What was the Oxford Group
the autumn of 1922, the Lutheran Minister, Rev. Frank N.D. Buchman,
and a few of his friends, formed what they called, "A First Century
Buchman had resigned his connection with the Hartford Theological
Seminary around 1921 and had begun his evangelical work of carrying
a message of life-changing by "getting right with God."
1927, Buchman began working in England. Several of his followers
were connected with Oxford University; and when they began to
tour South Africa, the press called the evangelical team "The
Oxford Group." This because most of the team was from Oxford University;
but Frank Buchman was never officially connected in any way with
name stuck. By 1932, A.J. Russell's book FOR SINNERS ONLY
was published, and made frequent reference to The Oxford
Group. In 1937, the group was officially incorporated in Great
Britain as a not-for-profit entity, known as The Oxford Group.
fellowship held small group meetings, prayer meetings and what
were called "house parties," at which its adherents spent "Quiet
Time" in meditation seeking "Guidance" from God. Part of these
meetings involved "witnessing," or giving testimony regarding
prior sins, and what God had done in their lives to remove these
sins, or defects in character (or shortcomings).
Buchman and his followers held certain theological beliefs, including
Sovereignty and Power of God.
The reality of sin.
The need for complete surrender to the will of God.
Christ's atoning sacrifice and transforming power.
The sustenance of prayer.
The duty to witness to others.
*Garth Lean, ON THE TAIL OF A COMET
- p. 73
beliefs included other elements added as the movement grew and
became more popular. Examples are as the belief that an experience
of Christ would transform a believer, IF he truly believed - beyond
anything he had dreamed possible. The belief that an adherent
could and should make prompt restitution for personal wrongs revealed
to him by his life-changing experience. And the belief that adherents
should be part of a sort of "chain-reaction" of life changing
experiences by sharing the experience of what Christ had done
for them with others.
Oxford Group believed one must surrender to God, not only to be
"converted" from sin, but to have his entire life controlled by
God. They believed in "Quiet Time," or meditation, during which
a believer would get guidance of what to do or in as to the direction
he should take. They believed in open confession of sin, one-to-another,
following James 5:16 in the scriptures. They believed in the healing
of the soul and in carrying the message of personal and world-wide
redemption through the sharing of members' testimony by witnessing.
Buchman, and his followers believed that people had sick souls,
most of which was caused by "self-centeredness." Oxford Group
members believed that people were powerless over this human condition,
this defect of the soul. To recover one had to admit he was separated
from God and his fellow man, and that God could manage their lives.
Then they made a decision to turn their lives over to the care
and direction of God. They had to make an inventory of their lives
and of their sins, and to make full restitution to others, those
they had hurt by their sins, or shortcomings. They also had to
witness to others as to their own conversion from sin and be available
to convert others from sin. Oxford group members believed and
were taught that the only way you could keep what you had been
given by God, was to give it away to another. They did not try
to force anyone into their path. They were to live their lives
as an example, which would inspire others to want to follow.
Oxford Group called its conversion process "soul-surgery." Its
so-called surgical procedure broiled down to five concepts: CONFIDENCE,
COFESSSION, CONVICTION, CONVERSION and CONSERVATION.
Group people also believed that their followers should have a
formula for checking their motives in following this path. Part
of the checking procedure involved the Four Absolutes; HONESTY,
UNSELFISHNESS, PURITY and LOVE. Oxford Group people believed these
were the four absolute standards of Jesus. We mention the Absolutes
in the text of our book. A.A. members knew that no one could ever
hope to attain the perfection of absolute anything. They instead
were told to strive for perfection, as their guide for progress,
knowing that they would never fully attain it.
Wilson was visited by Ebby T., an Oxford Group follower (who never
really attained sobriety, and died destitute). Bill was told by
Ebby, "I got religion." Bill went to Calvary Mission in New York
City with Ebby and late surrendered to Christ, making open confession
of his alcoholism at the mission which was run by Calvary Episcopal
Church. Bill soon had his "white light" spiritual experience at
Towns Hospital and after this surrender, never drank alcohol again.
[Author's note: According to Mel B.'s biography
of Ebby (EBBY, The Man Who Sponsored Bill W. - Hazelden
Pittman Archives Press, Hazelden Publications, 1998), Ebby "had
two years and seven months of continuous sobriety in the beginning,
a long period of about seven years' sobriety in Texas in the 1950's,
and about 2 1/2 years' sobriety just before he died" in 1966.
Mel B. states that in a letter from Bill Wilson to an A.A. member
in Texas, that Ebby was paying for his own care at McPike's Farm
(a treatment facility in Ballston Spa, N.Y.) with his Social Security
and with "financing of $200 a month that comes out of the A.A.
book money at headquarters." Ebby died at a hospital near Ballston
Spa and McPike's Farm where he had been living under the care
of Margaret McPike.]
knew when he was going to have a binge. Prior to his spiritual
experience, Bill had been a patient at Towns Hospital and knew
that he had to make reservations at Towns Hospital. He would call
up two weeks in advance of binge and tell Towns when he was going
to be there. His binges were planned. After his spiritual experience,
he never found the need to call for reservations again.
Bob too, had had experience with the Oxford Group. After Frank
Buchman's series of Oxford Group meetings at the Mayflower Hotel
in Akron in January 1933, Henrietta Seiberling and Dr. Bob's wife,
Anne Smith, convinced Dr. Bob to attend the meetings which were,
by now, being held at the home of T. Henry and Clarace Williams.
Bob, though he had confessed his drinking and had been a devotee
of the Oxford Group and of its writings and teachings, had not
been able to stop drinking. It was not until he had met with Bill
Wilson, another Oxford Group member, and was relating, one-drunk-to-another,
that he eventually surrendered. Dr. Bob met Bill on Mother's Day
in May of 1935, and later drank while going to and attending a
medical convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey in June 1935.
Bill Wilson gave Bob his last drink of beer just prior to performing
surgery on June 10th, 1935. This was to be Dr. Bob's
was once quoted as saying that even though he didn't want the
connection to the Oxford Group and its religious teachings associated
with Alcoholics Anonymous, he had incorporated most of their ideals
and precepts in the Steps and in the writing of what was to become
the A.A. recovery program.