Outline of the Four Foundation Stones of the November Conferences
The International Christian Recovery Coalition
through Dick B. and Ken B., Presenters
© 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved
[Conference objectives: To demonstrate the role played by God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible in the Christian Recovery Movement; and to demonstrate how you and others can help the newcomer who still suffers from alcoholism and drug addiction by applying knowledge of “old school” A.A. in the world-wide recovery efforts in today’s scene of failures, recidivism, and apathy]
The Four Foundation Stones of A. A. Christian Recovery
• Mastering, understanding, and applying A.A.’s Own Big Book in recovery today
• Handling truthfully, accurately, and fully the real origins of the A.A. Fellowship
• Recognizing, defining, and rejecting recovery obstacles that block recovery today.
• Passing on to others the elements of the Big Book, the A.A. origins, and the answers to
obstacles—a new recovery era returning newcomers, sponsor, groups, and fellowships to a sound and acceptable recovery program based on God’s help and service to others.
Foundation Stone One
Mastering and Applying the Big Book Today
Which “Big Book”?
Alcoholics Anonymous: ‘The Big Book” The Original 1939 Edition: Bill W. With a New Introduction by Dick B. (NY: Mineola: Dover Publications, Inc., 2011). Over 25 million copies of the Big Book have been distributed. The Big Book is the A.A. standard for recovery—exemplified by the foreword telling readers it explains precisely how they recovered. And why the Dover Publications edition—the original edition, the First edition?
· The entire Big Book – all of it—shows the duality of programs: Personal stories for how Akron members and others “worked” the original “Christian Fellowship” program. Chapters for Bill’s “new program” embodied in the Big Book chapters and Twelve Steps
· Note the many times and ways in which the basic text has been changed in the four successive editions thus far. Yet the importance of this basic text as a standard probably is attested by the fact that, according to one publisher, the twenty-five millionth copy was presented to a lady in 2005.
Stay Out of Spin Zones. Stick with the Crucible of Facts
The Big Book is not Holy Scripture. Not to be followed blindly without sound thinking and without careful study
A.A. General Service Conference-approved pamphlet The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks shows A.A.’s Bible roots.
The original “Christian fellowship” program is summarized in DR. Bob and the Good Oldtimers on page 131. That program, as summarized, did not change. But Bill’s “new program” of Twelve Steps and the Big Book certainly did change many times before and after its 1939 publication
Consider also, the many program changes after Dr. Bob’s death. Some are embodied in Wilson’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions with detailed editing assistance by Father John C. Ford, S.J., and Father Edward Dowling, S.J. Still later, A.A. published As Bill Sees It--a volume of Bill W.’s thoughts and opinions that put new twists on what he thought the program was and wasn’t. Published without Dr. Bob’s input.
Then come the virtually unknown, unread, and misunderstood “personal stories” of the A.A. pioneers. Big Book studies today seldom challenge AAs to read and understand the stories. And they don’t. Furthermore, the most important guides are those contained in the original 1939 edition of the Big Book personal stories. Our challenge? Read it all—or not at all. Read all the Big Book or explain why reading only selected parts cannot provide full knowledge and understanding of A.A. recovery.
Coining A.A. expressions which have no origin in the language of A.A. founders and pioneers, or in A.A.’s own conference-approved literature, or even in common sense is to warp the program and the befuddled minds of newcomers without warrant. If AAs are to recover, they need to know where they came from, what the written expressions of their program are, and how the personal testimonies of the winners show the successes through the years.
By contrast, using such language as ODAT, KISS, HALT, “daily reprieve,” rocks, chairs, light bulbs, “spiritual, but not religious,” “spirituality,” “psychobabble,” and “outside issues” will almost certainly produce what Dr. Bob’s wife called “funk holes.”
A.A.’s later “cofounder” Rev. Sam Shoemaker, Jr., labeled and rejected such nonsense approaches as: (1) Self-made religion. (2) Absurd names for God. (3) Involving half-baked prayers. They surely did not teach about the role of God, His Son Jesus Christ and the Bible in A.A., nor of the Christian Fellowship program of A.A. pioneers
And note how A.A.’s cofounders themselves told about the real recovery approach upon which Bill and Dr. Bob had agreed:
It had been decided that Bob would attend mostly to the questions of hospitalization and the development of our Twelfth Step work.
