Friday, November 30, 2012

Huge Holiday Saving on Dick B. 30 Volume A.A. History and Christian Recovery Set

This is a holiday suggestion for your use, your library, your group, your meeting, your fellowship, your friends, and those you wish to help if they want to rely on God for healing of alcoholism and drug addiction.

Out of his 46 published A.A. history and Christian recovery titles, Dick B. has selected 30 to be available at a major discount and as an A.A. History and Christian Recovery Reference Set of 30 Volumes. There is no history of A.A. or relevant guide in existence that is even close to this set in accuracy, scope, timeliness, and utility.

Here is the offer:

The entire 30 reference volume set has a retail/list price of about $690.00 if the books are purchased separately.

Right now, you can purchase all thirty as a set for $249.00 - free shipping within the continental United States.

To acquire this set in 2012, contact Dick B. at 808 874 4876, or go to the front page of the Dick B. website (

Happy holidays! Dick B.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Participants in Growing International Christian Recovery Coalition

Welcome from Dick B., Executive Director, International Christian Recovery Coalition participants who have just listed themselves in the coalition:

Add to the International Christian Recovery Participants List







                        Chris Mullen, President and Lead Prison Minister, Mercy and Grace Ministries,

                        PO Box 1567, Pleasanton, CA 94566, 925 550 9403,


            San Jose


                        Jeff  King, CityTeam International,, 408 207 3542


                        Don Zonic, J.O.T.L. Ministries,,408 568, 4874,



Darryl Pearson, Pastor, Seven Trees Church, 3195 Senter Road,  San Jose, California  95111,  650  289 1253


Rory Fly, believer 408 469 8182




                        Jeffrey A.  Poling, 41829 Albrae Street, Fremont, California 94538.

                        916 838 1880,




            Jacksonville Beach


Jimmy Hughes, PO Box 50325, Jacksonville Beach, FL , 32250,, 246 4731


            Altamonte Springs


Debbie Baranska, Recovered believer, 586 Orange Dr., Apt 112, Altamonte Springs, FL 32701, 407 252 4073,




                        Paul Cullum, Recovered believer, 1012 S.  Parrott Ave, Okeechobee, Florida

                        34974, 903 407 3467,


            Pompano Beach


                        Pastor Don Fugate, CAC, Director, Journey2Freedom, 971 S. Dixie Highway W.,                                     Pompano Beach, FL 33050,, 954 946 7332


             New Port Richey

                        Vincent Leo, Recovered believer,, 9101 Peony St.

                        New Port Richey, Florida 34654


            Jensen Beach


Tom Kocur, Chicago  PD, USCGR, Retired, 1600 NE Dixie Highway, Building

12, Unit 205, Jensen Beach, FL 772 342 2467,


            Old Town


                        Yvonne Holt, believer, owner of Cable TV Co. in Suwannee, PO Box 56,

                        Old Town, Florida 32680, 352 542 9037,


            Port Saint Lucie


                        Annie Rupp, believer, 2079 SW Castinet Lane, Port Saint Lucie, Florida 34953



Nancy Budd, believer, 4300 SE St. Lucie Blvd, 216 Palm, Florida, 772 287 8316




                        Sonja L. Reed, believer, PO Box  247, Suwannee, Florida, 32692, 352 542 0704,


North Carolina           




Michael Elliott, Recovered believer, PO Box 1865, Davidson, North Carolina 28036, 704 765 6078,







                        David Gillette, Cleveland Intergroup, 216 289 4033,




Greg Miller, Recovered believer, 330 501 7536, 1636 Gypsy Lane, Niles, Ohio 44446





                        Hayley & Tyler Ford, Recovered believers, Adventure Guides, PO Box 1261,

                        Volcano, HI 96785, 808 640 1618, EXLORE@AKAMAITOURS.COM




            Rick & Jo Voirol, Recovered believers, 17233 Devall Road, Spencerville, IN 46788.

            260  458 5868,


            Joyce Butler, Recovered believer, 6719 Chickasaw, Ft. Wayne, Indiana 46815,

            260 433 3976 ,

A.A. History: Challenging 12 Step Leaders to Learn and Talk


Alcoholics Anonymous History

An Invitation and Challenge for 12 Step Speakers, Sponsors, and Counselors


By Dick B.

Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved



The Talent Before You Right Now


Right now, take a look at the speakers, sponsors, and counselors you know or have known in your A.A. or 12 Step Fellowship. I’ve been involved with hundreds of them, and you may have been too.


Many are talented, experienced, and articulate speakers and, in fact, good instructors. They are also caring, loving, giving people. But what are you learning from them today? There are hundreds and hundreds of women and men in the recovery movement who have never studied A.A.’s basic text or learned how to take people through the Twelve Steps in accordance with the instructions.


There are far more who haven’t a clue about A.A.’s history and roots, and haven’t any idea where the recovery program got its ideas. And many of these have never opened an A.A. history book, been to an A.A. history conference, or even cared to learn our history. Why? Generally speaking, it’s because they’ve had no resources to work with or with which they cared to work. Sometimes because they just don’t care.


What are resources are available to those who want to correct the situation? The Big Book contains virtually no history. The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions contain virtually no history. Conference Approved pamphlets by the dozen tell you nothing significant about history. And the two or three significant A.A. history books either omit the details, omit entire segments of history, or focus on what they think AAs should hear, rather than on what actually occurred.


And are treatment programs any different? Ask yourself how much you heard about history in a treatment program or rehab. Are sponsors any different? Ask yourself how much your sponsor talked to you about A.A. history. Are certification courses and facilities teaching history? Ask someone who is certified. Ask them about history, and watch them go blank.


Then there are the “history” books currently proliferating outside the fellowships. Do they talk about God? Do they talk about the Bible? Do they talk about the literature early AAs read? Do they detail the contributions of such major A.A. influences as Anne Ripley Smith and her journal, the books and teachings of Rev. Sam Shoemaker, the life-changing program of the Oxford Group which underlies the Steps, the devotionals which were a major part of Quiet Time, and even the Bible itself? It was quite clear that the Book of James, the Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13 were considered absolutely essential to the program; and yet have you ever heard them read, discussed, or studied in your program or by your conferences or by your sponsor or by any counselor you’ve encountered?


Would Talented Speakers and Sponsors Revolt if Challenged?


Dr. Bob never let a pigeon loose from the hospital without asking him if he believed in God. Have you ever put that question to a potential speaker, sponsor, or treatment facilitator? When asked a question about the program, Dr. Bob usually replied: “What does it say in the Good Book?” Have you ever put such a question to those we mention? The Big Book states clearly that “God either is, or He isn’t.” Have you ever asked a speaker or instructor if he agrees? Bill and Bob were speaking at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles before 4500 people. Bill commented on the “religious element” of A.A. and the need for “Divine Aid.” Have you ever inquired about these? The Big Book says a number of times that its stories were written to tell how, from the writer’s own viewpoint and experience, he “established his relationship with God.” Have you ever asked a speaker or instructor to do likewise? At the Shrine Auditorium, the entire audience rose in tribute to Dr. Bob. And he succinctly suggested that all “cultivate the habit of prayer” and “study the Bible.” Have you ever asked your teachers about that one?


We now know that A.A.’s many roots included United Christian Endeavor, the Salvation Army, the Rescue Missions, the Great Evangelists Moody and Sankey and F.B. Meyer and Allen Folger, the Oxford Group, and even the Young Men’s Christian Association. They definitely included the Bible and Bible study. They included the required daily chapel, reading of Scripture, prayers, and sermons at the academies Dr. Bob and Bill attended. They included parental guidance, church services, prayer meetings, Sunday School.


Have you ever asked that these be explained to you?


The roots included Dr. Carl Jung’s views on “conversion”—the very solution Rowland Hazard, Ebby Thacher, and Bill Wilson sought when they were born again. They included Professor William James’s views on the variety of conversion experiences he’d studied. Do your instructors talk about these? Dr. William D. Silkworth told Bill Wilson and Silkworth’s other patients that the Great Physician Jesus Christ could cure them? Have you ever heard that? Have you ever had the Four Absolutes, the Five C’s, Quiet Time, and Conversion explained to you in terms of their A.A. significance? Have you ever learned the books that  early AAs  read, the devotionals they used, and the contents of Anne Smith’s Journal which was shared with AAs and their family every day? Have  you asked about them?


They represent the heart of what Bill codified from the Oxford Group.


What a Speaker Can Be and Do


The A.A. speakers that are entertaining and dynamic attract crowds. How many people have rushed to hear Clancy I., Gene Duffy, June G., Eve, Poor Richard, Geraldine D., Mel B., Joe McQ., Charlie P., Father Martin, and dozens of others—because these men and women are entertaining and dynamic. I’ve heard them all, and I’ve been entertained. They’ve made me laugh, and laughter is either “the best medicine” or a great help. They’ve made me cry, and emotion is part of needed enthusiasm. They’ve made me admire what they’ve done and what they’ve become.


But how many times have you or I heard them talk about the early A.A. fellowship?


Can they? Could they? Will they? Would you have the courage to ask them?


We’re big in A.A. about “love and service.” We even insist that our “leaders” are but trusted servants. And in fact, all speakers, sponsors, and counselors are “but trusted servants.” And what do trusted servants do? I’d like to think they do the service that is suggested. But nobody tells these speakers what to say, nor the “staff” at World Services, nor the editors of the AA Grapevine—at least not you or me. Why? The servants are beyond the reach of the masters, and their instructors are long dead and gone. They are peopled or persuaded by professionals, by universalists, by revisionists, and by timid unbelievers. The servants dote on pleasing everyone. Thus if they write a piece of literature like a daily reflection, they’d rather get 365 views, one for each day, than to select from the hundreds of pieces of literature which were part and parcel of early A.A. and its successful  techniques.


How Long Will You Wait?


We’ve reached the point in Twelve Step history where there are few, if any, who ever met, talked to, or learned directly from Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob, Anne Smith, Henrietta Seiberling, Sam Shoemaker, Dr. Silkworth, or even A.A. Number Three—Bill Dotson. Hence speakers cannot speak from experience about these people. But they can learn!


Speakers can, could, and would (if asked) spend the same amount of time looking into A.A. history resources that Joe and Charlie spent in studying the Big Book so that they could explain it and teach it to our members all over the world. But finally, even these servants hung up their jock straps as they played “the last quarter of the game,” as Charlie put it to me.


 Instead of bemoaning the absence of “old timers” or “elder statesmen” or “people who knew or were sponsored by Bob or Clarence Snyder” or those even archivists who have studied and know the archives, why not bring up a new crop?


ould you rather listen to Eli Whitney tell you how he invented the cotton gin, or would you find it more instructive if a football star told you how he helped win the Super Bowl?


Look at the Early Teachers


Our founders were humble. Our founders were students. Our founders were ever on a quest to learn more. Our founders believed in God. Our founders read the Bible. Our founders read all kinds of religious literature. Our founders put their learning to use in directly working to help others with what they had found. Dr. Bob read the Bible three times to refresh his memory before helping others with Bible materials. Anne Smith was in the trenches, reading her Bible, suggesting literature, and teaching from her journal. So was Henrietta Seiberling. So were Mr. and Mrs. T. Henry Williams. And so was Bill until he got hung up with depressions shortly after he published the Big Book. Sam Shoemaker never stopped writing, preaching, and teaching. And these, plus Dr. Silkworth, were the people who handed us the most information.


And What About You!


Are you willing to look for speakers, sponsors, and programs which will provide a full platter of information? Are you willing to read whatever you need to read to learn what you’ve been missing? Are you willing to organize meetings, seminars, and conferences that will tell others our history? Are you willing to pass along what you learn? Are you willing to stand up and be counted when someone asks if you believe in God, if you believe in the importance of the Bible to AAs, if Jesus Christ has any place in your heart, and if you attend a church or Bible fellowship or Christian study group?


Are you willing to be a student, a researcher, a learner, a speaker, a teacher, an organizer, and a supporter of the quest to learn the truth and carry it to others in order to help them recover, get well, and be cured?


Would you rather promote and pass on information about the program Frank Amos described when he told of the five-point program in Akron that had produced such astonishing results? It’s all plainly there for you to see in A.A.’s own DR. BOB and the Oldtimers on page 131.You don’t even have to go to the bookstore or library. Surprise! You can study the Book of James, the Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13 by buying a used Bible and reading it. You don’t even have to go to church or to your rabbi, minister, or priest. Although it could help!


 If you don’t want to be one who does or leads, are you willing to support those who do? Do you realize that in the World Services offices of A.A. itself there are scrap books that contain hundreds of newspaper clippings and articles that tell of the cures early AAs claimed they had received at the hands of their Creator. Have you thought of ordering, reading, or donating one where it will actually help someone?


 And, if you found great joy, at learning what the Big Book was all about and how to take the Twelve Steps properly, are you willing to start or join a group that does this and studies history as well?


The Bottom Line


Have you helped a drunk today? Do you belong to a group that really carries out its primary purpose of helping the alcoholic who still suffers? Do you vote with your feet when you hear a speaker, a sponsor, or a counselor who talks about “higher powers,” about “spirituality,” about meetings, about how much he drank, about how much trouble he had, and yet who never mentions whether or not he established a relationship with God and has had something more than a dry drunk in his life?


Think about it. Think how much you can help others if you are able to tell them what God has done for you, what God did for the pioneers, and how they learned about Him from the Good Book!


Dick B., PO Box 837, Kihei, HI 96753-0837;; 808 874 4876


Gloria Deo

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Circling the Wagons

Circling the Wagons to Drive Off Documented History, Unwanted Divine Aid,

And Proven Recovery Ideas


Dick B.

Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved


The longer dissertations, government grants, academic gatherings, and religious writings attempt to describe Alcoholics Anonymous History the more they seem to swerve away from God’s power and love and from real recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous.


To be sure, candidates, government agencies, academia, and religious commentators have their  place in examining the overwhelming problem of drug addiction and alcoholism. But, when they try to exclude Alcoholics Anonymous, the Twelve Steps, God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible from their writings, they do little to advance the rewarding and effective grunt work involved in working with the despairing drunk and addict who still suffers.


Let’s talk first of dissertations. It has been a long time since a University of St. Louis Ph.D. candidate examined the theological influence of Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. on Bill Wilson and the Twelve Steps. So too since a lay minister laid out the rudiments of successful work in his best-selling book God is for the Alcoholic. In due course, these materials should have led to scholarly studies of the Christian recovery movement and its impact on Alcoholics Anonymous. Instead, we have statistics, psychological analyses, dissertations galore, discussions of religiomania, frequent mention of an illusory spirituality and higher power, and a supposed special Christian god that is the product of today’s A.A.


This while drunks and addicts need to be told the history of what has worked. That means learning about—rescue missions, the Salvation Army, Young Men’s Christian Association, the evangelists such as Moody and Sankey and Meyer and Folger, the Great Awakening of 1875 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, and the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor. Instead, there is endless chatter about the irrelevant Washingtonians, Anti-Saloon League, and the supposed emergence of A.A. from the Oxford Group instead of the Christian upbringing, Bible studies, and conversions undertaken by Cofounders Bob and Bill. Undertaken long before A.A. was even a dreamed of remedy for the medically incurable alcoholic.


