Friday, April 22, 2011

A.A. and the Twelve Steps

A.A. and the Twelve Steps

The First of a Series of Helpful Studies to Guide You

Dick B.
© 2011 Anonymous. All rights reserved

The key reference for these articles is Dick B., Twelve Steps for You: Take the Twelve Steps with the Big Book, A.A. History, and the Good Book at Your Side, 4th ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2005); ISBN 1885803 98 2; (; Price $21.95

Twelve Steps for You is one of a kind—a unique and compelling value. It discusses fully the many sources from which the Twelve Steps were drawn. It discusses each of these sources and its particular contribution. Then it discusses where, in each step, one by one, the particular source input can be seen. It gives you a clear statement of how you can “take” the Twelve
Steps following the instructions in the Big Book. And it shows how those Steps can, one by one, better be understood and practiced—taking into account the various materials from which the
particular Step had been drawn.

Readers are urged to look at the Steps as Dr. Bob did. Dr. Bob said he didn’t write the 12 Steps and had nothing to do with the writing of them. He said the basic ideas had come from their study and effort in the Bible. Bill Wilson did not mention the Bible in the Steps or his Big Book, Bill eventually conceded some of the sources from which he had drawn the Steps—the principal ones, said Bill, being Dr. William D. Silkworth, Professor William James, and Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., the Episcopal rector of Calvary Church—Shoemaker being the one
to whom Bill gave the most credit. Both Silkworth and Shoemaker were Bible Christians; and William James was long dead when Bill framed the Steps. And there were many other sources, including the Bible, Quiet Time, the writings of Dr. Bob’s wife Anne Smith, the ideas of Dr. Carl Jung and Richard Peabody, the religious literature AAs read, and the New Thought ideas from Emmet Fox. Without knowing all the sources, too many readers and writers and historians have erroneously focused on one or two, led AAs and others on a merry chase of evaluating such sources and either learning them or criticizing them, or concocted theories about steps involving higher powers, illusory spirituality, half-baked prayers, and self-made religion.

That is not what Dr. Bob did. Dr. Bob and Bill never publically disagreed. For example, in places other than the Big Book, Bill conceded the importance of the Bible—particularly the Book of James, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13. Bill specifically mentioned Jesus Christ, and his guarded remarks can be found in the Big Book Third Edition and on page 191 of the present-day Fourth Edition. Bill frequently used words describing God—Creator, Maker, Heavenly Father, Father of Light, and God—that came directly from the Bible. Bill credited the Bible-Christian Rev. Samuel Shoemaker as being the source of most of the Step ideas. Bill specifically mentioned that the Christian message of the Oxford Group had saved his life. Bill’s original drafts of the Big Book appear to have had some 400 pages of Christian and Bible materials that were later thrown out—primarily because of heated arguments between the Christian AA (John Henry Fitzhugh Mayo) and Bill’s atheist or money-oriented partner Henry Parkhurst.
And Bill used a number of Bible phrases in his Big Book—Thy will be done; Faith without works is dead; love thy neighbor as thyself. He said that Dr. Bob was far ahead of him in such matters, particularly in the area of prayer.
What did Dr. Bob do? Publically, Dr. Bob said he thought the Steps were fine, but he always went on to discuss his “Heavenly Father,” the “Master,” “Christ,” and the essential source material in the Book of James, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13. And when Bill and Bob were on the stage together speaking, there was never an argument or contradictory statement between them. Bill discussed Divine Aid and prayer. Bob discussed prayer and the Bible. And the records of the transmission to Bob of Bill’s Step drafts indicated Bill’s writings—at the early stages—were “warmly received” and usually returned without comment.

Whatever the differences in their religious views, principles, practices, and affiliations, these two men seemed to understand quite well that one could help drunks in a fellowship and rely on God for healing without throwing stones, harboring resentments, or hindering the common goal.

And that is the backdrop from which we will discuss the Twelve Steps in several articles. Readers can check out our titles which detail source materials ( They can find our latest documented research and writing in The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed., 2010 ( And they can learn visually and audibly from our new foundational class—“Introductory Foundations for Christian Recovery” (

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