Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A.A. Cofounders Bill W. and Dr. Bob Speaking about Christ, the Lord, and Christianity: More Examples

Speaking about Christ, the Lord, and Christianity

More Examples


By Ken B.

© 2015 Anonymous. All rights reserved


My dad (Dick B.) and I recently published an article about some of the places in A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature where Bill W. mentioned "Jesus," "Christ," "the Lord," "Christian," or "Christianity." Here is a link to that article on one of my dad's blogs:



There are other examples of where A.A. cofounders Bill W. and Dr. Bob spoke about Christ, the Lord, or Christianity in A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature. Here, for example, is one of the things A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob said in his last major talk given at Detroit, Michigan, in December 1948:


Christ said, "Of Myself, I am nothing--My strength cometh from My Father in heaven." If He had to say that, how about you and me?


[Source: The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches: Their Last Major Talks (New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1972, 1975), 19; available to read FREE of charge at www.AA.org



And here is how A.A. cofounder Bill W. concluded his last major talk given on October 11, 1969, at the New York Hilton, at the celebration of the 35th anniversary of Bill's sobriety:


I would like to conclude with the memory of one of history's great figures with words dedicated to him that have come down through the centuries. His name was Francis:


Lord make me a channel of thy peace . . .

Lord grant that I may seek rather to comfort than be comforted . . .


[Source: The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, 36 (Item # P-53)]


Here's another important statement Bill W. made to Henrietta D., wife of "AA Number Three," Akron attorney Bill D, a week or two after Bill D. had come out of the hospital on July 4, 1935:


. . . "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."


[Source: Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 191; also quoted on page 83 of DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers]


The A.A. General Service Conference-approved book DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers contains a number of references to the Christianity in early A.A.—especially as seen in Akron (and to some extent in Cleveland). For example:


"Dr. Bob was a prominent man in Akron. Everybody knew him. When he stopped drinking, people asked, 'What's this not-drinking-liquor club you've got over there?' 'A Christian fellowship,' he'd reply.


[Source: DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers (New York: N.Y.: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980), 118]


And there are more.


In GOD's love,


Ken B.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A.A. Cofounder Bill W.’s 1943 Affirmation of His Born Again Status: His Inscription “Yours in Christ”

A.A. Cofounder Bill W.’s 1943 Affirmation of His Born Again Status:

His Inscription “Yours in Christ”


By Dick B., with Ken B.
© 2014, 2015 Anonymous. All rights reserved


Born again


Bill Wilson said in his autobiography:


For sure, I’d been born again.

[Bill W., My First 40 Years (Center City, Minn.: Hazelden, 2000), 147.

For more examples of this language, see Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W., 110 (http://www.dickb.com/theconversionofbillw.shtml)]


After Ebby’s visit to Bill prior to Bill’s decision for Christ at Calvary Mission, Bill Wilson wrote of Ebby:


The man was transformed; there was no denying he had been reborn.

[“Bill Wilson’s Original Manuscript,” see lines 935-942, an unpublished manuscript located at Bill and Lois Wilson’s home called “Stepping Stones” in New York.

For more on this, see, for example: Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W., xv, 47. 49]


After Bill Wilson made his own decision for Christ at the rail at Calvary Mission in New York about December 7, 1934, he told his wife Lois about his experience that evening. Speaking of Bill’s experience at Calvary Mission in a speech she gave in Texas, Lois stated:


And he [Bill W.] went up, and really, in very great sincerity, did hand over his life to Christ.

[“Lois Remembers: Searcy, Ebby, Bill & Early Days.” Recorded in Dallas, Texas, June 29, 1973, Moore, OK: Sooner Cassette, Side 1.

For more on this, see, for example: Dick B. The Conversion of Bill W., 61]


Lois Wilson wrote in her autobiography:


Although my joy and faith in his rebirth continued, I missed his companionship.

[(L.B.W.), Lois Remembers: Memoirs of the Co-founder of Al-Anon and Wife of the Co-Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (New York: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., 1979), 98.

For more on this, see, for example: Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W., 114]


Even author Mel B., the man who dubs himself a casual historian, concluded:


His [Bill W.’s] was clearly a kind of “born again” experience, . . .

[Mel B., New Wine: The Spiritual Roots of the Twelve Step Miracle (Center City, Minn.: Hazelden, 1991), 88]


In John 3:7 (KJV), Jesus said to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:


Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.


