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Posted: 05/20/08

Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounders Were Not Christians


It is a fearful thing, leaving AA. The Big Book (the AA "bible") states, "We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not."[1] Because this passage of AA "scripture" is taken literally, alcoholics rarely look elsewhere for help. Christians continue to jam their God, the Ancient of Days, into AA's chameleon theology.


"Do not participate in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead even expose them." (Ephesians 5:11-12)


It is not just fear that keeps us bound to this all-gods religion. The 12 Step experience becomes an idol-long-term involvement almost always results in a transference of faith. Bluntly stated, when it comes to sobriety, many Christians end up with more faith in the power of the 12 Step program than in Jesus Christ.


This idol worship is by no means limited to those in AA, but applies to many in "Christian 12 Step" groups.

This transference of faith is subtle, gradual, and frequently inevitable. The result is that sobriety without the 12 Step program will not even be considered. Biblical wisdom, given by concerned and caring believers, is rejected.


For many years Christians have justified their involvement by pointing to numerous books that claim AA and the 12 Steps are Christian in origin. If this is true, then obviously AA's cofounders had to have been Christians. Indeed, this belief is also a primary rationalization for remaining in the AA religion.


Did AA cofounders Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith follow Christ? Many believe Dr. Bob to have been a student of the Word and dedicated to the Faith. To a great degree this assumption stems from the writing of Dick B., author of 'Anne Smith's Journal,' and numerous other works.


Dr. Bob certainly did read the Bible. Yet, as Susan Cheever states, "Bob began every morning with meditation and prayer and twenty minutes of Bible study. Like Bill, Bob believed in paranormal possibility and the two men spent time 'spooking,' invoking spirits of the dead."[2]


Early AA member Tom Powers saw the AA cofounders firsthand as they engaged in spiritualistic practices the Lord detests. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) "Now, these people, Bill and Bob, believed vigorously and aggressively. They were working away at the spiritualism; it was not just a hobby."[3]


It is not well known that Dr. Bob was a Mason. Suspended in 1934, he gained reinstatement after being sober for some years.[4] According to John Weldon, "The truth is that Masonry is a distinct religion that espouses teachings incompatible with Christian faith in the areas of God, salvation, and other important doctrines."[5]


Interestingly, the description of the Mason god, the Great Architect, is similar to the higher power worshiped in Alcoholics Anonymous. Masonic researcher Carl H. Claudy notes, "Masonry does not specify any god or creed; she requires merely that you believe in some Deity, give him what name you will…. A belief in God is essential to a Mason but…any God will do…"[6]


Alcoholics Anonymous teaches the "higher power" could be a doorknob, a spirit, a fruit salad, the universe, the Dallas Cowboys (when they are winning), a new age version of Jesus, or anything else. Like the Masons, it doesn't matter what god you believe in-only that you believe in something.


It seems that someone as allegedly devout and well versed in the Bible as Dr. Bob would stay far away from spiritualism and the Masonic organization. He most emphatically did not. Equally perplexing is Dr. Bob's enthusiasm for Emmet Fox's sweet-sounding but heretical book, 'The Sermon on the Mount.'[7]  


This is no minor point, since this book denies that Jesus Christ is Savior. The book was used as a teaching tool by Alcoholics Anonymous before the Big Book was written. In 'The Sermon on the Mount,' author Emmet Fox states there is no such thing as original sin; that the account of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden is not intended as literal history; that Jesus never walked on the water. He writes, "The 'Plan of Salvation' which figured so prominently in the evangelical sermons of a past generation is as completely unknown to the Bible as it is to the Koran."[8]


Fox instructs, "In the Bible the term 'Christ' is not identical with Jesus, the individual. It is a technical term that may be briefly defined as the Absolute Spiritual Truth about anything."[9] Clearly Emmet Fox, dead for decades, would have made an ideal guest on one of Oprah Winfrey's New Spirituality shows.


Fox was an eloquent adherent of the New Thought religion. This belief system teaches that our thoughts determine our reality, and that we too can learn to tap into the same divine power that Jesus the man harnessed.


As scholars Anderson and Whitehouse note, "New Thoughters are fond of such affirmations as… 'The Christ in me salutes the Christ in you.' Rather than viewing Jesus as the first and last member of the Christ family, many New Thoughters believe that Christ is a title that we can all earn by following Jesus' example."[10] 


'The Sermon on the Mount' is based on Fox's heretical interpretation of Scripture. So why would Bible-believing Christians have anything to do with such a book? Would a Christian cofounder of AA really participate in using it as a teaching tool? Or place such heresy in the hands of another alcoholic? AA cofounder Dr. Bob Smith did just this.


