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The Danger of AA

December 29, 2018

The Demon of Alcohol Abuse

Jesus: When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says “I will return to my house from which I came.” And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first.
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Alcohol Abuse: The Problem
6% of all deaths worldwide are attributable to alcohol consumption. More than 10% of children in the United States live with a parent with alcohol problems, according to a 2012 survey. The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that 65.3 million Americans engaged in binge drinking in the surveyed month. Alcohol causes several forms of cancer, including those of the oral cavity (throat and voice box) and liver. Women who drink at least three servings of alcohol per day have 1.5 times the risk of developing breast cancer. Alcohol’s effect on the brain is profound. Long term use leads to blackouts, especially in women. Alcohol abuse is a risk factor for the physical and sexual abuse of children. The damage to the body of the long-term over-consumption of alcohol are mostly irreversible.
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Alcohol abuse has caused great harm to my family. My father died at age 64 from the effects of alcohol. As a 21 year old recent graduate from college, it was heart breaking to watch my weakened father get the DT’s and then see him die two days later. My sister, who succumbed to brain cancer two years ago, suffered blackouts. We learned not to receive phone calls from her in the evening because she would not remember anything we discussed. Her husband, my brother-in-law, lost his managerial position due to alcohol abuse and recently had surgery to remove his larynx. I never met my father-in-law, because of alcohol. He abandoned his family when my wife was seven years old, and later committed suicide. My wife and I both have vivid childhood memories of being terrified in the back seat of our drunk father’s car.
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Kings Park, My Hometown
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When I was 10 years old, my family moved from Buffalo, NY to Kings Park, a small town on the the north shore of Long Island. A large percentage of the population was either Irish or Italian, and mostly Catholic. (Currently, the evangelical population of the area is 4%, while the Catholic population is 58%. I think a large percentage of the rest of the population are former Catholics who are now agnostic). At the time, Kings Park had the largest number of bars per capita of any town in the country. It was a true saying in my hometown: where four people are gathered, you’ll find a fifth.
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I loved growing up in Kings Park, and have many fond childhood memories. However, Kings Park was, and is, a spiritually dark place. The town was named after its famous (now abandoned) mental institution, which consisted of 150 buildings that accommodated over 9,000 patients in its heyday (one of whom was my Aunt Nettie). Another institution in Kings Park is St. Joseph Catholic Church, my local parish. Three of her priests were molesting children: John Butler (1961-1965), Romano Ferraro (1973-1977), and Thomas DeVita (1978-1980). [I attended the parish from 1966 to 1974, when I went off to college. My campus priest also was convicted of the sexual abuse of a 16 year old boy]. Catholic publications recognize that its priests, perhaps due to their isolation, have a high incidence of alcohol abuse.
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Treatment for Alcohol Abuse
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The “12 Step” program created by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the most common form of treatment for alcohol abuse in the United States. At 30,000+ member St. Matthew Catholic Church in Charlotte, you may receive the sacrament of Confession (considered the “second plank of salvation for those who have shipwrecked their faith) at two times. Either 6:30-7:15 on Wednesday evening, or 4:00 to 5:00 on Saturday. But you may attend an AA meeting Monday through Friday, and twice on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The total time offered for the sacrament: One hour and 45 minutes. The time offered for the various 12 step meetings at the church? 20 meetings covering 22 hours! It appears that 12 Step programs have replaced the Sacrament of Confession in dealing with sin in Catholicism by a factor of 12!
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This is not only a Catholic phenomenon. In the Charlotte area, there are meetings (mostly at churches) scheduled almost every hour of the waking day. There are 577 AA meetings scheduled for this week in and around my hometown. This does not include meetings of other 12 Step programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous (130 meetings), Al Anon/Alateen (63 meetings), Sex Addicts Anonymous (21 meetings), Food Addicts Anonymous (13 meetings), Adult Children of Alcoholics (6 meetings), and Celebrate Recovery (12 meetings).
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AA may be the only government-mandated religion in the U.S. Those who are convicted of alcohol-related crimes may be subject to Court-mandated attendance in AA. The effectiveness of AA in treating alcohol abuse is disputable. Some studies show that participation in AA is less effective than no treatment at all. One outspoken critic of AA has written extensively against the institution and its promises. What follows is my understanding of AA from a Christian perspective.

