A.A. co-founders used heretical teachings

“…Emmet Fox, whose 1934 book The Sermon on the Mount became one of the society’s most useful guides until the publication of Alcoholics Anonymous [the Big Book] in 1939,” writes Mel B., author of New Wine. (pg.111)

What was this book that was used by Alcoholics Anonymous as a teaching tool? Written by New Thought advocate Emmet Fox, the book denies that Jesus Christ is Savior.

According to Emmet Fox:

“…Jesus taught no theology whatever.” (pg.3)

Regarding the doctrine of original sin, Fox states, “Then a far-fetched and very inconsistent legend was built up concerning original sin, vicarious blood atonement, infinite punishment for finite transgressions.” (pg.4)

Fox writes, “The ‘Plan of Salvation,’ which figured so prominently in the evangelical sermons and divinity books of a past generation is as completely unknown to the Bible as it is to the Koran.” (pg.4-5)–(bold mine)

And, for our last, brief heresy from this book (there are many others), Fox proclaims, “In the Bible the term “Christ” is not identical with Jesus the individual. It is a technical term which may be briefly defined as the Absolute Spiritual Truth about anything.” (pg.124)

This author was greatly appreciated and his book was used by A.A.’s cofounders, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, which indicates they were not Christians at all. Can you imagine introducing such heresy to a sick alcoholic to “help” that person?

From the article “A.A. Cofounders Were Not Christians”–

To reiterate, Dr. Bob’s enthusiasm for Emmet Fox’s sweet-sounding but heretical book, The Sermon on the Mount,[7] is no minor point, since this book denies that Jesus Christ is Savior.

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. Fox’s influence upon A.A., however, was the belief that God could be reached directly–there was no need to go through Christ the mediator.


Thus the Big Book (the A.A. “bible”) asserts, ” “[A]ll of us, whatever our race, creed, or color are children of a living Creator with whom we may form a relationship upon simple and understandable terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try.” (AA Big Book, pg.28)


Fox taught that we all have divinity within.


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] 


Since The Sermon on the Mount is based on Fox’s heretical interpretation of Scripture, 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.


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27 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It is not a resentment list, my friend. It is a warning to Christians that they should not be involved in A.A.

  2. Sounds like a resentment list to me .

  3. These are unsaved people, so they think and act like unsaved people, right? And I know, despite your last comment, you don’t really want anyone to go back to drinking.

  4. I appreciate Orange Papers very much, and don’t have to agree with every point on the web. Dick B. espouses a false history of AA, one that lures Christians into AA because they believe it was Christian in origin.

    That is awful.

  5. This just proves how SICK people in AA can be , despite being so called sober…they are not sober minded: A comment in this blog reads, “On January 14, 2013 at 1:11 pm dave said:
    You can get sober in AA if you are Jewish, Muslim or atheist — This is a fact of which I am proud. You do not have to be Christian or even care about Jesus to belong to AA.” That is true, but to be PROUD of THAT?…go back to drinking.

  6. You’re only 1/2 right, I suggest reading, “New Wine: The Spiritual Roots of AA”, it’s a mixture of the Bible mixed in with New Thought as suggested, aka, Gnosticism. It’s mixed fruit, apples and oranges. Higher Power sounds more to me like a substitute for ‘HIgh Priest”..I wouldn’t be getting down on Dick B. though…he is in some cases just missing the other side of the equation, but still has good information. I’d rather be reading his material over the ‘orange papers ‘on another website. http://silkworth.net/dickb/aassermononthemount.html

  7. My friend,
    Mary cannot help you. She was a woman honored to be the Savior’s mother, but she was just a woman.

    Christ can help you. He is the way and the truth and the life (John 14:6) He is the only way to Salvation.

    He loves you and wants to help you. Open your Bible and start reading John. Read one chapter a day.

    Please let me know when you have read the first chapter. I am praying for you.

  8. i am terrible confuced with emmet fox.but with the Blessed Mother Help
    i will find a clear path,back to my God,Jesus Christ Saviour.