In a recorded 1954 interview, early AA member Dorothy S.M. reminisced, "The first thing Bob did was get me Emmet Fox's  'Sermon on the Mount.'"[11] Dorothy then recalled how it went with the alcoholics who wanted help: "As soon as the men in the hospital, as soon as their eyes could focus, they got to 'The Sermon on the Mount.'"[12]             


Archie T., the founder of Detroit AA, stayed with Dr. Bob and Anne Smith for more than ten months. He became sober in September of 1938. Archie T. recollected, "In Akron I was turned over to Dr. Bob and his wife. …I spent Labor Day in the hospital reading Emmet Fox's 'Sermon on the Mount,' and it changed my life."[13]


 Documenting the AA history of Archie T., Detroit Archivist Cliff M. verifies, "He says he got his AA direct from one of the founders. Archie read Emmet Fox's 'Sermon on the Mount,' and he said it changed his life."[14]


It is interesting that, after many months with the Smiths, having "got his AA direct from one of the founders," Archie T. emerged not as a Bible believing Christian, but in agreement with Emmet Fox's New Thought theology.   


Was Dr. Bob a Bible believing Christian? The Bible says, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world." (1 John 4:1-3) 


Some have tried to explain early AA's enthusiasm for various New Thought books simply because the people were, well, voracious readers. But Emmet Fox's 'The Sermon on the Mount' was used to teach.


People who believe along New Thought lines often read genuinely Christian literature, as well as the Bible. They simply filter, or interpret, according to their New Thought understanding. Emmet Fox himself had no objection to his followers reading diverse spiritual books, or attending churches, or listening to speakers if it proved helpful. He warned, however, that loyalty should be to one's own "Indwelling Christ."[15] 


This theological "filtering" may well be what Dr. Bob himself did as he read the Bible and Christian literature. Like Emmet Fox and others, Dr. Bob may simply have interpreted the Bible through a New Thought understanding, or variant thereof. Fox valued the Bible, calling it "an inexhaustible reservoir of Spiritual Truth."[16] Dr. Bob valued it as well.


Such esoteric interpretation of the Bible-while denying the Salvation of Christ-is not confined to New Thought; it is practiced by Unity, and the Swedenborgians, each with their own anti-Biblical understanding of the Word of God.


Dr. Bob's pursuit of spiritualism, Masonic membership, and promotion of Fox's heretical book do not seem indicative of a deep, Bible-believing faith. Certainly he spoke highly of the Bible. But a New Thoughter who gives Jesus verbal accolades or discusses Scripture can sound quite similar to a born again Christian.  


After reading the Emmet Fox book, I emailed the following question to Mel B., author of the well-researched 'New Wine.' Mel B. is an authority on Emmet Fox and a man who personally knew Bill Wilson: 


"Hey Mel, I've been reading Fox's 'The Sermon on the Mount' and what he is saying (I think) was that Jesus is just a man who understood the principle laid out in the book and had power through them. He says "Christ" is not Jesus but a title (for Absolute Spiritual Truth.) So I am inclined to think that Dr. Bob, both when he referred to the Bible, and when he spoke of Jesus, saw things along the lines of what Fox taught. Do you think this is possible?"[17]


Mel emailed this reply:


"Hi John, Yes, I think Dr. Bob thought that way about Jesus. Bill certainly did. In my view, this takes nothing away from Jesus and makes his teaching more relevant. Dr. Bob also emphasized The Sermon On The Mount, 1 Corinthians 13, and the Book of James as being particularly important to us."[18] 


Important as general spiritual principles, perhaps, but not as words from the God of the Bible.


Author Glen C. notes that Dr. Bob's AA homegroup (roughly between 1939-1940) emphasized the following passages in the Bible: 'Sermon on the Mount' (Matthew 5-7), the letter of James, 1 Corinthians 13, and Psalms 23 and 91. These "were especially useful for AA purposes because none of them required the newcomer to believe in the divinity of Christ or that Salvation could be found only by praying to Jesus."[19] (Emphasis mine)


Some years ago Dick B., after convincing thousands that AA's 12 Steps are Christian in origin, wrote, "You may, as I did for quite some time, fail to appreciate or study the effect on AA 'theology' of the ideas of William James, Ralph Waldo Trine, Emmet Fox, and others."[20]


Having admitted Emmet Fox's heretical influence, this author should not have written one more book about AA's alleged Christian origin.


Dick B.'s latest book is 'The Conversion of Bill W.,' a sadly misleading title considering everything AA cofounder Bill Wilson was involved in. In experiments in the 1950s, hoping alcoholics could be helped by LSD, Bill Wilson stated, "It is a generally acknowledged fact in spiritual development that ego reduction makes the influx of God's grace possible. If, therefore, under LSD we can have a temporary reduction, so we can better see where we are going-well, that might be of some help. The goal might become clearer."[21]


Call me legalistic, but LSD to facilitate "the influx of God's grace" doesn't sound all that Biblical.


