Sunday, April 26, 2015
Alcoholics Anonymous History: Christian Endeavor Society Roots
Probably no account of the origins of Alcoholics Anonymous is more screwed up than the one or ones that tries to link A.A. to the (1) Bible, (2) A First Century Christian Fellowship, (3) Quiet Time, (4) The journal kept by Dr. Bob's wife (Anne Ripley Smith) from 1933 to 1939 and discussed in front of A.A. pioneers and family, (5) The books, articles, and sermons of Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. (6) The contributions of William D. Silkworth on the nature of alcoholism and on the ability of Jesus Christ--the Great Physician--to cure it. (7) The huge writings and teachings of Professor William James of Harvard. (8) The vital spiritual experience thinking and teaching of Dr. Carl Gustav Jung of Switzerland (9) The ability of Dr. Robert H. Smith and William G. Wilson to formulate the rudiments of the actions which enabled them to move from alcoholic sickness and despair to abstinence, reliance on God, obedience to God, spiritual growth through the Bible, prayer, and Quiet Time, and the necessity for helping others once the first alcoholic is cured. Unfortunately, most AAs don't know the immense role that the basic ideas from the Bible put before AAs. They know that Bob and Bill had some experience with the "Oxford Group" and that A.A., to some extent, sprang from the Oxford Group ideas--all twenty-eight of them. They learned how much the Oxford Group people thought of William James, the Bible, and the life-changing art they developed as the means of their simple "design for living" -- sin, Jesus Christ, cure. This did not set well with Roman Catholic clergy. Others knock A.A. by calling it "spiritualism," "Masonry based, and "not-god-ness." Others caution AAs by warning that it depended upon some absurd "higher power" and not Almighty God, the Creator. Others objected to the Protestant ideas of AAs which came not only from their leaders but also from their extensive Christian upbringing in the Congregational Churches (baptism, profession of faith, the importance of the Word of God, and salvation) also including the materials from Christian Endeavor, the Rescue Missions, the Salvation Army, Young Men's Christian Association, Congregationalism, the great evangelists like Moody and Meyer, and the faithful teaching of the Bible as a foundation for the ideas. The bottom remedy for the hostile student of A.A. roots is to stop knocking God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, salvation, Protestant ideas, piety, religion, church, clergy, cure, and the treasures in academies and seminaries where young Congregationalists were required to attend daily chapel (with sermons, reading of Scripture, prayer observances, and hymns) and receive the immense contributions of founder's families in training their children about God--the one true God--and the evil of idolatry. The pioneers simply weren't on the warpath. They stressed dependence on God, cleaning house, and helping others get well. I have done extensive research into Christian Endeavor principles and practices. I have noted they attained a world-wide membership of 4.5 million. And I have note three important facts: (1) In the Book of Acts, the apostles reported on their fellowship--following the teachings of Jesus; breaking bread together; attending temple or home meetings together; continuous daily contact, learning the teaching of the apostles, healing, conversion, and witnessing. (2) Dr. Bob went through these same practices as a young member of Christian Endeavor; and those same First Century Christianity deeds were followed in the first century and influenced A.A. in a way which did not depend on William James, Carl Jung, William Silkworth, Samuel Shoemaker, Frank Buchman, or the so-called Oxford Group,(3) Just as early AAs strongly emphasized the Bible, prayer, conversion, healing and witnessing, they were dutifully emulating First Century Christianity; and they called themselves A Christian Fellowship.