The Traditional Catholic and 12-Step Programs, Part 15

I’ve divided this out into 16 parts in order to keep each post to a reasonable length and allow me to really think about each part.

Traditional Catholic and Twelve Step Programs
by Sean Romer
as written for the Angelus magazine, September 2002

THE OXFORD GROUP

The Oxford Group was a nondenominational evangelical movement founded in 1908 by a disillusioned Lutheran preacher from Pennsylvania named Frank Buchman.36 Also called Buchmanism, the Oxford Group changed its name to Moral Re-armament in 1938 when England’s Oxford University protested the use of its name.

The goal of the Oxford Group was to change the world “one person at a time.” At Oxford Group House Parties, members “surrendered” on their knees and publicly described their deliverance from sins of alcoholism, smoking, and other vices. Its precepts were: surrender your life to God; take a moral inventory; confess your sins to God and to another human being; make restitution; give of yourself to others with no demand for return; pray to God to help carry out these principles. There were also four Absolutes: absolute honesty, absolute purity, absolute unselfishness and absolute love-moral standards by which every thought and action could be tested. There was no cross or shedding of blood; illumination came directly to the individual, who merely quieted his mind and his life so as to hear the voice of inspiration.37

Fr. John Ford, S J., wrote of the Oxford Group and A.A.: “The differences between the fundamental attitudes of the early A.A.’s and the Oxford Groupers were so pronounced that there never was a real integration of A.A. into that movement. There was initial inspiration and association rather than integration. A.A. sprang from the Oxford Groups but almost immediately sprang away from them.”38 Though the association might have been brief, Wilson insisted that after Step One (which he attributed to Dr. Silkworth and the influence of Jung), all the remaining Steps were extensions of Oxford Group teachings. The split between the two groups stemmed from the Oxford Group’s aggressively evangelical approach, which did not suit A.A. members. There was also strong resistance to the coercive authority exerted by Oxford Group leaders, who claimed to have received inspiration on how newcomers should conduct their lives.

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