Biblical criticism on Celebrate Recovery: heresy exposed




Celebrate Recovery

One of the latest project from the pen of Rick Warren  is Celebrate Recovery. After Purpose Driven, this has also reached the churches. It is a program that allows you to deal with the bad habits in yourself, such as addiction, anxiety, perfectionism, eating disorders, marital problems, negative thoughts, or basically anything you can think of what is between you and your relationship with God. 

Celebrate Recovery was developed by Rev. John Baker, who is care pastor at Saddleback Church in LA. The pastor of this church is Rick Warren. More than 2000 people in his congregation are now following this program.

There is also campaign materials available to the church to promote. Every week on the course there is a meeting where everyone who follows the program comes together. The evening begins with music. This is followed by an educational piece on one of the steps or a story from experience. The group will then split into smaller groups. So the participants have the opportunity to share what is happening in their lives.  

A starter kit consisting of an organization manual, a DVD, a folder with eight sermons, a set of four participants using books, songs, a prayer card and a CD costs about 100 dollars, however! There are also many related articles to order.

I find it quite shocking that there’s made so much money to people who have problems. Jesus himself said:

Freely you have received, freely give. Math. 10:8

What is also striking is that the twelve step program is derived from the AA (alcoholics anonymous) Celebrate Recovery uses the same steps and admits it.

In AA they talk about the help of a higher power. In those 12 steps, the "god as we understand him" is mentioned. The New Age teaches that there is a higher power, but that is not our God. Anyone can fill in himself what God is.

At Celebrate Recovery they call this higher power God and biblical texts are used but if you use biblical texts, it does not mean that the source is good.

Let’s lay the two programs next to each other. Here are the 12 steps of AA and Celebrate Recovery as they appear on the website:

Celebrate Recovery

Alcoholics Anonymous

I admit I am powerless to my addiction and my compulsive behavior that my life has become unmanageable.

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.


I believe there is a power greater than myself that can give me recovery.


We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.


I make a decision to my will and my life to surrender to God's care.

We took the decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him .


Under God's guidance, I examine my life in an open and honest way.


We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.


I make my mistakes in a concrete way known to myself, to God and others.


We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.


I'm ready for God to free me of my wrong thinking and behavior patterns.


We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character to remove.


I humbly ask Him to remove all my shortcomings.

We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.


I make a list of all persons whom I have damaged and I declare myself willing to make it right with them.


We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make everything good with them.


I make it, if possible, immediately set right by those people, except if they would disadvantage.

We made direct amends wherever possible to these people, except when it would injure them or others.


I will continue my personal self-examination, and if I come across mistakes I admit it immediately.

We continued to take personal inventory and we admitted it when we were wrong promptly.


Through prayer and reading the Bible I find my ways to deepen personal relationship with God, for the purpose of His will to know and to receive the power to do His will.

We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him , praying only for His will for us and the power to carry that out.


The result of these steps is that I've changed mentally. I try this message to others and to carry out these principles in all my doings in practice.

A spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to bring this message to alcoholics, and these principles in all our doings.


If we view the steps, Celebrate Recovery teaches very much like what is taught in the New Age. They act like this course is a toolbox with effective techniques you can use to get your life back in order.

Like the previous courses of Rick Warren, you learn yourself to learn something in order to live your life as God would. It's all about how you can come to recovery yourself with the help of God's Spirit. While the biblical principle is just the other way. God's Spirit convinces us of sins and wrong attitudes helping us to deal with this.

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord  2 Cor. 3:18

Of course it is good to confess sins to each other and it is nice to have support from fellow sufferers, but if we have habits that we are struggling with, we do not need 12 steps, we must be aware of our sins and so radically choose to stop. God will help us more and more to become like Him.

I am quite aware that the program of AA is for many a blessing. At Celebrate Recovery will also undoubtedly benefit many. The danger is that the person himself is relying more on the method rather than relying on God.

Sources consulted: