do you think of Alcoholics Anonymous and other “anonymous”
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.