous interprets Bill's problem as a disease. Modern medicine has never been able to find any solid evidence of a viral or bio-chemical cause for alcoholism.14
Whatever the cause, they assert that only certain people who can treat the alcoholic's problem: other alcoholics. In AA this is accepted dogma. The first thing an AA member learns is that his problem is unique, that he has a disease, and that no one else understands him but other alcoholics. These are the cornerstones of the first tradition and the first step.15
What does the Lord say? Drunkenness as we all well know is condemned universally in the Bible. Not drinking. We think immediately of the injunction: Be not drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5.18) In fact there are at least thirty separate passages dealing with drunkenness and drinking in some way. Scripture is very realistic in its portrayal of drunkenness. It describes what behaviors accompany it, what it leads to, what a drunkard is like and how he will be punished.
Proverbs 23.29-35 warns vividly of the folly of drunkenness. Earlier in the chapter we are warned of the consequences of excess. These are not ivory tower descriptions. The writer speaks of the attraction of the wine, how it sparkles, and the morning after red eyes, bed spins, hang over and the repetition of such behavior. The prophet Isaiah describes the filth of vomit such that there is no clean place, and drunkenness such that no one wishes to do the work of the Lord (Isaiah 5.11; 24.2; 28.1-7). One of the marks of a rebellious son is drunkenness (Deuteronomy 21.20). Israel's sin is described in terms of drunkenness (Ezekiel 23.42; Joel 1.5).
Paul, in warning the Thessalonians to watch for the advent of Christ, reminds them graphically of the nocturnal life of the alcohol abuser(1 Thess.5.7).16 He warns the Corinthians that they ought to neither associate with drunkards nor should they expect drunkards to inherit the Kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 5.11;6.10)
These are not isolated patterns. This is the Bible's description of "addiction" to alcohol. There is a clear acceptance of the fact that if abused, alcohol can have devastating spiritual, social, and physical effects. The biblical writers, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, were fully aware of the behavior which is now called alcoholism. Yet it is never once treated remotely like a disease. It is always classed with other sins: fornication, adultery, over-eating, homosexuality, murder, stealing etc. By implication, alcoholism does not appear to be considered a disease any more than the other sins mentioned along side it.
There are no Biblical grounds for distinguishing between alcoholism and what God's Word calls drunkenness and addiction to alcohol. It is true that we don't usually consider the high school senior who gets drunk for the first time on prom night an alcoholic. The Bible however doesn't distinguish between the professional drunk and the amateur. Is a sin any less a sin if it is committed once instead of a hundred times?
A given sin does take on a different character once it becomes habitual. The effects of one type of sin may be more devastating than the other. Still, there is no Biblical warrant for calling any transgression of the Word of God a disease simply because it becomes habitual and life dominating. As we will see, nearly any sin can take on that character. At the suggestion of John Murray and Jay Adams, we will take Ephesians 5.15-20 as our guide for the Biblical solution to the problem of excessive drinking.
Be very careful then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (NIV).Paul's words are the revealed will of God, our rule and the rule for the alcohol abuser as well. Paul says to put off one behavior/lifestyle to put on another. It is not implied that it is a short or simple process, but only that, by the grace and Spirit of Christ, it must and can be done.
This is the consistent message of the New Testament. Colossians 3.10 says the same thing, put off the old and put on the new. There is a new creation, in Christ. There is growth in grace by the power of the Holy Spirit. All of Paul's commands assume the life giving work of the Spirit described in Ephesians chapter one. These are evidences of the sanctifying work of the Spirit.
Personal Responsibility and Religious Authority
AA's second tradition explains their view of religious authority. For AA, God's will is discovered either privately, or through the collective conscience of the local meeting. In this, AA substitutes its own rules for God's Word. AA's fourth step speaks of a "fearless moral inventory". Without God's Word, how can one make such an inventory? By the experience of others? By one's pre-alcoholic experience? There is no way to determine certainly what man is, or what life is, once one forfeits the biblical doctrine of man. The absence of an absolute standard against which to judge behavior results in moral and spiritual confusion.
The Doctrine of God
The reader will note an abundant use of the word "God" in the Twelve Steps and Traditions. A God concept is crucial to their system, as a regulative notion, or a useful idea. He is, however, quite unlike the God of the Bible, not a God who speaks. So when the second step says, "came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves..." AA does not mean the self-existent, Triune God of the Bible.
It is inescapably true that the very language of the second step, "a power greater than..." refers to an impersonal force. The anonymous god of AA is also mute. The god of AA cannot speak to humans because their god is an "it". In the nature of things, however, one can not have personal relations with an impersonal entity. Therefore to camouflage their implicit agnosticism, AA speaks of the god of AA as a "Him".
To any Christian who has ever said, "I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth", AA's agnosticism should be most obvious and disturbing.17 The Christian God is Triune. That is, he is one God in three persons, therefore he is the beginning of personality. Because he is personal, he speaks to us, he knows us and can be known by us. The God of the Bible is "...a Spirit, (John 4:24) infinite, (Job 11:7-9) eternal, (Ps. 90:2) and unchangeable, (James 1:17) in his being, (Exod. 3:14)wisdom, (Ps. 147:5) power, (Rev. 4:8) holiness, (Rev. 15:4) justice, goodness, and truth. (Exod. 34:6-7)"18
AA tells the Alcoholic to worship God "as we conceive of Him". This is the very thing the Bible does not want us to do. God's Word says, "I am the LORD your God...You shall have no other gods before me" (Deut. 5.6-7).19 What AA calls god, the Bible calls an idol. We are precisely called not to make up our own gods, but to turn away from them to the true and living God who made and redeems us.
The Doctrine of Man
Because God is personal, and we have been made in his image, we are persons. Hence one of the reasons AA is so harmful is that it ignores the Bible's teaching that man is created in the image of God. Ephesians 4.24 says that we were created in the image of God in knowledge, righteousness and holiness of truth.
The Christian faith is that he was crucified to restore us as the image of God, which image will be consummated at the last day. Man as the image of God is essential to Christianity, but not to AA. If, with AA, we deny this doctrine, Christ died for nothing. For Christians such an idea is blasphemous (Gal 2.21).
AA says that alcoholism is not sinful pattern of behavior, but a loss of sanity. There are grave consequences to describing sin as sickness. P. E. Hughes said, Sickness is not penalized: it is treated. ...Being sick and the victims of forces beyond their control, they must be sent off for "treatment." ...There is ample evidence of the way in which this therapeutic benevolence may be tyrannically extended beyond corrupt and violent persons to those who are politically or religiously out of line in the eyes of officialdom and who are consequently placed behind prison walls or in the wards of "mental" hospitals ostensibly for the purpose of being "treated" and "cured".20
The spiritual consequences of describing sin as sickness are even worse. To refuse to describe alcohol abuse as sin is to implicitly deny humanity to the sinner by robbing him of moral responsibility before God. We hold sinner accountable for their actions to because the responsible moral agents with a mind, and a will. To categorize sinners as victims is to rob them of their moral agency and hence their personality.
To refuse to describe alcohol abuse as sin is also to deny hope for the patient. A disease may be hopeless, but there is a Savior for sinners.
For these reasons God's Word pushes us away from thinking of any sin in terms of personal irresponsibility to personal responsibility. How can we ask of the person struggling with the sin of alcohol abuse any less than that which God demands of him?
To deny that one drink led to another, and for whatever sinful motivation, the sin became habitual and life dominating, leading to other sins and disastrous consequences of all sorts, is not to deny the greatness of the sin, but rather it is to put that sin in its biblical perspective. If we neglect to put the problem of alcohol abuse in its proper terms, sin and redemption, then we deny needy sinners the help they so need and can find only in Christ.
Christ and Redemption
Christianity is centered in the incarnation (taking on our humanity), obedient life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, the second person of the Trinity.21 Because Christianity is so Christ-centered, it is necessarily exclusivist and intolerant of other religions. Jesus taught us to think this way when he said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me" (John 14.6).22
AA, in contrast, is simultaneously universalist (embracing all world religions) and exclusivist (rejecting all other world religions except their own). On the one hand they speak as if there is no one true faith. On the other hand, they also say that they alone have the true way of deliverance from addiction to alcohol. This makes them effectively the one true religion.23 Either claim (universalism or AA's exclusivism) is patently incompatible with Christianity.
AA also never describes the human condition in terms of sin and therefore never speaks of redemption in Christian terms. In contrast, the Christian religion begins with Adam and our fall in him. It finds salvation for sinners in Christ and his righteousness for us, received by faith (trusting Christ) alone.
If there was no first Adam, whose fall and sin is imputed to us, there is no need for a second Adam, Christ, whose obedience and righteousness is imputed to us. AA's apparent rejection of the heart of Christianity is the most serious (and most disheartening) consequence of their teaching.
Christians and AA
Many Christians, including Evangelical and even Reformed Christians, have said that the disease model is sufficient to explain the success of AA and its offspring. Several writers have even tried to justify the synthesis of the pragmatism of AA with various Christian forms. One notable attempt was the late G. A. Taylor's A Sober Faith (1953). Taylor is remembered in Reformed and Presbyterian circles as the editor of the Presbyterian Journal.
In the preface, Russell Dicks called Taylor a friend of both the Church and AA.24 This is only half true. Taylor wished to be a friend to both, but such is impossible. One cannot have two masters. He must love the one and hate the other.25 Taylor fails to make necessary and biblical distinctions between AA and Christianity. Christianity is God's covenant relation to and redemption of his people from their sins, but AA is not.
In its own unique way it [AA] goes about leading men and women to God who never before gave Him much thought. I hope the more conservative of my brethren who may feel inclined to question AA's theology at this point will withhold their judgment for the moment. AA's success constitutes a powerful recommendation for its methods.26.With all due respect, Christians cannot withhold theological or moral judgment upon a vaguely utilitarian basis. Other sects, e.g., Jehovah's Witnesses, also claim to lead one to god, but it is clearly not the God of the Bible. Isaiah complains about hand made idols, Paul complains about those whose god is their belly. If the god to whom one is brought is not the Lord Jesus Christ then it is vanity. There are no intermediate steps to God.
In fact, AA is not the worship of the true and living God but is specifically applied peer pressure to alter a particular behavior pattern, often by replacing one addiction for another, in the nature of the case, bottle support for group support.27
Taylor's claim that, at some point, every serious member of AA is confronted by necessity with Christianity is simply not true.28 In fact the leading currents of thought are moving away from the more overtly religious emphasis of years past to a more mechanistic and secular faith. The authority of Bill and the other founders of AA is also waning. After all isn't one persons experience just as normative as anyone else's? Agnosticism reigns in AA. "God as we conceive of Him" and the authority of God "as He is expressed in our group conscience", has taken its natural course. If someone became sober without any god, then god isn't strictly necessary. Of a course the god which began as a useful idea gives way to bare agnosticism.
Taylor admitted the parallels between Christianity and AA. Rather than chalking these apparent similarities up to plagiarism, Taylor says that there is just the right amount of religion in AA to make it effective without scaring this diseased person away from Christianity. After all, he says, alcoholics are notorious for their bad feelings about religion. Taylor thinks AA is a good introduction for Alcoholics to Christianity.29
Taylor's biggest error was to deny the biblical teaching regarding human responsibility for sin. By saying as he does, with AA, that alcoholism (or any other excessive behavior for that matter) is a matter of treating a disease then one has removed the problem from the proper sphere of reference (sin and redemption) and conceded that biblical revelation, the work of Christ and the means of grace (preaching of the Word and sacraments) are insufficient for redemption and the Christian life.
God's Word consistently describes our lot differently. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3.23). All hold down the knowledge of God in unbelief (Romans 1.18). All are prone, by nature, to hate God and their neighbor. The Christian view of the matter is that the alcoholic, no matter how tragic his case, has no advantage over the average son of Adam in that respect. The answer does not lie with a synthesis of obvious Christian behaviors and doctrines (or facsimiles thereof) with modern disease models.
The answer lies in real repentance and faith in the living God, the second person of the Trinity, the Jesus who died for sinners and was raised again for our justification and who through the Holy Spirit effectively calls us to faith and who gives us new life and who makes us holy in himself.
What is the real difference between addictive sexual behavior and alcoholism? Once one becomes addicted to the sensations of orgasm he does not want to quit and will order his life around it. The question is not how much, but why, the inappropriate and damaging behavior continues? The "why" of the behavior is the same. All human beings are addicted to sin. Who of us in our old life was not? This is not to deny that alcoholism is not damaging, but to assert that all sin has its own form of fallout. The affects are different in some regard, but the progressive nature of the addiction begins with the will to sin. The effects of sin do not justify calling a sin a disease. In which case habitual drunkenness is no more a disease than habitual use of pornography. Neither sin is excusable no matter what the cause.
A 1982 book by A. C. DeJong, Help and Hope for the Alcoholic, is little improvement over Taylor. DeJong takes the middle road. DeJong's approach is very similar to Taylor's because his belief is that the Bible does not speak about the abuse of alcohol, (or that what it says is outdated), that Alcoholics Anonymous is a useful adjunct to the Church, and most importantly that alcoholism is not sin, but a disease.30
DeJong says that he once thought that alcoholism is sin, but since his own recovery (from alcoholism) he has come to see the error of that position.31 The reason for the change in his position was not exegetical (determined by detailed study of the Word of God) but experiential. DeJong, on the strength of his experience and assumptions, recommends all his alcoholic parishioners to AA and to all its subsidiary organizations.32
Like Taylor, DeJong argues that to call alcoholism a sin is not helpful. DeJong says that if the effects are this devastating, and no rational person would inflict this much damage upon himself and loved ones, not even a sinful one, then the cause must be disease over which the alcoholic had no control. DeJong admits that there is no known cause of the disease and that the origin of the disease is a mystery.33 DeJong still claims that for a non-alcoholic to call alcoholism sin is prideful.34
DeJong wants us to believe that AA is Biblical. He uses Scripture to support each of the Twelve Steps.35 DeJong admits that the alcoholic starts out in sin but he says that, in the end, the alcoholic is really a victim and not a sinner.36
Where Scripture and AA part ways, DeJong consistently follows the AA program. He makes the astonishing claim that alcoholism is not self inflicted. How then, one asks, did this catastrophe take place? He has already admitted that there is no known cause of the disease, nor any substantial medical support for the disease claim, so who or what secret and dark force foisted this disease upon him?37
In each chapter DeJong gives a summary of the meaning of one or more of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Chapter four deals with "unconditional surrender". The third of the Twelve Steps.38 He compares this surrender to the biblical descriptions of contriteness, repentance and brokeness of heart.39
On the surface this seems appropriate, but in fact it is distinctly unchristian. How? Even when the later steps speak of "our wrongs" and "character defects" they are not gauged against the Word of God which is the only standard against which sin can be judged (1 John 3.4; Romans 7.7). In the Bible, to repent of one's sins, to acknowledge the depth of one's sin and misery, entails fleeing to Jesus who lifts our burden and replaces it with His light yoke.
This is not what AA has in mind. One does not, when he admits that he is "powerless" over Alcohol, confess that he has held down the knowledge of the Covenant God in unbelief, sin, and rebellion. Instead what the alcoholic admits by this confession is his lack of moral responsibility for his situation. He confesses that his disease has gripped him to the point that it has begun to control him above all his other defects. Moreover he confesses these slips to a god of his own imagination--to himself ultimately! These are two fundamentally different confessions of faith.
DeJong makes another breathtaking claim, in contrast to Taylor, that AA is not a religious fellowship because it does not require subscription to a specific set of doctrines for membership. He also contradicts reality. The Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions are in fact a catechism and confession. AA is a confessional religion. There is not any non-religious or neutral confession of a god. Either one confesses the God of the Bible or he is an unbeliever.40
This helps us get to the heart of DeJong's problem. At every point he allows the alcoholic to remain in charge. The Bible simply forbids such an approach. DeJong has simply ignored the Biblical data we surveyed earlier. It is clear towards the end of the book, where he quotes the AA Big Book more and more, that his position is driven by a bible but not the revealed Word of God.
Never does the Word of God allow such self sufficiency. Clearly DeJong has somehow justified to himself the sacrifice of a biblical world-view for that of Alcoholics Anonymous. At every one of the Twelve Steps, important differences can be shown between what the Bible teaches and what each Step or Tradition teaches.
