While celebrating AA’s 85th anniversary and the legacy of recovery that Alcoholics Anonymous provides millions of alcoholics and their families, Recovery Speakers acknowledges the profound influence bestowed upon our 12 step program from the Oxford Group movement.
The Alcoholic in the Oxford Group
“In early 1933, about the time of the beer experiment, Dr. Bob and Anne had come into contact with the Oxford Group. It was a spiritual movement that sought to recapture the power of first-century Christianity in the modern world. Members of the Oxford Group sought to achieve spiritual regeneration by making a surrender to God through rigorous self-examination, confessing their character defects to another human being, making restitution for harm done to others, and giving without thought of reward-or, as they put it: “No pay for soul surgery.” They did, however, accept contributions. Emphasis was placed on prayer and on seeking guidance from God in all matters. The movement also relied on study of the Scriptures and developed some of its own literature as well.
At the core of the program were the “four absolutes”: absolute honesty, absolute unselfishness, absolute purity, and absolute love. (In 1948, Dr. Bob recalled the absolutes as “the only yardsticks” Alcoholics Anonymous had in the early days, before the Twelve Steps. He said he still felt they held good and could be extremely helpful when he wanted to do the right thing and the answer was not obvious. “Almost always, if I measure my decision carefully by the yardsticks of absolute honesty, absolute unselfishness, absolute purity, and absolute love, and it checks up pretty well with those four, then my answer can’t be very far out of the way,” he said. The absolutes are still published and widely quoted at A.A. meetings in the Akron-Cleveland area.)
In addition to the four absolutes, the Oxford Groupers had the “five C’s” and the “five procedures.” The C’s were confidence, confession, conviction, conversion, and continuance, while the procedures were: Give in to God; listen to God’s direction; check guidance; restitution; and sharing for witness and for confession. There were slogans as well: “Study men, not books”; “Win your argument, lose your man”; “Give news, not views.” In addition, a member recalled how Groupers would go around smiling enthusiastically and asking each other, “Are you maximum?”.
-Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers