Myke: It would be hard, if not impossible, to say that Dr. Bob "consented" to the "God as we understood Him" and "Power greater than ourselves" insertions in the Big Book manuscript just prior to its going to press.He was not present when the four people made the change. We have the "printer's" manuscript where the changes were made; and it is clear that an attempt was made to change "Your Heavenly Father will never let you down" to "Your faith will never let you down." Dr. Bob refused to allow that change. Pamphlet P-53 contains the last major address by Dr. Bob in 1948, where he said, "I didn't write the Twelve Steps. I had nothing to do with writing them" And he goes on to say the basic ideas came from their study and effort in the Bible." Just prior to that, Dr. Bob said that the early AAs believed the answers to their problems were in the Bible. And he specified the Book of James, Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13 as "absolutely essential." One needs to review the four AA of Akron pamphlets commissioned by Dr. Bob and which are a far cry from "secular."
In other words, I have made two points over and over. The Akron A.A. program--a Christian Fellowship--was not at all the same as Bill's Big Book program established four years later. I have four eye witness statements by Akronites showing that Akron continued to require decisions for Jesus Christ as a condition to "membership." However, one has to recognize the storms of doubt that assailed. Sister Ignatia was helping Dr. Bob at St. Thomas Hospital. Roman Catholics flooded in. Jews joined. So did a few atheists.
What is the answer? I think you stated it well. There are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Christians in A.A. and even other 12-Step fellowships today. A.A. won't become Christian--never! And the Christians in A.A. are baffled by the "New Age," "New Thought," "higher power," "not-god-ness," and phony "spirituality" that are apparent in the fellowship and other later literature.
Since I entered A.A. a little over 25 years ago, dived into A.A., and became more and more a Christian who walked by the Spirit, I have to say that the 24/7 support, service, and availability of A.A. came to my life at its lowest ebb. And at a time of my greatest need. And I have not seen anything in the last 25 years that could have met my needs and challenged my Christian love more than A.A. did. Certainly neither my church, nor even my Bible fellowship.
I think it is fair to encourage those who seek God's help to do so whether they do it in A.A., N.A., Celebrate Recovery, Alcoholics Victorious, Overcomers Outreach, Teen Challenge, counseling, treatment, or with a clergyman. Severe alcoholism and drug addiction pose life and death threats. And "thorough," "going to any lengths," full-time commitment worked in 1935 and will work today with God's help. But I would not turn my back on a nurse, a Red Cross worker, a Salvation Army helper, or an atheist soldier if I were dying in battle. I would do what I did as I found my mind returning in A.A. I would tell them I was going to seek God's help and also tell them they could go whistle at the breeze if they couldn't provide nursing, Red Cross, Salvation Army, or secular help just because I loved God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
By the way, thanks again for this venue, for your strong position, and for your gracious acknowledgement. I believe the big battle today is to convince Christians IN A.A. that they have roots and a proper place. See International Christian Recovery Coalition www.ChristianRecoveryCoalition.com and my books The James Club and the Original A.A. Program's Absolute Essentials www.dickb.com/JamesClub.shtml and The Golden Text of A.A. www.dickb.com/goldentext.shtml.
In His Service, Dick B.