Your Church and the Alcoholic
Phillip Yancey calls AA "The Midnight Church". There are ways in which AA is like a local Church. What attracts alcoholics to AA is the fellowship, mutual support and acceptance they find in AA.41 Members are bound together by a common struggle against a common problem.
Like other para-church groups, AA grew up in a vacuum left by the church. In the past Christians have encouraged the growth of AA by looking down at alcoholics as sinners of a special sort. When Christians treat the alcoholic as though his sin was worse than ours, we've reinforced the idea that only alcoholics understand other alcoholics and that the church is irrelevant to the alcoholic.
It is not as if there is no alcohol abuse in the church. The truth is that there is more alcohol abuse and addiction than many recognize. By ignoring it and giggling about drinking problems, we have sometimes pushed the alcoholic into the arms of AA. Just as we have become sensitive to the needs of those facing the crisis of abortion, divorce, or spouse abuse, the church should make an effort to become aware of the specific symptoms of alcohol abuse so that we can spot it and address it in our own congregations. We cannot expect the alcoholic struggling with alcohol addiction and abuse to trust us, if we're not willing to admit that those who confess Christ sometimes fall into the sin of alcohol abuse.
To correct the problem Christians much first realize that it is God's will for sinners of all sorts to find their fellowship, acceptance, mutual support, and strength within the bonds of the local church, the Christ confessing covenant community, composed of confessing believers, redeemed sinners, saved by grace.
No one can confront any life-dominating sin apart from the saving grace of God in Christ. The first step toward freedom from alcohol abuse is to turn away from all sin and to place one's trust in the righteous obedience of Jesus Christ as our substitute and Savior (Acts 2.28-9; 10:43; Romans 1.16-7; 10.17; Gal 2.16).
The location of our life in Christ and the source of our daily help is the grace of God administered in the congregation through the preaching of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments.
In Ephesians 5.18-20 Paul gives explicit directions in this regard. Paul is assuming that in Christ we are a new creation with new life patterns and new friends. Paul suggests that part of the new life means being subject to our brothers and sisters in the visible body of Christ instead of alcohol.
Second, we Christians must make a commitment to accepting the alcohol abuser into our midst, as someone no more or less dependent upon God's grace than we. If we as the visible community of the redeemed truly see ourselves as lost sinners saved by grace, then how can we not accept other sinners into our midst? How can we distinguish between one type of pre-Christian behavior and another? We can't and neither should the alcohol (or other substance) abuser.
Notice how Peter classes alcohol abuse in 1 Peter 4.1-4.
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do--living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you (NIV).The Apostle Peter frankly recognizes the difficulty of leaving the old life behind and uniting with a new group of friends, the church. Verse four, "They think it strange..." seems to indicate even that some of the believers were being persecuted by their old drinking buddies. The verse also illustrates the need for the alcoholic to replace his old associations with new ones (cf. 1 Corinthians 15.33). The church is God's agency for the helping the alcohol abuser.
Third, we must make a commitment to dealing openly with one another about our sins. Here we need to reclaim territory we have conceded to AA. In an AA meeting there is usually a remarkable degree of openness in the meeting to one another. Pretense is difficult in a room full of people who have been doing exactly what you have been doing and telling the same lies. If someone is having a difficult time of it, he is encouraged to seek help from a qualified fellow member and even from the group as a whole. This seems to fit the situation envisioned by the Lord in Matthew 18.15-19 and by Paul in Colossians 3.16. and by James 5.16.
Fourth, we must become available to serve one another. We are all sinners. Any sin could be life dominating. It is not necessary to be an alcoholic to serve the spiritual needs of the alcoholic.
Part of that ministry requires the mature, sober alcoholic to go on call (much the way a doctor is on call) for a 24 hour period. When on call one's phone might ring day or night with call from a fellow member who is about to "fall off the wagon". Strong bonds of love and mutual encouragement are formed when one spends the night holding another's hand who is shaking and vomiting under withdrawal symptoms. Do we love one another in Christ as much as AA members love each other?
Would it not make a difference in one's life, when tempted to commit some sin for the thousandth time, one knew that there was a Christian friend one might call who would show the love of Jesus by giving encouragement, praying with one, taking one out for coffee and providing some redirection? I think it would.
Fifth, there are a many Christians who attend AA, who live a dual life, because they believe the Church will scorn them because of their past alcohol abuse. This is very sad. It is the Church who has the good news for alcoholics--sin will not have dominion over believers! (Romans 6.14).
Those Christians who are leading this double life must help the Church learn to deal openly with alcohol and drug abuse. Christians with an alcoholic past must trust their brothers and sisters in Christ enough to show them how to minister to the addict.
The Church has been entrusted with the great commission to make disciples, even of alcoholics. AA constitutes a field of hurting, gospel needy people, white for the harvest. The question is, are we hungry enough to harvest?
It may be old fashioned, but we must describe to the alcoholic the depth of his sin and misery, how he can be redeemed from all his sins and misery and how he is to be thankful for such redemption.42 Obviously the presentation of the gospel must be sensitive and thoughtful and will vary from case to case, but the essentials, as we will see, cannot be compromised, even (or perhaps especially) for one as desperate as the alcoholic. We dare not throw too short a rope to a drowning man. Only the gospel rope will do.
Adams, J.E., The Christian Counselor's Manual, Presbyterian and Reformed: Phillipsburg, 1975.
-- Competent to Counsel, Baker: Grand Rapids, 1970.
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Alcoholics Anonymous, AA World Services: New York, 1976.
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Twelve Steps and Traditions, AA Grapevine and AA World Services: New York, 1953.
Crossman, R.H.S., Ed., Oxford and The Groups. Blackwell: Oxford, 1934.
DeJong, A.C., Help and Hope for the Alcoholic, Tyndale: Wheaton, 1982.
Henry, C.F.H., Christian Personal Ethics. Baker: Grand Rapids, 1957, repr. 1979.
Henson, H.H., The Oxford Groups. Oxford University Press: London, 1933.
Hughes, P. E., Hope for a Despairing World: The Christian Answer to the Problem of Evil. Presbyterian and Reformed: Phillipsburg, 1977.
Leon, P., The Philosophy of Courage. George Allen and Unwin: London, 1939.
Machen, J. G., The Christian View of Man. Banner of Truth Trust: Edinburgh, 1937, repr., 1984.
Shipp, T. J., Helping the Alcoholic and His Family. Prentice-Hall: Englewood Cliffs, 1963.
Taylor, G. A., A Sober Faith: Religion and Alcoholics Anonymous. Macmillan Company, New York, 1953.
Wisdom, C., "Alcoholic's Anonymous--A Biblical Critique of AA's View of God. Man, Sin and Hope", The Journal of Pastoral Practice, 1986.Endnotes
* This paper was written originally as a 1988 article for the Reformed Herald. It was subsequently revised as a class handout for the Theology of Culture course at Wheaton College, 1995. Revised December, 1998. (c)2000 R. S. Clark. All rights reserved.
1 Alcoholics Anonymous, xvii.
3 ibid. xviii, xxii.
4 The 12 Steps are:
1.We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable.
2.Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3.Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. (emph. orig.)
4.Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5.Admitted too God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6.Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7.Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings
8.Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9.Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10.Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11.Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. (emph. orig.)
12.Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The 12 Traditions are, in part:
1.Our common welfare should come first; the personal recovery depends upon AA. unity. Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole. AA. must continue to live or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward.
2.For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority--a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
3.The only requirement for AA. membership is a desire to stop drinking. Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought AA. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an AA., provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.
5.Each group has but one primary purpose--to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
10.Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA. name ought never be drawn into public controversy. No AA. group should ever, in such a way as to implicate AA., express an opinion on outside controversial issues--particularly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such groups they can express no views whatever.
12.Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities....we of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the principle of anonymity has an immense spiritual significance...It reminds us that we are to actually practice a genuine humility. This to the end that our great blessings may never spoil us; that we shall forever live in thankful contemplation of Him who presides over us all (Alcoholics Anonymous, 17; Twelve Steps, 5ff).
5 The Big Book has revised several times since its publication.
6 Pentecostal Christians teach a sort of on-going revelation and that God speaks to Christians directly and about specific things apart from the Scriptures. See W. S. Hudson, Religion in America, 378 ff., W. W. Sweet, The Story of Religion in America,423ff, H. H. Henson, The Oxford Groups, 5; P. Leon, The Philosophy of Courage, 112ff.
