Alcoholics Anonymous and Christ – A.A. Pioneers Often Spoke of Jesus
Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved
The topic here is the frequent mention of Jesus Christ as “Master,” as “Lord,” and as “Christ” in the comments, remarks by founders, and often-read literature of old school A.A. in Akron.
The significance? Many don’t realize that early AAs stressed study of the Bible. They studied the Gospels. They studied the Book of Acts. They stressed the need for study of the Book of James, 1 Corinthians 13, and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. And they said so. They spoke of Jesus and the necessity of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. They spoke specifically about Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, the Apostle James, and the Apostle Peter as well as the others mentioned in the Book of Acts. They required belief in God. And they regularly insisted as a condition of membership that every early A.A. become a born again Christian—confessing Jesus as Lord and believing God raised Jesus from the dead. Of course, they relied on Almighty God for healing, power, love, forgiveness, guidance, and deliverance—available to God’s children by reason of the accomplishments of Jesus Christ.
Before I point to specific places that document the foregoing statements, I refer the reader to the following of my books which quote the comments and quotations mentioned here: Dick B., The Good Book and the Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible; The Good Book Big Book Guidebook; The James Club and the original A.A.’s Absolute Essentials; Anne Smith’s Journal 1933-1939; Dr. Bob and His Library; Cured!: Proven Help for Alcoholics and Addicts; When Early AAs were Cured and Why; Why Early A.A. Succeeded; Good Morning!: Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation, and Early A.A.; and The Golden Text of A.A.; and Turning Point: A History of the Spiritual Roots of Alcoholics Anonymous.
You can find references by Bill Wilson in his own autobiography, My First Forty Years. Bill Wilson spoke several times of the “Great Physician” Jesus Christ. Dr. William D. Silkworth said Bill Wilson originally required of all a “relationship with Jesus Christ.” Even in the latest edition of the Big Book, 4th ed., 2001, Bill is twice quoted on page 191 as saying that “the Lord” had cured him of his terrible disease. In other than Conference-approved literature, Bill Wilson spoke of his going to the altar at Calvary Rescue Mission and then wrote in two different documents: “For sure, I’d been born again.” Bill’s wife Lois said that Bill really had, in all sincerity, gone to the altar and “handed his life over to Christ.” Rev. W. Irving Harris, assistant minister in Rev. Samuel Shoemaker’s church (Calvary Church in New York) wrote of Bill Wilson’s turning to Jesus Christ for his healing. See Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker and A.A. and Bill Pittman and Dick B., Courage to Change: The Christian Roots of the Twelve Step Movement.
In his last major address to AAs in 1948, Dr. Bob spoke several times of the “Master” and also mentioned “Christ.” Bill Wilson said in the same document that Dr. Bob had reminded a group of arguing AAs that most of them were practicing Christians. See The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks.
In her Journal, Dr. Bob’s wife Anne Smith recorded her teachings to early AAs and their families. These teachings were shared with AAs and families each morning at the Smith Home at 855 Ardmore in Akron. Anne’s journal mentioned Jesus Christ many times in the teachings in her journal.
Rev. Sam Shoemaker—who was called a cofounder of A.A. by Bill—started writing about Jesus Christ in his very first book—Realizing Religion, and continued so to speak and writet throughout his long career. And Bill Wilson and his wife Lois Wilson continually attended Oxford Group meetings led by Shoemaker. Also, Shoemaker pointed out that Calvary Mission—where Bill made his decision for Christ—was the place where Jesus Christ changes lives. Bill marched in a processional from Shoemaker’s Calvary Church to Madison Square to witness—the group carried the sign, “Jesus Christ changes lives.”
Endless Oxford Group writings were read by early AAs and frequently mentioned Jesus Christ. See Dick B., The Oxford Group & Alcoholics Anonymous.
Dr. Bob mentioned many times that early AAs considered the Book of James, the Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13 were “absolutely essential to the early program;” and, of course, it was Jesus that delivered the sermon (see Matthews 5, 6, 7).
A few critics of A.A. repeatedly ignore the immense amount of documented material that establishes beyond question that early AAs called themselves a “Christian Fellowship,” became born again Christians, and read mounds of literature about Jesus Christ. Dick B., The Books That Early AAs Read for Spiritual Growth, 7th ed. Many early observers of A.A., and many AAs themselves, characterized the Fellowship as “First Century Christianity” in action.