A.A. 12-Step Christian Parallels: Steps 10-12

Step Ten through Step Twelve

We have many times documented the frequent statements by A.A. cofounder Bill Wilson that his friend Rev. Sam Shoemaker was the major source of the Big Book ideas and Twelve Steps.1

And you can find almost exact parallels between the language Bill Wilson used in the Big Book and the language Shoemaker wrote in his many Christian books, articles, and pamphlets. Sometimes Bill’s parallel language is found in the instructions of the Big Book for “taking” the Steps. Sometimes his language is found in the Steps themselves.

Here, Step by Step, are a few of those parallels. Key words and phrases appear here in bold face. Moreover, in a number of my books, I have carefully stated and reviewed every parallel quote I have found in Shoemaker’s many writings. Those books which contain the totality of my work on Shoemaker-Wilson language parallels are included at the close of this series of articles.

Here Are the Parallels in the Steps Ten through Twelve

Step Ten:
Shoemaker wrote: “There is need for re-dedication day by day, hour by hour, by which progressively, in every Quiet Time, the contaminations of sin and self-will are further sloughed off (for they do have a way of collecting).”2 “It may help to keep our object in view if we choose five words which will cover the usual stages of development: Confidence, Conviction, Conversion, Conservation [later changed to “Continuance”]”3

“All the values of continuance would thus be conserved.”4 “We believe entirely that conversion is the experience which initiates the new life. But we are not fools enough to think that the beginning is the end. All subsequent life is a development of the relationship with God which conversion opened.”5

Step Eleven:
Shoemaker wrote: “Whatever be one’s theories about prayer, two things stand: man will pray as long as God and he exist, and the spiritual life cannot be lived without it… But it is an art — the art of discerning God’s will — and one must learn it. . . . And we are praying best when we come quite empty of request, to bathe ourselves in his presence, and to ‘wait upon Him,’ with an open mind, concerned far more with His message to us than with anything we can say to Him.”6 “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.”7 “I plead again for the keeping of the ‘Morning Watch’ — coming fresh to God with the day’s plans unmade, submitting first our spirits and then our duties to Him for the shedding of His white light upon both.”8 “Contact with God is our normal condition, as normal as water is for a fish.”9 And Shoemaker spoke specifically of: Being “in touch with God.”10 A sense of the “power and presence of God.”11 “God consciousness.”12

Step Twelve:
Shoemaker wrote: (1) About the “experience of God;”13 “vital experience of Jesus Christ;”14 “religious experience;”15 “spiritual experience;”16 “spiritual awakening.”17 “They have ‘got something.’ That is an evasive phrase for saying they believe in and trust God.”18 “Before anything else is suggested about a change and a cure, the first impression that people of God ought to give is the impression of…‘The Everlasting Mercy’… When we know ourselves to be beyond the reach of any merely human help, the first Face of God we need to see is the Face of Love… Now there is just one answer for any sin and any need on the face of this earth. And that lies in the forgiveness of God for the past and the Grace of God for the future. I take that to be the spiritual angle of A.A. because it is the spiritual angle of all mankind.”19
(2) “You will never do effective work with individuals unless you have first fully caught their attention and made them want what you have.”20 “God help us to give freely, as He has given to us.21 “The best way to keep what you have is to give it away.”22 “We must begin giving away what we have, or we shall lose it. One of the first impulses after we hear a good story is to find someone to tell it to. And one of the first impulses after we have had a real Christian experience is to want to impart it to others.”23
(3) “Faith without works is dead.”24 “Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own shelves.’25 “Pentecost was more than a promise to obey the Sermon on the Mount… We shall not get past the rather matter-of-fact and spiritless Christianity so prevalent today until we learn that the Holy Spirit still guides and empowers.”26 “It is plain that the first thing America needs is to stop sentimentalizing over the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, and face honestly the difference between ourselves and those essential laws.”27

As stated, the foregoing are not the only parallels to each Step. We list many others in several of my titles covered at the end of this series of articles.

Meanwhile, the reader may enjoy some specific, itemized, and numbered word and phrase parallels between Shoemaker language and either Big Book or Step language as we have listed them in: Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism (148 parallels), pages 153-70; and Dick B., The Oxford Group & Alcoholics Anonymous (202 parallels from both Shoemaker’s and other Oxford Group writings — Shoemaker being the principal American Oxford Group leader in the 1930’s), pages 276-77, 341-64.

A Point to Remember about Shoemaker and A.A.

You do not have to agree with Shoemaker’s sayings, quotes from the Bible, and writings relevant to A.A. ideas and language. But you may want to learn what Bill Wilson was really trying to do when he digressed and led AAs away from the Bible-oriented Akron A.A. program to Shoemaker’s Oxford Group ideas. Bill was then using and talking about language he had heard day after day from Shoemaker and his circle in the days of Bill’s extensive Oxford Group involvement from late 1934 to 1937 and his continued discussions with, and fanning of, Shoemaker’s enthusiasm for helping drunks through Oxford Group life-changing ideas.

Gloria Deo

1 Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A., Pittsburgh ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1999), 4-7, 8-9, 147-48, 152-53, 327-45, 359, 377-78, 393-95, 487, 531-40, 547-48, 551-52.

2 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., The Conversion of the Church (NY: Fleming Revell, 1932), 79.

3 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., Realizing Religion (NY: Association Press, 1923), 79-80.

4 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., Twice-Born Ministers (NY: Fleming H. Revell, 1929), 168.

5 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., Children of the Second Birth (NY: Fleming H. Revell, 1927), 16. A.A.’s Tenth Step reads: “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

6 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., Realizing Religion, 65-66.

7 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., Children of the Second Birth, 16.

8 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., Realizing Religion, 65-66.

9 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., The Gospel According to You (NY: Fleming H. Revell, 1935), 159.

10 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., The Conversion of the Church, 47-65.

11 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., With the Holy Spirit and with Fire (NY: Harper & Brothers, 1960), 27.

12 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., Twice-Born Ministers, 123. A.A.’s Eleventh Step reads: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

13 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., The Conversion of the Church, 113.

14 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., The Conversion of the Church, 109.

15 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., Realizing Religion, 9.

16 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., Twice-Born Ministers, 10.

17 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., The Conversion of the Church, 134.

18 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., Religion That Works (NY: Fleming Revell, 1928) , 62,

19 Quoting the remarks of Shoemaker at the A.A. International Convention in Long Beach in 1960. See Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism, 335.

20 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., The Conversion of the Church, 77.

21 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., The Conversion of the Church, 86.

22 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., They’re on the Way (NY: E.P., Dutton, 1951), 159.

23 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., How to Become a Christian (NY: Harper & Brothers, 1953), 80.

24 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., National Awakening ( NY: Harper & Brothers, 1936), 13.

25 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., The Gospel According to You, 44.

26 Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., A Young Man’s View of the Ministry (NY: Association Press, 1923), 26.

27 Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., God and America (NY: Book Stall, 61 Gramercy Park North, New York, n.d.), 21.