7 Sweet, 423
8 Hudson, 378. The historical relationship between AA and the Oxford Groups is hinted at in the quotation from the Big Book above in the phrase, "though he (Bill W.) could not accept all the tenets...."
These tenets, though attached originally to an apparently Christian para-church organization, are not distinctively Christian, if only because they do not flow from a distinctively Christian confession. That is, there is nothing about them which requires one to be a Christian to practice them. The assumption of this essay is that Christianity is a unique religion in that it is divinely revealed, its God is triune, and its doctrine of redemption and ethics are organized around the God-Man Jesus Christ, who died as a substitute for all his people. Christian ethics is nothing more or less than the grateful response by the redeemed to God's grace toward sinners in Christ.
9 ibid. xvi.
10 For example, it is a regular practice to recite the Lord's Prayer in their meetings. Jesus prayed "Hallowed by thy name", or "Your name is Holy", with the clear intent of declaring that God's name (Yahweh), indeed God Himself, is distinct morally and in his being from humanity. Yet in step three and tradition two AA rejects explicitly such a view of God. Jesus prayer is exclusivist in that it implies that there are no other gods besides the God of the Bible.
There are other hints of the Bible in the Twelve Traditions of AA Some examples of such borrowing: tradition three speaks of the gathering of "two or three" an obvious reference to Matthew 18.20, "For where two or three of you are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst". The Twelve Steps and Traditions refer to God as "Him", complete with the uppercase pronoun traditionally reserved in English for the Biblical Deity. Interestingly, the published prayers of AA are even written in a sort of 17th century English, apparently to lend them an air of tradition and authority.
11 Alcoholics Anonymous,12-3. See also, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, 132ff.
12 Chapter four of the book even contains an apologetic for their doctrine of God and their view of revelation.
13 Many AA meetings close with the chant, "keep coming back, it works".
14 L. P. Jacks, Oxford and the Groups, 129; J. Alsdurf's , review of H. Fingarette's The Myth of Alcoholism As a Disease, "Alcoholism: Is It a Sin After All?", (Christianity Today, February 3, 1989). See also L. M. Thomas, "Alcoholism is Not A Disease", in Christianity Today, October 4, 1985. For a contrary view see. A. Spinkard's article in Christianity Today August 4, 1983, 26.
15 A. Spinkard, 26; T. J. Shipp, Helping the Alcoholic and His Family, 91ff.
16 See the similar exhortation in Rom.13.13.
17 The first article of the Apostles' Creed says, "I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth."
18 The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q/A 4.
19 The Revised Standard Version, (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.) 1973, 1977.
20 P. E. Hughes, Hope For a Despairing World: The Christian Answer to the Problem of Evil,26-7.
21 The Westminster Shorter Catechism Q/A 22 says, "Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to himself a true body, (Heb. 2:14,16, Heb. 10:5) and a reasonable soul, (Matt. 26:38) being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and born of her, (Luke 1:27,31,35,42, Gal. 4:4) yet without sin. (Heb. 4:15, Heb. 7:26)"
22 From the New American Standard Version.
23 Alcoholics Anonymous,46-7.
24 ibid, the preface, vii.
25 Matthew 6.24.
26 A Sober Faith, 4ff;52.ff
27 ibid., 32ff., esp.42.
28 ibid., 59.
29 ibid., 35,78,87.
30 ibid., 18, 38, 41.
32 ibid., 14, 57.
33 Thus Jay Adams calls the use of the word disease in the context of alcoholism meaningless.
34 De Jong, Help and Hope for the Alcoholic, 18,21; Cf. J. E. Adams, Competent to Counsel, xiv.
35 Help and Hope for the Alcoholic, 31ff.
36 ibid., 22.
37 ibid., 35.
38 ibid., p.59ff.
39 ibid., 61.
40 ibid., 114.
41 Phillip Yancey, "The Midnight Church," Christianity Today, February 4, 1983, 96. Yancey gives an overly sentimental and unbiblical description of Alcoholics Anonymous. He is quite correct, however, when he calls it a "unique church". Although he does not seem to realize what this implies. He too has bought into the idea that somehow Alcoholics Anonymous reflects the true spirit of the early Church, a church without all those nasty doctrinal disputes that bother the organized Church. In so doing he confirms the connection with the Oxford Groups. He brushes over what he calls the "Christological question" i.e., how a Christian could actively take part in the worship of an unknown god or even more to the point: propagate such a faith without compromising his Christian faith; with the worst kind of defense: well the church is full a hypocrites and the alcoholic is getting his needs met, so what is the difference? The most blatant inaccuracy, however, in the article is his insistence that AA requires the alcoholic to take responsibility for his actions. This is not the case. While there is a mild formal protest that, yes, the alcoholic is responsible, the chief doctrine of the faith is that alcoholism is the result of a disease not sin, therefore, ultimately, the alcoholic cannot be fully responsible because no one can justly be held responsible for actions committed under the influence of a disease over which he had no control.
42 This language is drawn from the second question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism, a Reformed confessional document first published in 1563.
Courtesy of 1 Cross 1 Way Ministries
** B.B. refers to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. 12X12 refers to the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous
1. You are going to know a new freedom as you make-up/choose/invent your very own personal god – and call it whatever you want. (B.B. pg. 12, 46, 47, 55, 59, 93). (12x12 pg. 27, 35). (Ex. 20:3–7, John 14:6, Acts 4:12, Matt. 1:21, Col. 1:21–23).
2. You will not regret the past because it’s not really your fault, it’s your diseases/maladies/illnesses fault. (B.B. pg. 33, 85, 30, 114). (2 Cor. 5:17., John 8:36, Ezekiel 36:26, 27).
3. You will come to believe you have an incurable disease/malady/illness, not a sin issue. (B.B. pg. 18, 23, 30, 33, 44, 64, 85, 92, 107, 114, 115, 118, 132, 139, 142). (12x12 pg. 15, 23, 104, 114). (Gal. 5:19-21).
4. You will come to believe you are a victim. (B.B. pg. 50, 58, 115, 146). (12x12 pg. 22, 39). (Rom. 3:10-12, 3:23).
5. You will have no hope of ever becoming free from the bondage of this so-called disease/malady/illness. (B.B. pg. 30, 33, 85, 114). (12x12 pg. 15, 23, 104, 114). (Ps. 146:8, Jn. 8:31, 32).
6. You will learn how to water-down your sin, in order to quiet your conscience. (B.B. pg. 46, 64, 67, 71, 78, 82). (12x12 pg. 44, 67, 68, 86). (Proverbs 1:23, Jer. 8:6, Mt. 3:2, Mk. 1:15).
7. You will adhere to “their message.” A different gospel. (B.B. pg. 60, 89). (12x12 pg. 8, 17, 24, 106, 109, 110, 111, 113, 130, 142, 150, 151, 181, 190). (Gal. 1:6-12, 2 Cor. 11:4.)
8. You will know peace with 'a god'. However, NOT with the God of the Bible because Christ is not mentioned for forgiveness of sin in the A.A. Literature. (B.B. pg. 63). (12x12 pg. 32, 107, 98, 105, 125). (John 14:6, Acts 4:12, Col. 1:20, Eph. 2:14-16, 2 Cor. 5:18-20, Rom. 5:1).
9. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will be replaced by a love for SELF that will be greater than ever before. (12x12 pg. 129). (James 4:6, Proverbs 16:18, Proverbs 14:12, 1 Cor. 10:7, 14).
10. Your whole attitude and outlook on life will ultimately submit to the A.A. literature and program (Big-book, 12x12), not the sufficiency of God’s Word, The Bible. (B.B. pg. 58). (Matt. 22:37, 2 Tim. 3:16).
11. All ‘fear of The Lord’ will eventually leave you, if you continue to adhere to A.A. literature and program. (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10, 15:33, Ecc. 12:13).
12. You will earn God’s grace/favor as you practice A.A.’s ‘works’ salvation program. (12x12 pg. 32, 46, 107). (Eph. 2:8,9).