Between 1940 and 1950, in the company of that marvelous nun, Sister Ignatia, he had treated 5,000 drunks at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron. His spiritual example was a powerful influence, and he never charged a cent for his medical care.
So Dr. Bob became the prince of all twelfth-steppers. Perhaps nobody will ever do such a job again.
Those Aspiring to Master the Big Book and Program Need Informed, Informative Teachers and Training That Match the Extent of and Quality in Early A.A.
A.A. abounds in warnings that one must not express his own opinion—only share his
own experience. The slogan? “News, not views.” But that’s not how the early successes were birthed.
The resultant anecdotal blackout needs to end. Today we have ample Big Book and Step studies. Ample research, teaching, and writing on A.A.’s origins, history, the Christian upbringing of its founders, the founding developments, and its actual successful early A.A. programs in Akron and Cleveland. Yet far too often, this information is characterized as mistaken, uneducated, and “flying blind.” 
Let‘s look at the completely different situation in the early days before, in, and about 1935.
Who were the teachers?
(1) General William Booth of the Salvation Army.
(2) George Williams and Dwight Moody of Young Men’s Christian Association.
(3) Vermont Congregational pastors, churches, Sunday schools, Bible studies, prayer meetings, Academies, daily chapels, and parental influence.
(4) Techniques of the rescue missions to which Bill Wilson and his sponsor Ebby Thacher had turned successfully for help and new birth.
(5) Dr, Francis Clark who founded Christian Endeavor.
(6) Dr. William D. Silkworth and his devoted Christian view of cure, as well as his understanding of the nature and disasters of alcoholism.
(7) Professor William James and the studies on the efficacy of surrender, conversion, and vital religious experiences.
(8) The experience and advice of famed Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Carl G. Jung who verified that a vital religious experience could produce the cure of alcoholics.
(9) Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, whose very first significant book, Realizing Religion, plainly taught about man’s spiritual misery, needed self-surrender, new birth, and miraculous healings. Shoemaker’s challenge: You need to find God. You need a vital religious experience. You need Jesus Christ.
Add to these the informed teachers in Akron A.A.’s original fellowship itself:
(1) Dr. Bob the brilliant physician, steeped in the Bible, experienced in the horrors of drunkenness.
(2) Bill Wilson, whose learning ability was not shoddy, had seen and experienced the importance of conversion cure, the advice of Dr. Silkworth about it, and the results.
(3) Bob’s wife Anne Smith, a Wellesley graduate who became a teacher, and then daily
taught Akronites from her journal and the Bible.
(4) Their colleague Henrietta Seiberling, a Vassar graduate—non-alcoholic, well read, and articulate.
(5) Their host T. Henry Williams, a former Sunday school teacher, a highly-successful
inventor, and a stalwart Christian.
(6) T. Henry’s wife Clarace who had trained as a Baptist missionary.
In all, these people were well able to handle questions concerning God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and Christian Fellowship. In other words, their pioneer students were not flying blind; those newcomer students were going to any lengths based on the efforts and teachings and studies from 1935 to 1938.
There is nothing adequately comparable in the Twelve Step Fellowship gatherings and meetings of today. No professors. No physicians. No clergy. No teachers. No sober, well-educated men and women teaching in the rooms about the Bible, Christian Fellowship, prayer, Quiet Time, belief in God, the new birth, and explanatory Christian literature and devotionals.
An example of what could be, and what actually began several years ago, were the labors of Joe McQ and Charlie P. in their Big Book Seminars.
Today’s Christian Trainers Need Some Specific New Era Approaches to A.A. So that they can maintain their own choices as to techniques, but enhance their presentations by recognizing the following opportunities for Christian recovery in A.A.
The original A.A. program was and is a simple First Century Christian Fellowship program. Its ingredients were: (1) The seven principles summarized by Frank Amos in DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, page 131. (2) The sixteen identifiable practices that implemented the principles as specified in The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide: (a) Hospitalization. (b) Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. (c) Use of devotionals and Christian literature. (d) Daily fellowshipping.
The successful techniques of the original program ideas are specified in the personal stories of the original 1939 Big Book edition, and often pop up quite clearly in the A.A. Conference-approved literature today.
