[AAs seldom appear at meetings or offices looking for a scrap! Many are attending meetings not only to overcome their drinking problems, but also to escape the miserable consequences of their own excessive drinking. Even better, they’s like a new life. They want a way out. They don’t want a way into the boxing ring. Yet scarcely a week goes by that we don’t receive heart-wringing emails, letters, visits, or phone calls from some fellowship member who has encountered a purported authority or “bleeding deacon” at an A.A. office, group, or meeting who has just told them what they can or can’t read. What they can or can’t say. What they can’t bring to a meeting. What they can’t name their group or meeting. Or that or they will be denied an A.A. listing because some office manager, secretary, or clerk asserts “authority” that supposedly says it violates some Tradition or is not Conference-approved. Of course you can always vote with your feet and attend some other meeting, group, or office. You may also get a coffee pot, take it and your resentment out the door, and form your own meeting. I’ve been at meetings where police were called, fist-fights occurred, insults were hurled, and shouting had become the norm. There has even been A.A. backed-litigation instituted.
But don’t you really want peace, freedom, friendship, help, and victory over the ravages of alcoholism? We have yet to see an armored vehicle, a machine gun, or tear gas. But the consequences of riotous behavior may be getting drunk, getting disgusted, getting mauled, or getting as far from A.A. as your feet will carry you.
However, overcoming alcoholism and its consequences may be your objective, or if fear and shame and anger are ruling your life, or if you haven’t yet learned to cease drinking, trust God, clean house, and turn your attention to helping someone still suffering, your time has come.] And here are some thoughts from A.A. literature that may help:
“This Is Life for Us; You Can’t Keep Us Out.”
“Tradition Nine states:
‘A.A., as such, ought never to be organized, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.’ . . .
. . .
What we really mean, of course, is that A.A. can never have an organized direction or government. . . .
. . . It [Alcoholics Anonymous] does not at any point conform to the pattern of a government. Neither its General Service Conference, its General Service Board, nor the humblest group committee can issue a single directive to an A.A. member and make it stick, let alone hand out any punishment. . . . Groups have tried to expel members, but the banished have come back to sit in the meeting place, saying, ‘This is life for us; you can’t keep us out.’ . . . An A.A. may take advice or suggestions from more experienced members, but he surely will not take orders. . . .
One would think that A.A.’s Headquarters and General Service Conference would be exceptions. Sure the people there would have to have some authority. But long ago Trustees and staff members alike found they could do no more that make suggestions, and very mild ones at that. . . . We recognize that we cannot dictate to fellow members, individually or collectively.
. . . Great suffering and great love are A.A.’s disciplinarians; we have no others.”
[Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1957), 118-20]
Your Suggestions as to Effective Christian Recovery Help
By Dick B.
Please contact me if you can suggest a Christian Recovery Residential Facility, a Christian Treatment Facility, or a Christian Recovery Fellowship
Day in and day out, we receive phone calls, emails, or personal conversations with alcoholics, drug addicts, and codependents who may or may not be involved in A.A., N.A., or a Twelve-step fellowship.
Or who may or may not be looking for solid, well planned, effective Christian recovery help:
Help In a residential facility, a treatment facility, or a recovery fellowship that believes God can help those who still suffer. That believes competent –preferably recovered==Christian personnel can aid the process whether clergy, recovery pastors, program directors, counselors, interventionists, therapists or recovered Christian Twelve-Steppers who may offer help for you or yours. That believes help can or should include Bible study, prayer, quiet time, personal counseling, Christian fellowship with like-minded believers, and tolerance of the expressed needs of others who have exhausted their own resources, found no help elsewhere, and have a genuine desire to work in a “First Century Christian” fellowship atmosphere much like that in the old school A.A. founded by Akron A.A.’s Christian Fellowship in 1935.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen the need, talked to those who want help, visited facilities or people who have had successful experience as recovered Christians who care and serve.
You need not judge the entity or person suggested. And we won’t. But your suggestions should include a name, a location and contact, a phone and email, and a URL along with illustrative literature.
We’ve seen enough inadequate, albeit well-intentioned, efforts; those that are too expensive; and those that lack leaders and staff equipped to minister, teach Bible, conduct prayer sessions, counsel, and give the afflicted a real shot at in depth reliance on God, His Son, and the Bible.
Please contact Dick B. at 808 874 4876 or email@example.com; and look at our websites such as www.dickb.com. Make your suggestion. Make your comments. And stay in touch with us if you see the kind of help that might meet your need.
Arizona’s Enthusiastic Recovered Christian 12-Steppers Working to Harmonize Today’s Big Book A.A. Foundation with Akron A.A.’s Old School Bible Principles and Practices
We believe the recent vigorous organizational efforts of this Arizona Fellowship represent a new achievement and challenge for those who study and practice today’s 12-Step recovery ideas, but also believe the basic ideas for the Twelve Steps—which came from the teaching, effort, and studies of Akron’s Old School Christian Fellowship--can and should be harmonized and applied together. And this work of Arch Builders by a vigorous recovery-oriented 12-Step Fellowship offers a new challenge for those who cherish all that A.A. has done and can do for the alcoholic who still suffers and yet hunger for a meaningful understanding of the vital role played by God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible as the Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship developed its successful program that so much resembled the techniques and practices of First Century Christians. See The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous:
Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks, pages 11-16. Compare with www.ArchBuilders.org.
Arch Builders does not merely tack on to each step a Bible verse thought to be of value to those seeking God’s help. Nor does it bury the Steps in huge Bibles that sprinkle the Steps throughout the Bible even though early AAs never employed such a technique. This, then, will be an exploration of the daunting task of Christian 12-Step recovery at a time when secular ideas are more and more dominating the talk and practices of those embracing higher powers, unbelief, spirituality, half the A.A. story, and a minimum of historical helps almost ignored today.
The Focused Agenda of Dick B. and Ken B.
It is widely known today that my son Ken and I have devoted 25 years of travel, research, interviews, visits to libraries and archives, and speaking at Alcoholics Anonymous and International Christian Recovery Coalition conferences, groups of Christian recovery leaders, radio programs, and seminars. Also publishing 46 titles and over 1,700 articles on recovery from alcoholism and Christian recovery. See www.DickB.com, www.ChristianRecoveryCoalition, and www.AAHistoryChristianRecovery.com.
Our work has always been, and still is, dedicated primarily to hands-on efforts and research that have helped and will directly help the alcoholic, drug addict, and codependent who still suffers. This work has also emerged as a catalyst for a swift and presently growing Christian recovery movement and many recovered Christian speakers and conferences, as well as published books, articles, and blogs.
It did not take me long, after achieving continuing sobriety starting on April 21, 1986, to recognize the sickness and troubles of those alcoholics and drug addicts seeking or needing help. That includes me, your author. But, at about three years of sobriety and after continuous active A.A. participation and sponsoring, I was led to search for the role that the Bible had played in A.A. Initially, my answer was found in A.A.’s title, DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers. Then it came to my attention that this publication reported only the tip of an iceberg which had largely been submerged since A.A. was founded in 1935. And that most of the A.A. story and roots—“the rest of the story”—which had somehow crossed my path in my recovery, had also been submerged.
