Some of the Several Times Bill W. and his friend Dr. Bob Mentioned Jesus Christ
in A.A. General Service Conference-Approved Publications
By Dick B.
© 2015 Anonymous. All rights reserved
As found on page 114 of As Bill Sees It: The A.A. Way of Life . . . Selected Writings of A.A.’s Co-Founder (New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1967), A.A. cofounder Bill W. stated in a letter he wrote in 1940:
At first, the remedy for my personal difficulties seemed so obvious that I could not imagine any alcoholic turning the proposition down were it properly presented to him. Believing so firmly that Christ can do anything. I had the unconscious conceit to suppose that He would do everything through me—right then and in the manner I chose. I had to admit that not a soul had surely laid hold of the Master—not excepting myself.
The third edition of Alcoholics Anonymous (“the Big Book”), published in 1976, contains a personal story on pages 210-21 titled “He Thought He Could Drink Like a Gentleman.” It is the story of attorney Abby G., in whose house in Cleveland, Ohio, the first meeting of A.A.’s third group in the world was held on May 11, 1939. On pages 216-17 of his personal story, Abby states:
One evening I had gone out after dinner to take on a couple of double-headers and stayed a little later than usual, and when I came home Clarence [S.—founder of the first A.A. group in Cleveland] was sitting on the davenport with Bill W. I do not recollect the specific conversation that went on but I believe I did challenge Bill to tell me something about A.A. and I do recall one other thing: I wanted to know what this was that worked so many wonders, and hanging over the mantel was a picture of Gethsemane and Bill [W.] pointed to it and said, “There it is,” . . .
(Jesus’s praying in the Garden of Gethsemane with his disciples, as recorded in Matt 26:36-46 and Mark 14:32-42, is a scene that has been portrayed by numerous painters through the centuries. Abby G.’s personal story was not included in the fourth edition of the Big Book published in 2001.)
The A.A. General Service Conference-approved book ‘Pass It On’ (New York, N.Y.: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1984) states the following about Bill W. on page 171:
Because Bill’s reasons [for his 1937 departure from the Oxford Group] were often misunderstood, he later wrote letters and articles to explain the split. One of his most extensive statements about the situation was made in a letter dated October 30, 1940, to a member in Richmond, Virginia:
“I am always glad to say privately that some of the Oxford Group presentation and emphasis upon the Christian message saved my life.”
In Bill W.’s last major talk—given on October 11, 1969, at the New York Hilton hotel, and of which an edited transcript was reproduced on pages 27-36 of The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks (New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1972, 1975)—Bill related:
Finally, there was some kind of hearing on it among the self-appointed elders. I remember how perfectly Bob put it to them. He reminded us that most of us were practicing Christians. Then he asked: “What would the Master have thought? Would He have kept this man away?” He had them cold!