The Big Book—Twelfth Step program, but not embellished or corrupted by the twists and turns of “higher powers,” “spirituality,” “nonsense gods,” self-help,” “therapeutic model” labels, and mutual support group ideas. For these are devoid of reliance on God, Jesus Christ, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and church and are immunized to favor their use by atheists, agnostics, folks of non-Judeo Christian belief, or no belief at all.
Zero Tolerance should be the position by professing Christians in A.A. of the “broad highway,” the “inclusive but not exclusive,” and the self-made religion or “non-religion” talk. Regrettably, all these detours have become an accepted part of the A.A. scene. And Christian leaders do no favors when they attempt to incorporate them in their beliefs and practices to the exclusion of God.
Those same Christian leaders shine when they study A.A. Conference-approved literature and see the great extent of its support for the original program and for those today who—whatever their program—choose to “seek first the kingdom of God” and believe in the rewards of reliance on God (See Matthew 6:33, 7:20; John 3:16, 14:6; Romans 10:9; and Hebrews 11:6/
A great tragedy developed when AAs lost their understanding of the strange duality that crept into the original edition of the Big Book; retained all the explicit references to the Creator and the Bible; but invited “experiences,” “awakenings,” “conscious contact,” “awareness,” and “personality changes” to trump establishing a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
And the time has come to learn the new era of history based on what really existed, happened, and developed before Christians and their expressions began to take a cowering, intimidated, confused state of silence.
The Appeal for Today’s Christians of Learning the Old School A.A. Elements of Recovery
Akron AAs called their group (Akron Number One) a Christian Fellowship. Many likened it to First Century Christianity. Its principles and practices authenticated these Christian fellowship ideas. After two and a half years of hard work in Akron, there was a “counting of noses” by Bill W. and Dr. Bob that showed that by November, 1937, forty alcoholics had achieved a highly unexpected recovery rate of fifty percent with another twenty-five who had slipped but returned.
The winners accomplished this feat by following Christian techniques so labeled and which, in Dr. Bob’s own words, were developed by the studies and efforts and teachings that had been going on in the Bible from the very founding of A.A. in 1935.
The November, 1937 success picture prompted Bill to seek financial help from the Rockefellers. Rockefeller agent Frank Amos thoroughly investigated the Akron program. He succinctly summarized it in easily understood seven principles found on page 131 of DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers.
Later, my son Ken and I drew on the rest of the First Century Christian Fellowship story and listed sixteen practices early AAs observed that implemented the seven points summarized by Amos, found on pages __ of The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide.
Knowing the When and How of the New Program Bill Wilson introduced through the Big Book in 1939.
Then, Bill Wilson obtained, by split-vote decision, authority to write a book describing “the” program. Something he did not make good on. He didn’t write such a book.
This vote, and Bill’s action thereafter, ushered in the duality of purpose, content, and program that emerged in the 1939 Big Book.
It is well documented now that the first thorough effort in shaping the Big Book existed among those who wrote the personal stories that appeared in the First Edition. And Dr. Bob was heading the group that prepared the stories.
What did the First Edition personal stories relate? Our best synopsis of their purpose and content can be found in our book God, His Son Jesus Christ & the Bible in Early A.A.: The Long-Overlooked Personal Stories in the First Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Remember, at that point, there were not yet any Twelve Steps. There was no Big Book manuscript. In fact, Wilson actually visualized a book that would consist primarily of stories.
Here the reader needs to look carefully at the personal stories in the Original 1939 edition we’ve been talking about and stressing. The stories were not discussing a non-existent Big Book. They were not talking about not yet written Steps. They were not alluding to the materials Wilson later put into the chapters of the Big Book. There was no book!
The First Edition personal story writers were describing how God had healed them as they applied the principles and practices of the original program. And these were clear.
(1) These were the seven principles summarized by Frank Amos.
(2) These included the sixteen practices we laid out in The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide.
(3) The original personal stories—particularly those by the great majority of writers who were from the Midwest—confirmed the principles and practices of the original Christian Fellowship program of Akron.
Readers need to see and learn those original stories. They can now, and easily, by using the Dover Publications Original 1939 edition and the Dick B. Introduction. They need to observe how the writers were describing the way in which they had followed what basically was the advice and teaching of Dr. Bob, Anne Smith, Henrietta Seiberling, T. Henry Williams, and Clarace Williams of Akron. And – the strong emphasis on conversion to God through Jesus Christ and service to others—that Bill had brought with him to his first meeting with Dr. Bob and later frequently discussed in some of his earlier Big Book drafts.
Even in his own earliest manuscripts of the Big Book, Bill claimed this:
In the personal stories, each individual, in his own language and from his own point of view, explained how he discovered or rediscovered God. And the stories simply gave testimony to the effectiveness of the basic elements of the Akron program: (1) Cease drinking permanently. (2) Give one’s life to God. (3) Obey God’s will by eliminating sinful conduct and living love. (4) Grow in fellowship with God, His Son Jesus Christ, and other believers through old fashioned prayer meetings, Bible study meetings, Quiet Times, and reading Christian literature. (5) Helping others get straightened out by these means. Plus: (6) Recommended religious comradeship. (7) Recommended weekly attendance at a religious service.
Mark well. These simple original seven points are not the elements that Wilson later wrote into his new program. As stated, the Big Book written adventure produced a duality of program and technique—one for Akron, and one for Bill’s proposed new program.
1. Bill Wilson did not write a Big Book about how the Akron program worked. He left that subject virtually untouched.
2. In Bill’s own words, he developed a “new program.” Let’s look at Bill’s own recorded words as Bill put together this new program. This is Bill’s program which shifted his own focus from Akron’s success story to Bill’s Oxford Group-oriented life-changing program fashioned on these “design for living” he embodied in the Big Book.
3. Bill laid out the changed process very well in his book, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, published in 1957 after Dr. Bob and Anne were dead and after the famous St. Louis Convention which changed the structure of A.A. Bill wrote: [Pages 161-62]
“This particular evening, as my mind ran over these developments, it seemed to me that the program was still not definite enough. . . . Our steps would have to be more explicit. . . . Maybe our six chunks of truth should be broken up into smaller pieces. . . . we might be able to broaden and deepen the spiritual implications of our whole presentation. (page 161)
“Finally I started to write. I set out to draft more than six steps; how many more I did not know. . . . When I reached a stopping point, I numbered the new steps. They added up to twelve. . . . (page 161)
“At this moment a couple of late callers arrived. . . . I was greatly pleased with what I had written, and I read them the new version of the program, now the “Twelve Steps” (pages 161-62)
“Akronites like Paul and Dick S. like the new steps very much. As the remainder of the book text developed, based on the Twelve Steps, they continued to report their approval. But in New York the hot debate about the Twelve Steps and the book’s contents was doubled and redoubled. (page 162) “
4. What had happened when Bill Wilson made this dramatic “new version” and coined the “new steps?
5. First, Dr. Bob made it clear that he did not write them. He said explicitly he had nothing to do with the writing of them.
6. Second, the basic ideas that had given rise to Bill’s authorized writing were ideas that Dr. Bob said quite clearly came from the teachings, study, and effort in the Bible, whence came the basic ideas of the Steps.
7. Third, history tells us these us what these “basic ideas” were – the ideas of which Dr. Bob spoke specifically
(a) That the answer to our problems was in the Good Book.
(b) That the parts considered absolutely essential were Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount,
1 Corinthians 13, and the Book of James.
(c) That the Society itself should be called the “James Club.”
(d) That the Book of James was their favorite.
(e) That Dr. Bob had strongly encouraged the reading of Henry Drummond’s The
Greatest Thing in the World (the essay on 1 Corinthians 13).
(f) That both Bob and Bill had stated that Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount contained the
underlying spiritual philosophy of A.A.
(g) Even Bill’s drafts of the Big Book contained oodles of biblical references such as
Creator, Maker, Father, Heavenly Father, Spirit, Father of Lights, and—of course—God! Also quotes from the Bible such as “Thy will be done;” “Love thy neighbor as thyself;” and “faith without works is dead.”
(h) Dick B.’s books—particularly The Good Book and The Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in
the Bible, and The James Club and the Original A.A. Program’s Absolute
Essentials spell out specific portions of the Big Book and the Twelve Steps that
can be traced to quotes from the Bible—particularly James, Corinthians, and
8. But the Big Book Bill published in 1939 left all the foregoing biblical traces in the dust or at least in the shadows as far as the Big Book language and the understanding of most by newcomers was concerned. And underlining the need for recollection, return, and study of the old school program was apparent when Dr. Bob commissioned the four AA of Akron pamphlets—still on sale in Akron and Cleveland—which were written to enable the “blue collar” AAs to understand their roots and their source of deliverance—God!
