Tom: We’re picking up where we left off last week on the topic of 12 Steps, which is the psycho-spiritual approach developed by Bill Wilson of Alcoholics Anonymous in order to help alcoholics overcome their drinking problem. And if you’re interested in the documentation of much of what we’ll be saying, it’s found in Dave Hunt’s book Occult Invasion: The Subtle Seduction of the World and Church.
Dave, before we get on with addressing more of our concerns about 12 Steps, let’s briefly summarize some points we made last week. First of all, you included AA’s 12-Step approach in your book on occultism because Bill Wilson, AA’s founder, received guidance and information for the AA manual and the 12-Step method through occult means. Second, the program fosters the scientifically unsupported theory that alcoholism is a disease rather than habitual sin, and also that alcoholics are addicted, meaning that they have no power to resist becoming drunk. And third, steps two and three encourage those with so-called addictions to look to any higher power for help, and then to turn one’s will and life over to God-as–they-understand-him. AA writings tell you that you can even make AA your higher power. So it follows that the organization can become the members’ god. In fact, many former members tell us that the organization became their will and life, and that the bondage they were in to alcohol was merely transferred to AA.
Now, Dave, you have a shocking line in your book, and I quote, “The Christian church, however, has joined AA.” Now, tell us how you arrived at that.
Dave: Well, they’re actually promoting it. You have so many churches out there now that are using 12-Step programs. They may try to modify it a bit, and some of them do, but what’s the point? Why don’t we go to the Bible? The church really has joined AA. They’ve joined in a partnership with them. They’re promoting them, and furthermore, why not go to the original? I mean, if AA is so good and it’s been so successful, why should I take some watered-down program from some church? Why don’t I just go right to the source, go to AA itself?
Tom: There’s great encouragement not only from individual churches, but they’re being influenced by Christian media. For example, you quote Tim Stafford in an article in Christianity Today. He says, “The 12 Steps are a package of Christian practices and nothing is compromised in using them.” Now how can he say that?
Dave: Tom, I don’t understand. And in our ministry, we’re not out to try to point out errors, out to try to get people, but we do quote any number of Christians leaders, Christian media, and so forth, and this is Christianity Today, and this is a pastor writing in it. You ask me, “How can he say that nothing is compromised, and that this is Christian?” I don’t know, because it is not Christian, and to say you can believe in any god you want, call him what you will, whatever god is in your mind, accept him, it doesn’t matter, so long as you believe in a higher power. If that is not compromise against the God of the Bible who identifies Himself – we only meet Him through Jesus Christ, and we come as sinners, and we confess our sin, our guilt, our need, and that’s how we come to God, and the God who says that there are so many false gods out there and who denounces them, this is so clear in Scripture. And then how Christianity Today could say, “This is not a compromise! Believe in whatever god you want.” And, Tom, you know that there are some very large churches that have huge 12-Step programs, any number of them, and it is even the rule in the church that you cannot say that the higher power is God, the true God of the Bible. And so how is this not a compromise? I don’t understand it, Tom.
And furthermore, the reason that we mention it – we’re concerned about it – is because it is compromise, and it gives people a false idea and a false view of God, and that is very, very serious.
Tom: Mm-hmm. There are some programs that, when they introduce 12 Steps, they go by the 12-Steps or the AA rules, and that is you don’t talk about Jesus Christ – this is within the church! – you don’t talk about theology. You know, this is a spiritual program. We think it’s of the wrong spirit.
But, Dave, there are some who would say, “Well, why can’t we just take the 12 Steps and modify them? That we don’t go according to Hoyle, according to the way that AA would run the program, but we modify this to introduce Jesus as our higher power, and to turn our lives over to the true and living God, but we’re going to use their methodology.” What’s wrong with that?
