How One Writer Tried to Bury Bill Wilson’s New Birth at Calvary Mission
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For years, a few well-known unofficial “histories” of early A.A. ignored the following thoroughly documented facts summarized by the biographer of Bill’s psychiatrist William Duncan Silkworth, M.D. They also ignored the documented statements that Dr. Silkworth suggested to Bill that the “Great Physician” (Jesus Christ) could cure Bill’s alcoholism They ignored the account in Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s The Positive Power of Jesus Christ that Silkworth had suggested to other “cured” patients that Jesus Christ could be the answer to alcoholism for those willing to come to God through His son Jesus Christ. And they ignored the fact that Bill Wilson went to the altar at Calvary Rescue Mission (before Bill had his “blazing indescribably white light” experience at Towns Hospital) and declared that Jesus Christ was his Lord and Savior.
Now a new writer on the scene—who identifies himself with the “Dublin Group”–has invented a unique wimpy terminology for being born again of the spirit of God. He ignores the advice that Silkworth gave Bill and Silkworth’s other patients. He ignores the fact that Bill’s friend Ebby Thacher had accepted Christ at Calvary Mission, reported that event to Bill, and brought about Bill’s trip to Calvary Mission where Bill accepted Christ and wrote that he had been born again there. Thus Bill said in his own autobiography: “For sure I’d been born again.” See article, http://www.dickb.com/aaarticles/Alcoholism-Could-Be-Cured.shtml. And, in the following early years of A.A., all the early AAs in Akron were required to profess their belief in God and to come to Him through confessing Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Dick B., Real Twelve Step Fellowship History: The Old School A.A. You May Not Know 9, A New Way In: Reaching the Heart of a Child of God in Recovery with His Own Powerful Historical Roots, The Golden Text of A.A.: God, the Pioneers, and Real Spirituality, 10-32.
The clearly substantiated element of A.A. history—accepting Jesus Christ—has recently been reduced to absurdity by one writer who calls it a mere “small” event. And here’s the quote:
Bill was temporarily frightened into sobriety and he did stay sober for several months. During this period he reunited with Ebby Thacher and met other Oxford Group members and had his first spiritual experience at the Bowery mission of Sam Shoemakers Calvary Church. At least Bill felt that “something had happened” when he “testified” at the mission (p. 119). (This “small” spiritual experience is often overlooked in discussions of Bill’s spiritual development but is worth noting.) He went back to Towns for the last time and experienced perhaps his deepest depression,
This warping of the importance of new birth may surprise Christians who have hung their hat on John 3:16 for centuries.
But the writer quoted above ignores John 3:16, ignores Silkworth’s own words about the new birth as a cure for alcoholism, ignores that account of a similar event involving Silkworth and an alcoholic who was cured through a new birth, and ignores those who described the acceptance of Christ at the Calvary Rescue Mission altar. They include the biography of Dr. Silkworth by Dale Mitchel, Silkworth: The Little Doctor Who Loved Drunks, pages 44, 47, 49, 50, 51. They ignore Bill’s own autobiography, Bill W.: My First 40 Years, pages 133-35, 137, 139, 145, 147, 152. They ignore the specific account of such born again cures of alcoholism in Norman Vincent Peale, The Positive Power of Jesus Christ: Life-changing Adventures in Faith, pages 59-63, 88-90, 250-54. They ignore the eye witness statements of Mrs. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr.; Rev. W. Irving Harris (Shoemaker’s assistant minister), Billy Duvall-an attendant at the Mission, and the statement of Bill Wilson’s wife Lois Wilson Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W., pages 59-63, 88-115, 61, 62, 91-92, 94, ;New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A., Pittsburgh ed., 533-35.