In 1 Peter 1:23 (KJV), the Apostle Peter wrote:


Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.


In Christ


In January 13, 1943, Bill Wilson signed his full name “Bill Wilson” in an inscription in a first edition Big Book he gave to his friend, Dr. Jesse M. Bader. A photo of the inscription was sent to me (Dick B.) by Ken R. I have it in my archives and have shown it at A.A. History conferences. You may see a picture of the page in Alcoholics Anonymous on which Bill Wilson wrote the inscription including “Yours in Christ” to Dr. Bader, as published by PBA Galleries in conjunction with the auction of this book [Sale 389: Rare Books & Manuscripts (#389) 09/25/2008 1:00 PM PDT], here:


http://mcaf.ee/ql4yt [accessed 1/2/2015]


Ken R. also posted the following message on the web:

“I just purchased a First Edition, Third printing Big Book inscribed on the front free endpaper,


“To my friend Dr. Jesse M. Bader,
            Yours in Christ, Bill Wilson, 1/13/43.”

Jesse Moren Bader (1886-1963) was a noted evangelist, ecumenist and global leader. He
founded the global, ecumenical, World Communion Sunday which was launched on October 6, 1940 and continues on the first Sunday in October each year.

This is the first time I've ever seen Bill W. inscribe anything "Yours in Christ" and it's also notable that he signed his full name. He apparently stopped signing his full last name about the time the Traditions were coming out.

Ken R.”


And here is the detailed information PBA Galleries provided about this particular copy of the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous in conjunction with the auction:


PBA Galleries (Auctioneers & Appraisers)


Sale 389: Rare Books & Manuscripts (#389) 09/25/2008  1:00 PM PDT CLOSED!


Lot 3 of 145:

Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than Six Thousand Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism


Lot closed – Sale Price: $13,200


Heading:         (Alcoholics Anonymous)

Author:            [Wilson, William (Bill W.)]

Place:               New York

Publisher:        Works Publishing Co.

Date:               1942

Description:     viii, [2], 400 pp. 9x6, original blue cloth, spine lettered in gilt, original jacket. First Edition, Third printing. Presentation copy inscribed on the front free endpaper, "To my friend Dr. Jesse M. Bader, Yours in Christ, Bill Wilson, 1/13/43." Jesse Moren Bader (1886-1963) was a noted evangelist, ecumenist and global leader. He founded the global, ecumenical, World Communion Sunday which was launched on October 6, 1940 and continues on the first Sunday in October each year. There were 5000 copies of this third printing published in June, 1942.

Lot Amendments


Jacket chipped and worn, lacking top 2½" of spine strip and some of adjacent front panel, repairs on verso; volume spine head bumped, shelf wear, darkening along front endpaper gutter, else very good in good jacket.


Item number:197329



Shortened link: http://mcaf.ee/ql4yt [accessed 1/2/2015]



Some Examples of the Phrase “in Christ” in the King James Version of the Bible


In 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV), the Apostle Paul wrote:


Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. [emphasis added]


In Romans 8:1 (KJV), the Apostle Paul wrote:


There is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [emphasis added]


Here are a couple of other examples of this phrase:


2 Corinthians 2:17 (KJV): “in the sight of God speak we in Christ” [emphasis added]


1 Peter 5:14 (KJV): “Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen” [emphasis added]



Additional Examples of Verses in the King James Version

in Which the Phrase “In Christ” Occurs


Rom 16:7: Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.


1 Cor 1:2: Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:


1 Cor 1:30: But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:


1 Cor 3:1:  And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.


2 Cor 5:17: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.


Gal 1:22: And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:


Eph 1:1: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:


Phil 1:1: Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:


Phil 4:21: Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you.


Col 1:2: To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


1 Thess 2:14: For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:


1 Thess 4:16: For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:


1 Pet 5:14: Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.


Gloria Deo

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Some of the Several Times Bill W. and his friend Dr. Bob Mentioned Jesus Christ in A.A. General Service Conference-Approved Publications

Some of the Several Times Bill W. and his friend Dr. Bob Mentioned Jesus Christ

in A.A. General Service Conference-Approved Publications


By Dick B.

