“…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, 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.”
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.’” 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.’”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.” 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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