Sunday, November 07, 2004

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Last updated: October 25, 2001
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Alcoholics Anonymous HistoryAbout Dick B.
Dick B. is an active, recovered member of Alcoholics Anonymous; a retired attorney; and a Bible student. He has sponsored more than eighty men in their recovery from alcoholism. Consistent with A.A.'s traditions of anonymity, he uses the pseudonym "Dick B."
Dick is the father of two married sons (Ken and Don) and a grandfather. As a young man, he did a stint as a newspaper reporter. He attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he received his A.A. degree in economics with honors, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in his Junior year. In the United States Army, he was an Information Education Specialist. He received his A.B. and J.D. degrees from Stanford University, and was Case Editor of the Stanford Law Review. Dick became interested in Bible study in his childhood Sunday School and was much inspired by his mother's almost daily study of Scripture. He joined, and later became president of, a Community Church affiliated with the United Church of Christ. By 1972, he was studying the origins of the Bible and began traveling abroad in pursuit of that subject. In 1979, he became much involved in a Biblical research, teaching, and fellowship ministry. In his community life, he was president of a merchants' council, Chamber of Commerce, church retirement center, and homeowners' association. He served on a public district board and was active in a service club.
In 1986, he was felled by alcoholism, gave up his law practice, and began recovery as a member of the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. In 1990, his interest in A.A.'s Biblical/Christian roots was sparked by his attendance at A.A.'s International Convention in Seattle. Since then, he has traveled widely; researched at archives, and at public and seminary libraries; interviewed scholars, historians, clergy, A.A. "old_timers" and survivors; and participated in conferences, programs, panels, and seminars on early A.A.'s spiritual history.
Dick B.’s body of work on the history and successes of early Alcoholics Anonymous includes seminars, books, articles, radio interviews, videos, audio cassettes tapes, and newspaper articles. They show how the basic, and highly successful, biblical ideas used by early AAs can be valuable tools for success in today's A.A. Also, the religious and recovery communities are using his research and titles to work more effectively with alcoholics, addicts, and others involved in Twelve Step programs.
He has had seventeen titles published about the history and successes of early A.A.:
Anne Smith's Journal, 1933-1939: A.A.’s Principles of Success
By the Power of God: A Guide to Early A.A. Groups & Forming Similar Groups Today
Courage to Change: The Christian Roots of the Twelve-Step Movement (with Bill Pittman)
Dr. Bob and His Library: A Major A.A. Spiritual Source
Good Morning!: Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation, and Early A.A.
Hope!: The Story of Geraldine D., Alina Lodge, & Recovery
Making Known the Biblical History and Roots of Alcoholics Anonymous: An Eleven-Year Research, Writing, Publishing,and Fact Dissemination Project
New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A.
The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous
The Books Early AAs Read for Spiritual Growth
The Golden Text of A.A.
The Good Book and The Big Book: A.A.'s Roots in the Bible
The Oxford Group & Early Alcoholics Anonymous: A Design for Living that Works!
That Amazing Grace: The Role of Clarence and Grace S. in Alcoholics Anonymous
Turning Point: A History of Early A.A.'s Spiritual Roots and Successes
Utilizing Early A.A.’s Spiritual Roots for Recovery Today
Why Early A.A. Succeeded: The Good Book in Alcoholics Anonymous Yesterday and Today (A Bible Study Primer for AAs and other 12-Steppers)
These have been discussed in newspaper articles and reviewed in Library Journal, Bookstore Journal, For A Change, The Living Church, Faith at Work, Sober Times, Episcopal Life, Recovery News, Ohioana Quarterly, The PHOENIX, MRA Newsletter, and the Saint Louis University Theology Digest.
Dick now, and usually, has several works in progress. Much of his research and writing is done in collaboration with his older son, Ken, who holds B.A., B.Th., and M.A. degrees. Ken has been a lecturer in New Testament Greek at a Bible college and a lecturer in Fundamentals of Oral Communication at San Francisco State University. Ken is a computer specialist.
Dick is a member of the American Historical Association, Maui Writers Guild, Christian association for Psychological Studies, and The Authors' Guild. He speaks at conferences, panels, seminars, and interviews.
Dick B.'s email address is: The URL address for his web site on the history and successes of early Alcoholics Anonymous is:

Contact:Dick B. P.O. Box 837Kihei, Hawaii96753-0837Ph/fax: © 1999.Paradise ResearchPublications, Inc.All rights reserved.