© 2015 Anonymous. All rights reserved


As found on page 114 of As Bill Sees It: The A.A. Way of Life . . . Selected Writings of A.A.’s Co-Founder (New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1967), A.A. cofounder Bill W. stated in a letter he wrote in 1940:


At first, the remedy for my personal difficulties seemed so obvious that I could not imagine any alcoholic turning the proposition down were it properly presented to him. Believing so firmly that Christ can do anything. I had the unconscious conceit to suppose that He would do everything through me—right then and in the manner I chose. I had to admit that not a soul had surely laid hold of the Master—not excepting myself.


The third edition of Alcoholics Anonymous (“the Big Book”), published in 1976, contains a personal story on pages 210-21 titled “He Thought He Could Drink Like a Gentleman.” It is the story of attorney Abby G., in whose house in Cleveland, Ohio, the first meeting of A.A.’s third group in the world was held on May 11, 1939. On pages 216-17 of his personal story, Abby states:


One evening I had gone out after dinner to take on a couple of double-headers and stayed a little later than usual, and when I came home Clarence [S.—founder of the first A.A. group in Cleveland] was sitting on the davenport with Bill W. I do not recollect the specific conversation that went on but I believe I did challenge Bill to tell me something about A.A. and I do recall one other thing: I wanted to know what this was that worked so many wonders, and hanging over the mantel was a picture of Gethsemane and Bill [W.] pointed to it and said, “There it is,” . . .


(Jesus’s praying in the Garden of Gethsemane with his disciples, as recorded in Matt 26:36-46 and Mark 14:32-42, is a scene that has been portrayed by numerous painters through the centuries. Abby G.’s personal story was not included in the fourth edition of the Big Book published in 2001.)


The A.A. General Service Conference-approved book ‘Pass It On’ (New York, N.Y.: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1984) states the following about Bill W. on page 171:


Because Bill’s reasons [for his 1937 departure from the Oxford Group] were often misunderstood, he later wrote letters and articles to explain the split. One of his most extensive statements about the situation was made in a letter dated October 30, 1940, to a member in Richmond, Virginia:


“I am always glad to say privately that some of the Oxford Group presentation and emphasis upon the Christian message saved my life.”


In Bill W.’s last major talk—given on October 11, 1969, at the New York Hilton hotel, and of which an edited transcript was reproduced on pages 27-36 of The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks (New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1972, 1975)—Bill related:


Finally, there was some kind of hearing on it among the self-appointed elders. I remember how perfectly Bob put it to them. He reminded us that most of us were practicing Christians. Then he asked: “What would the Master have thought? Would He have kept this man away?” He had them cold!


Gloria Deo

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Guide for Beginners’ Recovery from Alcoholism and Addiction Today by Applying "Old-School" Akron A.A. in Today’s Recovery Scene

The Guide for Beginners’ Recovery from Alcoholism and Addiction Today

By Applying "Old-School" Akron A.A. in Today’s Recovery Scene


By Dick B.

© 2015 Anonymous. All rights reserved



Some Key Concepts and Events That Influenced Early A.A.


·         Summary of the Stages of Healing Techniques, Beginning with the Apostles, and How They Lived Their Lives—including praying, witnessing, converting others, healing, fellowshipping in homes and  temple, and breaking bread together


·         How Recovery “Christian techniques” Began to Be Employed in the Manner of First Century Christian Fellowships


·         The Turning by Christian Groups in the 1850’s to Ministering to the “Unworthy”


·         The Christian Entities That Led the Way


·         Christian Revivals in the Upbringing of A.A.’s Co-founders

[Especially, the “Great Awakening” of 1875 in St. Johnsbury]


·         Congregationalism in Vermont and in the Families of A.A.’s Cofounders


·         Participation of Bill W.’s and Dr. Bob’s Grandparents and Parents


·         Church, Sunday School, Sermons, Reading of Scripture, Hymns, Prayer Meetings, the Young Men’s Christian Association, and the United Society of Christian Endeavor


·         The Congregational Domination of Academies Attended by Dr. Bob, Bill W., and Ebby Thacher; and the Christian Practices Required of Students


·         The Spiral Downward (glass in hand) by Dr. Bob and by Bill W. as They Departed for College



The Early Formative Days for Alcoholics and Addicts Involved in Alcoholics Anonymous


How the First Three AAs Got Sober


A.A. Number One, Bill W. Future A.A. cofounder Bill W. became born again at Calvary Mission in New York around December 7, 1934, after his old Burr and Burton Seminary schoolmate, Ebby T., shared the message of “A First Century Christian Fellowship” (also known as “the Oxford Group”) with him in late November 1934. Shortly thereafter, Bill was cured of his alcoholism in his hospital room at Towns Hospital around December 14, 1934, when he cried out to God for help, had an experience in which his hospital room “blazed with an indescribably white light,” and had the “blazing thought”: “Bill, you are a free man. This is the God of the Scriptures.” Bill never again doubted the existence of God, and he never drank again.