9. But A.A.’s own literature demonstrates that—while Bill created dual programs—he neither rejected nor succeeded in rejecting the old school A.A. which had put the fellowship on the map and achieved such successes in Akron and Cleveland.
Foundation Stone Two
Let’s Now Very Briefly Cover the Origins, History, Founding, and Elements of Old School A.A. and Note Their Relevance in A.A. Today
• It begins with First Century Christianity – the Acts of the Apostles after they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Observers of early A.A. almost uniformly described its activities as First Century Christianity in action. The same thing had been said by leaders of some of A.A.’s Christian recovery predecessors. Even the later Oxford Group called itself A First Century Christian Fellowship. And the Akron Number One “self-styled alcoholic squad” called itself a Christian Fellowship.
• What First Century Christianity was about: First, it was about daily! Jesus taught in the Temple daily. The early Christians fellowshipped together daily--in the Temple and in their homes. They prayed together. They broke bread together. They read or heard the Word of God daily. They healed others with frequency. They witnessed and converted others to God through Jesus Christ daily. And their gatherings grew by leaps and bounds. Daily!
• The Apostolic fellowship’s devotion to God was not lost on alcoholics as concern with alcohol became huge in the 1850’s.
(1) The great evangelists like Dwight L. Moody, Ira Sankey, F.B. Meyer, Allen Folger, and F.B. Moorhouse held huge revivals aimed at bringing salvation to the hearers, knowledge of the Word of God in simple terms, and healing of all kinds of maladies. Including alcohol. Much that was relevant to early A.A.’s origins and to the cure of alcoholism was centered in Vermont where the evangelists held forth.
(2) The Young Men’s Christian Association—on a non-denominational basis—canvassed New England states and Vermont and began holding revivals designed to bring people to Christ.
(3) Congregational churches and leaders were in the fore of this work. By 1875, in St Johnsbury, “The Great Awakening of 1875 in St. Johnsbury” transformed the entire community with decisions for Christ, the rise of new concerns for its churches and healings
(4) The Gospel Rescue Missions were becoming famed for their successes with thousands of drunks and derelicts who were brought to God through Jesus Christ and were healed of their alcoholism.
(5) Stemming from its work in the slums of London and revivals in America, the Salvation Army was achieving outstanding results through witnessing to drunks, healing them, and then insisting that they help others through “God’s Army.”
(6) Then came the founding of United Society of Christian Endeavor in a Congregational Church in Williston, Maine. The year was 1881. The movement swept around the world to an ultimate membership of 4.5 million. Its program—not aimed at drunks—was to bring the youth back to their churches. But the technique was one that became the frontispiece of the later Akron A.A. program. The Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor (as it then became called) attracted the activity of Dr. Bob in his youth, his parents, and their Congregational Church. Their methods involved (a) conversion meetings, (b) prayer meetings, (c) Bible study meetings, (d) Quiet Hour observances, (e) reading of Christian literature, and (f) outreach to newcomers.
• The next link in the formation of A.A. began with the Christian upbringing of A.A.’s cofounders Bill Wilson and Robert R. Smith in Vermont. This occurred amidst the activities of the Christian organizations named above. It was cemented in the minds of the cofounders in Vermont.
This new era of A.A. history marked the flooding of the two Green Mountain Boys of Vermont (Bob and Bill) with: (a) all sorts of Christian focus on salvation, (b) the Word of God, (c) prayer, (d) church attendance, (e) Sunday school attendance, and—later—(e) daily chapel at their respective Vermont Academies. At the Academies (St. Johnsbury for Dr. Bob, Burr and Burton and Norwich University for Bill and his friend Ebby).
There was Christian instruction at every turn—through family, church, sermons, hymns, prayers, Scripture reading, Sunday school, prayer meetings, and the functions of the Young Men’s Christian Association. Then, as Bob and Bill attended their Congregational-church dominated academies, they took required Bible study courses; attended church; attended daily chapel; united in prayers; and further fellowshipped in the Young Men’s Christian Association theme—Dr. Bob’s father being president of the St. Johnsbury Young Men’s Christian Association, and Bill Wilson’s being president of the Burr and Burton Academy YMCA.
• Each of the first three AAs was the beneficiary of all this regimen once he decided he had been licked, needed God’s help, immediately obtained God’s help, and then went on to serve others. The details of the sobriety of the first three was marked by these points: (1) All three believed in God. (2) All three were or had become Christians. (3) All three had studied the Bible. (4) All, at the bottom of the well of alcoholism, reached up to God for help when there was no A.A., no Big Book, no Twelve Steps. They simply surrendered their lives to God and were rewarded with lifetime sobriety.
Foundation Three: Facing and Overcoming Obstacles to Christian Recovery Efforts Today by Turning to Truth and to the Successful Experiences of A.A. in Earliest Days.
• The first essential is knowledge of what is and was—simply taught, simply learned.
Failure rates today: If, as many a researcher says today, present-day fellowships have at least a 90% failure rate, there is something that needs changing. One researcher stated that it is axiomatic that there is a 75% failure rate. What can be learned from these statements?
Success rates in early Akron and Cleveland A.A.: If the original Christian Fellowship program was able to achieve a 75% success rate; and if the Cleveland Fellowship that followed it (also incorporating the Bible, the Oxford Group “Four Absolutes,” the Big Book, the Twelve Steps, and “most of the old program,”) documented a 93% success rate, there is something vital to be learned. Even at this seemingly late date.
To incorporate the successful efforts of old school A.A., one needs knowledge of the real origins, history, founding, original program, and successes (as we have sketched it above)
One needs to know and decide whether to utilize the seven point summary of Frank Amos, and the sixteen practices of the Akron pioneers.
One needs to know and decide whether to utilize the features of both the old school program and the Big Book and Twelve Step program applied in early Cleveland A.A.
One needs to know the role played by God, His Son Jesus Christ and the Bible in the recovery movement, and learn exactly what kind of recovery message as to the how and why of God’s help needs to be carried to those still suffering.
One needs to know what is available today: what the winners did and can still do today.
• The second essential requires defining for newcomers what A.A. success is not, what Christian recovery is not, and what God is not.
A so-called “higher power” (also known as a rock, a tree, a light bulb, Santa Claus, Something, Somebody, the Big Dipper, Ralph, Gertrude) is not even in the running.
When one tries (as Bill’s compromise language did) to define Almighty God, the Creator, as a “power greater than yourself” or a god “as you understand him,” he is trenching upon some biblical injunctions with which both Bob and Bill and most pioneers were familiar.
Thus, there is only one God. And the Bible clearly says so. God either is or He isn’t. The Big Book says that too and therefore describes that one God in biblical terms like Creator, Maker, Heavenly Father, and Father of Lights. One must believe that God is; and Hebrews 11:6 tells the student he must believe that in order to come to God. Relying on the teachings in the Bible, there is only one way to come to God and that is through His Son Jesus Christ. And John 14:6.
When one tries (as so much A.A. meeting jargon does) to “create” a god of his own understanding, he had best look at Psalm 115 for the futility of such an endeavor. He had also better look at the Ten Commandments where Yahweh plainly declares man is to have no other gods but Almighty God.
When one erects, fashions, worships, and describes these light bulbs and Somebodies, he is doing nothing but what the Israelites did when they were punished by God for idolatry.
When one sees the futility of praying to a chair or a table or something, he can easily lapse into the one-size-fits-all nonsense pouring out of present day literature. Primarily that nonsense is that an AA doesn’t have to believe in anything at all. True. But absurd.
What is the solution for the one seeking God’s help? The solution in A.A.’s Big Book is laid out explicitly in a chapter by the name “There Is A Solution.” In brief, it declares that the central fact of our lives is that the Creator has entered into them in a way that is truly miraculous. And that language about the “Creator” is used in A.A.’s Big Book and by the founders. The capitalized word “Creator” is used a dozen times.
When A.A. itself or some individual group or meeting opens the door to atheists and invites them to fashion their own conception of the Twelve Steps and/or of unbelief, that fellowship or group or meeting has a choice. It can tolerate or welcome or invite such unbelief and go about its own chosen group conscience decision. Or it can simply keep its own mind and street clear and make sure it doesn’t swallow the non-A.A. history view that God is a nothing, a not-god, or (as one historian put it, just an “expedient” or “convenient” name). In other words, it can choose to ignore and reject what Bill Wilson’s spiritual teacher Rev. Shoemaker warned against: (1) Self-made religion. (2) Absurd names for God. (3) Half-baked prayers.
