The Compelling Recovery Need to Hear and Apply What Bill W. and Dr. Bob Learned in Youth
Faith in God and Serving Others to Overcome Problems
Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved
The New Era findings from the September A.A. History Workshops in Vermont
• A theme in Proverbs 22:6 well worth remembering:
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Many of us learned the hard way that training offered in loving concern for a youngster’s future well-being is not always a guarantee of performance in renegade years. But many of us who trod the road of alcoholism and addiction—if we survived to change—found that service to God and help for others in A.A. often brought us back to better beginnings. These virtues, if remembered and revived, built the belief in God and joy of serving others back to a useful, long-standing lesson from which we no longer needed or wanted to depart. Yes! What was taught from the Good Book could be applied in a new life, Teaching to the young, often long-forgotten, ignored, and rejected in miserable times.
• Whence came the common thread of training in the lives of Bill Wilson and Bob Smith?
Grandparents – on both sides
Rigid Academy requirements—daily chapel, sermons, Scripture reading, hymns, prayer meetings, church, Bible studies, prayer meetings, and Christian curricula
Christian activities fostered by or stemming from church and school—the Young Men’s Christian Association and United Christian Endeavor Society.
An unswerving discipline–common to both cofounders in their early sobriety efforts–in following each of these in their younger years.
• Whence came temptations, drunkenness, addiction to sedatives, disgraceful behavior, darkness, disaster?
The Book of James was favored by Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob Smith, and Anne Smith. And of these it said:
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience (1:2-3)
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways (1:5-8)
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. . . . But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves (1: 12-16, 22)
• The discord so commonly resulting from errant behavior and disdain for truth
It often means: Blame whom you will. Say, “I’ll never do that again.” Fly blind. Reject guidance. Adopt a trial and error path. Follow the trails of erring friends. Embrace no successful direction. Make every conceivable mistake. Rise to do it all over again. Ignore the real enemy—whether you recognize it as excessive drinking or the devil’s doing.
And: Consider the failed, yet determined, repetitive path of self-knowledge, willpower, fear, with reliance on and trust in human resources. Coupled with ignoring the solid training received in early years. Stand fast with your life self-centered, instead of reliant on God-sufficiency.
Again these verses in James show the real battle and the real solution:
From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy. (4:1-5)
• Bob’s Turning Point: From temptation and seeming blindness to the power of God
In The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks, Dr. Bob told of his return to his training in the Good Book as a Vermont youngster:
I had refreshed my memory of the Good Book, and I had had excellent training in that as a youngster (12)
I’m somewhat allergic to work, but I felt that I should continue to increase my familiarity with the Good Book, and also should read a good deal of standard literature, possibly of a scientific nature. So I did cultivate the habit of reading. I think I’m not exaggerating when I say I have probably averaged an hour a day for the last 15 years (13)
. . . we were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book (13)
We already had the basic ideas [for the Twelve Steps], though not in terse and tangible form. We got them, as I said, as a result of our study of the Good Book (14)
Now to Bill and Bob: In addition to their partiality toward the Book of James, Bill and Bob both said that Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount contained the underlying spiritual philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous. Matthew 6:23-24 of that Sermon states:
But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other: or else he will hold to the one and despise the other
Now to Corinthians: One historian claimed that Bill Wilson favored Corinthians, and it is certain from Dr. Bob’s words that 1 Corinthians 13 was considered to be absolutely essential. Anne Smith said that the Bible should be the main Source Book of all. And the following verses from Corinthians tell the source of the problem and the rescue the Bible made available:
Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not. But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them (2 Corinthians 4:1-4)
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of the devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of the devils (1 Corinthians 10:21 )
I’ve seen Christian AAs refrain from quoting the Bible and even lambasting those who do. But when you see how often Dr. Bob quoted it, you need not timid. When asked a question about the A.A. program, his usual response was: “What does it say in the Good Book?” And that’s what this is all about. In brief, go to God. Resist temptation. Kick the devil out of the picture. Clean house. And God will help you escape.
• The simple answer to drunkenness found, once again, in the Book of James
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. . . . Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (James 4:7-8, 10)
• How the Christian upbringing of Dr. Bob and Bill in their younger years was restored to their minds. This occurred when they had become the lowest of the low, the worst of the worst, and in such horrible shape that they sought a return to their training as youngsters, stuck with it, and acted upon it.
In so doing, Bill took advice from those who knew that a relationship with God through Jesus Christ was the key to success—His advisers included Dr. William Silkworth, Rowland Hazard, Shepard Cornell, Cebra Graves, and Ebby Thacher.
In so doing, the cofounders paid heed to catalysts who had adopted the biblical injunctions that God’s will was that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. The biblical ideas with which the cofounders could renew their minds produced knowledge fostered by Calvary Rescue Mission and Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. in New York; and Henrietta Seiberling and her small circle of friends (including Anne Smith) in Akron.
Part of the essential return by A.A. cofounders to biblical truth was galvanized by the successful messengers who could attract the attention and submission of other drunks—Ebby Thacher to Bill Wilson, and Bill Wilson to Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith.
Victory through that turnabout soon enabled the cofounders to say boldly, in Bill’s case: “the Lord has cured me of this terrible disease,” and, in Dr. Bob’s case: “Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!”
