What is the Alcoholics Anonymous gospel of salvation?

by Chad Prigmore
Return to Alcoholics Anonymous

While Alcoholics Anonymous is known as a recovery program that people use in their quest for sobriety from alcohol, it also teaches a religious gospel claiming forgiveness of sins, a relationship with one’s creator, and eternal salvation.

To begin, let’s look at the Christian gospel from three portions of Scripture. Paul the Apostle in 1 Corinthians 15:3,4 gives us a very clear and concise teaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,” Then in Acts 4:12 the exclusivity of the atonement of Jesus Christ is stated: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name [Jesus] under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." It is also important to understand what Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

It is clear from the above references that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures and that He was buried and then raised on the third day. There is no other way or any other name by which we can be saved other than the name of Jesus Christ - as He is known through God’s Word in the Bible. We are saved by no merit or works of our own and we have no reason to boast.  Our salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

So how does the gospel of salvation taught by Alcoholics Anonymous compare with the Christian gospel of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone? Let’s begin with the book Alcoholics Anonymous in which the first 164 pages layout the program of AA.

On page 13 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous forgiveness of sins is taught as part of the AA program:

“There I humbly offered myself to God, as I then understood Him, to do with me as He would. I placed myself unreservedly under His care and direction. I admitted for the first time that of myself I was nothing; that without Him I was lost. I ruthlessly faced my sins and became willing to have my new-found Friend take them away, root and branch. I have not had a drink since”.

On pages 13 and 14 of the same book the claim is made that as a result of working the AA program a relationship with our “Creator” would be established:

“My friend promised when these things were done I would enter upon a new relationship with my Creator; that I would have the elements of a way of living which answered all my problems. Belief in the power of God, plus enough willingness, honesty and humility to establish and maintain the new order of things, were the essential requirements”.

The guidebook for working the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions which also proclaims forgiveness of sin as a result of the program.

On page 58 the claim is made that "Our moral inventory had persuaded us that all-round forgiveness was desirable, but it was only when we resolutely tackled Step Five that we inwardly knew we'd be able to receive forgiveness and give it, too."

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions then takes it even further on Page 65,

"If we ask, God will certainly forgive our derelictions. But in no case does He render us white as snow and keep us that way without our cooperation. That is something we are supposed to be willing to work toward ourselves. He asks only that we try as best we know how to make progress in the building of character."

These four examples from the two most common books used in the Alcoholics Anonymous program, very clearly contradict Christian doctrine and present heretical false messages of forgiveness and salvation. But the heresy of Alcoholics Anonymous does not stop there.

Consider Christ’s teaching in Matthew 7:13,14 in which He states,

"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

Then contrast this teaching which is directly from the mouth of Jesus with a statement from page 46 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous which states,

“We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all men”.

Yet again, a direct contradiction of the gospel of Jesus Christ put forth by the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.


The Alcoholics Anonymous gospel of salvation is that our sins can be taken away “root and branch” without the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  It also says that a relationship with “our Creator” can be established without belief in the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ, that God’s forgiveness cannot “render us white as snow.” Therefore, AA teaches a reliance upon our own works for salvation.  This is false doctrine and should be avoided.

"Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool,” (Isaiah 1:18).