Wednesday, March 18, 2015

'The Runner's Bible' Early AAs Studied

Roots and Practices

“The Runner’s Bible” for Early AAs and for You

The Runner’s Bible Dr. Bob Favored and Early AAs Used
Dick B.
© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved
I often turn to the Bible for more information about God’s promises, or for more reminders of how much Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the cross, or of how many ways we can count on God as our sufficiency—God, who supplies all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Perhaps you too get immersed in trying to read all of Romans, or all of 1 Corinthians, or all of Hebrews. And, as both Dr. Bob and his wife Anne suggested, not a day should pass without looking to the Bible as the main source book of all. See
However, Dr. Bob took a somewhat different course each day. DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers reports that Dr. Bob would go upstairs three times a day and do the following: (1) Pray. (2) Study a particular subject in the Bible. (3) Seek God’s guidance as to how he should spend his time along those lines. (4) “Going about his Father’s business.”
From A.A.’s Conference-approved literature, and from Dr. Bob’s son Robert R. Smith, and from frequent mention of The Runner’s Bible by early AAs, I made a special effort to find a copy. I did. And it was in a seminary’s discarded books box – for free. And I saw why this compilation of vital promises, assurances, and guides was so important to the Christian “on the run” during a busy day. I later realized this hard-to-obtain devotional had been reprinted and was available at a very reasonable price. And, like Dr. Bob, I have given copies to a good many alcoholics and drug addicts who wanted God’s help.
And I think a look at the Table of Contents (with chapter headings) will show you the wide utility of looking at the categorized subjects—listed as follows:
The next answer can properly be: The Runner’s Bible: Spiritual Guidance for People on the Run, compiled and annotated by Nora Holm, with an Introduction by Polly Berrien Berends (Lakewood, CO: I Level, Acropolis Books, 1998). This book is a reprint of The Runner’s Bible prepared in 1910 by Nora Holm. I found a copy of the earlier book among the books of Dr. Bob that were shown to me by Dr. Bob’s son and daughter. And Dr. Bob’s son, Robert R. Smith, told me that this was a favorite devotional his father used. The following statement of the chapter headings may well show why:
“In the Morning Will I Order My Prayer to Thee”
The Godhead
God the Father
The Christ of God
Him That Filleth All in All
His Image and Likeness
Walk in Love
Rejoice Always
In Everything Give Thanks
Fear Not, Only Believe
Get Wisdom, Get Understanding
Ask and Ye Shall Receive
He That is The Greatest Among You Shall Be Your Servant
Forgive and Ye Shall Be Forgiven
Be of Good Cheer, Thy Sins Be Forgiven Thee
I Will Help Thee
Behold, I Will Heal Thee
For Thine Is The Power
The Lord Shall Guide Thee Continually
Thou Shalt Walk In Thy Way Safely
All Things Are Yours
Peace Be Unto You
Happy Shalt Thou Be
The Lord Will Lighten My Darkness
Those familiar with the Bible will quickly recognize the biblical references in the subjects. They will also see biblical expressions applied in early A.A. And they will be seeing, in the many verses under each subject, just what “basic ideas” Dr. Bob stated the early AAs began studying, exerting themselves to learn, and teaching.
For more information, see Dick B., Good Morning!: Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation, and Early A.A. And contact dickb at

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Recovery News Release for 2015

Recovery News Release for 2015 

28 Years of Hands-on Experience Helping Alcoholics and Addicts; and 25 Years of Research, Travel, Interviews, Networking, Conferences, and Publications 

How to Apply “Old-School” Recovery Today 

By Dick B. and Ken B.
© 2015 Anonymous. All rights reserved

Your Opportunity to Learn and Tell Others
“the Rest  of the Story” about Early A.A.’s Cure for Alcoholism 

Forthcoming video class:

"Bill W., Dr. Bob, and the Cure of Alcoholism: The Rest of the Story"

46 published titles on A.A. history and the Christian Recovery Movement. More than 1,750 published articles. A multi-video tour of the hundreds of resources in Dick B.’s research library he donated to various archives and libraries. More than 600 photos of recovery roots unearthed by the authors during our recent research trip to Vermont. YouTube videos, Christian Recovery Radio interviews and resources, websites, the FREE "Dick B. FYI Newsletter," blogs, and social media.

For groups, meetings, seminars, panels, fellowships, radio, videos, sponsors, speakers, leaders, pastors, counselors, treatment programs, sober living homes, hospitals, physicians, and agencies.  

To learn more, please see: 

· (main website)




Gloria Deo

Saturday, March 7, 2015

"An Endorsement of Dr. Ian Mc Cabe's Forthcoming Book, "Carl Jung and Alcoholics Anonymous"

An Endorsement of Dr. Ian Mc Cabe’s Forthcoming Book,
Carl Jung and Alcoholics Anonymous 

By Dick B.
© 2015 Anonymous. All rights reserved

Few writers have even attempted to tell the complete, unabridged story of how A.A. began and the varied sources of its ideas. My son Ken and I have devoted over 25 years to picking up the pieces and making sure that the entire story is presented in order to enhance the recovery hopes of millions of alcoholics and addicts. The prior efforts of others began with a dissertation completed in the 1970’s by a student now deceased. And, as the years passed, it became clear that there was no single chain of facts that truthfully and fully gave the picture to still-suffering alcoholics or that truthfully recorded the role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible played in enabling a handful of suffering souls to fashion a “Christian fellowship” out of their drinking experiences, the viewpoints of some distinguished writers, and a potpourri of thoughts by physicians, clergy, treatment workers, and authors.

