Nieuwsbrief Celebrate Recovery
Nieuwsbrief over Celebrate Recovery
October 1, 2005
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man,
but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Proverbs 14:12)
I recently attended the Celebrate Recovery Summit 2005 at Saddleback Church in Southern California. The primary purpose of the conference was to train new leaders who would return to their churches and inaugurate the Celebrate Recovery (CR) program. Saddleback’s pastor, Rick Warren, describes CR as “a biblical and balanced program to help people overcome their hurts, habits, and hang-
As a long-
Nevertheless, other thoughts ran through my mind as I reviewed whether or not I had missed something significant in my previous criticisms of 12-
To begin with, 12-
Celebrate Recovery began 14 years ago at Saddleback and is used in more than 3,500 churches today, making it evangelical Christianity’s most prominent and widely exported 12-
Celebrate Recovery is a very complex methodology that attempts to bring biblical adjustments to the 12-
Reflecting A.A.’s influence upon CR, the term “Recovery” is significant. All those in A.A. are “recovering” alcoholics, who, according to A.A., never completely recover. Recovery is a term that primarily denotes a process of physical healing. A.A. teaches that alcoholism is a disease for which there is no ultimate cure. Although CR rejects A.A.’s view of alcoholism as a disease and calls it sin, the title nevertheless promotes the A.A. concept in contradiction to what the Bible teaches. Sin is not something from which a believer is “in recovery.” Sin is confessed by the sinner and forgiven by God. The believer is cleansed of the sin right then. “I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin” (Ps 32:5).
At the 2005 Celebrate Recovery Summit, every speaker introduced himself or herself in the A.A. “recovery” mode, with this “Christianized” difference: “Hi, I’m so and so…and I’m a believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with issues of (alcohol, drug, codependency, sex, or whatever) addiction.” The audience then applauded to affirm the individual for overcoming the “denial” of his or her habitual sin. Not to confess some “addiction” or specific sin struggle raises suspicions of “being in denial.” Throughout the three-
Rick Warren, on video, reassured the Summit attendees that CR was no man-
Is God’s way completely sufficient to set one free from so-
How dependent is Celebrate Recovery upon (with minor modifications) A.A.’s 12 Steps? Completely! Those going through CR’s small group take from 12 to 16 months to complete the 12-
Warren’s CR program views the 12 Steps as generally compatible with Scripture yet seeks out verses that appear to biblically reinforce each step. In doing so, however, scriptural interpretations are forced upon concepts that either have no direct relationship to the Bible or that pervert the true interpretation of the scripture intended to support the particular step. CR’s attempt to use the Beatitudes as biblical principles for overcoming habitual sins, for example, is a serious distortion of the Word of God.
Search as you may, you’ll find no commentaries that even hint at such a use of the Beatitudes. Why? Simply because the Beatitudes all have to do with seeking the Kingdom of God and nothing to do with solving an individual’s so-
Consider, for example, the “Beatitudes-
In these foundational steps, Wilson is summarizing his beliefs based upon his experiences as a “recovering alcoholic.” He felt “powerless” because he believed alcoholism was an incurable disease that consequently made his life “unmanageable.” Since he couldn’t “cure” himself (although millions do without 12-
So why would Celebrate Recovery or the multitudes of other Christianized 12-
Pragmatism is the fuel that powers “the way that seems right” and governs much of what is being lauded in the church today. Not only is this unbiblical, but too often there is nothing beyond enthusiastic testimonials to support the claim that something actually works. The reality for the 12-
The many problems inherent within a Christianized 12-
CR’s entire program content is marbled with psychobabble such as this “solution” from its Adult Children of the Chemically Addicted group’s dogmas: “The solution is to become your own loving parent....You will recover the child within you, learning to accept and love yourself.”5 This is biblical?! Honoring the psychologically contrived “disorder” of codependency, CR’s Codependency and Christian Living group made this humanistic and biblically false statement: “Jesus taught....A love of self forms the basis for loving others.”6
Let no one think that presenting these critical concerns about Celebrate Recovery in any way lessens the biblical obligation (Gal 6) of the church to minister to those struggling with habitual sin. The issue is not whether we should minister, but how we should minister: man’s way or God’s way? Man’s way, or a mixture of biblical teaching and ungodly counsel, is contrary to God’s way. Man’s way leads to death. Applying Scripture to man’s way leads to a slower death, akin to what would result when pure water is added to a toxic drinking fountain. We desperately need to take heed to God’s admonition through the Prophet Jeremiah: “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jer 2:13). TBC
1. Celebrate Recovery Summit 2005 Handbook, 61.
2. Celebrate Recovery Senior Pastor Support Video, 2003.
3. The Harvard Mental Health Letter, Vol. 16, No. 12, 1-
4. Celebrate, 31.
5. Ibid., 342.
6. Ibid., 350.
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