About May 2009, my son and I began seeing the importance of disseminating widely the long obscured role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible played in recovery for those who wanted God’s help. And also, the role they could play today. The key was getting the application of the almost buried old school A.A. into the hands of Christian recovery pastors, Christian fellowship leaders, heads of Christian treatment programs and residential facilities, physicians, psychologists, clergy, chaplains, counselors, 12 Step speakers, sponsors, and the public. And that is when we began meeting personally with the leaders and learning how they were bringing God’s healing into the hands of suffering newcomers just as the earliest A.A. and its precursor entities and people had done in the 1930’s and long before A.A.
The Tangled Web of Varying, Conflicting, and Often Ignored Recovery Programs and Recovery History Despite the Passing of About 75 Years of A.A. Fellowship Activity
Before we discuss the task Arch Builders encountered when we came to know it, we need to outline briefly the options that were floating around recovery circles by 2009. For the sick folks were surrounded by a bewildering variety of words, phrases, ideas, programs, and opinions that they could scarcely define or learn the heart of recovery by reliance on God. The following are the floating choices
First, there is the long history of Christian efforts and successes helping drunks long before A.A.; and these many Christian programs and their leaders substantially influenced our cofounders. There was an historical foundation for effective Christian help by huge Christian organizations for alcoholics and addicts long before A.A. was founded. Earliest A.A., when founded in 1935, had been preceded by many, large, effective Christian entities and people who had begun in the 1850’s to turn their attention to the down and out drunk and derelict.
Their programs could be found in the Young Men’s Christian Association, Gospel Rescue Missions, the Salvation Army, revivals of the great evangelists like Dwight Moody and F.B. Meyer, Congregationalism, and the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor. Later, even some of the life-changing ideas of the Oxford Group.
For the most part, their exemplary approaches to healing the sick involved abstinence, turning to God for help, growing in understanding of and obedience to God through Bible study, prayer, quiet time, and Christian literature, and helping the drunkard find his way out with the tools and then help others in the same way. This data is part of “the rest of the story”—the part virtually unknown or unmentioned. And yet, it was a major inspiration for recovery from alcoholism and addiction by relying on God.
The documentation of this early work can be found in the following literature:
J. Wilbur Chapman, S.H. Hadley of Water Street; Dick B. and Ken B., Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous: His Excellent Training in the Good Book as a Youngster in Vermont (http://www.dickb.com/drbobofaa.shtml); Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W.: More on the Creator’s Role in Early A.A. (http://www.dickb.com/theconversionofbillw.shtml); and Dick B. and Ken B., 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 (http://mcaf.ee/h0mwp).
In other words, for those who wanted to learn why Divine Aid ministered by Christians played such a prominent part of alcoholism treatment before A.A. began, there was ample proof that recovery workers could rely on God for healing alcoholics. See Alcohol, Science and Society:
Twenty-nine Lectures with Discussions as given at the Yale Summer School of Alcohol Studies, 1945, pages 414-15, 417, 456-57.
Second, before the first A.A. “Christian fellowship” group was founded in Akron on July 4, 1935, the first three AAs had each gotten sober for life by prayer and reliance on God, based also on the answers they found in the Bible and their church lives.
The first successes in early A.A. were accomplished by Bill W., Dr. Bob, and the attorney Bill D. before Akron Group Number One was founded. The reliance of the first three AAs was on quitting liquor for good, entrusting their lives to God’s care and direction, and then helping others. Dr. Bob summarized the situation in his last major talk to AAs. At that point, there were no Steps, no Traditions, no Big Books, no war stories, and no meetings as we know them today.
Dr. Bob said:
In early A.A. days, . . .
. . . our stories didn’t amount to anything to speak of. When we started in on Bill D. [A.A. Number Three], we had no Twelve Steps, either; we had no Traditions. [And there was no Big Book, and there were no “war stories” or meetings as we know them today].
But we were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book. To some of us older ones, the parts 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, page 13].
In plain words, Dr. Bob explained that the first three AAs looked almost exclusively to the Bible and particularly to Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, 1 Corinthians 13, and the Book of James for their answers from God about how to conquer the alcoholism illness. The Bible was the acknowledged main Source Book of all, as Dr. Bob’s wife phrased it in the journal she shared with early AAs each morning. See Dick B., Anne Smith’s Journal 1933-1939, pages 53-56, 60, 115
Third, beginning about June 10, 1935, the early AAs began developing the first Christian program of recovery. It was summarized in seven points. [DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 131]. And our research soon established about 16 practices that implemented the seven points and that much resembled those of First Century Christians and are summarized in Dick B. and Ken B., Stick with the Winners!, pages 27-37.
In November 1937, Bill W. and Dr. Bob counted noses and found that about 40 alcoholics had maintained continuous sobriety during the preceding two-year period. And they concluded that God had shown them how to pass the message along.
Fourth, with that news, Bill sought and received authorization to write a book about the program. Bill set about writing it, having the help of his friend Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. Bill had previously gone to Calvary Mission and handed his life over to God by accepting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior at the altar. Then, in a short while, Bill—still drinking—had gone to Towns Hospital; he had cried out to God for help; and he had a vital religious experience in which his room blazed with an indescribably white light. Bill believed he had been freed of his alcoholism and thought, “This is the God of the Scriptures.” And Bill was cured of his alcoholism and never drank again. [The Language of the Heart, pages 281-86. See also Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., page 191.]
In Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, Bill explained that he had begun to write the Big Book. He was greatly pleased with what he had written; and he read two friends “the new version of the program, now the ‘Twelve Steps,’” [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, pages 161-62]. Bill also explained what he believed were the three sources of the Big Book basic ideas. In The Language of the Heart, beginning at page 296, Bill credited the ideas in Step One to Dr. William D. Silkworth’s explanation that alcoholism was a grievous and often fatal malady of the mind and body—an obsession that condemns the alcoholic to drink joined to a physical allergy that condemns the alcoholic to madness or death. Thus producing the seeming hopelessness of the illness embodied in the Step One admission.
Next, Bill credited the ideas in Step Twelve to Professor William James’s book, The Varieties of Religious Experience, in which James propounded that frequently the remedy for the sickness of body, mind, and soul involved a religious experience that would not only expel the alcohol obsession, but which also made effective and truly real the practice of spiritual principles “in all our affairs.”
Finally, Bill credited all the rest of the Steps—Steps Two through Eleven—(“the spiritual substance of our remaining Steps”) as having come “straight from Dr. Bob’s and my own [his own] earlier association with the Oxford Group as they were then led in America by that Episcopal rector, Dr. Samuel Shoemaker.” See The Language of the Heart, page 298. On page 298, Bill also introduced his discussion of Steps Two through Eleven with the following questions pertaining to the Shoemaker role:
Where did the early AA find the material for the remaining ten steps? Where did we learn about moral inventory, amends for harm done, turning wills and lives over to God? Where did we learn about meditation and prayer and all the rest of it?