In part of Dr. Ian Mc Cabe’s book about Carl Jung and Alcoholics Anonymous, he delves into the huge reservoir of tangled facts relating to A.A.’s history, its “founders,” the distinguished writers who have covered various pieces of the puzzling picture, and Mc Cabe’s opinions as to how the facts can, if possible, be reconciled.

But those facts cannot be reconciled. Instead, Mc Cabe has furnished his readers with the kind of panoply of efforts which need to be examined as a whole, documented with appropriate sources, and avoid the daunting task of chewing an elephant bite by bite. Mc Cabe writes well, blankets his field with hitherto muddled facts that need clarifying, and still leaving lots of editing to be done.

We can, with due respect, describe the whole of Mc Cabe’s work as follows: (1) In the course of discussing Carl Jung’s influence on Alcoholics Anonymous, it boldly attacks many details about A.A.’s founders, A.A.’s sources, and the varied remarks of those believers and unbelievers who have busied themselves attacking the Bible, the religious origins of A.A., and the interpretations of those who have variously been called fundamentalists, conservatives, and hobbyists. (2) It bravely steps into the tangled brush and enables readers to examine each of a wide number of diverse sources which have often been lacking in coherent research and writing. (3) Half-truths do not a full picture paint. And the Mc Cabe book helpfully opens the door to A.A. and its roots as they look today.

If I were to arouse further interest in Mc Cabe’s book, I would emphasize the following: (1) It is a “founders” book because it calls for more research and more resources on the founders—William James, Carl Jung, William D. Silkworth, the Oxford Group, Rev. Sam Shoemaker, and most assuredly the Bible. And I will have some pithy references to Silkworth and to the Bible, and how their full impact has been ignored. (2) Writers have missed the boat when it has come to how much the Christian upbringing of A.A. cofounders Bill W. and Dr. Bob, the Vermont roots of Bill and Bob, and the 28 Oxford Group ideas flowed into A.A. And it is there where a great body of our writing of 46 titles and 1,700 articles has reposed under the carpet of those interested in New Thought, atheists and agnostics, spirituality, and idolatrous higher powers. (3) Since Carl Jung has appropriately received special attention in Mc Cabe’s book, readers may realize that the Jung contribution of “vital religious experience” needs in depth work particularly since it was originally embodied in the A.A. Big Book’s Chapter Two, titled “There is a Solution.” And Bill’s solution has been diluted into “spiritual experience,” “spiritual awakening,” “personality change,” and “You don’t have to believe in anything at all.” For those amendments have wreaked havoc with the recovery ideas of James, Jung, Silkworth, Shoemaker, and most certainly the Bible.

I would also eliminate all secular discussions of “spirituality,” “not-godness,” and the “higher power” idolatry that Ernest Kurtz, now deceased, spawned. For a keen appreciation of why early A.A. laid the foundation stone for recovery by the power of God can be seen in these remarks:

1)      A.A. has been tooting the horn of Dr. William D. Silkworth of Towns Hospital for years and crediting the doctor as the source of the First Step idea of powerlessness–erroneously defining the doctor’s opinion as having taught two vital facts:

(a)    In reflecting on a letter Dr. Silkworth wrote which was included in the Big Book, Bill W. stated:

. . . [O]ur bodies were sickened as well. . . . [A]ny picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete.
The doctor’s theory that we have an allergy to alcohol interests us. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., xxvi]

And in the letter to which Bill referred above, Dr. Silkworth himself stated:

We believe, and so suggested a few years ago, that the action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an allergy; that the phenomenon of craving is limited to this class and never occurs in the average temperate drinker. These allergic types can never safely use alcohol in any form at all; and once having formed the habit and found they cannot break it, . . . their problems pile up on them and become astonishingly difficult to solve. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., xxviii; (italics added)]

(b)   In the opinion of the present writer (Dick B.), Silkworth’s ideas were alluded to, without attribution to him, in other places in the Big Book. For example:

The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 24; italics in original, bolding added]

Thus started one more journey to the asylum for Jim. Here was the threat of commitment, the loss of family and position, to say nothing of that intense mental and physical suffering which drinking always caused him. He had much knowledge about himself as an alcoholic. Yet all reasons for not drinking were easily pushed aside in favor of the foolish idea that he could take whiskey if only he mixed it with milk! [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 36-37; italics in original].

But the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 39; italics in original, bolding added].