+1. You will begin to believe A.A.'s false 'salvation message' (a different gospel), and that you are 'heaven bound' (eternally secure). Sadly, you very well may not be. (B.B. pg. 63, 60, 89). (12x12 pg. 27, 32, 93, 98, 105, 107, 125). (Mark 1:15, John 8:36, Acts 20:21, 2 Cor. 5:17, 11:4, Gal. 1:6-12, Ezekiel 36:26,27).
If you are reading this it's not too late:
Are you a Christian in a Twelve Step program, or a Pastor or Christian leader that believes the Twelve Steps are Christian in origin? Then please consider the following.
From the Westminster Seminary:
The Church has been entrusted with the great commission to make disciples, even of alcoholics. AA constitutes a field of hurting, gospel needy people, white for the harvest. The question is, are we hungry enough to harvest?
If you are a Christian and have made a commitment to follow Jesus Christ, then you must believe that He is the center and reason for absolutely everything that has ever existed or will ever exist. All of God's creation from the beginning in Genesis 1 until the end of time as we know it – and on into eternity, it all has been for the glory of Jesus Christ. He is on every page of the Holy Bible from, “In the beginning,” in Genesis 1, to “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.,” in Revelation 22:21. Jesus is on every page of scripture in some way. All of history revolves and is centered on Jesus Christ and nothing exists that does not do so without His sustaining power. He holds all things together.
Every part of who you are as a human being is about Jesus Christ – even if you don't believe in Him. He is inescapable. One way or another, every human being who has or will ever exist will know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the human race and of all creation. It's just a matter of when and how each human being finally comes to know and accept the truth of Jesus Christ.
All of God's Word in scripture, all that the prophets down through the ages spoke of is to reveal to us His magnificent, glorious, and mysterious plan to save mankind through the sacrifice of His only begotten and perfect Son. God did this to save us from eternal damnation and separation from Him because He loves us far beyond our capability as humans to fully understand.
So, if you are a Christian who believes that the 12 steps are Christian in origin how do you answer this question: if God did all of this, then why would he inspire two alcoholics in the 1930's to create a way to obtain sobriety – and never have His Son Jesus Christ be any part of it?
This is the truth of the 12 steps – they are a brilliant plan conceived by demonic forces that keep millions from coming to a true relationship with Jesus Christ, (If this seems far fetched to you then please read the articles page on this site that explains the facts pertaining to the origins of the 12 steps). Satan and his demon's have convinced people seeking sobriety to follow a “God of their own understanding.” Then, as they become drawn into the 12 step cult Satan begins lifting the temptation to drink, use drugs, whatever the sin is. Yes, Satan can remove the temptation to sin because he is the one that put it there in the first place. God does not tempt us.
As the temptation is lifted the 12 step follower is drawn deeper into the cult by believing that a “God of their own understanding” is helping them. Satan now has his victim far off the narrow path that leads to salvation through Jesus Christ and onto a wide path of destruction. The poor soul seeking sobriety has been completely duped. Notice the glaring contradiction between the false message of salvation claimed on page 46 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous (The Big Book), and the true message of salvation through Jesus Christ as conveyed through God's Word in scripture.
There is only one way to God and that is through His Son Jesus Christ – you must believe in Him, accept Him, and follow Him completely with no variance.
Christ can do much more than enable you to maintain sobriety. He is sufficient to meet all of our needs in a way beyond what we could ever imagine. Please, do not be fooled into believing that anything in this world can offer you a solution for any sin that holds you in bondage. The only way to be reconciled to God, the only way to be freed from the bondage and pain of sin is through faith in Jesus Christ. The only joy there is - is in Jesus Christ. You only must believe in Him and follow Him.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. - John 8:36
Previously in part one of this article, we looked at Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill Wilson. In this final installment we’ll look at others whose influence will give crucial insight into the substance of AA.
Lois Wilson, Bill’s wife, played an important part in starting Al-Anon, which was aimed at helping the spouses and family members of alcoholics. Al-Anon uses the same 12-step literature and program as Alcoholics Anonymous.
Mrs. Wilson was a professing Swedenborgian. Swedenborgianism, also known as a The New Church and The New Church of Jerusalem, is cult that was started by Emmanuel Swedenborg in the 1700’s. They are not Christian because they reject the Trinity, they do not believe the Holy Spirit is God, Jesus’ death did not atone for sin, and that salvation comes by practicing what you believe regardless of your religion.
Dr. Bob Smith:
Dr. Bob Smith, known amongst AA circles simply as Dr. Bob, was co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous with Bill Wilson. Less is known about his beliefs and thoughts on God than that of Wilson, but we do know that he was given a very religious upbringing by his parents at their Congregationalist church. Many Congregationalist churches during the late 19th century were ravaged from all sides by heresy, with many succumbing to Unitarianism, the Social Gospel movement, liberalism, ecumenism, and universalism.[4, 5] Despite the turning of many churches to apostasy, some remained faithful to God’s word. The state of the church his parents attended during his childhood currently remains unknown, but further research may reveal this in the future. In either case, Smith described his upbringing this way:
From childhood through high school I was more or less forced to go to church, Sunday School, and evening service, Monday night Christian Endeavor and sometimes to Wednesday evening prayer meeting. This had the effect of making me resolve that when I was free from parental domination, I would never darken the doors of a church. This resolution I kept steadfastly for the next forty years, except when circumstances made it seem unwise to absent myself.
Clearly, he rejected whatever he learned in his religious upbringing, resolving not to go to church again unless it was advantageous to him somehow. This he did for forty years.
Smith was likely the one who introduced Wilson to the occult practices he was involved in for years. Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers records Smith’s son as saying, “He felt that in far distant centuries, the science of the mind would be so developed as to make possible contact between the living and the dead.” The text goes on to say that mystical experiences were a particular interest that he pursued for some time and recounts tales of séances, vanishing beards, and the like. One early AA member made the claim that at one point things became too intense for Doc’s involvement in the occult, saying that “Doc backed off, too.” This is particularly interesting because there really is no mention of repentance from this sin, merely a “backing off” from the practice out of fear because it was getting too spooky.
Even more concerning for Smith is that he also embraced and promoted Emmet Fox’s heretical work Sermon on the Mount. One early AA member claims that, “The first thing he did was get me Emmet Fox’s ‘The Sermon on the Mount’”. This is problematic for all the same reasons mentioned in part one of this article relating to Bill Wilson. Along with his gravitation toward Fox’s heresy, he also made regular visits to a Catholic retreat in Cleveland for weekend stays. He was also an avid reader and studied all sorts of various philosophies and religions. His son remarks that, “he read about every religion.” Disturbingly, Smith’s study of various religions, including Christianity, did not lead him to truth, for he landed on the heresies of Fox, the Roman Catholic church, and the false religion he co-founded as his preferred avenues for spiritual concentration. There is no indication that his views of Jesus and God were anything but heretical.
Harry Emerson Fosdick:
Harry Emerson Fosdick was a pastor who enjoyed wide popularity during the time Alcoholics Anonymous was formed. His efforts propelled liberal theology and attacked historic fundamental Christianity, leading to the downfall of many churches. He rejected the idea that the Bible is the Word of God, the virgin birth of Jesus, God’s wrath against sin and the necessity of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus, the bodily resurrection of Christ, his physical ascension to heaven, and doubted whether Jesus ever even thought of himself as the Messiah.
When AA began to have early success he apparently reviewed the program with approval. For many, this is seen as evidence of AA’s Christian roots and serves to ease the conscience of any who may suspect that AA isn’t Christian. What many do not realize is that Fosdick was not a Christian, but a false teacher. One only has to ask the question to know its answer: should anyone be encouraged that a false teacher found nothing objectionable in the AA program and thus gave a good review? More information on Fosdick can be found by following the link below.
The False Teachers: Harry Emerson Fosdick
The founders of AA certainly had some knowledge of the Bible. Unfortunately, that knowledge didn't lead to sound doctrine or to a saving faith in the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ. This is most clearly reflected in the ideas expressed in AA literature and the resulting doctrines found that are contradictory to the clear gospel presented in Scripture. Dick B. even makes the open admission that AA is not Christian, but continues to endorse it by attempting to compare AA with the Red Cross, the Armed Forces and even the U.S. Constitution. Of course none of these are actively attempting to teach their own spiritual doctrines or a path to God, so the comparison is meaningless. A truer comparison would be like encouraging a Christian to join a cult like Mormonism or the Jehovah Witnesses. Several articles addressing the false teachings of the AA program can be found on this site and will not be referenced as part of this article.