My Problems with AA

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1) AA is a religion that competes with Christianity
The advocates of AA deny that it is a religion. The Courts disagree:
Alcoholics Anonymous materials and the testimony of the witness established beyond a doubt that religious activities, as defined in constitutional law, were a part of the treatment program. The distinction between religion and spirituality is meaningless, and serves merely to confuse the issue.” – Wisconsin’s Federal 7th Circuit Court.
In AA, they talk about god. They pray. They have a creed. They have a “bible” (The Big Book). They have fellowship meetings. They make confessions. They promote witnessing to other alcoholics. But they do not espouse Christianity, because it is too exclusive and restrictive.
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AA is a false religion.
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2) The founder of AA was never a Christian
It is a common misconception that AA was founded by Christians and is based on Christian principles. The founders of AA, while religious, never claimed to be Christians. Bill Wilson was a seeker of spiritual experiences. He conducted seances, seeking to contact departed spirits. He studied paranormal phenomena and became involved in the occult and spiritualism. He believed he personally had clairvoyant powers. Wilson was heavily influenced by pragmatic philosopher William James, known as the “Father of American Psychology,” and Gerald Heard, known as the “Grandfather of the New Age Movement.”  Heard acted as guide for Bill Wilson’s first LSD “trip” in 1956.
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In December, 1934 Wilson became a teetotaler after one of his many hospitalizations for abusing alcohol. While experiencing delirium tremens (DT’s),he was sedated with a mixture of morphine, psychoactive drugs, and Belladonna (a hallucinogen). It was while receiving this treatment that Wilson had his intense “spiritual experience” that led to the “higher power” doctrine of AA.
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Bill Wilson’s life-long marital infidelity led to chronic depression. He began experimenting with LSD in an effort to relieve these bouts and to seek other spiritual cures for alcoholism. Wilson was deeply attracted to the Catholic Church, and studied her doctrines with the help of Bishop Sheen. He allegedly had a “second conversion experience” in a meeting with a Jesuit priest in 1940.
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As far as can be known, Wilson never received Jesus as his Savior.
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Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Matt. 7:15-16.
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AA is a false religion; founded by a false prophet.
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3) The god of AA is not the Holy, Triune God
AA is polytheistic. In their creed (The 12 Steps), they describe “God” as an impersonal force (a power greater than ourselves). Instead of being the God of Christianity, it is “God as we understood Him.” [Italicized for emphasis in the original document]. Those who struggle to believe in any kind of God are encouraged to consider the AA group their God.The god of AA is whoever or whatever you want him/it to be. It is a God of the human imagination.
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Much to our relief, we discovered that we did not need to consider another’s conception of God. Our own conception, however inadequate, was sufficient to make the approach and to effect contact with him… When, therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God. Big Book, page 46,47.
Jesus answered, I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6.
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But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life. 1 Cor. 8:6.
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You shall have no other gods before me…for I am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. Ex. 20:3,5. 
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AA is a false religion; founded by a false prophet; that submits to false gods.
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4) AA denies the true source of power

Jesus, before ascending into heaven, reminded his disciples that He possessed all authority. He promised to send the Holy Spirit to empower His disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations.
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All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples… Mt. 28:18-19.
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It is through the gospel message that this power is unleashed.
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But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses…” Acts 1:8.
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For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith. Rom. 1:16-17.
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In AA, the power to quit drinking is received apart from the gospel. The “gospel” of AA is to surrender to any spirit that will then help you overcome your alcohol addiction.
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AA is a false religion; founded by a false prophet; that submits to false gods; and promotes a false gospel.