Now let’s talk about grants. Daily, through the mail and on the internet and in journals, there is an endless stream of mention about the grants being awarded doctors, psychologists, scientists, sociologists, partnerships, and institutions gathering statistics about every conceivable kind of human behavior that  might be involved in alcoholism and drug abuse. Also about drugs that might alleviate the situation. This, despite the fact that  any former or present-day alcoholic or addict who has overcome denial can tell the lofty researchers that recognition of alcoholism can be reduced to 3 D’s and an R. They are: Drink. Drunk. Disaster. Repeat. That’s the norm.


The issue is not the gathering of information about the supposed “insanity” of self-destruction. The issue is to bring before the suffering afflicted the success of the Christian recovery deliverance that took place in the 1800’s, before Prohibition, and before and after A.A.


Let’s talk about the professors. Many have developed an irrelevant jargon that seeks to put a label on every kind of behavioral or drug-related or smoking or gambling excess except “more,” “self-destruction,” and uncontrollability. This while early A.A. simply pointed to the wisdom of the Bible’s Book of James and its importance in A.A. daily use. James deals simply and directly with the guidance of God and the perils of yielding to temptation—with prayer as a remedy. Early A.A., through its cofounders, declared that Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount contained the underlying philosophy of A.A. And traces of that Sermon can be found over and over again in A.A.’s Twelve Steps and Big Book. Early AAs  also pointed to 1 Corinthians 13 as containing most of the spiritual principles recovering people were to shoot for and practice – not to mention prayer, Quiet  Time, belief in God, acceptance of  Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior which were “musts.”


And let’s talk about the few Christian writers who daily pump out of context trivia from the Bible in company with the unappealing and non-persuasive charges that A.A. is monolithic; that A.A. is permeated with spiritualism and New Thought and freemasonry; that A.A.’s cofounders were—despite substantial Christian upbringing—and could not possibly have been Christians; that the 12 Steps are steps to hell and destruction; and that no Christian should ever set foot through the doors of a 12-Step fellowship or meeting.


There was a time when newspapers respected the anonymity traditions of A.A. There was a time when doctors would often say that A.A. is the only thing that works. There was and is a time when churches were delighted to provide meeting space for Twelfth-steppers. There was a time when famous preachers like Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr.; Dr. Norman Vincent Peale; Rev. Harry Emerson Fosdick; and Roman Catholic advocates like Father Ed Dowling, S.J. and Father John C. Ford, S.J., Father Pfau, and others were invited to speak before large A.A. gatherings and conventions. There was a time when meetings closed with the Lord’s Prayer. But all of this seems headed for revision or extinction.


There are just a few caveats that should return A.A., N.A., and other 12-Step organizations to their rightful role of being responsible when the hand of a suffering soul reaches out and cries for help in dealing with a malady he seldom recognizes or understands.


The first is that A.A. itself grew out of a medical past where alcoholism was considered “medically” incurable and that “self-help” was considered futile. Reliance on God was the primary tool in A.A.’s spiritual kit.


The second is that A.A.—though originally a Christian Fellowship—is no longer able to be so characterized. For better or for worse, many in the A.A. hierarchy and “membership” tend today to look on A.A. as a monolithic gathering place where neither God, nor Jesus Christ nor the Bible are to be mentioned; that only New York generated literature can be read; that one can believe in a higher power that is a door knob or in nothing at all; and that the ridiculous expression that A.A. is “spiritual but not religious” has a resonating governing theme for meeting conduct.


The third that A.A. itself has very clear Christian roots, phrases, and practices today. The words God, Creator, Maker, Father, Heavenly Father, Father of Lights are used many times in A.A.’s basic text – the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Love and service were declared to be the essence of the Twelve Steps. Love and tolerance were proclaimed to be the code for members. Biblical phrases like or incorporating “Thy will be done; Faith without works is dead; Love thy neighbor as thyself; Matthew 6:33 and 6::34” are embedded in present-day literature.


Finally, whatever the dissertations, scientific gatherings, academia, and religious writers may say, those of us who entered the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous took some vital steps. We resolved to stop drinking for good. We entrusted our lives to God’s care. We endeavored to  obey His will as spelled out in the Bible. We devoted substantial time to growth in spiritual understanding through Bible study, prayer, Quiet Time, and reading Christian literature. And we were certainly instructed to help the drunk who still suffers get well. And to be healed by the same means. Those simple points were  the points A.A. cofounders developed in 1935.


Most of us are one, big, thankful crowd of cured alcoholics who have found a new way of living without booze, trusting in God, cleaning house, and helping others.


That is the testimony I offer. It is the testimony of a growing number of long-recovered Christian alcoholics and addicts who rejoice at finding a newcomer who wants God’s help and will go to any lengths to get it.


Gloria Deo

Dear Keith: I really appreciate receiving letters like yours.


And I will tell you several reasons why: (1) You honestly present your situation. (2) You indicate an awareness of the major role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible have played and can play not only in recovery but also in the abundant life that Jesus came  to make available before his return (John  10:10). (3) Many of us experience the wreckage of the past AFTER  we get sober; and it is there that A .A. falls short because of its loss of knowledge and respect for the Christian Fellowship and roots of early A.A. and of the great power and love of God.  (4) I believe you are a good candidate for listing – at  no cost to you – y ourself as a participant  in International Christian Recovery Coalition ( where Christian recovery leaders, workers, newcomers and a concerned public are listing themselves as supporters of the old school A.A. approach, as people in all the states and abroad who want  to get to know each other and also have someone to call  upon who is a recovered Christian in their area or where t her e is an area of need.


I have several suggestions which I hope you will act  upon: (1) Check our coalition site; and, if you  approve, send me a listing something like this “Keith D....., Believer in recovery, mail address. City, stat e, zip, phone, and email.” (2) Tell me a bit more about yourself – age, family, religious background, education, vocation, plans.  (3) Buy two of our most important guide books. The first is The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed. The second is Stick with the Winners. You can order them through my website or by contacting my son Ken  808 276  4945 or his email above, and arranging payment by check, paypal, or credit card. (4) Keep in  touch with me. (5) Look over the material my son Ken will send you today.


Again, many thank for writing.


God bless,


Dick B.

Author, 46 titles & over 1,200 articles on A.A. History and the Christian Recovery Movement

(808) 874-4876

PO Box 837, Kihei, HI 96753-0837


Ps 118:17 (NJB):
I shall not die, I shall live to recount the great deeds of Yahweh.


Facebook: DickBmauihistorian


From: Keith ]
Sent: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 8:59 AM
To: Richard Subject: 2 Corinthians 5:17


Thank you for your hard work in uncovering the origins of Alcoholic Anonymous.  A few paragraphs from one of your book helped strengthen my belief in God.

I am a recovering alcoholic who's recovery began with a complete surrender to God.  Early in my recovery, a co-worker asked me to give a testimony at his church.  As I was walking up the steps leading into the church I overheard a scripture that really resonated with me, 2 Corinthians 5:17.

A few weeks later I was having lunch and told the person I was with about the scripture. He pulled out his i-Phone and showed me that someone sent him the same scripture that morning.  We both thought it was more than a coincidence, that the person I heard recite it and the person who sent it to him shared the same last name yet were unrelated.

Several months ago I was reading your book "That Amazing Grace" and discovered how that same scripture changed the life of Clarence Snyder.  To me, it served as a further confirmation of God's presence.

I'm well into my second year of sobriety and my life is falling apart.  It's my belief in God that keeps me strong.  You work has helped me strengthen that belief.


Cure of Alcoholism - The Role of God in A.A. History

Alcoholics Anonymous History

Healing the Alcoholic: The Creator, A.A., Believers, and Richard Peabody’s Erroneous, “No-Cure” Hypothesis



Dick B.

