The God of Our Understanding - Extending Grace

By JosefMiyasato 03/21/19

I am new to the Fix but I've seen this dogma floating around in one comment after another. Some write articles about it. And others hide behind it. Still some are really militant about it. The worst of those carrying this dogma attack and attack until the person who disagrees is bludgeoned into submission.

The dogma is this, that there is one true way to recovery. However, it is not presented as such. This is too easy to refute. This seems too much like rhetoric from the Bible Thumpers of years past. No, instead it is presented in this way - "A.A. is trash. It cannot be helpful. It is a cult. It is filled with lies."

Now, it must be said that I have never attended an A.A. meeting. But to demand that everyone submit to the fact that it is not a valid approach is to fall into the trap of those in A.A. who say that there way is the only true way. AA is not dogmatic. Read the literature. If someone in A.A. is dogmatic this is not the founder's fault. 

The literature of A.A. is used in my recovery group as approved literature. And guess what, it works. It works for me. It works for my friend. It works for everyone I've come in contact with at retreats, conferences, and additional meetings.

A.A. is agnostic regarding your Higher Power. It is so agnostic that your Higher Power can just be the group itself. Now, it is true that the 12-steps are a spiritual way of life. This is as close as the literature gets to promoting God. And yes, the idea of God and the name of God are imbued, but simply substitute the term, God, for Higher Power and God can be a physical group of folks, or a way of living. The fact that this is a blasphemous idea to many Christians is proof that AA's idea of God is as far from dogma as you can get. 

Says the Big Book, "I must quickly assure you that A.A.'s tread innumerable paths in their quest for faith. If you don't care for the one I've suggested, you'll be sure to discover one that suits if only you look and listen" (4th Edition, p. 26).

If you have been abused or manipulated by members of A.A. this does not mean that Bill W. made them do it. It does not mean that the literature is corrupt. It means that those whom A.A. attracts are broken people to begin with. A.A. does not deal with eternal salvation, but existential salvation from the demons of alcohol. And if you are agnostic or atheist from the start, then this is as good as it gets anyway. What more can we expect other than imperfect people mixing with imperfect people?

My father did some very bad things to me. He also happened to claim to be a Christian. And he did truly believe. But he was so broken and so polluted with psychological toxins that he was able to do what he did, while shoving religion down my throat. 

You can imagine that I hated God. I hated Christians. I hated hypocrisy (still do). But when my heart was touched by God, when I felt the healing power of Atonement, I came to understand that it wasn't God who was bad. It was one of his children. 

Look, if A.A. doesn't work for you there are so many other ways to find recovery these days. I don't even believe you have to believe in my version of God to be healed. You can seek recovery by any means necessary. But to disparage others who have found hope, healing, and recovery in A.A. or by following the 12-steps is like the crazy ex-boyfriend who spends all of his time stalking his happy ex-girlfriend who has moved on with her life, berating her that her life will never work out without him by her side. 

Addiction is bigger than our understanding of it. This is why we are being destroyed left and right all over the world. Fortunately Recovery is also bigger than our understanding of it. It is a mansion with many rooms. And if one person goes into a room we didn't find help in, who are we to criticize, condemn, harass, rant and rail that it doesn't work for those who have found peace in those rooms?

Besides, if you are truly an addict who seeks recovery how do you have time to work on your own recovery, engage wholeheartedly in life, and still find time to argue about what is working for others?

We are not Gods. We do not know most things. So please do yourself and everyone else a favor, extend grace, respect, and even curiosity for other ways of healing. And if not, I will still try my best to extend grace to you.


Josef Miyasato is an award winning author of "The Anti-Hero & The Disciple." Josef is a recovering pornography addict. He has overcome childhood physical and sexual abuse, and addictions to alcohol and meth. Josef is currently at work on a book exploring the spiritual nature of the 12-steps. You can read more about him at


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