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5) AA has its own Bible
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The “Big Book” (titled Alcoholics Anonymous) is the “bible” of AA. It contains the biography of its founder, Bill Wilson, and the doctrines of the religion (including the 12 Steps, the 12 Traditions, and the 12 Concepts). I recently finished reading the “Big Book” from cover to cover. I waded through 42 testimonies (over half the book) that proclaim the effectiveness of AA. In these accounts, there are exactly zero references to Jesus [So much for AA’s “Christian heritage”!]. The “Big Book” offers apologetics (for example, regarding agnosticism), advice to wives and employers, and contains a doctor’s recommendation. The purpose of the “Big Book” is to show precisely how a person can recover from alcohol abuse. An important theory is that only alcoholics can help alcoholics. Many long-time members of AA consider the “Big Book” to be divinely inspired.
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AA is a false religion; founded by a false prophet; submits to false gods; promotes a false gospel; and studies a false bible.
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6) AA holds to erroneous doctrine
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Here are just a few of the incorrect doctrines of AA that contradict biblical teaching:
  • AA defines alcoholism as a disease, not a sin.
The “Big Book” says, “We are convinced to a man that alcoholics of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness.” One witness in the book considers this fact to be a freeing thought: “I learned that alcoholism isn’t sin, it’s a disease. That lifted the guilt I had felt.”
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The Bible describes drunkenness as a sin. The wages of continuing drunkenness is death, surely spiritual and often physical. In a sense, sin is an “illness.” Every human being is born with this spiritual disease. We sin because we are sinners. We drink to excess because we are sinners. We are all guilty of sin.
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The 12 Steps of AA have been transplanted to other “diseases” such as overeating, co-dependency, sex addiction, cluttering, and the list goes on. Just about any human behavior can be misdiagnosed and treated as a disease rather than sin. We are adversely affected by bad parenting, bad experiences, bad genes. These become excuses that keep us from truly acknowledging our sin and seeking a Savior.
  • AA defines alcoholism as an incurable condition. The alcoholic is only in remission.
The “Big Book says: “We have seen the truth demonstrated again and again: ‘Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.'”
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But the Bible states that through the power of God a person can be completely transformed. Speaking of drunkards, the apostle Paul writes:
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And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Cor. 6:11.
  • AA, while encouraging submission to a higher power, is in reality a legalistic and works-oriented religion.
In order to retain your sobriety, AA mandates that you “work the program.”
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According to the “Big Book”:
RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. There chances are less than average.
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Sobriety entails hard work. One testimonial recorded in the “Big Book” put it this way:
A willingness to do whatever I was told to do simplified the program for me. Study the A.A. book — don’t just read it. They told me to go to meetings, and I still do at every available opportunity…
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A person is saved from alcohol by working and reworking the 12 Steps, studying the “Big Book,” and practicing AA’s peculiar moral instructions.
  • AA treats a symptom, rather than the ultimate disease.
Alcohol abuse is but one in an endless list of human sinfulness. Our ultimate disease that led to our spiritual death is sin. Sin has separated us from the Holy God. Through Jesus Christ, the relationship with God is restored. AA treats (mistreats, really) one symptom of our rebellion, while having no effect on our broken relationship with God that is the source of our troubles. This restoration is only possible through the gospel: one must repent and believe in the accomplished mission of Jesus. Why is this condition necessary? Because God is holy and we are sinners. We need the righteousness of Jesus imputed to us.
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AA is a false religion; founded by a false prophet; that submits to false gods; promotes a false gospel; studies a false bible; and teaches false doctrines.
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7) AA is inclusive and ecumenical
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AA proclaims a broad message of “spirituality.” In the Big Book there is a chapter entitled We Agnostics. It is an apologetic to the doubter about the existence of a “power greater than yourself.”
To us, the realm of spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek… When, therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God…Do not let any prejudice you may have against spiritual terms deter you from honestly asking yourself what they mean to you. As soon as a man can say he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way. It has been repeated proven among us that upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built… If our testimony helps sweep away prejudice, 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.
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This is a satanic lie. Joining them on the “Broad Highway” is spiritual suicide. If you want to be shunned at an AA meeting, share that Jesus is the exclusive way to heaven.
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Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. Matt. 7:13.
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I am the gate. If whoever enters through me will be saved. John 10:9.
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AA is a false religion; founded by a false prophet; that submits to false gods; promotes a false gospel; studies a false bible; teaches false doctrines; and promotes false ecumenism.
