A 12-Step Observation

"1, 2, skip a few, 99, 100."

"1, 2, skip a few, 99, 100."

If it is a true premise that the spiritual principles within the 12-steps of AA are “Christian” principles, then I have to conclude that they are NOT “Protestant/Reformed” principles. Which begs the question…did the Reformation lead many, if not most Protestants, away from Christianity? I’ll leave the finer points of soteriology up to the theologians, but come on, Christianity is blood, sweat and tears, just like the 12-steps of AA, not, easy believism.

Just a few observations…

  • How many Protestants still believe in free will?
  • How many Protestants still believe that confession is necessary?
    I know that Protestants will give a confession, (just between God and themselves), but how serious can one really be about repentance if we are unwilling to put all our cards on the table for another believer to see and hear? If the only recipient to our confession is God, how much effort will we take at seriously analyzing our own moral bankruptcy before we talk to Him? After all, He already knows how utterly ‘sick’ we are right?

    By eliminating thorough and regular confession to God before another human being, Protestants deprive themselves of the vital Grace God longs to give them for healing through confession. If we can’t be forgiven by God unless we forgive others, and if we can’t love God without loving others, then how does it follow that we can confess our sins to God without first confessing them to others?

  • How many Protestants who are devoted to a slogan such as “faith alone” possibly have any interest in removing their character defects? I’m sure many of them do, but why?
    If God’s Grace is merely a “covering over” of our sins and objectionable character traits, (a common Protestant proclamation), then how serious does one really have to be about the cultivation of virtue, such as humility…a true Christ-like humility that seeks to serve, even our enemies?
  • There are many other subtle and not-so-subtle missing links between the 12-Step program of AA and Protestant groups, depending on which flavor of Protestantism you’re trying to live in, but there are no such inconsistencies between the 12-Steps and the authentic Church of Jesus Christ. At least, none that I can find.

    I would challenge any self-proclaimed Christian to try and live their faith according to the Biblical and Spiritual principles of the 12-Steps. However, if you are a Protestant, I do not see how you can easily practice these principles without the necessary structure. Some aspects to be sure can be practiced alone with God, but the weightier aspects, those packed with the most of God’s promises and Grace, are only possible in the life of the Body of Christ. If you are an alcoholic, as I am, then of course I would recommend the structure of Alcoholics Anonymous, where structure makes possible and encourages the practice of, the 12 steps. However, though this is vital to your sobriety, it is NOT the Church. If you are an alcoholic or drug addict plugged in to AA or NA, AND a Protestant Christian, then there is a good chance that there is a serious disconnect between your “Step Life” and your “Church Life”. This has been my own experience in the past, and rather than leaving what I thought was “the Church”, I decided that the 12-Steps must not be Christian after all, and so I abandoned the steps only to continue in my alcoholism floundering around in a “non-sacramental” Church experience.

    On the other hand, if you are a member of the traditional Church, whether or not you are a drug addict or an alcoholic, you should pleasantly find the spiritual principles of the 12-Steps a great help in your own spiritual walk.

    I have found that in studying the 12 Steps, and now trying to “work” them, has made it much easier for me to identify and “flesh out” these principles in the Scriptures, as well as in the Sacramental life of the Church.


    O Lord our God, good and merciful, I acknowledge all my sins which I have committed every day of my life, in thought, word and deed; in body and soul alike. I am heartily sorry that I have ever offended thee, and I sincerely repent; with tears I humbly pray thee, O Lord: of thy mercy forgive me all my past transgressions and absolve me from them. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to amend my way of life and to sin no more; that I may walk in the way of the righteous and offer praise and glory to the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.


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