John Baker, Founder of ‘Celebrate Recovery’ Passes Away

Pastor John Baker, the founder of the faith-based ministry ‘Celebrate Recovery’ which was created designed to help people overcome their addictions and break from their “hurts, habits, and hang-ups,” passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 72.

His ministry page made the announcing on Facebook on Tuesday.

Baker created Celebrate Recovery in partnership with Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in 1991, after recovering from alcoholism in his 30’s with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous and finding faith in God. Believing that AA wasn’t a great place to talk about his faith and seeking to build on its deficiencies, he essentially fashioned Celebrate Recovery to marry the best of both worlds, giving it his own version of the 12 steps that over 2.5 million people completed.

It quickly spread to nearly 40,000 churches, and in large part destigmatized the notion of ‘addiction’ within the church and the role the church has in helping addicts recover, creating a welcoming and safe atmosphere for struggling people.

Theologically, it was a mess, with the insistence on calling addictions and destructive behavior “hurts, habits, and hang-ups,” rather than sin, and the idea of having to “forgive God” in the process. As the Cripplegate points out:

“(1) Though claiming to be biblically based, its teachings are often constructed from a misuse of Scripture and an erroneous hermeneutic. (2) Though claiming to be Christian based, its theology often clashes with sound Christian theology

Baker is survived by his wife and Cheryl, his children Johnny and Jeni Baker and Laura and Brian Gibney; as well as many grandchildren.


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