Sunday, July 11, 2010

Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill W.'s Decision for Christ, Oxford Group

There is a new article--the beginning of a series--which points up the three major elements of A.A. history that are related, but demonstrate some variations in popular viewpoints. The introductory article is posted on

The First Element of Alcoholics Anonymous History:

The Alcoholics Anonymous program had two distinct epochs.

The first was the Christian Fellowship program of the Alcoholics Anonymous pioneers founded in 1935. This program consisted of seven points and was drawn largely from the Christian origins, history, founding, program, and successes of Christian recovery programs of the 1800's--Evangelists and their revivals, Rescue Missions like that founded by Jerry Mc'Auley at Water Street, YMCA lay workers and their conversions and revivals, the Salvation Army, and the Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor. Dr. Bob phrased it that the A.A. program came from their study and effort in the Bible. See Dick B., The Good Book and The Big Book: A.A.'s Roots in the Bible It emphasized the Book of James, Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13 as "absolutely essential" to the early program. See Dick B., The James Club and The Original A.A. Program's Absolute Essentials

The second epoch was that which emerged after Bill Wilson began working on his Big Book--published 4 years after A.A. was founded. Bill himself said that his ideas embodied in the Twelve Steps came primarily from the teachings of Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., whom Bill dubbed a "cofounder of A.A." See Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A. This program left out pages and pages of Christian materials and Bible matters contained in the original proposed manuscript. And A.A. moved from a Christian Fellowship program to a program that opened its doors to atheists, agnostics, unbelievers, and people of wide varieties of religious denominations.

The Second Element of Alcoholics Anonymous History:

The next relevant history pertains to A.A.'s original emphasis on coming to God through Jesus Christ. Bill Wilson's grandfather had been cured of alcoholism by conversion to God. Bill was brought up in Christian ideas. Bill was advised by Dr. William D. Silkworth that Jesus Christ could cure him. Meanwhile, two of Bill's mentors Rowland Hazard and Ebby Thacher had themselves made decisions for Christ and been relieved of their alcoholism. Bill went to Calvary Rescue Mission and made his own decision for Christ. He wrote that he had been born again. And he went to Towns Hospital, deciding to call on the "Great Physician" for help. Bill cried out to God for help, had a white light experience, sensed the presence of God, proclaimed "So this is the God of the Scriptures.' And Bill was cured--never drank again. And he said so.
See Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., page 191 and Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W. The upshot of all this is that every member of the original Akron A.A. program was required to believe in God and make a decision for Jesus Christ

The Third Element of Alcoholics Anonymous History:

The final and misunderstood role of the Oxford Group pertains to its willingness to accept people of all religions, no religions, and the Christian Faith. Thus when writers and scholars have claimed that the Orginal A.A. grew out of the Oxford Group, they fail to document their statements and examine the extensive history of Frank Buchman's willingness and actions to incorporate people of all faiths despite Buchman's own Christian upbringing and belief as a Lutheran Minister. This part of the history will be examined at length in our articles. See particularly Garth Lean, Frank Buchman: A Life (London: Constable, 1985). Also Dick B., The Oxford Group & Alcoholics Anonymous

Foundations for this study begin with our class "Introductory Foundations for Christian Recovery"

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