However, Silkworth’s least-known and most vital contribution to Alcoholics Anonymous was his advice to Bill W. during Bill’s third stay at Towns Hospital in September 1934 that the “Great Physician” (Jesus Christ) could cure Bill of his alcoholism. [Dale Mitchel, Silkworth: The Little Doctor Who Loved Drunks (Center City, Minn.: Hazelden, 2002), 44. See also: pp. 47, 49-51, 225 (fn. 10). And see further: (1) Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age (New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1957), 61; (2) Bill W., My First 40 Years (Center City, Minn.: Hazelden, 2000), 139, 145; and (3) Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 191.]

2)      Far above all the other founding sources of A.A. is the Bible.

The Bible is the source most ignored, distorted, misunderstood, and shelved today. Here, however, are the documented words of A.A.’s founders that demonstrate beyond argument that the Holy Bible—called the “Good Book” by early AAs—was the major, the original, and the most important founding source of A.A.

(a)    In his last major talk—given at Detroit, Michigan, in December 1948—Dr. Bob plainly showed that the Bible trumped other contributing sources. In The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, Dr. Bob is quoted as follows:

In early A.A. days, . . .

At that point, our stories didn’t amount to anything to speak of. When we started in on Bill D., we had no Twelve Steps, either; we had no Traditions.

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

We used to have daily meetings at a friend’s house. [The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches: Their Last Major Talks (New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1972, 1975), 13 (“Pamphlet P-53”)]

In that same talk, Dr. Bob said further:

It wasn’t until 1938 that the teachings and efforts and studies that had been going on were crystallized in the form of the Twelve Steps. I didn’t write the Twelve Steps. I had nothing to do with the writing of them. But I think I probably had something to do with them indirectly. After my June 10th episode, Bill came to live at our house and stayed for three months. There was hardly a night that we didn’t sit up until two or three o’clock, talking. It would be hard for me to conceive that, during these nightly discussions around our kitchen table, nothing was said that influenced the writing of the Twelve Steps. We already had the basic ideas, though not in terse and tangible form. We got them, as I said, as a result of our study of the Good Book. [The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches: Their Last Major Talks (New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1972, 1975), 14 (“Pamphlet P-53”); bolding added. See also: Dick B., The Good Book and the Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible, Bridge Builders ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1997), ix, 1-7].

Dr. Bob wrote: “If you think you are an atheist, an agnostic, a skeptic, or have any other form of intellectual pride which keeps you from accepting what is in this book, I feel sorry for you. . . . Your Heavenly Father will never let you down! [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 181].

Dr. Bob’s wife, Anne Ripley Smith, wrote in her personal journal for the years 1933 through 1939 from which she shared with A.A. pioneers: “Of course the Bible ought to be the main Source Book of all. No day ought to pass without reading it.” [Dick B., Anne Smith's Journal, 1933-1939: A.A.'s Principles of Success, 3rd ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1998), 5].

Gloria Deo

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bill W.'s mention of "Christ" and "the Master" in a letter he wrote in 1940, quoted on page 114 of "As Bill Sees It"

Bill W.'s mention of "Christ" and "the Master"

in a letter he wrote in 1940,

quoted on page 114 of As Bill Sees It

By Dick B.
© 2015 Anonymous. All rights reserved 

In a letter Bill W. wrote in 1940, he stated: "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. After six months, I had to admit that not a soul had surely laid hold of the Master--not excepting myself." [As Bill Sees It (New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1967), 114] 

Gloria Deo

Monday, March 2, 2015

Elements of “Old School” A.A. That Can be Applied in Recovery Today



Dick B.

© Anonymous. 2015. All rights reserved


Christian Recovery before A.A.


Congregationalism and Vermont


·         The First Congregational Church of Bennington, Vermont is located on Monument Avenue in Bennington, Vermont. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. It is also known as the Old First Church. It was “gathered” on December 3, 1762, the first Protestant congregation in the New Hampshire Grants. The current meeting house was built in 1805.[1] [Bicentennial Discourse and Sermon, on August 13, 2006]


·         The families of both Bill W. and Dr.  Bob were much involved with Congregational Churches. So were Bill and Bob themselves. Dr. Bob and his family attended the North Congregational Church of St. Johnsbury, Vermont. They frequently attended five times a week.


·         St. Johnsbury Academy, where Dr. Bob matriculated, was dominated by Congregationalists; and the influence spilled over into the school requirement that a Congregational Church be attended once a week; so too with a Bible study; and daily chapel was required—with sermons, hymns, reading of Scripture, and prayers.


·         Bill Wilson’s families (the Wilsons and the Griffiths) had homes immediately adjacent to East Dorset Congregational Church in East Dorset where Bill was born and raised. Both families regularly attended that church. Bill attended the Sunday school as well as revivals, sermons, and conversion meetings.


·         When he was enrolled in the Congregationalist dominated Burr and Burton Seminary, Bill took a four year Bible study course there; attended daily chapel with sermons, hymns, prayers, and reading of Scripture. And students frequently marched from the Seminary to attend various services at Manchester Congregational Church


·         The prominent St. Johnsbury leader Henry Fairbanks presented a paper before the annual Congregational state convention in 1895, titled “The Influence of Congregationalism upon Vermont.” And Fairbanks wrote:


“The Congregational way was primitive Christianity revived after centuries of departure from the congregational principles of St. Stephen and the Jerusalem elders.”



