Twelve Step Programs

The Fatal Flaw

The 12-Step Programs are created to help addicts overcome addictions. I've seen a list of various ways the system violates the scriptural outline for Christian living. I want to address two particular concerns that stand out the strongest: "God as you perceive Him" and "Spiritual content apart from Christ as the center". The Programs tell you to find strength to overcome in "God as you perceive Him". This is an antichrist system. Jesus said:

30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Matthew 12:30

The Apostle Paul said:

2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2

Jesus and Paul's point is very clear. If Christ isn't the center, the system is working in opposition to God, not with Him. Even if some in the group are Christians, the group's rules demand the exclusion of Christ from the declared position of God. If Christ isn't the center, the program scatters from Him. Jesus said that. The scriptures also say:

14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14

This hits the nail on the head regarding fellowship. With the 12-Step programs, you may have some in the group that are Christian, but not all are. You join that group in fellowship. That's the whole purpose of that group: fellowship together around a common problem, and overcoming the problem with the help of the group.

I've also heard the statement that the group is really spiritual. That again has to look back to Christ as the center. If He's denied that center, He isn't the center. There are counterfeit spirits of true religion. If we're to say we feel someone is really spiritual, we have to look at it from the scriptural view, not by our feelings!

The 12-Step Programs have their foundation in the original group's "Big Book" of Alcoholic's Anonymous. I've checked the original and the 2004 edition, and find both contain what I'm about to quote. The "spiritual" foundation and existence of this system is, and has always been, what's laid in the foundational book.
The Alcoholic's Anonymous definition, "Alcoholic's Anonymous is a fellowship of women and men who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. (Note: They openly call themselves a fellowship. With this in mind, let's see how it continues.) . . . AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization, or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes." With such a position, it cannot hold Jesus as Head. Such is upheld through further content in this book.
Under the "Seventh Step Prayer" we find, "Under no condition do we criticize such a person or argue. Simply tell him that we will never get over drinking until we have done our utmost to straighten out the past." (Interesting, if they come by ‘Allah' or ‘Krishna', we are under no condition to tell them they are wrong, yet we're to ‘fellowship' with them spiritually?)
Under the Tenth Step we find, "We have entered the world of the Spirit." and "That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition."
In Chapter 4 entitled Agnostics we find, "When we saw others solve their problems by a simple reliance upon the Spirit of the Universe, we had to stop doubting the power of God.
. . . Much to our relief, we discovered we did not need to consider another's conception of God. Our own conception, however inadequate, was sufficient to made the approach and to effect a contact with Him. As soon as we admitted the possible existence of a Creative Intelligence, a Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things, we began to be possessed of a new sense of power and direction, provided we took other simple steps. We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all men.
. . . When, therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God. This applies, too, to other spiritual expressions which you find in this book . . ."

Let's look at scriptures dealing with this. In fact, this list came in a surprising manner. I used my Bible CD to pull up verses containing the word, "spirit". I pulled the pertinent ones in the New Testament as they scrolled by. I've made studies on subjects before in a similar fashion, but never have I seen what came out of this study. The scriptures came with such force to this issue, it was almost as if God arranged the verses in their order to particularly address this. The issue at hand is a basic principal of spiritual corruption, and God was being very direct because of its importance. The way God arranged it, left no area for confusion to a person with an honest heart. Please listen to these verses God laid out:

6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
John 3:6
The 12-Step system denies Christ's supremacy. The birth of such is obviously from the flesh, not the spirit, which it claims to be guiding its followers into. It's either flesh or a corrupt spirit.

63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63
Jesus, in saying the above, repeats what He said in John 3:6, only He points out that what comes from Him is the true way, the true spirit and true life.

17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. John 14:17
Here we see that if the system didn't originate with Him, the system can't lead one on in their walk with Him. It neither sees nor knows Him.

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1
To walk after the Spirit has to be in Christ Jesus. Someone may look spiritual, but if they don't cry, "Know nothing among you but Christ and Him crucified" their spirituality is a worldly, fleshly spirit. It's not me just saying this, this verse shows it.

6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:6
Again, if the spirituality isn't in Christ, it's truly only carnality disguised, and must end in death. This verse also shows that being in a Christ-centered and Christ-organized group will bring forth life and peace. Not just down the road either, but now. Life is now, present tense, freedom from sinful bondage.

9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Romans 8:9
Wow! This verse holds no bars. If Christ is not the God of the system, then it's flesh which brings death. This verse also says that if the system or program doesn't name Christ as the God, the system or program is NONE of His.

14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14
Here again, the mutual exclusiveness of the two systems. You cannot have spirituality in that which is apart from Christ. They oppose each other. They each are the foolishness of the other. What's more, that which refuses to name Christ as Lord cannot claim spirituality.

