“Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:
“(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
“(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
“(c) That God could and would if He were sought.” (page 60)
Much criticism of A.A. as if it were some kind of brainwashing cult stems from people twisting or at least misunderstanding the above “combined experience and knowledge” (page 19) into something other or more than what is actually being shared. Our combined experience has to do with “effective spiritual experiences” (page 25) having brought us into spiritual fellowship with others as a “sufficient substitute” for alcohol (page 152), and our combined knowledge has to do with our having come to understand ourselves as alcoholics in need of that. We do hope others like ourselves will become “sold” on these truths about ourselves while considering their own troubles, of course, yet we never try to tell others about themselves or to brainwash them into believing things they cannot prove to themselves and for themselves through their very own personal experience. So rather than ever brow-beating anyone with anything, a careful reading of our book will show we only say things like this:
“In this book you read again and again that faith did for us what we could not do for ourselves. We hope you are convinced now that God can remove whatever self-will has blocked you off from Him.” (pages 70-71)
We are not telling other people they need to have anyone do anything in their lives, we are only saying we hope our combined experience can help others come to believe and to truly know for themselves that the Heavenly Throne Room is just as approachable and can be just as effective for them as it has already proved to be for us.