What are the Christian roots of A.A.? Strangely, there are some well financed websites, sites like psychoheresy, that claim there are no Christian roots of A.A. And they make many statements that just don't square with the actual Christian roots of A.A.
In the previous article, we listed some 9 Christian roots of A.A. that were part of the Christian origins that led to the founding of the "Old School" A.A. Christian Fellowship founded in Akron in 1935.
And here some additional Christian Roots of A.A.:
1) The spiritual experience that Bill W.'s grandfather Willie Wilson had at the top of Mount Aelous which towered above the little village of East Dorset, Vermont, where Bill Wilson was born and spent most of his younger years. Grandfather Willie had been one of the founders and officers of the little East Dorset Congregational Church which was located next door to the Wilson House where Bill W. was born. Grandfather Willie had a serious drinking problem. He had attendered numerous Christian revivals and temperance meetings - to no avail. But long before Bill W.'s birth, grandpa Willie ascended to the top of Mount Aeolus, cried out for help, and had an experience quite similar to the one Bill Wilson himself had at Towns Hospital in New York. Grandpa Willie rushed down to the pulpit of the East Dorset Congregational Church, announced that he had been saved, and never drank again--living some 8 years more as a sober man. Bill had heard this account many many times from his mother.
2) The spiritual experience that Bill Wilson placed on the first page of his story in the Big Book where Bill recounts how he was moved as he entered the Christian cathedral at Winchester--an experience he was to recall years later as he discussed his drinking and the Christian solution with his friend Ebby Thacher.
3) Bill's first-hand talk with his psychiatrist Dr. William D. Silkworth on Bill's third visit to Towns Hospital. There he received a virtual "death sentence" warning to Bill and his wife that Bill would have to conquer drinking and either die or have a "wet brain." Dr. Silkworth's biographer said that Dr. Silkworth had then and there advised Bill that the "Great Physician" Jesus Christ could cure Bill's alcoholism.
4) In a short while, Bill's old drinking companion Ebby Thacher visited Bill and witnessed to Bill. Bill heard that Ebby's Oxford Group mentor Rowland Hazard had made a decision for Jesus Christ, was active in the Oxford Group, and placed Ebby in the Calvary Mission. There, Ebby told Bill, he (Ebby) had made his own decision for Jesus Christ, that he had "got religion," and that he had attained sobriety. Bill concluded Ebby had been born again and soon decided to follow Ebby's path.
5) Bill went drunk to the altar at Calvary Mission and--just as Ebby had--answered the altar call, knelt and prayed, and--in the words of Bill's wife--sincerely handed his life over to Jesus Christ. And Bill wrote in his own biography: "For sure I was born again."
6) From that conversion, Bill staggered drunk to Towns Hospital several days later. On the way, he thought that if the "Great Physician" had cured Ebby, that Bill ought to seek his help as well. When he arrived at Towns for the last time, Bill said: "If there be a Great Physician, I had better call on him now." Like his grandfather had done years before, Bill cried out to God for help. His room was filled with a "white light" experience, and Bill sensed the presence of (as he described God) "the God of the Scriptures." Like his grandfather Willie years and years before, Bill never drank again.
7) The final part of the trail can be found in Bill Wilson's remark printed on page 191 of the Fourth Edition of the Big Book: "The Lord has been so wonderul to me curing me of this terrible disease that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people."
8) In "Old School" A.A. days, that viewpoint--espoused as it was by Bill--as well as Dr. Bob--is what led to the "real surrenders" that were required in the early Akron meetings. There, newcomers were taken upstairs when three or so "elders" (usually Dr. Bob, T. Henry Williams, and another) would pray with the newcomer on his knees and lead him to a confession of Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
In brief, those Christian roots of A.A. (Alcoholics Anonyous) include the following:
1. The Salvation Army. See www.dickb.com/drbobofaa.shtml
2. The lay brethren of the YMCA. See www.dickb.com/drbobofaa.shtml
3. The great Christian evangelists like Dwight L. Moody, Ira Sankey, F.B. Meyer, Billy Sunday, and
4. The Christian Gospel Rescue Missions like those headed by Jerry McAuley, S.H. Hadley, and
Calvary Mission (where A.A. co-founder Bill W. and his "sponsor" Ebby T. made decisions
5. The Great Awakening of 1875 in St. Johnsbury, Verrmont (where A.A. co-founder Dr. Bob was
born and raised.
6. The Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor of North Congregational Church of S Johnsbury
7. In St. Johnsbury, Vermont - where Dr. Bob was born and raised: (a) Devoted Congregationalist
parents who were Sunday school superintendents and teachers, as well as active in the church. (b)
Sunday school, sermons, prayer services, Bible studies. (c) Christian Endeavor (d) St. Johnsbury
Academy where Dr. Bob's parents were active and Dr. Bob took Christian studies, attended Daily
Chapel, required weekly church services and Bible study. (e) The YMCA of which Bob's father
was president - which was active in the church and in the Academy.
8. In East Dorset Vermont--where Bill W. was born and spent his youngest years: (a) East Dorset
Congregational Church and Sunday school and revivals (b) Bible studies by Bill with his
grandfather Griffith and his friend Mark Whalon.
9. In Manchester, Vermont--where Bill W. attended Burr and Burton Academy: (a) Daily chapel.
(b) Required weekly Bible study. (c) Required weekly attendance at Manchester Congregational
Church. (d) Bill's four-year Bible study course. (e) The presidency by Bill W. of the school YMCA
and of Bill's girl friend Bertha Bamford of the school YWCA and their joint participation
There are many more facets of the Christian roots of A.A. And these will be covered in the next presentation.
Dick B. firstname.lastname@example.org; www.dickb.com; www.ChristianRecoveryCoalition.com