Dave: Well, Tom, I would turn the question around and say, “Why?” Why get involved in 12 Steps? Is not the Bible sufficient? We believe that the Bible is sufficient. Why didn’t Jesus offer 12 Steps? Why didn’t Paul lay out 12 Steps? Now, if you’re going to make these 12 Steps biblical, then why aren’t they in the Bible to begin with? Why should I go to these 12 Steps? They came out – you know, I keep repeating myself…
Tom: Well, people have to know this.
Dave: …but they came out of the occult. This was an inspiration from the spirit world that he got. It has unbiblical ideas that…you know, just the “higher power” is not biblical. Now then, why – why would I go to this? It has so much error in it. Even the idea that alcoholism is a disease, that you can never recover, you’re only a recovering addict, you know, addicted to alcohol…
Tom: Which you have to confess right up front…
Dave: It’s not a moral problem…
Tom: … almost like a mantra.
Dave: Right, you have to say that you have no power over this. But the Bible says, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” The Bible holds me morally accountable. It doesn’t say that sin has such a power over me. This is sin, you know? It was Dr. Silkworth who told him, “No, this is not a moral problem…”
Tom: Told Bill Wilson, right, the founder.
Dave: Told Bill Wilson, right, and he was thrilled to hear that. “This is a disease.” Now, so the whole thing, the 12-Step program from beginning to end, it’s on a false foundation…I mean, we give you in the chapter, for example, scientific evidence accumulated over the past couple of decades, which says that alcoholism is not a disease. I mean, these are secular, medical doctors. This is Harvard University and so forth. Okay, so the whole thing is false! Then why would I go to it and then try to use it as a framework for biblical teaching? Why don’t I go to the Bible itself? By honoring this in any way, I’m suggesting that there really is something good in here, and apparently it’s missing from the Bible. Apparently, the Bible should have laid out 12 Steps. Why didn’t the Bible do that?
Furthermore, it’s based upon a false assumption that the 12-Step program Alcoholics Anonymous is so successful when in fact Alcoholics Anonymous is not that successful after all. I mean, the facts tell you that.
Tom: Right. But it’s testimonial driven, so somebody hears some testimony from individuals who, hey, they stopped drinking, so automatically it’s a success, and the program is given a commendation.
Dave: Tom, I can’t fathom why Christians would go to this, but Christians are going to any number of psychotherapeutic techniques.
Tom: Well, Dave, that brings up another concern that we have here: not only does 12 Steps have its foundation, as we keep saying, in the occult, but it leads us into a methodology that’s – you know, I use the term psycho-spiritual: it means it has some spiritual connotations, but basically it’s psychotherapy.
For example, there’s a very large evangelical church on the West Coast that has one of the most extensive 12-Step programs, really, in the country, and they list 16 support groups, everything from adult children of chemically addicted, codependent women, eating disorders, sexual addiction, smoking addiction, men dealing with anger, sexual reclamation, and so forth. Now, the pastor of this church, and you can find this on the church’s website, the pastor states that what he wants – he wants to help people, and that’s to be commended. I mean, a lot of people who get involved in this, they just want to reach out and help people. But you’re going to do it God’s way, or you’re going to do it man’s way, or maybe a mixture, and that’s our great concern.
Now, Dave, he says right upfront that he wants this program, which is a modification of 12 Steps…
Dave: This is the pastor you’re talking about?
Tom: Right. He wants his program – he seems to be against psychotherapy. He wants it to be Christ-centered and biblical. But…
Dave: Again, why do I go to something that isn’t biblical and then try to make it that way?
Tom: Right. Yeah. Even if there weren’t an occult connection here, there’s a definite connection to the false ideas of psychotherapy. For example, you can’t have all these programs, which are based on, again, psycho-spiritual ideas of AA and 12 Steps, and then clean them up and say, “Well, okay, we’re just going to do this biblically.” No, they’ve already laid the framework, the methodology, and the methodology introduces all kinds of psychological ideas, which, once again, they have no scientific basis, no foundation, no support from the research that says, “These things work.”