Much more could be said of many others who had influences on the early AA movement. Men such as Fulton Oursler, who rejected his Baptist upbringing to become agnostic at age 15 only to later convert to Roman Catholicism. The false teacher Norman Vincent Peale whose influence can be found in terms like “higher power”.[19, 20] Even the humanist philosophies of Carl Jung and William James can be found in the 12-steps. There is a wealth of information to be put forth on these and others which would further expose the ungodly streams that flow into the murky waters of AA philosophy, theology, and practice. At this moment, what has been laid out in this article is sufficient evidence to conclude that the major components of AA were derived from unregenerate minds and anti-biblical worldviews that twist and distort truth in the name of God.
By looking at AA literature and the beliefs and practices of early AA supporters, it should be clear that they were not Christians nor was the work they produced Christian. One might wonder why take such a critical look at the beliefs of these men. Let the reader be reminded of the warnings given by Jesus himself about false teachers who would come in his name (Matthew 24:5). Tragically, there are some such as Dick B. who continue to vigorously defend AA based on what they wish it could have been, but never was, and in doing so severely harm the body of Christ. These would have us believe that the Holy Spirit regenerated the AA co-founders, gave them a supposedly remarkable spiritual insight to help alcoholics, but never brought them to a clear and enduring conviction to worship the true God of the Bible. This is utterly inconceivable. God’s Word simply does not allow for that possibility.
Thankfully, there is a better way. Instead of relying upon the testimony, teachings, and methods birthed from darkened minds, believers have God’s written word and the Holy Spirit living in them. We would do well to remember the Apostle Paul’s words:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
The one true God has revealed himself as a Trinity of persons (Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiah 44:8, Matthew 28:19, John 1:1-3, Galatians 1:1, Acts 5:3-4). Consequently, there is only one Jesus Christ who is worthy of anyone’s devotion, time, worship and prayer. This Jesus came to earth and took on human flesh, lived a sinless life, died on the cross as a wrath bearing substitute for all believers, was physically raised on the third day, and ascended to heaven to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords (Acts 1:9-11, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Philippians 2:5-11, Revelation 17:14, 19:16).
Dear reader, God’s word truly is sufficient and His power truly infinite. He has gone to great lengths to secure salvation for all who would call on his name (Romans 10:9-13). Turn to him, forsake the burden of AA and this world, and follow Christ alone.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
1. Dick B., My Search for the Curious Nonsense "gods" Floating Around Recovery Talk, (2011), http://dickb.com/articles/AA-Higher-Powers.shtml, quoting Lois Wilson, Lois Remembers: Memoirs of the Co-Founder of Al-Anon and Wife of the Co-Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, (New York: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., 1987), 26.
2. What is Swedenborgianism?, https://gotquestions.org/Swedenborgianism.html
3. Dick B., Introduction: The Challenge and Direction of the Dr. Bob Resource Volumes, (2007), http://www.drbob.info/newsletters/Introduction.htm
4. The Congregational Christian Tradition, (Congregational Library & Archives, 2013), http://www.congregationallibrary.org/researchers/congregational-christian-tradition
5. Daniel T. Jenkins, Congregationalism, (2015), https://www.britannica.com/topic/Congregationalism
6. Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition (New York: A.A. World Services, 2001), 172.
7. Alcoholics Anonymous, Pass it On, (New York: A.A. World Services, 1984), 275.
8. Alcoholics Anonymous, Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers: A biography, with recollections of early A.A. in the Midwest, (New York: A.A. World Services, 1986), 311.
9. Ibid., 311-312.
10. Ibid., 312.
11. Ibid., 311-312.
12. Ibid., 310.
13. Ibid., 311.
14. Ibid., 309-310.
15. David Pultz, Theological Influences and Beliefs of Harry Emerson Fosdick, (Christian Education Committee, 1995-1996), http://www.fpcnyc.org/about-us/history/harry-emerson-fosdick/theological-influences.html - sthash.Llm4h98T.dpbs
16. Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, xvii.
17. Dick B., My Search for the Curious Nonsense “gods” Floating Around Recovery Talk
18. Lorene Hanley Duquen, A Century of Catholic Converts, (Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 2003), 129 & 131.
19. Dick B., A.A., Dr. William D. Silkworth, and the “Great Physician”, (2013), http://www.dickb.com/articles/AA-Dr-William-D-Silkworth-and-the-Great-Physician.shtml
20. Tim Challies, The False Teachers: Norman Vincent Peale, (2014), http://www.challies.com/articles/the-false-teachers-norman-vincent-peale
21. Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, 26-28.
Was Alcoholics Anonymous started by Christians and based on the Bible? Many people think so, but is it true?
While it is true that there are some ideas found in Alcoholics Anonymous literature that are in agreement with Christianity, that doesn't necessarily mean that AA is fundamentally Christian or that its founders were Christian. There are many cults which share some common themes and truths found in Biblical Christianity but twist and distort essential Christian doctrine. As a result, they may be Christian in name, but not in substance. With this in mind, we must hold the claims of the AA founders and AA literature to the test of Scripture to see if the doctrines and practices of AA are in alignment with Biblical truth. 1 John 4:1 says, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Since there is a real possibility of deception by false prophets, it is wise to examine the teachings of AA and the beliefs of its founders and early supporters so that we can determine if AA is in fact Christian, or if it has followed the path of the cults. Beginning with Bill Wilson, who was the primary co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, this two-part article will attempt to address this question and offer a response to critics.
While there were many contributors, Bill Wilson was the leading source for the basic text of AA - the book Alcoholics Anonymous. There is no evidence that Bill Wilson came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, most evidence seems to indicate otherwise.
Dick B., AA historian, professed Christian, and author of many books and articles defending AA, sets up his defense that Wilson was a Christian by making much of his church participation in his article titled, Why Bill Wilson Came Firmly to Believe That Alcoholism Could Be Cured by Conversion. In his article, he writes of Wilson attending church services with his grandparents, his enrollment in Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, Vermont where he regularly attended daily chapel and the weekly required church service, and his presidency at a local YMCA. Yet none of these things, in and of themselves, make someone a Christian. That's not to say that these aren't things a Christian would do, but it's not conclusive evidence of Bill's own personal convictions and beliefs. Much of this experience had little, if any, positive effect on his beliefs.
In the Alcoholics Anonymous chapter titled “Bill’s Story”, Wilson's own reflection of his childhood sheds tremendous light on the state of his belief after all his religious exposure. While Dick B. gives the impression of a positive spiritual influence from Wilson’s grandfather, Wilson’s recollection seems to indicate otherwise. He recounts his grandfather’s "good natured contempt" for those in church and his continued denial of the preachers right to tell him he must listen (presumably to the gospel). After telling of his grandfather, Wilson goes on to say that he himself had always believed in a "Power greater than myself", but that he would become irritated and his mind would "snap shut" at the thought of a personal and loving God. He then makes a statement which is particularly revealing about the state of his unbelief up to that point, "To Christ I conceded the certainty of a great man, not too closely followed by those who claimed Him. His moral teaching-most excellent. For myself, I had adopted those parts which seemed convenient and not too difficult; the rest I disregarded." Essentially all of the religious exposure he had up to this point amounted to an amorphous belief in something greater than himself and a failure to acknowledge Jesus as the incarnate Son of God. Instead he opted for a view of Jesus as a mere human who was a good moral teacher. To further prove his rejection of God and Christ as revealed in Scripture, consider his thoughts relating to a statement by his friend just a few short paragraphs later:
My friend suggested what then seemed a novel idea. He said, "Why don't you choose your own conception of God?"
In other words, instead of repenting of his refusal to receive God as he revealed Himself in Scripture, he chose to make up his own conception that he could handle. This is extremely important to keep in mind when examining Wilson’s statements that seem to be speaking of Jesus and the Lord as if they are the same as found in true Christianity. Any mention of God or Jesus is ultimately one of his own making.
