The Doorknob Theory

If you have spent any time whatsoever inside the circles of AA or NA, you’ve heard something like it. “You see that *insert random inanimate object here*? It can be your God if you want it to be.” It sounds kind of fun, giving your life and will over to the care of a doorknob. But does this theory really hold water?

This statement is usually made by an agnostic to an atheist or vice versa. It purposely seeks to dilute the need for God in the 12 step paradigm. The problem is that giving something the name “God” doesn’t give it magical abilities or power to save. An inanimate object only does what it was created to do. This means that those who give their wills to doorknobs for recovery will spend their lives opening doors for others. We must begin by defining the term “God” before we can go assigning it to random things for which it wasn’t intended.

Dr. William Lane Craig, one of America’s leading philosophers defines God as “A person without a body (i.e., a spirit) who necessarily is eternal, perfectly free, omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good, and the creator of all things.” Let’s take this definition, that is generally agreed upon by philosophers and Theologans alike, and apply it to see what who the 12 steps tell us to seek for recovery.

The first part of the definition states that God is Spirit. This does not describe the endless objects that old timers tell you to look to for sobriety. You see, if God is the creator of all matter, He cannot be held down by it. This brings us to the next point, God is necessarily eternal. Just as God created space and matter, he created time. This means that He must work outside of time as we understand it. A doorknob has no such power, unless of course the doorknob is attached to a time machine. God is perfectly free, yet a doorknob only turns when acted upon by an outside force. God is omnipotent, yet a doorknob has no power outside of allowing you into a room. A doorknob also can’t be omniscient, as it doesn’t even know who turned it. Inanimate objects are amoral in and of themselves, so they can’t be perfectly good. Finally, seeing as the doorknob was created by man in a doorknob factory, it cannot itself be the Creator. A doorknob is not a power greater than yourself.

Whether AA/NA admit it or not, the 12 steps are pointing us to a supernatural Being. One that has power over It’s creation that the creation itself doesn’t have over itself (the power to keep us sober). Simply giving your life to the power of a doorknob does nothing to help you gain sobriety. It cannot do anything that you don’t make it do. Handing our recovery over to something that only does what we tell it to is the same as retaining power over recovery ourselves. We have all seen how well that works out. Man’s problem with God is precisely this. We don’t want to relinquish control, therefore we come up with ways to retain it. If you gain sobriety by following a doorknob, you have succeeded in gaining sobriety on your own, therefore the 12 steps do not apply to you.

Only Giving your life over to the care of the true God makes it possible to completely recover when we’re in the midst of addiction. Who is this God? While using the definition above brings us to monotheism, a closer look at the principles of our inability to recover alone (man’s depravity) and our need for salvation in the 12 steps brings us to Christianity. Any follower of Islam will tell you that their salvation is works based (our good deeds must outweigh our bad in order to achieve heaven.) Any follower of Judaism will tell you that adherence to God’s law brings salvation. Only Christianity recognizes our inability to live righteously on our own and offers us a savior in Christ Jesus. If you want true recovery, stop trying to do it on your own. Relinquish control not to a doorknob, but to a God that has the ability to change you from the inside out.

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