No Higher Power

This is surprising only in that it has taken so long for this issue to arise.  There is a battle against Alcoholics Anonymous by people who wish to utilize some of the basic concepts while rejecting the most fundamental one.

Alcoholics Anonymous has been around for over 80 years.  They have millions of members in countries around the world.  I assume this is because their program is effective.  I assume this is because what they teach people in this program has relevance and is able to accomplish what they believe it will – namely the hope of normalized lives free from addictive behaviors (and possibly the addictive tendencies or desires themselves).  
The program’s creator Bill Wilson founded the program on a faith in the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible.  As the program grew in scope, Wilson had to deal with the fact that not everyone who wished to be helped believed in God.  In the 1960’s, according to the article, Wilson dealt with this, but not by eliminating the understanding that God is the real healing agent.  Rather, Wilson insisted that acknowledgement of an objective, external, higher power was fundamental and non-negotiable.  But that higher power could be literally anything.  In other words, you didn’t have to believe that the God of the Bible is real and able to help you, but you have to believe that there is *something* out there who is stronger and more capable than not only you, but people in general.  Wilson believed that this was an initial step of faith.  He seems to have believed that this first step into the realm of faith in general would eventually lead a person to faith in the God of the Bible.  Wilson talked about this as the “God of your understanding”.
However this isn’t good enough for some people today, who are offended that they are required to place their faith in any sort of outside power.  On the surface level this doesn’t sound much different than any other battle in recent decades over any sort of public or instrumental insistence on or acknowledgement of the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible.
But this is an interesting one, because it drives to the heart of what AA claims to do and how it claims to do it.  AA is founded on the fundamental idea that we ourselves as human beings do not have the ability (in some cases) to break addictive behaviors.  We  don’t have the willpower,the strength, the stamina – none of it.  Unless we are receiving strength and willpower and stamina from a source greater than ourselves and outside of ourselves, a source that is unfailing and always available, we will fail.  God must exist, in other words, if healing is going to occur in some people because they will not be able to heal themselves and because nobody else is capable of being there for them 24/7 every part of their lives.  While you may claim that your higher power is in fact a rock or a cloud or a star, the only way your healing can occur is (philosophically and theologically) if that rock or cloud or star has all of the qualities and nature and personality of the God of the Bible.  
What the atheistic groups and individuals want to do is eliminate this presupposition completely.  They may claim that they just object to overt talk of God, but the revised 12 steps that they created demonstrate that this is not the case.  In reality, what they are doing is reversing the fundamental principle and basis for the entire AA program by putting the responsibility for healing back on the individual – or at best on other individuals.  
In other words, we believe your program works, we want the benefits of healing and restoration your program brings, but we want to completely alter and undo your program’s core principles.  I find that fascinating.  People want the benefits of something without the something that purports to provide the benefits.  It’s like saying I want the benefits of stronger muscles without the actual necessity of exercising them in any way.  I want the benefit of food without actually eating.  I want the benefits of marriage without actually being married to someone.
At stake in this argument is not just a matter of theology, but the interesting issue of applied theology.  These people are free to form their own groups and do whatever they like in terms of their programs and steps and whatever else they think will bring healing and restoration.  But what they want to do instead is to lump themselves in with AA groups even though they are in fact working a program that is fundamentally different from AA.  They want AA to deny it’s foundation, despite the fact that it is this very foundation that has made such a huge difference in the lives of millions of people for the last 80 years.
That doesn’t make sense to me logically, not just as a person of faith.  If you believe that something can work, why would you insist on modifying it fundamentally?  It seems to say to me that people want healing but only on their terms, and they are indignant and insulted when it is suggested that healing is not always available on our terms.  All of which lines up remarkably well with what the Bible says about our overall condition of rebellion against God.  We want everything on our terms, despite the fact that our terms are fundamentally antithetical to how we are made and how everything around us is made.  Healing has only one source, and it is not ourselves or any other human being around us.  

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