A.A. History or A.A. Mystery
A Series with Answers
© 2011 Anonymous. All
A.A.'s own resources:
A.A.'s Pamphlet P-53 reports the complete talk Dr. Bob gave at his last
major address in 1948, emphasizing A.A.'s roots in the Bible—Jesus' Sermon on
the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, and 7), the Book of James, and 1 Corinthians 13.
Bill W. wrote some "fragments" that
became available in Alcoholics Anonymous
Comes of Age ( 1957), and, in an article published in The Language of the Heart: Bill W.'s Grapevine Writings, Bill
sketched out the source of the 12 Steps as Dr. William D.
Silkworth, Professor William James,
and Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr.
It was not until the 1980's that
A.A. published DR. BOB and the Good
which recorded the Original A.A.
program in Akron
(from 1935-1938); and not until 1984 that A.A. published "Pass It On" – a partial
biography of Bill's life with most of Bill Wilson's shortcomings frankly
What was missing:
no complete, accurate, or informative material on the Christian upbringing of
Dr. Bob in Vermont. There was no complete, accurate, or
informative material on Bill W.'s Christian upbringing in Vermont Nor on the solution that Dr.
Silkworth gave Bill—the cure through Jesus Christ. Nor Ebby Thacher's new birth
at Calvary Mission Nor Bill's decision for Jesus Christ at Calvary Mission. Nor
his original witnessing with a Bible under his arm and his testimony that the
Lord had cured him of his terrible disease.
There was no mention of Bill W.'s
autobiography which lay dormant in Stepping Stones for years and years.
It took a bid at auction for
slightly less than one million dollars to result in Hazelden's publication in
2010 of the drastically changed printer's manuscript of the First Edition
of Alcoholics Anonymous.
There was no publication for years
and years of anything accurate about the personal
Journal that Dr. Bob's wife Anne
Ripley Smith had kept from 1933 to 1939, which
laid out the basic principles of
the A.A. program, and from which she shared each morning at the Smith home in Akron with pioneer AAs
and their families.
There was no significant
information published about the excellent training that Dr. Bob said he had had
in the Bible as a youth. There was no significant information published about
Bill's Bible study with his grandfather and with his friend, or the four-year
Bible study Bill undertook at Burr and Burton
There was no adequate report on the
many Christian conversions and cures that Professor William James recorded in
his Varieties of Religious Experience
that both Dr. Bob and Bill owned and studied.
There was no adequate report for
years and years on the prescription of conversion as a cure for alcoholism that
Dr. Carl G. Jung prescribed before A.A. was founded. And that Dr. William D.
Silkworth had specifically mentioned to Bill Wilson on Bill's third visit to Towns Hospital
as a patient.
There was no report or
documentation of the twenty-eight Oxford Group principles that so strongly
influenced Bill W.'s writing in the Big Book and Twelve Steps.
There was no public report of the "Bedford" Manuscript that
Bill dictated to Ed B. in the 1950's when Bill recorded a version of A.A.
history that was later used by Robert Thomsen (Bill's first biographer) and
even by the authors of "Pass It On" – but no apparent or recognizable opportunity
for the public to see and analyze the report itself
There was no report of the hundreds
of articles in newspapers and magazines and even books where early AAs told how
they had been "cured" of alcoholism. And eventually
A.A. literature (except for page
191 of later Big Book editions) simply obliterated the idea that alcoholism
could be cured, that Bill Wilson had said so, but and had also specifically
attributed the cure to Jesus Christ in a story aboutCleveland that has
now been removed from the Third
Edition of "Alcoholics Anonymous."
There has been no presentation of
the more than 400 pages of Big Book manuscript materials – containing Christian
and biblical materials – that were discarded before the Big Book manuscript was
published. And there has been no presentation of the "dogma" that Bill wrote
had been learned from the churches and missions that had helped AAs.
The price paid and the mystery created by the omissions
Writers put out books like
"Not-God," "Slaying the Dragon," biographies of Bill, and reflections by
hundreds of later A.A. members on what A.A. had given them or not given them in
the way of "spiritual experiences" or "Something saves" if they even
acknowledged the existence of such novel recovery interpretations..
