Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A.A. History Study Groups

Planning, Starting, Conducting One?


Dick B.

© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved

        Probably the most beneficial thing in the author's learning of the recovery program (as embodied in the Big Book and the Twelve Steps) were the Joe and Charlie Big Book Seminars. They did a line by line study of the first 103 pages. They made the unclear clear. They did it with humor, with purpose, and with brevity.

        Many have wanted to do something similar with A.A.'s roots, as a complement to the Big Book study. This is being done in some areas. But there can be a much more precise approach, one that will complement the Big Book and enable spiritual growth within A.A. itself.

          More important by far is the benefit that can flow to those who still suffer from the continued education and information made available to speakers, sponsors, and bewildered newcomers. It takes leaders who have studied. It takes leaders who are willing to tell it like it is instead of telling what they’ve heard in meetings. It takes leaders who understand how speakers and sponsors short change their listeners when they are simply telling war stories and looking for laughs or tears.

          For example: How many mention the Solution in their talks. How many mention the Creator. How many mention what Dr. Bob said about the origins of the Steps (in the Bible). How many mention what Bill W. wrote about the sources of his “new version” of the program in the Steps (Dr. Silkworth, Professor William James, Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr.) How many explain how they “took” the Twelve Steps. How many highlight the number of times God is mentioned in the Big Book. How many turn to the Big Book in talking about how to take the Twelve Steps. And. If not, why not!

          Today, things are changing. Leaders are reading. Leaders are studying. Leaders are networking and exchanging effective techniques. Leaders are those who have no problem mentioning God, the Bible, A.A. history, the upbringing of Bill and Bob, the original A.A. program of 1935, and what the early Akron AAs did and accomplished

        Some are intimidated by this. Even the Joe and Charlie Big Book Seminars have been subjected to the comments that they violate the Traditions and that they speak of non-Conference approved literature. But the Seminars stood the test of time, with A.A.'s own archivist from New York often participating. Not so easy when the roots have been involved, but it is simply because AAs don't know their own history and traditions.

        Here are some pointers:

  1. Every early A.A. meeting in Akron and some in New York which were hearing Rev. Sam Shoemaker, involved discussion of the Bible and Christian subject matter. They involved use of outside literature, particularly The Upper Room, The Runner’s Bible, The Greatest Thing in the World, Twice-Born Men, and My Utmost for His Highest. Dr. Bob's Bible was—for many years--taken to the podium at the King School Group meeting in Akron (A.A. No. 1).


  1. There is no Tradition that can, should, or does forbid discussion of A.A. history or the Bible or literature that early A.A.'s used. Box 459 had an excellent article on that point. The article can be obtained from General Services in New York or from the author.


  1. Learn well the words of the Long Form of Tradition Three: "Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation."


  1. Learn well the precise words of Long Form Tradition Ten: "No A.A. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial issues--particularly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever."


  1. The foregoing facts have not stopped people from objecting or trying to ban the Bible, early A.A. literature, and discussion of the foregoing at this or that meeting. One group was removed from the meeting list because it studied Emmet Fox's The Sermon on the Mount. That did not make the prohibitive action correct. But AAs who want to learn, study, and grow in the roots which were part and parcel of their history should not be intimidated by erroneous comments, actions, or interpretations, however sincere, well-intentioned, or vociferous. Thus Roman Catholics have been holding retreats for AAs for decades. Bill Wilson often cited this as an example of why Bible study was permissible in A.A. The matters that the traditions discuss have to do with SECTARIAN or DENOMINATIONAL religious practices. A.A.'s Preamble so states.


  1. The point of all this is that AAs today are searching for ways to remain within A.A. and, at the same time, learn more about the language A.A.'s Big Book, Twelve Steps, and Fellowship. They want to remain in A.A. and practice Eleventh Step spiritual growth by learning about, studying, and discussing "helpful books." The Big Book does not say, "There are many helpful books also" [p. 87]; but don't you dare read or discuss them. The Big Book does not say, "Suggestions about these may be obtained from one's priest, minister, or rabbi" [p. 87]; but don't ever mention this in an A.A. meeting. The Big Book does not say, "Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they have to offer" [p. 87]; but be sure they are never seen, discussed, or quoted in an A.A. meeting or study group.


  1. AAs need to know at least this much about their own history. The Reverend Sam Shoemaker Jr. and Father Ed Dowling, S.J., spoke to all AAs convened at A.A.'s Twentieth Convention in St. Louis. Their remarks are contained in Conference Approved literature (A.A. Comes of Age). The Jesuit priest Dowling died. But then the Reverend Sam Shoemaker and The Right Reverend Monsignor John J. Dougherty spoke to all AAs at their next International Convention, which was at Long Beach. The Reverend Sam Shoemaker wrote many articles for the A.A. Grapevine. Remarks of The Reverend Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick are quoted at length in A.A.'s Conference Approved A.A. Comes of Age.


  1. Whatever some may think, A.A. has no index of forbidden books. A.A. has never excluded priests or sisters or ministers or pastors or rabbi’s from its meetings even when they were not drunks. A.A. has studied the Bible in its meetings for years. And whenever two or three AAs are gathered together for sobriety, they may, as they have done for years, discuss the Bible, discuss the books they have read, and compare these to Big Book and Step concepts. They may discuss any and every facet of the Eleventh Step and the Big Book comments about it. It may well be that they would catch flack if they were exclusively a group of Christian Scientists, Roman Catholics, Moslems, or atheists who exclude others, call themselves a Christian Science A.A. Group, or confine their discussions to a Moslem or Roman Catholic view of A.A.


  1. But the records are now well known: there are atheist A.A. groups, gay and lesbian A.A. groups, young people's groups, airline pilots groups, firemen groups, impaired physicians group, and so on. Apparently, these affiliations have not resulted in evictions or riots or insolence, whether that would be justified or not. In short, A.A.'s inclusiveness, does not mean exclusion of books, of meetings, of thinking or of free speech.