Later in his article, Dick B. quotes Wilson's experience at Calvary Rescue Mission:
"There were hymns and prayers. Tex, the leader, exhorted us. Only Jesus could save, he said. . . . Then came the call. Penitents started marching toward the rail. . . . Soon I knelt among the sweating, stinking penitents. Maybe then and there, for the first time, I was penitent too. Something touched me, I guess it was more than that. I was hit." [ellipses original]
On the surface, this might appear to some as a true conversion. However, Wilson's documented behavior and beliefs cast serious doubt on the authenticity of his supposed conversion to Christianity. Virtually all evidence points to the reality that even though he may have claimed faith in Jesus, he never truly possessed it. Given his previously documented refusal to receive God as he has revealed himself, one can only wonder exactly who Wilson had in mind when he thought of Jesus.
One clue that reveals the direction of Wilson’s belief is his endorsement of Emmet Fox's book Sermon on the Mount. Fox was a false teacher, mystic and prominent New Thought leader operating as an ordained Divine Science Minister at The Church of the Healing Christ in New York city from 1931-1951. In his book Sermon on the Mount, he firmly rejects essential Christian doctrines such as the deity of Christ, original sin, and a vicarious blood atonement. Even stating there was no such thing as a plan of salvation found in the Bible. This book, with its damnable heresy, was given to newcomers of AA to read by both AA co-founders, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith. AA defender Dick B. even admits that his writings were favored by them both.
Despite the admission that the book was favored by AA’s co-founders, Dick B. makes this incredulous defense in one of his blog posts, "cherry picking this or that author or book and labeling it as representative of the Christian faiths, denominations, creeds, and beliefs of early AAs is just another path to the myths now being manufactured by some who are violently opposed to A.A." There is a valid argument to be made here, and to be fair, Wilson did read books by many authors. Just because someone reads a book filled with heresy doesn't necessarily mean that they actually believe what is in the book (on a side note, this also applies when one reads books presenting orthodox Christianity). Yet vital questions remain. Which ones did he actively promote? Which authors seemed to have the most influence in the ideas expressed in the 12-steps? What Dick B. has either overlooked, or refused to accept, is that Bill and Dr. Bob didn’t merely read Fox’s book, they embraced it. So much so, that its ideas made its way into the 12-steps and they recommended it to newcomers. This simple fact alone is indicative that they agreed with what they found in it.
Further on in his blog post, Dick B. clouds the issue even more by citing Dr. Bob's suggestion to early AA members to read the Sermon on the Mount and other passages directly from the Bible. Elsewhere he also acknowledges that "the Sermon on the Mount contained the underlying philosophy of A.A." Unfortunately, this does little to alleviate the glaring reality that their view of Jesus' sermon was poisoned with deadly heresy when influenced by Fox's book of the same title. Even more concerning is that they gave it to newcomers as they began to sober up.
In still another article where Dick B. scoffs at Christian concern about AA, he makes an attempt to invalidate all discerning investigation into Wilson’s faith:
Bill Wilson himself had [dabbled in spiritualism] through having been introduced to Swedenborgian ideas by his marriage to and the family of Lois Burnham Wilson, his wife. The erring Christian critics ignored the plain teachings of the New Testament that “even” Christians walked in the flesh, were carnal in their meanderings, and violated God’s commandments. See Romans, Chapter 8, for example. But Wilson’s vagaries—ranging from New England Congregationalism in his youth to atheist thinking to Swedenborgian influences to born-again Christianity at the Mission to spiritualism to Roman Catholic doctrine to psychic experiments—could not alter A.A. or even Wilson’s status as a Christian, which came from his decision for Jesus Christ at Calvary Mission—the validity of which is for God and God alone to judge—not some anti-A.A. Christian writer.
Here he openly admits Wilson's wide ranging and ever shifting forms of unbelief, yet still attempts to defend Wilson’s status as Christian, despite only having positive affirmations of heresy and constant rejections of orthodoxy. These were not temporary lapses into sin by a believer, but sustained unbelief of someone who was never truly born again. Dick B.'s defense is problematic on at least four counts:
According to Wilson’s biography Pass it On, he also refused to “ally himself with any formal belief system. His personal hang ups with organized religion, including Christianity, kept him from joining the church through faith in Christ and influenced his insistence that AA not be allied with any particular religious sect. He obviously cared more about his false religion than the true church. To claim faith in Jesus while refusing to integrate and fellowship with his body in a local church seems more indicative of dead faith than true faith. To take an earthly example, it would be equivalent to a man saying he loves his wife, but will never see her or spend time with her and instead opts to spend his time with strange women. The wife would naturally understand that the man doesn’t truly love her. So it was with Wilson. While he claimed to love God and Jesus, he never spent time with the body of Christ in the local church and instead opted for friendship with the world and to love a strange god of his own making. For all their focus on the book of James, the early AA’s must have missed James 4:4, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
Further action revealing Wilson’s unbelief was his extended practice of necromancy. Wilson first became involved in séances with Dr. Bob and his wife in 1935, four years before Alcoholics Anonymous was published. This activity of attempting to talk to dead spirits continued on to at least the mid 1940’s and eventually evolved into what they called “spook sessions”. These spook sessions involved levitating tables, Ouija boards, and receiving messages from spirits while in a meditative state. This is particularly problematic considering that God condemned people who practiced necromancy to death in the Old Testament and gave the Israelites harsh warnings concerning the practice (Leviticus 19:31, 20:6, 27, Deuteronomy 18:10-14). In the New Testament, Paul writes that those who practiced sorcery would not inherit eternal life (Galatians 5:19-24). Clearly, Wilson’s spooking was a manifestation of the flesh, not a fruit of the Spirit which leads to eternal life.
The most reasonable conclusion to be made from the evidence is that Wilson was a false teacher and his life reflects the fruit of an unregenerate heart that does not have in mind the things of God (Mark 8:33).
In part two, we’ll look at Wilson’s co-founder Dr. Bob Smith, his wife Lois Wilson, and other early Alcoholics Anonymous associates.
Read Part 2 of this article: Was Alcoholics Anonymous Started by Christians? - Part 2
1. Dick B., Why Bill Wilson Came Firmly to Believe That Alcoholism Could Be Cured by Conversion, (2008), http://www.dickb.com/aaarticles/Alcoholism-Could-Be-Cured.shtml
2. Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition (New York: A.A. World Services, 2001), 10.
3. Ibid., 11.
4. Ibid., 12.
5. Dick B., Why Bill Wilson Came Firmly to Believe That Alcoholism Could Be Cured by Conversion
6. Meet Dr. Emmet Fox, http://www.emmetfox.net/about%20emmet%20fox.htm
7. Emmet Fox, The Sermon on the Mount: The Key to Success in Life, (Harper Collins Publishers, 1989), 4.
8. Alcoholics Anonymous, Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers: A biography, with recollections of early A.A. in the Midwest, (New York: A.A. World Services, 1986), 310-311.
9. Dick B., Alcoholics Anonymous History: Dick B.'s Early A.A. Resources, http://silkworth.net/dickb/earlyresources.html
10.Dick B., The Emmet Fox Myths Regularly Promulgated by A Few Against A.A, (2012), http://mauihistorian.blogspot.com/2012/03/jesus-or-emmet-fox-and-foxs-higher.html
12. Dick B., Alcoholics Anonymous History: Dick B.'s Early A.A. Resources; quoting from Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, 228.
13. Dick B., My Search for the Curious Nonsense “gods” Floating Around Recovery Talk, (2011), http://dickb.com/articles/AA-Higher-Powers.shtml
14. Alcoholics Anonymous, Pass it On, (New York: A.A. World Services, 1984), 283-284.
16. Ibid, 275.
17. Ibid, 276-280.
Jesus tells His followers in Matthew 22:37 that, "You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." If we love the Lord that much then anything that insults Him or is contrary to His word and commands should repulse us.
1. Bill Wilson personally insulted Jesus Christ by claiming that he was "completing the works that Christ didn't finish" and he claimed himself to be "a reincarnation of Christ." (From a letter written in 1952 by Bill Wilson's Secretary, Henrietta Seiberling).
2. On page 58 of the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions a direct insult to and denial of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins is made. The claim is made that, "Our moral inventory had persuaded us that all-round forgiveness was desirable, but it was only when we resolutely tackled Step Five that we inwardly knew we'd be able to receive forgiveness and give it, too." That directly contradicts Jesus Himself when He said in Matthew 26:28, “for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
3. At most AA or other Twelve Step meetings the Lord's prayer is recited aloud by the entire group. This is an insult to Jesus Christ because His holy prayer is recited by those in the room that deny Him and participate in a false religion (AA) that denies His divinity. It is also in direct defiance of the command to Jesus' followers to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 states, "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?"
