CELEBRATE RECOVERY EXPOSED
CELEBRATE RECOVERY VS. SCRIPTURE
Chapter 8 Excerpt from WHO’S DRIVING THE PURPOSE DRIVEN CHURCH?
BY JAMES SUNDQUIST
Published by Southwest Radio Church Ministries
SINNERS-ANONYMOUS—IS THIS A BIBLICAL MODEL?
This morning I was curious why the word “anonymous” is in Alcoholics Anonymous, particularly since Anonymous groups are pillars in the PDC/CGM Theology through such programs as Celebrate Recovery. So I went to the AA website and found out. Something seemed rotten in the State of Denmark, but I could not quite put my finger on it. I knew the CGM/PDC has a host of Anonymous Programs in its churches and curriculum, including a sexaholics anonymous type of program. There are several problems I have with the program in general, Biblically speaking, such as we are “powerless.” Would a sex offender say he is powerless to obey God? Or if he has a victim mentality, would he say, “I just can’t help myself from molesting children”? These issues, including the concerns over “a higher power” are well known and addressed already. But the “anonymous” issue stuck in my craw. This was not as easy to discern, as there are issues of sin in our lives which could remain anonymous, or at least known to only those involved in the offense (both the perpetrator and the victim(s) and to one or more who are spiritual to help lead them to repentance.) But here is the major breakdown with “anonymous” regarding what the Bible says about it. First, I can not find anywhere in the Bible where it recommends putting all of the people with the same problem in a targeted group where they can commiserate and help each other “recover”. If you have seven pedophiles in the church, do you create a class and put them all together? Doesn’t I Corinthians 15:33 read “Do not be deceived: “bad company corrupts good morals.” Does it say put them in the same group? Or do you mark each and every one of them to identify them and then separate them out from the flock (and each other)? The Bible teaches that you would surround each one with good examples and the spiritually mature. Another glaring problem I see is that the Anonymous charter gives a type of diplomatic immunity, whereby the individual NEVER has to be exposed publicly, or before the congregation according to Matthew 18 or Ephesians Chapter Five, unless, the individual chooses to do so. And this anonymity is supported and defended by the “anonymous” charter. So, for example, if a brother in the Church (whether a member or not) were confronted for sexual adultery or fornication, was confronted by one or more other brothers or sisters (still note no group of other like offenders), then the Elders if he or she still has not repented (still no group), then before the entire congregation (still no group of like offenders), the Biblical procedure of Church Discipline is preserved. Finally, should the brother or sister not repent, removal from that local Body of Christ should be Biblically exercised and mandated. But even then, after this sinner is turned over to the other “higher power”, Satan himself, there is still a pathway of restoration left open for this fallen brother or sister to return to the church. But this person must still repent and once restored demonstrate the fruit of his or her repentance. But with the “anonymous” model or charter, such as a Sexaholics Anonymous type group that is promoted by a host of PDC/CGM programs, the person committing these ongoing acts could cling to the pre-agreed arrangement and charter position of remaining “anonymous.” Who could then pierce this veil of unbiblical protection? This person could remain sexually anonymous…and active, and repent publicly only at his or her own behest, and remain so forever. If someone were to confront him or her, this person could say “but you told me I could remain anonymous, and besides the charter permits me to remain anonymous….and you can’t violate my anonymity and confidentiality!” Should any who is wise among them decide to act Biblically, they would violate the “anonymous” charter, and the person in this group would easily be able to challenge any person who broke this confidence. Of course, were a brother to decide to act Biblically in this example, he would be branded intolerant, unforgiving, and insensitive to Harry or Mary’s felt needs! So sin in the body, or such leaven could continue to work until the entire lump is leavened with impunity.
So let us examine more thoroughly if, in fact, the Bible really does support the idea of “anonymous” groups within the ongoing body life of the church as well as it pertains to the procedure for Church Discipline.
Does “anonymous” sound like what Jesus meant in Matthew 18:7: “And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell [it] unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”?
