Monday, April 18, 2011
A Comment on AlcoholicChristian.com Articler
Congratulations on an unusually well-framed article. A couple of points should be made, however. A.A. is not a Christian organization. That ended when Bill published the Big Book in 1939. Alcoholics Anonymous most assuredly was a Christian organization when it was founded in 1935. And it didn't get that way because of the Oxford Group. A.A. sprang from the highly successful Christian work in the 1800's by evangelists like Dwight Moody, Gospel Rescue Missions, Salvation Army, YMCA lay workers, and Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor. And see www.dickb.com/drbobofaa.shtml. These organizations had great success converting and healing alcoholics long before there was an Oxford Group and long long before there was an A.A. Moreover, both Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith had a Christian upbringing in Vermont where they and their families attended Congregational church and Sunday school. They attended academies where daily chapel, weekly church attendance, and Bible study were required. Both were involved in or influenced by the YMCA - of which Dr. Bob's father was President in St. Johnsbury, and Wilson was president at Burr and Burton Academy. Both saw the conversions, revivals, and union meetings of Vermont. And each, when he finally turned to God for help, did so at a scene which was based on conversion and prayer - in Bill's case at a rescue mission. Then, when the two founded A.A., they established a Christian Fellowship in Akron where belief in God, acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior, Bible study, prayer meetings, reading of Christian literature and devotionals was daily, and Quiet Time was a requirement--Quiet Time having come into being in the YMCA and Christian Endeavor movement long before the founding of either the Oxford Group or A.A. Dr. Bob said the basic ideas of A.A. came from the study and effort in the Bible - particularly Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, the Book of James, and 1 Corinthians 13. Though Bill attended the OG and was active in it in the East, he left it in 1937. Akron was so far removed from the Oxford Group in principle and practice that it was called a "clandestine" lodge of the Oxford Group - meaning it wasn't!When Wilson published his Big Book in 1939, he drew on all sorts of sources - Bible, Dr. William Silkworth, conversion, Dr. Carl Jung, Professor William James, the five New England sources of his youth, the journal kept by Dr. Bob's wife Anne Smith, Oxford Group ideas he had learned, the teachings of Rev. Sam Shoemaker, some language from New Thought writers often influenced by spiritualism and Swedenborgian ideas, a lay therapist who died drunk, and Quiet Time as well. He maintained references to the Bible, to God, and to Christian language and ideas in Jesus' Sermon, the Book of James, and 1 Corinthians. And he dumped some 400 pages of Christian and Bible materials from the manuscript before it went to press in 1939. He also agreed to strike "God" from Steps Two, Three, and Eleven. But he maintained explicit references, in one form or another, to God over 400 times in the Big Book itself. In short, A.A. changed. Bill became deeply depressed. All sorts of "higher power" ideas began creeping in - light bulbs, chairs, radiators. But Dr. Bob never budged from his emphasis on the Bible and prayer. Never up to the date of his death and was, at that time, a communicant at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Akron. So what's the bottom line? As the writer says, there are Christians -- many many Christians in A.A. today. And there are an equal if not greater number of those who are atheists, agnostics, humanists, Jews, Roman Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus, and of no belief or religious affiliation at all. The point today is that IN A.A. Christians can and should learn, and are finally learning there Christian roots and standing tall on their Christian principles, practices, worship, fellowship, and witnessing while joining fully in both the fellowship and the 12 Step program of A.A. and other such fellowships. They are often bewildered by the contradictions, but they do not take flight from A.A. Perhaps like the writer above, they are tolerant, thankful, service-oriented, and desirous of helping other drunks get sober - often by informing the newcomer of A.A.'s religious and Christian origins and their ability to believe in and worship God - the God and Creator they learn about in the Bible. For documentation and detail, see The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed., 2010 www.dickb.com/Christian-Recov-Guide.shtml.