Dick B. Discusses Christian Recovery Tools on
the September 25, 2013, Episode of the
“Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B.” Show
Recovery Tools Enabling Akron’s “Old-School A.A.” of 1935 to
Enhance and Co-Exist with Bill W.’s 1939 “New” 12 Step Program
© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved
You Can Hear This Radio Interview by Dick B. Right Now
You may hear Dick B. discuss Christian Recovery tools on the January 25, 2013, episode of the “Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B.” show here:
Episodes of the “Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B.” show are archived at:
Since its founding in Akron in 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous has survived as an ever-more-structured fellowship, but changes have occurred in its program that its co-founders never could have planned when they organized their “Christian fellowship” and set out with a genuine mission to enable alcoholics the world over to be cured of alcoholism by relying on God. And early literature and news accounts document the simple, effective plan to move drunks from hopelessness to hope.
First, Learn the Various Programs
A.A. has never been, or stayed for long as, a monolithic, invariable, doctrinal society. Most AAs and those who write about that fact just don’t know the various epochs and what became of them. For example, the first three AAs got sober as believing Christians who turned to God for help and then vowed to help others before there was a program. And we’ll show where that picture can be seen.
The Original A.A. “Christian Fellowship” Program of Akron
Then, the original Akron A.A. group grew from three sober alcoholics who maintained continuous sobriety for two years and counted 40 members with varying time periods of success or success followed by relapse and then success. The program is little known today by newcomers, or even by many old-timers. But they can find it spelled out in A.A.’s own General Service Conference-approved literature such as The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches: Their Last Major Talks; DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers (page 131); and the only-recently-Conference-approved personal stories of the pioneers (29 of them) in the original first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous, republished in full today with an Introduction by Dick B. by Dover Publications, Inc., in 2011. The stories of how the first three AAs got sober have recently been published by Dick B. and Ken B. in Stick with the Winners! And we will review the highpoints of the “old-school” program from the tools just mentioned—featured in brief presentations in Dick B. and Ken B., Personal Stories of the A.A. Pioneers: Confirming God’s Role in Recovery!
The Various and Contested So-Called “Six Steps”
During the four-year period between A.A.’s founding and Bill’s publication of the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson established a diversionary six-point or six “step” or six “tenet” program vaguely resembling some Oxford Group ideas. But Bill was the first to concede that there was no common agreement on the six, that they were merely “word-of-mouth” ideas, and that they were interpreted in various ways by various meetings. Bill’s six points were not involved in the original seven-point Akron “Christian fellowship” program summarized in DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers at page 131. They weren’t described in the 16 practices the pioneers engaged in. And they didn’t coincide with Dr. Bob’s statement that they had no steps at all in A.A.’s earliest days. The variants are thoroughly discussed in several of my titles—one group in The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous.
The Writing of Bill’s New 12 Step Program
Finally, Bill and his business partner Hank P. gained authorization to write a book about the program. A purported corporation was formed. Stock certificates were sold. And the book itself was promoted a path to the cure of alcoholism—something Bill later repudiated in part of the book. The contents of the book were outlined by Bill’s partner. But Bill claimed its major sources were three—the teachings of Dr. William D. Silkworth; the studies by Professor William James of varieties of religious experiences overcoming alcoholism; and largely from the Oxford Group life-changing program Bill put together in conference with Reverend Sam Shoemaker. The program in the book (consisting of 12 Steps derived from the three sources) did not relate to or represent the practices of the pioneers as set forth in their personal stories. And for very good reason—the book had not yet been written; and the pioneers were telling how they had worked the Akron seven-point program.
Today’s Fellowship Mix of Believers, Unbelievers, and Critics
Today there appear to be scores of atheists, agnostics, unbelievers, and adherents to non-Christian religions who have erected a self-made religion out of the Big Book’s contents. They call it spiritual, but not religious. They claim you need not believe in anything to utilize the program. And they have invented a ridiculous assortment of “gods” they frequently call “higher powers.” On the other side of the fence is a small array of writers who proclaim they are Christians and use a wide variety of charges (that A.A. is masonic, is spiritualist, is idolatrous, is forbidden for Christians, is New Age or New Thought in doctrine, but neither offers nor urges redemption).
But the Program’s Core Reliance is Still on Almighty God
But A.A. simply cannot be so easily described or written off. One the main reasons being that pages 1-164 of the fourth edition of Alcoholics Anonymous (“the Big Book”) still contain 133 occurrences of the word “God” in reference to the Creator of the heavens and the earth; 81 occurrences of capitalized pronouns referring to the Creator, 16 occurrences of biblical descriptions of the Creator. Those pages also point to the “solution,” which is clearly biblical in language. It is found as follows on page 25:
There is a solution. . . . The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.
The point made here is that there are various mixes of alcoholics all over the world today who travel into, out of, and through A.A. And they certainly have no common agreement on “a” god, on “religion,” on the Bible, on a denomination, on a church, or on Jesus Christ. Yet the deep Christian origins, history, founding, and original program with its successes make it virtually impossible to ignore the large portions of Bill’s own Big Book which still invite, encourage, and confirm that Christians are welcome and can and do use the Christian origins of A.A. and the truth of the Bible to attain sobriety with the help of God.