• Probably the most unfortunate development that comes from failure to reject and overcome obstacles to believing in God is the growing library of nonsense gods, nonsense ideas, irrelevant definitions, and man-made ideas about what A.A. is.
For example, the word “spirituality” has taken on a special meaning suitable for anti-A.A. or inventive writers but meaningless for Christians until Christians understands that the Big Book defined spirituality as trusting in one’s Creator.
For another example, the expression that A.A. is “spiritual, but not religious” is absolutely useless either as a definition of A.A. or of “religion” or of “spiritual.” And one A.A. writer with long-term sobriety has simply pointed out that it is doubtful if anyone in A.A. could define the meaning of the phrase.
For still another example, one historian has decided for himself and repeatedly stated that A.A. is about “not-god-ness.” But A.A. is neither monolithic, nor capable of being boxed in with such a concept, nor deserving of the insult to its professed faith in God. Moreover, the concept of not-god-ness is little more than a corruption of one idea in the Big Book—man must stop playing God.
A.A.’s spiritual teacher Rev. Sam Shoemaker said many times one way or another that God is God and self is not God; but Shoemaker was not lobbying for a “not-god” either with Bill W. or for A.A. or within his own Episcopal Church.
• The last obstacle in the path of A.A. recovery and Christian utilization of the power of God was and still is the oft-used shibboleth of “choose your own conception of god.” This idea was not in any of Bill’s writings, was inserted in hand-written form at the beginning of the printer’s manuscript, and then—without source or citation—attributed to Bill’s friend Ebby Thacher. Something there is no historical evidence to substantiate other than the unexplained insertion.
You may elect, in present-day A.A., to create your own conception of a god. But Dr. Bob was very explicit in having every newcomer declare that he believed in God. Not “a” god. God!
And this loving God, as AA literature and Dr. Bob often described Him, is not a man-made figment of someone’s imagination or bizarre conception.
This loving God is described in the Bible and A.A.’s own Big Book as one with all power—the power to create the heavens and the earth, for openers. Particularly in Genesis 1 and Psalm 103: The God who can and will forgive all iniquities. The God who can and will heal all diseases. The God who can and will redeem one’s life from destruction. The God who gave His only begotten Son that everlasting life could become available to all who believed. See John 3:16. The one God who can and will communicate and guide. See James 1. And the One God who is described as “Love.” 1 John 4:8, 16.
Foundation Stone Four
Recovering, Getting Well, and Becoming Spiritually Complete in Today’s Recovery Scene—Using the Four Foundation Stones for Christians
What fundamental truths and experiences offer hope to Christian alcoholics, addicts, and those with life-controlling problems in today’s recovery scene?
To those who genuinely want permanently to cease using prescription and illicit drugs as well as alcohol? To those who have had enough of misery, disasters, shame, and ill-health? To those who are Christians and want to look to God for help? To those who, in one way or another, have turned to some 12-Step program—Christian or otherwise—and found the free, widely available, friendly, service-oriented, 24/7 access to support a valuable adjunct to their recovery? To those in 12-Step programs who want a structured way for an alcoholic or addict to turn to God through Jesus Christ for help; to utilize effective prayer; to believe for complete healing; to rely on the Bible for authoritative guidance, and to turn as quickly as possible to helping new contacts do likewise?
Today, the treatment field abounds in professionals. Professional counselors. Professional addictionologists. Professional treatment program leaders. Professional interventionists. Professional clergy and pastoral recovery leaders. Lots, for one reason or another, seek “certification.” They run into the endless required hours and courses. They run into programs that make no mention of God. They run into many programs that more and more are laying A.A. and its techniques to one side. If they are Christians, they hear from other Christians that their work is not “of the Lord.” They hear they are hell-bound if they set foot in a room of non-Christians, unbelievers, or those who “wrongly” interpret Scripture. They hear from anti-AAs that A.A. is the product of spiritualism, freemasonry, a ranting ego-maniac, and a cult. They hear concerns from churches which are leery of A.A. and its “higher powers” and nonsense gods and apparent idolatry.
