Study of A.A.’s Roots Can Help Drunks and Addicts Respect and Support Each Other

My comments on an interesting post with about twenty rational comments of all hues and views:

A well-worded, temperate post attracts well-worded temperate posts. And without agreeing or disagreeing with the basic post, I would say it brought out some common views for and against A.A., about and not about God, and religious vs. “spiritual.”

However, I have devoted 46 titles and over 1500 articles to all the varied epochs, leaders, changes, and origins. And I always hope that the temperate writers will also cover some points that are well-documented and relevant: 1) A.A. had its roots primarily in Vermont and in about six Christian organizations and groups of people who believed and proved that reliance on God and using the Bible as a guide could and did cure alcoholics. Examples? Young Men’s Christian Association; Salvation Army; Rescue Missions, Well-known evangelists like Moody, Sankey, Meyer, Clark, Folger, and Drummond; Congregationalism as it was practiced in the 1800’s in New England and Vermont; and Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor–which attained a membership of 4.5 million young people at its peak. (2) In their younger days in Vermont, Bill W. and Dr. Bob were brought up as Christians. They received their Christian training from their parents and family members, from the Congregational Churches in Vermont that their relatives were active in in East Dorset, Manchester, and St. Johnsbury. They received it from individual Bible study and Sunday school and the YMCA. Dr. Bob received it from Christian Endeavor.

Then both cofounders attended Congregational Academies–Bill at Burr and Burton Seminary in Manchester; and there Bill took a four year Bible study course; he attended daily chapel where there was Scripture reading, sermons, prayer meetings, hymns; required church attendance and Bible study meetings; and connections with the Young Men’s Christian Association which was active in conversions, their churches, and the Academies. Dr. Bob attended St. Johnsbury Academy which had the same regimen, and he was so devoted to church-going that classmates called him Rev. Robert Smith. These Christian and Bible endeavors enabled both cofounders–in fact the first three AAs–to give up alcohol permanently, surrender their lives to God, and continue lives that focused on helping newcomers who wanted God’s help.

The original A.A. program consisted of summarized seven principles which are specified in DR. BOB and the Good Old-timers at page 131. A.A.’s early successes were not the product of the sharing in meetings of experience, strength, hope, drunkalogs, and war stories. They were grounded on abstinence, surrendering lives to God, obeying God’s will, growing in understanding of God through Bible, prayer, Quiet Time, and Christian reading. Then, of course, there was working with others, optional Christian fellowship, and optional attendance at a religious service weekly.

This history is huge, filled with variant ideas and shares, but based primarily on what the original pioneer Akron AAs had learned from their backgrounds and from the Book of James, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13. My book, The Good Book and The Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible ( will surprise, inform, and bring further temperate thinking, speaking, and actions in today’s 12 Step fellowships. God Bless, Dick B.

The foregoing has nothing to do with whether A.A. is or is not friendly or hostile to God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible today. It has lots to do with allowing tens of thousands of believers to join hands with those of other beliefs and non-beliefs; rely on God if they wish; and put their shoulders into helping newcomers who still suffer.;


About mauihistorian

Uses pen name Dick B.: Writer, Historian, Retired attorney, Bible student, CDAAC, and active and recovered A.A. member with over 25 years of continuous sobriety. Published 42 titles and over 650 articles on the history of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Christian Recovery Movement.
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