Trademarks and Disclaimer: ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS®, A.A.®, and Big Book® are registered trademarks of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Dick B.'s web site, Paradise Research Publications, Inc., and Good Book Publishing Company are neither endorsed nor approved by nor associated or affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.
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Twelve Step History Study

A.A. History Study Meetings
Capsule No. 1
© 2004

You may want to call your meetings “The James Club” or “The Big Book/Bible Study Meeting”

Dick B.
P.O. Box 837, Kihei, HI 96753-0837
Email:; URL:

Studying A.A. History, Bible Roots, Big Book, and Twelve Steps

How you and your A.A. and 12-Step friends can meet freely to study, learn, compare, and discuss our basic roots and text


This is for individuals who believe in, want to investigate, wish to learn, or study to understand the basic Bible verses and Biblical ideas studied by A.A. pioneers. And compare and contrast them with the teachings of A.A.’s mentors and with the basic ideas and principles that were incorporated into A.A.’s Big Book and Twelve Steps. Many AAs and 12-Step groups have written me asking where and how they can begin “Big Book/Bible Study” meetings and groups. Here we tell you where such seekers—if they want to follow the footsteps of our founders—should focus and read as a group in the Bible and the Big Book. We suggest reviewing the sources that propelled the basics into the A.A. Fellowship. We give you specific places read, which we believe will help every member, leader, facilitator, group, speaker, or student. We show what the founders read and did and what you can do to understand better the “spiritual” recovery program in the Big Book and Twelve Steps. If you are asking about recovery and cure, this is the guide for you. Discover right now where you should start, what you what you should read, and how you and your friends or group will benefit by learning the specific resources adopted and used in pioneer A.A.


Parts of the Good Book A.A. old-timers considered “absolutely essential”

What Dr. Bob said about our beginnings

“Dr. Bob, noting that there were no Twelve Steps at the time and that ‘our stories didn’t amount to anything to speak of,’ later said they were convinced that the answer to their problems was in the Good Book. ‘To some of us older ones, the parts that we found absolutely essential were the Sermon on the Mount, the 13th chapter of First Corinthians, and the Book of James,’ he said.” (DR.BOB and the Good Oldtimers. NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980, p. 96).

“Members of Alcoholics Anonymous begin the day with a prayer for strength and a short period of Bible reading. They find the basic messages they need in the Sermon on the Mount, in Corinthians and the Book of James” (quoted in an Akron, Ohio, A.A. pamphlet of the 1940’s—published by the Friday Forum Luncheon Club of the Akron A.A. Groups; and see Dick B. Cured: Proven Help for Alcoholics and Addicts. HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2003, p. 4).

Why this guide is needed

In the last fifteen years, A.A. members—and a great many recovery groups—have shown a long overdue and certainly promising interest in early A.A.’s beginnings. The trend can easily be recognized in the growing number of books, articles, websites, forums, conferences, and groups which have made 12-Step history a major priority or at least a subject to be learned.

But the new historical zeitgeist has yet to reach and motivate recovery professionals, 12-Step groups or individuals, or their meetings to a flourishing application of the spiritual program that marked early A.A. cures.

The following are among the reasons for the obvious historical vacuum: (1) Unfamiliarity with, or lack of access to, informative, accurate, comprehensive historical materials. (2) Preoccupation with this or that dynamic that promotes a particular medical, psychological, religious, therapeutic, treatment, or rehab program approach. (3) Prejudice against mention of religious matters above a whisper. (4) Inordinate concern over who, what ideas, and what literature should be excluded from recovery talk and meetings. (5) A present and recognizable tendency to place universalism, “treatment,” stereotyped secular practices, and profitable book sales above those things which originally produced such remarkable cures among seemingly helpless and hopeless, “medically incurable” alcoholics. (6) A zeal for medical, psychological, government, and religious grants which push to the side the primary purpose of A.A., which is to reach out to, and help newcomers. (7) Absence of informed, effective teachers and facilitators. (8) A tendency to argue about, and suppress any writing or talk that conflicts with present-day views. Phrased differently, claiming that history, God, and religion endanger the “simple” detritus being hurled into the scene today—to replace the tried and true early A.A. components such as the Bible, Christian literature, the teachings of Rev. Sam Shoemaker, and Oxford Group literature and principles (9) Outright rejection of the historically significant observations in the journal of Anne Ripley Smith, Dr. Bob’s wife. (10) Omission of the pioneers’ emphasis on Quiet Time with its Bible study, prayers, seeking of guidance, use of devotionals, and reading of religious literature—all of which enhanced an understanding of the “spiritual.”

