A few contemporary writers, biographers, and historians have done their best to distance A.A., AAs, and the fellowship newcomers from the Bible, God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Some Christian critics load their writings with verses from the Bible and dire warnings to AAs and others. But seldom have they taken the time to learn, and rarely to quote, the clear-cut beliefs of the early AAs in the Creator, His Son Jesus Christ, the Bible, and even the Holy Spirit. Indeed, it is sad to see how quickly and emphatically the critics claim that the early A.A. pioneers did not believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, that they didn’t emphasize Jesus Christ and him crucified, and that they did not emphasize a relationship with Jesus Christ.
There are many pieces of evidence which prove how wrong they are.
And I have chosen in this article to address the contention of some critics that AAs just don’t and didn’t mention or believe in Jesus Christ. One historian claims AAs substituted “Something saves” for “Jesus saves,” and that A.A. intentionally eliminated mention of Jesus Christ.
I found substantial evidence that some of the critics never researched Akron A.A., never mentioned the role of Dr. Bob’s wife Anne Ripley Smith in the founding of A.A., and never reviewed the strong evidence of what AAs did in the early Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship” led primarily by Dr. Bob and his wife Anne Ripley Smith. We may go into much of the other evidence in future articles. But we felt it important to start with a woman whom A.A. cofounder Bill W. called the “Mother of A.A.”-Anne Smith, who was teacher, evangelist, nurse, housekeeper, counselor, and Bible reader for the early Akron AAs. And, though we don’t know all that Anne shared with early AAs and their families about Jesus Christ, we do know what she wrote down in, and taught from, her own personal journal.
What Anne recorded in her journal and shared with early AAs, their wives, and families.
The references following the quotes below are to the pages in Dick B., Anne Smith’s Journal 1933-1939: A.A.’s Principles of Success, 3rd ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1998):
Dangers of sharing: 1. Is it uncomfortable? 2. Is it dangerous to me, or my reputation, or to Christ? [p. 38]
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his wife for his friends” so that your friends may see how to live. [p. 39]
A maximum experience of Jesus Christ leads to a radical change in personal life. . . . [pp. 46, 64]
Am I so living with God that Christ is being breathed around? [p. 51]
Jesus was in constant touch with the Father. [p. 57]
Crucifixion is open to the world so that anyone can see it was a public atonement. . . . It is a sick world-the remedy rests on Christ himself, the healer of the world. [p. 66]
How to interview: Jesus’s talk with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). Jesus was exhausted, but the woman’s need challenged him. We may suddenly be confronted with someone’s need when we are tired. “Give me to drink.” The natural approach. Jesus guided the conversation naturally where He wanted it. After He had aroused her curiosity, she asks, “Where do you get this living water?” . . . “How can I get it?”-the crux of the interview. “Go call your husband”-Jesus goes straight to her sin.” [pp. 70-71]
For that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you that ye also have fellowship with us-and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 1st fellowship came to me when others witnessed how Christ had changed their lives (71)
Jesus continually puts the emphasis on faith. . . . If you have given your life to God, trust Him and go ahead with that. [p. 75]
A maximum experience of Jesus Christ leads to a radical change in personal life. . . . [p. 76]
One should be all means read at least one book on the life a Christ, a year for a while. More would be better. [Anne said the following “are all good”:] The Life of Jesus Christ by Stalker. Jesus of Nazareth by Barton. The Jesus of History by Glover. The Man Christ Jesus by Speer. [pp. 84-85]
I must ask forgiveness of God for it. The Jesus who thought like that was truly the King of Truth. [p. 85]
The way Christ became the Atoning Lamb was by his hanging on the Cross and dying there. And Christianity for me means to dedicate myself to serve others even unto death. That, I am convinced, is the true way of Jesus Christ. Christianity means to save others. That is the way of the Cross, and the true way of Christ. [p. 85]
[Anne discussed what she called “Funk Holes.’ She wrote:] you faced up to Jesus Christ. Using the word “Group” instead of “Christ.” [pp. 91-92]
Are you willing to take the amount of trouble to win others that Christ has taken to win you? [p. 105]
[Anne declared] “love for Christ should be the dominant motive. . . . the true way of Jesus Christ. . . . Christ’s basic principle, which he expressed in saying that we must love even the very least of them.” [p. 120]
[Of John 15:13-17, Anne said these verses represent the] maximum perspective of our task as Christians. [p. 132]
[Anne affirmed the statement:} “A sharing Christian is a propagating Christian.” [p. 131.]
[Of 1 John 1:3, Anne said it stood for the concept of fellowship with believers and the Heavenly Father.] [p. 132]
[Of Romans 12, Anne said it stood for the transformation and regeneration that occurs through the power of Christ.] [p. 134]
[Of Acts 5, Anne said it stood for the truth of Gamaliel’s warning that if teachings about Jesus Christ are of God, they cannot be overthrown.] [p. 134]
[Of the Beatitudes in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Anne said they constituted “Christ-like virtues to be cultivated.”] [p. 135]
And Anne’s teachings came straight from the Bible, about which she said this:
Let all your reading be guided. . . . Of course the Bible ought to be the main Source Book of all. No day ought to pass without reading it. . . . Rather have a “Quiet Time” if possible before meeting them [occasions which lead one into temptation] and go with a prayer in your heart. Lean on God and not on yourself. [pp. 60-61]