Wilson's explanation for choosing the triangle within the circle as AA's symbol is equally pagan. In 'Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age,' he writes, "That we have chosen this symbol is perhaps no mere accident. The priests and seers of antiquity regarded the circle enclosing the triangle as a means of warding off spirits of evil, and AA's circle of Recovery, Unity, and Service has certainly meant all that to us and much more."[22]


He also "felt it would be unwise to have an allegiance to any one religious sect. He felt AA's usefulness was worldwide, and contained spiritual principles that members of any and every religion could accept, including the Eastern religions."[23]


 Somewhere, somehow, we must examine the 12 Step program in light of Scripture. We must take Paul's admonitions about a false gospel seriously. (Galatians 1:6-9) We are being offered a wonderful mission field, if only we can understand neither AA nor the 12 Steps are from Jesus Christ.


It is also time we stop accepting that one or both AA cofounders were Christians. Clearly, they were not.




1. Alcoholics Anonymous, Third Edition, pg. 58

2. Susan Cheever, My Name Is Bill, pg. 197

3. PASS IT ON, A.A. World Services Inc., pg. 280

4. Cedric L. Smith, PGM, Grand Secretary of Masons in Vermont 

5. John Weldon, The Masonic Lodge and the Christian Conscience, CRI DM 166, pg. 1

6. Carl H. Claudy, 'Belief in God,' in 'A Master's Wages' in Little Masonic Library vol.4

7. DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, A.A. World Services Inc., pg. 310-311

8. Emmet Fox, The Sermon on the Mount, pg. 5-6

9. Ibid., pg. 124

10. C. Alan Anderson and Deborah G. Whitehead, New Thought and Conventional Christianity

11. 1954 excerpts of conversation between Bill W. and Dorothy S.M.

12. Ibid.


14. AA General Services of Southeast Michigan-Area 33, A Brief History of A.A. in Detroit-by Cliff M. (Past Archivist)

15. Emmet Fox, 'The Sermon on the Mount,' pg. 149

16. Ibid., pg. 12 

17. email to Mel B. 3/14/08

18. email from Mel B.

19. Glen C., _List_1939_Or_1940

20. The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous: Part 2,

21. PASS IT ON, AA World Services Inc., pg. 370

22. Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, A.A. World Services Inc., pg. 139

23. PASS IT ON, A.A. World Services Inc., pg. 283

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Corrected Sentence
Posted On: 09/25/12 03:33:35 PM Age 0, OK
Thank you for pointing this out. I should have fixed this long ago. The sentence should read: that Jesus never walked on the water as Son of the biblical God, but as a man who had learned how to tap into the divine. The bottom line, however, is that Emmet Fox completely rejected the fact that God's Plan of Salvation is even in the Bible.

Full corrected sentence
Posted On: 09/12/12 01:21:56 PM Age 0, OK
The sentence should read: [That] Jesus never walked on the water as the Son of the biblical God, but as a man who had learned how to tap into the Divine.

Sentence correction
Posted On: 09/11/12 10:44:29 AM Age 0, OK
"Emmet Fox did not believe Jesus walked on the water as the Son of the biblical God, but as a man who had learned how to tap into the Divine."

Not walking on water as Son of God
Posted On: 09/05/12 03:43:53 PM Age 0, OK
The sentence you refer to should read: Emmet Fox did not believe that Jesus walked on the water as the Son of God, but as a man who had learned how to tap into the Divine, the biblical Son of God, but as a man who...
Posted On: 08/24/12 05:16:01 PM Age 0, OR
Actually, I corrected this a few years ago in this comments section. The sentence should state: "In Fox’s new thought theology, Jesus never walked on the water as the biblical Son of God, but as a man who understood how to tap into the divine." The article can also be found at where you can read the sentence in entirety. Emmet Fox was a heretic. Surely you have not missed this point?

Posted On: 08/19/12 01:29:48 PM Age 0, MA
sorry copied and pasted the wrong passages from "sermon on the mount" in my last feedback.. here is where FOX DENOUNCES the man who claimed Jesus didn't walk on water "A "Life of Jesus" recently published by a well-known clergyman clearly illustrates how false this posi-tion is. In this book he concedes that Jesus may have healed some people, or helped them to heal them-selves, but he draws the line there. He explains away into nothingness all the other miracles. They were the usual fantastic legends that center about all great his-torical figures, he thinks. On the lake, for instance, the disciples were thoroughly frightened, until they thought of Jesus, and the thought of him calmed their fears. This was subsequently exaggerated into an absurd tale that he had come to them in person walking upon the water. Another time, it appears, he reformed a sinner, raising him out of a grave of sin, and this was expanded, years and years afterwards, into a ridicu-lous legend that he had really revived a dead man. Again, Jesus prayed fervently one night, so that he looked most radiantly happy, and Peter, who had fal-len asleep, woke up with a start; and years afterward he told some confused story about believing that he saw Moses there—so much for the Transfiguration. And so forth. And so forth....... But the miracles did happen. All the deeds related of Jesus in the four Gospels did happen, and many oth-ers too, "the which, if they should be written, every one" you deliberately outright lie or didn't fully understand what you read unless theres some passage later in the book that I haven't got to yet but Im pretty sure this is what ur talking aobut