A.A. Number Two, Dr. Bob. About March or April 1935, Henrietta Seiberling arranged a meeting of participants in the Oxford Group at the home of T. Henry and Clarace Williams in Akron for the purpose of seeing future A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob delivered from his alcoholism.  After Dr. Bob (the alcoholic) confessed at that meeting that he was “a secret drinker,” and at his request, he joined the small group of friends in prayer for his deliverance from alcoholism on their knees on a rug on the floor of the Williams’s home. Shortly after that prayer, on May 11, 1935, Henrietta Seiberling received a seemingly-miraculous phone call from Bill W., a stranger from New York who was on a business trip in Akron, seeking a drunk to work with. The next day, May 12, 1935 (Mother’s Day), she introduced Dr. Bob and Bill W. to each other at her home; and, after a six hour talk, the two men were bound to the principle of serving others. But Dr. Bob had yet to be cured. After beginning to work with Bill W. in helping other alcoholics in May and early June, Dr. Bob went on a bender on the way to and at the American Medical Association convention at Atlantic City, New Jersey. Upon his return to Ohio from the A.M.A. convention, Dr. Bob undertook a scheduled surgery. Bill and Bob’s family were concerned that Bob was too shaky to operate. But at four o’clock in the morning on the day of the operation, Dr. Bob told Bill: “I have placed both operation and myself in God’s hands.” Bill W. gave Dr. Bob a bottle of beer that morning before the operation. Dr. went ahead with the surgery that day, and it was a success. That bottle of beer--which Bill W. and Dr. Bob both said Dr. Bob had on June 10, 1935--was Dr. Bob’s last drink. He was cured of alcoholism and never drank again for the rest of his life. “. . . [I]t is generally agreed that Alcoholics Anonymous began there, in Akron, on that date: June 10, 1935.” [DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 75]. (The actual date of Dr. Bob’s last drink, however, may have been closer to June 17, as the A.M.A. convention in Atlantic City was held from June 10-14 that year.)


A.A. Number Three, Bill D. On June 26, 1935, Akron attorney Bill D. checked into Akron City Hospital, following seven earlier hospital stays for alcoholism within the preceding six months. A.A. cofounders Bill W. and Dr. Bob visited with Bill D. in the hospital and persuaded him to admit to his seemingly-hopeless alcoholism. Bill D. got on his knees and gave his life to God. He also promised to help others get well. And he walked out of the hospital a free man. He never drank again. Bill W. later announced that July 4, 1935—the date on which Bill D. was released from the hospital—marked the founding of the first Alcoholics Anonymous group in the world, “Akron Number One.”


All three men had renounced liquor for good. They had believed in God and were students of the Bible. They were Christians. And in their darkest hours, they sought God’s help for their ascent from the abyss and received it.



The First Program of Recovery


The A.A. pioneers in Akron soon developed an effective recovery program for working with alcoholics. An agent of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., named Frank Amos went to Akron in late February 1938 to investigate the early Akron A.A. program on behalf of Mr. Rockefeller. Based on Amos’s investigation, he prepared a report for Mr. Rockefeller. Parts of that report were published in the A.A. General Service Conference-approved book, DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, including a seven-point summary of the Akron program found on page 131. Both Amos’s seven-point summary of the early Akron A.A. program as of February 1938, and the 16 practices the pioneers used to implement that seven-point program, are included in our book, Stick with the Winners! How to Conduct More Effective 12-Step Recovery Meetings Using Conference-Approved Literature: A Dick B. Guide for Christian Leaders and Workers in the Recovery Arena (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2012), by Dick B. and Ken B. The documentation for Amos’s seven-point summary of the early Akron program and for the 16 practices of the early Akron AAs is set forth on pages 27-38.



The Next Major Program Development Was

the Remarkable Cleveland Program Offshoot and Its Top Success


There are several reliable summaries of the Cleveland application of “old-school” A.A., including:


·         Three Clarence Snyder Sponsee Old-timers and Their Wives, Our A.A. Legacy to the Faith Community: A Twelve-Step Guide for Those Who Want to Believe, compiled and edited by Dick B. (Winter Park, FL: Came to Believe Publications, 2005). The three author-couples were sponsored by Clarence, sponsored many others, put on retreats organized by Clarence, and were at his side for many years until his death. And, after Clarence died, they later devoted almost a year to interviews, phone calls, correspondence, and manuscript work with Dick B. in order to develop this guide. It is widely used by AAs, at the retreats, and by hundreds who use it as a guide to A.A. and how to take its 12 Steps.


·         Dick B., That Amazing Grace: The Role of Clarence and Grace S. in Alcoholics Anonymous (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1996). Dick B. spoke at many retreats with Grace S. He and his son Ken B. interviewed Grace extensively, and reviewed such books, papers, and records owned by Clarence as Grace made available when Dick and Ken spent a week with Grace at a home in Florida.


·         Mitchell K., How It Worked: The Story of Clarence H. Snyder and the Early Days of Alcoholics Anonymous in Cleveland (1991). Mitchell was sponsored by Clarence, gained possession of most of Clarence’s papers, and wrote the authoritative biography of Clarence and his founding of A.A.’s third group in the world in Cleveland on May 11, 1939.


There were some principal points that Grace S. and Mitchell K. made clear to me concerning the A.A. fellowship Clarence S. founded in Cleveland. For example, that Clarence brought with him to Cleveland from Akron important parts of A.A. history, including: the requirement of belief in God; study of the Bible; visiting newcomers, particularly in the hospital; and participating in a great deal of fellowship—including sports, choir, braking bread, dances, and group prayer.


Clarence “. . . concluded that, by keeping most of the ‘old program,’ including the Four Absolutes and the Bible, ninety-three percent of those surveyed [two years after Alcoholics Anonymous (“the Big Book”) was published in April 1939] had maintained uninterrupted sobriety.” [Mitchell K.’s How It Worked, 108]. Here is what Bill W. wrote as to what Cleveland had done with “most of the ‘old program,’ including the Four Absolutes and the Bible”:


We old-timers in New York and Akron had regarded this fantastic phenomenon with deep misgivings. Had it not taken us four whole years, littered with countless failures, to produce even a hundred good recoveries? Yet here in Cleveland we now saw about twenty members, not very experienced themselves, suddenly confronted by hundreds of newcomers as a result of the Plain Dealer articles. How could they possibly manage? We did not know. But a year later we did know for by then Cleveland had about thirty groups and several hundred members. . . . Yes, Cleveland’s results were of the best. [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age: A Brief History of A.A., 21-22]



Bill W.’s New Book, Alcoholics Anonymous,

and Its “New Version of the Program, now the ‘Twelve Steps’”


Right after Bill W. and Dr. Bob counted the noses of the recoveries to date in November 1937, “Bill began to think of setting up a chain of profit-making hospitals, of raising money, of subsidizing missionaries, and of writing a book of experiences that would carry the message of recovery to other cities and other countries.” [DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 123]. Dr. Bob backed up Bill during a meeting of 18 A.A. members in Akron, and the group approved Bill’s whole package of ideas by a slim, 11-to-9 vote. [DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 123-24]. With that approval in hand, Bill returned to New York; and Bill began writing Alcoholics Anonymous in May 1938. [Lois Remembers, 111] But he began writing untethered as to its contents. Dr. Bob had merely commented: “Keep it simple!” Bill, however, came up with a whole “new version of the program, now the ‘Twelve Steps.’” [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 162] Soon after Bill wrote the Twelve Steps to be included in “the famous Chapter 5,” it was decided that “[t]here would have to be a story or case history section. We would have to produce evidence in the form of living proof, written testimonials of our membership itself.” [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 164]. By the end of January 1939, 18 stories from members of the Akron group and 10 stories from the New York group had been completed, as well as 11 initial chapters. [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 164]. 400 copies of 20 of those personal stories, together with the 11 initial chapters, were then published as “the mimeograph issue ‘Alcoholics Anonymous,’” [better known as “the Multilith Edition” or “the Original Manuscript”], and it was sent out far and wide for comment. [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 165].


