Response to Kelly Clark article from A.A. Historian and Author Dick B.
The shorter the critique of Kelly’s article, the better. The reason is that this man falls far short of being qualified to talk about A.A. history, about the A.A. cofounders, or about the supposed monolithic body of Christians—in and out of A.A. Hence the best advice for his readers is to disregard the misspelling of names, the erroneous characterizations of the cofounders, and the predisposition to tout a play in which he apparently had a financial stake. The answer? Kelly fails to mention that the ideas of the cofounders were generated from the 1850’s onward by Christian people and organizations who wanted to help alcoholics and not condemn them. These were the YMCA; Salvation Army; Gospel Rescue Missions; Congregationalists; great evangelists like Moody, Meyer, and Clark; and United Christian Endeavor Society. Kelly seems totally unaware that both cofounders were born and raised by Christian families, in Congregational churches and Sunday schools, were avid Bible students, attended daily chapel (with sermons, reading of Scripture, hymns, and prayers), and were much involved with the YMCA, the evangelists, Christian Endeavor, and Congregationalism. Bill Wilson, for example, took a four-year Bible study course at Burr and Burton Seminary in Manchester Vermont. All three of the first AAs were believers in God, Christians, and Bible students. All turned to God for help and were cured and said so. And all were told to go out and help someone. Moreover, Kelly seems to have ignored the fact that Dr. William D. Silkworth told Bill that Jesus Christ could cure him; that Bill’s friend Ebby Thacher had been to Calvary Mission, been born again, and was sober; and that Bill did likewise and then within a matter of days, decided to call on Christ, went to Towns Hospital, cried out to God for help, and sensed God’s presence in his room. He declared: “Bill, you are a free man. This is the God of the Scriptures.” Bill never drank again. Later, Bill wrote in his Big Book: “The Lord has been so wonderful to me curing me of this terrible disease that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people.” Dr. Bob wrote in the Big Book: “Your Heavenly Father will never let you down.” In those early A.A. days, there were no such things as “spiritual experiences,” “spiritual awakenings,” or “awareness.” There was the power and love of God at work. In fact, very shortly, early A.A. adopted the principles and practices of the First Century Christians as depicted in the Book of Acts. And the Big Book’s statement “There is a Solution” defined that solution as the Creator’s entering into their hearts in a way that is truly miraculous; and that He restored the believers to sanity. There is plenty of documentation of all this in my recent titles: www.dickb.com/drbobofaa.shtm; www.dickb.com/conversion; http://mcaf.ee/s50mq; and http://mcaf.ee/gj7iw. And a modicum of study by Kelly would help him realize the gaping holes in his knowledge of A.A. History and of the early A.A.’s Christian Fellowship successes. Moreover, his memory of the Big Book may be jogged by recalling Bill’s statement: “We have no monopoly on God.” People have been getting sober without God or without A.A. for years and years. But the end result for most, by the 1930’s was that they wound up in a seemingly hopeless, medically incurable, last gasp state where God could and did help them when He was sought.