How Alcoholics Anonymous Doctrines Compare with Scripture

by Debbie Dewart, M.A.


AA ~ The Broad Road of AA

"To us, the Realm of the Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive, or forbidding...." Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 46.

Bible ~ The Narrow Road of Christ

"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matt 7:13-14).


AA ~ Contempt for Sound Doctrine

"Any number of alcoholics are bedeviled by the dire conviction that if they ever go near AA, they will be pressured to conform to some brand of faith or theology." As Bill Sees It, p. 201.

Bible ~ Sound Doctrine

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine…" (2 Tim 4:3-4).


AA ~ "God-as-you-understand-Him": Any Name "We suggest that you find a substitute for this destructive power, alcohol, and turn to a Higher Power, regardless of the name by which you may identify that power. We suggest that you turn your will and your life over to God, as you understand Him." The Clergy Ask About Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 9.

Bible ~ Jesus Christ: No Other Name

"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).


AA ~ Powerlessness

"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable" (Step 1).

Bible ~ Power in Christ

No believer can claim to be powerless: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philip 4:13).


AA ~ Spiritual Awakening

"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps…" (Step 12).

Bible ~ Spiritually Dead in Sin

Man is spiritually dead, not asleep. He needs resurrection, not awakening. "Even when we were dead in sins, [God] hath quickened us [made us alive] together with Christ" (Eph 2:5).


AA ~ The "Big Book": AA’s "Bible"

Portions of the "Big Book," Alcoholics Anonymous, are read "religiously" at every AA meeting, much like Scripture readings at Christian worship services.

Bible ~ Sufficient for Life & Godliness

"His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue" (2 Peter 1:3).


AA ~ Leadership: "Trusted Servants"

"Our leaders are but trusted servants. They do not govern" (Tradition 2).

Bible ~ Leadership: Elders

AA’s leaders and individual sponsors usurp the role God has ordained for church elders to shepherd and "feed the flock of God which is among you" (1 Peter 5:2).


AA ~ The "Moral Inventory"

Step 4 requires a "searching and fearless moral inventory," essentially a detailed catalogue of past sins to be "confessed" to some other person to whom such confession is not biblically due.

Bible ~ No Condemnation

As Christians, our sins are fully covered by the blood of Christ. We confess our sins, as appropriate, to God and to those actually sinned against. New believers are nowhere in Scripture required to make a detailed list of all past sins. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:1).


AA ~ "Birthdays"

AA members celebrate annual "birthdays" based on the date of their last drink. They practice a "secular regeneration."

Bible ~ Regeneration by the Holy Spirit

Christians celebrate their new birth in Christ.


AA ~ The Goal: Sobriety

The goal of AA is abstinence from alcoholic beverages (sobriety). Other sins, such as sexual immorality, are commonly tolerated so long as the AA member isn’t drinking.

Bible ~ The Goal: Sanctification

"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son" (Rom 8:29).


AA ~ Fellowship/Unity: A Common Sin

AA’s fellowship is built around the common sin of drunkenness. "Personal recovery depends upon AA unity" (Tradition 1).

Bible ~ Fellowship/Unity: A Common Salvation "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Eph 4:4-6).


AA ~ Carrying "the Message"

"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" (Step 12).

Bible ~ Christian Evangelism

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matt 28:19-20).


AA ~ Incurable Disease

AA’s literature is permeated with the dogma, taught faithfully to newcomers, that "once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic." There is no "cure" offered, only continual abstinence from all alcoholic beverages.

Forgiven Sin

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:9-11).

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Editor's note: Twelve-Step programs continue to grow in popularity both outside and inside the church. Many pastors and Christian leaders have bought into the idea that these originated from a Christian foundation.  That shows how broad the term Christian has become­-so broad as to include any deity "as you understand" him, her, or it and so wide as to include the occult, as well as the mentality of psychotherapeutic theories.  In other words, most twelve-step programs are mixtures, rather than the pure doctrine and practice of Scripture.  Our book 12 Steps to Destruction: Codependency Recovery Heresies contains valuable information regarding the unbiblical nature of the original Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Steps and of the many programs built on these foundations.  Debbie Dewart has given us permission to include her 13-page paper titled "A Response to the 12 Steps in a Christian Setting" with each order placed for 12 Steps to Destruction

(PAL V8N2 * March-April 2000)


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