Dave: And they’re not biblical. I’ll read some of the lists of this: “Renewal from sexual addiction, men’s group. Renewal from sexual addiction, women’s group.” Where does it say that there’s a sexual addiction? “Addiction” is a new word. Addiction tells you that this is not really a moral problem, but it’s some kind of a physiological or chemical imbalance, or it’s something that you don’t have control over. I don’t find that…
Tom: So you have no accountability – no real responsibility. No choice here – that’s the implication, isn’t it?
Dave: We may have quoted Thomas Szasz, one of the world’s leading research psychiatrists before. But listen to what he says: “We have turned….” He says, “Do you want to know what we’ve done? We have turned the salvation of sinful souls into the cure of sick minds.” That’s what we’ve done. We’ve taken sin, and we’ve turned it into a disease. So, I don’t need to repent before God, but what I need is therapy.
Now this is what AA basically is, is group therapy, and you are really relying upon Alcoholics Anonymous – I’ve talked to these people. They’re afraid to leave AA, because AA teaches you that if you do, if you leave it, you will go back to alcohol again. So now they have a new addiction! They have a new bondage. They’re now in bondage to the “cure.”
Tom: Right. They’ve been told to turn their life and will, if they make…if they choose to make AA their higher power, so that’s bondage!
Dave: Right. Tom, I hope people can understand that are listening out there. We believe that the Bible is sufficient. There were alcoholics back in the days of the Bible, if you wanted to call them alcoholics. The Bible doesn’t call them that. It says, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess.” It says that an elder, a deacon, should not be “given to much wine.” They should not be drunkards. But it didn’t say, “If…you really need a 12-Step program to deliver you from this.” It’s an act of the will! Jesus said to the woman taken in adultery…well, He didn’t say, “You’re actually addicted to this, obviously, you’re a sex addict, and it’s going to take years of therapy.” He said, “Go, and sin no more.” He said – all through the Bible, God says, “Choose you this day whom you will serve.” But how can I choose if I’m addicted…or I’m co-dependent…or, you know, I have all of these…I’ve got some chemical imbalance, or whatever.
All I’m saying is that we don't find any of this in the Bible. Now, either the Bible is deficient – either the Bible has failed to address a very – a number of very serious problems that plague us today and must have plagued them then, but somehow the Bible failed to address them, or we are being turned away from confidence in the Bible, confidence in the indwelling Holy Spirit, confidence in Christ dwelling in us, who is our life, and we’re being told that that is not enough. But what we need is something that the Bible doesn’t tell us about, and we’ve got to have all of these programs for it. I believe that it is destructive of truth; it is destructive of the real power of the Holy Spirit; it is destructive of faith; it is destructive of the life that Christ wants to live in us. And we’ve been turned from Him to all of these other things.
Tom: Dave, I think we ought to mention some problems. You know, there still may be the pastor out there like the pastor of this church that I mentioned, who’s saying, “Look, we want to help people. We think this is a good game plan, a good methodology. We don’t plan to compromise biblical truth with these psychological ideas.” But in effect, they can’t help it. For example, this one program that I’ve been referring to, they offer books. They’re resource materials. On one hand, they say they want to be biblical, but if you look at their reading list of resource materials, of the thirteen books they offer, twelve are by psychotherapists. So now you’ve introduced that problem. They’re not playing it straight with the Bible.
Secondly, another book that they add to this is the Good Book, meaning the Bible – I’ll just give you the title of it – The Good Book and the Big Book: AA’s Roots in the Bible. So here you have the Bible and Big Book, which is the AA manual, and they’re trying to declare that the roots are in the Bible, which is absolutely false!
Dave: Well, it’s a sad day in the church when the Bible is not sufficient. The empowerment of the Holy Spirit living within is not sufficient. Christ living His life in us is not sufficient. And yet, Paul found it sufficient! The martyrs found God and His Word sufficient. All down through history, people have faced all kinds of problems – every problem that you could list, from eating disorders to chemically addicted women and men, and men in recovery from sexual physical abuse – I mean you name all of them. These problems were all experienced by people down through the centuries. They were experienced by people in the Bible. And yet, they found their sufficiency in Christ! That’s all that we’re arguing for. We’re saying, Why don’t we get back to the Bible? Why don’t we have faith in God? Why don’t we believe in the power of the Holy Spirit?