·         George Williams, a draper, founded the Young Men’s Christian Association in London on June 6, 1844. The first YMCA in the United States was founded in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 29, 1851.[2]


·         Beginning in 1871, YMCA lay brethren—with the YMCA’s non-denominational approach—conducted canvasses to bring the Gospel to non-Christians and “awakening” to Christians in the New England area.[3]


·         Young Men’s Christian Association laymen were largely responsible for organizing what  became “The Great Awakening” of 1875 in St. Johnsbury. It was a widely-reported event which completely transformed the community of St. Johnsbury, resulted in construction of many churches, and produced conversion of a large portion of the population to God through His Son Jesus Christ.[4]



·         Well-known evangelists who held campaigns in Vermont around the time Bill W. and Dr. Bob were growing up there brought people to God through His Son Jesus Christ and often focused on healing even drunkards.[5]


·         Henry Moorhouse and Ira Sankey conducted a week-long campaign in St. Johnsbury at the end of October, 1877, just before Dr. Bob was born on August 8, 1879. Many of the other well-known evangelists were not only linked together in friendship, but also in a chain of evangelism and revival.


·         Roger Bruns pointed out in his book, Preacher:


From the earliest days of American Protestantism, revivalists held fast to the belief that the universe was neatly divided between God and Satan, the elect and the damned, the pure and the despoiled.


From Jonathan Edwards to Charles Finney to Lyman Beecher to Dwight Moody, Bible-clutching evangelists preached the complete authority of the Scriptures, the necessity of personal conversion, and a life free of vice.


Personal and evangelical Protestantism taught a close relationship between men and women and their God, challenging the sinner to renounce the ways of the devil and to repent.


Personal salvation and moral responsibility—these were the demands on the faithful.[6]


·         Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter wrote in The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever:


The Layman’s Prayer revival which began in 1857 deeply influenced America. . . . Across the ocean, the 1859 awakening in Britain raised a host of evangelists, missionaries, and social reformers. . . .


Existing mission, Bible, Sunday school, and tract societies in both Britain and America flourished, with new workers revived or converted during the awakening.


New societies were formed to promote home missions, establishing Sunday schools and churches throughout both nations. The YMCA, the Salvation Army, the China Inland Mission, the Christian Brethren, and the Christian and Missionary Alliance were just a few of the many ministries and denominations born early in this awakening.[7]


·         William T. Ellis’s book on Billy Sunday stated:


Professor William James, the philosopher, contended that there was scientific value to the stories of Christian conversions; that these properly belonged among the data of religion, to be weighed by the man of science. This point is one of the most critical in the whole realm of the discussion of revivals.[8]


·         And then there is the dramatic account of the Healing Movement:


[A. J.] Gordon began including healing in his ministry after he observed an opium addict delivered and a missionary’s cancerous jaw healed instantaneously through the prayers of concerned believers during Dwight L. Moody’s revival meetings in Boston in 1877.


These meetings revitalized the life of Clarendon Church, which Gordon pastored, and brought reformed drunkards and all kinds of commoners into the ranks of this affluent church.[9]


·         Though the numbers of such evangelists are many, the following deserve special attention with reference to the First Century Christian origins of the Christian Recovery Movement and the influence on A.A.’s founders:


o   Charles Grandison Finney;[10]

o   F. B. Meyer;[11]

o   Dwight L. Moody;[12]

o   Ira Sankey;[13]

o   Henry Drummond;[14]

o   Henry Moorhouse;[15] 

o   K. A. Burnell and Henry M. Moore;[16]

o   Allen Folger;[17] and

o   Billy Sunday.[18]


·         Some of the evangelists mentioned above actually held campaigns in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, where Dr. Bob was born and raised.


The “Great Awakening” of 1875 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont


·         This event caught the attention of pastors, churches, denominations, organizations, newspapers, and writers. The transformation of communities—particularly St. Johnsbury—involved the conversion of one-third of the population, the erection of new churches, and a change in the attitude of citizens.


·         The accounts are so lengthy and numerous that we leave the important description of them to the pages of Dick B. and Ken B., Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous: His Excellent Training in the Good Book as a Youngster in Vermont.



·         Jerry McAuley founded the first rescue mission in the United States in 1872.


o   It was originally known as “Helping Hand for Men,” and later became known as known as “The (Old McAuley) Water Street Mission.”


o   McAuley--and his successor superintendent at the mission, Samuel Hopkins Hadley (also known as “S. H. Hadley”)—focused (in colloquial language) on “soup, soap, and salvation.”


·         S. H. Hadley’s son, Henry Harrison Hadley II (also known as “Harry Hadley”)--named after S. H. Hadley’s brother, Colonel Henry Harrison Hadley--collaborated with Rev. Sam Shoemaker in opening the Calvary Mission on 23rd Street in Manhattan in 1926 and became its first superintendent.


