Our purpose in these articles has been to help you, the recovering alcoholic, to gain a better understanding of the biblical God. It is established fact that the God of the Judeo-Christian bible inspired the Alcoholics Anonymous program. The character building processes that we find in the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-Step program is founded on the beliefs, practices, and principles derived from the bible.
In the previous five articles we have discussed the belief that creation itself provides evidence of an intelligent being behind the creation of everything in the universe including our self. This is evidenced through our human observation of the design we see behind everything. Theologians identify two types of evidence that God reveals to His creation about His existence, namely “general revelation and special revelation.” General revelation refers to the revelation of God that is generally accessible to all people at all times. It is observable. This is evidenced by identifying the wonder and awesomeness of the design found within creation itself. This type of revelation is what we have previously focused on in this series of articles.
From the telescopic analysis of an unfathomable sized universe to the smallest particle we can observe microscopically, we see the hand of intelligent design in all creation. Design is found not just in the physical material realm we exist in but also in the design of all life itself in all of its many diverse forms. Human knowledge and wisdom confirms that the notion of design itself can only be the product of intelligence. It is not logical to assign “design” to random processes. Modern science confirms that intelligence is a prerequisite in the cause of design. Science confirms intelligent design in the very building blocks of life as more and more of the wonders of DNA, the chemical essence of life itself, are being uncovered daily.
In this final article we need to shift the focus to the other type of God’s revelation which is “special revelation”. This refers to the revelation of God given to people individually as a result of faith and personal spirituality. Since we define Alcoholics Anonymous as a spiritual program we must first define clearly what the term “spirituality” really means. It would be foolish of us to try and define this term from what we hear in the rooms. We need a true biblical understanding.
The book of Genesis teaches that God took ‘the dust of the ground’, a heap of chemicals, shaped a man and then blew into his nostrils the breath of life. Then man became a living soul. Human beings are different from animals, for ‘God created man in his own image’ (Genesis 1:27). So according to the Bible God made Adam out of dirt and because God is a spirit — He blows into his nostrils the breath of life. This is to convey the thought that though man had all the physical apparatus and organs for life, the immeasurable reality of life is something that’s not really part of those physical components. There is a transcendent reality of life that only God can give and it’s an immeasurable thing. God is a spirit and we are made in His image so we have a spiritual side to us. That gives us the ability of spirituality.
Spirituality, as defined by theologians, refers to the immaterial or nonmaterial part of man’s nature. We cannot touch this part of ourselves – it is not something that we can feel – although good feelings do come from right living. This definition rules out feelings as a sign of our spiritual nature. Spirituality applies to the internal condition of a person when they reach a state of belief that enables them to recognize and properly appreciate spiritual realities. We reach that state through the growth of truth in our belief system. (Eternal Sobriety – Chapter Three – Our Objective is Spirituality)
According to the Bible, God is not only the Author of our existence, but he is a personal God that fulfills the need we have to becoming a complete spiritual person, as He designed us to be. All the meaning for life that we crave, our emotional desires for strength for situations that used to baffle us and our pursuit for peace, serenity, joy, and wisdom as we trudge the road to happy destiny, can only be satisfied by the eternal God. This is the God we seek in AA, whether you believe that or not. The human being is more than flesh and bone. We are designed to find our creator. In order for that to happen we must experience life in not only the physical realm but also the emotional and spiritual realms. The Alcoholics Anonymous program helps this and is indeed a design for living that works. But it is only a subset of God’s overall design plan for our life as the bible and Christian belief confirms.
For the recovering alcoholic, as the Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) third step suggests, our major goal should be to understand enough about God and our self to be effective at turning our life and will over to His care. That response to God implies that we need a level of understanding that empowers us to trust in that choice. That is an achievable goal and progressively we gain confidence enough to manage a proper relational response to His desired will. It is an analysis of the image we have of God in relationship to the characteristics of God that will help us gain confidence, since these can be experienced. These characteristics give us a good understanding of God. Here are the main ones.
We cannot see God and He is intangible. He is a spirit! We know that God can create. He enjoys making things out of nothing. We know that God is without end. He has no limits or bounds. We know that God is alive and will live forever. He is permanent. He does not need to change because He is perfect in all ways. He has no flaws. We know that God has knowledge of everything. He has everlasting power and control over everything. God is in charge. He is present everywhere. We know that He is the source of all truth. He knows the way it is and everything else is relative to that truth. He is Holy. God has personal love and affection for each of us. He cares about us. His unmerited favor towards humanity, proven with His plan of salvation, is loaded with forgiveness. All of this we know about Him from His written word. The bible claims this is all true but its only knowledge until we experience His character individually as a truth.
We have both a material and immaterial side to our nature. Our body, of course, represents the material or physical part of our nature. The immaterial part is our “soul”, which is the essence of our living and interacting with both our material world and with God. Because of the soul, the body has life, sight and hearing, thought and speech, intelligence and emotions, will and desire, and both personality and identity. We can view the whole of our immaterial nature to be a blend of all of our living faculties and functions but of a single substance.
Thinking, feeling, and willing (making choices) are acutely sensitive conscious faculties that are the most familiar to us. There are also deeper, less sensitive faculties such as intuitive abilities and our sense of conscience. Keep in mind that God wants us to exist in this material world and yet relate to him in the immaterial world. That relationship is to be with our whole being. We can read and talk about God in many ways, but until we individually experience God’s image within us, with all of our faculties including our spirituality, it exists as knowledge and nothing more.
