Alcoholics Anonymous and Christianity
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[This Article is an outline of a major piece on Alcoholics Anonymous and Christianity. It is posted now because of the number of other writings on the subject of Alcoholics Anonymous and Christianity and on the subject of Christians in Alcoholics Anonymous. In the next day or so, citations backing up the statements and quotes will be appended; and the article will be revised accordingly]
Early Alcoholics Anonymous called itself a “Christian Fellowship.”
Observers frequently said that early A.A. was “First Century Christianity” at work.
Bill W. specifically said that Dr. Bob had reminded a group of AAs, including Bill, that most of them were practicing Christians.
A.A. Cofounder Dr. Bob had a deep and meaningful Christian upbringing.
A.A. Cofounder Bill W. also had a deep and meaningful Christian upbringing.
There were a number of Christian organizations and people who were helping drunks long before A.A. was founded; and these impacted on the lives of the Cofounders and the ideas adopted by A.A.
Bill W. said that the ideas in the First Step came from Dr. William D. Silkworth, who was a devoted Christian, a member of Rev. Sam Shoemaker’s Calvary Church in New York, and was the one who first told Bill that Jesus Christ, the Great Physician could cure Bill of his alcoholism.
A.A.’s connection with the Oxford Group at the beginning was mentioned by both Bill W. and Dr. Bob. And the Oxford Group was called “A First Century Christian Fellowship.”
Dr. Bob’s wife recommended to early AAs that they read books on the life of Jesus Christ and that they read the Bible every single day.
The devotionals that early AAs used in their prayer and meditation sessions were uniformly Christian.
All AAs in the Akron Number One Group were required to make a “regular surrender” in which they accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
The books that Dr. Bob read and circulated among early AAs were primarily Christian and numbered in the dozens.
Bill Wilson accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior at Calvary Rescue Mission in New York and wrote in his autobiography, “For sure, I’d been born again.”
The family of Dr. Bob—parents and grandparents—were very active in the North Congregational Church of St. Johnsbury
The family of Bill W.—parents and grandparents—were very active in the East Dorset Congregational Church in Vermont.
Both Dr. Bob and Bill W. were raised in Congregational churches and Sunday schools in Vermont--all attended by their parents and grandparents. They both attended Academies run by Congregationalists and which required attendance at Daily Chapel with Sermons, Hymns, Prayers, and reading of Scripture.
The early A.A. program in Akron, Ohio was founded primarily on Christian principles and practices laid down by the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor, in which Dr. Bob and his family were active in Vermont.
Bill W.’s “new version” of the program embodied in his Big Book and 12 Steps four years later was, according to Bill, based primarily on the teachings of Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., Rector of the Calvary Episcopal Church in New York, and whom Bill called a “cofounder of A.A.”
Dr. Bob’s wife kept a journal from 1933-1939 from which she read each morning to AAs and their families; and in it, she spoke frequently of the Bible, Christian literature, Jesus Christ, God, and the Holy Spirit.
Both Bill and Bob had extensive involvement with the Young Men’s Christian Association. Bill as President, and Dr. Bob’s father as President.