Is “anonymous” what Paul meant in Ephesians 5:11 when he writes: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”
Is “anonymous” what Paul meant in 1Timothy 5:20 when he writes: “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.”
Is “anonymous” what Paul meant in 1Corinthians 5:1-11: “It is reported commonly [that there is] fornication among you…. when ye are gathered together (i.e, in the church)…. To deliver such an one unto Satan (in other words REMOVE him from the church) for the destruction of the flesh…. Your glorying [is] not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? But now I have written unto you not to keep company (or does it say form a fornicators anonymous group and keep them in the church?), if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.”
Is “anonymous” what Paul meant in: 2 Corinthians 13:1 “This will be my third visit to you. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”
13:1 Deut. 19:15
Does “anonymous” sound like what Ezekiel meant in: Ezekiel 33:6 “But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take [any] person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.”
No, Sinners-anonymous groups have no place in church life because there is simply no foundation for it Biblically. (Plug any word you want in front of the word anonymous…see “anonymics anonymous” below.)
In terms of conversation and story-telling in anonymous or Celebrate Recover Groups, Scripture actually gives the opposite counsel about what not to speak about what these people do in private. The inverse of this is what we are to speak…
Eph 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Jam 5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
Phl 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.
Finally, the Bible does not speak of rounding up a group of like, or targeted sinners that I can recall, except to destroy them, e.g., the earth swallowing up the murmurers and God slaughtered of the company of false prophets. It is he or she who is more spiritual, one who first goes to the fallen brother to gently restore him or her. The only time a group appears is when the many who are spiritual go to the ONE brother or sister to confront…the next group is the congregation. But it is always a process of putting the sinner in good company, not bad company with more bad company to corrupt their morals even further. There is absolutely NO model in Scripture for this “group think.” The only example I can possibly think of is a hospital…and you could argue that the church is a hospital of sinners. But carefully note that no one goes to the hospital to hang around and get well from someone else with the exact same disease….it is the doctors and nurses and equipment they surround themselves with…but these are all WELL PEOPLE, and medically trained staff, all of whom would be disqualified in an Anonymous or Celebrate Recovery Group, RIGHT?
If the church uses AA or any one of its many 12 Step hybrids, why don’t they call alcoholism what the Bible calls it: “drunkards.” It never ONCE calls it a disease! IT never once calls a drunkard a victim, though there certainly are victims of drunkards, such as car accident victims and battered wives. And even if the higher power is Jesus (as though Jesus could be a force vs. a person, or a Tarot Card, or a Ouija Board, or a Crystal Ball….as though Jesus can be summoned up…that is pure sorcery), it is of no value, because the prayer is asking the higher power for something Jesus would never ask us to pray. He never told us to pray that we recover from being a nonexistent victim. He never told us to pray that we recover from having a nonexistent disease. He never told us to pray that we recover from being born a drunk. He would never ask us to pray a prayer that we are powerless to obey, when he already told us that obedience is ALWAYS an option over disobedience (Romans 1:21 says that NONE are with excuse). He never told us to pray that we will always be in a perpetual state of being a “recovering alcoholic”, so Lord, help me stay in a state of recovery, but never be FREE or delivered. He never told us to pray that we recover when he already told us to repent. I did a search for the word recovery throughout the entire Bible. It always meant either property or land being recovered, or recovering from a physical disease, so that recovery meant being restored to a previous state of being healthy physically. Never once did it refer to behavior or recovering from what comes out of the heart of man. Never!!
Phl 4:6 Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Phl 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
If we do this how does this leave any room or any need for AA, THRIVE, PDC, CGM, SHAPE, Temperament Tests (based on theories of Occultist and atheist Carl Jung), or Celebrate Recovery? Note further that the peace of God exceeds understanding, or leaning unto your own understanding. So at best, even with hidden knowledge of ourselves revealed to our understanding, we are still left with only our understanding which can NOT release the peace of God. So our hope of peace is crippled on both counts and can never walk if gleaned from any form of Psychology or Anonymous Group.
