Monday, August 28, 2006

Alcoholics Anonymous?

While studying this week's scripture readings, a theme occurred:

Proverbs 9:1-6 includes "Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed"

Ephesians 5:15-20 has, "Do not get drunk on wine... be filled with teh Spirit"

and John 6:51-58 has, "For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink"
(and yes I am one of those that connects John 6 to the Sacrament of Holy Communion).

BUT ANYWAY....

I ran across the new blog, "Alcoholics Anonymous...spiritual compromise" (Whose URL says "AA is a cult"). Some rather long posts here, but they are very interesting (and very persuasive) in their criticism of AA from a Christian perspective.

Now, I know several people - Christians - who have found help in their struggles with alcohol through AA. And so I suppose, for some, it works to some degree. What I have seen, though, is that those Christians around here have become less involved with AA and more involved with their church (and I think that is a good thing).

But I must say I have always been suspicious of the organization. In fact, there was a time I told some AA representatives they couldn't come and speak to our congregation (like at a Bible Class or something) because I was wary of their teachings. AA does seem to be, in some way, almost a religion of its own.

For example, the lowest-common-denominator approach to God as a "Higher Power" has always rubbed me the wrong way. And in my experience with AA enthusiasts, I have often seen an unquestioning (almost mindless) loyalty to the program which really does smack of involvment in a cult. It was quite interesting for me to find confirmation of this in the new blog.

What is your experience with AA? Good, Bad, or a mixed bag?

6 comments:

Scott S. said...

My experience with AA has been Good. I've been sober within AA for the past nine years.

I'm not a representative of AA, nor have I ever asked to speak to a church group (not sure why any one in AA would - I wouldn't have let them address the group either - who knows what kind of nonsense would have come forth, sincerely).

As noted in the other website - none of the AA 'program' matches up with scripture - precisely correct.

While Christ offers eternal salvation of my soul through humble faith in Him - AA only offers me a group of people that have experience at staying sober. AA through its literature, nor any other recoverying alcoholics that I know, have ever suggested to me that I shouldn't go to church or hear the Word of Christ. In fact, they don't have an opinion on that in terms of my sobriety.

Christ, through his grace, holds me sober today - AA lends structure to my recovery.

Is it all a psychological hoax - a cult? Geez - I don't know, but after 9 years of recovery, a healthy family, two little souls adopted from a Ukrainian orphanage, a vibrant marriage, retirement from a successful military career, home ownership, and a so-far 3.9 GPA successful academic career at a four-year university - that's a pretty powerful hoax - not to mention the opportunity, as a sober man, to develop a relationship with Christ - an opportunity I might add that was non-existent while I sat on a bar stool.

I don't identify with any of the labels touted on the other website under the "you are wrong" heading. I've never been "torn down" or "rebuilt by my sponsor or old-timers," etc. I've never considered my recovery to be based on practicing some type of cultish theology, etc.

Frankly, I won't engage in an Ad hominem attack against people that hold those opinions. If someone feels compelled to tell me that my sobriety is based on delusion or takes that much time to point out the cult'ishness' of AA to me - o.k. - at least I'm sober to hear their comments.

AA gets it going and coming - we're a cult to Religious organizations - and we're religious fanatics to the secular. In my humble experience, we're neither - but you'd have to be me to see it through my eyes.

The AA literature puts forth the experiences of an early few men, and women, that could not stay sober and then found a way to do just that. The literature is available publicly for anyone to critique - there is no exegesis necessary - it's just the stories of personal experiences of drunks that got sober and how they did it. Are those early few spoken of reverentially within AA - I suppose, to a degree - but by their own admission they were just ordinary men - "feet of clay" - and wanted to share what they had found - none of them were particularly likeable!

Can AA's literature be interpreted in a manner completely unintended as a way to discredit it? Sure - I believe Christian Scripture is vulnerable to the same travisty. The truth, through its strength, reemerges.

This blog, Preachrblog, muscularly represents the truth of Christ, eternal salvation within in His word. I've admired how you facilitate various topics and your insight in doing so. I'm certainly not here trying to change your mind about AA or your experiences with people from AA - they're your experiences. But you asked for the experiences of others - and I've given mine (however awkwardly articulated) - genuinely. I believe with a voice comes a duty to use it responsibly - I believe you do - I also believe in the possibility that others have had different experiences with AA than those characterized by the other website - there must be some personal experience there, not all of that came out of the literature!