I have received thousands of communications by letter, phone, fax, and email from people wanting to know where and how to begin and continue their education about our history, the Bible, and the relationship of each to the program as it exists today. The writers often ask about the success rates (75% to 93%) in early A.A. and the success rate in today’s A.A. (1% to 5%). Most inquirers lack an effective guide—usually none at all. Many lack a solid cadre for group study. Most can find no willing leadership. Almost all forget that early A.A. and just about every continuing A.A. group today sprang from very humble beginnings—involving as few as two or three members in search of relief from the curse of alcoholism. These early birds were not experts, were not afraid to learn from medicine and religion, willingly sought God’s help, and abstained from liquor and temptation while relief was on the way.

On the other hand, those of us in direct touch with religious, medical, and scholarly inquisitors, as well as thousands of still-suffering alcoholics and addicts, know that there is a loud thundering today for facts. Facts about early A.A., its roots, and its astonishing pioneer success rate. Facts explaining what the pioneers meant when they said they were cured. Facts explaining how and whether individual religious convictions can be squared with an ever-growing secular trend and secularist intrusions into the recovery groups as well.

This capsule will briefly discuss A.A.’s tools, the sources of the tools, experiences, hindrances, and specific ideas about how to organize a study meeting or group; how to conduct its meetings; how to use resources that will form the basis for education and instruction; and how a leader, facilitator, chairperson, or individual can move out on studies right now.

Begin with the Bible itself

I can offer no better place to begin than with the Good Book itself. Dr. Bob’s wife wrote in the journal she shared with early AAs:

Of course the Bible ought to be the main Source Book of all. No day ought to pass without reading it (See Dick B., Anne Smith’s Journal, 1933-1939, 3rd ed. HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1998, p. 82).

Dr. Bob said that old timers believed the answer to their problems was in the Bible, which he and they called the Good Book. He also stated emphatically that A.A. took its basic ideas from their study and effort in the Bible.

From the outset keep your study objectives simple.

Begin where the pioneers began. Begin where both Dr. Bob and Anne began. Make sure your studies are grounded in the Bible. Obtain a copy of the King James Version of the Bible. Bring it to the meeting, and keep it in front of you and in front of every person studying with you. This means, of course, that every student should own and bring, or be provided by your group with, the Bible. Don’t leave home without it!

Stick with the King James Version, whatever else may be your preference, because King James is what the pioneers used. You will relate better to their thinking and practice if you use it.

Previously we have quoted Dr. Bob’s statements that three parts of the Bible were considered “absolutely essential” in the early program—the Book of James, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 to 7), and 1 Corinthians 13. We now know that Anne Smith read to Dr. Bob and Bill every day in the summer of 1935. And A.A.’s own literature
tells us that Bill Wilson said Anne frequently read from the Book of James, which Bill said was “our favorite.”

I therefore believe that your first attention should be directed to study of the Book of James


As Bill Wilson himself said: Anne Smith read to Dr. Bob and Bill every day in the summer of 1935 when Bill was living with the Smiths in Akron. She frequently read from the Book of James.

Snippets from James can still easily be spotted in the Big Book. For example: (1) “Father of lights” (James 1:17). (2) “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (James 2:8). (3) “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). (4) And the “confess your faults” language in James 5:16.

That’s why this guide begins with James, and I suggest that you start your meetings in the Book of James. It is simple, easy to understand, and a clear mirror of what the pioneers saw in the Bible.

First, pursue all chapters and every verse in the Book of James. Spend more than one meeting on this book if you wish. Follow our suggestions; and you can later apply those suggestions to your studies of the Sermon on the Mount and 1 Corinthians 13

As stated, Anne Smith read to Dr. Bob and Bill from the Bible every day in the summer of 1935. She often read from the Book of James. And DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers reports the following thoughts and remarks of Bill Wilson about these matters:

“For the next three months, I lived with these two wonderful people,” Bill said. “I shall always believe they gave me more than I ever brought them.” Each morning, there was a devotion, he recalled. After a long silence, in which they awaited inspiration and guidance, Anne would read from the Bible. “James was our favorite,” he said, “Reading from her chair in the corner, she would softly conclude, ‘Faith without works is dead’,” This was a favorite quotation of Anne’s, much as the Book of James was a favorite with early A.A.’s—so much so that “The James Club” was favored by some as a name for the Fellowship.” (DR. BOB, supra, p.71).

