Saturday, December 18, 2010

AA History Shortie: The Oxford Group and A.A.

For the most authoritative study of the Oxford Group and its relationship to Alcoholics Anonymous, I recommend "The Oxford Group & Alcoholics Anonymous: A Design for Living That Works" 2d ed. (

As many know, I take the position that the Bible was the main source for early A.A ideas and program. It dominated the origins, history, founding, original program, and successes of the Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship founded in 1935 (

On the other hand, when you shift to the major source for Bill Wilson's new program--embodied in the Big Book, codified in his 12 Steps, and published in 1939, the focus must be on the Oxford Group and the teachings of Bill Wilson by an American Oxford Group leader, Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr.

In fact, Rev. Shoemaker thought so highly of the following book that he sent a copy of it to every Episcopal Bishop in the United States. And, if you will take the time to read it, you will see from the contents the relationship between the later--the Big Book--A.A. and the Oxford Group. Here's the book, and it was owned by Dr. Bob, mentioned in A.A. Conference-approved literature, and very very popular in Alcoholics Anonymous:

The book is A.J. Russell, "For Sinners Only" (NY: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1932).

In Chapter Twenty-Two, Russell's subject was "What Sin Is" (p. 267).

Russell discusses the "Four Absolutes" which we will cover in our next article. He discusses "sin" with the famous phrases which even Lois Wilson included in her notes I found at Stepping Stones when I researched there. The phrases are: "Sin does four things to us. First of all, it blinds. . . . Secondly, sin binds. . . . Thirdly, sin multiplies. . . . Fourthly, sin deadens and deafens" (p. 268).

Then, in discussing the Four Absolutes, Russell uses a barrel of language that wound up on the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book. He includes the following language in his discussion of "Unselfishness" (page 273):

"Self--Let us make a list of the different forms in which self operates in our lives. . . self-interest. . . self-seeking. . . self-indulgence. . . self-centeredness. . . self-will. . . self-sufficiency. . . Christ-centered and Christ-controlled life" (pp. 273-276).

As you read, you will be reminded of Bill's remarks about "Selfishness, self-centeredness. That, we think is the root of our troubles." And he goes on to use words like those Russell used above.;

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