Origins of the AA Twelve Steps

Alcoholics Anonymous History, Origins of the Twelve Steps: It is important to distinguish among several disconnected facts about the source of the Twelve Steps:

(1) For four years, there was no Big Book, and there were no Steps. So said Dr. Bob. Dr. Bob also stated (as quoted in the Cofounders P -5 3 Pamphlet) that He didn’t write the 12 Steps and had nothing to do with the writing of them. But he said he believed that the study and effort in the Bible enabled him to say that the basic ideas for the Steps came from the Bible.

(2) The first set of Twelve Steps, said Bill, in A.A. Comes of Age, consistently used the word “God.” No higher power. No as we understood him. No power greater than ourselves. God–as repeatedly described in the Big Book–was “the God of the Scriptures” that Bill spoke of in Towns Hospital. And he was described in biblical terms as Creator, Maker, Father, Father of Lights, Heavenly Father, and God.

(3) The last minute change in the Printer’s Manuscript eliminated God from the Steps. It was changed in the hand-written “choose your own conception” insertion. It was changed to placate atheists and agnostics. And it caused decades of AAs to call their “higher power” God, the AA group, Santa Claus, Something, Somebody, Ralph, Tree, Table, Chair, and “it.” For sure, this nonsense came from nowhere but the wisdom of the rooms and the diddling of treatment folks.

( 4 ) Back now to the Step sources: Which Steps? When? Where. Bill’s last explanation was that the First Step came from Silkworth. The Twelfth Step came from Professor William James. And the other ten steps came from the teachings of Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr.–whom Bill had actually asked to write the steps, but who declined.

(5) What then is their origin? Bible? Shoemaker? Someone’s own conception? The reader will have to deal with those choices. I simply prefer history and the Bible that early AAs used and called the Good Book:


About mauihistorian

Uses pen name Dick B.: Writer, Historian, Retired attorney, Bible student, CDAAC, and active and recovered A.A. member with over 25 years of continuous sobriety. Published 42 titles and over 650 articles on the history of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Christian Recovery Movement.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s