“[He] knew little of psychics and had heard nothing before this of my adventures.”–A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson, from his official A.A. biography, Pass It On, pg.277 Click here to continue reading…
Originally posted on My Word Like Fire:
Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill Wilson’s involvement with LSD began in the 1950s. Wilson hoped ingestion of the chemical would help alcoholics. He wrote, “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 that we can better see what we are and where we are going–well, that might be of some help.” (PASS IT ON, pg. 370)
In the 1950s LSD was a recent development. Wilson, aware that A.A. simply did not work for every motivated alcoholic, was searching for things that would help.
For those who have heard or read that Bill Wilson was a Christian, the fact that he believed LSD could possibly facilitate the “influx of God’s grace” demonstrates much. There was no understanding of the grace of Christ. According to his secretary, Nell Wing, during…
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A.A. cofounder Bill Wilson’s well documented communication with evil spirits is sometimes disbelieved.
C.S. Lewis believed it. When a concerned Tony Guggenheim wrote Lewis a letter informing him of Bill and Lois Wilson’s biblically forbidden activities, C.S. Lewis wrote back, “This is necromancy. Have nothing to do with it.” 
Lewis was clearly horrified the A.A. cofounder was involved in spiritualism.
His letter gives good advice regarding these biblically prohibited practices. This is good advice, too, regarding A.A. and the 12 Steps.
1. Susan Cheever, My Name Is Bill, pg. 207
A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson’s “philandering was an open secret. In the 1960s longtime A.A.’s became so alarmed by his constant attention to young female newcomers, they formed what they called ‘Founder’s Watch,’ a group of friends delegated to steer Bill away from pretty women who caught his eye during functions,” writes Gabrielle Glaser, author of Her Best Kept Secret: Why Women Drink and How They Can Regain Control. 
1. To carry on a sexual affair, especially an extramarital affair, with a woman one cannot or does not intend to marry. Used of a man.
2. To engage in many love affairs, especially with a frivolous or casual attitude. Used of a man. (freedictionary.com)
“Though he could not know it,” writes Glaser, “the early tolerance for Bill’s sexual conduct would set a behavioral precedent for [Alcoholics Anonymous].” 
Wilson’s last A.A. mistress was Helen W., and the affair lasted 15 years. Although Wilson’s wife Lois remained married to him through years of alcoholism and decades of adultery, Wilson nevertheless arranged that after his death, Helen W. would receive a percentage of the royalties from sales of Wilson’s A.A. books. 
1. Gabrielle Glaser, Her Best Kept Secret: Why Women Drink and How They Can Regain Control, Chapter 4
A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson’s involvement with LSD (Read) tells us two things. According to A.A. historian Ernest Kurtz, “Here, then, is one clear reason why Bill Wilson experimented with LSD: he was seeking still further ways of helping alcoholics who could not seem to attain sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous because, apparently, they could not ‘get the spiritual.’” 
Wilson fully understood there were motivated alcoholics for whom A.A. was simply ineffective. Referring to the LSD experiments on alcoholics, Wilson’s secretary Nell Wing stated, “There were alcoholics in the hospitals, of whom A.A. could touch and help only about five percent.” 
Many people have died because A.A.’s limitations are never acknowledged in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. For years we have simply assumed those unable to get sober via A.A. are not really serious about quitting drinking. This can certainly be true for some. But it is also true that A.A.’s “all-gods talk therapy” is ineffective and harmful to many–in this life and the next.
Anyone who has attended A.A. knows that two key passages from the A.A. Big Book (the A.A. “bible”) are taken literally. This is what is read to alcoholics from the How It Works chapter at the beginning of every single meeting:
“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way.” (bold mine)
How It Works goes on to note, “We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not.” 
As noted elsewhere, despite the elasticity of the higher power, these two fundamentalist passages lock many into the A.A. system, while also teaching contempt or distrust for alternative ways of gaining sobriety. People are pointed away from Christ and His church (and also away from secular alternatives). This will be vehemently denied by Christian A.A. defenders, but it is my experience, and the experience of many others.
Irving Peter Gellman observes, “A member who suggests that A.A. is not as effective as maintained, and who implies that some improvement might be made, will be censured when broaching these ideas. The A.A. program is deemed infallible, whereas other methods are considered less than perfect.” 
Bill Wilson’s LSD sessions show us something else. His willingness to seek such a spiritual solution to alcoholism reveals, yet again, Wilson’s lack of understanding. He was not trying to lead people to the biblical Christ, but to some form of mystical breakthrough. Wilson hoped LSD might cause ego reduction, thus facilitating the “influx of God’s grace.” 
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. (1 Corinthians 2:14)
In a letter to Sam Shoemaker, Wilson states, “[There is] the probability that prayer, fasting, meditation, despair, and other conditions that predispose one to classic mystical experiences do have their chemical components. These chemical conditions aid in shutting out the normal ego drives, and to [that] extent, they do open doors to a wider perception. If one assumes this is so–and there is already some biochemical evidence of it–then one cannot be too concerned whether these mystic results are encouraged by fasting or whether they are brought on by [other means].” 
