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A Church In Recovery

I just read a really solid blog post from James Tower, a seminary student at George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Oregon. He writes about his lifelong experience of recovery from addiction, and gives us a glimpse into his journey through Alcoholics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery (Rick Warren’s version of AA), and the Quaker Church. He takes a look at the strengths and weaknesses of both AA and the Christian Church, and he provides some perspective on how we as followers of Jesus could learn from the guiding principles of the recovery community.

For me, Jame’s post comes as a lighting strike. Just a couple days ago, I had a long conversation with folks from Capitol Hill Friends about AA and how we might incorporate some of its principles into our life together. We felt that the 12 Steps of AA were deeply resonant the Christian faith, encouraging real confession and practical transformation. I began to think about what it might look like to use the 12 Steps as a basis for our group’s curriculum. I wondered if there was a way to bring the powerful principles of AA back into the Church.

How amazing that less than 48 hours later Jame’s post shows up in my RSS reader! Just as I begin consider what it might look like to engage with AA principles from an explicitly Christ-centered perspective, I am handed this seasoned set of reflections grounded in an experience of both the recovery community and the Quaker Church.

I will not try to re-hash Jame’s post here. I encourage you to read it for yourself. Having read it, I would like us to engage in a conversation about how we might move forward together as a people in recovery, with Jesus as our Higher Power. Could we come to a place where we recognize the need of every person to be freed from addiction, “turning our lives and wills over to the care of God”? Could we have the courage to “make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves,” and “admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs”? What power might be released into our lives if we “humbly asked God to remove all our shortcomings” and “made direct amends [to those whom we have harmed] whenever possible.”?

What a compelling and life-giving gospel that would be! Of course we would want to “carry this message to others and practice these principles in all our affairs”!

  • The criticism of some about AA is that it forces belief in God to people who are seeking stability, especially in the midst of an otherwise chaotic life. I don’t agree with this view, but I do appreciate any platform that encourages belief in God for the right reasons.

  • BicycleThief II

    The problem with many forms of Christianity and AA etc. is that the guilt they induce is not acceptable. I’m all for mutual repentance and mutual forgiveness but it is important to forgive yourself above all else.

    • I agree that forgiveness and reconciliation – rather than clinging to guilt – is essential. And repentance is key to reconciliation. Sometimes it’s hard to know where the line is between “feeling guilty” and repentance.

    • Karen Tibbals

      BicycleThief II – as a member of another 12 step program I’m going to disagree. The reason why the 12 steps are so valuable is that that

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