Just before the Big Book was being readied for the final discussion and submission to the printer, Bill wrote in Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, page 166:
Just before the manuscript was finished an event of great significance for our future took place. At that time it looked like just another battle over the book. The scene was Henry’s office in Newark, where most of the writing had been done. Present were Fitz, Henry, our grand little secretary Ruth, and myself. We were still arguing about the Twelve Steps.
Note carefully what Bill then said about God and the steps. At page 166-67 of Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 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, you will remember, 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.
And so the “new version” of the program—the Twelve Steps—was plainly talking about Almighty God, the Creator, and His role in recovery as explained in the Steps first written!
Finally a dramatic change, a revised program approach, an unusual compromise, and a shift from God to any God or no God took place in the Newark office when the little committee of four—Fitz M., Hank P., secretary Ruth, and Bill—did a complete, surprising about-face. And Bill describes it on page 167 of Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age as follows:
Little by little both Fitz and Ruth came to see merit in his [Hank P.’s] contentions. Though at first I would have none of it, we finally began to talk about the possibility of compromise. Who first suggested the actual compromise words I do not know, but they are words well known throughout the length and breadth of A.A. today:
In Step Two we decided to describe God as a “Power greater than ourselves.” In Steps Three and Eleven we inserted the words “God as we understood Him.” From Step Seven we deleted the expression “on our knees.”
And, as a lead-in sentence to all the steps we wrote these words:
“Here are the steps we took which are suggested as a Program of Recovery.” A.A.’s Twelve Steps were to be suggestions only.
Such were the final concessions to those of little or no faith; this was the great contribution of our atheists and agnostics. They had widened our gateway 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.
And, before we leave this “compromise” of the word God, this supposed contribution of “our” atheists and agnostics, and this invitation to “all . . . regardless of their belief or lack of belief,” we would point to some contested, misunderstood, and predominant compromise theories—certainly not to be found in the Bible or even in most of the Big Book today. These compromise ideas—even today—leave believers, unbelievers, Christians, atheists, and those seeking God’s help with a major dilemma. The compromise ideas had meant that the “old-school” A.A., the Bible-based practices and prayers, and the centuries-old defined beliefs about the Creator had not been based on practical recovery experiences, known success, or even the ideas of the founders of A.A.
An example of how far today’s compromised A.A. “god” has strayed from “old-school” A.A may be seen in the A.A. General Service Conference-approved pamphlet titled “A Newcomer Asks . . .” (Item # P-24; published in 1980). It states:
The majority of A.A. members believe that we have found the solution to our drinking problem not through individual willpower, but through a power greater than ourselves. However, everyone defines this power as he or she wishes. Many people call it God, others think it is the A.A. group, still others don’t believe in it at all. There is room in A.A. for people of all shades of belief and nonbelief.
Compare with this case for a higher power that can be a group or nothing at all, the solution, as originally set forth in the First Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous, at page 35-36:
There is a solution. . . . The great fact is just this, and nothing less:
that we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences, which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows, and toward God’s universe. The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves. If you are as seriously alcoholic as we were, believe there is no middle-of-the-road solution.
These two totally conflicting assertions leave a task that is worthy of the effort of some group like Arch Builders to untangle. Today, some people are calling their higher power a rock or a tree. Some are criticizing those who mention God, Jesus Christ, or the Bible. Some are talking about spiritual experiences and spiritual awakenings. And many many members just don’t know or “experience” the solution that Bill Wilson tendered in 1939.
Some of the confusing and lingering questions are:
To whom am I to pray? Upon whom do I rely or to whom do I surrender my life? Where—without the Bible as the guide—can we find definitions or explanations of mere compromise suggestions not even resting on any Steps at all—Steps just written, Steps never practiced (though purporting to exist) , and Steps that had never been taken? From where did the idea of some “higher power” suddenly rise to general use? If one has a “lack of belief,” in what phase of the Big Book or the Steps is he to begin, if at all, relying for recovery on “something” other than self?
There is a Challenge for Those Who Wish God’s Help, Who Endeavor—Within the Ranks of Today’s A.A.—to Form Fellowships, Groups, and Meetings that Exercise the Freedom of Choice to Learn, Apply, Teach, and Rely Upon the Help of God is to Act within the very Boundaries of A.A.’s Assurance that their Steps are Suggestive Only. To tolerate and Understand, that Believers and Unbelievers, Christians, Atheists, and Those Seeking a god’s Help may Utilize, Apply, Disregard, or Modify the Compromise Program Suggested by the Committee of Four when the Big Book was Being Printed in 1939. Or to stand on the Countless Pages of A.A. Material that Today States Things like this:
Bill W. is quoted on page 30 of The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous as follows:
For example, a fellow came to Dr. Bob and said, “I’m an alcoholic; here is my history. But I also have this other ‘complication.’ Can I join A.A.?” 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! The man came in, was a prodigious worker, and was one of our most respected people.
Dr. Bob is quoted on page 19 of The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous as follows:
Another thing which most of us are not too blessed is the feeling of humility. . . I’m talking about the attitude of each and every one of us toward our Heavenly Father. 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? . . . . We had no humility, no sense of having received anything through the grace of our Heavenly Father.
In DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, Bill W. and Dr. Bob’s daughter Sue were quoted as follows on page 71:
“For the next three months, I lived with these two wonderful people,” Bill said, “I shall always believe they gave me more than I ever brought them. Each morning there was a devotion. . . After a long silence, in which they awaited inspiration and guidance, Anne would read from the Bible. ‘James was our favorite. . . . Reading from her chair in the corner, she would softly conclude, ‘Faith without works is dead.’ “This was a favorite quotation of Anne’s, much as the Book of James was a favorite of early A.A.’s—so much so that ‘The James Club’ was favored by some as a name for the fellowship. . . . Sue also remembered the quiet time in the mornings—how they sat around reading from the Bible.”
On page 191 of the 4th edition of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill W. is quoted as follows:
Bill looked across at my wife and said to her, “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.”
On page 181 of the 4th edition of Alcoholics Anonymous, Dr. Bob is quoted as follows:
“Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!”
To summarize the challenging tasks for groups today:
1) if they refer to God, to Jesus Christ, to the Holy Spirit, or to the Bible, they are often denied listing as an A.A. group. 2) if they apply the compromise Steps and rely upon God as someone understands Him, or nothing at all, they lose their own choice of divine help and are forced to use and perhaps try to believe idolatrous words not acceptable to them or under the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible. 3) if they stick solely to someone’s interpretation of what is or is not “Conference-approved” or permissible under the Traditions, they may be compelled to limit discussion, literature, and format to “non-Conference approved,” irreligious, or even atheistic viewpoints which do not and cannot govern what members do, say, read, believe, or discuss.