·         Taylor (“Tex”) Francisco—who took over as superintendent of Calvary Mission in 1933—was the superintendent of the Calvary Mission when Bill W.’s “sponsor,” Ebby Thacher, accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior there on November 1, 1934;


·         Tex was still the superintendent when Bill W. accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior there about December 7, 1934, just before Bill entered Towns Hospital for his fourth and final stay for alcoholism treatment on December 11, 1934.[19]


·         Records in such descriptive books as J. Wilbur Chapman, S.H. Hadley of Water Street

tell of the tens of thousands of down-and-outers that went through Water Street Mission and were helped, if not healed.


·         Records of Calvary Mission, where both Ebby Thacher and Bill Wilson accepted Christ, also report on the thousands helped in that facility which was owned by Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker’s Calvary Episcopal Church in New York.



·         “General” William Booth founded an organization in July 1865 in England— an early name for which was “The Christian Mission”—that became known as “The Salvation Army” in 1878. Booth sent an official group to the United States in 1880 to pioneer work for the organization.[20]


·         The Salvation Army’s work with drunkards, derelicts, and criminals in the slums became popularized in Harold Begbie’s Twice-Born Men—a book owned, circulated, and widely-read by Oxford Group people and by the Akron AAs.[21]


·         The effectiveness and techniques of the Salvation Army are well discussed by Dr. Howard Clinebell of the Claremont School of Theology.[22] Also in one of the lectures given at the Yale Alcohol Studies in 1945—an event in which Bill Wilson was one of the participating lecturers.[23]



·         The Rev. Dr. Francis E. Clark founded this society at the Williston Church in Portland, Maine, on February 2, 1881.


·         Around the time its National Convention was convened July 9 and 10, 1885, at Ocean Park, Maine, the “United Society of Christian Endeavor” was founded and incorporated under the laws of Maine. At that convention, Mr. Van Patten of Burlington, Vermont, was chosen President.


·         This Christian society, aimed at young people in the church, spread throughout the world and reached a peak membership of around 4.5 million members.

·         A Christian Endeavor Society started in North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury, in 1887 (when Dr. Bob was about eight years old); and Dr. Bob said he was actively involved in it “from childhood through high school.”[24]


·         Christian Endeavor’s ideas and regimen of:


    • Confession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior,
    • Conversion meetings,
    • Bible study meetings,
    • Prayer meetings,
    • Quiet Hour,
    • Topical discussions, and
    • Reading of Christian literature closely paralleled the original Akron A.A. program founded by Bill W. and Dr. Bob in 1935.[25]


·         Let us also look at the Oxford Group—which originally called itself “A First Century Christian Fellowship”[26]—and aspects of its influence on early A.A.


·         In the Group’s earliest days, Oxford Group leader Sherwood Sunderland Day wrote a little pamphlet succinctly summarizing the principles of the Oxford Group.[27] Day wrote at the beginning of his pamphlet that the principles of the Oxford Group were the principles of the Bible.


·         And if you read my [Dick B.’s] comprehensive book, The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous,[28] you will see two major points:


o   The Oxford Group’s 28 principles that impacted on A.A. each rested on biblical principles Bill W. incorporated into the Big Book.


o   Oxford Group writer after Oxford Group writer—many of whose books were read by early AAs--quoted the Bible in support of those 28 principles that later impacted on Bill’s language and approach to the Big Book.


·         It was Bill Wilson himself who said: “I am always glad to say privately that some of the Oxford Group presentation and emphasis upon the Christian message saved my life.”[29]


·         Bill W.’s wife, Lois, was even clearer on what the Oxford Group and its First Century Christianity had done for A.A. and for her Bill. Lois wrote:


Alcoholics Anonymous (yet to be formed at that time) owes a great debt to the Oxford Group.[30]


·         The next few months were a happy time for Bill. He had the companionship of his alcoholic friends, the spiritual inspiration of the Oxford Group and the satisfaction of being useful to those he worked with.[31]


·         The Oxford Group precepts [as Lois characterized them] were in substance:


    • Surrender your life to God;
    • Take a moral inventory;
    • Confess your sins to God and another human being;
    • Make restitution;
    • Give of yourself to others with no demand for return;
    • Pray to God for help to carry out these principles.
    • There were also four “Absolutes”: absolute honesty, absolute purity, absolute unselfishness and absolute love, moral standards by which every thought and action should be tested.[32]


·         Bill’s wife Lois stated further concerning Buchman’s efforts:


God, through the Oxford Group, had accomplished in a twinkling what I had failed to do in seventeen years.[33]


The Facts That Accompanied

the “Dis-Association” of A.A.’s Cofounders from the Oxford Group


·         Reverend Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., played an important role in the developing of A.A.’s Twelve Steps.  Rev. Garrett Stearly, a key Shoemaker colleague, was an eye witness to a conversation between Bill Wilson and Sam Shoemaker relating to the Twelve Steps. In that discussion, Bill actually asked Sam to write the Twelve Steps, but Sam declined.[34]


·         Another Shoemaker colleague, Rev. W. Irving Harris, was Shoemaker’s assistant minister and actually worked with Shoemaker and Bill W. on the book project. James Newton provided me with a newspaper photo of Bill W., Irving Harris, and his wife Julia Harris, crediting Irving and Julia Harris with a prominent role in the development of A.A.