  1. In years gone by, if someone wondered what they could or could not do, they didn’t beg for permission from some local office or office manager or delegate. If in doubt, they often wrote to the General Services offices in New York office asking for a suggestion. And this is just as people have done for years. Both Bill Wilson and A.A.'s first archivist Nell Wing fielded many a question. The result was not a ban or “not allowed” sign, but rather a passing along of some other group’s experience. Not to prohibit or command or exclude, but rather a sharing of what some other autonomous group has done and discovered.  


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Alcoholic Christian Recovery - Comment by A.A. Author, Historian, Christian Dick B.

I was pleased with the temperate tone of both the article and the comments. After twenty-seven years of continuous sobriety as an active A.A., and twenty-four years of researching its reported roots as well as "the rest of the story," I would suggest that A.A. is not monolithic today. It is fair to say that it has had four "programs," and that its membership has expanded from three to two million in the meantime. If you don't start with history, you just start with conjecture and subjective viewpoints of one or more of the "four." And, before speculating on what A.A. is or isn't, a reader needs to learn and evaluate the historical research and discovery of the last thirty years. For example: (1) Before A.A. was founded in June of 1935, and before its first group was founded in Akron on July 4, 1935, the AAs had no program, no Big Book, no Steps, no Traditions, no war stories, and no meetings like those today. In turn, it started with how the first three got sober in this context. All three (Bill W., Dr. Bob, and Bill D.) believed in God, were Christians, and had lots of Bible in their backgrounds. Each turned to God for help. Each was cured permanently (two of them after a brief binge). And each devoted his life thereafter to helping other drunks by the same means. See "The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks." (2) For the next two and a half years, the Akron AAs--under the leadership of Dr. Robert H. Smith--took their basic ideas from the Bible and felt that it contained the answer to their problems. They developed a program involving five required points, and two that were simply "recommended." It is described in DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, page 131. (3) Then Bill Wilson asked permission to write a book, and got that permission in Akron. And work on the book began in 1938. Wilson wrote the chapters for his "new version" of the program. And the pioneers wrote their personal stories telling how they had worked the Akron program--called a "Christian Fellowship." Bill's new version, he said, was drawn from three sources: (a) Dr. Silkworth's suggestions to Bill on the problem--including Silkworth's statement that the Great Physician Jesus Christ cculd cure Bill--this last point just left out of the story for years. (b) Professor William James who had explored "vital religious experiences" in rescue missions and the cures that had resulted therefrom. (c) Reverend Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. who taught Bill the remaining 10 Steps which came exclusively from the "practical program of action" or "life-changing" art of A First Century Christian Fellowship, later called the Oxford Group. (4) Just before Bill's book was sent to press consisting of his "new version" chapters and the "old school" stories of Christian Fellowship drunks, four people changed the program dramatically. They inserted a hand-written piece at the beginning of the typewritten draft. It erroneously said that Ebby Thacher had assured Bill that he could "choose your own conception of God." But that's not what Bill's text typewritten text said. Then the same four people altered the twelve steps--taking God out of the second step, and inserting "God as we understood Him" in Steps 3 and 11. So now there were four programs. And there still are. Unfortunately for the newcomer, the New Thought expression "higher power" crept into the language of AAs, writers, professionals, academics, clergy, and many lay people. And finally AAs were assured that they really didn't need to believe in anything at all--in the fourth program, that is. And this totality is not monolithic. It baffles Christians. It confuses newcomers. And it fashions for some a quasi-religious program that classes itself as "spiritual, but not religious." And now for a personal word. I am a Christian. I am a Bible student. I believe in God. I was very sick when I came into A.A. I was given immense comfort and friendship by the members. I loved helping others the way I was helped. I didn't discover A.A.'s biblical roots until I had been sober three years and started my research. See I can't speak for the atheists, agnostics, people of various non-Christian religions, non-believers, and "not-god" believers. I only know that I never relied upon a door knob, a light bulb, a chair, or a table higher power to get well. I relied on God.

A First Century Christian Fellowship - Robert E. Speer - Henry Wright - Frank Buchman - Alcoholics Anonymous - The Four Absolutes - Honesty, Purity, Unselfishness, Love

A.A. – The Four Absolutes –The Facts One More Time


A First Century Christian Fellowship



Dick B.


© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved.







The so-called “Four Absolutes” of A.A. were cherished “yardsticks” in earliest A.A.—standards for determining right behavior as measured through God’s eyes. And A.A.’s Cofounder Dr. Bob made that clear.[1] The Four Absolutes were Honesty, Purity, Unselfishness, and Love. See The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks


Robert E. Speer: The time-line for the recovery origins of these principles begins with Presbyterian missionary leader Robert E. Speer. In 1902, Speer published The Principles of Jesus.[2] Chapter 6 was titled “Jesus and Standards.”[3] And Speer there spelled out “some” moral principles that could be applied to determine and practice what was “right or wrong.” Speer said the teachings of Jesus set up absolute principles which didn’t allow men to measure their conduct by what they “thought” was right or wrong. Jesus, he said, enabled men to have absolute standards of conduct by which they were able to “know whether it is right or wrong, drag it into Jesus’ presence, and see how He looks at it, and how it looks to Him.”[4] Some have erroneously stated that Speer fashioned the four standards from the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 to 7). But his citations were much more broad. Speer said that Jesus taught in a practical way in order to make people understand, and the illustrations Jesus used were themselves such as to make some principle perfectly clear. The teachings set up standards (Mark 9:33; Matt. 5:34, 37; 6:16; Mark 7:15; Luke 9:60). Perfection was his standard (Matt. 5:48). He had attained it (John 8:29). He demanded it. Right is to be right. Thinking it right or thinking it wrong does not make a thing right or wrong. Jesus, said Speer, set up an absolute standard of truth. He said, if God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father, the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it (John 8:42-44). Jesus set up an absolute standard of unselfishness. Speer pointed to Mark 10:45: “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but  to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Jesus set up an  absolute standard or purity. He tolerated no uncleanness whatsoever. . . . A hand or an eye, outer or inner sin, must be sacrificed to the claims of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:29, 30). Jesus set up an absolute standard of love. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another (John 13:34),