FOR COMPLETE REPORT AND ENTIRE CHAPTER 8 EXPOSE OF CELEBRATE RECOVERY:
OTHER RECOMMENDED RESOURCES EXPOSING CELEBRATE RECOVERY
A WAY THAT SEEMETH RIGHT:
WHY I REJECTED RECOVERY PROGRAM:
TESTIMONY OF CELEBRATE RECOVERY ATTENDERS AND VICTIMS WHO WERE IN PROGRAM FOR YEARS:
CELEBRATE RECOVERY VS. ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS CHART
Rejoice Now in The Netherlands:
EXPOSING CELEBRATE RECOVERY
By Barney Clynch:
Two questions for CELEBRATE RECOVERY program participants:
Which one of the 12 Steps in Celebrate Recovery contain the Blood of Jesus, without which there is no way you can draw near to Christ?
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which be bath consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh, and having a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water ”
Hebrews 10 19-22.
2. “Recovery” presumes by its own title that there is something to recovery to..i.e. a previous state. But Christians don’t want to return to anything in the old man there is nothing there to recover. The old man is dead. All you do with AA and Celebrate Recovery is prune a dead tree…all you have left is a stump…but it is still dead. But if you repent, you become a New Creation all things become new (not recovered)…plus is recovering a constant endless process in CR as it is in AA where you never escape being an alcoholic even if you never drink a drop the rest of your life, you remain in a perpetual state of bondage. But this is not what the Bible teaches when a person is born again and passes from death unto life and darkness into light. I repented (ONE STEP) from alcohol and was set free!
CELEBRATE RECOVERY CONTRADICTIONS
BY BARNY CLYNCH
The following link is provided as evidence firsthand how Rick Warren introduces Celebrate Recovery in “his own words”. The link is taken from the official CR website. A few comments follow:
Here is what Rick says in the opening paragraph:
“The Bible clearly states “all have sinned.” It is my nature to sin, and it is yours too. None of us is untainted. Because of sin, we’ve all hurt ourselves, we’ve all hurt other people, and others have hurt us. This means each of us need repentance and recovery
in order to live our lives the way God intended.”
The very few opening statements actually sound good at first until Rick does two things:
CELEBRATE RECOVERY CONTRADICTION #1
1. He brings up the issue of “hurts”. The terminology he uses for “hurts” is part of CR’s watered-down terminology for “sin” as “hurts, habits, and hang-ups”. He started out Biblical by introducing sin but then proceeds to contradict himself by introducing “hurts”. In his introduction, he repeatedly uses the phrase “hurts, habits, and hang-ups” instead of “sin”.
CELEBRATE RECOVERY CONTRADICTION #2
2. He says, “Each of us need repentance and recovery”. Rick, explain to me in appropriate Biblical terms how a person can accurately “repent” AND “recover” at the same time? Repentance of sin focuses on the “here and now”. It takes immediate responsibility for any sins of the past, forsakes those sins entirely, and presses forward by faith. “Recovery” focuses entirely on the past. People in 12 step recovery programs including Celebrate Recovery are given an indication they must repeatedly “return to their past” in order to heal themselves “in the present”. To put the terms “repentance” and “recovery” in the same sentence is contradictory. It is like attempting to mix oil and water. The two terms are in direct opposition to each other.
CELEBRATE RECOVERY CONTRADICTION #3
Rick Warren makes the following claim about the nature of the Celebrate Recovery program, “What we need is a biblical and balanced program to help people overcome their hurts, habits and hang-ups.Celebrate Recovery is that program.Based on the actual words of Jesus rather than psychological theory, our recovery program is unique, and more effective in helping people change than anything else I’ve seen or heard of.”
