Mennonites learning from AA ?

The following is an excerpt from an article in this February’s MB Herald issue[1] called Things I’m learning from AA [2] by Phil Wagler [3] in which Christians are encouraged to go to an AA meeting to learn a few things. After attending an AA meeting with a friend and soaking in the humanity of it, the author (a pastor in a Mennonite church) laments…

Why are our churches not more like this?
Every follower of Jesus should go to AA. Never mind if you’re a teetotaller. Seriously. Go.
Here’s what I’m learning from AA that every church should learn:

Life is too short for male-bovine-excrement.
I’d use the other word, but you’d all write letters and that would sadly underline the point.
My brothers and sisters in Christ who have been through AA have learned to speak from a poverty of spirit, a humility that humbles the proud, and that is thoroughly refreshing. They also see quickly through pretense because they’ve seen and tried it all.
I’m tired of church life that can’t go there. Aren’t you?

Life requires help.
We need God’s help. AA takes you there immediately.
There is the expectation within AA that you will serve and help others on the way. It is an intergenerational affair of interdependence. This awareness of neediness challenges our individualism and even the way we structure our churches.
Furthermore, the AA community is never closed. Countless discreet gatherings scattered everywhere provide an open welcome where even the ready “backslider” is embraced.

Is this a good idea? Should churches learn anything from Alchoholics Anonymous? Is AA compatible with Christianity?

Christians continue to insist that Alcoholics Anonymous is compatible with Christianity because of its so-called Christian roots. That is because of its early connection with the Oxford Group, which is now called Moral Re-Armament (MRA). The founders of AA were involved in the Oxford Group movement during the early days, but there is no record of either Bill Wilson or Bob Smith professing Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord or as the only way to the Father. Neither is there a record of them believing or teaching that the only way of salvation is by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross…
… Wilson received messages from disembodied spirits. The official biography of Bill Wilson says, “One of Bill’s persistent fascinations and involvements was with psychic phenomena.” It speaks of his “belief in clairvoyance and other extrasensory manifestations” and in his own psychic ability.14 This was not a mere past-time. It was a passion directly related to AA.15 The manner in which Wilson would receive messages not of his own making was definitely channeling.16 The records of these sessions, referred to as “Spook Files,” have been closed to public inspection.17
Satan can appear as an angel of light and give guidance that may sound right because it may be close to the truth or contain elements of truth. A discerning Christian would avoid any guidance that comes through occult methods. Therefore, this aspect of the Oxford Group, further contaminated by spiritism, cannot constitute any “Christian root” condoning Christians using and promoting AA.

AA: Christian or Occult Roots? [4]

After looking into AA with even a minimal amount of research, any Christian would have to agree with John Lanagan, author of a new booklet tract called The “Spiritual” Truth About Alcoholics Anonymous [5], who says that “Christians should not be in A.A. at all, unless they are sent there as missionaries.”


[3] Phil Wagler pastors Gracepoint Community Church, Surrey, B.C. (This article first appeared in “Outside the box,” Phil’s regular column, in the Canadian Mennonite Oct. 14, 2013.)
(***Read here: NEW BOOKLET TRACT: The “Spiritual” Truth Behind Alcoholics Anonymous—And Why Christians Should Think Twice About Joining A.A.

Also see:

What About Alcoholics Anonymous?

How Alcoholics Anonymous Doctrines Compare with Scripture
by Debbie Dewart, M.A.


Mennonite Church Canada provides a link to the online 4th edition version of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous


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