This step and step twelve’s subsequent reference to a “spiritual experience” throws down a gauntlet for many agnostic or atheist folk. They already felt that steps two and three skirted the issue of a power they do not believe in. They see these steps as nixing any use of the Twelve Steps for their recovery. The internet can direct you to many providing great detail to the reasoning and approach for a recovery designed without acknowledging a God force. Law suits have claimed that government cannot subsidize any Twelve Step Program because it limits inclusion to a god as defined by one religion—Christians. This, they claim violates the separation of church and state.
As said in the South, “Bless their hearts.” Truly, I accept anyone’s right to form and advocate their position. I’m doing that—so if I have the right, I need recognize the rights of others. That said, the market place of ideas sifts and refines them but the final test comes with a desired outcome following an idea’s application. Twelve Step’s “proof is in the pudding” as the colloquialism states.
The people recognized as the founders of the 12 Steps had addressed this tension the way they found fit. We discussed this in the blog on steps two and three. Bill W and Dr. Bob knew many had experiences that kept them from accepting God as detailed in the Bible. They did not want to inhibit their recovery so they referred to God as Higher Power or “god as we know god.” But by the time folks had progressed through the steps they were confident that recognition of the same God that they personally knew would have formed a relationship with each participant. This, they thought, relieved both founders and participants to recognize the God force by the name of God.
I understand that some find these issues of high importance. I do not. I am on record as a Christ follower but I am also on record for advocating and facilitating the recovery of all. Even though some still argue, millions of changed lives prove that the Twelve Steps are a path to recovery for those who will obediently follow. This holds no surprise to me as I see the Twelve Steps as mirroring the process God outlines in the Bible for all to follow that desire an overcoming life lived in sync with God’s desires and will for us. I believe God gives great gifts that we do not earn through Jesus Christ. I would love if all came to have a Christocentric world view but God gave me a free will to choose Christ or reject Christ. Who am I to deny others that same privilege?
If I were only a theologian, I would be launching a discussion on “grace” with those comments. I am not. I am one of God’s thousands of servants to hurting people. In God’s grace; those that follow God’s principles, even though they have not come to a personal relationship with God, will receive the benefits the principles produce. Eternal events are a whole other discussion.
Meditate on what is right and good. Do it. Your life will benefit from it—atheist or not!