Second, study all the verses in the Book of James

I’ve usually suggested to men I sponsor that the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Don’t try to read the entire Bible at or even after beginning. Don’t even focus on the Gospels, Acts, or the church epistles. Just one chunk of reading at a time.

Open every meeting with prayer and ask all present to pray specifically that God guide and bless the reading and illuminate your understanding of it.

Take your Bibles. Open them to the Book of James. Don’t start until everyone has found the correct page. Appoint one person to read the Book of James out loud while others silently read along in their Bibles as the speaker reads aloud from it.

Eyes on the page! Don’t try to read all the chapters of James at one session unless the flow is smooth and within your time limits. No questions. No teaching. No discussion. Just a reading of the Book of James. Your leader should read aloud, all or as much as you like, of the Book of James. Others silently read along with the speaker.

Before proceeding further, you and your leader might want to read the same material more than once. Don’t hesitate to do just that.

[Note: When you have completed all segments of your study of James, including the instructions in the following paragraphs, you are then ready and able to do the same thing with the Sermon on the Mount, and then with 1 Corinthians 13].

Here we resume again with your instructions as to studying James.

Third, study the part of my title When Early AAs Were Cured and Why
that reviews and explains the verses in James you have just read. Compare each relevant segment in my title with the part or parts you have just read in James.

I have reviewed the Book of James, verse by verse, thoroughly in several of my titles. But I believe the best and most recent analysis is in my title When Early AAs Were Cured and Why (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications Inc., 2003). Your greatest benefit will come if each student has a copy of that resource.

Appoint one person to read the explanatory resource out loud just as was done with the Bible itself. To begin, turn to page 51 of my title When Early AAs Were Cured and Why. At the first James session, your leader should read my commentary aloud, beginning at page 51. He or she should then continue reading until he or she has read as much of the relevant commentary as deals with what the leader covered in the reading from James. Other students should silently follow the reading in their own copy of the resource. No questions. No teaching. No discussion. Not yet!

The reason for keeping audience silence during any reading by the leader is that interrupting questions and discussion often divert attention from the speaker, from the content being read, and from audience concentration on the intended instruction at hand. The desired answers and explanations may often come in the very next sentence or chapter that is to be read. Moreover, opinions, criticisms, and questions by a student will seldom bless either the seeker or the speaker or the others in the meeting.

Remember that your meetings have a plan to be followed. Stick to it. There is no record that Bill Wilson cross examined Anne Smith before, during, or after she read from her Bible or from her journal. To the contrary, Bill said to T. Henry and Clarace Williams:

I learned a great deal from you people, from the Smiths themselves, and from Henrietta [Seiberling]. I hadn’t looked in the Bible up to this time, at all. You see, I had the experience [conversion experience at Towns Hospital] first and then this rushing around to help drunks and nothing happened (Dick B. The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 64).

Bill and Bob just listened to Anne’s reading and comments, and they learned. Discussions certainly were held between Bill and Bob for many hours over many days, but not when a reading by Anne was in progress.

In your meetings, first comes the opening prayer, then the reading from James, then the reading from When Early AAs Were Cured and Why, then the use of any suggested collateral literature, and finally audience participation.

Fourth, consider reading collateral literature

Devotionals: As you complete study of each Bible segment and my commentary on it, you might gain greater understanding or mental challenge by checking out the devotionals the pioneers used daily to enhance their spiritual growth on that particular subject.

For example, you could go through The Runner’s Bible, look for its comments on the James verses you have read. Then silently read those Runner’s comments while the leader reads them aloud. You will thereby see and hear the very same interpretations the pioneers saw and heard.

You may even wish to do the same thing with at least four other devotionals that were pioneer favorites: (1) The Upper Room by Nora Smith Holm. (2) My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. (3) Daily Strength for Daily Needs by Mary W. Tileston. (4) Victorious Living by E. Stanley Jones.

