our Fellowship, Big Book, and Twelve
Steps as Dr. Bob Understood Them
When Bill and Dr. Bob Developed
Them in Akron
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.
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.
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").
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:
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).
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).
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.
Group Parallels Bill Adopted in
A.A.’s Writings and Steps
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:
to the First Step:
[sin] makes a gap between myself
and the Ideal which I am powerless
to bridge. . . Only God, therefore
can deal with sin. He must contrive
to do for us what we have lost the
power to do for ourselves"
(Shoemaker, If I Be Lifted Up,
pp. 131, 133).
God manage me because I can’t manage
myself" (Russell, For Sinners
Only, p. 79; Howard, Frank
Buchman’s Secret, pp. 41-44;
Harris, The Breeze of the Spirit,
to the Second Step:
lies in a faith in God which includes
an experiment. It lies in believing
that God is" (Shoemaker,
National Awakening, pp. 40-41).
to believe" (Brown, The
Venture of Belief, p. 26).
we come to believe in God at all,
we come to believe in Him as having
something definite to say about
our lives. To believe in the fact
of the will of God is only to believe
in God in the concrete" (Shoemaker,
Religion That Works, p. 55).
vast Power outside themselves"
(Shoemaker, A Young Man’s View
of the Ministry, p. 42).
Force outside himself, greater than
himself" (Shoemaker, If
I Be Lifted Up, p. 176; Kitchen,
I Was a Pagan, pp. 63, 78).
to the Turning Point:
need to find God" (Shoemaker,
Realizing Religion, p. 9).
must surrender our wills to a greater
Will, and that will set us free"
(Foot, Life Began Yesterday,
crisis of self-surrender has always
been and must always be regarded
as the vital turning point of the
religious life" (Shoemaker,
Realizing Religion, p. 9; Begbie,
Life Changers, p.
made a decision to surrender to
God" (Foot, Life Began Yesterday,
go! Abandon yourself to Him. Say
to Him, ‘Not my will but Thine be
done" (Shoemaker, Religion
That Works, p. 19).
to the Third Step:
decision to cast my will and my
life on God" (Shoemaker,
Twice-Born Ministers, p. 134).
their minds to as much of God as
he understood, removing first the
hindrance of self-will" (Shoemaker,
Children of the Second Birth,
is what the Oxford Group is working
for, changed lives, God-centered
in place of self-centered"
(Foot, Life Began Yesterday,
most men, the world is centered
in self, which is misery" (Shoemaker,
Realizing Religion, p.
surrender Thee my entire life, O
God. I have made a mess of it, trying
to run it myself. You take it–the
whole thing–and run it for me, according
to Your will and plan" (Kitchen,
I Was a Pagan, p. 67).
first action is mental action, it
is a decision of the will to make
a decision–one decides that one
has not controlled one’s life particularly
well hitherto, and therefore it
had better be put under new management"
(Foot, Life Began Yesterday,
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
for more details.