Rick claims, “Based on the actual words of Jesus rather than psychological theory”. However, in an investigation conducted by The Berean Call ministry at Celebrate Recovery’s 2005 summit conference, listen to what T.A. Macmahon discovered about this claim by Rick Warren, “CR is highly promoted as completely biblical and not psychological, yet the key speakers for CR Summit 2005 were clinical psychologists Drs. John Townsend and Henry Cloud. Psychologist David Stoop, the editor of Life Recovery Bible (CR participants’ mandatory paraphrase Bible, polluted with psychotherapy commentary), is a favorite speaker at Saddleback’s CR Large Group meetings. The CR leadership manual advises, “Have Christian psychotherapists volunteer their time to help instruct and support your leaders.”4 You can’t have it both ways, Rick Warren. You simply have made one claim which was proven to be nothing more than an outright contradiction in its exposure.
CELEBRATE RECOVERY CONTRADICTION #4
Additionally, Rick claims the following feature of Celebrate Recovery, “This recovery program addresses all types of habits, hurts and hang-ups. Some recovery programs deal only with alcohol or drugs or another single problem. But Celebrate Recovery is a “large umbrella” program under which a limitless number of issues can be dealt with. At Saddleback Church, only one out of three who attend Celebrate Recovery are dealing with alcohol or drugs. We have dozens of other specialized groups too.” “Hurts, habits, and hang-ups” are psychological terms used by psychologists and psychotherapists to counsel their clients. Again, Rick Warren has contradicted himself by using psychological terminology instead of addressing behaviors as “sin” according to God’s word, the Bible. Interestingly, addressing a person’s “hurts” focuses on a person’s past which plain and simple equalizes the correct definition of “recovery” when God’s word instructs us to press forward and not dwell upon our past (see note on #2 under “This recovery program is based on God’s word”).
Rick Warren also says, “This recovery program is based on God’s Word, the Bible. When Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount, he began by stating “Eight Ways to Be Happy.” Today we call them the Beatitudes. From a conventional viewpoint, most of these statements didn’t make sense. They sounded like contradictions. But when you fully understand what Jesus is saying, you’ll realize that these eight principles are God’s road to recovery, wholeness, growth, and spiritual maturity.”
The recovery program is based on God’s word, the Bible? I have a very difficult time accepting that statement considering the following:
1. Several days ago, I sent an e-mail exposing the distortions of the 12 steps and Biblical comparisons. A “Biblically-based, Christ-centered” program does not distort Biblical scripture by incorrectly placing scriptures where they do not belong and entirely misintrepreting their meanings using the 12 steps.
2. Additionally, if it was truly based on God’s word, members would be encouraged to constantly move forward in their walk with Jesus Christ, not repeatedly focusing on the past. 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Philippians 3: 12-13 make it clear we should not dwell on the past in order to get to where we need to be in Jesus Christ.
3. A point which will be briefly discussed shortly is that this program has components of psychology and psychotherapy involved. A program cannot be based on God’s word that utilizes psychotherapy in small group settings, not to mention that the CR program itself has simply taken psychological concepts from Carl Jung and Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.
CELEBRATE RECOVERY CONTRADICTION #5
Rick Warren also says, “This recovery program is forward-looking. Rather than wallowing in the past, or dredging up and rehearsing painful memories over and over, Celebrate Recovery focuses on the future. Regardless of what has already happened, the solution is to start making wise choices now and depend on Christ’s power to help me make those changes.
As mentioned at the start, the term “recovery” is meant to repeatedly focus on one’s past. An illustration – I recently saw a sign in my hometown in front of the parking lot to the electric department. It was a sign for “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.” The idea is that America must “recover” from the financial mistakes of its past in order to reinvest and get back to where it needs to be financially. How can a program be “forward-looking” when it repeatedly holds members accountable for past sins and conduct?
Rick Warren claims, “This recovery program emphasized spiritual commitment to Jesus Christ. The 3rd principle calls for people to make a total surrender of their lives to Christ. Lasting recovery cannot happen without this step. Everybody needs Jesus. Celebrate Recovery is thoroughly evangelistic in nature. In fact, the first time I took our entire church through this program over 500 people prayed to receiver Christ on a single weekend. It was an amazing spiritual harvest. And during the ten week series that I preached to kick-off this program, our attendance grew by over 1,500 people! Don’t be surprised if this program becomes the most effective outreach ministry in your church. Today, nearly 73% of the people who’ve been through Celebrate Recovery have come from outside our church. Changed lives always attract others who want to be changed.”
