Alcoholics Anonymous and the Bible

You would be surprised at how many people in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings today think that you can’t mention the Bible, share from the Bible, discuss the Bible, or even place a Bible on a table in the meetings.

This is a sketch of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Bible–by no means comprehensive, but definitely informative and useful.

    1. The first three Alcoholics Anonymous members–Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob Smith, and attorney Bill Dotson–all had Christian upbringings. All had studied the Bible long before A.A. began. And all believed in God.

    2. When Bill and Bob were formulating the Akron Alcoholics Anonymous Christian recovery program in the Smith Home in Akron in the summer of 1935, Dr. Bob’s wife read the Bible to Bill and Bob every single day.

    3. From the beginning, Alcoholics Anonymous members considered the Book of James, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13 to be “absolutely essential” to their program. And even today, the Alcoholics Anonymous text is filled with references to, and quotes from the foregoing three segments of the Bible.

    4. Dr. Bob said in his last major address to AAs in 1948: (a) Older members believed that the answers to all their problems were in the Bible. (b) He spoke of the study and effort that he and Bill had put into discussing the Bible in the early days. (c) He said the basic ideas of the Twelve Steps came from their study and effort in the Bible.

    5. In the early Akron Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, daily Bible study was required. Daily Quiet Times–with use of Bible devotionals, prayer, Bible reading, and seeking God’s guidance–were required. Belief in God was required. Declaring that Jesus Christ was the beginner’s Lord and Savior was required. And, in the regular meeting on Wednesday, the meeting opened with prayer, and then the leader read to the group from the Bible.

    6. Through the years of Alcoholics Anonymous from its founding in 1935 to Dr. Bob’s death at the end of the next decade, Dr. Bob frequently and openly urged members to “cultivate the habit of prayer” and to “study the Bible.” This is documented from Dr. Bob’s interview published in “Your Faith Magazine” in September of 1939. It is documented from the news report of Dr. Bob’s address to the Youngstown, Ohio club. It is documented from Dr. Bob’s address to 4500 members of Alcoholics Anonymous and their families at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in 1938, where Bill Wilson was also present on the stage and spoke. And there are plentiful records of Dr. Bob’s reading from the Bible in A.A. meetings throughout his years of sobriety.

    7. The most significant memorial of the importance of the Bible in Alcoholics Anonymous can be found in the still-continuing first A.A. Group which met and meets on Wednesdays in Akron. At the beginning of each meeting, Dr. Bob’s Bible is brought to the front of the room and placed on the podium-there remaining throughout the meeting. It contains inscriptions by Dr. Bob, by Bill W., and by Bill Dotson–the first three AAs. And then it is returned from the podium at the close of the meeting.

See: Dick B., The Good Book and The Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible; The James Club and the Original A.A. Program’s Absolute Essentials; Good Morning: Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation, and Early A.A.; Real A.A. History

God Bless, Dick B

Gloria Deo