Jesus and A.A.
Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved
There are some great comments here regarding Mike Spencer’s Finding Jesus at A.A. I believe it can be accessed by clicking on Jesus and A.A. or through http://Jesusshaped.wordpress.com.
As a recovered AA who cherishes the sobriety I found in A.A. over 26 years ago, I like those who at least see that A.A. can be beautiful–beautiful with all its warts and with all the Bill W. shortcomings. But the beauty for me really came when I discovered and later researched in depth A.A.’s real roots in the Bible–emanating from direct prayer and Bible study, and also from the multitude of Bible versed ideas taught by Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in New York to his fledgling alcoholic student Bill W. And this history is important if one is to understand how important it is that the truth about the early A.A. Christian Fellowship in Akron is accurately reported. Simply put, the topic is “Jesus and A.A.” The documentation can be found in Dick B., The Good Book and The Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible.
I’m not keen on labels. Too Fundamentalist. Cultlike. Protestant Liberalism. Evangelicals. Not-god-ness. Spiritual but not religious. A.A. Jesus talk. What matters is not what someone labels an AA or the A.A. fellowship. What matters is where the fellowship came from, what it originally espoused, and where it changed with the passing of time.
Let’s begin with a simple topic: “Jesus and A.A.” Let’s make our first question: What did cofounders Dr. Bob Smith and Bill W. do when it came to Jesus.
Here’s a quick answer. When asked a question about the A.A. program, A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob’s usual response was: “What does it say in the Good Book?” When at his lowest of lows, Bill Wilson remembered the “Great Physician.” Dr. Silkworth had told Bill that the Great Physician (Jesus Christ) could cure him.
Then Bill’s long-time drinking friend Ebby Thacher visited Bill and told him that he (Ebby) had been to the altar at Calvary Mission (run by Calvary Episcopal Church), and Bill concluded Ebby had there been born again.
What did Bill do? He checked out Ebby’s testimony at the church. Then he went to Calvary Mission seeking the same kind of help Ebby had received. Bill W. went to the altar; and, as Mrs. Samuel M. Shoemaker told me on the phone, “made a decision for Jesus Christ.” Bill’s wife Lois later declared that Bill had in all sincerity gone up and “handed his life over to Christ.” And Bill wrote in his autobiography “My First Forty Years” that “For sure I’d been born again.”
Later, Bill wrote on what is now page 191 of the Big Book that the “Lord” had cured him.
With that, whatever one wants to make out of A.A., its Twelve Steps, and the fellowship meetings, the fact is–without any labeling–A.A.s were required to profess a belief in God and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. And today, many a Christian or person who wants God’s help is now starting with the unearthed fact that “old school” A.A. and its Christian Fellowship very much resembled the principles and practices reported in the Book of Acts and often called–as A.A. itself was at first–“First Century Christianity at work.”
I think those historical facts can help a lot in finding the good features that still remain in A.A. today. See also The Conversion of Bill W. (www.dickb.com/conversion.shtml)
Dick B., Hawaii