A.A.—Dr. Bob’s Bible—The “Good Book” in A.A.
© 2010 Anonymous. All rights reserved
The Good Book is the Bible
A very-limited number of anti-A.A. Christian writers have recently condemned Christians who attend A.A. because Dr. Bob frequently called the Bible the “Good Book.” They’ve claimed therefore that neither he nor any other AA who used such terminology could be a Christian.
Here are some simple facts from Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and then from some A.A. General Services Conference-approved literature.
(1) “good book”: .n. often cap G & B (1860): BIBLE
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 1993), page 502.
(2) Dr. Bob specifically referred to the Bible as the “Good Book” five times in his last
major speech to AAs in Detroit in 1948.
The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last
Major Talks (NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1972, 1975),
pages 11, 12, 13, 14.
(3) In the same speech, Dr. Bob specifically mentioned “the Lord” (p. 13); “the Sermon
on the Mount, the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, and the Book of James” (p.
13); himself as “simply used as God’s agent” (p. 14); “our Heavenly Father” (pp. 15,
19, 20); “Christ said. . . My strength cometh from My Father in heaven;” (p. 19); and
“God’s grace” (19).
Dr. Bob’s familiarity with the English Language, the Bible, and the words “Heavenly Father,” “Good Book,” “Christ,” “God’s grace,” as well as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 1 Corinthians 13, and the Book of James, can be found exemplified throughout A.A. literature. Thus both Dr. Bob and Bill W. stated that Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, 7) contained the underlying spiritual philosophy of A.A. Both acknowledged that the Book of James was a favorite in early A.A. to the point that AAs wanted to call their society the James Club. Actual quotes from the Sermon and the Book of James are sprinkled throughout A.A. literature—“Thy will be done;” “Heavenly Father;” “Love thy neighbor as thyself;” “Faith without works is dead;” “Confess your faults one to another;” “Father of lights;” “God.”
Bob was raised and trained in the St. Johnsbury Congregational Church where he and his whole family were regularly in attendance. He was trained in the Sunday school, the Young People’s Christian Endeavor Society; the YMCA; daily chapel at St. Johnsbury Academy; and by his deeply religious parents—Judge Walter Smith and Mrs. Susan H. Smith. In later years, Bob attended an Episcopal Church in Akron. Dr. Bob and his wife Anne Smith were charter members
of the Westside Presbyterian Church in Akron; and Dr. Bob became a communicant at St. Paul’s
Protestant Episcopal Church in Akron not long before his death.
Yes! Only someone bound to prove that AAs never were and cannot be Christians would seize on the idea that they had proved their point because Dr. Bob referred to the Bible as the “Good Book.”
As a youngster, and long before I became either a drunk or an A.A. member, I didn’t have to use the dictionary to determine whether or not someone was not a Christian because he or she called
the Holy Bible the “Good Book.” Good it was, and plainly those who called it “Good” were very
clear on that point. In fact, I’d never heard it called the “bad book.” And I doubt that the anti-AAs have ever gone that far themselves.
For more, see The Good Book and The Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible www.dickb.com/goodbook.shtml; and The James Club and The Original A.A. Program’s Absolute Essentials www.dickb.com/JamesClub.shtml