Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A.A. History Lovers vs Applying A.A. Lessons--Agenda

How our work started:

Back in 1990, I learned from a young man that A.A. itself came from the Bible. He suggested I read DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, and I did. Sure enough, Dr. Bob had said in his last major speech that the basic A.A. ideas--the basic A.A. history material--came from the Bible (, with special emphasis on James, Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13 (

And thus began the quest to learn the A.A. history that had been buried under anecdotes, erroneous accounts, and perhaps lack of interest. That meant ten years or more of traveling, researching, interviewing, collecting, analyzing, and then disseminating A.A. History. This, of course, included the shopworn shibboleths about the Washingtonians, the Oxford Group, Rev. Sam Shoemaker, William James, Emmet Fox, Carl Jung, Ebby Thacher, Rowland Hazard, and others. About psychic changes, personality changes, spiritual awakenings, and spiritual experiences.

There was a wide and deep hole! Because of the vast abyss in real knowledge of A.A.'s roots when it came to what the early program itself did, where its ideas originated, what Bill and Bob contributed on their own, where conversion fit in, whether an alcoholic was curable or just "arrestable" or condemned forever to the idea--once an alcoholic always an alcoholic. I won't go into that now. But missing were details about the Christian history of A.A. roots, the Christian upbringing and training of Dr. Bob and Bill, the contributions of Christian organizations like the evangelists, rescue missions, YMCA, Salvation Army, and Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor. Most significant, probably was the utterly ignored facts about the decisions for Jesus Christ that Rowland Hazard, Ebby Thacher, Bill Wilson had made before A.A. began. And the A.A. history of early, required, decisions for Jesus Christ as a condition for A.A. membership in the Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship founded in 1935.

So we recently put it together in introductory form in our 4 sessions class: "Introductory Foundations for Christian Recovery." ( And we hoped and hope that nobody involved in 12 Steps fellowships, A.A. and N.A. groups, treatment programs or counseling, study groups, prison and homeless outreach, and Christ-centered or Christian recovery fellowships would ever again use their programs without first training others as to how it all started.

Yet how sad it is that all this treasure falls by the way when you address the facts, the origins, the programs, and the roots of A.A. history to those who are growing in number and count themselves as A.A. history lovers.

Why? Why have the "lovers" of history been so remiss in digging into the purpose of any history that has to do with recovery, with getting well, with the Christian technique early AAs spoke of and applied?

Because they have missed the point. It is not about loving history, or loving A.A., or loving A.A. history, and just being A.A. history buffs. It's about many far more important questions about the origins, history, founding, original program, and successes of early A.A.--answers too many A.A. history "lovers" really don't seem to want to embrace. Even more, it's about the role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible played in the recovery of alcoholics and addicts long before A.A. existed, long before its sister-outfit Oxford Group began, but definitely in the original Akron Christian Fellowship program. These too seem to be subjects that A.A. history lovers don't want to embrace lest their inquiries be considered "religious" rather than "spiritual," lest someone who doesn't believe in God, or Jesus Christ, or the Bible might flee from recovery at the very mention of those three subjects. And yet, that's been a popular negative view for at least twenty years now.

My agenda, my starting point, my effort today is focused no longer on A.A. history per se; certainly not on A.A. history lovers; and not even on those who continue to talk about history without researching, designating, citing, and documenting historical sources. And certainly no longer on those who don't want to look at the facts of history and, where applicable to recovery today, employ them to help the person who still suffers.

No. Today, as was my effort in the beginning, the agenda has to do with how to help the alcoholic and addict who still suffers. How, for example, can a "respectable" 12 Stepper talk about his relationship with God, with Jesus Christ, and with the Bible without being condemned for sharing his own experience. How, for example, can a person who needs, wants, and seeks healing from alcoholism, addiction, and life-controlling problems get any straight information if "history lovers" don't research, report, or explain the real history of the Christian recovery movement so that leaders, sponsors, speakers, programs, counselors, and clergy can help the newcomer understand what God did for early suffering folks and can still do today.

How, for example, can YOU help someone, if besieged by those who attempt to suppress real A.A. origins by saying they are outside issues, not "conference-approved," violative of the Twelve Traditions, or likely to drive newcomers out of the rooms and back to their misery and addictive pursuits.

We have now published 39 titles, over 400 articles, many audio blogs, some video materials, a huge number of web pages and comments and posts, and spoken all over the United States. Information is the aim. Accurate, useful, Godly information that can help someone get well

The agenda today is to make the A.A. origins accurate, simple, known, and obtainable. It's not about history. It's about the real power behind Alcoholics Anonymous--the power of God. It's about the roots of A.A. in the biblical words "I am the LORD that healeth thee." It's about trust in God (Proverbs 3: 5-6). It's about what Jesus Christ came to make available through His crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and sending of the gift of the Holy Spirit. These are not the rantings of an evangelist. They are the language of A.A.'s own founders and contributors. And this is not new, nor is it banned, nor is it lacking in "conference-approval," nor is it irrelevant to recovery.

Not if, as we know there is, freedom to choose effective relief as the right and privilege and property of any suffering alcoholic, addict, family member, program, fellowship or society.

I didn't come to A.A. because I love history. In fact, I never heard any significant history for many years of ceaseless participation in the Society. I came to A.A. because I was suffering, found out the viciousness of alcoholism, and believed I could be helped. I stayed in A.A. because I was helped. I saw it was God who was to be given the credit--the kind of credit Dr. Bob gave when he wrote: "Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!" And I began, very shortly, to want to "pass it on"--pass on what I had learned about how to recover and be cured.

Today my agenda is to continue by every communication means available to tell the good news, to share the story, to enable others to learn, to encourage further investigation and use of the rich and recently unearthed history of the Christian recovery movement and how it impacted upon and helped heal the early AAs in a way that it ought to be used today. In short, not "love" history. Embrace the origins, the solution, and how to establish a needed relationship with God if that is what worked in the 1800's and 1900's and still can work today.

The best starting point is with our new class "Introductory Foundations for Christian Recovery." Check it out on Come to our forthcoming teachings, conferences, and meetings in California. Contact us:;

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