Alcoholics Anonymous History
Viewing and Applying “Old School” A.A. in Today’s “New” 12 Step Program of 1939
Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved
What “Old School A.A.” Is and Is Not
What an application of the original Akron A.A. program is not:
A call for “reforming” or “universalizing” or “revising” A.A., its Steps, or Traditions.
A call for special classes, special conferences, special “basics,” or special literature.
A call for forming independent church groups, recovery groups, or splinter groups.
A call for returning to the Oxford Group.
A call for revising Steps, Traditions, Conference-approved literature, therapies, treatment programs, rehabs, or therapeutic communities
What application of the original A.A. program is:
A call for love and tolerance when considering and discussing the views of others
A call to learn and remember our history before we forget it.
A call to look at real early A.A.–Pioneer A.A. of Akron–the one Frank Amos described, as reported in DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, at page 131.
A call to study and believe what Dr. Bob said when he said the A.A. old-timers believed that the answer to their problems was in the Bible. The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks, 13-14.
A call to see that the first three AAs and the Pioneer AAs–who had no Steps, no Big Book, no Traditions, no special nonsense “gods,” and no religious ridicule.
A call to study, learn, apply, and pass on accurate facts about the real Pioneer program–the one with a claimed 50% success rate in Akron, and then a 93% success rate in Cleveland as they applied the Big Book, Steps, Four Absolutes, and Bible. The Cleveland Central Bulletin, the text of DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, and at least three biographical studies of Clarence H. Snyder and Cleveland A.A. establish the outstanding Cleveland 93% success rate and the growth of its groups from one to thirty in a year.
A call to read A.A.’s own literature and statements by its founders about: Pioneer A.A., its Quiet Times, study of the Bible and particularly the Book of James, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13; its Christian Fellowship; the Creator, and prayer
A call for a lot of uninformed present-day treatment folks and AAs to put on a “new pair of glasses” that can see what A.A. “Spirituality” really was—specifically defined by Bill W. as reliance on the Creator. At page 68 of Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed, Bill wrote: “We never apologize to anyone for depending upon our Creator. We can laugh at those who think spirituality the way of weakness. Paradoxically, it is the way of strength. . . All men of faith have courage. They trust their God. We never apologize for God.”
In short, relying upon and applying old school A.A. to Bill W.’s new Big Book is a striking reminder that early A.A. was a Bible-based, Christian Fellowship that relied on God, our Creator and Maker. Moreover, it is anything but a repudiation of Christians in A.A., AAs who are Christians, and A.A.’s who may and do worship, follow, and obey God and His Son Jesus Christ, and the content of the Bible.
What Knowledge and Application of Old School A.A Today Can Open to Recovery
To look first to our Creator for healing, forgiveness, and deliverance–just as Pioneers did.
To look in the Bible for our Creator’s will, promises, and commandments–as Pioneers did.
To put on the shelf the idea of “listening” to God until (like Pioneer AAs) you learn He is the Creator and not a light bulb or group. Until you have first established a relationship with Him as His child. Until you’ve learned why AAs “surrendered” to Him by accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord. And until you know why our founders looked to the Good Book for instruction on what the Bible is, what it has, and what it says about prayer, “meditation,” and obedience.
To increase tossing out the “nonsense gods of recovery”–higher powers, chairs, groups, and Big Dippers.
To highlight the precise language in the Big Book of today that there is only one true living Creator, Yahweh, the power that early AAs relied upon.
Reflections and Suggestions about Pioneer A.A. That Could Help You! Utilizing “Old School A.A.” Approaches Today
There is no real substitute for one-on-one sponsorship, witnessing, and fellowship.
Just about anyone can form a group, hold a conference, start a class, buy tapes, and study some materials on Pioneer A.A.’s biblical roots and program. Then he or she can learn the facts, understand them, and pass them on to someone else.
But that’s backwards. Start with A.A.’s personal sponsorship idea. As a beginner and then a sponsor, you learn.You share and compare. Then you serve.
There is no substitute for learning the facts first. And starting with A.A.’s own literature
Master the Big Book, Twelve Steps, and the Frank Amos Reports of 1938.
