Some of you heard the one hour program called “Up for Debate” hosted by Julie Roys where Ken B. and I discussed the question: “Is A.A. biblical?” Afterward, I thought of 100 million things I wish I had said. Has that ever happened to you after a conversation or an interview? Not a great feeling. So I thought I would remedy it by writing some comments below that I wish I had shared but either time did not allow it or I didn’t think of it during the radio program. Listen to our program here.

  1. We spent a lot of time on Bill Wilson, the primary force behind A.A. as a co-founder, and in hindsight that’s fine but not ideal. It is well documented that Bill W. claimed to have a spiritual awakening in a hospital where he was given 2 hallucinogenic medications where he thought he saw the “God of the Scriptures.” He doubted it was really God and asked Dr. Silkworth who told him not to doubt it so he said that he believed it to be God since Dr. Silkworth encouraged him not to discount it! Now, if he had really met the One True God and had faith, he would not have doubted and asked a third party who had not seen the hallucinogenic vision if it really was God. With his subsequent sinful and unrepentant behavior, I have my doubts about it being a true conversion of confession of sin in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. (If you did not hear the program, Bill W. was involved in a long-term adulterous relationship with Helen W. whom he left 10% of his royalties to after his death (demonstrating unrepentance), he used LSD recreationally in the final years of his life (it started as a documented experiment but he continued to use it – I guess his sobriety program didn’t work for cigarettes and LSD), and he participated in seances in a “spook room” (as he called it) where he talked to a dead spirit called Boniface and other dead persons. Doesn’t sound like a born again believer to me…I am only judging the fruit of the man’s actions which are well-documented and truly sad.
  2. Bill W. never claimed Jesus Christ is the ONLY way. Ken B. referenced times he said things like “Lord” and “Heavenly Father” or words like that describing God but I have not read Bill W. claiming that Jesus was the only way to God. John 14:6 states: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
  3. Now to the 12 Step program itself. It’s language is un-biblical and points people away from Christ. The teachings of A.A. are un-biblical. The 12 Steps are said to have “roots” in Christianity but the so-called “Christian” Oxford Group had subjective measures of evaluating the inner voice, etc. The Steps point to a higher power, disease concept of drunkenness (which is the proper biblical name not alcoholism), choosing a higher power of one’s own understanding, meditation (not prayer), and a spiritual awakening apart from Christ but as a result of working the 12 Steps. There’s more and you can find many of them in my book, The Heart of Addiction.
  4. Bill W. had his spiritual awakening before the 12 Steps were ever written so I find it terribly ironic that the 12th step says “having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we…” It is heretical and not even true of either of the co-founders because their spiritual awakening occurred before the steps were written.
  5. The many lies of the program (i.e. that the problem is a disease requiring recovery) are not neutral because they point in a direction away from Christ. A.A. is not a good program to follow to be sober because of the lies that oppose Scripture. I would say it really is not helping people eternally though the claim is it helps people get sober in this life and helps them to be able to know god one day in the future. I could go into more detail but know that A.A.’s un-truths brainwash its followers and teach them the opposite of what the Bible teaches.
  6. Even the claim of the effectiveness of A.A. is in dispute. Dr. Herbert Fingarette conducted 2 studies demonstrating that A.A. had a less than 6% effectiveness for 18 months of continuous sobriety. Yes, less than 6%! So the claims that it works may be overstated.
  7. In the end, this issue is simply one of BELIEF which means science, facts, and data is often ignored by those who BELIEVE on one side of the issue or the other. There was really never going to be a winner or a loser in the debate because it was an issue of belief. Of course, I think those on the other side of the issue are sincere but sincerely deceived. They probably think the same of me.
  8. That’s why most people listening and callers who called in go with personal experience as the determining factor for truth. Personal experience is championed in the A.A. program. The Oxford Group championed personal experience, too, over biblical truth.
  9. Remember: A.A. does not say that it is a biblical or even a Christian program.
  10. How can A.A. claim to be a spiritual program and NOT view that as competitive with religions of all types (like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam)? Spiritual programs of any sort fight against the exclusivity of Christianity which says Jesus is the only way to the Father. A.A. and Christianity are competing entities!
  11. A.A.’s language is un-biblical and it points people away from Jesus. That’s my concern and I did say that on the program. In a so-called spiritual program/fellowship, my concern is its false teaching that contradicts biblical truth from God’s Holy Word. The most New Testament warnings in Scripture involve false prophets and false teaching in the church world so I am taking those warnings seriously and calling out A.A. as a false teaching that leads its participants away from Jesus. I think that’s a serious concern. Thus, I would say it is not biblical and Christians who are going to A.A. need to be careful about the lies which are not neutral but point them away from Jesus.
  12. I am very thankful for the Christians who go to A.A. to evangelize and share the hope of the Gospel (which is not the 12 Step message so I’m not sure how they would do it during a meeting). Going into those meetings to proclaim the sufficiency of Christ is the only way I could justify attending one and if I did that, I would be un-welcome to come back most likely.
  13. Acts 4:12 was the verse I was ready to recite if the program came back to me but it did not in the final minutes. I was so glad Julie Roys read that verse at the end which states: “…And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

These are just a few of things I wish I had said during the program. I can’t live in regret but I can write the truth. I know my view is not popular. My hope is that sincere persons will investigate the program and evaluate it biblically to see the dangerous lies it teaches.

In the end, I cannot change anyone. Only God does that and He does so through the Spirit and His Word working – not through watered down ideas that distort His truth. Beware of those wherever you may find them. God’s Word is sufficient.

-Mark (grateful to both Julie Roys and Ken B. for time to discuss an important issue to the church today)