The "solution" that had made Bill
and A.A. famous—Bill's own story of conversion to God through Jesus Christ and
called a "spiritual experience" was changed to speak of a "spiritual awakening"
and finally a "personality change."
Every mention of the Bible was
omitted from the Big Book main text.
Every meaningful mention of Jesus
Christ was omitted from the Big Book main text.
Significant mention of God as Creator,
Maker, Heavenly Father, and Father was mixed with Bill W.'s self-made "Czar of
the Heavens," "Universal Mind," "Spirit of Nature," and "Creative
Intelligence," and other human appellations seemingly derived from New Thought
A few dogged anti-A.A. Christian
writers began publishing untruths about A.A. and
Spiritualism, A.A. and
"spirituality," A.A. as being "spiritual but not religious," A.A. and Masonry, and
absurd names for "a god" like higher power, light bulb, radiator, chair, table,
Gertrude, Ralph, Santa Claus, the Great Pumpkin, and Something.
A few A.A. apologists began trying
to equate the biblical roots and expressions of early A.A. with Bible verses
the mention of which in early A.A. was simply not documented.
A large number of AAs and the A.A.
hierarchy began pushing the idea that one didn't need to believe in anything at
all in order to recover in the A.A. program.
A.A. Traditions and A.A.
"Conference Approved" barriers were manufactured by people in the rooms to bar
books, to suppress mention of the Bible and Jesus Christ, and even to exclude
from recognition those groups that studied the biblical and Christian roots of
The "wisdom of the rooms" with its
psychobabble and self-made religion gained much more usage by members than the
Bible verses and Christian ideas that dominated the early A.A. of Akron.
Phrases like "this too shall pass," "turn it over," "acceptance is the answer,"
"just play with the cards that are dealt you," "don't drink and go to
meetings," and "go to meetings – go to meetings – go to meetings" predominated
over reading the Bible, having Quiet Times, holding prayer meetings, affirming
belief in Almighty God, accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and talking
Worship of some "higher power"
began to be widely accepted as a remedy instead of being rejected or ignored as
an "absurd name for God" which Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. had warned against
in A.A. conferences and literature.
The possibility that someone could
and can be a participant in a 12 Step or A.A. program or fellowship and still
be a Christian caused some writers to concoct interpretations of the Bible and
fearful condemnations of those who dared to be Christian and A.A.
A.A. History or A.A. Mystery?
One who is an AA and Christian is
often left with several misunderstood or seemingly unacceptable choices: (1)
Believe the "wisdom of the rooms." (2) Misuse A.A. tools like
"Conference-approved" and the "Traditions" to suppress reading and meeting
talk. (3) Read the volumes of later published literature promoting A.A. as a
"broad highway," a place where those of any belief or no belief could flourish
in their discussions of A.A. and its Steps. (4) See himself vocally and in
writing condemned for expressing his views about God, Jesus Christ, Holy
Spirit, the Bible, religion, and church.
God has not left A.A. Nor has the
Christian history of A.A. disappeared. Jesus Christ has not vanished from the
beliefs of thousands and thousands of AAs. The Bible has not been burned—as
with Nazi German and other historically reported book-burnings. Idolatry has
not been acclaimed by Christians. "Higher Powers" are not proven vehicles of
healing or understanding or worship or belief. They are bogus crutches for
those who have heard and believed a rumor, "forgotten where they came from" and
never learned how it is that the original believing AAs (40 in number) had a
75% success rate—which is far far far from the success rates of those in A.A.
who don't believe or those who rely on frequent rotating "rehabs" and
The "mystery" perhaps is just how long the perpetrator of
unbelief, the victims of unbelief, and the publishers of unbelief will continue
to dilute and perhaps even destroy the desperate hopes for healing, outcries for
help, and solid reliance on God that still cause the formula to be published in
A.A.'s Big Book – "God could and could if He were sought."