Tom: Now, Dave, the topic for this program and perhaps for the next one or two is the 12-Steps approach to solving so-called psychological problems such as alcoholism and other drug abuses, codependency, etc. Twelve-steps programs are becoming an established part of church ministry throughout the country, and they’re being praised by leading evangelicals who see them as a blessing to the church. Yet we are including 12 Steps in the realm of the occult. Now, why would we do that? Aren’t we being told that AA has Christian roots?
Dave: Well, I suppose we’re being told that, but it isn’t true. We can’t cover it all on a brief program, but we give you the documentation very thoroughly in the chapter [chapter 15 of the book Occult Invasion]. Just the idea behind the 12-Step program is that you’ve got to believe in – well, let me quote it to you from step 2 in the 12-Step program: it says, “We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” And it goes on, the 12-Step program makes it very clear that this power, some higher power, is whatever you conceive it to be. Let me quote from an AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) publication: it says, “Alcoholics Anonymous does not demand that you believe anything. AAs [that is, the people that follow this program] tread innumerable paths in their quest for faith.” Well, you don’t “quest” for faith. The Bible says that we “earnestly contend for the faith, once for all delivered to the saints.” So if they’re on a quest for some “faith” and they haven’t found it yet, they’re in trouble. They need some help on that.
Then it goes on, and it says, “If you don’t care for the one I’ve suggested, you’ll be sure to discover one that suits you. You can, if you wish, make AA itself your higher power.” That is really the root of AA. Now, it comes out of the occult because Bill Wilson was involved in séances, and he himself went into a trance when he received these 12 Steps. So they came from the spirit world.
But the foundation of the whole thing is that you have to realize that there’s some higher power. It can be the Star Wars Force; it can be a doorknob; it can be anything. Literally, it doesn’t matter, but now you are trusting in this force. But you cannot say that this is Jesus Christ and that this is the God of the Bible. So, there are no Christian roots at all.
Tom: But, Dave, don’t people say, “Well, it came out of the Oxford Group, and then went into Moral Rearmament. This is the foundations of AA.” Weren’t they Christian?
Dave: I don’t think…no, AA didn’t come out of the Oxford Group. It may have influenced the Oxford group, but it came from a gentleman named Bill Wilson, who was a drunk. We didn’t even call them “alcoholics” in those days. That’s a new term. He went to a doctor who managed to convince him that this was not a moral problem. It was a disease. And that he had something called the disease of alcoholism, and that it was beyond his control – he had no moral control over this, but what he needed was some cure. And that really thrilled him, because that delivered him from the idea that he was a moral failure, that he really ought to take himself in hand, and he ought to exercise some self-control, and that is really where AA began.
And then he was dabbling in the occult, and he did go to a church service by Sam Shoemaker, who I think was Episcopalian – was he?
Dave: Well, he had what he called a “conversion experience,” but that was really after he got involved in AA, but again, it was an occult experience. Here’s how he describes it: “If there is a God, let him show himself. I’m ready to do anything, anything….” Well, God isn’t under any obligation to show Himself in some supernatural way just because we ask Him to do it. But anyway (I’m quoting him), “Suddenly, the room lit up with a great white light.” Well, all the occultists talk about the great white light. “I was caught up into an ecstasy. It seemed to me, in the mind’s eye, that I was on a mountain, and that a wind, not of air but of spirit, was blowing. And then it burst upon me that I was a free man. All about me and through me, there was a wonderful feeling of ‘presence,’ and I thought to myself, ‘So this is the God of the preachers.’ A great peace stole over me.”
Tom: No gospel here.
Dave: Yeah, as you say, there’s no gospel. This is not the God of the Bible who reveals Himself as a God of holiness, of righteousness, justice, purity, and who is of holier eyes than to behold iniquity, and who has a just penalty for sin, and who can only be reached through Jesus Christ. This was some kind of an emotional (if we want to be generous), or an occult, experience. But this is not a revelation of God. He had not heeded the gospel of Jesus Christ, and, as far as I know from studying his writings and the writings of others, and biographies, and so forth, he never did become a Christian through the gospel.
Tom: So, particularly, in this case, you really don’t have content. In other words, he went through some experiences. He saw this light, and so on. We know that the Scriptures tell us that Satan himself appears as an angel of light, so…but nevertheless, there’s no content here related to biblical doctrine, teaching – to content that might be revealed by God.
Dave: Tom, I would say that what he experienced was a semantic conversion. I haven’t read it in many years, but I have a book by a genius named Korzybski, as I recall, about modern semantics. And he tells how if you get a new view, a new perspective, on something, that can create a transformation in your thinking and in your behavior.
