AA & Big Book Related

The 12 Steps and Their Relationship to Christianity

It is well known that the twelve-step program developed by Alcoholics Anonymous has become the model for many other popular, lay-managed programs of treatment targeted at people with addictions, compulsions, or dependencies. These conditions include nicotine abuse, narcotics and cocaine abuse, compulsive eating and gambling. Alcoholics Anonymous estimate there are now more than 87,000 A.A. groups in 136 countries world-wide, representing 1.8 million members! Including memberships in other twelve-step programs, it can be estimated safely that millions of individuals around the world attend twelve-step meetings every week.

12 Step A.A. History Review

Research in the last twenty years has made available lots of new information about where each of the Twelve Steps came from, so far as its language and ideas are concerned.

Therefore, if you put these and other thoughts together, you may find why the rapidly disappearing spiritual roots of A.A. are important. The reflections in this article, however, are just designed to remind us all of some principal historical roots of the 12 Steps. And to show how they can help you, as they did me, to see what the Twelve Steps are really about–or at least were, when Bill Wilson first penned them.

Where They Did Not Come From

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Alcoholics Anonymous History and Its Christian Roots

I am one of the tens of thousands (probably hundreds of thousands) of Christians who deeply appreciate the recovery from alcoholism and addiction that Alcoholics Anonymous made possible in our lives. Many of us have been criticized for mentioning Jesus Christ and the Bible in our talks at meetings. But most of us know that God is our sufficiency. We pray to Him in the name of Jesus Christ. And we recover.

Alcoholics Anonymous and “A New Way Out”

"A New Way Out" is a concept I have been sharing with people lately which shows emphatically that the same power and love of God that enabled the recovery and cure of early A.A. members in Akron is available today to those who suffer.

Early A.A. first favored the name "The James Club." [See DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers (New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980), 71. 213.] The older members strongly believed that the Book of James, the Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13 were the parts of the Bible that were absolutely essential to their program. [See DR. BOB, 96.] In fact, the Book of James was a favorite with early AAs. [See DR. BOB, 71.]

As the First Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous (the A.A. "Big Book") was being readied for publication, the "James Club" title was discarded. [See DR. BOB, 213.] At first, the title "The Way Out" was favored by a considerable majority of the pioneers. [See Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age (New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1957), 165.] Most were Akron AAs. [See "Pass It On" (New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.), 203.] Bill Wilson favored the name "Alcoholics Anonymous." [See "Pass It On," 203.] Bill W. asked John Henry Fitzhugh Mayo to research the popularity of the latter two titles—i.e., "The Way Out" and "Alcoholics Anonymous"--at the Library of Congress. "Fitz" found that there were already 25 books entitled "The Way Out" and another 12 entitled "The Way." [See "Pass It On," 203; and Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 166.] None was called "Alcoholics Anonymous." The name "Alcoholics Anonymous" was then adopted for the basic text. [See Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 166.]

But the idea of a "way out" and of a "pathway to a cure" did not immediately die out—a fact underlined by the title and cover proposed in an early draft of the Big Book cover. That draft cover contained the name "Alcoholics Anonymous" and then added "Their Pathway to a Cure." See the excellent reproduction on the cover of Alcoholics Anonymous: Their Pathway to a Cure. A "First – First" Double Anniversary Limited Edition of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (Nashville, TN: Broad Highway Publishing Company, LLC, n.d.).

Prayers for Each of the 12 Steps

~First Step Prayer~

Dear Lord,
I admit that I am powerless over my addiction.

I admit that my life is unmanageable when I try to control it.
Help me this day to understand the true meaning of powerlessness.
Remove from me all denial of my addiction.

~Second Step Prayer~

Heavenly Father,
I know in my heart that only you can restore me to sanity.

I humbly ask that you remove all twisted thought and
addictive behavior from me this day.
Heal my spirit and restore in me a clear mind.

What the Church has to Learn from Alcoholics Anonymous

God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise.
God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong...
I Corinthians 1:26

During the weekend of the Fourth of July last, I attended one of the most remarkable conventions I ever expect to attend. It was a gathering in St. Louis of about five thousand members of the movement called Alcoholics Anonymous. The occasion was the celebration of their twentieth anniversary, and the turning over freely and voluntarily of the management and destiny of that great movement by the founders and "old timers" to a board which represents the fellowship as a whole.

As I lived and moved among these men and women for three days, I was moved as I have seldom been moved in my life. It happens that I have watched the unfolding of this movement with more than usual interest, for its real founder and guiding spirit, Bill-, found his initial spiritual answer at Calvary Church in New York, when I was rector there, in 1935. Having met two men unmistakable alcoholics, who had found release from their difficulty, he was moved to seek out the same answer for himself. But he went further. Being of a foraging and inquiring mind, he began to think there was some general law operating here, which could be made to work, not in two men's lives only, but in two thousand or two million. He set to work to find out what it was. He consulted psychiatrists, doctors, clergy, and recovered alcoholics to discover what it was.

As Sick as Our Secrets

"Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known." Luke 12:2


"Fight Club" is a powerful film, cemented within pop culture. It's notorious, in particular, for the famous line of its main character, Tyler Durden's, often quoted within our society...

"Welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!"

And it got me thinking about secrecy.

Alcoholics Anonymous – How the First Three Got Sober

And Where to Learn the Facts


The first three members of Alcoholics Anonymous were Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob Smith, and Akron attorney Bill Dotson. When these three got sober by turning to God for help, there was no Alcoholics Anonymous. There was no Big Book. There were no Twelve Steps, or any steps at all. There were no Twelve Traditions. There were no drunkalogs. And there were no meetings as we know them today.

Snippets for More Study

How did Bill Wilson, Co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous get well?

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