It had been through his attendance at an Oxford Group meeting held in a Manhattan rescue mission that Wilson had been motivated to demand that God “show Himself.” Now he became a regular at the group’s Sunday evening meetings at Calvary Church, pastored by Episcopalian Sam Shoemaker. Wilson would later write that Shoemaker had provided “the spiritual keys by which we [alcoholics] were liberated.”
The Oxford Group had been founded by Frank Buchman (a Lutheran minister) who seemed to have a testimony in his early days of truly knowing Christ. Whether that is true or not, his creation, the Oxford Group, soon departed from any semblance of biblical Christianity. The Oxford Group was almost from the very beginning ecumenical. Terminology was adopted which would not offend unbelievers and therefore lacked the essentials of the gospel which alone can save the soul. That compromise having been made for allegedly good reasons, from then on it was steadily downhill.
The Oxford Group would later become Moral ReArmament (MRA). This metamorphosis came about through the mystical “guidance” that was a large part of Buchman’s life, and would carry over both into MRA and AA. “It was while walking in the Black Forest [in 1936] that the idea of ‘Moral ReArmament’ came to him [Buchman].” Five years later, Shoemaker officially broke with Buchman. He explained: “Certain policies and points of view…have arisen in the development of Moral ReArmament about which we have had increasing misgivings.” English author and former MRA member Roy Livesey writes:
“It must be said that I look in vain in around one hundred Oxford Group and MRA publications on my shelf and find little help to point the way of salvation…. Involvement with what seems to be the good in MRA often leads to something quite devastating in the spiritual realm. For example, three Indian leaders at Caux [MRA headquarters in Switzerland] impressed me, and their evident peace aroused interest in the Eastern life. MRA had been a stepping stone for me into the occult. The meetings at Caux had served only to encourage me still further.”
In spite of Shoemaker’s apparent concern that the gospel was being compromised in MRA, it was his soft approach which had influenced Buchman in the first place. Instead of clearly declaring the gospel of which Paul was not ashamed, the gospel which “is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth [it]” (Romans:1:16), Sam Shoemaker would urge his hearers to “accept God however they might conceive of him….” Here was the origin of Wilson’s desperate prayer. I was the origin as well of the concept expressed in Step 3: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”
God does not answer to just any name, nor does He respond to those who, when they call upon “God,” have in mind a false god. Jesus said, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John:17:3). Paul felt it necessary to identify the One whom the Athenians worshiped as “the unknown God” and to declare to them the gospel (Acts:17:22-31). We are warned that God’s judgment comes upon them “that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians:1:8). Our eternal destiny will be determined by our relationship with the one true God of the Bible. Obviously a belief in false gods prevents one from believing in the true God alone.