false accusation
Posted On: 08/19/12 01:23:02 PM Age 0, MA
after reading your article about Bill W and Dr. Bob not being Christians you claim that Emmot Fox's sermon on the mount which was heavily endorsed by Bill and Bob was heresy because Fox claims that Jesus did not walk on water.. I decided to read this after reading your article.. He claims that Jesus DID WALK ON WATER! He quotes a writer who claimed he didn't and denounces the scientific belief system we have today! Maybe you should re-read it "Now, one must extend every sympathy to the special pleadings of a man enthralled by the beauty and mys-tery of the Gospels, but who, in the absence of the Spiritual Key, seems to find his common sense and all the scientific knowledge of mankind flouted by much that these Gospels contain. But this simply will not do. If the miracles did not happen, the rest of the Gospel story loses all real significance. If Jesus did not believe them to be possible, and undertake to perform them—never, it is true, for the sake of display, but still constantly and repeatedly—if he did not believe and teach many things in flat contradiction to eighteenth-and nineteenth-century rationalistic philosophy, then the Gospel mess-age is chaotic, contradictory, and de-void of all significance. We cannot ride away from the dilemma by saying that Jesus was not interested in the current beliefs and superstitions of his time; that he took them more or less for granted passively; because what really interested him was character. This is a fee-ble argument, because character must include both an intelligent and a vital all-round reaction to life. Char-acter must include some definite beliefs and convic-tions concerning things that really matter. But the miracles did happen. All the deeds related of Jesus in the four Gospels did happen, and many oth-ers too, "the which, if they should be written, every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not con-tain the books that should be written." Jesus himself justified what people thought to be a strange and won-derful teaching by the works he was able to do; and he went further and said, referring to those who study and practice his teaching: "The works that I do, ye shall do, and greater works.""

Posted On: 08/19/12 12:46:18 PM Age 0, MA
I'm not quite sure what u mean in your insult towards born again Christians? What sect do you represent?

Knew it !!!!!
Posted On: 05/25/12 01:07:40 AM Age 0, IN
Wow, now I've been to meetings 1/2 my life. The actual forum of people in need seeking together is inherently powerful. Many meetings were lame or fake, while some were great, but if I remember correctly the good one's were always filled with real christians who applied themselves to Jesus and saw results. I always noticed when someone just could not relate to intimacy with the One and Only. Now I reapplied myself to the program later in life but I whole- heartedly surrendered myself to Jesus and I saw and felt revival and lasting change. But I just knew in my gut that AA's core teaching was just plain off: it was too humanistic and did not reverence Jesus at all. Whenever I expressed heartfelt love for Jesus in the rooms, most often I was met with persecution and discomfort. It was a great tool actually to grind and sharpen my convictions till one day, I met a lady who i just knew was a witch and who in response to my sharing a parable said she thought very little of imaginary or symbolic thinking. This woman was well regarded in this group. I just plain left. I also noticed in this "religion" a legalistic self righteousness like any other religion; a tell-tale sign of do it yourself spirituality. Praise the Lord that He alone is our Sheperd and that his children do indeed recognise His voice and imposters' voices. From my recent study of current events and global government, i had a hunch to check into the founders of AA and if they had masonic influence since the beliefs are so similar; the masonic symbol itself says (for he who has ears to hear): it is right to draw a circle around (or occulticly speaking, close off or control) God- it is atheism to a T, the spirit of the age, the age of reason (or humanistic principles) as demonstrated in the rosecrucian Georgia Guide-stones. "17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[c] 20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not —to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1st Corinthians 1

Be cautious about author Dick B.'s flawed A.A. history
Posted On: 04/04/12 10:23:56 AM Age 0, OR
I have simply reported the truth that has been ignored or glossed over. I have examined the A.A. co-founders in the light of Scripture, and I have done the same with the A.A. religion itself. The Lord does not want us accepting another gospel and that is what A.A. is. He tells us to come out and be separate. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17, Galatians 1:6-9) You are angry because an insignificant writer (myself) has been used by the Lord to expose the lie that A.A. and the 12 Steps have Christian/ biblical roots. You are angry because many people are now questioning your outrageous claim that Bill Wilson was a Christian. Are you perhaps consumed with pride about your years of research, and do not want to admit to Christ the sin you are committing by clinging to and promoting a false A.A. history and origin? Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1) Those who wish to know more could start by reading "Seances, spirits, and 12 Steps," which can be found on this Worldview Times website.

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