The Resurgent Applications in Recovery Today of Book of James, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, 1 Corinthians 13

The Importance Yesteryear and Now
of the Book of James, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13
in Early Akron A.A.’s Basic Ideas and Founding Principles and Practices

What’s Emerging from “Old-School” A.A.
in Today’s Basic A.A. Bible Recovery Studies

[And note the frequency of quotes in A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature taken directly from the Book of James, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13—quotes that pepper both the personal stories and the Big Book chapters and language—which may often not be recognized nor understood. We take the actual language from the Bible, identify and explain it as presented in A.A. literature, and representing “absolutely essential” ideas applied in early A.A. and applicable today. For more on this topic, see: Dick B., The James Club and the Original A.A. Program’s Absolute Essentials, 4th ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2005): http://www.dickb.com/JamesClub.shtml.%5D

By Dick B.
© 2014 Anonymous. All rights reserved

• Here is what Dr. Bob said to AAs in his last major talk to them in Detroit in December 1948 as stated in the transcript of that talk published in the A.A. General Service Conference-approved pamphlet, The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous:

In early A.A, days, . . .

. . . our stories didn’t amount to any-thing to speak of. When we started in on Bill D., we had no Twelve Steps, either, we had no Traditions.

But we were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book. To some of us older ones, the parts we found absolutely essential were the Sermon on the Mount, the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, and the Book of James.

• Here is what the A.A. General Service Conference-approved book ‘PASS IT ON’ states about what Dr. Bob’s wife Anne shared with Bill W. and Dr. Bob over the summer of 1935 while Bill was staying at Dr. Bob and Anne’s home at 855 Ardmore Avenue in Akron. And note that ‘PASS IT ON’ shows how quickly the use of the Book of James, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), and First Corinthians became a part of the A.A. structure:

At Anne’s suggestion, Bill moved in with the Smiths. . . . Bill now joined Bob and Anne in . . . having morning guidance sessions together, with Anne reading from the Bible. “Reading . . . from her chair in the corner, she would softly conclude, ‘Faith without works is dead.’” “As Dr. Bob described it, they were ‘convinced that the answer to our problem was in the Good Book. To some of us older ones, the parts that we found absolutely essential were the Sermon on the Mount, the 13th chapter of First Corinthians, and the Book of James.’” The Book of James was considered so important, in fact, that some early members even suggested “The James Club” as a name for the Fellowship.

• The importance of continuity in early A.A. is well covered in Wally P.’s book, But, For the Grace of God, in part, as follows:

Evan W. had been an editor of the Akron Beacon Journal. . . . He got sober in May, 1941. Once Evan was on his feet, Dr. Bob asked him to write some “Blue Collar A.A.” pamphlets for the fellowship. As Dr. Bob explained, the Big Book was too complicated for many A.A.’s, and he wanted Evan to present the program in its most basic terms. . . . The pamphlets were originally sold by the Akron Group and later by the Central Committee out of P.O. Box 932.

A fifth pamphlet that came out of Akron in the 1940’s was title What Others Think of Alcoholics Anonymous. This pamphlet was published by the Friday Forum Luncheon Club of the Akron A.A. Groups.

The pamphlet contained a “lead” given by Dr. Bob in Youngstown, Ohio. Dr. Bob’s words were summarized by A.A. Le Minte of the Youngstown, Ohio Vindicator . . .

The speaker told how he ended 35 years of steady drinking after trying various methods that included hospital and sanitariums. Ardent reading of the Bible and an earnest desire to stay sober also failed. He still got drunk every night. Then he met the other founder-to-be, who had been sober for four months and had learned that the way to convince himself was to convince some other drunk. Then they began working on a third alcoholic and this practical cure for drunkenness was born.

Members of Alcoholics Anonymous begin the day with a prayer for strength and a short period of Bible reading. They find the basic messages they need in the Sermon on the Mount, in Corinthians and the Book of James.

“But that is not enough,” the speaker said, “for you cannot honestly accept what you read without putting it into practice, and that means you must help somebody else. . . .”

Special News about the Resurgence of Seven ‘James Club’ Meetings

Three James Club Meetings are now held and growing in Norco, California.

Three James Club Meetings are now held and growing in Glendora, California.

A James Club Meeting has been discussed by a Christian AA in Long Island, New York.

These supplement the studies in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Tennessee. To obtain further information, please contact DickB@DickB.com.

• The materials include the specific verses and basic ideas that have much to tell about “old-school” A.A. They review the Bible verses, the A.A. General Service Conference-approved books and pamphlets that quote them, and explanations of how they tie together. You will recognize basic A.A. ideas such as “Thy will be done;” “Faith without works is dead;” “Love thy neighbor as thyself;” “Seek ye first the kingdom of God;” amends and restitution; seeking God’s guidance when you lack wisdom; the problem with “temptation;” humbling yourself in the sight of the LORD so that He can lift you up; the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man; guarding the erring member the tongue; looking for your role in observed defects; and the ingredients of “love” found in 1 Corinthians 13 as published by Henry Drummond in The Greatest Thing in the World. And much much more. Courteous questions are welcome.

Gloria Deo

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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. www.dickb.com
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4 Responses to The Resurgent Applications in Recovery Today of Book of James, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, 1 Corinthians 13

  1. mywordlikefire says:

    You skipped the part about Bill, Bob, and Anne participating in biblically forbidden spiritualism during that time.

    • The comment has nothing to do with A.A.’s reliance on the Creator, Jesus Christ, and the Bible; and the commentator from Oregon continues to condemn A.A. and its succeses

      • mywordlikefire says:

        Fortunately, many Christians now know your scholarship is flawed, and deeply so, as AA and the founders were far from biblical.

  2. Dick B.'s son Ken says:

    My dad (Richard G. Burns, pen name: “Dick B.”) passed away on September 12, 2015, at age 90, having more than 29 years of continuous sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous and having sponsored more than 100 men in their sobriety. Had he not been very ill from May through September of 2015, I would have been very surprised if he had not responded to the message from April 11, 2015, personally.

    If some Christians have come to the mistaken impression that my dad’s research was “flawed, and deeply so” as to the biblical origins of A.A. and as to the Christianity of A.A.’s founders [William Griffith Wilson (“Bill W.”) and Robert Holbrook Smith, M.D. (“Dr. Bob”)], I would be glad to respond to any godly inquiries sent to DickB@DickB.com.

    For starters, I would point people who are willing to consider facts to the words of A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob in his last major talk, a transcript of which may be found in the A.A. General Service Conference-approved pamphlet titled “The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches: Their Last Major Talks” (Item #P-53). For example:

    “When we [A.A. cofounders Bill W. (AA #1) and Dr. Bob (AA #2)] started in on Bill D. [AA #3], we had no Twelve Steps, either; we had no Traditions. But we were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book. To some of us older ones, the parts that we found absolutely essential were the Sermon on the Mount, the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, and the Book of James.” [“The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous,” p. 13].

    “It wasn’t until 1938 that the teachings and efforts and studies that had been going on were crystallized in the form of the Twelve Steps. . . . We already had the basic ideas, though not in terse and tangible form. We got them, as I said, as a result of our study of the Good Book.” [“The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous,” p. 14].

    For more information along these lines, readers are pointed to my dad’s most popular title: “The Good Book and the Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible” by Dick B.: http://www.dickb.com/goodbook.shtml.

    In GOD’s love,

    Dick B.’s son Ken

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