“Lasting recovery” cannot occur without total “surrender”? How do you expect people to totally “surrender” their lives to Jesus Christ when they are told they will never, ever “recover” from their past? People who do totally surrender their lives to Jesus Christ once and for all are completely forgiven of their sins (read Hebrews 10:14) – they have recovered once and for all, and any attempts to constantly bring up their past is nothing more than a tactic of Satan to keep them in bondage to their sins.
Rick boasts how 500 people prayed to “receive Christ” as their personal Savior the first time he took the entire church through the program. He then claims how the attendance numbers skyrocketed to 1,500. Sadly, the truth is that this is just one example of the “fruit” of modern evangelistic techniques. It is safe to say the majority of those 500 people who “prayed to receive Christ” backslid and were nothing more than false converts. I am not saying that is true of every single one of the 500 people who prayed, but making a “quick-decision” for Jesus is not Biblical. The attendance growth was over 1,500? Rick, are you more interested in numbers or are you more interested in the number of people who are genuinely and soundly converted in Jesus Christ? From your claims, it seems you are more interested in the “numbers game”. Larger numbers have never proven to equalize the number of people who are faithfully serving the Lord. In fact, the truth is the exact opposite. Most people today who make “quick decisions” for Jesus Christ fall away entirely, and many churches cannot account for the many converts who left their churches due to a watered-down gospel message.
RW also says, “73% of the people who’ve been through Celebrate Recovery have come from outside the church.” Where did he obtain this statistic? Where and how was this data obtained? Furthermore, since he doesn’t state precisely how this statistic was obtained, is the percentage truly accurately representative of the more than 4,500 churches that host a CR ministry? Let us also look at the phrase “outside the church.” Does he mean “outside” the Christian church as a whole or simply outside the specific churches where individual CR ministries are operated? Sorry to say, but during my 2 1/2 years in Celebrate Recovery, no one in CR ever polled me to find out if I was from outside the specific church where the CR ministry was operated. Likewise, I never recall the leaders of the CR ministries where I attended ever taking a poll to discover and validate this statistical claim of Rick Warren.
Any ministry that is truly “Biblical” and “Christ-centered” will ONLY use the Bible as the final authority – not the 12 steps, not psychological professional authority, and certainly not psychotherapeutic techniques.
JAN WARD IS NOW OFFICIALLY BANNED FROM POSTING ON THIS WEBSITE
I am open to posting someone with an opposing view. But to ignite me to approve it, I have to see documented evidence any of us have born false witness or any Scripture to refute any points made. She has done neither, but simply goes on rant after rant with ad hominem attacks and insults, refuses correction, and refuses to repent. So unless and until she provides proof anyone on this blog has slandered and she supplies Scripture to refute any of the Scriptures or posts that Celebrate Recovery principality is not riddled with false teachings, and stumbling the least of these my children, or she capitulates with total repentance, she is officially banned from posting on this website. The attacks of Jan Ward without proof or evidence of charges is typical of all Purpose Driven Pastors and disciples of Rick Warren…not just with his Celebrate Recovery.
Jan Ward has made serious charges against posters on this blog. She should not wonder why we might not post her attacks, since proof of her charges are without evidence. Slanderers will not enter the kingdom and bearing false witness against a brother is an abomination to the Lord:
Pro 12:22 Lying lips [are] abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly [are] his delight.
1Cr 6:10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
Rev 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither [whatsoever] worketh abomination, or [maketh] a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Sincerely in Christ,
DISCLAIMER: Rock Salt Publishing was founded by author James Sundquist as a volunteer discernment ministry to assist those who have been affected by the abuse of ecclesiastical power or false doctrine. The contents of all of the emails, articles, blogs, books and broadcasts have been researched very thoroughly and carefully. Where applicable, both documentation and supportive Scripture references are provided. It is a very serious matter to bring charges against any organization or individual, and therefore if anyone reading these charges is able to substantiate that they are false, please bring this to our attention.