By Anthony Allgood
Does Alcoholics Anonymous really help people stay sober? This seems to be the top questions people ask when evaluating AA. While it is true that AA helps some people stay sober, is this the only question one should ask?
Consider Jesus’ teaching:
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:34-36)
The implication is that a purely functional or pragmatic approach might be able to measure earthly success, but still miss what is truly important. Unless we die to ourselves and follow Christ, we can receive a better life now, but be in a worse condition after death. Therefore, a better question to ask when evaluating AA would be this: Does AA lead people to follow Christ in a biblical way? Unfortunately, AA actually stands opposed to Jesus Christ (see the Articles section on this site). While AA may help some people stay sober, it leads untold numbers of people down the broad path of destruction (Matthew 7:13). It is precisely because AA teaches doctrines that are anti-biblical and that oppose Jesus, that you could gain a whole world of sobriety through AA, yet lose your soul. That’s the real issue that taking a purely pragmatic approach can’t solve.
The night of his betrayal, Jesus declared to his disciples, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). In him is life (John 1:4), and there is no other name under heaven by which we are saved (Acts 4:12). From this we can gather that pursuing Jesus, who is himself truth, is right and true and of extreme importance. Bill Wilson’s words may prove to help some live better in this life, but in Jesus we have something far better:
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:66-69, emphasis mine)
Some found Jesus’ teachings too hard, and walked away. Still others remained with him because they knew there was only one place to turn for life and truth - Jesus who is the Holy One of God. Bill Wilson, who was the primary author of the book Alcoholics Anonymous, died and has remained that way ever since. Jesus, who is the author of life, was killed, but God raised him from the dead (Acts 3:15). We can choose to follow Bill Wilson, who penned a man-centered approach to God, or Jesus who as God in human flesh and the author of life itself has revealed God to us (John 1:1-18, Hebrews 1:3).
With that said, a final question remains: Who will you follow?
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. - Proverbs 14:12
Chad Prigmore is Pastor and President of The Way R122 Ministry USA & Kenya.