Evolution of Alcoholics Anonymous
By: Lakeview Health Staff
Published: November 12, 2012

Bill W. and Dr. Bob Meet

The God-ordained meeting of Bill W. and Dr. Bob initiated the Alcoholics Anonymous program, which has helped hundreds of thousands of alcoholics find relief from their disease. The Oxford Group played a huge role in both of these men finding sobriety through spirituality. However, it was extremely difficult to convince alcoholics to attend an evangelical bible study. Both of these men knew they had to be able to engage the masses of alcoholics in order to help them and the Bible study approach was not popular among active alcoholics. It seems that divine intervention allowed both Bill W. and Dr. Bob to remove their blinders and be open to God for His benefit and ultimate glory.

AA has Christian Roots

Alcohol rehab is essential as it allows the alcoholic to safely medically detox, as is depicted in both of the co-founders’ stories. However, detox and rehab only mark the beginning of a sober life. Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship which helps addicts learn to remain sober after rehab. Dr. Bob and Bill W. understood that in order for alcoholics to remain sober, they needed to stay connected spiritually and have the support of others in the program. Sponsorship is essential to help guide the newcomer through the AA program. Bill W. considered Ebby Thacher his sponsor because Ebby was the first person to bring Bill W. a message of sobriety that he was able to accept. In Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, Wilson states, “Early AA got its ideas of self-examination, acknowledgement of character defects, restitution for harm done, and working with others straight from the Oxford Groups and directly from Sam Shoemaker, their former leader in America, and nowhere else.”

28 Principles Influence the 12 Steps

The Oxford Bible Study Group had a foundation of 28 principles which each member attempted to follow. These served as the foundation for the 12 steps.

The 28 principles are:

  1. God
  2. God Has a Plan
  3. Man’s Chief End
  4. Belief
  5. Sin is a Reality
  6. Surrender
  7. Soul-Surgery
  8. Life-Change
  9. Decision
  10. Self Examine
  1. Confession
  2. Conviction
  3. Conversion
  4. Restitution
  5. Jesus Christ
  6. Conversation
  7. Daily Surrender
  8. Guidance
  9. 4 Absolutes
  10. Quiet Time
  1. Bible Study
  2. Prayer
  3. Listening to God
  4. Checking
  5. God’s Will
  6. God Conscience
  7. Fellowship
  8. Witness

The principles that the Oxford Group listed were a good resource for learning how to live a healthy Christian lifestyle. Bill W. and Dr. Bob understood this and wanted to be able to translate these morsels of truth to those who felt distanced from God as a result of their addiction.

The Concept of God

It was crystal clear that the God originally meant by Bill W. and Dr. Bob was the Christian God. Throughout different editions, the Alcoholics Anonymous text has moved further away from what some of its original meanings were. For example, the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr is used regularly by Alcoholics Anonymous members and is a prayer to Jesus Christ, as is stated towards the end of the prayer. Over the years, this prayer has become shortened so that only the first few stanzas are repeated in AA meetings. There are many other examples of crossover between Alcoholics Anonymous and Christianity found in the 12 steps. Lakeview Health Systems’ specialized Christian drug treatment is aware of the importance of treating addiction by utilizing the hope offered by God to Christian addicts.  Our Christian drug rehab program is designed to give Christians an opportunity to stop their substance abuse and reconnect with God. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, choosing our program can be one of the best decisions you ever make.