© 2012 by Anonymous. All rights reserved


The Original Views and Statements of A.A. Founders and Pioneers about Cure of Alcoholism


Bill Wilson stated plainly enough: “Henrietta, the Lord has been so wonderful to me curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people”[1]


Dr. Robert H. Smith (Dr. Bob) stated plainly enough: “But this was a man [Bill Wilson] who had experienced many years of frightful drinking, who had had most all the drunkard’s experiences known to man, but who had been cured by the very means I had been trying to employ, that is to say the spiritual approach.”[2] “One day Dr. Bob said to me, ‘Don’t you think we’d better scare up some drunks to work on?’ He phoned the nurse in charge of admissions at Akron City Hospital and told her how he and another drunk from New York had a cure for alcoholism.”[3]


A.A. Number Three, attorney Bill Dotson, echoed Bill Wilson’s cure statement, and stated very plainly: “That sentence, ‘The Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep telling people about it,’ has been a sort of golden text for the A.A. program and for me.”[4]


Reporting to John D. Rockefeller, Jr., on his investigation of Akron cures, A.A. trustee-to-be Frank Amos set forth these facts: “Dr. Howard S---, general practitioner at Cuyahoga Falls, aged about 35. S---had been an alcoholic and had been cured by Smith and his friends’ activities and the Christian technique prescribed.”[5] “Alcoholics who were reasonably normal mentally and in other ways, and who genuinely wanted to be cured of their alcoholism, were the type with whom they had achieved their great success. On the other hand, alcoholics who were mentally defective, or who were definitely psychopathic, had proven very difficult problems, and so far, the percentage of cures had been very low in these cases.”[6]


The recent biography of Bill Wilson’s physician William D. Silkworth, M.D. shows the heart of early A.A. reliance on God. The author states: “Silkworth has not been given the appropriate credit for his position on a spiritual conversion, particularly as it may relate to true Christian benefits. . . . [I]t was Dr. Silkworth who used the term “The Great Physician” to explain the need in recovery for a relationship with Jesus Christ. . . . In the formation of AA, Wilson initially insisted on references to God and Jesus, as well as the Great Physician. . . . Silkworth, a medical doctor, challenged the alcoholic with a spiritual conversion and a relationship with God as part of a program of recovery. His approach with Bill Wilson was no different.”[7]


Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Believed reliance on the Creator was a Necessity


Bill Wilson: Note these telling statements about Bill Wilson’s decision for Christ and the importance of turning to God for help: (1) During his third visit to Towns Hospital, Bill had a discussion with Dr. Silkworth on the subject of the “Great Physician.” In fact, Bill Wilson himself wrote that he had thought about this discussion before he decided to check himself into Towns for the last time, at the urging of his wife and his brother-in-law.[8] (2) In his autobiography, Wilson wrote: “I remember saying to myself, ‘I’ll do anything, anything at all. If there be a Great Physician, I’ll call on him.”[9] (3) Before his final trip to Towns Hospital, Bill—like his friend Ebby Thacher—had gone to the altar at Calvary Rescue Mission and made a decision for Christ (He said Ebby had told him that he “had done all right and had given my life to God”[10]) and wrote of his later conversion experience at Towns, “For sure I’d been born again.”[11] (4) Then, at Towns Hospital, Bill cried out, “If there be a God, let him show himself.” He wrote: “The effect was instant, electric. Suddenly my room blazed with an indescribably white light. I was seized with an ecstasy beyond description. . . . I became acutely conscious of a presence which seemed like a veritable sea of living spirit. . . This (I thought) must be the great reality. The God of the Preachers. . . . I thanked my God who had given me a glimpse of His absolute Self. . . . this great and sudden gift of grace has always been mine.”[12] (5) Dr. Silkworth informed Bill: “You have had some kind of conversion experience.”[13] (6) Bill commented: “God comes to most men gradually, but His impact on me was sudden and profound.”[14] (7) In a conversion experience seemingly identical to that of Bill’s grandfather Willie in East Dorset, Bill—like his grandfather Willie—was cured and never drank again.[15]


Dr. Bob Smith: Struck with no “white light” conversion experience, Dr. Bob had been converted years before as a youngster in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. To overcome his alcoholism, he joined a tiny group on the carpet of the home of T. Henry Williams in Akron, and prayed for deliverance. The miraculous cure came in the unexpected visit, call, and presence of Bill Wilson at Henrietta Seiberling’s Gate Lodge where the two men met, exchanged stories, and soon were on their way to founding Alcoholics Anonymous in Akron on June 10, 1935. Dr. Bob did not pussyfoot about God or the cure. At City Hospital, newcomer alcoholics were insistently asked the primary question: “Do you believe in God?” And there was only one acceptable answer. Later, they were taken upstairs in a private prayer ceremony where, with several “elders” praying over them, they knelt, made a decision for Christ, asked God to take alcohol out of their life, and prayed for the strength and guidance to live according to cardinal Christian principles. And, of the original pioneers who went to any lengths to establish and maintain their relationship and fellowship with God, fifty percent were permanently cured. Again, Dr. Bob was clear about the reason. He wrote: “Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!”[16]


Their Spiritual Solution versus the “Scientific” Surveys: Often a critic (and even one critical of Alcoholics Anonymous) unearths and reveals important ideas that others have ignored. For example, Michael Lemanski wrote:


The American temperance movement and the prohibition period which it helped to bring about had indeed created a vacuum within the medical community as regards addiction treatment. Alcoholics Anonymous came into being at a time when modern methods of medical therapy, clinical psychology, clinical sociology, and professional counseling were virtually nonexistent in the field. AA, through default, filled this near vacuum.


The near vacuum, however, was just that—a near vacuum, not a total vacuum. . . . [T]here were organizations which did deal with alcoholics at the time AA came about: the Salvation Army and the Emanuel Movement.


While it is doubtful that either Bill Wilson or Dr. Bob knew of the Emanuel Movement, they might have been aware of the Salvation Army’s work, so it appears peculiar that they apparently made no attempt to research such approaches. But this only appears to be peculiar. Bill Wilson had quite literally “seen the light.” His vision of recovery from alcoholism embraced one thing and one thing only: religious conversion.


To Wilson, research wasn’t necessary; religion was The Answer. And when one has The Answer, research and questioning are obstacles, not aids. The problem is not finding new, better approaches, but rather putting an end to questions so that The Answer can be adopted without opposition.


To Wilson and Smith, recovery was a matter of faith, not a matter of research and hard evidence. . . . AA’s co-founders viewed hospitals, doctors, and psychiatrists as ineffective in dealing with alcoholism. This seems ironic given that one of them (Smith) was an MD, but he, like Wilson, believed that the only cure for alcoholism was through God; and he used hospitalization of alcoholism patients not for medical treatment, but rather so that they could be isolated and indoctrinated into the Oxford Group Movement/AA beliefs.[17]


Like so many, who today are writing in the medical, psychiatric, psychology, sociology, and counseling arena, Lemanski gave short shrift to God. To talk about God’s help, strength, guidance, and miraculous healings is deemed “unscientific,” incapable of being measured, tested, repeated, and scientifically conducted. So say the atheists, humanists, and unbelieving scientists and researchers. Yet A.A. critic Lemanski touches one area of truth: He quite correctly observes that, in the beginning, Wilson and Smith believed that conversion was the solution to alcoholism. They touted reliance on God. And their spiritual program produced the results that astonished medical and religious figures alike. Perhaps Bill summarized the situation aptly when he wrote:


What is this but a miracle of healing? Yet its elements are simple. Circumstances made him willing to believe. He humbly offered himself to his Maker—then he knew. Even so has God restored us all to our right minds. . . . When we drew near to Him He disclosed Himself to us![18]


In today’s age of secularism, idolatry, and hostility to religion, the faith cure challenge is having a hard time. This hardly refutes A.A.’s original beliefs and successes; it simply reflects a desire to look to everything, seek everything, and rely on anything, but God.


Not so with Bill Wilson’s psychiatrist at Towns Hospital—William D. Silkworth, M.D.


