Alcoholics Anonymous Spiritualism :: By John Lanagan

“Holding to a form of godliness although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these” (2 Timothy 3:5).

Increasingly, we see a false repentance to a false god. It is like watching the pieces of an unholy puzzle being assembled. The goddess worship of The Shack, Emergence/homosexuality (homo-spirituality), contemplative practices, and the 12 Steps are all joining together as the rudimentary “roots” of something even bigger. While it may also have Rome, this coming system will have neither the biblical Christ nor His true followers.

Many have difficulty recognizing Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 Step spirituality as anti-biblical, much less as a rudimentary cog in this rising apostasy. Why? Sadly, with time and familiarity, even a wolf can masquerade as the family dog.

The 12 Steps are an integral part of our culture. For years Christians have participated in A.A. and “Christ-centered” 12 Step groups. This participation is increasing, as pastors ignore Scripture and allow A.A. meetings to be conducted in the very House of God.

These pastors hope that A.A. will serve as a tool for evangelism—and so it does. Unfortunately, too often it is the Christians who are being “evangelized” as they are exposed to A.A.’s inherent universalism. Christians both in A.A. and in groups such as ‘Celebrate Recovery’ are greatly influenced by 12 Step theology.

A.A.’s Christian promoters and defenders are fierce and active. They are convinced—and have convinced others—that A.A. and the 12 Steps are biblical in origin. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

Before we proceed, remember that in A.A., the people are mostly unsaved and in grave need of Christ. They are hurt, desperate, sinful people. In short, they are just as we were. As we wade through the swamp of this deceptive religion, it is important to remember this. Unsaved A.A. people are doing the best they can with what they have been taught—which is that anything and everything can be worshiped as a “higher power.” In A.A., any concept of “god” is valid.

According to the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book (the A.A. “bible”):

We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of the 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. [1]

Well, that sounds very loving and reasonable. Yet Christ Himself warns us against such a thing.

“Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6).

The Lord, in fact, specifically warns against the broad way:

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is BROAD that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.” (Matthew 7:13)

It is no coincidence that the A.A. Big Book again makes a direct reference to this spiritual Broad Highway: “If our testimony helps sweep away prejudice, enables you to think honestly, encourages you to search diligently within yourself, then, if you wish, you can join us on the Broad Highway. With this attitude you cannot fail. The consciousness of your belief is sure to come to you.”[2]

In 2 Corinthians 6:14-17, we are told to separate ourselves. In Galatians 1:6-9, Paul says that he who brings another gospel is “accursed.” The Alcoholics Anonymous theology, wherein Christ is seen as one higher power among many, is most certainly another gospel.

If Christians were to base involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous on the Word of God—Sola Scriptura—we would not be at the meetings at all.

Why, then, are so many of us part of it? Most Christians believe A.A. and the 12 Steps have a Biblical beginning. Therefore, the reasoning goes, we can either “take back” the 12 Steps (Celebrate Recovery etc.), or attend A.A with Jesus as our “higher power.”

But there is no “taking back” something that never came from Christ.

When all is said and done, the spread of this false “Christian” origin can be largely credited to Richard Burns, better known as Dick B., author of numerous books on the biblical “roots” of A.A. and the 12 Steps. Through sheer repetition and volume, Dick B. has conjured up a Christian origin that simply did not happen. [3]

This is neither to attack nor impugn this author’s motives. Yet it is virtually impossible to address this issue without dealing with his well meaning but erroneous scholarship. His books are seemingly everywhere.

The 12 Steps are based on general spiritual principles. When A.A. cofounder Bill Wilson was first given the 12 Steps by a familiar spirit, Jesus Christ was not mentioned. There was only a generic reference to “God,” and even that was changed to “God as we understood Him.” (A.A.’s Step 3)

Nor is there any reference in the 12 Steps to sin or repentance. There are terms that are close, allowing Christians to believe this is what they are dealing with, just as many believe the “God as we understood Him” in Step 3 was originally Christ. But this is false.

A.A.’s 12 Steps suggest the alcoholic deal with “shortcomings,” “moral inventory,” “defects of character,” “wrongs,” and “making amends.” Millions of unsaved people have come to believe they are right with God and man because of the Steps.

“For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Both of the Alcoholics Anonymous cofounders were heavily involved in spiritualism. This means little to people today, saturated as we are with entertainment that celebrates communication with the spirit world. Through rapidly spreading practices such as the meditative states of contemplative prayer, contact with demonic beings is now a daily event for many.

Since fully sixty percent of the Body of Christ no longer believe Satan is real, A.A. cofounder Bill Wilson’s communication with evil spirits is generally laughed off or disbelieved.

C.S. Lewis believed it. When a concerned Tony Guggenheim wrote Lewis a letter informing him of Bill and Lois Wilson’s Biblically forbidden activities, C.S. Lewis wrote back, “This is necromancy. Have nothing to do with it.” [4]

Christians too easily give C.S. Lewis a pass regarding some of his fiction. Either it lines up with the Bible, or it should not be read or viewed as “entertainment.” Still, Lewis was clearly horrified the A.A. cofounder was involved in spiritualism.

His letter gives good advice regarding these biblically prohibited practices. This is good advice, too, regarding A.A. and the 12 Steps.


[1] Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book), pg. 46-47

[2] Ibid., pg. 55


[4] My Name Is Bill, Susan Cheever,pg.207