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Q: What do you think of Alcoholics Anonymous and other “anonymous” groups?

A: There is considerable confusion (and sometimes even animosity) that exists between Alcoholics Anonymous and the Christian church. When called into what has now become ProdigalSong Ministries, God made it clear to me that being in some small way a bridge across this chasm was to play a primary role in my own traveling/performing/teaching ministry.

One primary source of friction that exists between AA and the church comes from those who take issue with some of the language inherent within AA literature. The phrase “God of our understanding,” for instance, communicates to some a sort of religious universalism that, for the uninformed, seems to eliminate Jesus Christ from the mix.

In truth, AA’s founders were Christians and the 12-Steps are all based on fundamental biblical truths—acceptance of our powerlessness, surrender to God, appropriate confession, restoration of broken relationships, ongoing self-examination and improvement, service to others, etc.

The important factor here sometimes leaves non-addicts scratching their heads: Many addicts, having traveled down a long and dark road of shame, fear, and self-loathing, come to AA carrying lots of “spiritual baggage.” Many have struggled with issues of faith in profound ways difficult to describe to those who have walked a different, less self-destructive path. It is my belief, then, that the language inherent in the 12-Steps and other AA literature is nothing less than anointed. Somehow, God provided language that could both contain the word ‘God’ and still not scare addicts away (and this is more astonishing than you can imagine.) Since the topic is far too rich to adequately discuss in this space, I strongly encourage you to invest some time in researching the subject more fully.

As followers of Christ Jesus, we cannot afford to stubbornly demand that the addict fall immediately into step with our own particular dogmatic or doctrinal religiosity. To do so will inevitably do more harm than good. Though I never hide my Christian faith from those who seek my counsel, I am always careful not to judge the person’s present belief system. This will usually accomplish one thing only—the addict runs away. And I cannot help him (or, eventually, witness to him) once he’s gone.

AA and related 12-Step organizations have helped save countless thousands of lives. Ultimately, Christ Jesus is the Healer. But for many, the 12-Steps are a kind of gentle doorway back to faith, through which we might fall once more into the grace-filled forgiveness of Christ’s arms.


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