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8) AA’s ecumenism results in improper gatherings
The AA convert is isolated from the true Body of Christ. For a non-Christian, AA keeps such a one busy participating in AA and away from the true Church of Jesus Christ and the message of the Gospel. For Christians attending AA, these meetings are detrimental to their spiritual growth. The meetings focus around one issue: “recovery” from alcohol abuse. And since alcoholism is deemed an incurable disease, it is impossible to “graduate” from the AA program. To leave would be to risk falling back into old destructive patterns of thinking and ultimately losing the battle with the bottle.
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Most AA’ers identify not as redeemed Christians but rather as recovering alcoholics. They gather in the name of Bill Wilson rather than in the name of Jesus Christ.
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For a Christian, time spent going to AA meetings detracts from the importance of gathering with the saints to worship and serve Jesus. Further, we are warned not to interact on a spiritual level with unbelievers.
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Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching. Heb. 10:25.
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Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 2 Cor. 6:14.
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AA is a false religion; founded by a false prophet; that submits to false gods; promotes a false gospel; studies a false bible; teaches false doctrines; promotes false ecumenism; and meets as a false fellowship.
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9) AA focuses on a temporal hope
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AA is a religion that focuses on temporal life and neglects eternal life. Christianity is focused on the eternal. AA is an uncertain hope. Faith in Christ, because of the resurrection, offers eternal hope.
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If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 1 Cor. 15:19-20.
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This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through a curtain to God’s inner sanctuary. Heb. 6:19.
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Since, you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. Col. 3:1-2.
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AA is a false religion; founded by a false prophet; that submits to false gods; promotes a false gospel; studies a false bible; teaches false doctrines; promotes false ecumenism;  meets as a false fellowship; and offers a false hope.
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10) AA provides dangerous spiritual experiences
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The “Big Book” has this to say about the importance of spiritual experiences:
The distinguished American psychologist, William James, in his book “Varieties of Religious Experience,” indicates a multitude of ways in which men have discovered God. We have no desire to convince anyone that there is only one way by which faith can be acquired. If what we have learned and felt and seen means anything at all, it means that all of us, whatever our race, creed, or color are the children of a living Creator with whom we may for a relationship upon simple and understandable terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try. Those having religious affiliations will find here nothing disturbing to their beliefs or ceremonies. There is no friction among us over such manners.
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William James is the philosopher of American pragmatism. In his teaching, the effectiveness of a religious experience proves its truth. The end justifies the means. But the Bible warns that we must test our experiences, because there is danger in submitting oneself to unclean spirits.
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Again, from the “Big Book”:
To us, the Realm of 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. This applies, too, to other spiritual expressions which you find in this book.
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This is in direct contradiction to the Bible:
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Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God… by this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 1 John 4:1-6
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AA encourages its adherents to seek spiritual experiences wherever they may be found. This is unwise and dangerous. It is anti-Christian. It places people in spiritual bondage.
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AA is a false religion; founded by a false prophet; that submits to false gods; promotes a false gospel; studies a false bible; teaches false doctrines; promotes false ecumenism;  meets as a false fellowship; offers a false hope; and seeks false spiritual experiences.
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11) AA encourages selective proselytizing
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Here is Step 12 of AA:
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Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
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The 12th Step is critical in AA. If you want to continue in your sobriety, you must actively proselytize others who are struggling with alcohol addiction. Instead of the Gospel of Jesus Christ going forth, it is the “twelve step gospel” of AA. The result is a cult-like separation consisting of those struggling with alcohol. All submitting to an anonymous “higher power.” While claiming that it has a broad spectrum of adherents, it is really a ghetto consisting only of people who are focused on alcohol and false spirituality.
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AA is a false religion; founded by a false prophet; that submits to false gods, promotes a false gospel, studies a false bible, teaches false doctrines, promotes false ecumenism, meets as a false fellowship, offers a false hope, seeks false spiritual experiences and conducts false witnessing
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12) AA causes spiritual harm
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In Christianity, conversion is effected by trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation from sin and its eternal consequences. This salvation heals the whole person, and is everlasting in its effectiveness. AA provides a false conversion experience. The religious experience of AA is through a false (anonymous) god. It deals primarily with one temporal issue, the “disease” of drunkenness. It creates a life-long reliance on attending AA meetings. It is a false spirituality that acts as a deterrent against the Holy Spirit and true conversion.