Some groups today are compelled to use group names that are not indicative of the beliefs or approaches of members even though such membership is commonly accepted by A.A. offices and servants even when adopted and submitted naming a group atheist or agnostic or Buddhist or gay and lesbian. Some groups therefore compromise their own beliefs to conform by calling their “higher power” Jesus or God or a chair or a rock. Some groups hide their purpose by using such names as “easy does it” or “batteries included.” Some groups begin their meetings by reading each of the Twelve Steps and adding to each Step a Bible verse which often was not ever studied in early A.A. or is just a private interpretation of some group leader as to what might or might not be agreed upon, acceptable, or in conformity with either the Big Book’s rendition of a Step’s language or the Bible’s verses that are—without either religious or 12-step definitions.
Arch Builders has a new, useful approach to the Big Book and its arch building thesis, the Twelve Steps, and the Bible—a plan that offers Christian and believing 12-Steppers a fresh approach to A.A.
Arch Builders has formed its group, to the best of its ability, in conformity with A.A. Traditions and with frequent use of “Conference-approved” words and phrases. And that is how it has met the challenge outlined in this article.
We therefore briefly tell you what Arch Builders seems to hold out as its name, principles, practices, and literature used by members.
Arch Builders in Arizona was one of the first new fellowships which both worked within the A.A. system, featured study of the Big Book and 12 Steps, pointed up spots where they believed the Steps could be related to the Bible, and provided Christian recovery help to those who still suffer in Arizona and also as widely as their service was sought.
Arch Builders, a Host of Christian Leaders, and the “Rest of the Story”
On our “Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B.” show (www.ChristianRecoveryRadio.com) and on trips to which we were invited in Florida, Delaware, New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Missouri, Alaska, Arizona, California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Canada, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and many other areas, we met leaders who did not know a great portion of A.A.’s roots, its pre-A.A. Christian influences, the contribution of A.A. precursors like the Salvation Army, Rescue Missions, the Young Men’s Christian Association, Congregationalism, the great evangelists, and Christian Endeavor. And the leaders were not only hungry to learn more but to apply the valid and studied biblical principles in their recovery work that had so much characterized A.A. of Akron’s “Christian fellowship,” and the immense success (93%), and growth in Cleveland.
Having interviewed a number of leaders on our radio show, spoken to them on the telephone or in person, and spoken at their facilities, we began to see emerging in a variety of ways Christian outreach in the form of churches, recovery pastors, counselors, professors, physicians, Christian treatment and residential treatment, as well as fellowships of AAs who had learned the importance of the roles played by God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible in early A.A. and wanted to hear “the rest of the story” and enhance their programs with the information.
We do not attempt to control or program what Christian Coalition participants do in their programs with the Big Book, the Steps, the Bible, or Jesus Christ We do urge participants to pursue their own beliefs in a tolerant way and without need for condemning present-day 12-Step language and ideas. Our aim is to encourage those in the Christian recovery movement if and when they are Christians endeavoring to define and disseminate the role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible have played in their 12-Step Fellowship.
And Arch Builders fills that bill.
We saw heavy traces of “old-school” A.A. being applied now (today)—often out of sync with 12-Step programs, or programs that spurned A.A., or Christians who were determined to undermine any traces of Christians, Christian churches, and Christian recovery history and denounce A.A. and its ideas and its followers as heretical, hell-bound, and dangerous. Fortunately, through the International Christian Recovery Coalition, we have seen Christian recovery grow rapidly in the United States and other countries. But the question remained:
Which leaders, entities, programs, counselors, and fellowships were merely flying a Christian flag, but offering little of the intense faith and First Century Christianity that had been seen and applied in early Akron A.A.
And so, on Christian Recovery Radio and in these articles, we endeavor to point out those Christian efforts and those Christian groups or recovery programs which seem to us to have a great deal of the power, love, forgiveness, fellowship, healings, Bible knowledge, prayer, and conversions that can mean so much to a suffering soul who desperately wants God’s help and is willing to do what it takes to get it. The issues are not over fellowship errors or mistakes. They are those examples of what is being done willingly today to foster knowledge and understanding of the power and love of God.
Which brings me to the Arch Builders in Arizona.
We were flown down to Phoenix and Tucson to carry the message about the roles played by God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible in early A.A.’s astonishing successes. We went to see the Christian leaders and workers involved in Arch Builders.
On the plus side, we knew first hand that the Arch Builders had worked with Christians and with A.A. “servants” to follow the Traditions, rely heavily on A.A. Conference-approved literature, and yet assert the freedom to apply “old-school” A.A. today.
Much about what the Arch Builders Arizona recovered Christians do can be found on their website www.ArchBuilders.org. They hold meetings for the addicted and the affected. They publish an illustrated guide to the building of the spiritual arch described in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. An extensive appendix “The Recovery Yoke” documents their view of over 50 aspects of Twelve Step Fellowships in the spirit of the Big Book quote on page 164:
“God will constantly disclose more to you and to us.” They are putting in substantial time to educate sponsors and their sponsees in all 12 Step programs, as a transitional resource for those leaving recovery centers and entering recovery fellowships. They have developed a format for church-centered biblical based recovery groups. And they urge those who need help of that sort to visit them on www.ArchBuilders.org and www.FOBF.net for additional information.
Arch Builder’s Meeting Information
ArchBuilder’s currently has a meeting in the Tucson metropolitan area. The meeting is listed below. And you may want to attend, observe, learn, and participate.
1755 S Houghton Rd
Tucson, AZ 85748
Town Hall Building Room #5
Paul R. 520-444-7997
Christian twelve step recovery discussion
Arch Builder’s Literature for Sale on Amazon.com
A Biblically Based Recovery Manual by Friends of Bill’s “Friend” (CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2014); ISBN: 1496083954; Price: $12.99: http://mcaf.ee/62ynt
A Few Words about Our Review of Christian Recovery Facilities
My son Ken and I formed the International Christian Recovery Coalition in July of 2009 (www.ChristianRecoveryCoalition.com); and that same month, we held a conference on the grounds of Hope by the Sea in San Juan Capistrano, California, at the invitation of its staff member Bobby Nicholl. The Coalition is an informal fellowship of participating Christian recovery leaders, workers, newcomers, and members of the public who see the role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible played in the recovery movement and can play today for those afflicted alcoholics and addicts who have suffered long enough and want God’s help. The Coalition is Bible-friendly, recovery-friendly, and 12 Step-friendly; and it today has participants in all 50 states and more than 15 brother and sister countries.
But the story of healing by the power of God which played such a vital role in the origins of the recovery movement from about 1850 forward surged with Christian organizations and individuals who turned their attention to helping the down and outers recover from their misery and troubles. Those who labored the hardest and produced the most effective results included the Young Men’s Christian Association; Gospel Rescue Missions; great evangelists like Dwight Moody, Ira Sankey, and F. B. Meyer; the Salvation Army; Congregationalism; and the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor. Beginning in the early 1920’s, A First Century Christian Fellowship (later to become known as “the Oxford Group”) made contributions to aspects of some recovery efforts.
