The following is the correspondence between me and a sincere A.A. history inquirer (John G.) who asked about the origin of A.A.'s Third Step Prayer
"Dear John: Thank you so much for writing on this important subject. I would much rather you phoned me here in Hawaii today at 808 874 4876 than to try either: (1) To tell you the complicated answers. or (2) To refer you to the seven and perhaps eight suggested sources of information in my books.
Suffice it to say, that the problem begins with those who don’t know or want to know the following: (1) What the early AAs did with their Bibles and surrenders and Jesus Christ. (2) What Anne Smith wrote and taught in her journal about all of these. (3) What the underlying Oxford Group idea’s about surrender and the 5 C’s and a “decision” were. (4) How Sam Shoemaker used the Oxford Group ideas to teach Wilson a somewhat different approach. (5) How the great compromise and change in the Big Book manuscript just before press altered everyone’s understanding. (6) How Bill added Steps 6 and 7 as an afterthought to his own original Step ideas. (7) How all these factors have become the subject of speculation, opinion, distortion, and suppression. (8) The revisionist influence on thinking and literature that Kurtz’s unjustified not-god-ness, spirituality, and “keep it simple” contentions have had.
When Dr. Bob said, “Keep it simple, Bill,” he was not talking about the Bible or the Oxford Group or the non-existent Steps. He was talking about not letting psychology and such ideas mess up the simple 7 point story of Akron. He was also saying what he said in the context of Bill’s climbing on the train after the heated argument in Akron and Bill’s planning on a book, hospitals, and missionaries. This view has degenerated into “Keep it Simple, Stupid.” And Bill and Bob weren’t stupid. Nor are we!
To be sure your source references are provided, here they are from the titles of my books: (1) The Good Book and The Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible. (2) Anne Smith’s Journal 1933-1939: A.A.’s Principles of Success. (3) The Oxford Group & Alcoholics Anonymous: A Design for Living that Works. (4) New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A. (5) By the Power of God. (6) Twelve Steps for You. (7) The Golden Text of A.A. – not excluding the workbook I compiled and edited for the Snyder sponsee writers who carefully put forth Clarence Snyder’s views.
That may sound like a mouthful. And it is. I gave the basic picture of the diversity of sources when I spoke at Archives 2000 at the Minneapolis Convention. I have spent twenty years researching and untangling the garbled incomplete history. I have spent the last few years showing how this pot full of sources can still be applied in today’s A.A. by Christians and others who want God’s help if they are receptive to learning the role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible have played in the origins, history, founding, original program, Akron’s successes, and the changes in 1939. And can play today for those who want to learn a simple, clear, account of the differences between the A.A. of Akron from 1935-1938 and the A.A. of Bill Wilson which was incorporated into the Big Book and compromised between 1938 and 1939.
I would rather that you become a puzzled scholar and teacher willing to tackle and accurately report the game that it is, than to have myself quoted out of context by those who have already formulated their own prejudices and approaches. There is a strong Christian Recovery Movement in play today. One that is A.A. friendly, Bible friendly, Christian friendly, newcomer friendly, and recovery friendly. And I would be glad to share this with you also by phone. Don’t give up the ship and yield to those who have already formulated their opinions, who are restrictive and revisionist in approach, and who don’t recognize the many adverse influences that are peppering away at the wonderful, simple Society originally developed by Bob, Bill, and the Akronites.
Author, 42 titles & over 500 articles on A.A. History
Exec. Dir., International Christian Recovery Coalition
Christian Recovery Resource Centers - Worldwide
PO Box 837, Kihei, HI 96753-0837
Ps 118:17 (NJB):
I shall not die, I shall live to recount the great deeds of Yahweh.
From: John Sent: Saturday, June 18, 2011 9:29 AM
Subject: Origin of 3rd step prayer
Thanks for all your great work through the years.
I have a whole bunch of your books already.
Can you please tell me where I might find some background
on the composition of the third step prayer and the seventh step prayer.
Did Bill just make them up? Did they come from some other source?
Did he pulled the basics from some other source?
Seems to be an increasingly common question from the guys I am sponsoring.
I'd like to be able to answer them.
Thanks so much for your help.
All the best, John G