Henry B. Wright: Next in line comes Yale’s Professor Henry B. Wright. And in 1909, Wright published  The Will of God and a Man’s Lifework.[5] Wright devoted this teaching to the relation of the act of surrender of self in doing God’s will. He contended that willingness to do God’s will is a necessary condition for knowledge of it. He pointed to the Bible and Nature as the parts of God’s will that every one may know.[6] Wright emphasized that God reveals His Universal Will for the world in Jesus, the Living Word, and in the Bible, the Written Word.[7] Then he asked if there were “absolute standards of right and wrong; how Jesus found out the particular will of God for himself, and said Jesus “always did the things which were pleasing to God.” Citing Scripture, Wright pointed to verses in the Bible dealing with purity (Matthew 5:29), unselfishness (Luke 14:33); honesty (Luke 16:11), and love (John 15:2). Wright explained that Jesus was sure of God’s presence and guidance; and Wright reconstructed the “absolute standards of right and wrong” from the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. Wright quoted Robert E. Speer as follows:


Mr. Robert E. Speer has reconstructed from the teaching of Jesus the four standards in regard to which he never allowed himself an exception and with reference to which his teaching is absolute and unyielding. Jesus gives us no direct teaching in regard to such things as smoking, drinking, card playing, theatre, dancing, etc. He recognized that some men could decide one way and others just the opposite on like questions and yet both sides be true Christians. But in regard to four things there was no such option. A man must be pure, he must be honest, he must be unselfish, he must express himself in deeds of love or else he cannot see the kingdom of God. There is no exception to be made on these four counts.[8]


Having discussed many relevant verses applicable to the “Universal Will of God,” Wright then explained that God also has a Particular Will for each individual man, He suggested it rested on the “Fourfold Touchstone of Jesus and the Apostles.” He suggested, as to the four touchstones, that there be a test of Purity, Honesty, Unselfishness, and Love. He said that obedience provided the assurance as to one’s duty and power to achieve results. Wright illustrated:


To every problem, great or small, which presents itself in a small matter like one’s bearing in a game of sport, in a large matter like the choice of a life career, the Christian who is absolutely surrendered to God asks himself this question: “Is the step which I had planned to take an absolutely pure one? Is it an absolutely honest one? Is it the most unselfish one? Is it the fullest possible expression of my love? If it fails to measure up to any one of these four standards it cannot be God’s will and I must not take it, no matter what the refusal may cost me in suffering, mental or physical. As he holds his instrument of apprehension, the human will, resolutely to this standard, the Christian is conscious of its becoming strong both to know and to do God’s will and there comes the undoubted, the compelling conviction which guides and impels him forward. . . . The mysterious meeting place in the prepared and willing heart between the human and divine where precisely the will is finally moved into line with God’s of these things knoweth no man, save only the spirit of God.[9]


Discussing each of the four “absolutes” in turn, and using purity as the first, he proposed the following: “Is the step which I had planned to take an absolutely pure one? If it is not, it cannot be God’s will for that life.” And as to each of the four absolute standards, Wright would thus look at the question in terms of purity versus impurity, and then cite applicable Bible verses that provided definitions of God’s will, for example, as to fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, adultery. Furthermore, each absolute—purity, unselfishness, honesty, and love—was to be related to the other three so that if something were deemed pure, it must also be absolutely unselfish, absolutely honest, and absolutely an act of love.


Frank N. D. Buchman and the Oxford Group  - A First Century Christian Fellowship


The Oxford Group’s Four Absolutes can be found in the speeches of its founder Frank Buchman.[10] They can also be found in books about Buchman, descriptions of Oxford Group principles, in Rev. Sam Shoemaker’s writings, in A.A. General Services Conference-approved books discussing the Oxford Group, in Anne Smith’s writings, and in some Oxford Groups today.[11] As stated, the historical chain begins with Robert E. Speer. Speer’s discussion and cited verses were expanded by Henry B. Wright. And, according to Oxford Group activist and long-time employee T. Willard Hunter, Henry B. Wright was the most influential force in Frank Buchman’s life, other than Buchman’s mother. Buchman’s biographer Garth Lean explained:


The moral standards which he [Buchman] used as a test of directing thoughts also became central to Buchman’s life and teaching: he took them as measuring rods for daily living. Here again he was indebted to Henry Wright. “The absolutes” had originally been set out, as a summary of Christ’s moral teaching, by Robert E. Speer in his book, The Principles of Jesus. Buchman had several times heard Speer preach at Mount Airy, but it was in Wright’s book that he first found the summarized standards “in regards of which,” Wright maintained, “Christ’s teaching is absolute and unyielding.” Wright defined them as “the four-fold touchstone of Jesus and the apostles” and maintained that an individual could apply them “to every problem, great or small which presents itself . . . if (anything) fails to measure up to any one of these four it cannot be God’s will.”[12]


Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr.  became a colleague of Frank Buchman’s in the earliest 1920’s. He was called in 1925 to be rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in New York. He shortly became the Oxford Group’s most prolific author, Frank Buchman’s chief lieutenant in the United States, and actually provided space in Calvary House (adjacent to the church) for the Oxford Group’s American headquarters where Buchman himself lived when he was in the United States. Shoemaker also became a close friend of Bill Wilson, taught Wilson most of the spiritual principles that were embodied in the Twelve Steps, and was dubbed a “cofounder of A.A.” by Wilson himself.[13] Shoemaker wrote extensively on the importance of the Four Absolutes.[14] And the following is indicative of his view:


We must get to the point of whether the man is “willing to do his will” in all areas. Take the four standards of Christ: absolute honesty, absolute purity, absolute unselfishness, and absolute love. When people’s lives are wrong, they are usually wrong on one or more of these standards. . . . By our own frank honesty about ourselves and our willingness, under God as He guides, to share anything in our own experience that will help the other person, and by the willingness to ask God-inspired questions of them that carry the matter right down to the roots, we shall get deep enough to know the real problems . . . . If the person is honest with himself and with God, he will be honest with us and be ready to take the next step, which is a decision to surrender these sins, with himself, wholly to God.[15]


Early A.A.: In a few words, we can summarize how the Four Absolutes were handled in early Alcoholics Anonymous.