And in my opinion, he had a new perspective through the doctor who told him that this was a disease – it wasn’t sin. And that was the basis. He had a semantic conversion, and now he’s looking at things differently, and he’s expecting this higher power to manifest itself to him. He’s not looking for the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible says, “You will search for me and find me when you seek for me with all your heart.” Bill Wilson was seeking some higher power. Some revelation of some power that would be able to help him. And this is what he received. But, as you mentioned, there’s no biblical content. “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to those who believe.” And the scripture tells us that if any man be in Christ, he’s a new creation. Our transformation of our life comes from believing the gospel, believing in Jesus Christ. Then, it says, “By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it’s the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.”
So the transformation in my life, or in anyone’s life – and there are many people who have been delivered from alcohol instantly through faith in Christ – the transformation comes because I believe the gospel. And in believing the gospel, I have been born again of the Holy Spirit. I’ve been indwelt by the Spirit of God, by the Spirit of Christ. I have become a new creature in Christ Jesus. So now I have a whole new basis for my life – the life of Christ. Christ has become my life.
But he [Wilson] had a mystical experience that brought about a transformation through this new way of looking at things.
Tom: So that would be one reason why we would include this – or you would include this – in a book on occultism, because, well, specifically, the original experience that he had – I mean, it seems like it, at least. But there’s more than that, isn’t there? Here you have an idea of a higher power, really, a generic god. So, the instructions here are to turn yourself over to a higher power. But there’s no content. I mean, how do you know that this is a higher power, number one? And we know the technique that he used, not only at the beginning but later in developing the manual for AA, didn’t that come through channeling, basically?
Dave: Well, let me quote from the biography. It says, “There are references to séances and other psychic events in the letters Bill wrote to Lois, his wife, during that first Akron summer with the Smiths [Bob and Anne Smith], in 1935. Bill [this is the founder, now, of Alcoholics Anonymous, AA] would lie down on the couch. He would ‘get’ these things [I would have to say from the spirit world] every week or so. Each time, certain people [these are dead people now, so these can only be demons impersonating the dead] would come in. Long sentences, word by word, would come through. In 1938, as he started to write the AA manual, he asked for guidance. The words began tumbling out with astonishing speed. He completed the first draft in about half an hour. Numbering the new steps, they added up to 12, a symbolic number – he thought of the 12 apostles and soon became convinced that the Society should have 12 steps.”
So they ask for guidance from somewhere – this higher power, and suddenly, he’s inspired. It just pours through him. Is this guidance from God? I can tell you that certainly it is not, because it is not biblical. It’s that simple.
Tom: See, again, we need an… we have the revelation from God. That’s what the Bible claims. It claims to be God’s revelation to us. But it’s an objective revelation. In other words, whatever subjective experience that I might have, I can test it against God’s Word, and that’s what we’re doing with what Bill Wilson, the founder of AA, has laid out, particularly in his 12 Steps.
Now, let’s just go back to the step number 2. Is this what the God of the Bible would communicate to us? Or some spirit entity that Bill Wilson thinks is from a higher power, from God, is this something He would communicate to us?
Dave: “We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” All right, now, look, we’re not trying to be mean and nasty or trying to split hairs. But here he says, “There is a power out there – call it whatever you will.” It can literally be a bush or the Star Wars Force – it doesn’t matter what you call it, okay? But there’s “some power” that can restore us to sanity. But it doesn’t matter what you call it! Now wait a minute! This doesn’t make sense. The God of the Bible – this is not the God of the Bible because He identifies Himself very clearly, and He even gives His name: “My name is Yahweh. I AM that I am.” He tells us all about Himself. He reveals Himself, and He…God is very specific about that. And He says, “I will not give my glory to another.”
But this is “giving glory.” If this is God, that He’s saying, “I will manifest my power through you, and I will deliver you from this, but I don’t care if you let any demon take credit for it.” In Isaiah:48:5, God says, “I’m going to tell you what’s going to happen before it happens so that when it does, you cannot give credit to your demons, to one of your idols.” He will not allow some other…and Satan will use any name, any idol, as a front. So for God, the God of the Bible, to say, “I’ll help you, but it doesn’t matter. Call me whatever you want. Think that I’m a demon, or…it doesn’t matter.” That’s not true!
Tom: Let’s take a Roman god. Let’s take Bacchus, the god of wine and revelry. I mean, that doesn’t make sense. That’s counterproductive to what somebody in AA is actually trying to accomplish. But it’s a god. This is also…we are kind of reducing God to, again, whatever is out there, and really eliminating God, aren’t we? I mean, doesn’t this then eliminate God…?