Out of these efforts grew the successes of the Christian recovery people, based primarily on several simple principles:
(1) Cessation of all use of liquor and abuse of drugs. (2) Belief in God and coming to Him by accepting His Son Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (which was known in early Akron A.A. as making a “full surrender”). (3) Obedience to God’s will. (4) Growth in understanding and service through Bible study, prayer meetings, “Quiet Times,” and the reading of Christian literature. (5) Helping other suffering alcoholics and addicts find a way out by the same method.
But the scene changed. Focus began to shift more and more toward battling liquor, eliminating saloons, Prohibition, and medical-psychological remedies. Then came A.A., with its focus on God and relying on Him for cure of alcoholism, and simple principles much like those of the First Century Christians as seen in the Book of Acts, such as Christian Fellowship, Bible study, prayer, Quiet Time, restitution, and helping others.
But the scene changed again not long after A.A. was founded. Medical models, counseling, dual addiction treatment, secular theories about how to prevent relapses and how to help patients recover, the funding of recovery with insurance backing, the erecting of huge treatment institutions, and focus on “evidence-based” recovery rather than “faith-centered” recovery began to dominate the recovery scene. And reliance on God began to slip through the cracks. Hostility toward religion, promotion of atheism, efforts to suppress talk of God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible appeared. And thousands upon thousands of suffering Christians were baffled by the new “believe in anything or nothing” attitude that was emerging.
Today, the Christian recovery movement is again charging ahead. We have spoken at many 12 Step and Christian recovery meetings; met their leaders; noted the degree of focus on the power and love of God, on God’s son Jesus Christ, and on the Bible; and found a number of fellowships, leaders, and facilities which are involved in helping Christians and potential Christians(!) seek healing and a new life through reliance on the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
Celebrate Hope at Hope by the Sea is Today’s Subject
Here is the description that Celebrate Hope at Hope by the Sea provides of its Christian treatment program:
Celebrate Hope is a Christian residential drug and alcohol treatment center located in the beautiful coastal community San Juan Capistrano, California. Our faith-focused mission is to minister the love of Jesus Christ to those who are in pain and are suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Christ centered treatment is the core component of our program, along with Celebrate Recovery® which is a ministry of Saddleback Church.
[“Celebrate Hope at Hope by the Sea” pamphlet/brochure/folder--consulted 8/17/2014]
As I mentioned earlier, my son Ken and I have visited the main office of Hope by the Sea and have spoken at a conference held there. And our principal contact was and is Bobby Nicholl, Admissions and Intervention staff member of Celebrate Hope at Hope by the Sea. His address is PO Box 1480, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92693. His email address is Bobby@celebrateanewlife.com. He has a strong Christian background and long experience in treatment industry. And he is welcoming, congenial, and articulate in his conversations with those that call him for help at 800.631.7753. Bobby freely offers answers to all kinds of recovery-related questions and recommends alternative choices for treatment. And we will let him tell you the rest if you choose to call.
Important Features of Their Program
What has struck me about a number of Christian treatment or Christian recovery residences is how much of the early A.A. focus on the Bible, salvation, prayer, quiet time, and Christian literature is not present. Sometimes there is just a weekly Bible study. Sometimes a chaplain is on call. But often there is little about the renewed mind, fellowship, witnessing, and healing.
In contrast, I believe the Celebrate Hope at Hope by the Sea Christian treatment program comes much closer to hitting the mark. Their pamphlet/brochure/folder I quoted earlier also states:
What We Offer:
(1) Christ-centered treatment. (2) Residential treatment. (3) One on One Therapy. (4) Group Therapy. (5) Intervention Services. (6) Life Recovery Bible. (7) Boundaries Workshop. (8) Celebrate Recovery®. (9) Worship at Saddleback. (10) Daily Christian Devotionals. (11) Individual Christian Counseling.
The program is very strong, especially considering its similarities to the early A.A.’s “Christian fellowship” program in Akron which was focused on living in the homes, breaking bread together, Bible study, group prayer, optional worship at church, and use of Christian devotionals. Celebrate Hope at Hope by the Sea’s individual Christian counseling--which could allow for discussion of healing, Bible, sanctification, witnessing, and fellowship with like-minded believers—particularly caught our attention.
[Who are the “Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena”—the “trainers”—we so often speak of? What information and training about the roots of A.A. are they seeking today? Do they understand and notice the emphasis today in A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature on God, the Creator, the Maker, the deity specifically described from the Bible and incorporated in each of the four editions of Alcoholics Anonymous, the “basic text” of the Society of Alcoholics Anonymous (affectionately known as “the Big Book”).]
Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena should want a full and accurate body of knowledge coming from the basic ideas early AAs studied in the Bible--basic ideas stemming from their reliance on a vital religious experience enabling them to “find or rediscover God.”
Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena should be ready to recognize the gap between the original Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship” program and the Christian origins of A.A. from the 1850’s forward. They should understand that carrying the A.A. message today can be much more effective when one embraces A.A.’s roots, its formative days in the summer of 1935 when the first three got sober, and the Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship” program founded in 1935.
They should also learn how to harmonize the roles played by God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible in the highly-successful, original “old-school” A.A. with today’s 12-Step recovery programs.
They need to remember that the A.A. of today is open to anyone who has a desire to quit drinking. And that today’s A.A. admits those of many faiths (including Christianity!) as well as those who have no belief in anything at all. They need to understand both “the new version of the program, now the ‘Twelve Steps’” Bill W. included in the first edition of the Big Book published in April 1939 [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 162], and “old-school” Akron A.A. founded in June 1935 and summarized by Frank Amos in February 1938 [DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 131].
Their approach to recovery should be grounded on love and tolerance, producing love and service. And they should understand that the tolerance that today’s A.A. values so highly should preclude intolerance toward those who espouse “old-school” A.A. and its emphasis on surrender to God by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, obedience to God, spiritual growth through prayer and Bible study, and heavy emphasis on helping others get well.
The A.A. message of today that emphasizes lack of belief in God or belief in anything at all is simply a script written to please those who don’t tolerate, actually fight to keep the full A.A. story (“the rest of the story”) from, and/or don’t like, AAs who want all the facts about their Fellowship today. The AAs who want the facts often don’t have “a dog in the race” when it comes to talk about “spirituality,” “higher powers,” and the lack of need for belief. These same, present-day AAs who want the facts may be able to tolerate nonsense gods and self-made religion. They may even tolerate criticism of the Bible, God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the early A.A. “Christian fellowship” in Akron. But scores of them are more and more offended by remarks in meetings to the effect that they can’t talk about their own relationship with the Creator, their own Bible-based prayers, and their own choice of how and where to worship.
Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena may joyfully report that, when A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob was asked a question about the program, his usual reply was:
“What does it say in the Good Book?” [DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 144]. Dr. Bob said that he didn’t write the Twelve Steps and had nothing to do with the writing of them. But he said he believed the studies, efforts, and teachings that had been going on in the Good Book since 1935 certainly must have influenced the writing of the Twelve Steps. [The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (P-53), 14].
In fact, there are many ideas and practices concerning God and prayer meetings in “old-school” A.A. that are just as relevant for some in today’s recovery scene as they were when originally reported many years ago in A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature.
No Intent Here to Return A.A.’s Two Million Membership Back to Early A.A.’s Akron A.A.’s Christian Fellowship of the 1930’s
The foregoing is not a plea for the return of A.A. to its Christian roots and practices of 1935. Nor is it a plea for making others in today’s A.A. like phrases in the Big Book and other A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature such as Creator, Maker, Heavenly Father, Master, Christ, “faith without works is dead,” “Thy will be done,” and other actual quotes or paraphrases of biblical ideas.
Rather, it is a factual statement that Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena today (the “trainers”) often want and need to know the whole A.A. story and to impart it to trainees. They need to keep love and tolerance in the fore as the A.A. code this very day. And they need to express, and show newcomers that newcomers have a choice to hear and believe, the truth-- without fear of restraint, prohibition, criticism, or rebuke.
The Trainers, the Newcomers, Troubles, and Unique Needs
Anyone who endeavors to work with newcomer alcoholics and addicts quickly discovers how “sick” such a suffering soul may be. Some may call his deeds and their consequences “sin.” Some may see but not recognize deep depression. For sure, the trainer will hear the sobs, note the terror, witness isolation and loneliness, and even recognize the newcomer’s continuing obsession, craving, and yielding to ever-present temptation.
There is usually confusion, forgetfulness, disorientation, guilt, shame, and even remorse in the mind of the newcomer, Then there is trouble—trouble with police, jail, prison, probation, parole, courts, attorneys, divorce, family battles, custody battles, debts, unemployment, failures to appear, suspension of licenses and insurance, and delinquent taxes and tax returns. The pile seems insurmountable. Relief may be seen by the suffering soul as a lost cause—as a very long tunnel with no end. And mental stamina for the newcomer is often taxed to the hilt.
Sponsors, pastors, lawyers, speakers, physicians, counselors, treatment programs, and other care-giving efforts may not be the specialty or study subject of a trainer. But they inevitably are part of the scene. And if the trainer is to comfort and help the newcomer, the trainer may be able to point him to the directions he must take to find the exit. The trainer may be able to give him the boost or recommendation—whether the scene is in a hospital, a court, a jail, treatment, or in a meeting-- toward a recovered and useful life, and bring him into fellowship with others who have made the grade. In fact, that trainer is very apt, based on his own experience, to see a dozen areas where he can be of service to God and to the newcomer, and thus hold the up the pamphlet, the signpost, the Bible, or the Big Book that maps out the recovery route.
“Old-School” A.A. (Featuring the A.A. “Christian Fellowship” of Akron) Can Be the Trainer’s First-rate Helper in the Process
Training as Individuals, Groups, Meetings, even Classes?
After 25 years of research, travels, interviews, conferences, studies, trips to archives and libraries in many states both near and far, my son Ken and I assembled and even donated thousands of records and manuscripts and books to such excellent repositories as the Wilson House in East Dorset, Vermont; North Congregational Church of St. Johnsbury, Vermont (location of the “Dr. Bob Core Library”); the Seiberling Gate Lodge in Akron, Ohio; and “the Shoemaker Room” in Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. But those repositories are not readily accessible or even generally reported to the millions of members who flow through today’s A.A.
Through the years, plenty of conferences have hosted our own presentations of A.A. history and Christian Recovery. But that meant our spending thousands of dollars for travel and accommodations, for meals and lodging, and usually for just a short weekend period. The facts were presented. But not in one geographical location. They were often embodied in books, articles, radio talks, and even phone conversations. Thousands of resources. But often as unknown as the rest of the A.A. story itself which is so essential to full recovery today.
Reading A.A. and other recovery-related literature; watching movies, films, videos and plays that touched on A.A.; and even traveling afar did not produce harmonious, reliable, complete “old-school” A.A. that told members where they came from, or where explanations could be found and documented. Nor where the spiritual ideas came from. Nor how the principles and practices had developed—even though often-conflicting, confusing, acrimonious, incomplete, and highly-subjective writings or talks have begun to abound based on the opinions or guesses of those interested in A.A. and its history. In fact, there may well be more groundless “wisdom of the rooms” being passed around today than carefully researched and reported facts.
My son Ken and I developed two major solutions for helping to fill the information gap and disseminating explanatory resources that would provide answers for those who wanted information about missing parts of the story of A.A.’s history and its ingredients and/or based their recovery journey on the power of God.
One solution meant broadcasting as widely as possible facts about:
1. (a) A.A. itself; (b) First Century Christianity; (c) the Christian upbringing of A.A. cofounders Bill W. and Dr. Bob; (d) the organizations and leaders who contributed some very simple biblical and Christian recovery ideas about abstinence, resisting temptation, turning to God for help, obeying God's will, growing in understanding through prayer and Bible study, and (e) the appropriate message to be conveyed to those who still suffered. Those simple A.A. Christian beginnings were tops in priority. Also how the first three got sober; and the principles and practices of the first recovery program of the Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship.”
The body of accurate, pertinent facts is immense. Yet the vast majority of these facts—particularly those highlighting the roles played by God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible in early A.A.’s astonishing successes—have still not reached or impacted in a significant way either the professional, academic, government, treatment, medical, religious, or the alcoholism and addiction trenches. And those facts have certainly not received much careful study.
And we have summarized for you the large quantity of resources we have gathered. They are presented in my 46 published titles and over 1,700 articles. See www.DickB.com. They are also presented on our new website:
2. The story of what has been missing from today’s 12 Step scene. The limited dissemination of what has been seen or heard from our efforts.
Tens of thousands have visited our websites, our blogs, our newsletters, our radio shows, our conferences, seminars, and our writings. But the complete facts, the full details, the needed tools for recovery, the application of “old-school” A.A. in today's "new version of the program . . . the ‘12 Steps,’” have still not impacted the majority of today’s A.A. members because of a prevailing attitude of censorship and limitation “in the rooms” that has produced an information blockade.
Consequently, Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena (the “trainers”), the trainees, the drunks and addicts still suffering in the streets, and the message carriers have been much limited in outreach.
Only when today’s suffering, afflicted people are taught what A.A. cofounder Bill W.’s friend Ebby learned and passed along to Bill—the message that God had done for Ebby what he could not do for himself—will a joining of “old-school” principles and practices of 1935 and thereafter in Akron seem consistent or applicable with a seemingly-fixed conception of the “inclusiveness” and “broad highway” that A.A. literature has promoted for decades.
