Jesus in Early A.A. Literature and Talks
Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved
Probably, a large majority of those in A.A. today, as well as those in the recovery community as leaders and as patients, and even the very small group of Christian critics of Alcoholics Anonymous would answer the following questions incorrectly or simply plead ignorance of the questions and the answers:
“Is Jesus even mentioned in early A.A. literature?”
“Did A.A.’s founders frequently mention Jesus?”
“If so, are there still a number of A.A. General Services Conference-approved books and materials that mention, refer to, or discuss the role of Jesus in recovery from alcoholism?”
Answers: Yes! Yes! And Yes!
In fact, there are so many references, that it will suffice to mention and document a few of them, and then let inquirers search for themselves – just as Dr. Bob used to require questioners in early A.A. to search in the Bible for answers to their questions about the program.
Here is Where You Can Find the Answers
Bill W. and The Great Physician, Jesus Christ: In his own autobiography, Bill Wilson spoke of the “Great Physician”—a metaphor for Jesus Christ. This reference to Jesus Christ as the “Great Physician” was often uttered by Bill Wilson’s doctor, William D. Silkworth, M.D. See Bill W. My First 40 Years: An Autobiography by the Cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous, 139, 145, 147; Dale Mitchel, Silkworth The Little Doctor Who Loved Drunks: The Biography of William Duncan Silkworth, M.D.. 44, 47, 49, 50, 51, 225; Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W.: More on the Creator’s Role in Early A.A., 43, 50, 52-53, 56, 59, 60, 62-67, 70, 76, 100-02, 115, 126, 133-34, 173, 189, 193.
Bill W. and “The Lord. . . curing me. . .”: Probably the most emphatic testimony as to the role of Jesus Christ in Bill Wilson’s recovery is found on page 191 of the latest (4th, 2001) edition of Alcoholics Anonymous. Moreover, Bill’s affirmation of Jesus’s role was echoed on that same page 191 by Bill Dotson, AA Number 3.
Bill W. and his decision for Jesus Christ: Mrs. Samuel M. Shoemaker and Bill’s wife Lois attested that Bill had made a decision for Jesus Christ – “handed his life over to Christ.” Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W., 61-62.
Bill W. himself twice confirmed his statement: “For sure I had been born again.” Bill W.: My First 40 Years, 147; Dick B., Turning Point, 94-98, A New Way In, 62; The Conversion of Bill W., 62.
Bill W. told AAs this at his last full-length talk at an A.A. meeting in New York. Bill quoted Dr. Bob’s reminder “that most of us were practicing Christians.” The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks, 30.
Bill W. pointed out to the Lecturers at Yale University that “a great many of us have taken to reading the Bible.” Alcohol, Science and Society: Twenty-nine Lectures with Discussions as given at the Yale Summer School of Alcohol Studies. “Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Inc., 1945, W.W., Lecture 29, The Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous,” 467.
Dr. Bob is frequently quoted in The Co-Founders Pamphlet P-53, speaking about “Jesus Christ,” the “Master,” his “Heavenly Father,” and the “Good Book” as he often called the Bible: The Co-Founders, 11, 13-15, 19, 20. 30. And, on page 34, Bill said of Bob: “So Dr. Bob became the prince of all twelfth-steppers. Perhaps nobody will ever do such a job again.
You can find for yourself many other statements, about which I have written extensively, how early AAs, their “co-founders,” and their predecessors spoke of Jesus Christ. Examples are
(1) Dr. Bob’s wife Anne Smith mentioned Christ in the journal from which she daily shared with early AAs and their families. (2) Rev. Sam Shoemaker—who was called a cofounder of A.A. by Bill W.—started writing about Jesus Christ in his very first significant book—Realizing Religion, and continued to do so throughout his long career. (3) Shoemaker pointed out that Calvary Mission—where Bill W. made his decision for Christ—was the place where Jesus Christ changes lives. (4) Bill W. marched in a processional from Calvary Church to Madison Square to witness—the group carried the sign, “Jesus Christ changes lives.” (5) Endless Oxford Group writings were read by early AAs and frequently mentioned Jesus Christ. (6) Dr. Bob mentioned many times that early AAs considered that the Bible’s Book of James, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13 were “absolutely essential to the early program;” and, of course, it was Jesus that delivered the sermon (see Matthews 5, 6, 7)."