The Christian Origins of A.A. & Myths About Them
The Christian Origins of A.A.
The Myths That Disparage the Facts
© 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved
Nothing could be more clearly and specifically documented–as we now complete 23 years of research, investigation, study, and visits to A.A. historical locations and archives–than this simple statement:
Alcoholics Anonymous had its origins in Christianity.
Even more clear, its basic ideas came from the A.A. Pioneers study and efforts in the Bible. So stated its co-founder Dr. Robert Smith in the Alcoholics Anonymous Conference-approved pamphlet (P-53)
In fact, the early A.A. Christian Fellowship was very much shaped by and developed from such well-known Christian organizations of the 1850’s and later as the Vermont Congregational Churches, Young People’s Christian Endeavor Society, Evangelists and revivalists (such as Dwight L. Moody, F. B. Meyer, Ira Sankey, Allen Folger, K.A. Burnell, John Gough, H.M. Moore, Henry Moorhouse), the YMCA lay workers of that period, the rescue missions, and the Salvation Army.
For reasons not much understood, A.A., its historians, and its non-AA commentators have steered clear of this history—usually even omitted it. But see http://www.dickb.com/drbobofaa.shtml and http://www.dickb.com/conversion.shtml
The Alcoholics Anonymous Christian roots begin as described. But they had a specific impact and involvement in training when it came to A.A.’s two co-founders-to-be, Robert H. Smith and William G. Wilson. These young men of Vermont were born and raised by practicing Christian families. They attended Congregational Churches and Sunday Schools. They were much involved in the YMCA. At theirAcademies (St. Johnsbury and Burr and Burton), each co-founder-to-be attended required daily chapel, weekly church services and Bible studies. Dr. Bob was active in Christian Endeavor founded in 1881, and Bill Wilson not only studied Bible with his grandfather Griffith and friend Mark Whalon, but took a four year Bible study course at Burr and Burton Academy. And we have examined the Sunday school teachings and church sermons and literature at the Congregational Churches (North Congregational Church of St. Johnsbury and East Dorset Congregational Church of East Dorset) where Bill and Bob were raised and attended.
From that research effort and our resultant findings, it is clear that salvation and the Word of God were paramount in the teachings.
Later, of course, Bill Wilson went to the altar at Calvary Rescue Mission in New York and made a decision for Jesus Christ–just as his sponsor Ebby Thacher had done, and just as his psychiatrist William D. Silkworth had recommended, in telling Bill that Jesus Christ could cure him of his alcoholism. See The Conversion of Bill W. http://www.dickb.com/conversion.shtml
But two or three insignificant Christian writers of today persistently publish material such as the following on their websites. And here is an example of their claims and misrepresentations:
A typical anti-AA piece of nonsense that disturbs Christian AAs and historians is the following statement by two authors:
“The authors suggest that AA did not originate in Christianity since it has never required members to believe in Christ crucified.”
Misleading and erroneous on its face! Indicative of the lack of research or study by the writers! The statement ignores the well documented origins of A.A. in the rescue missions, Young Men’s Christian Association, Christian evangelists, Salvation Army, and United Christian Endeavor Society. Also the “requirement” in early A.A. that one accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior–just as both co-founders had done.
Are these gross fabrications worthy of comment and repudiation? The answer is “yes.” And the reasons are that there is an abundance of anti-AA writing today ranging from the charges of atheists, the objections of humanists, the New Age proponents, the resentments of founders of a couple of large organizations like Celebrate Recovery, and the A.A.-hostile websites of Orange and several others.
Only God knows who and who is not a Christian–certainly not this diverse, minority of naysayers who cannot and do not document their charges leveled seemingly at anyone and everyone who sets foot in an A.A. room and timidly peeps up that he or she is a Christian, a follower of Jesus, a believer in God, or a student of the Bible.
The Bible lays down some basic principles for salvation and the new birth such as those found in John 3:16, John 14:6, Acts 4:12, and Romans 10:9. In fact, the Book of Acts is filled with accounts of how people became born again of the spirit of God upon hearing and believing the words spoken by the Apostles Paul, Peter, James, and John.
For a good study of the real facts about A.A.’s Christian origins, see Dick B. and Ken B., The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide,” 3rd ed., 2010 (www.dickb.com/Christian-Recover-Guide.shtml); and our class “Introductory Foundations for Christian Recovery” (www.dickb.com/IFCR-Class.shtml).