Frequently writers ask questions like: (1) Is A.A. biblical? (2) Is A.A. Christian? (3) How does A.A. compare with Scriptural references? (4) Can Christians belong to A.A.? (5) Is A.A. religious? (6) Is A.A. "spiritual?" (7) What is this "higher power" of which people write in connection with A.A.?
The questions often show how little the writers have seen, heard, studied,
and learned about the problem of recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction;
the roots of Alcoholics Anonymous; the Christian precursors of recovery and A.A.
itself; the Christian upbringing of A.A.'s two founders; the way the first three
AAs--Bill W., Dr. Bob, and Bill D. got sober in 1934 and 1935 when they turned
to God for help; were then and there believers in God and born again Christians;
and had been Bible readers and students.
There is more, but the facts should be involved in the questions, rather than
the presentation of questions which demonstrate no knowledge of the facts or
that the writer is unaware of the difference between the early A.A. Christian
Fellowship founded in Akron in which those who really tried were cured of
alcoholism by the power of God and so stated; and then the 12 Step program which
was not adopted until four years later and opened the membership door to all
suffering from alcoholism; and then--some 15 years later began chatting about
nonsense higher powers, gods, unbelief, and meetings.
The starting place should be a thorough knowledge of where A.A. came from and
what its original program espoused. It came from the Bible. It was founded by
Christians. Those Christians were cured by the power of God. And they said so
and believed that fact to be true based on their own knowledge of the Bible and
spiritual matters therein.
See www.dickb.com/goodbook.shtml; www.dickb.com/cured.shtml; www.dickb.com/godandalcoholism;
The best way of finding and learning the answer is to discard opinions and
criticisms and seek God first and then ask to be guided to the facts. When that
is done, the facts will appear: (1) When A.A. began, there were no 12 Steps, no
Big Books, no meetings other than Christian fellowships daily. (2) The basic
ideas were taken from the Bible. (3) The portions most studied by pioneer AAs
were Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, the Book of James, and 1 Corinthians 13. And
most certainly the Gospels, Acts, Psalms, Proverbs, and many other chapters and
books. (4) Every early AA. was required to: (a) Profess belief in God. (b)
Accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. (c) Study the Bible individually and
together. (d) Engage in prayer meetings. (e) Lead others to Christ. (f) Help
others get straightened out in the same manner. (g) engage in religious and
social fellowship. (h) endeavor to attend a religious service once each
There were no nonsense gods, no higher powers, no unbelievers, no people who
sought other gods or religions or "spirituality." But this changed. Though A.A.
was a Christian Fellowship, used the Bible as its sources, and applied the
principles and practice found in the Book of Acts, in a last minute compromise,
Bill Wilson and three others on the EAst Coast changed the manuscript of their
proposed book so that it invited atheists and agnostics to become participants
in the Society.
Today, A.A. is not a Christian Fellowship. Its members need not be
Christians. Its meetings need not conduct prayer fellowships or do Bible
studies. Groups need not lead others to confess Jesus as Lord and Savior. Yet
there are tens of thousands of Christians in A.A. who do these things. The devil
is always present to foster lies, distortions, myths, and unbelief among the
often very sick newcomers and their oldtimer sponsors.
The task today is to let Christians know where they came from. To let them
know they can believe in God, accept Christ, study the Bible, have prayer
meetings, lead others to Christ, and state their beliefs. As in John 10:10 there
is a spiritual battle where the thief seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. But he
made those efforts with Jesus, with Christians, and with any area he could
attempt to mislead.
May those who read this become students, instead of questioners. May they
seek God's guidance as to where the find the beliefs, how to recover, and how to
Richard G. Burns, Executive Director, International Christian Recovery