All five devotionals were owned, used, recommended, and circulated by Dr. Bob. Several were even mentioned later in A.A. “Conference Approved” publications.

Commentaries: There are several important commentaries on two of the three “essential” Bible segments that Dr. Bob read and recommended. These books pertain to the Sermon on the Mount and 1 Corinthians 13. But we haven’t found any for the Book of James. There is, however, a further relevant collateral area you can pursue.

Shoemaker’s titles: If you wish to see the degree to which many basic ideas from James influenced our founders and their mentors, you will find many specific references to James in the books written by Rev. Samuel Shoemaker, Jr.

Other Literature: To sum up the collateral reading possibilities, you could use, and profit from reading, DR.BOB and the Good Old-timers; Sam Shoemaker’s Realizing Religion; and my titles New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A, and The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous.

Fifth, open the meeting to relevant audience participation. Let
individual students participate by presenting any desired discussion, comments, or questions about the James verses, or about the portions of my commentary they have just read, or about suggested collateral literature.

Audience participation often has its place. It may help build mutual interest, friendships, and the feeling of belonging. It may, at the proper time, permit someone to let off steam. It may bring to the light similar questions others have in mind. But it will probably be a rare moment if truly significant points are raised or answered. The leader should keep all participation short. Those who do present questions or comments should share with humility, patience, and tolerance. All should keep criticism, verbal reproofs, and lofty pronouncements to a minimum.

Three more suggestions: (1) Pray before you speak—whether you are the leader or a member of the audience. (2) Keep difficult and extended questions for presentation or discussion until the meeting concludes. (3) You may even find it helpful to seek some additional resource or religious authority for possible explanations.

As Bill Wilson wrote in his Big Book:

There are many helpful books also. Suggestions about these may be obtained from one’s priest, minister, or rabbi. Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p, 87).

Dr. Bob’s wife Anne suggested the same type of further research. In her journal, she specifically named and recommended a number of books for reading, but she added:

See your ministers for others if you desire (Dick B., Anne Smith’s Journal, 1933- 1939, 3rd ed. Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1998, p. 85),

AAs in recovery are seldom experts in either religion or medicine, and their A.A. friends know it. Early AAs had good literature to help and instruct them. They had Biblical books by the hundreds. They also had excellent teachers like Rev. Sam Shoemaker, Anne Smith, Henrietta Seiberling, T. Henry Williams, and his wife Clarace.

Today most groups would probably refuse admission to the likes of these proctors.
And that is a sorry fact, though probably true. Suggest to people in your study meetings that they might want and need to invite outsiders to help in understanding the verses in James. But you had better place your shield in front of you, and expect an onslaught. The days when the likes of Father Ed Dowling and Rev. Sam Shoemaker were invited or even permitted to speak to AAs in meetings or conferences are, sad to say, all but at an end. It’s hard enough to conduct a history conference without na├»ve objections and hindrances.

It’s much harder to stimulate learning about the Bible and its relevance to the Big Book if you attempt to do so inside A.A. meetings. Such an objective involves different and substantial challenges. There are wolves in the woods who don’t like God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, religion, or church. They frequently turn a deaf ear to those subjects. Few members of this howling pack know anything about our history. Such bleeding deacons--frequently outspoken, bold, rude, and insulting--do not control, govern, or speak for A.A., its groups, or its meetings. But they try. In that vein, there are ongoing efforts today to remove the Lord’s Prayer from meetings; to ban all kinds of literature—such as Fox’s The Sermon on the Mount; to silence members who share about them; and to crush presentation of their views in A.A. conferences. I’ve seen this happen all to frequently. Many times I’ve even heard obstructive remarks from those who oppose Big Book study conferences, claiming they are not real A.A. meetings and violate A.A.’s Traditions because of the modest charge they make for attendance in order to cover expenses.

This kind of challenge is without merit. And its proponents are wrong!

The James materials can be taught and learned. You are not in your meeting to lead, opine, or share, but rather to learn. Feel free to ask what you wish, state what you wish, and discuss what you wish. But when controversy arises, it is probably futile to promote your viewpoint in the meeting. In this respect, I’m reminded of the idea: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” Keep your controversial statements to yourself and present the points later to someone you think has the answers.

This discussion portion of a meeting follows the completion of reading from the Bible as well as the completion of reading from When Early AAs Were Cured and Why. Then it’s open season.