Ending the Information Blackout and Putting Together “the Rest of the Story”
There has been a repeated exchange of opinions and speculations as to the importance of A.A.’s roots and successes in the early days. There have been repeated discussions of, and requests for information about, “old-school” A.A. as seen in Akron’s “Christian fellowship” of 1935 and later; A.A.’s demonstrable biblical roots; and the vast body of Oxford Group, Shoemaker, Carl Jung, and Dr. Silkworth facts and records still lying in some assembled, albeit, accurate puddle of viewpoints and objections.
That end result has given rise to our forthcoming webinars. They will gather those Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena (the “trainers”) who really want to learn and pass on to trainees, newcomers, and others “the rest of the story” about A.A. effectiveness. Accurate accounts—when beefed up with where A.A. came from, the varying forms it has taken, and how to report “the rest of the story”—will present to AAs and those wanting God’s help the role of God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible in the recovery arena.
We plan to present the long-missing or unreported facts in short webinars. Small chunks of facts about A.A. history will be presented in a form that will be easily understood, easily remembered, easily passed along, and easily retained for other and later use.
That's our objective; and now you know! Let’s keep it thorough. Let’s keep it accurate and truthful. Let’s keep it simple in format. And let’s allow Christian leaders and workers the world over to see and evaluate what they may wish to incorporate in their work with others today—the long record of what A.A. was willing to learn and did learn and apply when it was founded..
In addition to our many other August improvements and changes, we have had one of those additional miracles God keeps heaping up for service. Maui has been slow slow slow to respond to old school recovery facts. But there has been a recovered daily meeting attending Christian leader in the wings. One of my long-term Maui sponsees has joined in with our Maui restoration plan We have long wanted a pilot program. And now our recently successful newcomer is here with apartment, car, and eagerness to go. He's detoxed, released from short term treatment, solid in fidelity, determination, helping others, and eager to resume helping with Big Book and Bible as he did on so many of my trips to Pittsburgh, the Wilson House, and other conferences in years gone by. So we are cranking up A.A. meeting attendance; planning regular study groups; resuming Bible and history study, and now able to offer hungry newcmers the real Christian fellowship that was so much a part of old school Akron A.A.'s successes. It takes more than a village. It takes hands-on, motivated, service-oriented helpers to work successfully in the trenches with alcoholics and addicts. So now, amidst many other radio shows, webinars, newsletters, blogs, and solid leaders in Arizona, Ohio, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Missouri, Alaska, and California, the planned outreach will be mirrored right here on Maui. And it began here two days ago!
Now that 25 years of research has been completed, the emphasis will be on teaching the actual facts--the "rest of the story", and the ignored links--in digestible bites. The basic documentation is available in 46 titles, 1700 articles, blogs, newsletters, and personal conversations. But the wide dissemination now will allow viewers, speakers, diverse training folks, and leaders to conduct their own programs in their own ways, but to have access to regular input from Dick and Ken.
How? Radio, videos, webinars, interviews, and ample, personal communications, facebook, twitter, and other media. Expensive travel to conferences will be replaced largely by specific, brief, topical segments that will help trainers, help trainees, enhance recovery, and help others.
Mindless meeting chatter, war stories, and entertaining circuit speakers can give place to groups that learn chunks of recovery facts, ask questions, receive pointers to resources, and make comments. Fellowship, Big Book study, Step study, history study, and information about the role played and that can be played by God, His Son Jesus Christ, the Bible will enable old school A.A. to supplement the experience of members in helping others with today's spiritual tools.
No change in A.A. Just enabling serious recovery facts to beef up learning at a local, personal, nationwide level.
Brief Webinar Sessions to “Train the Trainers” Through Local, Small, Recovery Leadership Groups that Condense 100 Years of Available, Adaptable, “Old-School” A.A.’s Vanishing and Priceless Recovery Treasures and Victories We Need to Know
A Word or Two about How This Series Can Change Individuals, Groups, Repeated Relapses, and Sluggish Recoveries
Even before their Society was founded in 1935, suffering alcoholics and many care givers believed that alcoholism could be cured by the power of God. They believed recovery itself could also be substantially enhanced. They believed revolving door relapses could be prevented. And they believed an important relationship with God could be established to enable the afflicted to be healed, to guide them in the steps of Jesus Christ, and to achieve all that it means to become a child of the living Creator.
For more than 25 years, Dick B. (a long-sober, Christian, active in A.A.) and his son Ken B. (a Bible scholar, ordained Christian minister, and communications specialist) have traveled and spoken widely, researched, read, interviewed, and published. They’ve reported to those afflicted with and affected by alcoholism what they have been missing in recovery and healing. Many, if not most, have scarcely learned the origins, principles, and history of their fellowships. Many have wearily listened to distorted or misrepresented chatter amounting to the wisdom of the rooms. Many have never heard, met, or read the writings of dedicated Christian recovery leaders and workers. Nor realized their immense influence on early recovery successes.
Considering today’s rampant recidivism and relapse histories, many an afflicted person has had more than enough misery and trouble despite continuing in a downward spiral. One which, a century ago, was arrested by experienced, compassionate, Christian leaders whose main focus then was helping the desperate down and outers, and the derelicts unable to or unsuccessful in changing their lives.
Despite the billions spent on alcoholism and addiction problems, many suffering souls have been detoured from the original A.A. path to a relationship with God. They have often neither learned much about or believed in the power of God, the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ, and the road map to God’s solutions in the Bible. They have been deprived of the rest of the story of Christian recoveries. They have never learned or applied the principles and practices of the early Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship” members—principles and practices that many call “old-school” A.A. Principles and practices paving the way even during first century Christianity.
A gaping information hole exists today, largely because--in little more than 75 years of existence, their fellowships have often side-stepped or even obscured the original “God” part of recovery and opened their doors to atheists and agnostics; focused on the idolatrous idea that some nebulous, fictional, “higher power” can somehow perform the miraculous. They have often been side-tracked into believing that God, His Son Jesus Christ, the Bible, clergyman, church, and religion are just unneeded—even offensive--nuisances that clutter up a divine solution and replaced it with a simplistic blind faith. A dubious conclusion that twelve, suggested, secular steps can, without the power of God, produce an understanding of, and affinity to. God’s love, power, forgiveness, healing, grace, and mercy. Yet emphasizing that today’s members can be atheists, agnostics, unbelievers, or side-standers in the vital march to find a spiritual awakening that will remove their affliction.
