Let me state this simply.
With my son Ken’s immense help, I have devoted almost twenty-three years to researching, reading, doing Twelve-step work, speaking, and convening conferences and meetings for Christian Recovery leaders, workers, newcomers, and concerned members of the public.
Piece by piece, we have unearthed the many previously unknown, ignored, or challenged elements of the Christian recovery movement and its impact on the upbringing of A.A.’s co-founders, the way they got sober by turning to God, and the early program they developed with such success between June, 1935 and late 1938 .
I say piece by piece, because writers and speakers have consistently failed to tell the full recovery movement story. They have focused on their method of choice–condemn the Oxford Group, espouse New Thought, make light of the Bible’s role, establish nonsense gods known as higher powers, and talk about some illusory “spirituality.”
In brief, the picture has been presented by our work as we learned it starting in 1990. It portrays:
(1) The Christian books that Dr. Bob read and circulated among early AAs.
(2) The journal that Dr. Bob’s wife kept from 1933-1939 and shared each morning with AAs and their families at the Smith home.
(3) The many books, pamphlets, and devotionals which made up the required “prayer and meditation” practices of the pioneers.
(4) The twenty-eight principles of the Oxford Group that impacted on the language of A.A.’s Steps and Big Book.
(5) The top importance of the Bible in the early program–with its emphasis on the Book of James, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount , and 1 Corinthians 13.
(6) The “golden text of A.A.” put in place by Bill Wilson on page 191 of the Big Book, and endorsed by A.A. Number 3–Bill D.
(7) The huge number of Christian books and pamphlets early AAs read for spiritual growth.
(8) The special role played by Rev. Samuel Shoemaker in the writing of the Big Book with Bill Wilson and particularly in the language of the new 1939’s Twelve Step program.
(9) The supporting cast who put so many Christian ideas on the table before the co-founders before the A.A. Christian Fellowship was founded in Akron in 1935; and these included the Gospel Rescue Missions, the Young Men’s Christian Association, the Great Evangelists such as Dwight Moody, the Salvation Army, the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor.
(10) Other strong influences could be found in Dr. Bob’s North Congregational Church of St. Johnsbury, his family, St. Johnsbury Academy, the Great Awakening of 1875 in St. Johnsbury, Bill Wilson’s East Dorset Congregational Church, Bill’s Burr and Burton Seminary years, Bill’s Norwich University Years, the Manchester Congregational Church, Dr. Frank Buchman, and Rev. Samuel Shoemaker.
(11) The multiple figures who impacted the life of Bill Wilson in his conversion to God through Christ, acknowledged new birth, and witnessing. These figures included Dr. Carl Jung, Professor William James, Rowland Hazard, Shep Cornell, Cebra Graves, Ebby Thacher, Calvary Rescue Mission brethren, Calvary Church ministers, and Dr. William D. Silkworth
(12) Not to be overlooked were the emergence of qualification of a prospective member; required hospitalization of newcomers; insistence on belief in God, insistence on coming to God through His Son Jesus Christ, stress on Bible study, old fashioned prayer meetings, required Quiet Time, insistence on helping others as a major service ingredient of recovery, recommended Christian fellowship, and recommended attendance at a religious service once a week.
Today this seemingly complex mix of influences can be rather simply summed up. But historians seem to have been loathe to touch them and have focused on therapeutic models, medical models, behavioral models, “spirituality,” “higher powers,” “religiosity,” “evidence-based” data rather than “anecdotal” data, and less and less on either the original A.A. program and its successes, or the new Step program Bill Wilson developed in 1939.
But, since we began our research and writing 23 years ago, and beginning about 2000, long-recovered AAs and NAs and Al-Anons–who are also Christians–have started turning back to A.A.’s beginnings. They look with favor on the resemblance of early A.A. to First Century Christianity. They look askance at idolatry, mystical spirituality, atheism, denunciation of God and Jesus and the Bible. And they are rising up all over the world and forming recovery fellowships, counseling techniques, treatment programs, interventions, sober living homes, chaplaincies, and other vehicles which recognize the vital importance to them and others of relying on God, His Son Jesus Christ, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the Bible for deliverance from alcoholism and addiction.
One of the spearheads of this return to old school A.A. and the practices of the pioneers has been the International Christian Recovery Coalition (www.ChristianRecoveryCoalition.com). Formed in July of 2009, it has spawned and/or supported and/or learned from Christian leaders, workers, newcomers, fellowships, church groups, counseling groups, conferences, and meetings in British Columbia, Toronto, Alberta, Ontario–and other Canadian locations; as well as large gatherings in Vermont, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, Oregon, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Washington, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Indiana, Tennessee and other states and nations. Participants are now situated in each of the 50 states. There has been widespread growh in Florida and California.
As stated, this research, the inspired growth of the last three years, and the 46 Dick B. books and 1250 articles about it all have proved to be the forerunner of today’s renewal of Christian recovery from alcohol, drugs, and other life-controlling problems. Every Christian and believer should have the Dick B. books as part of his own library and recovery outreach. And a set of 30 books is now available at about two-thirds off retail/list price. See http://www.dickb.com