Anyway - thanks for the opportunity to share my personal experience.

Scott

Scott S. said...

My experience with AA has been Good. I've been sober within AA for the past nine years.

I'm not a representative of AA, nor have I ever asked to speak to a church group (not sure why any one in AA would - I wouldn't have let them address the group either - who knows what kind of nonsense would have come forth, sincerely).

As noted in the other website - none of the AA 'program' matches up with scripture - precisely correct.

While Christ offers eternal salvation of my soul through humble faith in Him - AA only offers me a group of people that have experience at staying sober. AA through its literature, nor any other recoverying alcoholics that I know, have ever suggested to me that I shouldn't go to church or hear the Word of Christ. In fact, they don't have an opinion on that in terms of my sobriety.

Christ, through his grace, holds me sober today - AA lends structure to my recovery.

Is it all a psychological hoax - a cult? Geez - I don't know, but after 9 years of recovery, a healthy family, two little souls adopted from a Ukrainian orphanage, a vibrant marriage, retirement from a successful military career, home ownership, and a so-far 3.9 GPA successful academic career at a four-year university - that's a pretty powerful hoax - not to mention the opportunity, as a sober man, to develop a relationship with Christ - an opportunity I might add that was non-existent while I sat on a bar stool.

I don't identify with any of the labels touted on the other website under the "you are wrong" heading. I've never been "torn down" or "rebuilt by my sponsor or old-timers," etc. I've never considered my recovery to be based on practicing some type of cultish theology, etc.

Frankly, I won't engage in an Ad hominem attack against people that hold those opinions. If someone feels compelled to tell me that my sobriety is based on delusion or takes that much time to point out the cult'ishness' of AA to me - o.k. - at least I'm sober to hear their comments.

AA gets it going and coming - we're a cult to Religious organizations - and we're religious fanatics to the secular. In my humble experience, we're neither - but you'd have to be me to see it through my eyes.

The AA literature puts forth the experiences of an early few men, and women, that could not stay sober and then found a way to do just that. The literature is available publicly for anyone to critique - there is no exegesis necessary - it's just the stories of personal experiences of drunks that got sober and how they did it. Are those early few spoken of reverentially within AA - I suppose, to a degree - but by their own admission they were just ordinary men - "feet of clay" - and wanted to share what they had found - none of them were particularly likeable!

Can AA's literature be interpreted in a manner completely unintended as a way to discredit it? Sure - I believe Christian Scripture is vulnerable to the same travisty. The truth, through its strength, reemerges.

This blog, Preachrblog, muscularly represents the truth of Christ, eternal salvation within in His word. I've admired how you facilitate various topics and your insight in doing so. I'm certainly not here trying to change your mind about AA or your experiences with people from AA - they're your experiences. But you asked for the experiences of others - and I've given mine (however awkwardly articulated) - genuinely. I believe with a voice comes a duty to use it responsibly - I believe you do - I also believe in the possibility that others have had different experiences with AA than those characterized by the other website - there must be some personal experience there, not all of that came out of the literature!

Anyway - thanks for the opportunity to share my personal experience.

Scott

Tom Becker said...

Scott -
+1 on your comments.

I've been sober over 10yrs in AA. AA does not profess to be church, and I don't confess to be an AA spokesperson either.

To Pastor Chryst, I would suggest reading a copy of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Also, for a good history into AA's Chrisitan roots check out - God, Sam Shoemaker and AA by 'Dick B' - you can find it on Amazon.

Indeed, early AA was much more Chrisitan than it is today. Much of the threaputic community and new age spiritiality has entered the scene, but the basic text (the 1st 164 pages of the aa big book) have at their core a very orthodox message - that alcholoics have a fundemental lack of power (sin) and a need for God.

I can understand how you feel about AA, but I would say do some of your own objective reading on the subject and talk to others before writing off the organization. The verifiable truth is that before AA, there was no cure for alcholism. Period. Death, jails or instiutions were the landing pads for the truly hopless alcholics. Even today with our modern approahces there is no cure for alcholism (the alergy to alchol that produces the phenomenon of craving that the alcholic suffers). Early AA had almost 80% success rate and personally I think that's because they didn't soft sell the lack of power and GOD aspects of the program for more wishy washy self help therapy that has distored the more 'orthodox' approach.

