This past Saturday, I attended an open Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) meeting to support a Christian woman God placed in my life a little over a year ago to help her celebrate her first year of sobriety. When she invited me to come to her celebration, I immediately said yes because I am immensely proud of her. One year of sobriety. Way to go!
The celebratory meeting began with my sister in Christ telling her story about the amazing things God had done in her life that contributed to getting her sober and she identified her “Higher Power” as Jesus Christ which was music to my ears. She then went on to say that in addition to Jesus Christ being instrumental to her sobriety, some Christian women who were at the meeting were also instrumental in growing her through her first year of sobriety as well as many of the women in A.A.. After she finished giving her “testimony,” the floor was open to others who felt a desire to share anything on their mind as long as it related to drinking.
While women were sharing, the word “Christian” was used several times. This must have irritated one woman tremendously because it incited her to make an audacious claim that made me gasp out loud and look to our other friend to verify if I had in fact heard this woman correctly. She confirmed that I did. She heard it too. What did this woman say that triggered such a reaction in me?
She said, “I’ve heard the word ‘Christian’ here a lot this morning. I want to make it clear that it doesn’t matter if you believe in the Christian God, the Jewish God or Wiccan. It’s all the same.” The woman was referring to who one’s “Higher Power” can be, outwardly reprimanding the women who identified their “Higher Power” as Jesus Christ.
In A.A., this is a big no no because A.A. etiquette dictates that one is supposed to call God his or her “Higher Power” because his/her “Higher Power” can be whatever god or entity each person wants his or her “Higher Power” to be – it is the god of their understanding – not who He actually is.
The problem I had was not with the first part of her statement for the Jewish and Christian God are one and the same. The only difference between the two religions is that the former rejects Jesus as Messiah and the later does not. After all, the Hebrew Scriptures are what Christians refer to as the Old Testament which is included in the Christian Bible. No, the problem I had with the statement was with the second part.
She said that it didn’t matter if one’s “Higher Power” was the Christian God, the Jewish God or Wicca because it’s all the same. Let’s evaluate her statement so see if that’s true.
First let’s look at who the Christian God of the Bible is to see if He is the same as Wicca. The Christian God of the Bible is an incorporeal (without body – meaning Spirit) personal Being who is infinite and eternal as well as immanent (in the world) and transcendent (outside the world) and is the Creator of the universe and all that is in it (i.e. man, animals, plants, sea life, etc.). He is also a triune God which means that He eternally exits and manifests Himself to mankind in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent (present everywhere) and omnipotent (all powerful). He is also the embodiment of all wisdom and justice. In addition, He is infinitely holy, unchangeable in His nature and is the standard for love, goodness and truth. And because He is the Creator of all life, all of mankind owes their love, devotion and obedience to Him and will be held accountable to Him for their lives one day.
Now let’s look at Wicca to see if it is the same as the Christian God. Wicca is a contemporary religion associated with occultism (hidden or secret), neo-paganism and witchcraft that is a religion that worships the earth, all living creatures and both the mythical god and goddess of ancient Greece and Rome. While the beliefs and practices vary greatly, the practice at the heart of Wicca common to all is the belief that as witches, they can harness the impersonal forces of nature (energy from the trees, rocks, crystals, lunar moon, etc.) and cast magic spells on others as long as they adhere to the Wiccan rule called “the Rede” which states that they have the freedom to do whatever seems right to them as long as they don’t bring harm to themselves or others. In order to conjure up the power to cast these spells, Wiccans must rely on themselves to find the right combination of tools (meditation, invocation, whispering, singing, monotonous chanting, or sing-song chanting, trance and astral projection, herbals, oils and incense, drums or rattles or rituals) to invoke the forces of nature to do whatever it is the Wiccan wants the forces to do.
Now let’s add a little critical thought here. The law of non-contradiction states that two contradictory statements cannot both be true at the same time. To put it propositionally, “A” cannot be “B” and “not B” at the same time. This simply means that an apple cannot be an apple and not an apple at the same time. Make sense?
Now let’s plug the data into our equation. We will call the God of the Bible, “A” and Wicca “B,” and put the statement to the test. The Christian God (A) is a personal spiritual Being. Wicca (B) is the harnessing of an impersonal force of nature to cast spells. Since the Christian God (A) is a personal Being, He cannot also be an impersonal force of nature (not B) since the two are mutually exclusive.
Let’s look at another example. The Christian God (A) is the absolute standard for goodness, holiness and truth. In Wicca, the standard is determined by the witch herself which means that the standard is relative and will differ from person to person. For instance, Mother Theresa thought that “good” was caring for the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India, while Hitler thought that “good” was murdering 6 million Jews. When left to the individual, the standard will vary. Thus, the Christian God (A) is the absolute standard for goodness, holiness and truth and therefore cannot also be relative at the same time (not B).
Now for fun let’s apply the God of the Bible into the context of A.A. to see how He fares. Because the Christian God of the Bible is three divine persons who simultaneously subsists (exists individually and in relation to one another) in one divine essence, when one accepts the Son (Jesus) by professing genuine belief that He was crucified for the atonement of man’s sin and resurrected from the dead thereby conquering death once and for all, God’s Spirit indwells every believer at that time so that she has direct access to God’s mighty and infinite power. What this means for the genuine believer in Christ is that lasting and sustaining sobriety is possible because it is God’s Spirit that lives in the believer that the believer depends upon to conquer her addictions and restore her to sanity (Step 2).
And since the Christian God who gave us life is a personal being to whom we can pray, admitting our wrong doings to Him (Step 5) as well as asking Him to remove our character defects (Step 6) is possible. After all, all of mankind is going to be held accountable to Him one day for our behavior so this is consistent with who He is. Wow, see what happens when one believes in a coherent system? It actually makes sense!
Now let’s insert Wicca into the context and see how it fares. The alcoholic Wiccan must look to the impersonal forces of nature to be the power outside herself that helps her achieve sobriety. The problem is, how the alcoholic Wiccan is to do that is unclear since A.A. advises one to pray to her “Higher Power” to remove character defects (Step 6) and rely on it to help sustain sobriety. Belief in the Christian God makes sense. He is a personal Being to whom one can pray. But how does one pray to an impersonal force of nature and ask it for power for it only makes sense to pray to personal beings, not things? And to which impersonal force does one pray? The trees? The rocks? Crystals? How does one know which one of these impersonal forces of nature has enough power to help her achieve sobriety? And from where do they get their power? The Christian God is omnipotent (all-power) so tapping into to His power via His Holy Spirit is how the Christian achieves it. But how does the Wiccan achieve it?
In addition, one of the fundamental principles in Wicca is to rely on oneself to conjure up the right concoction to get the desired result. But isn’t one of the fundamental tenets of A.A. the idea that people can only achieve sobriety when they stop relying on themselves and turn their lives over to a “Higher Power?” Am I the only one who sees this as problematic?
I think another audacious claim that needs to be evaluated is the claim that alcoholics make a decision to turn their will and lives over to the care of God “as they understand him” (Step 3). Clearly, as I have just shown, some understandings and conceptions of God pose serious problems to A.A.’s overall philosophy and make it a totally incoherent system. How one understands God matters. It matters a lot. Thankfully, we don’t have to guess who God is. He reveals who He is to all of mankind through creation and the Bible. Thank you God!
I could go on, but I think I made my point. As Christians, we need to critically evaluate the audacious claims being made to us because people love to parrot politically correct phrases from the culture and expect us to accept them as truth. The problem is, while they might be politically correct, they are nevertheless false. It is simply not true to say that my husband and I are the same people because we are not and it is also not true to say that the Christian God and Wicca are the same because clearly they are not.