“The deepest and most important spiritual lessons I ever learned came from a circle of drunks, fighting desperately not to drink today, whom I initially viewed as “low-life losers”, and who ultimately came to be for me the “oracles of God”.
This is a statement from a graduate of an evangelical college and seminary, who feels he never really understood the Christian faith until he went through the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. He writes:
“I experienced the gospel of Jesus Christ in dramatic ways. I learned that God is wildly at work in healing, redemptive, saving ways that were way outside the confines of the evangelical church.”
He continued: “The 12 Steps in no way diminished my appreciation for the gospel of Jesus Christ—quite the contrary—I am more convinced than ever of the reality of the gospel story.
The AA practices of self-awareness, honesty, forgiveness, and reconciliation led this person to find a new life in Christ. In other words, practices transformed him.
Diana Butler Bass, who recounts the above story of a college classmate of hers in her book A People’s History of Christianity, remarks: “Alcoholics Anonymous teaches addicts to “fake it until you make it.” “Translating this insight,” Bass says, “into Christian spirituality, if you act like a Christian you might just become one.” (p. 297, A People’s History of Christianity)
Long ago, in the 16th century, a man by the name of Menno-Simons, the founder of the Mennonite and Amish forms of Christianity, wrote:
True evangelical faith cannot lie dormant.
It clothes the naked.
It feeds the hungry.
It comforts the sorrowful.
It shelters the destitute.
It serves those that harm it.
It binds up that which is wounded.
It has become all things to all people.