This is a reply to a courteous A.A. oldtimer who wanted to know just how much Swedenborg and spiritualism as embraced by Bill Wilson filtered into what we drunks do to help others go to the Creator, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible for real, effective healing and recovery (And, by the way, I know of no such filter)
1. I make every effort to reply to any courteous email that comes to me. However, many do not send me their emails, but rather use some kind of response to my newsletters. These comments and responses do not come to me. Most don’t even reach me. And when they arrive in a huge bundle, I do not have the time to sift through them for happy birthday cards vs. genuine questions.
2. When someone writes me, through any medium, and just uses initials like J.C. or Jim C., I really don’t care to reply until and unless they identify themselves by name and address. You have no idea how many Jim’s, Jim C.’s, JC’s and even James’s and others – not including spammers – cross my path.
3. Now to your question about Swedenborg. I took the time to review your material; and since no source is shown, I can’t tell whether you are quoting Cheever or Lois or “New Church” whatever that is.
4. I regret that people have chosen to use Bill’s many shortcomings—most of which are well known, and most of which have only a remote and speculative relationship if at all to A.A.—as a means for lambasting Bill, lambasting A.A., or creating some new mythical A.A. that consists of adultery, LSD, psychic experiments, spiritualism, greed, and all the rest. Also that feed the yellow journalism of those who always attract an audience when negatives are amplified and widely broadcast.
5. Normally I would not take the time even to reply to such irrelevant material. First of all, it is well known and even published in official A.A. literature. Second, it is very likely to be speculative and undocumented opinion. Third, it is rarely based on historical fact. Fourth, it has nothing to do with what I believe, or do, or research, or write about concerning A.A. As you probably know, for 21 years my mission has been to find out whether and precisely how much A.A. was influenced by the Bible—not Bill’s shortcomings. And I have now published 42 titles and over 560 articles which lay out the facts. As you probably also know, 20 years ago, few if any knew anything about the Christian upbringing that both Bill and Bob had as youngsters in Vermont; and few if any realized that A.A. did not emerge from the Oxford Group until Bill wrote his Big Book. Prior to that, A.A. was a Christian Fellowship. It required belief in God and coming to Him through Jesus Christ. It required Bible study, prayer meetings, quiet time, Christian fellowship, Christian literature, and recommended attendance at religious services. See DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, p. 131; Big Book, p. 191; and Dick B., When Early AAs Were Cured and Why.
6. Until and unless inquirers get up to speed on the difference between the Christian influences of the 1850’s and later, the Christian beliefs of Bob and Bill as youngsters, the Akron Christian Fellowship AND the Oxford Group/Shoemaker life-changing program that Bill wrote into the Big Book four years after the founding in 1935, they won’t have a clue about the role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible played in the Christian Recovery Movement, in the life of the founders, in the original Christian fellowship, and in its successes. And can play today!!!
7. Now let me make a suggestion to you in view of your courteous and thoughtful letter and also in view of your commendable sobriety date. I would suggest you obtain my books and materials and study them. And these are: The Good Book and The Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible www.dickb.com/goodbook.shtml; Our “Introductory Foundations for Christian Recovery” 4 DVD class www.dickb.com/IFCR-Class.shtml; and The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed., 2010 www.dickb.com/ChristianRecov-Guide.shtml. When you have done that, I predict you will have some thoroughly documented facts to pass along, have facts that bear a real relationship to both the Akron and the Big Book programs (and they are vastly different); and realize that all the Bill-bashing makes good reading for a few obsessed Christian critics, but detracts monstrously from all the needs and hunger of Christians in recovery—both those in and out of A.A.
8. It matters little to me that people waste time with the ill-researched, ad hominem, diversionary writings of the Bobgans, of Lanagan, or Orange, and even of Glenn Chesnut. Those writings will—like any partially accurate yellow journalism—always attract naysayers. William Randolph Hearst learned this before I was born. What matters to me is that those Christians in A.A. who want the truth and who insist of serving in our fellowship—whatever its warts and strange influences-are armed with knowing and rejecting the damaging effect of the attacks on Christians in A.A.
I have taken the time to write in extenso because you may be one of those questing souls who can really help others get up and going on relevant history that will help drunks who want God’s help/
Incidentally, to make the facts more brief, more simple, and more widely available, I have established dickbchannel—an ongoing and comprehensive effort on YouTube to give those questing for truth another avenue in this information age for learning more about God, His Son, the Bible, and—yes—A.A.
Author, 42 titles & over 500 articles on A.A. History
Exec. Dir., International Christian Recovery Coalition
Christian Recovery Resource Centers - Worldwide