Participants may have questions. They may have observations. They may have stories they want to share. And they may even be loaded with opinions. Hopefully they have already begun to see the relevance of James to Big Book and Twelve Step material. In fact, they can and should discover, from what has been read, the actual number of quotes and ideas from James that have still been printed and retained in the latest editions of A.A.’s Big Book. Participants should be encouraged to make observations about those facts. Such comments would be useful and would help underline what has been covered in the readings. Let all students raise questions, make observations, and give commentaries.

This portion of the meeting should be moderated by the leader and should proceed much as any A.A. discussion meeting proceeds. Audience comments should not be regarded as teaching or doctrine. Opinions can certainly be expressed. But definitive answers will more profitably be found through prayer, further reading of the Bible, further collateral literature, or from a knowledgeable priest, minister, or rabbi.

The more the questions the more the questioners may themselves see they need to do, and profit from, their personal reading, independent of the meetings.

At this point, close each of your James meetings with the Lord’s Prayer—just as the pioneers closed their meetings.

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

The Sermon on the Mount meeting or meetings should proceed in the same manner as the meeting or meetings on the Book of James. The same five approaches should be involved: (1) Pursuing the entire Sermon. (2) Reading every verse in it from Matthew 5 through Matthew 7. (3) Reading from When Early AAs Were Cured and Why. (4) Reading suggested collateral literature. (5) Opening the meeting for discussion.

Bill W. and Dr. Bob each said many times that the Sermon on the Mount contained the underlying philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous.

From what I have read in Alcoholics Anonymous literature, I suggest that, in mentioning the “underlying philosophy of A.A.,” Bill and Bob may have been referring to the entire Sermon, but they may also have had in mind a specific portion of the Sermon such as the philosophy of the “Golden Rule” in Matthew 7:12: “Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Bill and Bob might also have been thinking of other Sermon verses such as: (1) Matthew 6:10—“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (2) Matthew 7:21—“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (3) Matthew 5:43-44: Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

All four of the aforementioned verses point to such basic A.A. ideas as “helping others,” praying that God’s will be done, doing the will of God, and practicing the fundamental Biblical command to “love thy neighbor.”

Taken together, the aforementioned verses emphasize ideas that have become pillars in A.A.—doing for others what you would like to have done for you; turning to God to see what He would have you do; loving your neighbor and even your enemies, and recognizing that God wants us to do His will as expressed primarily in His Word.

In your reading, you will soon discover a host of verses and ideas from the Sermon that became part of the fabric of A.A. For example: (1) reconciling with your enemy; (2) making restitution to those you have hurt; (3) the Lord’s Prayer; (4) “first things first” as expressed in Matthew 6:25-33; (5) “easy does it” and “one day at a time” as expressed in Matthew 6:24; and (6) inventorying and removing your own faults before you endeavor to have another’s removed.

Begin the Sermon on the Mount meeting or meetings with prayer.

First, pursue all chapters and every verse in Matthew Chapters 5
through 7 inclusive. Follow our suggestions.

There is scarcely a verse in the Sermon that did not influence early A.A. actions, steps, and language. Thus, while James was the “favorite,” the Sermon presented the greatest and broadest group of challenges for spiritual progress. It spelled out most of the key aspects of a Christian way of life.

Second, study every verse in Matthew: 5, 6, and 7. The verses in those three chapters contain every word of the actual “sermon” Jesus gave.

Following the same guide that was used as to James: Silently read, and have your leader read aloud every Chapter and every verse from the beginning of Matthew 5 to the end of Matthew 7.

Third, study the part of my title When Early AAs Were Cured and Why that reviews and explains the verses in Matthew 5 to 7 you have just read. Compare each relevant segment of my title with the part or parts you have just read in the Sermon.

Fourth, consider reading collateral literature

Again the possibilities are similar to those discussed in conjunction with James.

Devotionals: You may choose to look into the five devotionals early AAs used and gain more understanding from the discussion of the verses you have read.

Commentaries: Unlike the situation with James, there are a host of writings on the Sermon on the Mount. In fact, it is often discussed in many of the books early AAs read for spiritual growth. And the following were studied extensively by Dr. Bob and some of the pioneers: (1) Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Oswald Chambers. (2) My Utmost for His Highest by Glenn Clark. (3) The Sermon on the Mount by Emmet Fox. (4) The Christ of the Mount by E. Stanley Jones.