Anyway, AA has a lot to say about grace as well - namely that I've been delivered and certainly know I didn't earn it and am not deserving. My experience left me wondering who this God was that 'saved' me from my disease and when I heard the gospel it rang true.

I'm still involved with AA, and very involved in my church and somewhat obessed with reading confessional Lutheran theology. I don't see the two as incompatible. Again, AA is NOT the church and they only confess to helping the alcholic with alcholism.

There are a lot of tools in the AA big book that are helpful for me as a Chrisitan. Most helpful is the 'inventory' which when I'm jammed up with resentments asks me to look at where I'm self seeking, selfish, where my actions are to blame and where my thoughts are to blame - the point being to point out where I'm playing God (think 1st use of the Law). Pretty interesting. E-mail me offline if you have more ?'s I'd be happy to talk with you. I've thought alot about the theological and athropoligical implications and may be able to offer my Lutheran .02.

Preachrboy said...

Thanks for your comments, gentlemen. I suppose I am still in the "mixed bag" category, when it comes to AA. Sounds like the two of you both have level heads about it, taking it for what it is, deriving great benefit from it, but also realizing its limitations.

I have also met those involved in AA who do not take such a balanced approach, and for whom AA seems to become a religion of its own. Although, one could argue this is the fault of the individual more than the fault of AA, but I am not so sure. I think there is much valid criticism in the blog I cited (and some goofy ideas too).

Also, I remember vaugely hearing about a "Christian" version of AA somewhere. Does anyone know about this? (It occurs to me that the Evangelicals have their own versions of most things secular, so it wouldn't surprise me).

I have read the "Big Book" and other sources about AA in the past. I too have noticed a "psuedo-sin" and "psuedo-grace" throughout the 12 steps. Isn't it a joy, then, when the AA member finds the "real deal" in Jesus Christ. Only there we can find forgiveness for all our sins - drunkenness and otherwise - and grace that is trustworthy and sure.

Scott S. said...

Sorry for the double post above - my computer froze up for some reason.

There are various forms of Christian recovery programs - and support groups - I've encountered a few in Baptist congregations - though the form of the meetings are more general in that they encompass all forms of addiction or compulsion. My experience was that they were Scripturally based and didn't use AA literature. A thought for Grace Lutheran? A number of publishing houses have available various translations of the Bible with 12-step marginalia (Tyndale House Publishers, to name one). Though I can't vouch for the Scriptural accuracy of any specific translations - they tend toward the "New Life" style.

I don't think that anyone in mature recovery will attempt to change your mind about anything -I would be suspicious of anyone that tried. AA has it's flaws - as with any institution constituted by people. Alcoholism was killing me - the experience of solid members of AA in getting and staying sober saved my life - a life I am free to apply as I will today.

The literature was written by alcoholics that found a way to stay sober 60 years ago - it doesn't pretend to be anything else - though anyone is free to make of it what they will.

Thanks again,

Scott

Michellebelle said...

Wait a sec,if a person finds God through AA and gets himself into a church....THEN WHY DOES HE STILL NEED AA.The bible makes it very clear that it is the only book you need,yet these AA junkies hold on to "the big book" like it is the word of God. If a person truelly is saved and born again why does he NEED to continue with AA,he should be able to leave with confidence that God has delivered him therefore no longer requiring the crutch of AA. Bill wilson said himself that AA was intended to create a psychological dependency.That is not of God.Gods plan is for healing and deliverence,not sitting in church basements spending the rest of your life focusing on that sin.True christians should have nothing to do with it based on the fact alone that its roots,teachings and form of religion comes into question. That is why I say its spiritual compromise,its no different than professing to love christ then putting on a santa suit at christmas or having easter egg hunts. Satan comes to decieve.He makes things look inocent and wholesome on the surface but you must look at the ROOT to see where it really comes from.People dont realise that when they dabble in things that "look good" they are giving satan legal ground to come into their life.I have heard many so-called christians say "the devil doesnt bother me and I dont bother the devil"....thats because THE DEVIL DOESNT BOTHER WITH WHAT HE ALREADY OWNS.
You are what you profess to be,and if you constantly profess to be an alcoholic then thats what you will be you are closing the door to allowing God to deliver you.AA is spiritual BONDAGE.Once a person finds God they should be able to move on and get on with their lives and leave the past behind. God never remembers your sin...so why are you.