  9. I’m always amazed at the length people go to to dispel the divinity of Christ. The farther I go in my relationship with Christ the more my heart aches for the world. I always believed Jesus Christ exsisted but I never knew how wonderful my life could be until I started studying himthru his word. Today he is my solid rock and the reason I live move and breathe

  10. Uh….no, doesn’t work like that.

  11. to call another a false prophet, is to be a false phrophet oneself.

  12. 2 Corinthians 5:14-17. Galatians 1:8-9. Thanks for taking the time to read the article.

  13. I know without a doubt, that AA has brought more people back to Christ than taken them away. How sad that a so called Christian website would speak poorly of such a miraculous program……it is “Christians” like these that turn people away from Christianity….

  14. Dr. Bob was not a devout Christian–or, for that matter, a Christian at all. He seems to have been heavily influenced by New Thought heretic Emmet Fox and others. Dave, AA is a trap where unbelievers are pointed away from Jesus Christ, and believers are watered down in terms of their theology.

  15. We know what Bill thought about Jesus — “A great man not too closely followed by those who claimed him.” Bill may have become more inclined toward Christianity as time went by, but he did not start out believing in a divine Jesus —- but so what, no one has to believe in a divine Jesus to get sober.

    Dr. Bob was a devout Christian

  16. You can get sober in AA if you are Jewish, Muslim or atheist — This is a fact of which I am proud. You do not have to be Christian or even care about Jesus to belong to AA.

  17. We open the Bible and see how false is the teaching of Emmet Fox and also A.A. Thank you for reading the article.

  18. The Holy Spirit revealed to me that this book is written by a false prophet as soon as I started reading it…I only made it to pg 24 until I realized it was a book of falsehood and lies. I thank God for His gift of discernment. I choose to follow the God of the Bible (of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), not man!

  19. How can you “love our Lord Jesus Christ with all [your] heart” and also advocate a book, Emmet Fox’s Sermon on the Mount, that denies He is our God and Savior? Do you understand what you are saying?


  20. I love our Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart. This book ” Sermon on The Mount ” changed my life also. the book helped me to unlesh strong holds that kept from turning my like over to the care of God through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. There is a plan of salvation in the book. It’s called showing the Love and Forgivness of Christ and it can be for you too. I follow sound doctrine based strckly on scripture through my chuch. I have a men’s study in which we reference to this book, the Bible and a dictionary. It is such a blessing to watch men be freed from strongholds and them experiencing a joy and peace never known before. I’m talking about men who are saved and love the Lord.
    It is difficult for me to believe comments or opinions from individuals who have not experienced what we have. I too was a year sober back 17 years ago. I had Christain men for sponsers who lead me into a chuch life. I can say without a doubt, I just needed to keep my opinions to myself for I was still too spiritually immature to make any comments on Christain Doctrine. My understanding was very very limited. And I thank God I had solid Christ centered men in my life through AA. We mention Christ in our meetings as the first AA groups did.

  21. Because I don’t want people to go to hell. Because AA grieves the Lord. Because I am supposed to expose this thing.


  23. The time has come, Dick. We are going to systematically examine your claims in light of Scripture–something you cannot do as the Bible frequently contradicts your position. We will endeavor to show people the real origin of AA and the 12 Steps.

  24. Lucille,
    That blesses me so much. Thank you for researching on this site. It is amazing how author Dick B. continues to insist the AA cofounders were Christians when they loved Emmet Fox’s heretical book–a book that denies Jesus Christ!

  25. I started reading “Sermon on the Mount” today and very early in the book The Holy Spirit revealed to me that this was not from the Lord.
    Someone from AA highly recommended it to me when she heard I was a Christian. I naturally thought it was a Christain book, so I bought it.
    We really need to be so cautious of false doctrine. The book will be going into the fireplace today.

  26. God bless you Rich. He will keep you safe, and He will use you to help others.

  27. Seperating my recovery from salvation is a difficult task in the rooms of AA. A year sober, and have gone through a christian rehab, I notice that the spiritual end of the program is tip toed around for the sake of the new comer. Oswald chambers is the primary resource I use for my growth outside of the bible and having read Fox’s work the Holy Spirit alarmed me to the false doctrine in his Sermon on The Mount. This is why I googled Emmit Smith and Christian Doctrine to find like Minded opinions on this book. Thanks for reinforcing the truth of salvation through Christ Jesus.

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