But there was dissension. For example, Fitz M., the Episcopal minister’s son and Bill W.’s second success (after Hank P.) to recover at Towns Hospital, constantly traveled to reinforce the position that the book ought to be Christian in the doctrinal sense of the word and should say so. Fitz favored using Biblical terms and expressions to make this clear. But the atheists and agnostics, said Bill W., were still to make a tremendously important contribution. The protesters, led by Bill W.’s friend and business partner Henry P., were for deleting the word “God” from the book entirely. Henry had come to believe in some sort of “universal power.” He wanted a psychological book. [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 162-64].


There was still argument about the Twelve Steps. Bill wrote:


All this time I had refused to budge on these steps. I would not change a word of the original draft, in which I had consistently used the word “God,” and in one place the expression “on our knees” was used. Praying to God on one’s knees was still a big affront to Henry. He argued, he begged, he threatened. . . . He was positive we would scare off alcoholics by the thousands when they read those Twelve Steps. [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 166-67; emphasis added].


A detour was fashioned. Bill pointed out that the steps could be made suggestive only.


And the totally-compromised draft of the first edition manuscript was chopped up by a committee of four—Bill W., Hank P., Fitz, and the secretary, Ruth Hock. And then an endless number of parties took a crack at the working manuscript (known as “the Multilith Edition” and “the Original Manuscript) when 400 copies of that version were circulated “to everyone we could think of who might be concerned with the problem of alcoholism.” Then came “the printer’s manuscript” version containing “accepted” changes, “rejected” changes, the marginalia, and the “proof sheet” changes. Later editors insisted that “the printer’s manuscript” was badly mangled. But a bidder at an auction at Sotheby’s paid almost a million dollars for “the printer’s manuscript” in 2007. That “printer’s manuscript” version of the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous is now available for public viewing in the form of high-resolution scans of each of its pages included in The Book That Started It All: The Original Working Manuscript of “Alcoholics Anonymous” (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 2010).


And, though there are suspect additions, and many hand-written opinions and suggestions, one can look at the Hazelden publication and see the manuscript that contained the first edition of the Big Book, published by Works Publishing Company in New York in April 1939.


Bill W.’s “new version of the program, now the ‘Twelve Steps,” contains a huge and obvious compromise when it is compared to the original, highly-successful “old-school” Akron A.A. program Bill and Dr. Bob began developing together over the summer of 1935. [See Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 166-67]. And regardless of how one views that great compromise, it resulted in major changes being made to Bill W.’s original draft of the Twelve Steps in which Bill himself said he had consistently used the word “God.” Changes such as describing God as a “Power greater than ourselves” in Step Two and inserting the modifying phrase “as we understood Him” following the word “God” in Steps Three and Eleven. 


So the real “new version of the program” and its Twelve Steps were compromised in tenor and purpose. In Bill’s language:


Such were the final concessions to those of little or no faith; . . . so that all who suffer might pass through, regardless of their belief or lack of belief.


God was certainly there in our Steps, but He was now expressed in terms that anybody—anybody at all—could accept and try. . . . [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 167; emphasis in original].




The Present Program Has Left God in the Dust


Was God a “power?” Could He merely be described as a “Power greater than ourselves?” Was He “a light bulb” or “the Big Dipper” as some have frequently said? Could you—with the stroke of a pen—change God into someone or something, anyone or anything, and expect that/it to heal him?


Jim H., probably the A.A. with the most sobriety when he died, once said to me: “Dick, if you take God out of A.A., you have nothing.”


Should a newcomer hear that he should pray to nothing for help? That he need believe in nothing for rescue? That A.A. is just about “not-god-ness”? That he can select a rock, a chair, a door knob, a table, or some undefined “higher power” for healing?


We think the newcomer needs to hear the whole story and not just about rocks and tables, higher powers, light bulbs, or “nothing at all.” For a newcomer to be told or to expect that “nothing at all” is going to cure them of alcoholism is, of course, absurd. Or should the newcomer hear the rest of the story and believe or affirm what his “basic text” (i.e., the Big Book) claims: that the Creator of the heavens and the earth has more power than any product of man’s mind or hands? More than enough power (and love and forgiveness) to cure that newcomer of their alcoholism.


You decide.

Gloria Deo