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"Early AA got its ideas of self-examination, acknowledgement of character defects, restitution for harm done, and working with others straight from the Oxford Groups & directly from Dr. Samuel Shoemaker, the Episcopal rector, their former leader in America & nowhere else." - Bill W., Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, page 39. The Religious Roots of AA & the 12 Steps
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In essence, the Twelve Steps embody the Bible’s core teachings concerning God’s redemptive relationship with humankind, from salvation to evangelism. They begin with an admission of human shortcomings and a profession of faith in God’s power, love and forgiveness—the essence of justification. The Twelve Steps go on to encourage continual confession of wrongdoing, submission to God’s control and proper conduct toward others—the principles of sanctification. Finally, they encourage habits of devotion, responsiveness to God’s will and sharing the message of recovery with others—the basics of biblical Christian living.The 'Holy Spirit breathed' these truths to the Oxford Group. Dr. Frank N.D. Buchman, a Lutheran pastor (Two Oxford Group Key Leaders were Frank Buckman & Sam Shoemaker), is most often cited as leader of the Oxford movement. Yet, if one were to ask an Oxford Group follower, "Who is your leader?" the reply might well be, "The Holy Spirit." So confidently did the group believe in the guidance of the Spirit that it had no organized board of officers, but relied instead on "God control" through men and women who had fully "surrendered" to God’s will. Boom.
The Twelve Steps listed below have been adapted for Christians and are reprinted with permission from Alcoholics Anonymous. A corresponding scripture verse is included with each Step to illustrate the relationship between scripture and the Twelve Steps.
Step One We admitted we were powerless over our separation from God—that our lives had become unmanageable. "I know nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." ROMANS 7:18
Step Two Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. "For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."PHILIPPIANS 2:13
Step Three Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—which is your spiritual worship." ROMANS 12:1
Step Four Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. "Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord." LAMENTATIONS 3:40
Step Five Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. "Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." JAMES 5:16
Step Six Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." JAMES 4:10
Step Seven Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 JOHN 1:9
Step Eight Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. "Do to others as you would have them do to you." LUKE 6:31
Step Nine Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift." MATTHEW 5:23-24
Step Ten Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall." 1 CORINTHIANS 10:12
Step Eleven Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly."COLOSSIANS 3:16
Step Twelve Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." GALATIANS 6:1
Charles Knippel, Ph.D., a noted scholar on Christianity’s influence on A.A., has this to say about the Twelve Steps and Christianity: "In making use of twelve-step programs and in encouraging others to use them, the Christian will view the Steps within the Christian context and give the Steps Christian meaning. In addressing himself to non-Christian members of twelve-step groups, the Christian will seek, by way of caring and sharing relationships, to bring such twelve-step practitioners to a Christian understanding of the Steps that will provide rich spiritual benefits and a more abundant experience of recovery."