A.A. 12-Step Christian Parallels: Steps 7-9

Steps Seven through Step Nine

We have many times documented the frequent statements by A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson that his friend Rev. Sam Shoemaker was the major source of the Big Book ideas and Twelve Steps.1 In 1955, Newsweek named Shoemaker one of the ten greatest preachers in the United States.2 Shoemaker was known as a great communicator, and was described by his associate Rev. W. Irving Harris as a “Bible Christian.”3

There are many persuasive instances where 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. In each case, the parallels are present, and the examples are numerous. 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 Seven through Nine

Step Seven:
Shoemaker wrote: “Self-surrender has always been and must always be regarded as the vital turning point of religious life.”4 “Let go. Abandon yourself to Him. Say to Him, ‘Not my will but Thine be done.”5 “God in mercy strip us this day of the last vestiges of self reliance, and help us to begin anew trusting to nothing but His grace.”6 “The heart of surrender does not lie in asking God to take our problems and solve them for us because we have been unable to do so. It lies in giving ourselves to Him for the doing of His will.”7 “There is, I dare say, no moment of comparable importance to the soul’s history to this, when in humility and honesty we tell God in prayer that we want Him to take us over, remove ours sins, and change our lives.”8

Step Eight:
Shoemaker wrote: “For most people there is wrapped up in the decision to surrender to God the necessity to right all wrongs with men, and it generally means a specific wrong or act or attitude toward somebody in particular. This is the hurdle of restitution.”9 “. . . over in the corner of their minds and memories, motionless but not dead, is an old resistance against someone. Vaguely we know we are in for a difficult letter, or visit. But we put it off. . . ..”10 “The soundest approach I know to religious discovery is found in St. John’s Gospel, chapter 7, verse 17: “If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.” We are always busy getting “willing to do His will,” and this means changing many of our ways.”11

Step Nine:
Shoemaker wrote: “The first necessity is to get straight with all other people: those we have written off our list, those we dislike and disapprove of, those with whom we come into daily but not always wholly loving and honest contact.”12 “We are usually guided to see our part in the wrong. The other person may have been primarily responsible for the trouble, but if our resentment, anger, self-pity was wrong, let us share that.”13 “What reception we find in the other person is not our responsibility — only that we go to him in love and in honesty and clear away any wrong on our side.”

As stated, the foregoing are not the only parallels to each Step. We will list references to them all as can be found in our various titles. This will be done in the final article in this series.

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 two titles. See 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 a principal American Oxford Group leader in the 1930’s), pages 276-77, 341-64.

Again, we have not listed each and every parallel here because there are many many specific examples in Shoemaker’s writings. And, as to each of those listed in this series on Steps Seven through Nine, the relevant footnote contains a citation to the page where you can find the Shoemaker-Oxford Group language quoted in the specified Shoemaker title.

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 Billy Graham Center; Archives; Papers of Samuel Moor Shoemaker – Collection 269.

3 Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism, xxi, 386; Dick B., The Oxford Group & Alcoholics Anonymous: A Design for Living That Works, new rev. ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1998), 9.

4 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., Realizing Religion (NY: Association Press, 1923), 30.

5 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., Religion That Works (NY: Fleming H. Revell, 1928), 19.

6 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr. If I Be Lifted Up: Thoughts About the Cross (NY: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1931), 166.

7 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., The Gospel According to You and Other Sermons (NY: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1934), 86.

8 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., THE TWELVE STEPS OF A.A.: What They can Mean to the Rest of Us. See Dick B, New Light on Alcoholism, 347. A.A.’s Step Seven reads: “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

9 Samuel Shoemaker, The Gospel According to You, 87.

10 Samuel Shoemaker, The Gospel According to You, 87.

11 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., The Experiment of Faith (NY: Harper & Brothers, 1957), 36. A.A.’s Step Eight reads: “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”

12 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., National Awakening (NY: Harper & Brothers, 1935), 60.

13 Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., The Gospel According to You, 149.