In the last two years--after 20 years of research and digging--we have been able to put together the simple facts about how the first three AAs got sober by the power of God. The details are laid out in The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed., www.dickb.com/Christian-Recov-Guide.shtml.
The first three were, in this order, Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob Smith, and attorney Bill Dotson.
Though a few Christian A.A. critics, and others opposed to A.A. have contended that none of the early AAs was a Christian, the facts show otherwise; and we have documented them.
The important facts about these early Christian AAs have to do with the time, the way, and the process by which they got sober. All were required to declare a belief in God. All were required to declare that Jesus Christ was their Lord and Savior. And all were required to study the Bible, pray, and observe a Quiet Time. And--there were no Twelve Steps, no Twelve Traditions, no pages of a Big Book to follow, no drunkalogs to hear, and no meetings as we know them today. See our class: "Introductory Foundations for Christian Recovery"
How, then, did the A.A. pioneers get sober, maintain sobriety, and make new lives? The answer is that they built on the principles that the first three AAs had proved would work.
Each of the first three AAs believed in God and said so. Each of the first three AAs had accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. And each of the first three AAs had been involved in extensive Bible study--something not fully established until our recent books on The Conversion of Bill W. and Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous. Each of the first three AAs had turned to God for help, been cured of their malady, and so stated. See particularly pages 180-181 and 191 of the current edition of "Alcoholics Anonymous."
Now, we have a very good picture of the story concerning Akron attorney Bill Dotson--the third AA to get sober and maintain sobriety, and the first alcoholic upon whom Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith "worked" successfully.
Here is the Dotson story as we have discovered it in this month of January, 2011--particular as verified by a tape of Bill Dotson's recorded talk now being circulated.
Dotson had a seemingly hopeless battle with alcohol. By the time he met Bill and Dr. Bob, Dotson had been hospitalized for alcoholism eight times in the previous six months.
He had been a Deacon and Sunday School teacher. He and his wife were much involved in church life. He believed in God. He often referred to the Bible. And he stood on the teachings of Jesus. In fact, in his recorded talk, Dotson opened the address by praying "in the name of Jesus." Typically, Dotson had prayed a good deal, declared many times he would quit drinking, and--as he put it--drank too much, got drunk too often, and been unable to quit.
Dotson also recognized the role of the Devil in his plight. One frequent temptation from the Adversary, came, said Dotson, in the argument that if Dotson quit, he would have "no fun." As Dotson put it, the Devil was paying him lots of attention.
Finally, on his last hospitalization, Dotson's wife told him he was going to quit--something he doubted. She said that two men (Bill and Dr. Bob) had been "licked" just as he was, and that they had the same weakness that he did. She assured Dotson that these two would not accept a cent for their services
When Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob visited Dotson, they made some very simple points:
(1)They asked Dotson if he wanted to quit.
(2)They asked him if he could do it by himself.
(3)They asked him to admit he had his drinking problem.
(4)They asked him if wanted help and would ask for help.
(5)They said the action had to come from Dotson and that if he wasn't interested, they would
be on their way.
(6)Then they asked him if he believed in a "higher power." But Dotson replied emphatically
stated that he believed in God and the Bible.
(7)They told him that if he sought and received help, it would be necessary for him to help
others as well. He was told he must "take the message" to others.
(8)They told him he needed to call on God for help, and they left.
(9)In their absence, Dotson reflected and asked God for help. He was instantly cured.
(10)On the return of Bill, Dr. Bob, and Mrs. Dotson, Dotson declared he was leaving and never
drank again. The date was July 4, 1935.
Wilson declared that this date marked the founding of the first A.A. fellowship--Akron
Both Wilson and Dotson confirmed Bill Wilson's statement that the Lord had cured him of his terrible disease and that he just wanted to keep talking about it and telling people (See the 4th edition of the Big Book, page 191).
When I was reviewing recorded transcripts at the A.A. General Services Office in New York, I ran across a specific statement that an early member recalled that Bill Dotson was leading one of the meetings with a Bible in his lap and reading from it. There were other accounts of early members leading meetings with a Bible.