Silkworth’s biographer Dale Mitchel has recently unearthed the following important facts about Dr. Silkworth, his Christian affiliations, his belief in the healing power of Jesus Christ, and Silkworth’s conveying these ideas to Bill Wilson:


During his third visit to Towns Hospital, Bill had a discussion with Dr. Silkworth on the subject of the “Great Physician” [Jesus Christ]. . . . In fact, Bill himself wrote that he had thought about this discussion before he decided to check himself into Towns for the last time, at the urging of his brother-in-law. . . . Wilson wrote: “Alcoholism took longer to kill, but the result was the same. Yes, if there was any Great Physician that could cure the alcohol sickness, I’d better find him now, at once.[19]


Just prior to his experience with “the veritable sea of living spirit” Wilson often later talked about, he chastised God and said to himself, “I’ll do anything, anything at all. If there be a Great Physician, I’ll call on him!” again referring to his prior discussions with Silkworth. Then, according to Wilson, he cried out, “If there is a God, let him show himself.” What happened next became the turning point in Bill Wilson’s life, and the birth of Alcoholics Anonymous.[20]


It is obvious that in prior visits Silkworth had tried to explain the Great Physician to Bill without success. Eventually, in his own words, Dr. Silkworth told Bill how he had read about the successes of other spiritual transformations.[21]


Silkworth, a medical doctor, challenged the alcoholic with a spiritual conversion and a relationship with God as part of the program of recovery. His approach with Bill Wilson was no different.[22]


According to Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Silkworth had also told another patient named “Charles” that the Great Physician could complete this healing. He said of Jesus, “He wants everything you’ve got, he wants all of you. Then He gives the healing. . . . His name is Jesus Christ and he keeps office in the New Testament and is available whenever you need him.[23]


Silkworth’s biographer wrote:


Silkworth has not been given the appropriate credit for his position on a spiritual conversion, particularly as it may relate to true Christian benefits. Several sources, including Norman Vincent Peale in his book The Positive Power of Jesus Christ, agree that it was Dr. Silkworth who used the term “The Great Physician” to explain the need in recovery for a relationship with Jesus Christ. . . .[24] In the formation of A.A., Wilson initially insisted on references to God and Jesus, as well as the Great Physician.[25]


In Dick B., Real Twelve Step Fellowship History (, I have summarized the early Akron A.A. requirement of a “real surrender” ceremony that confirmed acceptance of Jesus Christ as a required and essential part of the Akron recovery program:


In order to belong to the Akron fellowship, newcomers had to make a “real surrender.” This was akin to the altar call at rescue missions or the confession of Christ with other believers in churches [and revival gatherings], except that it was a very small, private ceremony which took place upstairs and away from the regular meeting. Four A.A. old-timers (Ed Andy from Lorain, Ohio; J.D. Holmes from Indiana; Clarence Snyder from Cleveland; and Larry Bauer in Akron) have all independently verified orally and in writing that the Akron surrenders required acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Those conversions took place at the regular Wednesday meeting upstairs in the manner described in James 5:15-16. Kneeling, with “elders” at his side, the newcomer accepted Christ and, with the prayer partners, asked God to take alcohol out of his life and to help, guide, and strengthen him to live by cardinal Christian teachings such as those in the Oxford Group’s Four Absolutes—Honesty, Purity, Unselfishness, and Love.



The Variety, Diversity, Multiplicity, and Frequency of Testimonies to God’s Cure of Alcoholism


The Naysayers Should Be Few: I receive on the average of 100 communications each day from those seeking relief or who have achieved relief of their alcoholism. Among every hundred, there are one or more complaints by present-day fellowship people who seem determined to “prove” that they are permanently sick. They use terms like “only a daily reprieve;” “in recovery;” “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic;” and “there is no cure.” Importantly, they have swallowed whole hog the idea that God Almighty couldn’t possibly have cured, never has cured, and certainly never will cure an alcoholic. You can point out the hundreds and hundreds of testimonies by alcoholics, including the first three—Bill W., Dr. Bob, and Bill D.—that they were cured of alcoholism by the power of God. But they’ll respond almost at once that the Big Book says, in one place, that they can’t be cured. In so doing, they ignore the rest of the language in the Big Book that says they can. They even ignore the change in language of the Steps from “God can and will” to “God could and would if He were sought.” For some reason, they ignore the fact that the capitalized word “God”, including capitalized pronouns and Biblical descriptions of Him such as Creator, Maker, Father of lights, Father, and Spirit show the point that Bill Wilson originally intended to make. Perhaps most important of all, they just haven’t heard about the real success rates, original program, and astonishing miracles that freed the pioneers from their “terrible disease,” as Bill Wilson described it. Now we could end it there, and say that AAs disagree.


Religious leaders and clergy views on healing alcoholics by the power of God:


Rev. Francis W. McPeek, Lecture 26, “The Role of Religious Bodies in the Treatment of Inebriety in the United States”:

This has been a brief and highly selective survey of a century’s efforts among religious people to bring the healing power of God into the lives of those who suffer from inebriety. Certain things may be held as conclusive. Towering above them all is this indisputable fact: It is faith in the living God which has accounted for more recoveries from the disease than all the other therapeutic agencies put together.[27]


Rev. Otis R. Rice, Ph.D., Lecture 28, “Pastoral Counseling of Inebriates”:

It is from the fact that one is a miserable sinner, and the acceptance of the fact that by God’s promise one can become His son, that cures are made and that lives are made worth while.[28]


Archibald D. Hart, Ph.D., Healing Life’s Hidden Addictions:

The only effective healing I know is the healing that takes place at the “core” of our being. Join me as we rediscover the truthfulness of Isaiah’s prophecy: that Christ “took our sicknesses, and bore our diseases,” so that we could go free (Mt 8:17 LB).[29]


Dr. Jack Van Impe with Roger F. Campbell, Alcohol: The Beloved Enemy:

The list of former drinkers who have become total abstainers through responding to God’s love is long. Names known to thousands—like Mel Trotter, Billy Sunday, and Oscar Van Impe (my own father)—come quickly to mind, but a great company of others have also testified to never drinking another drop of booze after receiving Christ as Savior.[30]


Pastor Henry W. Wright, A More Excellent Way:

It is not that God cannot heal you, or that He doesn’t want to. The problem is that man does not understand disease. . . . My investigation over the years from the Scriptures, practical discernment, and review of scientific and medical evidence, has unearthed many spiritual roots and blocks to healing. . . . The very same principles that you can apply in your life to move the hand of God to sustain you, to heal you, and to deliver you—if you start applying them now in your life (even if you don’t have a disease)—may keep you from getting that disease in your lifetime. . . . God and I have taken the word incurable and done this to it: When you say you are incurable, you have made the devil greater than God. As a minister, I cannot bring myself to say that. I believe all things are possible. . . . I consider all healing of spiritually rooted disease to be a factor of sanctification. I believe that all disease that has a spiritual result is a lack of sanctification in our lives as men and women of God. I believe all healing of disease and/or prevention is the process of being re-sanctified. . . . The 8 R’s to Freedom: Pathway to Wholeness and Freedom—Recognize, Responsibility, Repent, Renounce, Remove, Resist, Rejoice, Restore (help someone else get free).[31]


Rev. John Osteen, L.L.D., D.D., How to flow in the Super Supernatural:

So I rented an auditorium and decided to have a meeting. I had lots of enthusiasm. Hundreds of people came. I told them that I had a Baptist background, but now I was filled with the Holy Ghost. . . . I told them I had the power to cast out devils, lay hands on the sick and see them healed (See Mark 16:17-18). I told them that they would see miracles in Jesus’ name. People lined up for prayer. There was such a long line. I was amazed! I was astonished! People had believed the Word of God that I had preached! . . . . In that meeting, we saw miracles of God, such mighty demonstrations of salvation, divine healing and deliverance. It was a marvelous thing to behold as Jesus met the needs of the people.[32]