Experience is an interesting word. It literally means what happens to a person. This includes the activities of seeing, hearing, doing, feeling and living. These experiences relate to our physical, emotional, and intellectual ability to sense things. We all understand the value of our physical senses. They serve a purpose to help us exist within our worldly environment, the world God designed for us. God designed us to know Him through observation in our environment of His creative works and as well through a deeper ability to experience Him spiritually. To have a spiritual experience about God, I must be able to see, hear, do, feel, deeply sense, and live in His image in a way that involves the whole person; the material and our immaterial spiritual faculty. This is the way to understand His image, through a complete experimental relationship with Him.
We can see God’s image in both our body and soul. God placed His image in us in such a way that we can experience and understand that His image is there. The fact that we sense our own existence is because He exists. He created us with needs that will lead to seeking Him and finding Him. Only through a personal relationship with God are we able to experience the joy of fulfilling these needs in our life. These needs are not the humanly needs, based upon selfishness and materialism, which we so often pursue: but “spiritual needs.”
Spiritual needs are the deeper substance of all our needs and it is only by satisfying them that we will find true peace and serenity. With this given, we can define the fundamental spiritual needs that are in us as a reflection or image of the character of God. God, being a spirit, translates into an inner “need to be spiritual.” Humanity has had this desire since time began.
Everyone has some idea that there has to be more to life than the physical and emotional world we live in. As we learn to grow spiritually, we validate our own spiritual need. Our own “need to create” is reflective of God’s creative nature. Consider where our world would be without human creativity. We find this ability of creativity in all lifestyles and in everyone. We pursue many avenues as we attempt to create a life for ourselves in this world. However, our real need is to know our creator. Only when the spirit of God is alive to us can we meet this need.
Our 12th step defines this as “spiritual awakening” God’s infinite nature contrasted with our finite nature gives us the “need to perpetually grow and to seek answers.” The first recordings of early history to today’s ventures into outer space confirm this need. Our deeper need is to know God. Our “need to live and survive in our worldly environment” and the “need to live forever” come from God’s eternal nature. Sadly, man seeks immortality in many ways other than the way God intended. God’s immutable nature contrasted with our human instability gives us the “need to change towards stability.” The emotional relief we feel when confusion leaves us and we gain stability in our mind (thinking) is reflective of the value of this need.
The need we have for variety in our life is a part of our continuous seeking and searching for stability. There will be no real satisfaction from the world’s way. It is when we are experience the steadfastness of God, that we meet this need. Our “need for progress towards perfection” is an image of God’s attribute of perfection. We are constantly trying to improve everything and everybody – sometimes to the point of annoyance. The Bible is clear that the way to perfection is through Jesus Christ.
We also have an incessant “need to know everything.” Do you know someone that thinks they have met that need? Some of us think we have. This comes from God’s omniscience. God’s omnipotence is reflective of our “need to control”, which we so easily get confused about in practice. Our “need to be a part of something greater than ourselves” is due to God’s omnipresence. Generally, most of us do not like to be alone.
Our own “need to love as well as to receive love” is demonstrative of God’s nature of agape love. Our own “need for forgiveness”, as well as our “need to forgive others”, is reflective of God’s grace. God’s absolute Truth translates into our “need to always seek a higher truth.” We see this at work everywhere. All of these needs God created within us – to harmoniously blend into an underlying need to know our creator, to know the purpose of our existence, and the need to accomplish that purpose.
There is error in everything. Truth can be difficult to find. Fortunately God has provided in His design a truth building process that will move us forward in understanding Him. This is where Alcoholics Anonymous steps up to the plate. The 12-Step program provides a process that assists us in finding truth. It is clearly unique in its design and is tailored for alcoholics and our dilemma, although the 12-Step process is used for many other programs.. The process involves surrendering to the fact we cannot stop drinking and that we have mismanaged our life. The consequences of our behavior drive us to accept that we are powerless and therefore seek help from a spiritual source, namely God. We turn our life over to God and begin a cleansing process. A moral inventory follows. We confess our shortcomings, and ask God for help to remove them. We make amends, pray and meditate, and share our experience of recovery with others. Throughout this process we practice moral principles. Applying the 12-Step process and practicing moral principles is for a lifetime, which is why many identify it as a design for living.
This process is not unique to Alcoholics Anonymous. It is essentially the same process that the Bible tells all of humanity what it needs, in order to complete the spiritual design that God provided us with. We are simply not made spiritually or emotionally to go it alone. No matter how hard we try to find peace, happiness, and serenity pursuing the wrong passions, it does not fit the design. Our pursuits to do it our way and not get into God’s design only gives us outcomes that harm us. The bible takes the process one step further than the program does. It tells us that we need to accept the gospel of Christ found in the New Testament. This is what completes us for the long run, the additional benefit of the full truth in this life and the life to come – that is “eternal life.”
It is the bible that inspired the “design for living” program that we practice today. If you would like to understand more about the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-Step program and its relationship to biblical Christianity; and have a desire to know more about principles, free will, choices, habits, emotions, self-control, how to get on the beam, prayer and meditation, and much more, it is suggested you read the book “Eternal Sobriety”.