Introductory Foundations for Christian Recovery
By Dick B. and Ken B.
© 2010 Anonymous. All rights reserved
Introduction by Dick B.
In the early years following the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous in mid-June of 1935, A.A.'s pioneers got their basic ideas from their effort in, and study of, the Bible.
Beginning in the summer of 1935, A.A.'s cofounders, William G. Wilson (“Bill W.”) and Robert H. Smith, M.D. (“Dr. Bob”), began to develop the simple, seven-point, original Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship” program. A program which soon-to-be A.A. Trustee Frank Amos—acting as an agent of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.—investigated and documented in February 1938. This was the original A.A. program—with its strong Christian orientation—for which early A.A. claimed a 75% success rate among “seemingly-hopeless,” “medically-incurable,” “last-gasp-case,” “real” alcoholics who thoroughly followed the program.
Many of the practices associated with that highly-successful, early program seem very likely to have come from A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob's active involvement with the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor as a youngster in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. And, in those early years of the Akron “Christian fellowship” program--before the Big Book was later published in April 1939—there were no Steps, no Traditions, no Big Books, no “drunkalogs,” and no meetings (at least not meetings of the kinds one sees today).
Bill W. later began to write up the program for the forthcoming book, Alcoholics Anonymous (the “Big Book”), starting about March 1938. However, Bill codified a program in the Big Book that was considerably different from the highly-successful Akron program documented by Frank Amos. The program Bill presented in the Big Book derived mainly from the life-changing program of the Oxford Group as its principal American leader, Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in New York, had taught it to Bill. And yet, even this program too—particularly as reflected in the earliest drafts of the chapters of the Big Book—was biblically based.
Then a New York University lecturer did the final editing of the book manuscript. In so doing, this editor cut its size by at least one-third (perhaps even by half—from 800 pages to 400 pages). Moreover, Bill Pittman of the Hazelden/Pittman Archives told me that the transcribing secretary Ruth Hock had told him much of the material editor Tom Uzzell had cut from the Big Book manuscript was Christian and biblical in nature.
At any rate, Bill’s first draft of two chapters tells us how Bill originally viewed, and then changed his view of, his proposed program. Bill originally wrote the Big Book's first two chapters for inclusion with a Works Publishing Company “stock prospectus.” The first chapter was titled, “There Is a Solution.” The second chapter was titled, “Bill's Story.” But the order of the chapters was reversed by the time the Big Book was published. The change was made with “Bill's Story” being placed first—as it is in the Fourth Edition today. In other words, “the solution” was given second place.
To give just one example of the earlier, biblical nature of the Big Book, here is a paragraph from the “There Is a Solution” chapter as it appeared in the “multilith edition” (also known as the “Original Manuscript”) of the Big Book as it stood in late 1938:
The great fact is just this, and nothing less: that we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences, which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows, and toward God's universe. The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.
Consider for a moment the first verse in the Bible, Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Note that the Bible begins at the beginning. It begins with God. “In the beginning, God . . .”, it states. Bill W. had also originally started out the Big Book with God. He placed first his chapter “There Is a Solution.” And this is a chapter which features God, the Creator, as the source for the “miraculous” help needed by “seemingly-hopeless,” “medically-incurable,” “real” alcoholics.
Bill had it right with the original order of those first two chapters.
We therefore suggest to students in this “Introductory Foundations for Christian Recovery” class, that you too begin where the Bible God is first. That IS the solution.begins and where Bill W. originally began—with God, and not with a story.
Interestingly, here is the description of the purpose of the “personal stories” in the Big Book as given in the “There Is a Solution” chapter in the 1938 “multilith edition”—a description found today, slightly reworded, on page 29 of the Fourth Edition:
Each individual, in the personal stories, describes in his own language, and from his own point of view the way he found or rediscovered God.
God is still the priority today for those who want God’s help. So let’s keep in mind throughout this class that we are here suggesting that Christian recovery begins with God. The solution IS God.