·         Julia Harris, wife of Rev. W. Irving Harris,  sent Dick B. a number of Shoemaker books, Harris’s book The Breeze of the Spirit, and wrote one of the Forewords to Dick’s book about Shoemaker and A.A.—New Light on Alcoholism, 2d ed. It was A.A. archivist Nell Wing who put Dick in touch with Julia Harris—Irving having passed on. But Julia sent to Dick a memorandum typed personally by Irvin g Harris that contained a great deal of information about Bill W.’s rebirth at Calvary Mission and his later collaboration with Shoemaker on the proposed Big Book and Steps.  The memorandum is produced in full on pages 533-35 in Appendix Four of Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism, 2d ed. The Harris memo is also reproduced on pages 20-21 of the following book about Samuel M. Shoemaker: Bill Pittman and Dick B., comp. and ed., Courage to Change: The Christian Roots of the 12-Step Movement (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1994).


·         Reverend Harris wrote specifically in the memo that it was at Calvary Mission where Bill “was moved to declare that he had decided to launch out as a follower of Jesus Christ.”  Harris then pointed out how Bill and Sam had worked on the Big Book ideas in Shoemaker’s “book-lined study” at Calvary House (where Shoemaker lived).


·         Harris further pointed out that Bill was familiar with the aforementioned seven basic principles of Christian living as laid out for Shoemaker by Rev. Sherry Day.


·         Harris also wrote that, in the course of Bill’s talking to Shoemaker, Sam would say of the manuscript materials: “Sounds like good old fashioned Christian faith, Bill.” And Bill would reply: “Yes it looks that way . . . almost too good to be true.”


·         In addition to being rector of Calvary Church, Shoemaker was the chief American lieutenant of the Oxford Group, and his church’s Calvary House actually provided offices for the Oxford Group.


·         And Shoemaker, in his writings, many many times referred to the Oxford Group as “A First Century Christian Fellowship.”  He also spoke of First Century Christianity in terms of a fellowship.[35]


·         Lois Wilson wrote that she and Bill were kind of “kicked out” of the Oxford Group in August of 1937.[36]


·         While the Akron AAs met every Wednesday in what one observer called a “clandestine lodge” of the Oxford Group,[37] the daily Christian Fellowship meetings and the daily morning Quiet Times with Dr. Bob’s wife did not even closely resemble Oxford Group meetings. In early January, 1940, Dr. Bob wrote to Bill W. that Akron had “definitely shaken off the shackles of the Oxford Group.”[38]

