The major concern that we have with AA (and other such recovery groups) is that contrary to their denial, they constitute a religious system. For example, they believe and talk about God, they pray, they have a creed, AA is their bible, and they fellowship in a church-like setting. However, just like all religions, save true Christianity, Twelve-Step recovery groups cannot bring a person into a right relationship with God — for their god is not the God of Scripture, their prayers are to whatever power(s) they choose, their bible is not God’s Word, and their salvation is from “addiction,” not sin. The devil is more than happy to provide sobriety in the place of salvation. AA and recovery movements are false religions with false religious systems, attempting to lead mankind to a better and happier life, yet bypass the cross of Christ.

The following is an overview of the Twelve Steps. Each recovery group may word these steps somewhat differently to fit its needs, but the steps are all based upon the Twelve Steps of AA:

STEP#1: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.”

While this step sounds Biblical, unfortunately, AA defines alcoholism as a disease. Stafford says, “The ‘disease concept’ of alcoholism — not invented, but certainly popularized by AA — seems to remove any moral dimension from drinking” (Ibid., p. 14). Martin Bobgan writes: “Step One is a dangerous counterfeit for both Christians and non-Christians. It serves as a substitute for acknowledging one’s own depravity, sinful acts and utter lostness apart from Jesus Christ, the only Savior and the only way to forgiveness (relief of true guilt)” (12 Steps to Destruction, p. 91).

It must be noted that the other recovery groups simply mimic what AA has done. Codependents Anonymous, for example, believes codependency is an illness (mental); Sexaholics Anonymous would teach that addiction to sex is an illness. For example, the first step for Codependents Anonymous only changes one word, “We admitted we were powerless overothers — that our lives had become unmanageable.”

STEP#2: “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

STEP#3: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” (Emphasis in original.)

AA denies being a religion. Nevertheless, when the central activity of a society is to turn one’s will and life over to God, that society is a religious society. What makes AA unique is that it doesn’t care which god you choose, so long as that god is loving and non-judgmental. Of course, we would agree that sobriety is important, but one will go to hell sober — if he turns his life over to any but the true God as revealed in Scripture.

STEP#4: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

STEP#5: “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

Much of steps four and five have a Biblical ring to them — if we are talking about the search for and confession of our own sins. This is seldom the case, however, but rather an opportunity to discover who has wronged us in the past. On the other hand, confession of sins to other people should ordinarily be only as broad as those affected by those sins. Keep in mind, as well, that in AA, God can be any form of higher power (even self); therefore, these steps are not the same as confession or repentance of sin as outlined in the Bible. In addition, without the absolutes of Scripture, how is one to decide when he is morally wrong? Is the standard AA, or the majority of people, or one’s own heart? Like many false religions, the steps of AA sound very close to Biblical teaching until examined closely.

STEP#6: “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

STEP#7: “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

While moralistic, these steps are not Biblical. God would have us recognize our total depravity, turn to Him in faith, and be transformed (Eph. 2:1-10; 2 Cor. 5:17). The real problem of man is not that he has ” defects” and “shortcomings,” but that he is a sinner, not in proper relationship with God.

STEP#8: “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”

STEP#9: “Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

The major concern with steps eight and nine is that they are self-serving. The “addicted” person is doing these things to make himself feel better. Melody Beattie in Codependent’s Guide to the Twelve Steps says, “We are on our way to freeing ourselves from guilt, taking responsibility for ourselves, removing ourselves as victims, and restoring these relationships” (p. 146). The dedication of Beattie’s book says plenty: “This book is dedicated to me.”

STEP#10: “Continued to take a personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

Martin Bobgan responds: “This sounds terrific. However, by what standard is this ‘honest analysis’ to be made? What is the basis for an accurate self-appraisal? Because the Bible is not the standard for judgment, personal inventory depends upon subjective values to determine what is right or wrong” (Bobgan, p. 213).

STEP#11: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” (Emphasis in original.)

The question must be asked, “If these people are not praying to the true God, what kind of responses are they receiving, and from whom?” Beattie, whose books are regularly sold in Christian bookstores, has this to say: “Now I have found a spiritual path through some Native American practices. Zen meditation, and shamanistic practices … We build a connection to God by building a connection to ourselves ” (pp. 179-180). She also has this to say about the messages we receive from “our god”: “When it is time, we will receive all the guidance, power and assistance we need to do what we have to do, and we can let go of the rest. If we wait until it is time, our part will be clear. It will be possible. It will happen — naturally, gradually, and with ease … When in doubt, when confused stop and ask: What do I need to do to take care of myself? Then listen, and trust what we hear” (p. 184). SCARY STUFF!

STEP#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.”

Although this sounds a lot like witnessing, listen to the focus of this step as explained by Bill Wilson: “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail.” Stafford observes, “In other words, AA members share their testimony not simply out of concern for others, but also out of concern for themselves” (p. 18). Beattie makes this even clearer for codependents: “It is a message of self-love, self-nurturing, paying attention to our own issues, and taking responsibility for ourselves, whether that means addressing our own behaviors or [using] our power to take care of ourselves … Our message is that we are lovable and deserving people, and we need to begin loving ourselves” (p. 189).

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