But Then, There Is the Audience We Address
These are often long-sober Christian recovery leaders, recovery workers, newcomers, and concerned public participants who are not looking for a scrap with anyone—though they may find themselves unwantingly enmeshed in scientific rejection.
These are the people we urge to become – at no cost – participants in the International Christian Recovery Coalition—people who have two simple missions to support: (1) Defining the role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible have played and can play in recovery from alcoholism and addiction with God’s help. (2) Carrying this message of deliverance directly to those who still suffer, often by the traditional 12 Step means.
We encourage them to subscribe to two fundamental ideas: (1) We Christians in the recovery arena are not alone. There are tens of thousands of us—hungry for God’s help and hungry to serve God and glorify His name. (2) We are A.A. friendly, Recovery friendly, Bible friendly, Newcomer friendly, and just plain friendly in how we look at others who want God’s help or want to help others obtain God’s help.
There Are Several Valuable Aspects of This Final Foundational Stepping Stone
· Start with solid facts from A.A. Conference-approved literature that give heart to those who don’t realize the immense support for Godly reliance that exists in today’s literature. You can start with our Stick with the Winners book. And then you can look at this concession made by A.A. General Services when it finally restored the personal stories and underlined their importance in Experience, Strength, and Hope.
· Next, pull out Alcoholics Anonymous: The Original 1939 Edition, with an Introduction by Dick B., (Dover Publications, 2011), so that you will have before you: (a) Dick B.’s Introduction. (b) Examples of the original solution language. (c) The specific pioneer stories. The tool that will show you the power and purpose of those original personal stories is our red book.
· Our host, Rick S., has undertaken and will explain his line-by-line highlighting of the words and phrases in the Big Book first edition in such a way as permits you better to understand the words and better to understand their origin.
· You also will need, for a thorough and accurate description of the origins and original program of A.A.: (a) The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide. (b) Our new book, Bill W. and Dr. Bob: The Green Mountain Boys of Vermont--supplemented by Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous and The Conversion of Bill W.
· The final back-up tools are these:
The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (pamphlet P-53)
DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers
How It Worked, by Mitchell K.
The Fourth Foundation Stone Suggests These Basic Approaches
· Regarding God: Put God first. Seek Him first. Love Him first. Serve Him first. Glorify Him first. Thank Him first.
· Regarding Christian Recovery: Christian recovery means Christian fellowship. Yes. AAs like to urge that a newcomer stay away from slippery places and slippery people. You, as a Christian, need to fellowship with Christians who can point you to God, His Son, the Bible, a renewed mind, and prayer on a regular basis.
· Our Suggested Model: The model is First Century Christian Fellowship. Daily fellowship. Daily prayer. Daily Bible study. Daily Quiet Time with God. Daily breaking of bread. Daily meetings in homes or churches. Daily efforts to heal others. Daily witness. Daily conversions. And daily growth in the fellowship by those who have become new men and women in Christ.
· The Christian Teachers: You can learn from the Bible and Bible teachers. From communication with God. From prayer. From Christian literature. From physicians and clergy and from members of the community. And from those in your fellowship who have learned about God’s Word and how to apply it; who have mastered A.A.’s relevant Conference-approved literature; who have the ability to speak with accuracy and lead from knowledge.
· Learning from the Recovered Christian Winners. This means reading the personal stories in the original 1939 Big Book. It means studying the book itself—line by line as is done in quality Big Book seminars. Studying with an experienced and knowledgeable sponsor. Attending Bible fellowships, church fellowships, retreats, and teachings by Christian leaders—whether on radio, TV, in books, in articles, or in conferences
· Absorb These Facts: Absorb your facts from the Big Book, DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, and The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. You can learn much from our 46 titles, 1,250 articles, blogs, audios, videos, websites, YouTube, Christian Recovery Radio, and newsletters.
· Shoot for Excellence: A solid relationship with God and His S`on Jesus Christ, a regular habit of prayer, a regular study of the Bible, a group of like-minded believers, the help of teachers who have achieved their own excellence. Cast out the negatives. Fear. Anger, Dishonesty. Injustice. Impurity. Revenge. Set your affections on things above. Renew your mind with God’s Word. Ask for forgiveness when needed. Ask for guidance when needed. Seek and extend healing.