Rev. Howard Clinebell, Ph. D., Understanding and Counseling Persons with Alcohol, Drug, and Behavioral Addictions:

There is no area of human suffering in which healthy religion has given a more convincing demonstrating of its healing, growth-nurturing power than in problems of addiction. For much of the twentieth century it has been recognized that authentic spirituality offers hopeful resources for dealing with addictions. In his classic sermons on temperance published in 1827, Lyman Beecher made it clear that some sort of religious experience was the best hope for the alcoholic. . . . I invite you to let your mind and spirit be lifted by these other hopeful developments in the addiction pandemic scene: . . . . The awareness that the century-spanning, healing wisdom of our Hebrew and Christian traditions are priceless resources for preventing and healing addictions today. Many centuries before Christ lived, the Hebrew psalmist expressed feelings with which many recovering addicts can identify: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits—who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s (Psalm 103:2-5).[33]


For the many others in the religious field who share the view that alcoholism can be cured by the power of God, see the following authors and titles detailed in my specified books, which contain complete bibliographical information on the subjects, authors, and materials included:


Dick B., God and Alcoholism: Our Growing Opportunity in the 21st Century (—as to: (1) The Rev. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, (2) ordained Baptist pastor Jerry G. Dunn, (3) Episcopal layman James Moore Hickson, (4) Evangelist Ethel R. Willitts, (5) Glenn Clark, (4) Mary Baker Eddy, (5) Emmet Fox, (6) Frank Laubach, (7) Charles Laymon, (8) E.W. Kenyon, (9) Martin M. Davis, (10) Loren Cunningham, (11) Edward E. Decker, Jr.


Dick B., When Early AAs Were Cured and Why ( to (1) Dr. Herbert Lockyer and All the Miracles of the Bible: The Supernatural in Scripture Its Scope and Significance, (2) Morton T. Kelsey, Psychology, Medicine & Christian Healing, (3) George Gordon Dawson, Healing: Pagan and Christian, (4) Alan Richardson, The Miracle Stories of the Gospels, (5) Elwood Worcester and Samuel McComb, The Christian Religion as a Healing Power, (6) G. R. H. Shafto, The Wonders of the Kingdom: A Study of the Miracles of Jesus, (7) Pearcy Dearmer, Body and Soul: An Enquiry into the Effects of Religion , Health, with a Description of Christian Works of Healing From the New Testament to the Present Day, (8) Leslie D. Weatherhead, Psychology, Religion and Healing, (9) Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Historical Evidences for the Christian Faith, (10) E. R. Micklem, Miracles & The New Psychology: A Study in the Healing Miracles of the New Testament, (11) New Bible Dictionary, (12) John G. Lake, The Complete Collection of His Teachings. (13)  F. W. Puller, The Anointing of the Sick in Scripture and Tradition, with some Considerations on the Numbering of the Sacraments, (14) Evelyn Frost, Christian Healing: A Consideration of the Place of Spiritual Healing in the Church Today in Light of the Doctrine and Practice of the Ante Nicene Church (15) Roberts Lairdon, God’s Generals: Why They Succeeded and Why They Failed, (16) A. J. Pridie, The Church’s Ministry of Healing, (17) T. L. Osborn, Healing the Sick, (18) Smith Wigglesworth, Smith Wigglesworth on Healing, (19) Jim Wilson, Healing Through the Power of Christ, (20) Novel Hayes, The Healing Handbook.


Dick B., The James Club and The Original A.A. Program’s Absolute Essentials ( to: (1) James 5:16, (2) F. W. Puller, Anointing of the Sick, (3) J. R. Pridie, The Church’s Ministry of Healing, (4) the followers of  Clarence and Grace Snyder in A.A.


Dick B., The First Nationwide Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference ( to: (1) Reports by AAs of cures, (2) Miraculous healings long before Christ, (3) Miracles in the Gospels, (4) Miracles in the Book of Acts in Apostolic times. (5) Accomplishments of miracles by early Christians after apostolic times and in early centuries, (6) Healing ministry by individuals from 1091 forward to the late 1800’s, (7) The hypothesis that the First Century ended miracles, and the lack of Biblical authority for the proposition. (8) The successes of the Christian Missions and Evangelists—Jerry McAuley, Samuel Hadley, Hadley’s son, the Salvation Army, the Keswick Colony of Mercy, reports by James Moore Hickson, Ethel R. Willits, John Millard, Evelyn Frost, William Temple, Leslie D. Weatherhead, (9) The many titles on healing and prayer that were studied and circulated by Dr. Bob among the A.A. pioneers—Glenn Clark, Starr Daily, Lewis L. Dunnington, Mary Baker Eddy, Charles and Cora Fillmore, Harry Emerson Fosdick, Emmet Fox, Gerald Heard, E. Stanley Jones, Frank Laubach, Charles Laymon, Rufus Mosley, William Parker, F.L. Rawson, Samuel M. Shoemaker, B. H. Streeter, L.W. Grensted, Howard Rose, Cecil Rose, St. Augustine, Brother Lawrence, Mary Tileston, Oswald Chambers, T. R. Glover, E. Herman, Donald Carruthers, and Nora Smith Holm.


Dick B., Cured, Proven Help for Alcoholics and Addicts ( to the complete story and references to specific hundreds and hundreds of alcoholics who were cured by the power of God and said so.


Dick B., Making Known the Biblical History and Roots of Alcoholics Anonymous: A Sixteen-Year Research, Writing, Publishing, and Fact-Dissemination Project ( –as to a complete bibliography of the hundreds of books and other materials collected by Dick B., most of which have been donated to the Griffith Library at the Wilson House in East Dorset, Vermont; some of which have been lodged in the new Dr. Bob Core Library at the North Congregational Church in St. Johnsbury, Vermont; some of which have been lodged at Dr. Bob’s last church St. Paul’s Protestant Episcopal Church in Akron; and all of the Rev. Sam Shoemaker books and papers have been lodged in Shoemaker’s Calvary Protestant Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh.


Dick B., Dr. Bob and His Library: A Major A.A. Spiritual Source ( –as to the larger number of prayer, healing, devotional, and Christian materials found by Dick B. among those circulated by Dr. Bob among early AAs and their families, some of which were donated by Dr. Bob’s son to Dr. Bob’s Home in Akron, some of which were sold by Dr. Bob’s daughter to Brown University; and others have been mentioned in various memoranda, A.A. books, and other sources.

Snippets from some hands-on people in the alcoholism field who stand for God’s cures


Thomas E. Powers, Invitation to a Great Experiment: Exploring the Possibility That God Can Be Known:

I was doing very well in the advertising business. But at the same time I was suffering from a mentally and physically crippling illness which the doctors at last pronounced incurable. . . . Much against the grain of my whole outlook at that time, I was persuaded to seek help in the area of “spiritual experience.” . . . It worked. The disease was arrested and eventually relieved. . . . Just on the basis of facts in which I was profoundly involved, I had to drop my prejudices against God and the great cultural and psychological traditions ascending to God. There is no possibility of describing either the joy or the difficulties that came into my life when I saw that God is real and when and when I began to come into actual touch with that Reality.[34]


John Burns et. al., The Answer To Addiction: The Path to Recovery from Alcohol Drug Food & Sexual Dependencies:

Let there be no ambiguity as to what is being said here. The Answer to addiction—that which cures the disease and releases the prisoner where nothing else can—is the grace of God. It is the truth of God, the power of God, the Spirit of God. If you want a one-word equivalent, the Answer is God. . . . not the God of sectarians and the bigots, not the God of the academically certified, not the God of the philosophers or of the wise but the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob—very God of the very God pouring himself unmistakably into human affairs, God as living, communicable, holy power, intervening in a specific manner, with specific principles and a specific teaching, to provide a specific way of life as a solution of a specific human problem which was going beyond all bounds, e.g. the problem of  addiction.[35]