[1] John M. Comstock, The Congregational Churches of Vermont and Their Ministry, 1762-1942. Historical and Statistical. (St. Johnsbury, VT: The Cowles Press, Inc., 1942), 9: “The rapid settlement of Vermont did not begin until the close of the French and Indian War. . . . Settlers now came in rapidly from the longer settled parts of New England. These were nearly all of Puritan stock, and so naturally Congregationalists. The first of the new settlements was at Bennington, and there the first church of our order and the first Protestant church in the state was organized in 1762, the next year after the beginning of the town.”
[2] “The story of our founding” at The Y/YMCA Web site: ; accessed 2/15/12.
[3] Edward T. Fairbanks, The Town of St. Johnsbury, Vt: A Review of One Hundred Twenty-Five Years to the Anniversary Pageant 1912 (St. Johnsbury, Vt.: The Cowles Press, 1914), 316-17.
[4] Dick B., and  Ken B., Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous, 67-68, 97, 119, 125-28, 171, 247-62.
[5] “The Great Awakening” in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, began on February 6, 1875, just a few months before Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey arrived back in America on August 14, 1875, following their two-year tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland. Dr. Bob was born on August 8, 1879, and graduated from St. Johnsbury Academy in 1898. He then left Vermont to attend Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Bill W. was born on November 26, 1895. Bill turned his back on God during his senior year at Burr and Burton Academy after the young woman he was in love with, Bertha Bamford, died on November 18, 1912.
[6] Roger A. Bruns, Preacher: Billy Sunday and Big-time American Evangelism (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1992), 134-35.
[7] Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever: From Pentecost to the Present (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 2000), 136.
[8] William T. Ellis, Billy Sunday: The Man and His Message (Chicago: Moody Press, 1959), 136.
[9] Richard M. Riss, A Survey of 20th-Century Revival Movements in North America (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1988), 22. For further understanding of Gordon’s role, see A. J. Gordon, The Ministry of Healing: Miracles of Cure in All Ages (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1881); and Scott M. Gibson, A. J. Gordon: American Premillennialist (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2001).
[10] Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever: From Pentecost to the Present (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 2000): Finney was converted in 1821 (p. 100). In what became known as “The General Awakening” period ending in 1830, Finney had taken his ministry to New York where some 100,000 people were converted (p. 104). Finney had previously conducted his early meetings throughout rural New England (p. 98). He was known as the “Father of Modern Revivalism,” became known as the originator of the altar call and the “anxious seat” for those expected to come to Jesus Christ (p. 102). Kenneth O. Brown, Holy Ground: The Camp Meeting Family Tree (Hazleton, PA: Holiness Archives, 1997): Finney used a huge tent in Oberlin, Ohio in 1835. And he, along with Dwight Moody, Billy Sunday, Oral Roberts, and Billy Graham became famed for what was called “Tabernacle revivalism” (pp. 64-65). Roger A. Bruns, Billy Sunday and Big Time American Evangelism (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2001): His most famous sermon was “Sinners Bound to Change Their Own Hearts” (p. 67). He often pointed out sinners in the audience, challenging them personally to forsake their evil ways and to follow Christ (p. 68). He had a vision of a mighty force of reformed Christians purifying the nation of sin and sordidness; and he took the revivalist impulse and mass conversion efforts from rural settings into the cities (p. 69). Many read his handbook on revivalism (p. 70).
[11] Much can be said about the famous English evangelist, F. B. Meyer. That is probably one of the reasons is that he touched so many of the lives that impacted on early A.A through evangelists and revivals. Bob Holman, F.B. Meyer: “If I Had a Hundred Lives” (Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, Ltd., 2007): He was one of the great influences in the evangelical world in the latter 19th and 20th century. He helped launch the then unknown Dwight L. Moody for his first evangelistic mission in the UK, was himself a famous Holiness preacher on both sides of the Atlantic, played a role in the Welsh revival of 1904, and was an outstanding Bible teacher of his day (p. 2). He believed the Bible as God’s revelation; that conversion depended upon belief in heart and mind; that mankind was justly condemned for sin but God’s infinite love resulted in Jesus coming to earth and that his death is accepted by Infinite justice as the basis for reconciliation between man and God (p. 21). At the invitation of Dwight Moody, he went to the U.S. to speak at the well-established Northfield Conference (p. 65). He was asked to head Christ Church, and negotiated for the post with George Williams, a trustee at Christ Church who had played a large part in the founding of the Young Men’s Christian Association (p. 67). He believed the Sunday diet was not sufficient for Christian growth; and he introduced the Monday prayer meeting, held a service and sermon at noon on Thursdays, and conducted a Bible reading on Friday evening. And he launched a Young Men’s Christian Association program (pp. 76-77). He also took a close interest in the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor and eventually became president of the Central South London Christian Endeavor Union (p. 93). His evangelism resulted in many conversions (p. 98). He spent a great deal of time serving others. On Saturday afternoons, he would talk to and spend time with young men at the YMCA in central London.  At 7 p.m., he would conduct the worker’s prayer meeting. On Sundays he would usually preach at three services, and also participate in one or more of the meetings for children and young people (p. 104). He traveled to the United States at least 20 times; and in 1898 he went to Washington, D.C., opened the Senate with prayer, and had a talk with President McKinley (p. 125). He also became President of the World’s Sunday School Association (p. 126). He had much to do with the early life of Oxford Group founder Frank Buchman. Buchman went to Britain the seek Meyer. In 1912, Meyer came to the Penn State College campus and told Buchman to listen more to God than the phones and to work personally rather than organizing large meetings. Buchman was much influenced by Meyer’s books, especially his Secret of Guidance (p.155). F. B. Meyer was president of the National Union of Christian Endeavor and the National Sunday School Association (p. 181). He met Moody’s partner, Ira Sankey, and it was Moody who taught Meyer how to win people to Christ (p. 30). Meyer reckoned that in nine cases out of ten, drink had contributed to the crimes which landed men in prison (p. 38). He worked with homeless boys and youngsters who had been in prison (p. 43). Meyer told a group of young men: “A man must not only believe in Christ for final salvation, but must trust him for victory over every sin, and for deliverance from every care” (p. 47). Meyer also spoke at a large meeting along with General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army (p. 195).
