The twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are not all together biblical, but interestingly contain some truths that are biblical. Unlike the modern cultural understanding of addiction being a disease the Bible clearly defines any addiction as sin. The main problem with the disease model that AA encompasses is that the cause of addiction is medical, however, the cure in not medical. The cure is in a higher power, a moral solution. The addict is not held responsible for the cause, but is responsible for the cure.
The first two steps seem to promote a Power that can give help and hope because the addict alone cannot restore life back to a manageable state. However, this Power is limited in that sanity is all that can be given and nothing more. God, as described in the Bible, is a much greater than the power of AA. God can restore and redeem the addict from the addiction and from all sin of life. The first step of admitting is biblical in understanding our sin in light of a holy God. All people are powerless in the sin nature and are in need of salvation.
Interestingly the first three steps are to admit, believe and turn the will over to the care of god. Obviously the AA steps are not talking about the God of the Bible, but the pattern of salvation is strikingly similar to that of the twelve steps. The end of step three is not biblical in that God is not subjective, but absolute. God is not interpreted by each person, but is to be interpreted in light of Scripture and personal relationship with His children.
The moral inventory of step four could be compared with the searching of our own hearts for sin that separates us from God. The Bible commands believers to obey the commands given by God. Then step five contains a similar concept as the Bible, the concept of admitting the sin to God and to another person. Although not aligned with the Biblical model of confession, repentance and accountability because god is subjective and the addict is only seeking to serve themselves not to glorify God.
The sixth step digresses further away from Biblical truth in calling sin defects of character. The wrongs committed by the addict were accepted, but god will not remove anything because the god of AA is powerless, of no true forgiveness and no salvation. Sin is to be called what it is, sin, not wrongs or defects of character. Sin is a shortcoming, but AA does not clarify a shortcoming from what. What is the goal or standard that the addict has fallen short of?
The biblical teaching on forgiveness is similar to the outline of the AA steps. Step eight tells the addict to make amends with all persons harmed because of the addict. The intention is highlighted first; the willingness to make amends, followed by the actual deed of going to the person and making amends. This is followed by step nine that continues the ongoing of making amends, but does not get to the root problem. Step ten referrers back to step four and continues to assume that the addict knows what is right and what is wrong. Although there is no defined wrong in the steps AA assumes the addict will do wrong, but the wrong is subjective.
Both prayer and meditation are biblical disciplines and are included in step eleven. Unfortunately the step is not biblical because "God" is different to each person and the stated goal of mediation is to improve conscious contact with God and not to grow closer to him. The god of AA is limited and is sometimes helpful in overcoming addiction. The spiritual awakening is not God-given, but addict created. The problem with these steps is that they are not biblical and are only moral- one can never be good enough. God is more than a coping tool used to overcome addiction and He has given us life and salvation through Jesus Christ.