The question has long been debated whether the freedom from alcohol addiction which occurs for example in Alcoholics Anonymous is really a cure, since the person must abstain from alcohol in order to maintain his recovery, and whether such an event had not better be called an “arrest” of the disease. The view of your present authors is that cure is a perfectly good word for what happens to anyone who is successful in A.A. If a man who once had stomach ulcers is now totally free of them, and free from all signs and symptoms of them, but has to abstain from pepper and vinegar in order to stay well, we say that that man has been cured of his stomach ulcers, and that the recovered alcohol addict is in exactly the same case.[36]


Jared C. Lobdell, This Strange Illness: Alcoholism and Bill W.:

The early A.A. meetings were conceived of as meetings for worship, not entirely unlike meetings at the Calvary Mission, or at Jerry McAuley’s Mission fifty or sixty years before. It must be made clear that none of this means that a member of Alcoholics Anonymous must accept this theology in order to benefit from the meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. There is anecdotal evidence that members have selected as their “Higher Power” a doorknob (because it opened the door to sobriety?), a dead chicken, a tree, their sponsors (we’ll get to what that means later on), and more reasonably, I would think—the A.A. group. One member with more than twenty years’ sobriety is reported to have spoken of his “Higher Power” as Charley. Substitutions of this sort for God (except the substitution of a believing group) are, of course, theological nonsense—or are they?[37]


But the model presented here makes theological sense of what goes on—especially both the liturgical and the ritual reading (they are not the same)—in a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, as well (I think) as making sense of the program generally. And since the cofounders (and their colleagues) believed that belief in God was a necessary ground for the program—in fact, that God was a necessary ground for the program—and that the Twelve Steps were spiritual exercises, an acceptable theology (beyond a kind of “not-God” psychology) would seem to be a good idea.[38]


Joan Hunter, Overcoming Betrayal in Your Life: Healing the Heart:

By morning he seemed to forget everything; and I wasn’t about to start a conversation about what had happened the night before. Fear and frustration had me cornered. Then, we got saved, he got healed, and we made a total commitment to God. I was ecstatic. He stopped drinking and God worked through him in marvelous ways.[39]


Dwight Anderson with Page Cooper, The Other Side of the Bottle:

Sam Leake, the one-man Alcoholics Anonymous was, before his “conversion” one of the most conspicuous of San Francisco’s public figures. . . When disintegration set it, he fought it with his usual intensity; he tried will power, pledges, religion, hypnotism, everything he heard of, but still he kept on drinking, until he looked like an old man, stooped, his legs shriveled to poles, his eyes half blind. Then something happened to Sam Leake. At the moment when he was ripe for a conversion he fell into the hands of a sympathetic Christian Science practitioner, who was able to penetrate his wall of isolation. She did not induce him to sign a pledge, but she promised him that he would be free of his liquor habit as well as the sedatives he was taking in abnormal quantities to sleep. “Leave him alone,” she said to his urgent friends, “I do not care if he swims home in whisky every night. He will be free.” One morning, after he had gone to sleep on his bedtime quart of whisky, he raised his hand to ring for the usual cocktail when he suddenly realized that he had no desire for whiskey. . . . “I am through with alcohol forever,” he told his family. . . I couldn’t touch a drop of whisky if I tried.” . . . . But make no mistake,” he said, “the battle was not won by superb will power of Sam Leake. I didn’t leave drunkenness; drunkenness left me.” So Sam Leake was “cured,” as flamboyantly as he was wrecked, but the cure stuck. . . but from that day he began to work with alcoholics on his own. . . .  Sam believed that there was nothing one could do for an alcoholic until he was ripe, until he hit the depths and said, “For God’s sake, help me.” Then it was “as simple as falling off a log.” In the summer of 1913 Sam Leake wrote his story for the San Francisco Bulletin. He had set up an office and was devoting himself to lay therapy for alcoholics.[40]


The Curious Change from Cure to No-Cure


Before A.A. began, alcoholics were pronounced to be “medically incurable.” The reason is not hard to figure out. Medicine wasn’t curing alcoholics. Nor was psychiatry. Nor were the lay therapists. At least, in no appreciable number, compared to the millions who suffer.


Then alcoholics who joined Alcoholics Anonymous, who went to any lengths to follow the path laid out by the Akron pioneers, were cured. Cured by the power of God. Their founders said so. They said so. The proposed cover for their new book announced their pathway to a cure. Magazine and newspaper articles announced the cure. Alcoholics across the country, by the hundreds, were cured and telling news reporters they were cured. And their spiritual mentors had no problem explaining the reason why. In fact, a verse from the Bible was commonly quoted as the formula involved:


But without faith, it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6, KJV).


Translated, Pascal had written God either is, or He isn’t. Rev. Sam Shoemaker wrote to the same effect. And Bill Wilson incorporated the statement in his Big Book. So the problem was not the existence or non-existence of God. It was not about belief or unbelief. It was not even whether God “could or would” heal the alcoholic. Bill Wilson said that he did!


So, alcoholism was curable, could be cured, and had been cured—by the power of God.


Then came a curious change. Bill Wilson and his wife Lois Wilson had both read The Common Sense of Drinking, written by a lay therapist Richard Rogers Peabody. Peabody had his book published by Little Brown in 1931. Reportedly, he was the first to state there was no cure for alcoholism. Peabody had been a student in the Emanuel Movement, named for Boston’s Emmanuel Church where clergy and lay practitioners reported success in treating alcoholics. Peabody treated alcoholics though he was neither a medical professional nor a psychologist. Most who have investigated his life believe that alcoholism led to his own early death at the age of 44. According to one scholar, Peabody “did not attempt to imitate the particular techniques of a psychiatrist, but he systematically eliminated from his terminology and concepts anything that hinted of the church and ‘feather-decorated, painted medicine men.’” Peabody used several important ideas he had learned—surrender, relaxation, suggestion and catharsis.” The scholar said “a few [of his patients] remained abstinent and professionally active in the field of alcoholism. Others who failed at the Peabody method were known to have joined A.A. in its early years. . . . The fact that several of the Peabody method’s major practitioners—apparently including the founder [Peabody] were not able to maintain their sobriety, however, does not bode well for other patients with whom contact was lost. . . . Writing in 1930, Peabody had abandoned the spiritual language and concepts altogether. . . . Peabody and his coworkers apparently did not share Baylor’s personal success at remaining sober. A common opinion is that Peabody died intoxicated, although the evidence is not conclusive. Samuel Crocker, who had once shared an office with Peabody, told Faye R. that he was intoxicated at the time of his death. According to the scholar “The personal copy of  Peabody’s book belonging to Bill Wilson (one of the founders of A.A.) now in the A.A. Archives, contains the following inscription, “Dr. Peabody was as far as is known the first authority to state, “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic,” and he proved it by returning to drinking and by dying of alcoholism—proving to us that the condition is uncurable.”[41]


And so, stemming from that flimsy “proof” that alcoholism is uncurable, Wilson apparently contradicted his own story that the Lord had cured him, and inserted in his 1939 Big Book that there is no cure for alcoholism. Repeating Peabody’s words, he wrote “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.” And the fate of today’s A.A. alcoholic was sealed. He had gone from medically incurable to cured by the power of God and then to incurable—as established by the lay therapist who had disdain for God, focused on relaxation therapy, and then—by most accounts—died drunk.


