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CAN WE STILL USE THE
FOUR ABSOLUTES?
A Look at Standards that Led to the Twelve Steps

by Mel B., Teledo, OH

Now and then, as an AA Old Timer and a casual historian of the Fellowship, I am asked about the Four Absolutes: Honesty, Purity, Unselfishness, and Love. That takes more than a few minutes; thus this explanation follows:

As many people in 12-Step programs knows, Alcoholics Anonymous grew out of a movement known in the 1930s as the Oxford Group. Quite strong and influential at the time, the Group went through a name change in 1938 to Moral Re-Armament (MRA) and declined considerably following the death of its founder, Frank Buckman, in 1961. It survives today as a much smaller society with the name, Initiatives of Change, and an office in Washington, D.C. as well as a fine resort hotel in Caux, Switzerland, which serves as an international meeting place.

The Oxford Group did not have the 12 Steps as we know them, but its basic program did contribute directly into the AA program that was first presented in the Fifth Chapter of the text Alcoholics Anonymous (the Big Book), published in April, 1939. Like AAs, Oxford Group members met together, admitted their faults and sins to one another, made amends for past wrongs, followed regular prayer and meditation, and carried their message to others.

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