Read DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers for a sketch of what pioneer A.A. was really like.
Read A.A.’s Co-founders pamphlet, particularly the addresses by Dr. Bob.
Then learn six major Biblical roots of early A.A.’s Christian Fellowship: (1) The Bible, (2) Quiet Time, (3) Anne Smith’s Journal, (4) the teachings of Rev. Sam Shoemaker, (5) the life-changing program of the Oxford Group, (6) and the religious books early AAs read.
Also learn to recognize how early A.A. thinking came to entertain spiritual experience ideas of Professor William James; the “new thought” writers such as Ralph Waldo Trine; and the “higher power” language of people like Emmet Fox that began to show itself in A.A. literature in the 1950’s.
Finally, see the difference in origins, approach, content, and beliefs between old school “Akron A.A.” and Wilson’s new 12 Step A.A.: (1) Akron developed ideas from the Bible in a Christian fellowship, with “old fashioned prayer meetings,” Bible study, Quiet Time, and Christian literature. (2) Akron insisted on belief in God and coming to Him through Jesus Christ. (3) In his new 12 Step program, Wilson fashioned our text primarily from ideas of Rev. Sam Shoemaker, and the life-changing principles and practices of the Oxford Group; the literature of Professor William James and his Varieties of Religious Experience; and the wisdom of Dr. William Silkworth..
Next comes your decision, mission, and work with others to tell the foregoing
Will you continue to be a student? If so, there’s lots more to study.
Do you want to be a teacher? If so, there’s lots more to learn and organize.
Do you want to be a speaker? If so, prepare to tell our whole story and all of the facts.
Do you want to be the leader of a group? If so, select supportive members, topics, and a cadre.
Now find a cadre of two or three who will learn, will study, and will help and lead
Help others by helping them to learn–individually, as a cadre, and only then as a group.
Suggested Resources You and Your Cadre can Acquire, Study, and Use
You can begin your work with:
One or more of my titles or groups of my titles. E.g.: Use Turning Point for a comprehensive overview of our spiritual history and roots, or The Akron Genesis of A.A. for an accurate picture of how Pioneer A.A. took shape. See Pioneer Stories in Alcoholics Anonymous: God’s Role in Recovery Confirmed.
Studying each of our six major biblical roots: (1) The Good Book and The Big Book, (2) Good Morning!–(quiet time, etc.), (3) Anne Smith’s Journal, (4) New Light on Alcoholism–Shoemaker, (5) The Oxford Group and A.A., and (6) Dr. Bob and His Library and The Books Early AAs Read for Spiritual Growth, for what they read.
Background: (1) Making Known the Biblical Roots of A.A., (2) That Amazing Grace, and (3) The Golden Text of A.A.
For your cadre, your teaching, or study group itself: (1) The Good Book and The Big Book: Good Morning!: Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation, and Early A.A. A.A.’s Roots in the Bible. (2) (3) God and Alcoholism: (4) By the Power of God: A Guide to Early A.A. Groups & Forming Similar Groups Today. (5) Why Early A.A. Succeeded: The Good Book in Alcoholics Anonymous Yesterday and Today (A Bible Study Primer for AAs and other 12-Steppers). (6) Utilizing Early A.A.’s Spiritual Roots for Recovery Today (7) Stick with the Winners!
My own suggestions for planning your purchases, studies, and future work
Don’t start a group. Start learning. As an individual, with a sponsor, or with friends.
Purchase my entire 30-Volume Reference Set at a substantial discount, plus shipping and handling. Then you can pick and choose your books for study, or
Purchase one of the books that interests you; or, preferably, if you know what you want to organize and study, select one or several titles as a group and receive these at the substantial group discount of 50% of retail, plus shipping and handling, or
When and if you start a group or gather as a group, you may purchase 10 or more titles of your choosing at a 50% discount plus shipping and handling [i.e., 10 Good Books (worth $179.95) at half price ($89.97), plus 10% retail shipping and handling].
Please don’t hesitate to contact me for further details: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; phone/fax: (808) 874-4876; mail: Dick B., PO Box 837, Kihei, HI 96753-0837. To order now, simply use our online Order Form and adapt it, deducting discounts allowed above.