The History of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Christian Recovery Movement
© 2011 Anonymous. All rights reserved
The Healing Solution for Drunks is Not a New One
This is the eleventh article in a series. And it moves forward from the tenth which described the seemingly-hopeless plight of the alcoholic. This article covers the solution to alcoholism and addiction that has been available throughout the ages and was the heart of the Christian Recovery Movement and of the original Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship” program that emerged from it in 1935.
My name is Dick B. I am an active, recovered member of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.
In the previous article, I lumped together many of the difficulties that confront an end-of-the-line alcoholic or addict who faces the possibility of interminable disasters versus a hope that emerges from seeking a solution that works.
Today, recovery fellowships, treatment programs, scientists, writers, and even a number of religious entities have been veering farther and farther from the power of God as a demonstrable, effective option for the alcoholic or addict who suffers and suffers and suffers, and returns for more. Arguments against Divine Aid emanate from those who don’t believe in God, don’t like religion, don’t believe history, don’t seems to believe in much but research, therapy, science, pharmaceuticals, and psychology, and in many cases blame their own failures on a program that turns to God. Some religious people regularly try to drive alcoholics and addicts from recovery fellowships based on establishing a relationship with God through Jesus Christ by claiming the recovery fellowships are “not of the Lord,” involve “steps to destruction,” and are non-Christian and contrary to biblical texts.
But here are some demonstrable, long-standing, experiential testimonies and witnesses of the ages. And we will merely summarize a limited number of these here: (1) In Old Testament times, there are accounts of the miracles God performed for Noah, Abraham, Moses, and countless others. (2) In reports in the Gospels, there is testimony of healings by Jesus of blindness, deafness, dumbness, lameness, leprosy, and other oppressions. There are solid examples of his raising the dead. (3) Once early Christians received the gift of the Holy Spirit in its fullness on the Day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), they accomplished the very things that Jesus had accomplished—they raised people from the dead (Tabitha and Eutychus); they healed people lame from birth; they healed other sick people, they healed people vexed with unclean spirits, they healed many paralyzed and lame folks; Ananias restored Saul’s sight; Peter helped Aeneas to be made whole from paralysis; Paul healed a man who never had walked and cast a spirit of divination out of a woman; Paul was healed from the viper’s bite, and he healed the father of Publius of fever and dysentery; and others where Paul was shipwrecked were healed as well.
In several of my books, I have listed account after account of healings by Christians from Apostolic times to the present. As I have shown, evangelists, rescue missions, Salvation Army people, and other Christians healed alcoholics with God’s power. And this particular situation seems to have caught Dr. Bob’s attention when the great evangelist, Ethel Willitts, spent 15 weeks in Akron from October 1938 through January 1939, carrying out Christian healings. In fact, her book, Healing in Jesus' Name, along with many other healing books, was found by me in Dr. Bob’s own library of books.
Even early AAs clearly testified in newspapers and articles that they has been healed (“cured” was the word often used) of alcoholism by the power of God.
As we progress in future articles, we will see how the early AAs time after time professed their belief in God, came to Him through His Son Jesus Christ, and were cured of alcoholism. And it was this unique situation involving drunks helping drunks to obtain help from God that put early A.A. on the map. It is also mentioned over and over and over in the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous (affectionately known as “the Big Book”) that Bill Wilson assembled in 1938 and 1939. And it was left in place in the Big Book even after his famous compromise with three other people on the language of Steps Two, Three, and Eleven that took place on the East Coast just before the Wilson text went to print.
And what was the solution presented to seemingly-hopeless drunks by the founders of A.A. and their early counterparts?
Bill Wilson said, in quoted remarks on page 191 of the fourth edition of his Big Book (2001), “The Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people.”
A.A. Number Three, Bill Dotson of Akron, recounted Bill’s words on that same page of the fourth edition of the Big Book and said: “That sentence, ‘The Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep telling people about it,’ has been a sort of a golden text for the A.A. program and for me.”
A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob was the second AA to be cured and phoned a nurse at Akron City Hospital to inform her that he had found a cure for alcoholism and been cured. In his personal story, he wrote: “It is a most wonderful blessing to be relieved of the terrible curse with which I was afflicted.” And at the close of his personal story, he assured others: “Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!”
Bill Wilson later embodied the solution to alcoholism with a challenge and an emphatic statement in the Big Book he published in 1939. He wrote: “Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power—that One is God. May you find Him now!” He concluded his discussion of the suggested Twelve Steps with the assurance “That God could and would if He were sought.”
Whether an afflicted alcoholic or addict wants to receive God’s power, love, forgiveness, and healing or not, there is little doubt that this was the solution offered in A.A.’s earliest views. Its veracity was based on what the Bible itself assured. And it is a solution for which early A.A. claimed a 75% success rate among the early drunks who had thoroughly followed the suggested path. And, when the same ideas, coupled with the Program of the Big Book, were introduced in Cleveland in 1939, those ideas produced a documented 93% success rate.
These articles, then, will explain in brief summaries the role of God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible in healings throughout the centuries—including in early A.A. and still available today. And God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible are still available—in or out of A.A., in or out of church, in or out of a hospital, in or out of treatment, in or out of therapy, in and out of Christian fellowships, and in many other places where the afflicted start their journey toward recovery.