It reminds me of a program put on by a couple of Christian psychiatrists across the country (this was few years ago, now) and a woman called in – we may have mentioned this before – but she called in, and she said, “I have a terrible problem with fornication. I just go to bed with anybody and everybody. And I just can’t help myself.”
“Well,” they said, “obviously you have a sexual addiction. And this is a deep-rooted problem. Undoubtedly, or probably, at least, your mother was overbearing and your father was kind of a milquetoast, and it could take years of therapy to deliver you from this.”
Tom, that’s not biblical. And I’ m not saying that because I’m just trying to be a mean and nasty, narrow minded, dogmatic person. But my heart goes out to people who now come under bondage to a therapist. I was in the business world. I was the general manager of some corporations. I had a lot of employees. I had a lot of secretaries and bookkeepers and so forth. And I can tell you, I remember some of these dear women, my secretaries and bookkeepers, say, there in Beverly Hills. They were addicted to their psychiatrists! They couldn’t break loose from them, and they went week after week after week after week for therapy when they could have been delivered in a moment by the Word of God and by the power of God, but they wouldn’t accept that because they had believed the lie that we have some scientific basis for this, and we know something more than the Bible does, and those old-fashioned people back there – they didn’t really understand. Tom, it has not made us better. It has not delivered the church or the world from these problems, but in fact they increase. This is one of the greatest growth industries there is.
Tom: You know, Dave, just the methodology here. And I hope pastors will take heed to this. If you solution is problem centered, which all of the 12-Steps is – you just gave a list of all of these problems that these people have – if that’s your methodology, to analyze and get into the mechanics of the problem, the sin, you’re really wallowing in evil. The very thing that you’re caught up in is going to prolong your involvement! The Bible doesn’t talk about deliverance through “understanding and analyzing” the sin. It talks about recognizing and confessing the sin, and that’s where deliverance comes. Dave, we’re not to be problem centered. We’re to be Christ centered. I mean, He’s the one…He’s our Deliverer. He’s the one who delivers us, and we’re not even to look to Him as the solution to our problems. I mean our life is in Christ, isn’t that right?
Dave: Well, Tom, let me read what the Scriptures say. I mean, we could read from many instances. You could go to Colossians 3, where it says, “Therefore, put off the lusts…and put on the new man,” and so forth. But let me just read from Ephesians 4. He’s talking about what the Gentiles do; the horror of the evil that they are involved in, and then he says in verse 20: “But ye have not so learned Christ, if so be that you have heard him and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus.” Jesus said in John 8, “If you continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
So Paul is saying, “You can learn the truth as it is in Christ. You put off concerning the former conversation – that is, the way of life. The old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, be renewed in the Spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
It sounds like it’s something that we can do by an act of our will and by faith and trust in Christ. There’s no 12 Steps - there’s no lengthy therapy. It’s something we can do. It says, “Wherefore, putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry, and sin not. Let not the sun go down upon your wrath, neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole, steal no more.” (It doesn’t say you’re a kleptomaniac and you don’t have any power over it and you need months of therapy.) “But rather let him labor, working with his hands, a thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice, and be ye kind, one to another; tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
It sounds like the Lord has given us the power. He says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Thanks be unto God, who always causeth us to triumph in Christ.” Now it sounds to me like that is available to us in Christ through His Word and through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Then why would I turn to these other things?
Tom: Dave if our lives are really being transformed by the Word of God, if we’re involved in Bible study, if we’re involved in really growing in Christ and maturing and Christ-like: “I’m crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live.” If Christ is my life, it seems that it would be more difficult for me to turn to these things that pull me down, that destroy my life in Christ.
Dave: If Christ is my life, I don’t think He needs a 12-Step program!