Throughout their exposure to the Gospels, Sunday school lessons, YMCA examples, Christian Endeavor examples, and Salvation Army examples, both cofounders seized on the important factor of service to others—the concept that brought Bill to the telephone when he called to Henrietta Seiberling, and the demonstration of Bill’s witnessing that arrested Dr. Bob’s attention at Henrietta’s Gate Lodge Home in Akron.
• The new Akron A.A. Christian program of recovery:
Built upon the biblical wisdom, experience, successes, and encouragement from a host of others—Dr. William D. Silkworth, Dr. Carl Jung, Professor William James, conversions, rescue missions, great Christian evangelists, the Salvation Army, the Young Men’s Christian Association, and United Christian Endeavor Society.
• The successful record of ministering the power of God to alcoholics and addicts:
Was in place and working long before A.A. became an idea—The earlier ministries and successes existed from the very beginnings of the YMCA in London; the work in the London slums of the Salvation Army, the healings through evangelists like Moody, Sankey, Allen Folger, and F.B. Meyer; the remarkable work of the rescue mission movement brought to the fore by Jerry McAuley and the Water Street Mission; and the relevant love and service program of Christian Endeavor.
• Compare the contemporary techniques that were falling short when Bill and Bob founded Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935.
A long history of treatment techniques that caused leading specialists like Dr. William Silkworth to conclude that alcoholism was “medically incurable;” that caused Dr. Carl Jung to tell Rowland Hazard that he could not help someone with an alcoholic mind like that of Rowland, and the efforts reported in detail much later by such researchers Dr. Howard Clinebell and William White.
Anti-Saloon Leagues and Temperance Meetings
Punishment by courts, jails, and correctional institutions
Relegating the drunk to down-and-out status in missions and personal degradation in the street.
Detachment—which, described in language used in Al-Anon–says: “I didn’t cause it. I can’t control it. I can’t control it.
Enabling and facilitating the drunk’s destructive behavior often coupled with efforts to control and restrain the drunk– fruitless caring for the drunk or admonishing and shaming him without useful purpose.
Ridicule. Admonishing. Threatening. Abandoning.
Countless tinkering with societal remedies in the form of grants, government research, revolving-door treatment programs, pharmaceuticals, vitamins, and statistical surveys.
• What succeeded was the early A.A. Christian Fellowship program that emphasized:
One recovered drunk carrying a message to another without charge.
Qualifying the newcomer as to his serious intentions to quit for good and do anything necessary to overcome the malady.
Insisting on belief in God and coming to Him through Jesus Christ
Hospitalizing the suffering soul briefly, but accompanied by visits from other drunks, from Dr. Bob, reading of the Bible to the patient, and then surrender to God through Christ
Offering drunks free lodging thereafter in homes, accompanied by family involvement, and attendance at daily fellowship meetings.
Learning and obeying the will of God
Growing in knowledge and application of the love and power of God through prayer meetings, Bible studies, seeking God’s guidance, using Quiet Time and devotionals, and reading Christian literature.
Seeking out newcomers to help them get straightened out by the same means
Fellowship and comradeship (optional but recommended)
Attendance at a weekly religious service (optional but recommended)
• The challenge to incorporate strong, new, Christian recovery efforts based on early A.A.’s First Century Christianity principles, practices, and victories
You can’t know those early principles, practices, and victorious ideas unless you learn them from using. To that end, we suggest:
(1) Conference-approved literature like a) DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, b) The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks, c) the Personal Stories in the First Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous, d) Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, and e) The Language of the Heart.
(2) Accurate, thoroughly researched, and documented Dick B. Alcoholics Anonymous History titles such as a) Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous, b) The Conversion of Bill W., c) The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, d) Anne Smith’s Journal 1933-1939, e) Dr. Bob and His Library, f) The Books Early AAs Read for Spiritual Growth, g) The Oxford Group & Alcoholics Anonymous, h) New Light on Alcoholism, i) The Good Book and the Big Book, j) The Good Book-Big Book Guidebook, k) The James Club, l) By the Power of God, m) Cured!, n) When Early AAs Were Cured and Why, o) The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous, p) The Golden Text of A.A., q) Good Morning!: Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation, and Early A.A.,
(3) The latest Dick B. recovery guides: a) Stick with the Winners How to Conduct More Effective 12-Step Recovery Meetings Using Conference-approved Literature: A Dick B. Guide for Christian Leaders and Workers in the Recovery Arena; b) God, His Son Jesus Christ & the Bible: The Long-Overlooked Big Book Personal Stories in the First Edition of ‘Alcoholics Anonymous; c) Bill W. and Dr. Bob, the Green Mountain Men of Vermont: The Roots of Early A.A.’s Original Program; d) The Dick B. Handbook for Christian Recovery Resource Centers Worldwide; e) The Early Manuscripts at Stepping Stones Compiled by Dick B.; f) the 27 Video Class, “Stick with the Winners.”
• For discussion, revision, expansion of the New Era of A.A. History
Free distribution of books, articles, reprints
Costs of radio, videos, websites, YouTube, Forums, Blogs, Interviews
Training the trainers in leadership workshops and meetings
Consulting on setting up new fellowships, meetings, classes, approaches
Christian Recovery Resource Centers
Christian Recovery Fellowships
Old School A.A. Meetings, Groups, Fellowships, and study groups
Printing and free distribution of flyers