The “Rest of the Story” in Small, Digestible, Webinars--Shared by Us with You-- Who Are and Very Much Want to Be Informed Trainers in the Trenches
The message that God can do for the alcoholic what he cannot do for himself no Longer Requires Expensive Conferences and Eloquent Circuit Speakers. It’s about Bringing to Your Leadership Gatherings by Webinars a Piece-by-Piece Body of Facts that Talk of What God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible Enabled Early AAs to Utilize and Apply and Can Still be Harmonized for Today’s Afflicted the Key Elements of Depending on God for Recovery, for Relapse Prevention, for Healing, for Fellowship, and for Spiritual Growth
• Some Trial Run Plans for our brief Webinars:
Each be brief. Each will be free. Each will have only a limited number of participants. Those who want to be taught and teach accurate information. Each will be a recovered Christian group leader, Christian recovery fellowship leader, recovery pastor, recovered Christian treatment program leader, or a Christian recovery residential program leader of groups of Christians in recovery. Participants may be Christian recovery professionals who are counselors or interventionists or recovered Christians or who are speakers, or are sponsors who want to found and conduct Christian recovery groups or who already belong to a recovery fellowship. They may include a group leader, speaker, or sponsor—in a gathering which relies on God for help.
• Selection of Participants for the small groups.
We will contact three or four leaders who have expressed a desire to train. learn, and train others; or we will welcome such leaders as simply want to participate in the seminars. Ken B. will contact or should be contacted by those desiring to participate; and Ken may be reached at 808 275 4945 or Ken@condo.gmail.com. We will then select and notify participants of the webinar, its topic, and its timing.
• Examples of Topics that will be taught.
We will select a topic or series of topics related to a particular part of the rest of the story. An example is set forth below.
• Actual Conduct of a Webinar.
First, Dick B. and Ken B. will present a brief training discussion on the particular webinar topic. They will invite comments from participants. And the webinar will conclude with suggestions from the participants or the presenters.
• Documentation of the training facts presented. We have published 46 books, over 1700 articles, blogs and newsletters, and comments. And we have, as well, conducted radio shows, videos, and conferences. And all materials have been carefully described and documented in footnotes and published records. These will be mentioned and certainly made available for reference but not be part of the brief webinars
• An example of a webinar topic:
“The Christian upbringing in Vermont of Bill W.”:
Includes The East Dorset Congregational Church in Vermont; the Wilson family’s contributions to, participation in, and support of the church. Grandpa Willie Wilson (the alcoholic) and his vital religious experience on Mount Aeolus where he was cured of alcoholism for the remaining eight years of his life. Bill’s attendance at both the church and at its Sunday school. Bill’s recollection of sermons, hymns, temperance meetings, revival meetings, and conversions, as well as family religious events. Bill’s attendance at nearby Burr and Burton Seminary in Manchester, Vermont. Bill’s required attendance at daily chapel—sermon, reading of Scripture, hymn, prayer meeting. Bill’s presidency of Burr and Burton Young Men’s Christian Association. Bill’s four year Bible study course at Burr and Burton. The required attendance by scholars at services and events of the nearby Manchester Congregational Church. Bill’s turning his back on God at graduation time when his girl-friend Bertha Bamford died unexpectedly in surgery.
• Brevity of webinar is supplemented by the well-documented facts available on our new website (www.aahistoryChristianrecovery.com); in our books, articles, websites, blogs, radio shows, newsletters, and many posted resources. The webinars themselves are presented to highlight the topics trainers need to hear, research, learn, and teach.
• Many other topics will be put in webinar form as time permits, resources are available, requests are made, and progress is evident.
Shortly we will be posting for your use a page of what you can do to establish a group for study of the Big Book, Steps, Beginner approaches, Christian fellowships, prayer discussions, Bible discussions and A.A. origins, A.A. History, Christian predecessors, Christian upbringing of Bill W. and Dr. Bob, how the first three got sober, what the principles and practices of the Akron AA Christian Fellowship were, how Bill’s “new version” of the program the Twelve Steps left these out, and how the compromise ousting God from the Steps came about in 1939 just before the Big Book went to print.
Some Starting Thoughts
(1) Select a name and purpose– such as Step Study, Big Book Study, History Study, AA Roots Study, Prayer Guides, Literature Study, Sponsoring the One Who Still Suffers, Meetings for Beginners,
(2) Gather a small group – AA friends, Fellow Sponsees, Step Students, Big Book Studies,
Literature Study, History Seekers, A.A. Conference-approved books and pamphlets,
(3) Pick Studious Leaders - Devoted students like Joe McQ. and Charlie P., Rev. Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., and such diligent, prepared “teachers” are needed to lead studies.
(4) Cover Meeting Needs – Location, officers, dates, times, Format, literature to be used.
Learn and Read Applicable Traditions
Tradition Two – For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
Tradition 3 (the Long Form) 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.
Yield to no Bullying, Attempts to Silence, or Know-it-alls
Groups meet to help themselves and other stay sober and help newcomers to get sober and stay healed. Shout-downs, discourteous claims, and suppression should open the door to another meeting where such conduct does not occur. Vote with your feet!
Frank Mauser, now deceased, was the second archivist of A.A. upon the retirement of Nell Wing. Frank became a good friend of mine, and he was a strong supporter of suggesting to AAs that they heed the saying about how a civilization or society perishes or declines because there is always one condition present. They forgot where they came from.
It's time to think through the opportunities for success and growth in A.A. that can and will come when the importance and diversity of study groups is once again recognized and organized.
Of late, we have women's groups. We have atheist groups. We have agnostic groups. We have gay and lesbian groups. We have Step Study groups, Big Book study groups, Traditions groups, and history groups.
But when it comes to the kind of study groups that emanated from the Joe and Charlie Big Book Seminars, lots of learning is shelved in favor of roundups, flings, dances, and circuit speakers. Content is not the test of value and quality; but large crowds, famed speakers, "spirituality" groups, and Buddhist groups seem to trump the kind of research, preparation, and utility that can come from learning how AA began, what it's strong points were, what has been changed, what has been eliminated, and what is sometimes barred by moderators, "conference-approved" barriers, and arguments about what Traditions permit or don't permit.
We will be inviting your comments on and suggestions concerning some often-mentioned and very important studies that more and more in the fellowship are seeking to conduct.
It's not about what's permitted. It's not about what's banned. It's not about which "evidence-based" pharmaceutical or psychological counseling has been discovered and found useful. It's not about what some office manager, secretary, "trusted servant," or delegate thinks A.A. is, should be, and should do.
What will soon be evident is that the strength, duration, and value of A.A., its roots, its literature, its Steps, and its discussions can and should be led by avid researchers who employ history, medicine, religion, community, archives, interviews, and great teachers to tell us what we did. To tell us what we have forgotten. To tell us the facts about working with drunks and addicts and helping them to be cured.. And to point us to the speakers, the literature, and the meetings that help us to grow.
What kind of meetings? Big Book, Step, Bible, History, Roots, the personal stories of the pioneers, and the recorded success rates of such groups as early Cleveland A.A. developed, polished, enhanced, and assured great success--far more than had been achieved theretofore. There can be prayer meetings, devotional meetings, guidance meetings, and a host of others whose very names have been forgotten.
Well that's what is in the burner. It's coming from those who have faith in A.A., see the shortcomings of the "wisdom of the rooms," and want to thinking and leadership of those who founded some of the great recovery ideas of yesteryear.