Are you a Christian in a Twelve Step program like Alcoholics Anonymous or it's spin off Celebrate Recovery, 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 Twelve 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 Twelve 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 Exposing Recovery page on this site that explains the facts pertaining to the origins of the Twelve 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 Twelve 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.
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.
An excerpt from an article over at TheBereanCall.org by Dave Hunt entitled, God as You Conceive Him/Her/It to Be:
In fact, the 12 Steps of A.A. came by direct inspiration from the demonic world and they open the door to the occult by introducing members to a false god. Step 2 says, "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." Step 3 continues, "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to God as we [Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Mormon, shaman, agnostic, et al.] understood Him." In Christianity Today , Tim Stafford says, "The 12 Steps are Christian." Yet they contain no mention of Jesus Christ, much less of the gospel. In fact, they are anti-Christian. An official A.A. publication says, "You can, if you wish, make A.A. itself your 'Higher Power.'" Stafford admits that A.A. founder Bill Wilson "never pledged his loyalty to Christ, never was baptized, never joined a Christian church...." Instead, the Christian church has joined A.A!
Pastor John MacArthur, in his book Our Sufficiency in Christ, on page 67 states the following in regard to human/secular therapies:
Human therapies are embraced most eagerly by the spiritually week - those who are shallow or ignorant of biblical truth and who are unwilling to accept the path of suffering that leads to spiritual maturity and deeper communion with God. The unfortunate effect is that these people remain immature, held back by a self-imposed dependence on some pseudo-Christian method or psychoquackery that actually stifles real growth.
Pastor John MacArthur, in his book The Truth War, on page 159 addresses the 12 steps as follows:
Others would formally affirm Christ's sovereignty and spiritual headship over the church, but they resist His rule in practice. To cite just one instance of how this is done, many churches have set various forms of human psychology, self help therapy, and the idea of 'recovery' in place of the Bible's teaching about sin and sanctification."..."So wherever the work of God's Word is being replaced with twelve step programs and other substitutes, Christ's headship over the church is being denied in practice.
T.A. McMahon who is the editor of the Berean Call writes the following regarding Bill Wilson, a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and the man who wrote the 12 steps:
A.A.'s official biography indicates Bill Wilson received the details of the twelve steps through spirit dictation. Does anyone see a simple, idolatrous problem here?
Regarding so called "Christ Centered" 12 step programs and support groups such as Celebrate Recovery, Hunger for Healing, and others, T.A. McMahon writes:
But what about evangelicals just using the methodology the familiar spirit gave to Bill Wilson? Simple again: God condemns the source, and the approach is contrary to the way He wants to transform our lives. Furthermore, why turn to such a spiritually toxic system? Where are the evangelical pastor's heads in this?
In their book 12 Steps to Destruction, authors Martin and Deidre Bobgan state the following on page 116:
Twelve -Step programs are in essence New Age religions and archetypical precursors of a one-world religion. They do not hold a common doctrine of God and His creation. Instead, each group holds a common goal, centered in saving self.
C.S. Lewis on Bill Wilson's communing with spirits, "This is necromancy. Have nothing to do with it."
After being on the Matt Slick Live radio show for three days last week I was contacted by a few individuals trying to defend Celebrate Recovery. The following is my response to a man who leads Celebrate Recovery at his Church:
Due to the fact that so many 12 step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, Hunger for Healing and many others take place in and are endorsed by thousands of churches - the true origins of the 12 steps are extremely important to understand.
For the household gods utter nonsense, and the diviners see lies; they tell false dreams and give empty consolation. Therefore the people wander like sheep; they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd. - Zechariah 10:2
Alcoholics Anonymous was founded on June 10, 1935. AA's official biography (Pass it On) of Bill Wilson states that he and Dr. Bob, the two co-founders of AA, during the summer of 1935 were involved with practicing seances and communing with demonic spirits. In his biography, Bill Wilson explains one of their experiences with a Ouija board: "The Ouija board began moving in earnest. What followed was the fairly usual experience-it was a strange melange of Aristotle, St. Francis, diverse archangels with odd names, deceased friends-some in purgatory and others doing nicely, thank you! There were malign and mischievous ones of all descriptions."
Bill Wilson was the man that wrote the 12 steps and together with a man named Dr. Bob co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous. They were originally introduced in 1935 by a woman named Henrietta Seiberling. In a letter she wrote on July 31, 1952 she writes of Bill Wilson's communion with demonic spirits while he wrote the 12 steps, "He imagines himself all kinds of things. His hand 'writes' dictation from a Catholic priest, whose name I forget, from the 1600 period who was in Barcelona, Spain-again, he told Horace Crystal he was completing the works that Christ didn't finish, and according to Horace he said he was a reincarnation of Christ. Perhaps he got mixed in whose reincarnation he was. It looks more like the works of the devil but I could be wrong. I don't know what is going on in that poor deluded fellow's mind."
In the book, "The Conversion of Bill W." author Dick B. writes of Bill Wilson's experiments with LSD during the 1950's. He quotes Bill Wilson as stating, "It is a generally acknowledged fact in spiritual development that ego reduction makes the influx of God's grace possible. If, therefore, under LSD we can have a temporary reduction, so we can better see where we are going-well, that might be of some help. The goal might become clearer."
So, Bill Wilson believed that the way to God's grace was through ego reduction? The true and only way to God's grace is through faith in Jesus Christ.
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. - John 14:6
This morning while reading Matthew Henry's commentary on the book of Exodus I came across a comment that Henry makes regarding chapter 10 verse 17 in which Pharaoh states, "Now therefore, forgive my sin, please, only this once, and plead with the Lord your God only to remove this death from me."
Henry comments, "Pharaoh desires their prayers that this death only might be taken away, not this sin: he deprecates the plague of locusts, not the plague of a hard heart, which yet was much the more dangerous."
What a mirror image this is of one of the greatest dangers presented from an eternal perspective by Alcoholics Anonymous and the twelve steps. By presenting the false concept of alcoholism being a disease, the required conviction of sin leading to repentance via the gospel is completely avoided. Instead, the focus is on the removal of immediate pain and the recovering of temporal possessions and standing while religiously working a program of false spirituality. The devastating consequence is that the plague of alcoholism may end as long as it is replaced with the religion of the program, and secular life might be restored - yet the plague of the hardened heart dead in sin still remains. And it is much more dangerous.
Chad Prigmore is Pastor and President of The Way R122 Ministry USA & Kenya.