Where did Bill Wilson ever preach the undiluted gospel of Jesus Christ? His way was always that of spiritualism, Swedenborgian influence, mysticism, and rebellion.
Wilson himself said, “In some ways I feel very close to conservative Christianity. In other respects–important ones to Christians–no particular convictions seem to come. Maybe down deep I don’t want to be convinced. I just don’t know.” 
Biographer Francis Hartigan, who served as Lois Wilson’s (Bill’s wife’s) secretary for thirteen years, had many interesting conversations with the Widow Wilson. He writes, “[A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson’s] belief in God might have become unshakeable, but he could never embrace any theology or even the divinity of Jesus, and he went to his grave unable to give his own personal idea of God much definition. In this sense, he was never very far removed from the unbelievers.”  (Bold mine)
If you are a person in A.A., I want to tell you something. There is something worse than alcohol addiction, and there is one way, and one way only, to escape it. LSD cannot accomplish this. Neither can Eastern/new age meditation, and neither can any version of a higher power a person invents or adapts.
You are in A.A. to quit drinking, or to maintain sobriety. I have been homeless on the streets of four cities. I have been addicted to alcohol and heroin. But…here I am, an old grandpa type guy. I am content in life (which can be plenty rough for Christians, don’t let TV preachers fool you), and I will live forever. So can you.
We are sinners by nature and by our actions. Our sin is an offense to God. You and I might think we are doing okay, that we are basically good people, but we are judged by God’s standard, not our own. For God is Holy. There is none like Him. Until we know His Son as Savior and Lord, we are condemned. Eternally. Our sin has separated us from our very Maker.
For God did not send His son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:17-18)
So, I am grieved that Christians so willingly join A.A. where all gods are seen as equal, and where our theology mixes and merges with twelve step spirituality. This is against His will. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17, Galatians 1:8-9, Isiah 42:8) I grieve too, for you who have believed the A.A. theology that it doesn’t matter who or what you believe your higher power to be.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)
God is Holy. He is righteous. Yet, He is so kind. He has made a way for us. He sent His son to bear His wrath, to take our punishment, to atone for our sins.
Paul explains, For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” (1 Corinthians 15:3)
I have asked the Lord that you in A.A. who read this will want to know Him, that you will ask His forgiveness for sins.
My friend, repent and believe in the Lord Jesus. God can grant you sobriety, and so much more.
Don’t go the way of Bill Wilson.
1. Ernest Kurtz, The Collected Ernie Kurtz, pg. 42 Link
2. PASS IT ON, pg.370
2. Alcoholics Anonymous “Big Book,” Chapter 5: How It Works, pg. 58
4. Irving Peter Gellman, The Sober Alcoholic, pg. 121
5. PASS IT ON, pg. 370
6. PASS IT ON, pg. 374
7. June 2, 1959 letter from Bill Wilson to Father Ed Dowling. This letter quoted from by Robert Fitzgerald, S.J., in his book, The Soul of Sponsorship, pg. 92
8. Francis Hartigan, Bill W., pg. 123
According to A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson, “Christ is, of course, the leading figure to me. Yet I have never been able to receive complete assurance that He was one hundred per cent God. I seem to be just as comfortable with the figure of ninety-nine per cent. I know that from a conservative Christian point of view this is a terrific heresy.” 
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” (John 8:58)
Keep Bill Wilson’s admission in mind when pro-A.A. authors like Dick B. and Ken B. try and cast Wilson as a Christian, and A.A. as Christian in origin.
1. Mel B., My Search For Bill W., pg. 21 ( from a letter dated July 2, 1956 from A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson to Mel B.)
So much deception pouring into the Body of Christ. Contemplative prayer. False apostles and prophets. Hellish “Bibles.” Homo-spirituality. But, at least we aren’t placing Christ alongside pagan gods just yet.
Oh. Wait a minute...
Where did the A.A. symbol come from? Why did A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson choose the triangle within the circle?
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.” (Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, pg.139, Bold mine)
“In January of 1918 Bill and Lois were married in the Swedenborgian church in Brooklyn, New York.”
“Bill learned that [Lois’ family] were all Swedenborgians, and the mystic aspect of the faith so fascinated them they vowed to explore it more deeply one day.”
A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson married into a Swedenborgian family, and Swedenborgian spirituality left a lasting imprint upon him. Significant Swedenborgian and New Thought influence render absurd any notion about Bill Wilson having been a born again Christian.
