AA, Church, & the Mission of God (pt. 5 – Sin as Power/Addiction)
Another reason I make a habit of the 12 steps is this:
- The Power of Sin in our lives is perhaps better thought of as a matter of addiction and not merely isolated things we do or don’t do.
Several experienced folks in the Way, too many to mention them all, have helped me by talking about idolatry or the way the powers of this age (sin, death, money, Satan, our own desires, powerful institutions, etc.) enslave us, to use the biblical term, as a problem more helpfully approached in our day as one of addiction. Here are a few that made a particular impact on me: Gordon Cosby of Church of the Savior has coined the phrase “addiction to culture” to talk to churched and unchurched about what the scriptures call ‘sin.’ More recently, Michael Gorman has used addiction as a way to give modern readers the biblical concept of sin as a power in our lives, forcing us, apart from participating in Christ’s death and resurrection, to do the things we don’t want to do. (p. 86, Reading Paul). Don Williams, one of the more astute theologians and pastors within the Vineyard, has made the same argument in various written works and sermons especially as N. T. Wright has refocused the gospel around the announcement that “Jesus is Lord (and so many powers are not)” Finally, Dallas Willard has similar assessment of Sin working as an addiction when he says this quote that still amazes me:
“Any successful plan for spiritual formation, whether for the individual or group, will in fact be significantly similar to the Alcoholics Anonymous program.” Page 85, Renovation of the Heart
It’s because sin–falling short of or even working against God’s ways–isn’t just something I do from time to time, but a power within and without of me that functions very much like an addiction that the steps are a very helpful tool for those wanting to live a Jesus-shaped kind of life.