4. Jesus tells us in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Yet Bill Wilson (co-founder of AA) and the Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Step program insult Jesus Christ by rejecting the truth that Jesus taught in John 14:6 and instead claiming on page 98 of Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions that, "Now and then we may be granted a glimpse of that ultimate reality which is God's kingdom. And we will be comforted and assured that our own destiny in that realm will be secure for so long as we try, however falteringly, to find and do the will of our own Creator."
5. Once again Jesus is insulted by the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions when the doctrine of salvation by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, in Christ Alone is completely denied on page 34 of that book which states, "Like all the remaining Steps, Step Three calls for affirmative action, for it is only by action that we can cut away the self-will which has always blocked the entry of God - or, if you like, a Higher Power - into our lives. Faith, to be sure, is necessary, but faith alone can avail nothing. We can have faith, yet keep God out of our lives. Therefore our problem now becomes just how and by what specific means shall we be able to let Him in? Step Three represents our first attempt to do this." This directly contradicts the teaching of the Apostle Paul in Romans 3:23-25, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith."
This is only a small sampling of hundreds if not thousands of the Christ denying insults and apostasy that permeate the Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Step program and it's accompanying literature.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. - 2 Timothy 3:16-17
By Chad Prigmore
Let’s begin in God’s word and its warning to those in the sins of drunkenness or addiction. We read in Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." Based on these scriptures, drunkenness (alcoholism) is a sin - not a disease as it is commonly referred to by the secular recovery industry. Those who are in sin will not inherit the kingdom of God. This also applies to drug addiction - sorcery is also included in this list of sins. The Greek word for sorcery is pharmakeia from which the word pharmaceutical derives. Sorcery refers to illicit drug use. According to the Bible, both alcoholism and addiction are sin - not disease.
Those that are in sin are dead. Does that seem harsh? Again, what does God’s word say about it? The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:1-3, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind”. Notice that Paul writes in the past tense here, because he is writing to Christian believers who have been saved and set free from sin and death and raised up to life in Jesus Christ.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- - Ephesians 2:4-5
So the question arises for many, “What about those who have achieved sobriety and given up drunkenness and drug addiction through Alcoholics Anonymous - are they still dead in sin?” The sad truth is that they most probably are because Alcoholics Anonymous is a false religion of idolatry which is also one of the sins listed in Galatians 5:19-20. In the program and throughout the books of Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions as well as other publications from AA, idolatry is put forth openly as the central focus for one’s faith in the heretical concept of a Higher Power - whoever and whatever that may be. And the biggest idol of all in the heresy of Alcoholics Anonymous is Alcoholics Anonymous and it’s Twelve Step program. Those drawn into its sinister grasp are brainwashed over time to believe that to leave the program will most certainly lead to death. The book Alcoholics Anonymous on page 44 claims, “To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not always easy alternatives to face”. And the claim is made from a portion of chapter five on page 58 of the same book - which is read before every AA meeting that, “Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves”. To completely give one’s self to something is idolatry. Those in the sin of idolatry are dead.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a slow parade of the walking dead, plodding along the same twelve steps year after year in a mindless day to day maintenance of sobriety. The walking dead of Alcoholics Anonymous lay their sins of alcoholism and addiction on the altar of Alcoholics Anonymous and continue walking dead and blind into the sinful destruction of idolatry chanting the same pathetic mantras to one another at each meeting of the dead; “Keep coming back - it works if you work it”, “One day at a time”, “Keep it simple”, “Easy does it”, etc, etc, etc...
In Alcoholics Anonymous there is no truth, there is no salvation, there is no life, there is just death, idolatry and an obsession with sobriety. The blind sponsor leading the blind newcomer through twelve steps to eventual destruction.
The good news is that there is one everlasting truth, there is eternal salvation, there is forgiveness for sin, there is life and joy and peace and glory and true happiness for all eternity - and it is only through one pure and glorious way. That way is through the person 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
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. - Romans 5:6-8
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. - Colossians 3:1-2
Flee from the destructive heresy and idolatry of Alcoholics Anonymous and lift your eyes up to Jesus Christ. Never let anyone again tell you that you need anything other than Jesus Christ, His word, His grace, His glory. When you understand that you are dead in sin and how hopeless that is, and then you see your salvation in Jesus Christ and you see the life He wants to bless and fill you with to an abundance beyond what you could imagine - you will then gladly cast aside the dark pathetic trappings of this world.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, - Romans 3:23-24
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,
nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. - 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
In 1 Corinthians 6:9 the apostle Paul mentions idolatry as a sin of the unrighteous. Not only does Alcoholics Anonymous promote and encourage idolatry through its concept of creating "your own conception of God", but the entire concept of recovery put forth by the modern recovery movement, and especially by programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Celebrate Recovery is an idol itself to those who are drawn into it.
One of the most glaring lies that begins closing the trap around the unwary alcoholic or addicted sinner is the idea that their alcoholism or addiction is a disease from which they will never fully recover, but will only be granted a "daily reprieve" from for as long as they "give themselves" to the program of recovery. But we see in 1 Corinthians 6:10 that "drunkards" (Alcoholism) is listed as a sin and therefore, is not a disease according to scripture. If AA were to present the truth that alcoholism is sin that can only be overcome by the blood of Jesus Christ it would nullify the need for its own twelve-step program. So instead, the AA program leads its adherents into the lie of the disease concept which begins the indoctrination into idolatry.
The idol of recovery demands complete submission and the sacrificing of one's life upon it's Twelve Step altar. The book Alcoholics Anonymous on page 58 states, "Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves." The use of fear, accusations of being dishonest, and even threats of death through relapse by not submitting completely to the Alcoholics Anonymous program are common all through the literature of it's program and professed by it's "sponsors" to those they claim to be helping.
The idol of recovery's victims are fooled into trading relief from their sin of addiction for the sin of idolatry in a life long worship of a false God in a false church known as the "Fellowship of the Program". If you have bowed and submitted to the idol of recovery, and committed your life to it's worship through programs like Alcoholics Anonymous - that is your choice. But if you profess to be a Christian who has been led into the recovery movement through a program like Celebrate Recovery which is simply the Twelve Steps of AA with some mostly erroneously applied Bible verses mixed in, are you not living in contradiction to the Christian gospel and commands of scripture? As 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 states, Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. Also, we are directly commanded in 1 Corinthians 10:14, Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
Relying on and living for a program in an effort to be in recovery - even if that program claims to be Christian is nothing more than idolatry. Those in Christ are told in scripture, 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), looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2). We are to look faithfully to Jesus and to Him only for deliverance from every sinful desire and for every need we have.
But "Christian Recovery" programs - especially Celebrate Recovery do not look to Jesus, but instead look to and point others to the false idol of recovery completely ignoring the commands of scripture - even going so far as to disregard the command of God in Deuteronomy 4:2 and actually printing their own Bible with the demonically inspired Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Celebrate Recovery program written into it.
You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you, - Deuteronomy 4:2
Celebrate Recovery, by mixing the worldly demonic teachings of Alcoholics Anonymous with the word of God in an effort to draw people into the idolatrous recovery movement, displays the dangerous heresy that the apostle Paul warns about in 1 Corinthians 10:21 which says, 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. Spend some time researching the demonic origins of Alcoholics Anonymous and the massive amount of heresy put forth in their books, Alcoholics Anonymous, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, as well as many others and it becomes glaringly clear that Celebrate Recovery is indeed a program which promotes the cup and table of demons with a Christian marketing angle.
Romans 12:2 says, Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
We, as followers of Jesus Christ are not to be conformed to this world but instead to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds by seeking the Lord and by the prayerful study and meditating on of His word by the leading and working of the Holy Spirit. We are to discern what is of God's will and what is of this dark and fallen world by testing everything and holding it up to the light of scripture and seeking only what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
If you are a Christian who has been misled by the modern idol of recovery you must reject it and flee from it, understanding that in Christ is the only absolute truth and freedom from sin and you must abide only in Him. Reject and cast off the things of this world and seek to understand and grasp the awesome and merciful truth of 1 Corinthians 6:11:
...But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Chad Prigmore is Pastor and President of The Way Ministry Church USA & Kenya.