So, first, just to get a sense of how far removed Swedenborgianism is from biblical Christianity, here are some of this religion’s teachings:
“God has many names, depending on the beliefs/religion of the individual; the Holy Spirit is not God; the Trinity does not exist; Jesus Christ’s death did not atone for our sin; salvation comes by practicing what you believe, whatever religion it might be; the afterlife is spiritual, but dependent on how well you lived in your physical body.” Source
As noted in the article, Lois Wilson’s grandpa’s Swedenborgian book:
“This is not to say that Bill Wilson became a Swedenborgian per se, yet his obsession with spiritualism and view of Christ and the Bible must be at least partially attributed to exposure to Swedenborgian teachings. Wilson’s understanding of the Bible was further twisted by his acceptance of the Scripture-quoting but Christ-rejecting teachings of New Thought purveyor Emmet Fox.” (Source)
It can be said that Swedenborg is not only the father of modern day spiritualism, but perhaps the father of the New Thought movement as well.
Swedenborg’s influence upon Bill Wilson can be observed during the 1950s when Wilson was experimenting with LSD as a means of helping alcoholics. One of the basic Swedenborgian terms is “influx.” Swedenborg wrote about both physical and spiritual influx.
Here are four of Swedenborg’s statements about “influx,” which I have numbered below:
1. What is meant by spiritual influx cannot be better seen than by means of the natural influxes which take place and appear in this world-as by the influx of heat from the sun into all things of the earth. H.S. 6190
2. There is a continual influx of virtue from Jesus Christ Himself, as from the head into the members, and from a vine into the branches; (Posthumous theological Works of Emanuel Swedenborg Volume One Sess. vi.18) pg. 540)
3. “These he has from the faculty of receiving influx from the Lord through the angelic heaven…” (The Teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, Volume 2)
4. What meaning would there be in all this if man were to stand with his hands hanging down, like a sculptured statue with movable joints, and wait for influx? the joints meanwhile being inwardly excited to something that is not of faith, without being able to apply themselves to the reception of the influx. (Swedenborg’s Works: True Christian Religion, pg. 484) (emphasis mine)
Now, let’s see how Bill Wilson described the hoped for effect of LSD on alcoholics. Note also Wilson’s complete lack of comprehension concerning the grace of Jesus Christ.
Wilson surmised, “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 that we can better see what we are and where we are going–well, that might be of some help.” (emphasis mine)
It is doubtful the use of the word “influx” is simply coincidental.
Was Wilson a Swedenborgian? No. Neither was he a biblical Christian.
Want to know more? Read The pre-A.A. 12 Steps of occultist Emanuel Swedenborg — Here
1. DOCTRINAL RELATIONSHIPS AMONG ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, THE OXFORD GROUP, AND THE NEW CHURCH, Robert D. Merrill
2. Robert Thomsen, Bill W., pg.85
3. PASS IT ON, pg. 370
One of the most significant of the unholy influences that shaped A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson’s spirituality was the Swedenborgian religion.
Swedenborgians do not believe that Salvation is exclusively through Jesus Christ. They love the Bible, even while denying biblical doctrine that Jesus is Savior.
The Swedenborgian religion is founded on the teachings/writings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), a brilliant man who made contributions in fields such as metallurgy, zoology, physics, and many others. Demonically deceived, Swedenborg believed that the true meaning of the Bible had been revealed to him by the Lord. It was his destiny, he believed, to explain this new revelation through his writing.
Bill Wilson married into a Swedenborgian family. In fact, according to a biography, “Bill learned that [Lois’ family] were all Swedenborgians, and the mystic aspect of the faith so fascinated them they vowed to explore it more deeply one day.”
Swedenborgian scholar Robert D. Merrill states, “In her autobiography, ‘Lois Remembers,‘ she recounts fond memories of her New Church home life, including her delight in Sunday dinner discussions with the visiting minister and other friends from the church. She tells of the strength and guidance she received from Swedenborg’s teachings… In January of 1918 Bill and Lois were married in the Swedenborgian church in Brooklyn, New York.”
This is not to say that Bill Wilson became a Swedenborgian per se, yet his obsession with spiritualism and view of Christ and the Bible must be attributed, at least in part, to exposure to Swedenborgian teachings. Wilson’s understanding of the Bible was further twisted by his acceptance of the Scripture-quoting but Christ-rejecting teachings of New Thought purveyor Emmet Fox.
These influences are why any reference Wilson made to Christ or the Bible should always be taken with a grain of salt.
Further Swedenborgian influence on Wilson came through William James, who himself came from a Swedenborgian family.
As a quick aside, if you want to read about Swedenborg’s twelve steps, which he wrote about long before Bill Wilson was born, go HERE.
Interestingly enough, Bill’s wife, Lois Wilson, had a grandfather who was a Swedenborgian minister. N.C. Burnham’s Swedenborgian book, Discreet Degrees, can be found HERE.
1. Robert Thomsen, Bill W., pg.85
2. DOCTRINAL RELATIONSHIPS AMONG ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, THE OXFORD GROUP, AND THE NEW CHURCH, Robert D. Merrill