Dave: Tom, it’s very important. We quote it, and we’ve quoted it often on this program, and we will continue to quote it, because it is very important. Jude says, “I found it necessary to remind you to earnestly contend for the faith once for all delivered to all the saints.” We must contend for the faith. Now, faith is in something. And they put their faith in anything – it doesn’t matter. Now, that is not “the faith once for all delivered to the saints.” We’re saved by faith; we live by faith; we walk by faith. Now, if Satan can counterfeit faith to get you trusting in something other than the one true God, and you don’t have to come to Him through Jesus Christ and the blood of Christ shed upon the cross for our sins, you don’t need to come this way. And yet Peter said, “There is none other name ….” Here we…I mean, the Bible emphasizes the name. First John:5:13: “These things I have written unto you that believe in the name of the Son of God.” “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father,” and so forth. And Peter says, “There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”
And yet AA says it doesn’t matter. The name doesn’t matter. Call this god by what whatever name you will. So this is not biblical. Furthermore, it leads people astray. It indicates that the Bible isn’t sufficient. I mean, how did they deal with alcoholism? How did they deal with drunkenness before AA came along – when they considered it to be a sin, and before he was told by this doctor that it was a disease? Well, the Bible says…Paul writes. He says, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess [that’s Ephesians 5] but be filled with the Spirit.” Now, it’s telling me that I can, by an act of my will and relying upon the Holy Spirit, I can give up alcohol. And it’s telling me “Don’t be drunk with wine.” This is how it was dealt with. It was condemned. They were called drunkards, and so forth. Solomon writes about this in the book of Proverbs. But now suddenly we’re told, no, this is a disease like catching a cold or getting pneumonia, and you're not morally accountable for this. This is changing the whole idea. It’s not sin anymore. It’s a sickness.
Tom: Well, addiction, for example. There’s a misleading term, because when we hear it, we think, Oh, somebody is addicted to something, which seems that they have no control…this is something chemical; this is something that’s determined, or psychically determined, because of what they’re participating in, so they’re off the hook. So, the confusion, as you point out is “Is there a difference between habitual sin and addiction?” Yes! Addiction is a myth in this realm. But habitual sin is something that the church has had to deal with constantly.
Dave: Well, Tom, I know that there are people that are listening to us, and they just think that we are so hard and so narrow, mean and unfeeling, and not sensitive, and that “Oh, I know people who are addicted to alcohol. They’re addicted to this or that, and now you are saying that that isn’t true.”
Well, we’re going by the Bible, and that’s why the program is called Search the Scriptures Daily, and we believe that the Bible is God’s Word. We believe that the Bible is the Manufacturer’s Handbook. He’s the God who created us. We believe that He knows what’s best. He knows what makes us tick. He knows what we can or can’t do, and the Scripture even says, “No temptation has taken you but such as is common to man, and God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond your ability to endure it [to overcome it].”
So, all we’re saying is, we believe God’s Word. We believe that for 1,900 years before Bill Wilson and Alcoholics Anonymous came along, there were people who had problems with alcohol. There were people who were drunkards. And the Bible must have had some solution for this. To imagine that Christians down through the centuries would be hopelessly addicted to alcohol, or that there would be many of them, at least, who somehow this thing called “alcohol” would get ahold of them, and they would just have no way of escape. And Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and the Word of God were inadequate in dealing with this problem. But now, a medical doctor tells a man in 1935, or thereabouts, that alcoholism is a disease. It’s not a moral problem. And now he learns that there is some higher power - it doesn’t matter what it is – and you can rely on this, and this will deliver you from this thing called “alcoholism.” Tom, as a rational human being, it does not make sense to me. As a Christian, it is not biblical. And the worst thing about it is that it takes people away from the solution that they have in Jesus Christ. It robs them of confidence in the Word of God and in the Holy Spirit, and it turns them to another solution that is only going to lead them away from God.
Tom: That’s our concern here. You know, as you say, Dave, there are people out there who have been helped to a certain degree by this. It’s changed their heart, changed their mind. But our concern is does the baggage that they have taken…you know, it’s like drinking from a polluted stream – somebody who is dehydrated – they need some kind of fluid in their system. So a polluted stream will work for awhile. But as they continue to drink from this – and this is our concern – the spiritual welfare of people who are involved in this, we’re greatly concerned about, because whether they realize it or not, and it should be obvious to them as they look at all the teachings, the concepts, the steps – basically, the steps of AA – it is drawing them away from the true and living God, from that crystal water that will deliver them.
Dave: Right. We’re concerned, Tom, not because this is your idea or my idea, not because this is what some church or organization stands for, but this is what the Word of God says, and the eternal destiny of souls does hang in the balance. So I hope that people will understand our heart. We want to bring people back to the Word of God.
Tom: And we believe [that] God – if we believe the Scriptures – has the power to deliver them from these particular problems.
Tom: But the heart has to be their relationship with Him and His truth…
Dave: The true God.
Tom: Right. Now, Dave, we’re going to pick up on this again next week, but I just want to leave our readers with this concern. If you look at Step 3 – and we won’t go through all the steps, but some are really important. Step 3 has to do with turning one’s will and life over to a god of their own understanding. Now that’s a recipe for destruction.