Other Relevant Titles: There certainly are other books that early AAs read and which contained references to, studies of, and teachings about, various parts of the Sermon. You may want to locate them through two of my titles: (1) Dr. Bob and His Library. (2) The Books Early AAs Read for Spiritual Growth, 7th ed.

Fifth, open the meeting to relevant audience participation. Let
individual students participate by presenting any desired discussion, comments, or questions about the Sermon verses, the portions of my commentary they have just read, or collateral literature they have considered.

Again: Close the Sermon meetings with the Lord’s Prayer just as the pioneers did.

The Thirteenth Chapter of 1 Corinthians

This widely read chapter in Corinthians has provided fodder for many a sermon on “love.” There is scarcely an A.A. root source that doesn’t make reference to this chapter. Its best known commentator was Professor Henry Drummond of Edinburgh University in Scotland. The professor delivered his address on Love in many places, including Africa; but its fame in America seemed to spring from his presentation in 1887 at a Northfield Conference. Drummond authored a number of popular books such as Natural Law in the Spiritual World, The Ideal Life, and the Ascent of Man. And when Dr. Bob’s daughter Sue Smith Windows first opened her attic to the view of others, I discovered there that Dr. Bob had owned and read all the Drummond books. They were voluminous.

But the little book that caught my eye was a copy of Drummond’s The Greatest Thing in the World (London and Glasgow: Collins Clear-Type Press, n.d.). Drummond created the title from the last line of 1 Corinthians 13. Verse thirteen reads: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity [love], these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” And various editions and reprints of this address have since sold in the hundreds of thousands.

On page 26, Drummond wrote: “The Spectrum of love has nine ingredients:--Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Humility, Courtesy, Unselfishness, Good Temper, Guilelessness, and Sincerity.” A moment’s glance at the language of the verses themselves and then a glance at Drummond’s characterization of them will call to your mind the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, God’s declared will about them, and their importance in the needed life-change.

Dorothy Snyder Murphy, the wife of pioneer Clarence Snyder at the time, often worked with drunks. On one occasion, she tells of this experience with Dr. Bob and Corinthians:

Once when I was working on a woman in Cleveland, I called and asked him [Dr. Bob], “What do I do for somebody who is going into D.T.’s?” He told me to give her the medication, and he said, “When she comes out of it and she decides she wants to be a different woman, get her Drummond’s “The Greatest Thing in the World.” Tell her to read it through every day for 30 days, and she’ll be a different woman” (DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, p. 310).

Now for your meetings to study 1 Corinthians 13.

Open the Corinthians meeting with prayer.

First, pursue all chapters and every verse in 1 Corinthians 13. Follow our suggestions.

Second, study all thirteen verses in the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians. Those verses contain every word in the Corinthians “love” chapter—particularly those words which Dr. Bob emphasized so frequently.

Third, study the part of my title When Early AAs Were Cured and Why
that reviews and explains the verses in 1 Corinthians you have just read. Compare each relevant segment of my title with the part or parts you have just read in the Corinthians chapter.

Fourth, consider reading collateral literature

Just as was the case with James and the Sermon, you can find much additional help from several sources that wrote about the Love chapter.

The best is Henry Drummond’s The Greatest Thing in the World, which should be your starting point. Then you may want to review the five devotionals and see what they have to say. Finally, there is lots to be found in the other books early A.A.’s read—books by Oswald Chambers, Glenn Clark, Harry Emerson Fosdick, Toyohiko Kagawa, and E. Stanley Jones. You can find the appropriate book in the bibliographies of my two titles Dr. Bob and His Library and The Books Early AAs Read for Spiritual Growth.
y she'ifferent woman, get her Drummond'nks. On one occasion, she tells of
Fifth, open the meeting to relevant audience participation. Let
individual students participate by presenting any desired discussion, comments, or questions about the Corinthians verses, or about the portions of my commentary they have just read, or about the collateral literature just covered.

Then close your Corinthians meeting or meetings with the Lord’s Prayer.

This concludes our guide to your meetings to study the three parts of the Bible most mentioned by Dr. Bob and called “absolutely essential” by him. We will follow with additional study capsules for your meeting. Their subjects will be (1) The Bible and A.A. (2) The Big Book and the Bible. (3) The Twelve Steps and the Bible.

End of A.A. History Capsule No. 1