- Psychological Issues
I have said and written many times-just as did Bill Wilson-that nobody invented Alcoholics Anonymous, nor did its principles and practices come from just one source. There are those who believe almost all our principles and practices came from the Oxford Group. But that is not so. Nor did either Dr. Bob or Bill say so. Nor did the two founders argue or dispute over the diverse sources-Bible, Quiet Time, Shoemaker’s teachings, Anne Smith’s Journal, the Oxford Group life-changing program, and the Christian literature of all sorts that early AAs read.. Each co-founder, however, did ultimately stress certain of the several sources.
Thus, Bill Wilson said of ten of the Twelve Steps: “The spiritual substance of our remaining ten Steps came straight from Dr. Bob’s and my own earlier association with the Oxford Groups, as they were then led in America by that Episcopal rector, Dr. Samuel Shoemaker” (See The Language of the Heart, p. 298; Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism, 2d ed., p. 6). The facts bear out Wilson’s assertion.
Note, however, that Bill was speaking only of ten of the Twelve Steps. He was not discussing the A.A. Fellowship, nor his own Big Book, nor the A.A. slogans, nor the source of the Oxford Group principles, which came straight from the Bible (See Rev. Sherwood Sunderland Day, The Principles of the Group, p. 1: “The principles of ‘The Oxford Group’ are the principles of the Bible”).
And here is what Dr. Bob said about the source of the A.A. Program. He was not discussing the A.A. Fellowship, nor Bill’s Big Book, nor the source of the Oxford Group principles. He was discussing where the basic ideas for the Twelve Steps came from. Dr. Bob said:
When we started in on Bill D., we had no Twelve Steps. . . But we were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book (See The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, pp. 9-10; Dick B., The Good Book and The Big Book, p. 19).
I didn’t write the Twelve Steps. I had nothing to do with the writing of them. . . . We already had the basic ideas, though not in terse and tangible form. We got them. . . . as a result of our study of the Good Book (See DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, p. 96; Dick B., The Good Book and The Big Book, p. 4).
Before we undertake this further study of the Oxford Group principles that found their way into A.A. (And they are numerous!), we need to realize-from our Founders’ statements: (1) Bill said the spiritual substance of ten of the Twelve Steps came from the Oxford Group. (2) The Oxford Group said (and their writers bear this out) that its principles came from the Bible. (3) Dr. Bob said the basic ideas in the Twelve Steps were the result of the pioneers’ study of the Bible. (4) Early Akron A.A. was a Christian Fellowship; likened in part to “an old fashioned prayer meeting;” and brought alcoholics to Jesus Christ through surrenders, Bible study, prayer, practicing the principles of the Bible, and seeking God’s guidance (See Dick B., Why Early A..A. Succeeded).
In this study, we will be talking about the remarkable instances where the language Bill Wilson used in his Big Book, in the Twelve Steps, in his talks, and in the slogans very closely resembles language used by a host of Oxford Group writers in a host of Oxford Group writings (See, for example, Dick B., The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous, 2d ed., pp. 341-64-giving 187 specific illustrations; New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A., 2d ed., pp 153-70-giving 149 specific illustrations). We can’t begin to repeat them all or to claim the foregoing titles contain them all. But this first study will give you some to think about:
As to the First Step:
As to the Second Step:
As to the Turning Point:
As to the Third Step:
As Bugs Bunny used to tell us: That’s all folks. But there’s more to come-more Steps, more quotes, more parallels. But this should be enough to whet your appetite. Perhaps now you see why I am so anxious to get into public access and view the 23,900 item historical collection assembled in my 11 years of research. Treat yourself to the actual reading of For Sinners Only, Life Began Yesterday, I Was a Pagan, children of the Second Birth, and Realizing Religion. See our new title, Making Known the Biblical Roots of Alcoholics Anonymous (a complete summary of all 23, 900 items-books, articles, tapes, videos, papers, etc.). Some can now be seen at The Wilson House. Some at Dr. Bob’s church (St. Paul’s) in Akron. Most still here on Maui. More to be placed when benefactors are located. See http://www.dickb.com/index.shtml for more details.