[12] Towns and Porter, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever: In 1859, Dwight L. Moody was elected president of the Illinois Sunday School Association. He established a prayer meeting, called the “Illinois Band,” which included such prominent Americans as H. J. Heinz and John Wannamaker—their goal being to bring Christ to the world (p. 119). Moody became an evangelist, went to England, returned to America preaching to huge crowds, but was cut down by the Chicago fire and many deaths that accompanied it. Moody began making invitations for conversion which he called “Instantaneous Conversion,” explaining how people could be saved immediately by accepting Christ” (p.131). Moody was a leader of the Young Men’s Christian Association, the American Sunday School movement, and also was editor of Christian Endeavor’s pamphlet, The Golden Rule. He brought to America such famous evangelists as F. B. Meyer and Henry Drummond, and was a friend of evangelist Allen Folger. Moody’s ideas were very much appropriated by Oxford Group founder Dr. Frank N. D. Buchman and found their way into early A.A. thinking. See J. Wilbur Chapman, The Life and Work of Dwight Lyman Moody (1837-1899), http// See also: Riss, A Survey, 14-29; Towns and Porter, The Ten Greatest Revivals, 119, 130-38; and Mark O. Guldseth, Streams (Fritz Creek, AK: Fritz Creek Studios, 1982).
[13] As to Sankey, see: (1) J. Wilbur Chapman, The Life and Work of Dwight L. Moody (Boston, MA: Geo. M. Smith, 1900); and (2) Edgar J. Goodspeed, The Wonderful Career of Moody and Sankey in Great Britain and America (NY: Henry B. Goodspeed & Co., 1876). See also Dick B. and Ken B., The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2010).
[14] As to Henry Drummond, see George Smith, The Life of Henry Drummond (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1899); and James Young Simpson, Henry Drummond (Edinburgh: Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier, 1901). Dr. Bob owned, read, studied, and circulated among AAs a large number of Drummond’s books. Dick B., Dr. Bob and His Library, 3rd ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc.,
[15] John MacPherson, Henry Moorhouse, the English Evangelist (London: Morgan and Scott, n.d.).
[16] As to K. A. Burnell and H. M. Moore, see Record of Christian Work, Vol. 18, April 1899, No. 4, 170-71. As to Burnell, Moody, and Sankey, see The Advance, September 21, 1905, 318-19.
[17] Allen Folger, Twenty-five Years as an Evangelist (Springfield, MO J. H. Earle & Company, 1915). Folger was deeply involved with the Young Men’s Christian Association evangelism with more than 700 meetings in New England. He was involved with the Young Men’s Christian Association there (pp. 153, 215); with Moody and Sankey (p. 70); with healings (pp. 186-87);with the problems of addiction and drinking people (p. 318); with conversion and salvation (pp. 322-31, 289); with Vermont (p. 245); with  revivals (p. 144); and with hundreds of meetings (p. 334).
[18] Billy was a baseball star, who was converted to God through Jesus Christ, was trained in the Young Men’s Christian Association, preached, converted thousands, was involved in Christian Endeavor, and was a champion of “personal work.” His definition of conversion was a complete surrender to Jesus Christ. He said: The plan of salvation is presented to you in two parts. Believe in your heart and confess with your mouth [Romans 10:9].
[19] Dick B. and Ken B., The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed., 8-11. See also: Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W.
[21] See the review of elements of Salvation Army as they relate to A.A.: .
[22] Howard Clinebell, Understanding and Counseling Persons with Alcohol, Drug, and Behavioral Addictions, rev. and enl. ed. (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1998). 
[23] The techniques of the Salvation Army were summarized and given high praise in: Francis W. McPeek, “The Role of Religious Bodies in the Treatment of Inebriety in the United States,” Lecture 26 of the Yale Alcohol Studies Lectures of 1945, in Alcohol, Science and Society: Twenty-nine Lectures with Discussions as Given at the Yale Summer School of Alcohol Studies (New Haven: Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Inc., 1945). Rev. McPeek stated: “Much work was done in city missions and particularly by the Salvation Army. The Army, however, has focused its efforts on the conversion experience and has made use of its own facilities and of other community resources when these were needed in aftercare. . . . Generally speaking, the Salvationists have capitalized on the same techniques that have made other reform programs work: (1) Insistence on total abstinence; (2) Reliance upon God; (3) the provision of new friendships among those who understand; (4) the opportunity to work with those who suffer from the same difficulty; and (5) unruffled patience and consistent faith in the ability of the individual and in the power of God to accomplish the desired results” [pp. 414-15].
[24] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 172.
[25] Dick B. and Ken B., The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed., 18; Dick B. and Ken B., Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous, 143-67.
[26] Garth Lean, Frank Buchman: A Life (London: Constable, 1995), 97.
[27] Sherwood Sunderland Day, The Principles of the Oxford Group (Great Britain: The Oxford Group, n.d.).
[28] Dick B., The Oxford Group & Alcoholics Anonymous: A Design for Living That Works, new, rev. ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1998).
[29]Pass It On,” p. 171.
[30] Lois Remembers, 92.
[31] Lois Remembers, 98.
[32] Lois Remembers, 92. These Oxford Group Four Absolutes derived directly from a foundational book by Robert E. Speer, The Principles of Jesus: Applied to Some Questions of Today (NY: Fleming H. Revell, 1902). Some writers have erroneously spoken of them as having been derived from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
[33] Lois Remembers, 99.
[34] This information was conveyed  on a phone call to Dick B. by Oxford Group activist James Draper Newton. Newton was a long-time friend of Sam Shoemaker and of Rev. Garrett Stearly. He said that Stearly had twice told him of this conversation, in order to make sure that Newton not only heard it and heard it repeated and then remembered it. Newton phoned Dick B. on two different occasions to tell him about Stearly, Shoemaker, Bill W. Twelve Step proposal that Shoemaker declined.
[35] New Light on Alcoholism, 2d ed., 228, 262-263, 278, 318-322; Courage to Change, 216.
[36] Lois Remembers, 102; “PASS IT ON,” 174.
[37] DR. BOB and the Good-Oldtimers, 121.
[38] DR. BOB, 218.