3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. 1 Corinthians 12:3
This exclusiveness is repeated again and again. AA may not wish to engage in any controversy, but if you stand for Jesus, you automatically place yourself on the war front!

17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:17
Where we find Christ lifted up, there is freedom. There's no bondage to some compulsion that won't let us go, hence, it's nonsense to gather over a compulsion we're freed from. Freed from it, it is DEAD! A memorial service is one thing. A memorial service of our sins weekly in perpetuity is plain nutty.

18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18
The Spirit of Christ conforms us in His image, it's not a group or system that does this.

4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. 2 Corinthians 11:4
Paul was expressing his grief to the Corinthians over their toleration of others coming in with their spirituality that wasn't found in Christ. Such fellowship grieved the spirit of Paul.

3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Galatians 3:3
A system that isn't in Christ, is a system of the flesh. To strive for mastery within this system is by Paul's own words, "foolish".

16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16
Without the system or group, will you fall back into the compulsion? Paul clearly said here that if you continue in the Spirit, YOU WILL NOT! You may strive each week through the system or group, why not strive each week through the Spirit of Christ?

17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Galatians 5:17-18
What's more, the system or group that's not in Christ will eventually fail. Some success can be gained, but true freedom's never gained.

25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:25
This verse specifically calls us to make a decision. We may be Christians, but we have to decide to walk in the power of Christ.

16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; Ephesians 3:16
Again, here is a wonderful promise. This promises not defeat, but victory! Christ will strengthen us according to all the strength of his glory. He created the worlds and all that's in them. Is there not then sufficient power to enable us to be free from the bondage that holds us or threatens to hold us?

4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; Ephesians 4:4
If someone says they are spiritual or you suppose someone is spiritual, but they're not in Christ, remember this verse. The one body is Christ and the One Spirit is Him who is from Christ. There is only one Godly Spirit.

30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30
Here we see that the Holy Spirit can be grieved. How do you think He would feel to see His servants fellowshipping with another spirit?

9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Ephesians 5:9
The life that will automatically come out of the spirit will be in all goodness, righteousness and truth, hence no more bondage to compulsion.

18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Ephesians 5:18
This is especially important to the Alcoholic's Anonymous group. To be filled with the Spirit of Christ, is to be free from the compulsion of drink. Again, a choice.

3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:3
The spirit and Christ Jesus are again tied together as inseparable. The true servants of Christ don't overcome their compulsions by fleshly organizations or systems apart from Christ. This would be confidence in the flesh.

19 Quench not the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19
This is both a command and a warning. It's possible to quench the Spirit. We need to strive to not shut down His workings in us. To cling to a system that's not of Christ, is to fall on a fleshly system. To walk in the flesh, is to walk after a system of death, and quench the Spirit in His leading.

23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ 1 Thessalonians 5:23
God can do it! He can preserve you free from bondage in every part of you. Again, you can see that Jesus isn't left out in the concept of God presented in this verse.

1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1
The warnings of John begin . . . test those spirits. Do they say they're spiritual? Then what? Read the next verse . . .

2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 1 John 4:2
John lifts up the concern about those claiming spirituality. Is Jesus Christ the head? Read on . . .

3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 1 John 4:3
Here you get the basis for why I say that the system or group that refuses to name Christ as Lord and King is an antichrist system. That spirituality without Christ is antichrist, clear and simple.

6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. 1 John 4:6
If the group or system doesn't adhere to what the Apostle John said, it's the spirit of error

Having only touched this subject, dealing with the core of its error, I would encourage anyone involved in 12-Step systems to quickly come out of them. I realize that for those involved, you'll want to look more fully into it. This paper by no means is meant to address all the failings of this system. There are various books on the subject that cover this topic in great detail. I will leave the full subject to these books. I've provided enough evidence to make the point, from their foundational book, that they're part of a pluralistic spirit that believes sincerity is sufficient. God's word is very clear to the contrary that sincerity isn't enough. Truth cannot be sacrificed for the sake of fellowship and unity. I have a great concern for those in Christ who have ties with such organizations. I don't want to beat you over the head. I want you to be aware of the spiritual affiliations of such a group, and not be led astray by some experiences within the group, or with the claims the group may make. The Apostle John was constantly returning to this issue of spiritual associations. He gave warnings to remain pure in this area, and watch diligently for such systems that would lead astray. I can see no less a responsibility.

1)Christian Psychology's War on God's Word by Jim Ownen; EastGate Publishers, Santa Barbara, CA 93110.
2)12 Steps to Destruction: Codependency/Recovery Heresies by Martin and Deidre Bobgan, EastGate Publishers, Santa Barbara, CA 93110.
3)PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries, 4137 Primavera Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110 for more information about the intrusion of psychological counseling theories and therapies into the church. They have a number of books available. Two of them mentioned above.

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Free to Copy under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND3.0 License by Darrell Farkas
All quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible

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