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Last week I had a spiritual discussion with a friend who has been involved in AA for over 35 years. He told me that he always becomes “enraged” by any discussion of the exclusive claims of Christianity. In my mind he hates the name of Jesus, the only name by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
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Alcoholics Anonymous and Building 93 of the Kings Park Psychiatric Center are eerily similar. Alcoholics Anonymous (the Big Book) was published in 1939. Building 93 was constructed in 1939. AA stands as a monument to alleged soul healing through a man-centered god. Building 93 stands as a monument to alleged soul healing through electric shock and frontal lobotomies. There is one important difference. Building 93 is abandoned. The screams of its former inhabitants have long been silenced. The programs of AA and its clones are sadly still functioning to the eternal detriment of its followers.
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Kings Park town historian Steve Weber warns that entering Building 93 is dangerous. “I strongly discourage anyone from entering those buildings.” Building 93 has been closed for 22 years, has been exposed to the weather and is filled with asbestos. “It is dangerous to go in. The asbestos covers your clothes and when you go home you get it on pillows, blankets. You breathe it in for weeks afterward.”
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AA meetings are filled with deceiving spirits that covers your soul when you go home. It is dangerous to go in. You breathe it in for years afterward.
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AA’s “anonymous god,” (the “god as you understand him”) is none other than the Evil One himself. Can Satan save you?
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Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the good news. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. 2 Cor. 4:4.
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My earnest prayer is that AA would be abandoned by those unfortunates who are held in its spiritual bondage. Those who have temporarily expelled the demon of alcoholism through AA have multiplied their troubles by eight. The expelled demon of alcohol has invited his seven friends back into its former abode. Their joint mission is to keep these souls from ever receiving eternal salvation through Jesus Christ.
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AA is a false religion, founded by a false prophet, that submits to false gods, promotes a false gospel, studies a false bible, teaches false doctrines, promotes false ecumenism, meets as a false fellowship, offers a false hope, seeks false spiritual experiences;  conducts false witnessing; and results in false conversion.
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Do We Need Another 12 Step Program?

Given the proliferation of anonymous organizations and methods, is there a teaching or organization that can free someone from the clutches of AA? Here is my version of the 12 Steps that one can apply to help those struggling with addiction to AA meetings and doctrine:
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Step 1: We admitted that we were powerless over AA, that our lives had become unmanageable.
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Step 2: Came to believe only Jesus could save us from our addiction to AA.
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Step 3: Made a decision to submit our lives to Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, and abandoned the false gods of AA and our understanding.
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Step 4: Searched the Scriptures (not the Big Book), and found that Jesus is our only righteousness.
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Step 5: Confessed our sins to God and to those whom we sinned against, not anonymously in an AA meeting.
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Step 6: Were entirely ready to trust God to form our character through His loving discipline, not through attending AA meetings, working the 12 Steps, and studying the Big Book.
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Step 7: Humbly thanked Jesus for paying for our sins, not the removal of our “shortcomings.”
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Step 8: Made no list, but lived life in the Holy Spirit and performed the good works God had planned for us, rather than “being willing” to do them for the self-serving motives of AA.
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Step 9: Loved others patiently, regardless of conditions or consequences. Did not hesitate to share the true Gospel with my friends in AA.
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Step 10: Took a biblical inventory of the commands of Jesus, and admitted that we were wrong about AA and the God of our understanding.
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Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation on the Scriptures to seek to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, not the false God of AA and our understanding.
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Step 12: Having been born anew by the Holy Spirit to a living hope in Jesus, we offered the gospel to those ensnared in AA, and to practice these Christian principles.
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There is much more that could be said. I encourage you to look into these matters for yourselves. To those involved in AA (whom I am certain to have offended), know that what I have written comes from a love for you and the prospect of your eternal salvation.
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Don’t drink and drive during this holiday season! Better yet, don’t drink at all! May you be filled with the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, and experience His glorious presence in the New Year.
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In Christ (our Mighty God, Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace),
Dale
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