12 Steps Competes with Jesus?

January 14, 2009



This has been a point I have pondered for many years.


laughing-jesusNamely that many Christians I have known feel that 12 Step programs compete with Christianity.  I have heard many Christians express offense that we do not require an understanding of God exactly the same as the Bible describes.  The 12 steps only suggest that we do our best.  It feels like an all-or-nothing perspective from many Christians.  Like saying, “If you do not see God as we do, then your program is wrong”.


To me, it feels as if many Christians are threatened by the 12-Steps as a competing philosophy.  Yet I have never seen anywhere that the 12-Steps professed to offer salvation.  Only to get sober.  To me, the 12 Steps are such a selfless gift of God that he does not even require specific recognition for the gift.  He allows us free will to recover without having to fully understand God all at once.  To me, this reveals even more the loving nature of God.


God does not require specific, defined recognition by diabetics for insulin to work any more than he requires specific , defined recognition by alcoholics for 12 steps to work.  Yet I am sure many a diabetic would say “Thank God for insulin”, yet have no clear recognition of exactly who God is specifically.


God as I understand him is as the Bible describes.  Yet 12 steps does not compete with my faith.  If anything, the 12 steps speaks to me that the Bible is true.  The 12 steps to me are a practical outworking of many biblical principles.  Yet I have many friends including my sponsor who believe differently yet still enjoy the benefits of sobriety and recovery.


This post stems from a discussion I had with another blogger buddy under the tag “alcoholism” by “mywordlikefire”.  I did not feel that posting a direct link was necessarily appropriate to so please don’t bombard the guy.  The post only brought up a bunch of thoughts that I have long struggled with.


This issue of competition has always left me scratching my head given that the founders of AA seemed to have believed the Bible.  And that many people wo believe the Bible practice the 12 steps effectively in many areas of their lives.


My take and experience anyway.


Ciao.  Chaz



  1. A great book to read is AA Comes of Age. There’s a section called Religion Looks at AA. Some historical figures who contributed much to AA were Sister Ignatia who worked with Dr. Bob sobering up drunks. Father Dowling, a Jesuit priest and Dr. Shoemacher, a clergyman. counseled many of the pioneers. Anyway, the history is quite interesting and not talked about much. So check out the book. On another note, I’ve gone through the phase of question and doubt. In the final analysis what’s important is not what others think or judge about the program, but what I’ve experienced because of the program. “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense”. (Buddha) I think it is safe to say that both you and I have been given this amazing gift of recovery… and accepted it!

  2. Ya for sure.

    Our own experiences are what count more than anything anyone has to say. And people have lots to say. None of is speaks as loudly as experiences.

    The theorists can theorize. The talkers can talk. But I have learned that it is really all in the doing and living. AKA… experiencing.

    I expect that AA Comes of Age is only my soon to read list. I am working through as much of the orginal literature as possible. Amazingly powerful.

    Thanks for the dialogue.



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