Bill Wilson: Wilson was actively involved in Oxford Group activities from late 1934 through August, 1937. He and his wife attended many meetings, attended Oxford Group house parties, and met Frank Buchman and Rev. Shoemaker and other leaders such as Rev. W. Irving Harris and his wife Julia. Bill himself was much involved in an Oxford Group team in late 1935 and early 1936. Bill said he had heard plenty about the Four Absolutes. However, his wife Lois claimed, the “Oxford Group kind of kicked us out [because] she and Bill were not considered ‘maximum’ by the groupers.”[16] By October 30, 1940, Bill said: “I am always glad to say privately that some of the Oxford Group presentation and emphasis upon the Christian message saved my life. Yet it is equally true that other attitudes of the O.G. nearly got me drunk again, and we long since discovered that if we were to approach alcoholics successfully, these [attitudes] would have to be abandoned.” [17] He wrote a laundry list of 8 criticisms of the Oxford Group, including a condemnation of the four absolutes, saying “when the word ‘absolute’ was put in front of these attributes, they either turned people away by the hundreds or gave a temporary spiritual inflation resulting in collapse.”[18] Despite these remarks, Wilson did another turnabout. According to one historian, Wilson wrote in 1960:


In the old days of the Oxford Groups, they were forever talking about the Four Absolutes—Honesty, Purity, Unselfishness, and Love—trying to get too good by Thursday. . . . Absolutes in themselves are not necessarily destructive. Every sound theological system contains them. When we say that our destiny is to grow in the likeness and image of God, we are stating a healthy relation between a relative and an absolute state of affairs. Therefore when writing the Twelve Steps, it was necessary to include some sort of absolute value or else they wouldn’t have been theologically sound. . . . That could have been unfortunate and as misleading as we found them in the Oxford Group emphasis. So in Steps Six and Seven, and in the use of the word God, we did include them.[19]


Dr. Bob Smith: His position was and remained the opposite of Bill’s. In his last major address to AAs, Dr. Bob said:


The four absolutes, as we called them, were the only yardsticks we had in the early days, before the Steps. I think the absolutes still hold good and can be extremely helpful. I have found at times that a question arises, and I want to do the right thing, but the answer is not obvious. Almost always, if I measure my decision carefully by the yardsticks of absolute honesty, absolute unselfishness, absolute purity, and absolute love, and it checks up pretty well with those four, then my answer can’t be very far out of the way.[20]


Dr. Bob’s wife Anne Ripley Smith: In her journal from which she shared with early AAs and their families, Anne spoke repeatedly about how to apply the four standards. She said:


Test your thoughts. It is possible to receive suggestions from your subconscious mind. Check your thoughts by the four standards. . . . Make the moral test. 4 standards. . . . Basis of an interview. Is a challenge on the four standards. . . .  Why I had been absolutely honest but not living. . . . Follow Christ’s absolute commandment. . . .  Absolute honesty demands that we no longer wear a mask. . . . Sharing. . . It is being honest even after it hurts. . . . Every time we register aloud the new attitude and change of heart with absolute honesty, another bridge is burned behind us and another stake is driven in to mark our progress. . . . Check your life constantly by the four absolutes.[21]


Clarence H. Snyder who founded Cleveland A.A.: Many might conclude that when Clarence Snyder (who got sober in February, 1938, and remained sober until his death years later) founded Alcoholics Anonymous in Cleveland, Ohio, he took the best of A.A. there. The best at that time! He embraced the Bible, the Four Absolutes, the Big Book, and the Twelve Steps. AAs achieved a 93% success rate.[22] Clarence said:


New people were told they had to read the Bible—The King James Version of the Bible. They were instructed to do this on a daily basis. Clarence said that newcomers were also told to read The Upper Room and to read the Sermon on the Mount by Emmet Fox. Clarence said the new people were then instructed on the Four Standards. These were the Biblical principles the Oxford Group people had taken from the teachings of Jesus Christ found in the Bible. These “Four Standards” were also called the “Four Absolutes”—Absolute Honesty, Unselfishness, Love and Purity.[23]


Clarence frequently took newcomers through the newly written Twelve Steps in two days time. He wrote a pamphlet on going through the Steps to guide them.[24]


What Happened to the Four Absolutes?


Bill Wilson framed the “moral inventory” items in Step Four. In that Step and in Steps Ten and Eleven, he proposed testing conduct for resentment, fears, selfishness, and harms done to others. He also claimed that the A.A. program called for grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.[25] The Absolutes, as such, simply vanished from the Big Book program of recovery. What can be said is that those, like myself, who have visited A.A. meetings and members all over the United States and reviewed thousands of pieces of A.A. literature, frequently encounter mention of the Four Absolutes, especially among those who have great respect and affection for Dr. Bob or Clarence Snyder. However, the idea of relating each of the standards to a teaching of Jesus has usually been replaced by pamphlets or discussions of what, in the opinion of the particular writer, constitutes conduct consistent with this or that absolute. Also, the writers and speakers often omit the critical part of the Four Absolute tests. Those applying them were also to look to God and His Word for illustration and understanding and also ask God for the wisdom in applying them to proposed action (James 1:5-8).


The Oxford Group & Alcoholics Anonymous: A Design for Living That Works, 2d ed.


Gloria Deo





 [1] The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks (New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1972, 1975), 17.



 [2] Robert E. Speer, The Principals of Jesus: Applied to Some Questions of To-Day (New York: Association Press, 1902).



 [3] Speer, The Principles of Jesus, 33-36.



 [4] Speer, The Principles of Jesus, 33.



 [5] Henry B. Wright, The Will of God and a Man’s Lifework (NY:  Association Press, 1924). Copyrighted in 1909 by The International Committee of Young Men’s Christian Associations.



 [6] Wright, The Will of God, 135.



 [7] Wright, The Will of God, 138.



 [8] Wright, The Will of God, 169.



 [9] Wright, The Will of God, 173-74.



 [10] Frank N. D. Buchman, Remaking the World (London: Blandford Press, 1961), 36, 40, 96, 131.



 [11] For a thorough review of these statements, the supporting bibliography, and a discussion of the Oxford Group and the Four Absolutes, see Dick B., The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous: A Design for Living That Works New Rev. ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1998), 237-46.



 [12] Garth Lean, Frank Buchman: A Life (London: Constable, 1985), 76



 [13] These statements are documented and thoroughly discussed in Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A. Pittsburgh ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1999).



 [14] Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism, 55, 56, 97, 98, 101, 107-09, 117, 142-43, 159, 167, 234-35, 239, 241-42, 312, 314, 393, 414, 419-20, 432-33, 455, 462, 523,



 [15] Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., The Church Can Save The World (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1938), 110-14; Dick B.,  New Light on Alcoholism, 56-57.



 [16] Pass It On, 174.



 [17] Pass It On, 171.



 [18] Pass It On, 172-73.



 [19] Ernest Kurtz, Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous.(Center City, MN: Hazelden, 1979), 242-43.



 [20] The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches: Their Last Major Talks (New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1972, 1975), 17.



 [21] Dick B., Anne Smith’s Journal 1933-1939:A.A.’s Principles of Success.3rd ed, (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1998), 32-33.



 [22] Mitchell K., How It Worked: The Story of Clarence H. Snyder and The Early Days of Alcoholics Anonymous in Cleveland, Ohio (Washingtonville, NY: AA Big Book Study Group, 1997), 108.



 [23] Mitchell K., How It Worked,, 69.



 [24] Mitchell K., How It Worked, 240-44.



 [25] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed. (NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 2001), 28

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bible and A..A." : Reviews of this book by Dick B. Written by Distinguished A.A. Historians

"The Bible and the 'Big Book' of Alcoholics Anonymous are not mutually exclusive, as the author, Dick B., carefully shows. The A.A. book which has helped millions with their addictions is deeply indebted to, and profoundly influenced by, biblical language, images, and themes gleaned directly from the Bible or indirectly from Bible teachers like Rev. Samuel Shoemaker, E. Stanley Jones, and Oswald Chambers. A.A. has received much from biblical Christianity, and biblical Christians can receive much from Dick's new book about spiritual growth and victorious living."

Rev. Charles B. Puskas, Jr., Ph.D.
Author, An Introduction to the New Testament

"Dick's exhaustive research gives us a clear picture of how Dr. Bob, Anne, Bill W., and the early A.A.s used the Good Book to help thousands recover".

Ray G.
Archivist, Dr. Bob's Home, Akron, Ohio

"We use Dick's book in all our counselor training centers. It is an invaluable resource."

Jean LaCour, Ph.D.
Dean, The N.E.T. Training Institute

"We're excited to have this book for scholars of A.A. that explains A.A.'s roots in the Bible!"

Ozzie and Bonnie L.
Managers, The Wilson House, East Dorset, Vermont

"Anyone seeking to learn the spiritual roots of Alcoholics Anonymous will find Dick B.'s publication, The Good Book and the Big Book, an invaluable resource. Dick has done a monumental job of finding and documenting the prime sources of A.A.'s life-renewing power."

John F. Seiberling Former United States Congressman Son of Henrietta Seiberling, an early A.A. "founder"

Paradise Research Publications, Inc.; 180 pp.; 6 x 9; perfect bound; 1998; $23.95; ISBN

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Welcome Letter from Harvard MD re Dick B. A.A. History Books and Their Library System



Hi Dick,


     The librarian I worked with re the donation of your books to

the Harvard Library system has just retired, and he sent this

message to me:  “In my case, with my focus on building

our collection [at the Harvard Divinity School] for the present

and the future, it was especially gratifying to have the opportunity

to add Dick B’s books, someone whose work I have always



God bless you and Ken,


John Mooney

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Great Letter from Mike G. to Dick B. re Kihei and A.A. and Christianity

Hi Dick B!

I am a Christian and an AA and I’ve been to Kihei, because my son lives there. I might have met you when I attended meetings there. Thanks for your messages.

I am still early enough in my recovery to be moving along a confused path towards renewing my faith and Christian foundation. I have felt the uneasiness of many AAs about saying too much on God. I also have heard AAs remark that they noticed the ones skipping out to the parking lot are the ones frequently using the word God in their speech. I consider this a testimony to the truth of the matter, and applaud you in your effort to regain the Christian basis for recovery.  I will continue my journey; maybe our paths will meet in Kihei next time I’m there.


Mike G


Monday, October 21, 2013

A.A. Author and Historian Dick B. Thanks "Teens 4 Victory" for Extensively Publishing A.A. History by Dick

Thank you for posting some of my materials on Alcoholics Anonymous History and the Christian Recovery Movement. Adding to the above, I would point out two things that have become well-documented A.A. History as the result of our 24 years of research and publishing. The first is that early Akron A.A. founded in June, 1935 was a Christian Fellowship and so declared by its cofounder Dr. Robert Smith. Dr. Bob said all the basic ideas came from the studies, teachings, and efforts in the Bible that had been going on since the founding. The second is that Bill W. developed a completely "new version" of the program (to use his own words) and that meant the publication of the Big Book and 12 Steps in 1939. As to these, Bill stated that  there were three major sources for his "new version" of the A.A. program: (1) The inspiration of his psychiatrist, Dr. William D. Silkworth, who conveyed to Bill the rudiments of the "disease" of alcoholism and also told Bill that the Great Physician Jesus Christ could cure him.  (2) The writings of the long-dead Professor William James who did a huge study of the "varieties of religious experience" as evidenced by conversion cures of alcoholics in the gospel rescue missions. (3) The teachings of Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. an American leader of "A First Century Christian Fellowship" also called the Oxford Group. Wilson said that ten of the twelve steps came from Shoemaker. And it is quite clear from some 500 Oxford Group books and writings that I read and discussed with Oxford Groupers that "The Principles of the Oxford Group Were The Principles of the Bible" - paraphrasing the little booklet prepared by Shoemaker's friend Rev. Sherwood Day in the early 1920's. God Bless, Dick B.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Recovery Pastor Matt Pierce of Golden Hills Community Church Interviewed Today on Christian Recovery Radio

Dick B. interviews Christian Recovery leader Matt Pierce on the October 18, 2013, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show


You may hear Dick B. interview Matt Pierce, Recovery Pastor at Golden Hills Community Church in Brentwood, (Northern) California, on the October 18, 2013, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show here:



or here:



Episodes of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show are archived at:



For several years, Golden Hills Community Church in Brentwood, (Northern) California, has substantially helped our efforts to make the recovery community aware of the role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible played in the founding and development of Alcoholics Anonymous, and the role that they can play in recovery today.


When we first held an International Christian Recovery Coalition conference at Golden Hills, we had the great pleasure of meeting and working with its Recovery Pastor, Matt Pierce. And Matt has encouraged, entertained, and catalyzed recovery outreach in his church, in the Twelve Step community, and with the afflicted and affected.


Today's interview of Recovery Pastor Matt Pierce allows us to see another big step forward by Golden Hills. For some time, Matt has been occupied with acquiring a property in Rescue, California, a suitably named unincorporated community in El Dorado County; and getting permits for "Bethesda Village," a long-term (one year) program and community for Christ-centered healing and discipleship at that location. The program has employed a fine recovery director and will be holding a Bethesda Harvest Fundraiser on November 2.


This morning, I won't attempt to describe Bethesda Village further, as I know that Pastor Matt would like to provide all the details, progress, and plans for this facility, what its program will be, and what it is aiming for in helping those suffering from alcoholism and addictions and from the effect of those maladies on the community and others.


It is a pleasure to turn this program over to Pastor Matt right now for a real look-see at the program Golden Hills Community Church is launching in the recovery world. Take it away, Matt!


The Oxford Group & Alcoholics Anonymous - source of the "new version" A.A. program published in 1939

The Oxford Group & Alcoholics Anonymous


Dick B.

© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved


The Oxford Group was first known as “A First Century Christian Fellowship.” Later, during a train trip, the press dubbed the travelers (most from Oxford University) “the Oxford Group.” And the nick name stuck. But its literature continued to refer to it as “A First Century Christian Fellowship” for almost a decade thereafter.


This A First Century Christian Fellowship certainly was not the origin of Alcoholics Anonymous. The Bible was.  See The Good Book and the Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible. A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob pointed out that the basic A.A. ideas came from their study, efforts, and teachings from the Bible.


And even, in the case of the Oxford Group, a very early pamphlet was written and  began as” The Principles of  the Oxford Group Are the Principles of the Bible.”


Though Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob had both been associated with A First Century Christian Fellowship—Bill for several months in New York, and Dr. Bob for two and a half years in Akron---the Bible was the source of the original Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship program founded in June, 1935; and that is apparent from DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, page 131.


What is factual is that when Bill obtained authority to write a book, Bill turned back to New York and to his friend Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. for almost all the content of his “new version” of the program (the Twelve Steps) published in the Big Book in 1939.


You can see how many ideas, how many phrases, and how much language in Bill’s Big Book came directly from the Oxford Group and from Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., its principal American leader. See New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A.


If you are a Christian and want to see the sold biblical and Christian roots of Alcoholics Anonymous,  the place to learn, look, and become informed is the original old school Akron A.A. program and the new version published four years later in 1939 as Alcoholics Anonymous.


Remember! The Bible for the program of early Akron A.A. and what that Christian Fellowship did. The Oxford Group, Rev. Sam Shoemaker, Professor William James, and William D. Silkworth, M.D. for the sources Bill named as the specific origins of the Twelve Steps.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Christians and A.A.: a 24 Year Alcoholics Anonymous History Series--Comprehensive, Accurate, Truthful

We have now completed a draft outline and  then a draft script for two of the five videos planned for a presentation of the real Alcoholics Anonymous History story. We have also sent out our budget to a number of long-time supporters; and already five have pledged to help fund this project.


Your inquiries, support, and passing along the word on this unique, important, truthful, comprehensive A.A. presentation by A.A. authors Dick B. and Ken B. will be welcome.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Announcement of Draft of "Bill W., Dr. Bob, and the Cure of Alcoholism" Video Series with Accompanying Study Guide

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bill W., Dr. Bob, and the Cure of Alcoholism: "The Rest of the Story" - Forthcoming Video Series with Accompanyiing Study Guide

Today, we are circulating to as many as possible: (1) A Draft Outline of Bill W., Dr. Bob, and the Cure of Alcoholism: "The Rest of the Story"--a forthcoming Video Series with Accompanying Study Guide. (2) Our Estimated Budget for the Project. (3) a Letter to those who have so graciously supported our Alcoholics Anonymous History books, articles, blogs, radio shows, and conferences over some twenty four years.

If you would like to receive this preliminary information and consider helping with the funding of the project, please contact Dick B., PO Box 837, Kihei, HI 96753-0837; 808 874 4876 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 808 874 4876 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting;

Origins, Roots, History of Alcoholics Anonymous: A Huge Comprehensive, Accurate, Truthful Resource

Alcoholics Anonymous History - Books Recommended by A.A. Author and Historian Dick B. - Order from Site

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Dr. Bob Interview by Your Faith Magazine in 1939 - presented on radio by Dick B.

Hear Dick B. discuss D. J. Defoe's interview of A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob in the September 1939 issue of Your Faith Magazine on the October 15, 2013, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show here:



Dick B.

© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved



You May Hear This Radio Show Right Now



or here:


Episodes of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show are archived at:



Adding an International Christian Recovery Coalition Banner to Your Website or Facebook Page

The International Christian Recovery Coalition now has participants in every one of the United States, plus fourteen other countries.

Its website, banner, explanatory note, mission statement, leaders and participants, resource centers, projects, Introduction Class, Radio Show with Dick B., conferences, and articles can be found on
http://goo/gl/qP2pw. Be sure to go there first, check it out; and, if you approve, send us your listing so that you too can be named without cost as a supporter and disseminator of information about the role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible played in old school Akron A.A.'s Christian Fellowship program and can play in Bill W.'s "new version" Big Book and Twelve Steps of 1939.

We would be delighted to see every participant with a  website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Blog, YouTube, and other forms of Social Media carry our banner on the page to publicize the Christian Recovery Movement that is now sweeping the recovery arena.

The banner is

Monday, October 14, 2013

Arizona History Conferences Hear Reading of Dr. Bob of A.A.'s Interview in 1939 Given to "Your Faith" Magazine

The Long-Missing 1939 Interview of Dr. Bob in “Your Faith” Magazine


Dick B.


[Dick B.: The following article is from “Your Faith" magazine. It is an article which A.A. literature had said was lost. AAs speculated that Dr. Bob wrote the article. He didn't. He was interviewed by D. J. Defoe in September 1939 for "Your Faith" Magazine. And the interview disappeared from view for years and years as far as AAs were concerned. Yet in the interview, Dr. Bob told how he read the Bible with patients. He told how they came to trust God. He told how he had been cured by prayer. He spoke about the healings of Jesus Christ. And he was talking about the many drunkards whom he had been able to help once he himself prayed, turned to God for help, and was cured--a priceless article free of the editing and revision of others who might have doubted!]



D. J. Defoe, “I Saw Religion Remake a Drunkard,” in Your Faith magazine, September 1939, 84-88



Through Liquor, this physician had lost his practice, his reputation and his self-respect. Then one night in a gathering in a private home, he found the way of escape.



WHEN a doctor starts drinking, he's usually on the skids for keeps. His profession gives him so much privacy, so great exposure to temptation both from liquor and from drugs, and his need of a stimulant to lift him from depression becomes so extreme, that many a good doctor has dropped into oblivion for no cause other than his own thirst for drink.

I could tell you about more than one doctor who came to no good end through liquor. Their stories are alike in their early furtiveness, then a brazen attitude of liquor - might -do-things-to some-men - but - I'm-different, then a broken desperation to try to keep up appearances and pretend nothing has happened, and finally exposure—and failure—and disgrace. One brilliant ex-surgeon a suicide; another exile from home; two others forgotten by their friends; so runs the history.

But Dr. X handled his liquor problem differently. He came close enough to degradation to see how the jaws of hell reaching out for him. But then something interfered and saved him.

Today Dr. X—and I dare not give his name, or even the name of the city, for reasons you will soon discover—is alive and happy and is probably a better and more popular doctor than ever before. What saved his life and reputation? What force made him into a new man?

It was simply religion, brought home to him in a way he could use it. Simply the new habit of living his religion, and the discovery that he could utilize the power of prayer.

We used to see Dr. X around a lot. He was cheery, straightforward, friendly, and successful. His field was a particularly intricate form of surgery and he did well at it.

Then for quite a while we missed him. I saw his wife now and then, and noticed—even a man can things like that—that she seemed a little shabby and not especially happy.

We began to hear ugly rumors. That's bad for any doctor. We heard he was losing his practice. When a doctor begins drinking, not many people are willing to trust their own lives to his skill with a knife.

Last year I met Dr. X for the first time in several years. He was a new Dr. X. Straight as an Indian. Clean eyes. An honest I-can-lick-the-world look in his face. He gripped my hand in a vise and said hello in a way that gave you something to tie to.

We were at a party. Someone offered Dr. X a drink. Then I remembered what had happened to him and wondered what he would do.

"I don't drink," he said evenly. "Some men can take a drink, or two drinks, and stop. I can't. I had that ability once, but not now. If I'd take as much as a swallow of alcohol now, I'd disappear—and you wouldn't see me for three weeks."

From him and from others I got his whole story, a bit here, a bit there. Here it is.

He had been drinking for longer than anyone but his wife suspected. For a while he was able to keep the matter a secret. But he missed a couple of appointments and got into some trouble. First his competitors knew it. Then his friends around the hospital got wise. Finally even his oldest patients began to leave him.

He had always been dignified and aloof, and when he was straight you hesitated to go up to him and tell him he was drinking too much. Usually he drank alone, silently, hungrily, in a sodden fashion of one who wants to forget. Just a deadly, steady sopping up of the poison. It was ghastly. In his saner moments he must have known the way he was headed. But a stubborn pride—and pride of that sort in a wayward person is a terrible thing—held him from seeking help.

Finally a friend he trusted got him to attend a little meeting in a living room one evening. It was a simple affair. Not dress-up at all. Here was a factory foreman who looked happier than almost anybody in town. When the time came to talk he told how he had been cured of drunkenness by prayer. His wife told how unbelievably happy their life was now. They didn't have much money—you could see that—but they had something that money alone had never brought them. They had love, and self-respect, and they had each other.

Dr. X was surprised to find that everyone in this little group had some sort of a fight to make, and had won. He began to look at these people in a new way. They had been weak and now they were strong. Unconsciously he began to envy them.

He surprised himself by starting to say something. He admitted he had a tremendous hunger for liquor, and sometimes it got him down. He found that just merely talking about his trouble seemed to bring relief. As long as you conceal your difficulties, no one can help you. But once you bring your trouble out in the open, you can invite help and encouragement from friends. And you can benefit by the strengthening power of prayer.


Merely getting on his knees and asking for help wasn't the whole story of Dr. X's reformation. Many a drunk knows there's a wide difference between promising to go straight and sticking to it!

What enabled him to hold fast to his resolution was the discovery that he, who had just started to climb back to sobriety and respectability, had the ability to help other desperate and disheartened drunks to live decent lives too.

In fact, that's a big part of the cure. When Dr. X gets an inebriate started on a new life of decency, he sees to it that the man gets on his feet now and then and talks to other people in the same predicament. Telling yourself and the world that you're going to go straight helps you to remind your subconscious mind that you are going straight.

There have been a lot of ex-drunks that have come within Dr. X's influence since that fateful night he was turned back from a drunkard's grave. Forty-three of them, no less, owe their new lives to him. He'll leave a party or a dinner, almost leave an operation, to go and sit up all night with some drunk he probably never saw before but who he knows needs help.

He has worked out a little system. Usually he puts the drunk to bed in a hospital, where he can sleep off his liquor quietly but can't get any more. There the sick man—for a drunk really is a sick man—receives regular care, and hot meals, and also some measure of discipline and restraint. There he has privacy, and time to think.

"But you can't do much for a man until he hits bottom and bounces back up, can you?" I asked.

"A man doesn't necessarily have to hit bottom, but he has to come close enough to it to see where he's going if he doesn't stop drinking," replied Dr. X quietly. "And he's got to want to be helped before we can do much with him or for him"

When a drunk in the hospital starts to sober up, Dr. X closes the door and starts to talk to him.

"I know where you hide your bottles," he'll say. "I know every sneaky little thing you do to get liquor when you're not supposed to have any. I've been there myself. And I want to tell you, my fine young friend, it's getting you nowhere. You're rotten. You're ashamed of yourself. Now let's do something about it."

So there in that white, silent hospital room they read the Bible together. Then they pray. Very simply. First the Doctor, then, falteringly, the man himself. He finds his voice gains in confidence. He finds it is easy to talk to God, and talk out loud. He finds a huge load is lifted off his chest. He begins to feel he could hold his head up again. He gets a fresh look at the man he might be. The whole idea becomes real and feasible to him. He becomes enthusiastic and eager about going straight. He promises to read the Bible, and Dr. X leaves him.

Then, like as not, the sick man slips up, and badly. Success is not that easy. Those nerves that have been accustomed to bossing the mind and the body can't be straightened out without a last tough fight. The patient begs for just one more last little drink, and when the nurse refuses, he is angry at Dr. X and may storm about and threaten to go home. Fortunately, the foresighted Dr. X had carefully removed the patient's pants and shoes and locked them up in his own locker in the surgeons' room of the hospital.

And then, because he knows the fight the sick man is going through, Dr. X comes back in time to bring new comfort and new cheer and to again call forth the searching and ever-available help of prayer. And in a couple of weeks the man, rested and refreshed and with the eyes alight as a result of decent living, goes home to his friends and his family that had almost given him up for dead.

"No, I don't dare let you tell about this," Dr. X said to me when I asked him for a signed interview.

"We can't publicize these cures. These men are outside the realm of every day medicine. They have tried everything and been given up as hopeless. We don't succeed every time ourselves. We can't brag. Every case is a new battle."

"But if word got out that we can do anything at all for a drunk, then derelicts would come into this town by the TRAINLOAD. We couldn't handle them. We couldn't handle a dozen. Two is a lot. One at a time is plenty. I can't talk to one of these fellows for more than an hour or two without feeling spent and tired, unless I talk like a parrot, and talking like a parrot wouldn't do them any good".

"Do you remember when Christ turned around in the crowd and asked, 'Who touched me?' and some woman confessed she had touched his robe because she wanted to be cured? Christ felt some of his power pass out from him at that touch. It's the same way with helping people. You're giving something. It tires you.

"We fellows who are doing this sort of thing feel we have hold of something, but we don't dare use our names in connection with it. Look up the new book, Alcoholics, Anonymous which we helped write. We studied around for a long while to find how we could tell our story without using our names. That book was the answer. It tells some actual stories—my own among them—but no names are given. Even the publisher doesn't know our names."


"But Dr. X," I insisted, "Why not let these drunks pay you something for what you do for them? After all, they have been a burden to their friends. You put them back where they can earn a living again and live a decent life. You deserve any kind of fee you want to charge."

"No, we can't commercialize the idea," the doctor said firmly but kindly. "That would spoil everything. We've got to keep our work as a gift to anyone we are able to help.

"Moreover, I'm not sure we could set up a sanitarium and cure people effectively in any wholesale manner. I'm convinced this idea has to grow, one cure at a time."

I tried to argue still further. "But Christ was willing to let folks invite him in for supper and the night," I suggested. "You and your wife have food to buy, and rent to pay, and overhead expenses in the way of taxes and insurance and shoes for your daughter. It's your own fault if you don't let these reformed drunks help pay their own way."

"I'm satisfied," he said with a quiet smile that permitted no debate. "My wife and I are happier than we have ever been in our lives. We can keep going very nicely as long as I get a few operations from time to time, as I am doing. I'm doing a good job of living, and am happy," he ended.

Then he handed me this final thought. "I have found that no one can be permanently happy unless he lives in harmony with the rules set down in the Good Book," he said. "Try it some time! You don't need to wait till you're down and out before you ask for help. There's help waiting for you right now, if you just ask God to help you."

† † †


The gifts of friendship have only the value that

friendship gives them.—The Advance.