The result? A good example of how far today’s publishing arm has taken the reformation can be found in this language:


A Newcomer asks:


Is A.A. a religious organization? No. Nor is it allied with any religious organization. . . . There’s a lot of talk about God, though, isn’t there? The majority of A.A. members believe that we have found the solution to our drinking problem, not through individual willpower, but through a power greater than ourselves. However, everyone defines this power as he or she wishes. Many people call it God, others think it is the A.A. group, still others don’t believe in it at all. There is room in A.A. for people of all shades of belief and nonbelief.[42]


This is AA. . . An Introduction to the AA Recovery Program:


Alcoholism—an illness. Today we are willing to accept the idea that, as far as we are concerned, alcoholism is an illness which can never be “cured,” but which, like some other illnesses, can be arrested. . . . So far as we know, there can never be any turning back to “normal” social drinking. “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic” is a simple fact we have to live with.”. . . . ‘Twelve Steps’ . . . . We discovered that a key factor in this progress seemed to be humility, coupled with reliance upon a Power greater than ourselves. While some members prefer to call this Power “God,” we were told that this was purely a matter of personal interpretation; we could conceive of the Power in any terms we thought fit.[43]


So, Where Do You Stand!


A.A.’s venerable Clarence H. Snyder was well-known for his statement:


If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for almost anything.


Here’s a statement of where I stand:


I believe in God.


I believe anyone in A.A. can believe in God.


I believe God can cure an alcoholic of his “illness.”


I believe that, in today’s A.A., members can believe or not believe in God, pray or not pray, become children of the one true living Creator by handing their lives over to Christ or not, obey God’s commandments and change their lives to conform to His will or not, grow in fellowship with Him or not, and carry a message to the newcomer that God has done for the messenger what he could not do for himself or not


I choose to use the language of A.A.’s founders: Your Heavenly Father will never let you down! God can and will relieve you of your alcoholism if you seek Him diligently. I have the duty and privilege of helping any still suffering alcoholic to establish a relationship with God if he wishes to do so.


I cannot imagine ever carrying a message that there is no cure for alcoholism, that a newcomer can somehow be healed by a chicken or a chair or Charley, or that the courts are uninformed when they continue to rule that A.A. is a religion—the kind of religion is of no matter at all until and unless A.A. just eliminates God from its permissible program.


I find great wisdom for myself in the statement of James Houck of Maryland who was, at the time of his recent demise, about 100 years old and the AA with the longest period of sobriety (since 1934). Jim wrote, as he endorsed one of my books: “If you take God out of A.A., you have nothing.”


And that’s where I choose to stand.


So, where do you stand!




Gloria Deo




Dick B., PO Box 837, Kihei, HI 96753-0837;

808 874 4876;;





[1] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed. (NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 2001), 191.


[2] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 180.


[3] RHS: Co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous our beloved DR. BOB (NY: The A.A. Grapevine, Inc., 1951, 1979), 6.


[4] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 191.


[5] DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers (NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980), 129.


[6] DR. BOB, 135.


[7] Dale Mitchel, Silkworth The Little Doctor Who Loved Drunks: The Biography of William Duncan Silkworth, M.D. (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 2002), 50.


[8] Mitchel, Silkworth, 44. For an extended description of the events, see Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2007)


[9] Bill W. My First Forty Years: An Autobiography By the Cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 2000), 145.


[10] Bill W., My First Forty Years, 137; Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W.,


[11] Bill W., My First Forty Years, 147; Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W.,


[12] Bill W., My First Forty Years, 145-46.


[13] Bill W., My First Forty Years, 148.


[14] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 14.


[15] Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W.,


[16] For more information, see Dick B. and Ken B., Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous: His Excellent Training in the Good Book As a Youngster in Vermont (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2008): See particularly Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 181.


[17] Michael Lemanski, A History of Addiction & Recovery in the United States (Tucson, AZ: See Sharp Press, 2001), 53-54.


[18] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 57.


[19] Dale Mitchel, Silkworth The Little Doctor Who Loved Drunks: The Biography of William Duncan Silkworth, M.D. (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 2002), 44.


[20] Mitchel, Silkworth, 47.


[21] Mitchel, Silkworth, 49.


[22] Mitchel, Silkworth, 50.


[23] Mitchel, Silkworth, 50-51.


[24] According to the documented testimony of four different early A.A. pioneers mentioned in footnotes 25 and 26,, Dr. Bob and the Akron AAs specifically required every new member to make a “real surrender” in which the newcomer accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour,


[25] Mitchel, Silkworth, 50. For even more details, see Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W.


[26] See Dick B. Real Twelve Step Fellowship History: The Old School A.A. You May Not Know, Training the Trainers (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2006), 9. For specific quotes by Ed Andy, Larry Bauer, and Clarence Snyder, see Dick B., The Golden Text of A.A.: God, the Pioneers, and Real Spirituality (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1999), 31-32 (




[27] Rev. Francis W. McPeek, Executive Director, Department of Social Welfare, Federation of Churches, Washington, D.C., Alcohol, Science and Society: Twenty-nine Lectures with Discussion as given at the Yale Summer School of Alcohol Studies (New Haven: Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 1945), 417.


[28] Rev. Otis R. Rice, Ph.D., Religious Director, St. Luke’s Hospital, New York, Alcohol, Science and Society, 446,


[29] Archibald D. Hart, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School of Psychology and professor of psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary, Healing Life’s Hidden Addictions: Overcoming the Closet Compulsions that Waste Your Time and Control Your Life (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 1990), xiv.


[30] Jack Van Impe with Roger F. Campbell, Alcohol: The Beloved Enemy (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1980), 142. Dr. Van Impe is founder and president of Jack Van Impe Ministries.


[31] Pastor Henry W. Wright, Senior Pastor of Pleasant Valley Church, Inc., A More Excellent Way Be in Health: Spiritual Roots of Disease and Pathways to Wholeness (Thomaston, GA: Pleasant Valley Publications, 2005), 10-11, 115.


[32] Rev. John Osteen, L.L.D., D.D., founder of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, How to flow in the Super, Supernatural (Houston, TX: Lakewood Church, 1972), 44-45.


[33] Rev. Howard J. Clinebell, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Claremont School of Theology, Former Professor of Pastoral Psychology and Counseling, Claremont Graduate University, Understanding and Counseling Persons with Alcohol, Drug and Behavioral Addictions; Counseling for Recovery and Prevention Using Psychology and Religion, rev. and enl. ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998), 23, 461-62.






[34] Thomas E. Powers, Invitation to a Great Experiment: Exploring the Possibility that God Can Be Known (East Ridge, NY: AAA Books, 1986), 2-3.


[35] John Burns and three other recovered addicts, The Answer to Addiction The Pathway to Recovery from Alcohol Drug Food & Sexual Dependencies, New. Exp. ed. (NY: Crossroad, 1990), 10-11.


[36] Burns, The Answer to Addiction, 321.


[37] Jared C. Lobdell, Ph.D., This Strange Illness: Alcoholism and Bill W. (NY: Aldine De Gruyter, 2004), 230.


[38] Lobdell, This Strange Illness, 237.


[39] Joan Hunter, Overcoming Betrayal in Your Life: Healing the Heart (New Kensignton, PA: Whitaker House, 2007), 165.


[40] Dwight Anderson with Page Cooper, The Other Side of the Bottle (NY: A.A. Wyn, Inc., 1950). 159-61. Dwight Anderson got sober at the Payne Whitney Clinic of New York Hospital and later went on to become Director of Public Relations for the Medical Society of New York.


[41] Possibly the best information on Peabody will be found in Katherine McCarthy, Early Alcoholism Treatment: The Emmanuel Movement and Richard Peabody. Journal of Studies on Alcohol. Vol. 45, No.1. 1984. There are other scholarly reviews of the Peabody work in Clinebell, Understanding and Counseling; and Lobdell, This Strange Illness.


[42] A Newcomer Asks (NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980).


[43] This is A.A. . .  An Introduction to the A.A. Recovery Program (NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World